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At 5:30am, the alarm clock that belonged to Kara Danvers did not go off. By 6am, she was still buried beneath her duvet, curled up around a large pillow, and completely unaware that she was already horribly, disastrously late.

At 6:47am, her cell phone rang. She groped under her pillow for it as best she could in the dark, and smiled when she saw her colleague Nia Nal’s face on the screen. She sleepily swiped to answer it.

“Mornin’ Nia,” she mumbled, rubbing her eyes.

Where the hell are you?!” Nia hissed down the phone, forgoing any pleasantries.

“God, Nia, I’m in bed, where do you think I am?” Kara whined. “It’s the crack of d-”

Nia cut across her. “It’s ten to seven! The witch is going to be here by seven forty-five for a meeting at eight!” Nia whisper-shouted down the phone. Kara sat up suddenly and tried to ignore the way her stomach rolled at the movement. She looked over at her alarm clock and the time did, indeed, say 6:47am.

“Shit! Shit, shit, shitting shit,” Kara cursed rapidly, throwing the duvet off herself and leaping out of bed far faster than her body would’ve liked.

Did you forget? Fuck, Kara, you need to get down here fast.

Kara hung up the phone without as much as a goodbye to Nia, shed her pajamas as she rushed across her apartment, and jumped into the shower as quickly as she could. Her stomach protested violently at the movement, and a moment later she had rocketed out of the shower and was kneeling on the floor with her head in the toilet, throwing up the last of the bourbon and tequila shots that she had downed last night for Nia’s boyfriend’s birthday. She barely had time to flush the toilet before jumping straight back in the shower, gargling mouthwash at the same time as she washed the stink of last night’s bar off herself. Damn Brainy for having a birthday on a Thursday when they all had to work the next day.

The last thing she needed was to turn up to work at CatCo Magazine as Lena Luthor’s personal assistant, late, reeking like a dive bar, and her breath practically radiating tequila. She was pretty sure she had already made a terrible impression on her boss, just like everyone else who ever crossed her path seemed to, but there was no sense in making a bad situation worse.

She lived in a small apartment in Red Hook, Brooklyn. Alex was always trying to get her to move because she thought there were better areas for her sister to live in, but there was something that Kara loved about being able to take the ferry into Manhattan in the mornings if she chose to. Zipping past the skyline of New York City on a boat was a feeling that the small-town girl in her had never tired of. Her apartment was, admittedly, very small; her favorite quirk to it was the fact that the shower and the toilet were both in the kitchen at opposite ends, each in their own cubbyholes. The whole apartment was one room separated by small half-walls and glass doors. However, it was comfortable, it was warm, and it had good transport links. In the evenings, she could hear the sounds from the bar next door, and she grew to love the country bands that played there. She often headed down to the bar after a long day’s work just to enjoy the chilled-out atmosphere and chat with the bartender Leslie, who had become a friend.

This morning though, the warmth of the apartment just made her feel worse, and the thought of the boat bobbing along the waves in the East River made her jaw clench against the nausea that threatened another trip to the toilet.

Kara had found the job at CatCo Magazine fairly quickly, thanks to her cousin Clark. His best friend James Olsen worked at CatCo, and as they’d met several times, he’d vouched for her to Lena Luthor herself. When Kara had shown up for her interview, Lena had actually been out of the country, so the decision on whether she would or wouldn’t get the job was left up to Lucy Lane, who was overseeing personnel in her absence. Lucy was nice, though, and Kara was given the job before she’d even left the building. Miss Lane had seemed a little apprehensive when she offered the job, and although Kara had heard the horror stories of working for one of the Luthors, she’d paid it no mind at the time. She needed a job, and here was one that was very highly paid for a personal assistant role. She didn’t stop to think that there might be a very good reason for that high salary.

Now, though, as she clutched the guard rails of the NYC ferry in the light rain to Pier 11 and struggled not to heave, having run all the way from her apartment to the dock to catch the 7:06am ferry, she knew what that reason was.

You were not late when you worked for Lena Luthor. Not even by one second. Lena had never specifically insisted on that point, but if she demanded excellence of herself, then she demanded excellence of her employees as well. You showed up to work on time and worked your hardest throughout your day, or you didn’t come to work at all. It was simply understood.

Oh, she was certainly an intelligent, accomplished, brilliant woman; she was the CEO of two Fortune 500 companies at the young age of 26, a certified genius, and she held six degrees, two of which were PhDs, making her a doctor twice over. She was also a national chess champion, and a North American champion fencer; the only reason she hadn’t gone to the Olympics was because she claimed in an interview that she “didn’t have time” because of her dual CEO roles.

She had, almost single-handedly, dragged LuthorCorp out of the swamp it was languishing in after her brother Lex Luthor had decided using L-Corp as a front for viral weapons development with the intent of testing them on several isolated communities in Texas. He had already begun the testing on subjects he had no doubt bribed deep in the LuthorCorp labs. Lena herself had been the primary witness for the prosecution, providing a wealth of LuthorCorp documents, and it had ultimately been her testimony that led to his sentence of 31 consecutive life sentences.

LuthorCorp should’ve drowned under the controversy, but as soon as Lena Luthor took over the helm, she renamed it L-Corp, did away with any departments touched by the taint of the scandal, redistributed the scientists to other roles or phased them out altogether if they were too much like Lex, and dragged the company up by its bootstraps into one of the country’s leading STEM research and development companies. It now had almost unmatched philanthropic donations to progressive causes as well as sponsoring quite a few STEM scholarships at various universities throughout the country.

Strictly speaking, magazines usually didn’t have CEOs. However, Cat Grant herself had hand-picked Lena Luthor to take over the overall running of CatCo when she left to become Presidential Press Secretary, and so the role had been created for her. Despite not knowing much about running a media empire, Lena had famously thrown herself into learning everything she could about doing it. She didn’t have anything to do with the day to day running nor with the editing itself, but all content went through her, and she had the final say over everything, including the covers.

The list of Lena Luthor’s successes was certainly long. But the woman’s reserved, even glacial, persona was even more legendary. In fact, the words cold, hard bitch were thrown around more often than any other. She always got her way in the boardroom, and her dismissive attitude was infamous.

Kara had always thought that it wasn’t that Lena was rude, exactly; it was just that she didn’t seem to have time for people. She was simply too busy. She walked around the office with her phone glued to her ear constantly, or she was scrolling through something important on a tablet while walking between meetings. She made it her business to know what everyone was working on at all times, was on top of all of the directors of various departments at both CatCo Magazine and L-Corp, and came in to work on weekends. She never missed a board meeting for either company, never let an issue run late, never let a single thing slide.

If you got in her way while she was walking through the office, you moved. It was as simple as that. If Lena Luthor was coming in your direction, you got out of the way, because she sure as hell wouldn’t move out of yours. If you weren’t doing your job efficiently, you had one stern warning, and if you didn’t improve, you were out. It made her seem a little… heartless, sometimes.

Lena seemed almost robotic to most people. No mistakes, no downtime, no sick days. She never raised her voice, never got emotional, and never let anyone walk all over her. Lena Luthor did not suffer fools gladly. She might not be blatantly rude, her poised refinement preventing her from being so, but she didn’t need to be. Her evident intelligence, business clout, and her dual high-level positions automatically set her apart from most mere mortals. She was intimidating without being frightening; she knew it, and she used it to her advantage.

Kara wasn’t scared of her, exactly, but Lena made her nervous for many reasons, not the least of which was the embarrassing crush that Kara had been nursing on her boss since her very first day as her assistant.

And now, Kara was late. Her ferry docked at Pier 11 and she bolted off it as soon as she was able to, moving as fast as she could towards the coffee shop near CatCo as she could in her heels and with her headache pounding behind her eyes. She’d downed two painkillers on the ferry, but they hadn’t kicked in yet. It was already close to 7:30am, and she was still two blocks away from CatCo in the heart of the Financial District. The rain was far heavier now, bouncing off the dirty sidewalks and splashing into her shoes. She sidestepped around people and tried to keep her umbrella from poking people in the eyes as she dodged puddles and rushed across crossings before she was meant to. More than one horn was blasted in her direction as she threw up a hand in apology.

By the time she got to the office at 7:35am, she was sopping wet. Kara dumped the umbrella in the umbrella bin by the door and apologized to the security men for the water she was leaving all over the floor as she dashed through the lobby. By the time she arrived at the elevator, she knew she was sweating under her clothes, and as they passed floor after floor, all her quick movements caught up to her and her hungover stomach. She swallowed hard as the elevator dinged on the correct floor and she rushed out of it towards her desk outside Lena Luthor’s office.

She dumped her soaking coat on her chair before hurrying to the bathroom and emptying her stomach into the toilet once more, hoping against hope that that was truly the last of it. As she came out of the stall wiping her mouth, Nia pushed through the door and handed her some saltines, a packet of mints, and a bottle of water.

“You’re a lifesaver,” Kara moaned, rinsing her mouth out several times and wishing she had a toothbrush. The mints would have to do until she could bribe someone to go out on their lunch break and pick one up for her. “The next time Brainy has a birthday, I’m vetoing the tequila.”

“You’ve got, like, two minutes before she gets here. She’s probably already in the lobby,” Nia said, shoving her bodily out of the door and back into the office. Kara bustled over to the small kitchen in the corner of the open-plan office to make Lena’s drink. A silly part of her job, but it was part of it nonetheless. Lena was unlike most other corporate workers in preferring to drink hot chocolate over coffee, but she was no less particular about what she drank. They’d imported a hot chocolate machine from the UK and every morning, she had a cup of 100% strength Honduran hot chocolate with a teaspoon of blackberry and cherry syrup mixed into it. Kara had tasted it once; it was bitter and tasted like a black forest gateau.

The joke in the office was that the hot chocolate was as bitter as Lena’s soul was.

She made the hot chocolate and had just placed it in Lena’s favorite mug on her desk when there was a flurry of activity outside the office room. Kara looked up to find everyone straightening their clothing, clearing takeaway coffee mugs off their desks and into the trash, and the chatter died down from raucous to barely audible. Kara could actually hear people typing, and was that Janet on the phone over there, calling the talking clock again, just to pretend she was on the phone? Yes. Yes, it was.

Kara went and sat at her own desk after hanging her wet coat up, and powered up her work laptop. She had just enough time to drop her throbbing head into her hands before the elevator dinged and Lena Luthor herself stepped into the room.

Her boss swept through the room like the world’s most expensive hurricane. Kara recognized the dress she was wearing as one Lena had got her to order last month; a black shirt dress with a red accented sash. She’d paired it with her signature black Louboutins and deep red lipstick, and her brunette hair was up in her usual severe ponytail.

She was talking on the phone, as usual, and beelined directly to her office. She didn’t seem to notice that as she passed, any in-progress conversations stalled. Jess Huang, her executive assistant at L-Corp, followed behind her, carrying what looked like a heavy box of files. Lena passed Kara’s desk in a cloud of pricey perfume and without sparing her a glance, but Kara didn’t let it get to her. She was far too used to it to be offended that Lena paid her no attention while her focus was clearly elsewhere.

“Can’t this wait?” Kara heard Lena say to whoever was on the phone, her voice as clear as a bell. “I have a very important meeting in ten minutes, and I don’t have time for government officials to be taking up my time whenever they please with no consideration for the damage they’ll cause in their wake.”

Kara raised her eyebrows as Jess laughed to herself behind the box. “She’s going to get herself in trouble one day if she keeps going like that.”

“Somehow, I doubt Lena Luthor would let something as insignificant as the US government inconvenience her in any way,” Kara replied with a quick smile.

“And I really don’t care for your tone of voice, Mr. Peters. If you wish to speak about this civilly, please feel free to make an appointment with my assistant. Good day,” Lena said crisply in her office, hanging up the phone. “Jess?” she called through the door.

Jess jumped and carried the box through to her, shutting the door with her foot behind her.

Kara busied herself with sorting out Lena’s calendar for the day. She had a meeting with the senior editors at 8am, which would last for an hour, and had another hour-long meeting with the Editor in Chief, at 10am.

When the senior editors arrived and Jess left Lena’s office, she stopped by Kara’s desk once again.

“What kind of mood is she in today?” she asked her.

“Oh, you know, she fired Siobhan Smyth at L-Corp this morning before coming over here. To be fair, she was posting confidential information on Facebook. So, Lena’s the same as usual, but maybe in a bit more of a sour mood than usual,” Jess replied, smiling down at Kara. It was well-known that Jess was absolutely invaluable to Lena and Lena knew it, and Jess knew her well enough to joke about her personality. She generally explained away their boss’ moods. Of the two of them, Jess was the one who spent the most time with Lena, because L-Corp required exponentially more of her time than CatCo did. Lena usually came in to CatCo for the last week or week and a half of every month, so that she could be on-site for any issues and conduct all of her meetings then.

On the one hand, it was nice having a boss that was away most of the time, but on the other, it wasn’t working out in Kara’s favor, because-

“Are you going to bring it up to her today?” Jess asked.

Kara shivered involuntarily. Asking your boss to let you change jobs within any company was a daunting task, but asking Lena Luthor? Terrifying.

The truth was that Kara wanted to be a journalist. She had wanted to be a journalist for her whole life, and held a masters degree in it from UC Berkeley, but she’d never been able to write for anything other than the local Midvale newspaper. Midvale was a small, seaside town in Alaska, and there wasn’t a whole lot to be said for hard-hitting journalism up there. Recently, CatCo had been dipping its toes into current affairs, and its large print runs and huge audience guaranteed that their opinion pieces were heard. Kara was desperate to move into the bullpen, felt that desire like a fire inside her, but in her way was Lena.

Even when Lena wasn’t at CatCo, she relied heavily on Kara. Being Lena’s personal assistant, Kara hardly ever had time off. When Lena was working, Kara was working. She was very well-paid, but she was lucky if she managed to get a couple of days off in a row at any one point. Kara knew that this was part of the role, it had been right there in the contract, but she had been dismayed at how often her vacation days had been denied. Essentially, Kara could only take extended time off when Lena did.

Lena almost never took time off.

Since she spent most of her time at L-Corp, Kara’s and Jess’ roles were balanced accordingly. Technically, as Lena’s PA, she had a contract at both companies; although she spent the majority of her time at CatCo, she did have to make regular trips to L-Corp. Jess’ role was heavily weighted in favour of the corporate world. The responsibility for all of Lena’s travel fell to Kara, as did organizing meetings, booking restaurant reservations or any corporate events, sorting out any issues that Lena had with travel to and from either CatCo or L-Corp, or any of L-Corp’s branches across the country. All of Lena’s work-related calls went through to Kara before they went anywhere near Lena, which meant that Kara was the one getting earfuls of complaints about Lena’s supposed disrespectful attitude.

Kara wasn’t so sure that Lena was disrespectful. More… forthright, and unwilling to waste words on something that didn’t require them.

She looked up at Jess. “Yep. She’s got an opening at 9am and I’m just going to- I’m going to ask her then. And I have to remind her about the time off I wanted next week…” Kara trailed off.

“Ooh, brave.”

“I don’t think-” the phone on Kara’s desk rang. “Sorry, Jess,” she apologized, gesturing to it.

“Say no more! See you around, Kara,” Jess said, giving her a quick salute and heading towards the elevator.

Kara pulled her headset on and pressed the flashing numbered incoming call button.

“Lena Luthor’s office, Miss Danvers speaking. How can I help you?” she said into her headset.

Oh, look, it’s you again,” a sardonic voice drawled. Kara sighed inwardly. “I suppose if you’re picking up the phone, my daughter is in yet another meeting and too busy to talk to her mother.

“Hello, Mrs Luthor,” Kara replied as politely as she could. Lillian Luthor, Lena’s mother, called several times a week. They were some of the most unpleasant moments each week. “I’m afraid that Lena has meetings all day today, and won’t be taking any calls un-”

Lillian cut her off with a put-upon sigh. “Spare me the corporate spiel, Miss Danvers. If that girl can’t pick up the phone to her own mother more than twice a year, I’m just going to have to come in to see her. And don’t tell me that I have to make an appointment to do that. I simply wish to see her. Can’t you tell me where she’s going to be having lunch today?

“I’m afraid I can’t do that, Mrs Luthor,” Kara said, rubbing her temples. This was a conversation they had at least once a week. Kara had never met Lillian Luthor, but she had seen her on TV during Lex’s trial. She was a haughty woman, constantly wearing an expression that said she thought everyone around her, other than Lex, was beneath her.

I know you have some little contract that says you can’t tell me anything, but she’s my daughter, Miss Danvers, and I will see her.

“I’m afraid that I have to go into a meeting with Miss Luthor in a moment, Mrs Luthor, but I’ll tell her that you called.”

You do that. I’m sure it’ll be as fruitful as the last fifty notes you left her,” came the reply, before the line clicked quietly and a dial tone rang in Kara’s ear.

Kara huffed out a sigh. Kara had been instructed by Lena to never put her mother through on a call, but all that meant was that she had to deal with the calls every week, and as far as she was aware, Lena never returned any of them. Kara wished that she would, even once, just so that she could get a reprieve.

She had no such meeting with Lena, of course, as Lena was still in the meeting with the senior editors, so she busied herself with answering as many emails as she could from Lena’s inbox. Another part of Kara’s job was to deal with essentially everything below executive level. Any invitations Lena got to any events, for example, were dealt with by Kara. There was a list that Kara referred to – there were companies she was to always accept invitations to, some that she was to only accept during certain times of the year, and some which she was to always decline. The list of companies that she was to decline was the longest of all of them.

Kara tapped away at her laptop while the meeting went on behind her, steadily growing more and more nervous. She tried to tell herself it was only a question about a job. Lena could say yes, or she could say no. And it was only a question about a vacation. She could say yes, or she could decline it. And then Kara could go back to her life with an answer either way.

And let her family know that she wasn’t coming to the little party they had every year to celebrate the date she was adopted and became a Danvers. Again.

She’d missed out on quite a lot of things since starting this job three years ago. Birthdays, games nights, weekends away, even dates, if whatever Lena needed her for was later in the evening.

It wasn’t like Lena was an ogre or anything; if she ever needed time off for something like a wedding, a funeral, or a major life event, her time off was approved without question or explanation. But sometimes, Kara just wanted a long weekend. And she never got them.

The door to Lena’s office opened with a tick and various senior editors came trickling out, discussing the next month’s stories and other editorials that they’d be working through with their teams. Eventually, Lena was the only one left in her office.

Kara gave it a minute before wiping her hands surreptitiously on her trousers and pressing the call divert button on her work phone.

It was just Lena Luthor. No big deal. She’d always been polite to Kara. Professionally distant and extremely aloof, maybe, and she knew absolutely nothing about Kara’s life outside of the office, but she was polite. No big deal.

Kara tapped on Lena’s door with her knuckles and pushed the door open when Lena looked up from behind her desk.

“Miss Luthor, I’m sorry to interrupt, but do you have a moment?” she asked.

“Certainly. Please close the door behind you,” Lena replied, before leaning back slightly in her outrageously expensive ergonomic chair.

Kara closed the door as requested and turned back to face her boss, before sitting down in the chair opposite her.

You could say what you liked about Lena Luthor, but never could you say that you never had less than 100% of her attention when she chose to focus it on you. It made Kara feel somewhat like an ant under a microscope. Lena’s full attention had a way of making the rest of the world non-existent.

Lena gave her a politely professional look while she waited for Kara to start speaking.

Right now was not the moment for her crush on her boss to rear its head. Kara felt slightly irritated with herself for thinking it, but for the umpteenth time, the thought crossed her mind that Lena was quite possibly the most mind-stutteringly beautiful woman she’d ever seen. Today was no different. Lovely green eyes that reminded Kara of an evergreen forest in winter. Pale skin that would probably look ethereal in the moonlight, silky dark hair that Kara just knew would be soft were she to run her fingers through it. A sharp jawline that begged for lips to trace it. Kara thought that Lena’s bone structure was so perfect that if she were spiritually inclined, she would shake the hand of whichever god was responsible for the artistry they’d displayed.

Nobody had any business walking around with a face as stupidly beautiful as Lena Luthor’s.

She was absolutely striking, effortlessly elegant, and everywhere she went, she drew eyes.

The one thing Kara had never seen on Lena’s face was a genuine smile.

“Um,” Kara said.

Lena sat in the chair across from her and looked distinctly unimpressed. She raised an eyebrow at Kara and crossed her arms over her chest. “I hope this isn’t going to be as articulate as you’re going to get today, Miss Danvers. I have several things that I need to be doing.”

“Oh, um,” Kara repeated, and then mentally cursed herself. Damn Lena for having that low, attractive voice too, just to top it all off. She decided to just plunge right in with what she had to say. “I was wondering whether you had had a chance to look over the articles that I wrote and sent to you last month.”

There went that eyebrow again, before Lena reached over to move her delicate finger over the mousepad of her laptop. She narrowed her eyes at her emails. “Articles?”

Kara deflated. “Yeah, the articles I wrote last month? I asked you whether I could try and become a journalist here at CatCo and you asked me to write a few articles about topics you-”

“Yes, I remember them,” Lena said, continuing to scroll through her emails. “I just wanted to check if you did. You haven’t mentioned them for a whole month. You must not have thought very much of them if it took you this long to bring them to my attention once again.”

“What?” Kara spluttered. “You never said-”

“It wasn’t up to me to say anything about the articles you sent me, Miss Danvers,” Lena interrupted. “A good journalist believes in what they write, even if they were about the ridiculous topics that you were given. I believe that if you were confident in what you’d produced, you would not have waited until now to ask me whether I had read them. If they were articles that were to be published, you would have long missed the deadline.”

Kara felt all the wind go out of her sails. Lena was right, of course. Maybe politely waiting for Lena to bring them up to her herself wasn’t the approach she could’ve taken. They didn’t have that kind of relationship.

Lena sat back in her chair and appraised Kara, and if she didn’t know better, she would’ve sworn that she saw a spark of compassion in her eyes before it was gone, as Lena’s professional countenance reasserted itself. She sighed.

“Look, Miss Danvers. I think you should give it another six months and try again. I’ll send you the topics closer to the time, and this time, make sure that you make the best use of the opportunity.”

“Than-” Kara started, but she was silenced by a cool look that Lena shot her. She shut up.

“In addition, I would like to know why you wish to leave the position that you currently hold. Is there something unsatisfactory about your role? Becoming a journalist would, as I’m sure you’ve discovered, decrease your salary by nearly half.”

Kara swallowed audibly. Before she could reply, Lena was speaking again.

“If I’m going to need to replace you after those six months, you need to let me know and provide me with a formal letter of resignation. I’m sure that I don’t need to tell you that the role you have is demanding and I need to find someone who could adequately fill it. Training them will take time.”

Kara felt the panic rush through her as she scrambled. She leaned over the desk. “That’s not what I meant, Miss Luthor, I-”

“You have six months, Miss Danvers.”

Kara slumped back in her seat. She felt sicker than she had at any other point this morning, except this was a different kind of sick. This was worried sick. Lena was still sitting there, poised and looking as calm as anything, as if she hadn’t just handed Kara an ultimatum for her own job. Kara felt a wave of irritation rise up and she fought to keep her expression neutral.

“Was there anything else?” Lena asked, picking up a pen and looking down at the documents that she had on her desk.

“Yes,” Kara ground out, causing Lena to raise her head and level an impatient look at her when she caught Kara’s tone of voice.

“Well, by all means, spit it out.”

Kara took a deep breath and tried to control herself. “I requested Wednesday, Thursday and Friday off next week because I need to go home for a family event, but I haven’t received a response for my request yet.”

Lena looked at her for a long moment, and Kara dug her fingernails into her sweating palms. “I’m afraid the business just can’t spare you next week, Miss Danvers,” she finally said.

Kara forced herself to stay calm. “Thank you for your time, Miss Luthor.”

Lena hummed in response, and the next thing Kara heard was Lena’s pen scratching across the paper she was working on. She recognized the dismissal for what it was, and stood up and left the office.

Lena never looked up.

 

* * * * *

 

Kara tried her best not to stomp back to her desk. It was, after all, in full view of Lena’s office thanks to the glass walls between them. She sat down at her desk, took a deep, steadying breath, and pulled her laptop towards herself.

Her hands were shaking with adrenaline and she took several deep breaths once she was ducked down behind her chair. It didn’t help that she was still hungover and felt like death warmed up, either.

Had that really all just happened? Had Lena Luthor really just told her that she would have six months to prepare to write for articles that would make or break not only a journalism role at CatCo, but also that she would lose her job as her personal assistant if she didn’t face up to the challenge? Surely, that wasn’t so. Rock, meet hard place.

But it was. Kara couldn’t see how Lena could’ve possibly meant anything other than what she’d said.

Fuck. She needed to talk to Alex as soon as possible. Before she could pick up her cell phone, though, the office’s internal instant messaging app dinged on her laptop screen.

Nia Nal: You look like someone threw up on your chair and you just sat in it naked. What’s up?

Kara threw Nia a disgusted look across the office before she typed out her reply.

Kara Danvers: That’s seriously gross, Nia

Nia Nal: I just saw you come out of the witch’s office looking like you wanted to punch someone

Kara Danvers: Okay first of all, don’t freak out

Nia Nal: You can’t say that and not expect me to freak the hell out Kara, shit

Kara Danvers: I think she just gave me an ultimatum for my job

Across the office, she saw Nia shoot out of her chair, looking furious. She gestured at her to sit back down before she caused some kind of scene.

Kara Danvers: Calm down!

Nia Nal: I will NOT do you need me to punch the bitch for you

Kara Danvers: No! She basically told me that in six months she’s going to give me another shot at the journalism thing and that if I don’t take it seriously, then I can look for another job, since I clearly don’t want to be her personal assistant any more

Nia Nal: Fuck’s sake, that’s such a reach. We’re getting drunk tonight and talking about this

Kara Danvers: No, really, I get where she’s coming from, sort of

Nia Nal: Seriously?

Kara Danvers: Yeah. Do you want to get lunch later? I’ll tell you everything

Nia Nal: Sure! Noonans at 1pm!

Kara held a thumbs up to Nia and waved when Nia acknowledged it, before looking back down at her laptop.

The words on the screen in front of her meant nothing to her, thanks to the minor confrontation in Lena’s office just now.

There was nothing much she could do about anything now except get on with things. Apparently, her job was up in six months if she made a second mess of the articles. She wasn’t sure whether she’d even made a mess of the first articles, since she’d received no feedback from her boss whatsoever. Although, technically of course, she had never asked her for it. She shook her hands out in an effort to get the adrenaline out of them, and closed her eyes.

Kara did not like confrontation; it didn’t sit well with her. She knew that technically Lena wasn’t in the wrong for wanting to know why she wanted to leave her job, especially since she was her boss. She also wasn’t wrong with her comments about the articles, but Kara couldn’t help but feel like she was a little hard done by, nonetheless.

She also knew that Lena wasn’t one for interpersonal relationships at work. Aside from Samantha Arias over at L-Corp, she didn’t appear to be friends with anyone else at work. In various articles about galas that Lena attended, Samantha was usually Lena’s plus one, sometimes with her young daughter Ruby if it was something a child could reasonably attend. Samantha, who preferred to be called Sam whenever Kara had talked to multiple times in order to arrange Lena’s schedule, was very polite and friendly. Kara hoped to bump into her someday and say hello properly. She was curious about the woman who had captured Lena’s affection.

Kara dropped her throbbing head into her hands and moaned against her palm. The painkillers were doing absolutely nothing, and she didn’t want to eat too many mints. The saltines were sitting in her stomach like rocks. She cleared her throat and took a sip out of one of the new bottles of water she kept stashed in her desk cupboard, and thanked her past self for having the foresight to store a few there.

The time passed as Kara slowly calmed herself down. It wasn’t going to help panicking about everything now, when nothing was even going to happen for a good few months yet. Like the last time, Lena would give her the topics with a few weeks’ notice so that she could work on them the same way everyone else would. Her boss was nothing if not fair. She would just have to let today go and take it as a lesson learned. She shoved her anger into the back of her mind and tried to get on with her work. She prided herself on doing a good job as a personal assistant, and wasn’t going to let her feelings get in the way of it. Even if the woman did drive her mad at times.

Lena’s hour-long meeting with the Editor in Chief at 10am came and went, and she worked quietly by herself in her office, without asking Kara for anything. Thankfully, by lunchtime, Kara’s stomach had finally settled and her head was feeling much better.

The low hum of chatter filled the office, the administration assistant was xeroxing documents, and several people were on the phone. The postman came and delivered a huge pile of mail, but as he pressed the call button for the elevator, the doors opened.

Everyone in the office watched as a tiny brunette woman marched out of the elevator and into the middle of the office. She looked about as mad as Kara had felt earlier, which was quite something. Her face would’ve been pretty if not for the anger that twisted it, and Kara felt herself shrink into her seat at the sight of it.

There could only be one reason someone was storming angrily into the office.

“Lena Luthor!” she woman suddenly yelled, before she started charging over to towards Lena’s office.

The door behind Kara clicked open and Lena poked her head out of her office. “Miss Danvers? What’s-”

“You… bitch!” the woman shouted as she reached Kara’s desk, just as Kara frantically felt for and pressed the silent alarm button that every employee had installed at their workstation.

Siobhan thrust her hand out and pointed straight towards Lena’s face, and her arm was trembling with rage. Kara stood up in shock, feeling like she wanted to do something, although she wasn’t quite sure what.

“Miss Smythe,” Lena said, her voice deadly calm. “What can I do for you?”

Ah, Kara thought. The woman that Jess mentioned this morning. The woman Lena fired from L-Corp.

“What can you do for me? Are you fucking kidding me right now? You fired me and you have the fucking nerve to ask me what you can do for me?”

By now, everyone in the office had stopped even pretending to work. Behind Siobhan, some people had even stood up to watch the show. As put out as Kara still felt, she also felt a little sorry for Lena. If Kara could see that people were standing up to watch Siobhan yell at her, then so could Lena.

She turned her head to look at Lena, who was watching Siobhan with a penetrating look in her eyes, seemingly not bothered by the hand shoved practically into her face.

“Do you feel that the termination of your job was unfair?” Lena asked.

“Do I- yes I feel it’s unfair! I was on my own social media accounts, which have nothing to do with L-Corp, CatCo, or you!

“Yes, quite, but you were posting confidential information to your Facebook page, which had a detrimental impact on the company and,” Lena added, raising her voice ever so slightly when it looked like Siobhan was about to say something else, “aside from the fact that the information was confidential, posting anything whatsoever on your social media accounts about the company or its projects is in direct violation of the contract you signed, as you know. As everyone else here knows. Therefore, we had no choice but to terminate your contract, effective immediately. Please feel free to take this further if you wish, to either HR or to Legal, but I think you’ll find that you have no leg to stand on.”

During Lena’s reasoned speech, Siobhan’s face had been getting redder and redder, and Kara was afraid that she was going to crack one of her teeth if she clenched her jaw any harder. For her part, Kara understood Lena’s defense. And clearly, so had the company’s legal team.

Both of them watched the other for a moment, and the rest of the office stood still as if waiting for the storm to make landfall.

“Do you know why you’re so unhappy, Lena Luthor?” Siobhan said, her voice loud and carrying right across the silent office. “Because your job is the only thing you’ve got in your sad, pathetic, little life. Your brother’s a terrorist, your mother is a royal fucking bitch, and who the fuck knows when you’re going to go off the deep end just like the rest of your insane family? You don’t give a shit about the little people, firing people who don’t deserve it left, right, and center, or whenever the fuck you feel like it. You’re at work all the damn time. Well you know what? I bet that’s just to compensate for the fact that nobody in their right mind would want you in their life. I bet you haven’t had a decent fuck in years. Nobody would want you,” Siobhan spat, her voice full of venom, “anywhere near their bed. No wonder you’re such a stuck-up bitch – you’ve got nobody in your life to release any of that tension. You’re going to end up still here when you’re fucking old and decrepit, a dried-up husk of a woman, alone and miserable, and you’d deserve it.”

The silence rang out after Siobhan’s tirade. Kara was shocked. Even in the multiple calls she’d had to deal with regarding someone’s displeasure with Lena, nobody had ever stooped to quite this level of pure hurtful nastiness. It was awful to witness, even when it wasn’t directed at her. At that moment, she couldn’t imagine how Lena must feel.

Out of the corner of her eye, she could see Nia across the room, peering over the desk divider with her eyes wide. She wasn’t the only one.

Lena, to her credit, looked the very picture of calm. Her back was ramrod straight, her hands were clasped together loosely in front of her, and nothing about her looked cowed. Only Kara was close enough to be able to see that the skin behind Lena’s left ear was a dusky pink; whether from anger or embarrassment, Kara wasn’t sure.

Siobhan was breathing heavily, and she made a sudden movement towards Lena. Kara swiftly took a step closer to Lena, even though she wasn’t sure what that was going to achieve. Siobhan stopped when she was standing only inches from Lena, and she gave Kara a quick once-over, a smirk flashing across her face, before she turned her attention back to Lena. Siobhan was taller than Lena, even in her heels, but Lena didn’t move a muscle. At that moment, Kara’s boss was dignity personified. Kara was more than impressed at Lena’s refusal to quail under the onslaught.

“The apple doesn’t fall far from the tree, Luthor,” Siobhan hissed right into Lena’s face. “One day you’re going to end up just like your brother.”

Behind everyone, the elevator dinged, and CatCo security men rushed out of it towards Siobhan.

When the security men reached Siobhan, she didn’t resist when they took her by the arms to escort her from the building. The only thing that she did was to smirk over her shoulder across the office full of astounded employees as they took her back into the elevator. At that moment, Kara understood what this whole harangue had been for; Siobhan had already known she had no legal leg to stand on. Her only goal was to humiliate Lena, to twist the knife as horribly as she could, knowing that Lena still had to work with the people who’d witnessed this.

The doors closed, hiding Siobhan from view.

Lena was still standing stock-still by her office door. Kara stood next to Lena, unable to move. The office seemed to hold its collective breath.

After a moment, Lena seemed to slump in on herself infinitesimally. Kara doubted that anyone other than her would’ve been able to see it.

“Alright everyone. Please go back to your work,” Lena said, her voice steady, before she headed back into her office and closed the door behind her. The glass walls didn’t hide her from view, and Kara watched as she strode towards her desk and sat down behind it, picked up her pen, and started making notes on a piece of paper.

She sat shakily back in her own chair, and looked at her laptop once more.

Nia Nal: And you thought you were having a bad day, huh? Lunch?

Kara Danvers: Yeah, let me just get these last few emails sent off and I’ll be right over

Kara clicked through Lena’s calendar and made sure that everything was lined up as it should be; she only had one meeting with Cat Grant at 1pm, which Lena had entered into her calendar herself and labeling it a personal matter, and then a meeting with Andrea Rojas at 2pm. Kara got down to replying to the emails that had come in during the whole… what on earth was that anyway? Kara couldn’t remember the last time something like that had happened. Security was usually pretty tight.

That whole incident just now had been decidedly… uncomfortable, to say the least. As she looked up across the office, she could see that quite a lot people were only pretending to work. More than a few of Kara’s colleagues were making no pretense of working at all, instead leaning around the desk dividers and talking to their neighbors, or typing on their cell phones. There were lots of surreptitious glances towards Lena’s office, and more than one person sent a thumbs up in her direction when Kara caught their eyes. She sent a small smile, but didn’t return the gesture. There was no way she was going to participate in, or delight in, what had happened to Lena today, even if she was not currently best pleased with Lena herself.

A lot of people had it out for Lena, thanks to what her brother had done, but nobody had tried to storm an office that she was in for quite a while. Unfortunately, Lena’s less-than friendly demeanor and her unwillingness to conduct interviews with various talk shows had caused the media to wonder whether she was indeed somewhat like her brother. Her stern, almost standoffish way of managing the companies hadn’t won her any friends in the workplace either, and the media ate that drama up. Kara had to field quite a few media requests for contact with Lena, under instructions to turn every single one down.

After all, she was still a Luthor, the media loved to argue, raised by people who were either criminals or certainly the wrong side of shady. Lena had no desire to attempt to continually defend herself against the public opinion of her that, no matter how much good she did, never changed.

Kara had decided to form her own opinion of Lena based on her own interactions with her, rather than base them on what the media loved to say. While she often found her boss cold and at times indifferent, she had never voiced an opinion that caused Kara to worry that she was anything like her family. Instead, while the woman drove her nuts sometimes, she greatly admired Lena and her drive to be a force for good. She was sure she wasn’t the only one who nursed a crush on her. Lena was kind of a force of nature.

Although it was earlier than she and Nia had arranged, they decided to go to lunch early. Kara finished up what she needed to and she stood up, turning around to take her coat from the coat stand just behind her. As she touched it to check whether it was still wet, she chanced a look into Lena’s office.

Lena was sat at her desk, but unusually, she wasn’t working. She looked like she was, but Kara had been working for her boss for long enough to know that whatever Lena was thinking about, it wasn’t what was on the screen in front of her.

If Kara was honest with herself, if she were truly honest with herself, some of what Siobhan had said wasn’t entirely dissimilar to what Kara hadn’t thought herself in her worst moments. She felt awful about it, especially since Siobhan had been particularly nasty; it wasn’t in Kara’s nature to be rude, but when driven to actual anger, less-than charitable thoughts had crossed her mind. Her boss was an impassable glacier who had ruined Kara’s plans more often than Kara wanted to think about.

She mentally shrugged her thoughts away as she pulled her slightly damp coat on, and headed out for lunch with Nia. Kara was really feeling like eating a giant pretzel after the morning she’d had, so they went to a restaurant a few blocks away that served giant pretzels with multiple dips. As they sat down, Kara slumped so far back in her seat that Nia had to lean over the table to see her.

“This has just been the worst day,” Kara started, before telling Nia all about her desire to be a journalist rather than a personal assistant, and all about the articles that she’d written. Up until this moment, Kara hadn’t told anyone about what she wanted out of her career. Nia herself had started at CatCo as a journalist fairly recently, made friends with Kara the same day, and was full of sympathy for Kara’s predicament. Nia, however, had gone through the normal channels. Kara was already employed by CatCo and felt responsibility towards the job she already had.

The fact that she had gone to Lena to ask for her opinion on her writing instead of to the people who actually managed the journalists was something she tried not to think about. The opinion of her boss mattered to her more than she thought it should, and she refused to delve deeper into that feeling, knowing where it ended.

“If it’s what you want Kara, then you need to go for it,” Nia said as Kara nodded glumly, tearing off another piece of warm pretzel and dipping it in the bowl of mustard. “And she denied your vacation request to spend time with your family on your adoption anniversary.”

“I know, and I’m really annoyed about that. It’s really important to my family that we celebrate that and... ugh. In terms of the articles, that’s kind of my fault. I never followed up with her. I shouldn’t have assumed that she would just come to me about it. I mean, she’s only at the office for like, one week out of the month. But still, I could’ve sent her an email or something-”

“Stop trying to excuse her shitty behavior, Kara, seriously,” Nia interrupted. “Like yeah sure, it was your job to bring it back up to her, but she could’ve just, you know, been nice about it and reminded you about it. I’m so worked up on your behalf. And if you’re not going to say it, I will. She’s so inhuman that she’s basically a robot, and not one of those good ones that cleans your house for you or anything. Would it have been so hard for her to just be nice once in her life? I don’t think I’ve ever seen that witch smile. She just comes in to work, works, and leaves. I mean, I have hardly any interaction with her at all, but I don’t think I’ve heard her be friendly to a single person since I started. What’s with that?”

The truth was, Kara didn’t have a clue. Nobody except for Sam Arias knew much about Lena Luthor other than what was reported in the press, and what was there was either not very complimentary or just the bare bones facts about her life. Personal information about Lena was virtually non-existent. Kara, of course, knew more facts about Lena because her job involved dealing with Lena’s life as far as was necessary. Kara knew what food Lena liked to eat, because she was the one who arranged the food deliveries once a week. Kara knew what kinds of clothes Lena had in her closet, because she had to order most of it from fairly exclusive shops across the city. She knew whatever small details Lillian Luthor happened to mention on the phone, which wasn’t much, but was more than the average person on the street would know.

In addition, of course, she had access to Lena’s calendar, which gave insights here and there into the impressive woman who ran her companies with a silk-covered fist.

“I don’t know,” Kara replied to Nia, choosing not to think too much about it anyway. She picked at her nail under the table. It’s not like she would be allowed to talk about Lena’s private life with a colleague, or with anyone. She’d be fired before she even got back to the office, never mind after the six month mark that Lena was giving her. It wasn’t worth the risk. The only person Kara could talk to about anything to do with Lena was Lena herself, and it’s not like she could do that; the one time she’d mentioned the dog shelter in Lena’s calendar in a casual manner, she’d been politely, but firmly put in her place. Kara immediately understood that while she was privy to certain items in Lena’s calendar, she was certainly not at liberty to ever mention them, not even to Lena herself.

When Nia gave her a look that clearly said she wanted more information, Kara huffed out a breath. “I don’t know Nia. There’s a wall there. Do I wish she was friendlier? Absolutely. Do I think she could do with a week off in Mexico being massaged by some oiled-up muscleman? Definitely,” she said, smiling as Nia snorted into her glass of lemonade at the image Kara had painted. “That woman’s so tightly wound it would take a chainsaw to cut through the knots. I feel a bit sorry for her actually.”

“Why?!” Nia asked incredulously.

“It must be a damn lonely life at the top,” Kara said, swallowing a few more painkillers from her bag just to kill off the remainder of the headache. “Oh well, it’s not really my problem anyway. It has nothing to do with me. I just make sure she gets where she needs to go and has no added stress in her life.”

They finished up their lunch, Kara ordering a second pretzel when she remembered that she’d eaten nothing but saltines all morning, and then they both had a slice of cake for dessert before heading back to the office.

As soon as she glanced into Lena’s office, she knew something was up. Lena looked a little… disturbed, which was certainly not an emotion that Kara had ever seen on her face before this morning. There was a blonde woman sitting in the chair opposite her. Kara frowned, before hanging her coat back up and settling into her chair. The blonde woman must be Cat Grant. Kara didn’t know why the Presidential Press Secretary would be doing here since she’d sold 33% of the shares of the company to Lena, making them equal, and the other 33% to the current board. Considering that this was marked in the calendar as personal, instead of digging any deeper, Kara turned her back to Lena’s office and started answering the emails that came in.

When Andrea Rojas arrived at 1:50pm, Kara sat her down in the empty corner office next to Lena’s, which was used as a waiting room. She offered tea or coffee, with Miss Rojas declining both. When 2pm came and went with no sign of Cat Grant leaving, Kara decided to give them another five minutes before interrupting them. She apologized to Miss Rojas, who looked only slightly annoyed, and sat back at her desk to wait.

At 2:15pm, Kara knocked timidly on the door of Lena’s office before she entered.

“Miss Luthor? Miss Rojas has arrived for her meeting and is waiting in the room next door. What time should I tell her you’ll be ready for her?” Kara asked.

Lena shifted uncomfortably in her chair before looking up and seeing Kara as if for the first time. Her green eyes grew slightly calculating as she looked at her, and for the second time since she’d come back to the office, Kara frowned. She didn’t know what that look meant, but Kara knew she didn’t like it.

Just as quickly as it had arrived, the look disappeared as Lena seemed to come to a decision. Unexpectedly, Lena stood behind her desk.

“Kara,” Lena started, and the sound of her first name in Lena’s voice seemed very strange, almost alien. Lena had never called her by her name before, and Kara stood by the door with the steel of the handle cold in her palm. “Could you please close the door and come over here?”

Kara gave her a quizzical look, but did as she requested before walking over and stopping by the corner of Lena’s desk. Before she could ask what she could do to help, Lena took a step towards her and stood next to her.

“Kara, darling, have you met Cat Grant?” she asked in a tone of voice that Kara had never heard her use before. It was almost… gentle.

If hearing her first name from Lena had been a shock, suddenly being called darling by her boss floored her. What the fuck was going on?

“I- uh, no, I haven’t,” she replied, desperately floundering in confusion at the look on Lena’s face, which was now as soft as her voice was, and Kara didn’t know what to do with that. She turned instead to Cat Grant and held her hand out. “I’m very pleased to meet you. I’m a big admirer of yours, and of this magazine.”

Cat extended a prim hand to her. “A pleasure, Kyra,” she said in a shrewd voice. “I can’t say that I’ve ever heard Lena mention you before,” she added, and Kara had the feeling that she’d walked into the middle of a very important conversation somehow. A conversation that she’d need to do an exam on without ever having seen the notes beforehand.

Kara found herself at a total loss. “Uh, well, that’s because-”

“We didn’t want people to know,” Lena interjected.

Know about what?

“Well, that makes sense given that she’s your personal assistant, Lena. I thought you had a little more sense than that. But,” she continued in an airy voice, “a woman has needs, I suppose.”

What?!

“I guess I… just couldn’t help myself,” Lena said slowly, before moving slightly closer to Kara. Cat’s eyes followed her, and then focused on Kara.

Wait, what?

Was Lena actually telling Cat Grant of all people that she was in a relationship with Kara? Why? As Kara’s mind spiraled, she felt Lena’s toe pressing firmly down upon her own, out of the sight of Cat. Kara tried her best not to wince, before she decided to just play along.

Trying to ignore the fact that everyone in the office would be able to see what she was doing if they happened to look in their direction, she looked down and reached out with her right hand, taking Lena’s left in hers, hoping that that was the right thing to do.

The skin of Lena’s hand was much softer than Kara expected, and she felt a swoop low in her stomach that had nothing to do with her nerves, especially when she felt Lena slot her fingers between hers and hold on tight. The moment seemed to stand still in Kara’s head as she tried to ignore how well their hands fit together.

“We felt our engagement-” Kara’s hand tightened around Lena’s at her words “-might make people uncomfortable, especially given our working relationship. So we tried to keep it as quiet as possible, and we haven’t told anyone. Until now, at least,” Lena finished, squeezing Kara’s hand back as tightly as she could. “In fact, we’re spending next week with Kara’s family.”

Cat raised both of her eyebrows, and Kara tried valiantly not to. “Well. I suppose there’s nothing for me to do but wish you both the best, but you know this doesn’t change anything, Lena. You’ll need to make this relationship known to Immigration, and I suggest you head down to their offices as soon as possible, today if you can, but under federal law, you know you’re not allowed to work for a US company while this is sorted out.”

“But-” Lena started, before she took a tiny step backwards. Kara’s own eyes widened. Immigration? What on earth was going on?

“No buts, and no ifs either Lena, the law is clear,” Cat cut across the brunette, and as serious as this conversation seemed to be, Kara was, even in a small amount, amazed to find someone that seemed to intimidate even Lena Luthor. “You aren’t allowed to leave the country while your visa application is being processed.”

Beside her, Kara watched as the little color that Lena had in her cheeks drained out of it. “But-”

Cat held her hand up. “Didn’t I say no buts? You weren’t allowed to leave the country. I understand that there were some issues at L-Corp in Paris, but they could’ve been handled by Sam Arias. No, don’t, Lena. I know it’s only France,” she said, waving her hand in the air in the manner of a queen dismissing her subjects, “but it’s still a foreign country. You still left the US. And you shot yourself right in your expensive little foot.”

Kara could feel Lena’s palm sweating slightly in hers, and all she could do was hold on while Lena’s world seemingly crashed around her.

“And because of that, you can’t work for a US company while this is sorted out. You know that includes L-Corp as well,” she stated when she saw that Lena was about to protest, “so while this is all… handled, you will need to take a step back. Consider yourself on paid leave.”

“I understand,” Lena said in a voice that sounded like it cost her a great effort to say the words. “And… who is my replacement to be?”

Cat straightened up even further in her chair. “Andrea Rojas.”

Oh. The woman who was sitting out there in the waiting room while Kara was in here holding Lena’s hand. Kara saw Lena stiffen in recognition of the name, and Kara did the only thing she could to comfort the woman (why was she even thinking of doing that?), and rubbed her thumb across the back of Lena’s hand. She felt Lena relax very slightly, but her voice was cold when she spoke.

“Andrea Rojas will ruin this company in my absence.”

“The board wanted her,” Cat said. “Her reputation as an editor-in-chief preceded her. I know you have history with her, but there was nothing I could do. Now,” slapped her hands on the armrests of the chair. “I have many, many things that I need to be doing. And frankly, you two need to get yourselves down to the Immigration office as soon as possible so that you can… let them know about this…” she swung her pointed finger between the two of them, “relationship.”

And with that, Cat Grant swept out of the office in a flurry of air kisses and Chanel perfume. As the door closed behind her, Kara could see the whole office staring at her, standing there and holding Lena’s hand. She dropped it immediately and ran her hands rapidly through her hair, pacing back and forth in the office, not caring how it looked. She heard Lena sit in her chair, heard the squeak of it as she twisted it towards her desk. She heard Lena pick up a pen. The scratch of the writing on paper, as if nothing untoward had just happened, broke Kara out of her silence.

She didn’t even know where to start, but she figured a good place was-

“You told her we were engaged?!

Chapter Text

At the shrill sound of Kara’s panicked voice, Lena looked up from the papers on her desk.

“Do keep your voice down, Miss Danvers,” she said irritably. “I hardly think that the whole office needs to hear what we just discussed.”

“What we… Le- Miss Luthor, you just told Cat Grant that we’re engaged! Apparently you’re in some sort of mess with Immigration. Aren’t you American? What on earth is going on?” Kara babbled, her voice rising with each passing word. The look of irritation on Lena’s face deepened as she watched Kara unravel in front of her.

“Miss Danvers!” Lena said, raising her own voice, and the shock of hearing Lena’s normally calm voice ringing through the office stopped her in her criss-crossing the office. “Miss Danvers,” she continued, quieter. “Could you please kindly go and fetch Andrea Rojas and bring her in here. Apparently, she and I have some things we need to discuss.”

Kara gaped at her. “What about me?”

Lena leveled a peeved look at Kara. “What about you?”

Kara found that she had no response to such an insulting question, and she felt her face harden. Lena frowned at her in consternation before she seemed to realise what she’d said, that she’d been rude, but as she opened her mouth to say… what? To apologize? Kara turned on her heel and stalked out of the office.

She stopped by her desk to take a sip of water, and she met Nia’s questioning look and raised hands across the office. Kara glanced down at her laptop and found that the internal instant messenger program on her computer was flashing with rather a lot of messages. When she looked around, she saw everyone was staring at her. Angrily putting the bottle of water back down on her desk with a thump, she strode over to the office where Andrea Rojas was sitting and waiting.

“Miss Rojas? I’m sorry about the wait. The previous meeting,” Kara forced her voice to stay steady, “ran longer than expected.”

Andrea stood up and pulled her purse over her shoulder. “That’s quite alright, it’s not your fault. Please show me to Miss Luthor’s office.”

Without another word, Kara led her back to Lena’s office, opened it for her, and shut it behind her without another word. At this point, she really didn’t care whether she was coming across as either impolite or unprofessional. She sat back down at her desk with a huff and tried to ignore the looks everyone was giving her.

Nia Nal: What the actual fuck Kara? Why were you holding her hand?!?!?!

As she was reading the message from Nia, Maxwell Lord, one of the lower level interns who had a larger than average ego and the smarmiest nature that Kara had ever encountered, walked up to her.

Her? Really? I guess we know why your salary is so much higher than everyone else’s,” he smirked as he passed, gone before Kara could think of a suitable retort.

She had no clue what to reply to the questioning messages on her computer, and because she had no idea what the situation was with Lena and Immigration, she didn’t feel like she could say anything to anyone anyway. The idea of the federal government being involved in this somehow made Kara’s skin itch and images of herself getting arrested for her involvement in this crossed her mind. She was pretty sure that what Lena had proposed was illegal.

Proposed?

Nobody had proposed at all!

Kara let her head thump down onto the desk. She felt a migraine coming on that had nothing to do with the bourbon and tequila from the night before, and everything to do with her boss in the office behind her.

She sent a message to Nia saying that she would tell her later, and then turned the instant messaging program off altogether. Out of sight, out of mind.

Yeah, right.

While the meeting between Lena and Andrea went on (and what a doozy Kara thought that must be), Kara busied herself with staring at her laptop screen like a zombie. People passed her desk and asked questions, and she ignored them.

Lena’s calendar was mercifully empty after the meeting with Andrea. Kara desperately needed to talk to Lena again, and as soon as possible. She didn’t know what on earth was going on with Immigration, because as far as she, and as far as anyone knew, Lena Luthor was as American as they got. Well, except for some slips of her accent that slid in every now and again, but her time in boarding school in Ireland was well-documented.

Kara googled her boss, at this point not caring how strange that might be when the woman was sitting not ten meters from her. Nowhere could she find any information about Lena not being American. On the one hand, she was surprised; surely something as basic as that would’ve made the news somewhere? On the other hand, Lena’s privacy about her personal life was clearly something that she put a great amount of time and effort into keeping it just that – private. It was almost as if there was a void when it came to anything about Lena’s life that didn’t have something to do with her work. Kara supposed that whatever nationality Lena was had nothing to do with her work at either L-Corp or CatCo.

An hour went past, during which Kara did absolutely no work except for answering any emails that came through to her. She was on top of everything, and she stared at her game of Solitaire while she moodily ate the last of the saltines that Nia had given her earlier.

When Andrea walked past her out of Lena’s office over an hour after she’d gone in, she closed Solitaire and sat up in her chair. She swung it around and looked behind her. When she caught Lena’s eye, she waited until Lena beckoned to her before she got up and walked into the office, shutting the door again behind her.

“Miss Luthor, I-” she started, but was silenced by Lena holding a finger up to her, before pulling her hand back down and continuing to type something out on her laptop. Kara sat loudly down in the chair opposite Lena’s and huffed out a loud breath. She watched as Lena frowned, before her face cleared again. Kara picked at her nails, the tick-tick-tick of it clearly getting on Lena’s nerves, but still she said nothing to Kara. She felt her anger bubbling.

As whatever Lena was doing passed five minutes, Kara had had enough. In an uncharacteristic moment of forwardness, she stuck her hand out and slammed the lid of Lena’s laptop closed, causing Lena to yank her hands away from the keyboard.

“How dare you?” she exclaimed, pulling the laptop towards her and checking that it wasn’t damaged.

“How dare I? Excuse me, Miss Luthor, but did you, or did you not, just announce to Cat Grant that we were engaged? Presumably, engaged to be married?” Kara burst out, her voice unsteady.

Lena blew out a breath and put her hands on top of the desk, her long fingers linked together. Kara looked at them for a moment, remembering how they had felt in hers, before her eyes snapped up to meet green ones that were simmering with anger.

“Look here, Miss Luthor. I haven’t got a clue what’s going on. I don’t know what Cat Grant was talking about, I don’t know who Andrea Rojas is, and frankly, I don’t care. What I do want to know is why the hell you decided telling them that we were engaged was a good idea and what on Earth I have to do with anything?”

Lena watched her as she spoke, never breaking eye contact. “Are you quite done?”

“No! What does Immigration have to do with anything? I’ve had to sit out there for a whole hour while everyone has been asking me what the hell I’m doing and why I was holding your hand in the meeting earlier. And frankly, I have no answers to give them, because I don’t know myself!” Kara said indignantly.

Lena shot her a withering look. “Is it really that bad that you held my hand, Kara? I didn’t ask you to, after all.”

“Well, no, but-” Kara spluttered.

“In answer to your question of what you have to do with anything? Nothing, really. You were here,” Lena said in a flat voice. “I was in need of someone and you were there, that’s all. It wasn’t more than that.”

Kara felt herself both angry at being used and oddly disappointed by what Lena said, but anger won out. “And what exactly did you need me for anyway?” she asked sharply.

“Calm down, Miss Danvers,” Lena said. “This isn’t like you.”

“Yeah well, neither was holding your hand in the middle of your office, Miss Luthor.”

The sentence seemed to hang in the air between them, and Kara’s anger dissipated somewhat as she looked across at Lena, who looked both ill-tempered and worried. The combination of the two was strange enough to shut Kara up. For a moment, they just gazed at each other, before Lena looked down at her hands.

“I don’t want to talk about this here, Miss Danvers. As you heard Cat Grant say, I need to go to the Immigration office, which is downtown. I’d like you to come with me, if you don’t mind?”

“Fine,” Kara said bluntly. “Are we leaving now?”

“Yes.”

Lena stood up and slipped her laptop into its case, before slinging it over her shoulder. While she gathered her coat and her umbrella, Kara went to her desk, shut her laptop down and put it into her own bag, before slipping her coat back on.

They didn’t speak on their way to the elevator, but the incredulous stares that they were sent as they walked over to it were some of the most intrusive and frankly disrespectful that Kara had ever received from her colleagues. She was on friendly terms with all of them in general, but it didn’t feel like that right now. Some of the younger guys were openly leering, and some of the women shot her dirty looks, no doubt thinking that she slept her way to her job. Kara felt herself flush as they walked, and was glad when they reached the elevator.

Lena seemed unbothered by all the attention that was being shown to them, and pressed the call button for the elevator as if nothing was happening. She didn’t turn once to look at any of her employees. Conversely, Kara was shifting from foot to foot under the weight of the scrutinous looks they were getting, and she didn’t think she’d ever been more relieved to hear an elevator ding in all her life.

When they climbed in, Kara stared determinedly at the wall of numbers as Lena pressed the button for the lobby, and breathed a sigh of relief when the doors closed.

“So-”

“Mm, not here,” Lena said quietly, lifting her chin up gently at the camera in the corner of the lift.

Kara had never thought about the camera before. “Oh, right.”

“We’ll talk when we get to the car,” the brunette said, texting who Kara assumed was her driver before putting her cell phone back in her coat pocket.

Kara followed Lena through the lobby of CatCo and towards a door that she’d never gone through before. Lena swiped a card through a reader and the door opened for them. When they’d walked through, Lena made sure it was closed behind them before she walked down a flight of stairs and through another set of doors at the bottom. They eventually found themselves in an underground car park, which didn’t have many cars in it. Lena headed over to a black town car that was idling in the corner, and the driver climbed out as they approached.

“Miss Luthor, Miss Danvers,” he said, opening a door on each side of the car for them. Kara wondered how he knew her name and figured Lena must’ve mentioned it when she text him.

“Thank you, Michael,” Lena said, as she slid gracefully into her seat. Kara climbed in the other side and shut the door before Michael could do it for her.

Once they were both inside and the car started to move, Lena bent forward and pressed a button that set the privacy divider rolling up towards the ceiling, effectively creating a barrier between them and Michael. Once it was all the way up, Kara twisted in her seat to look at Lena, who was once again tapping on her phone.

Kara watched her for a moment. Lena’s sharp jawline was accentuated by the overhead light and the lack of light coming into the car, thanks to the tinted windows. Her long ponytail was stuck between Lena’s back and the seat, and as she was looking, Lena reached up and pulled it out, running her fingers through it as she set it over her shoulder.

“So,” Kara said, repeating herself from earlier, and this time, Lena didn’t stop her. Instead, she put her cell phone in her pocket again, and turned in her seat to look at Kara. Her face was carefully blank, and Kara wasn’t sure what she was thinking. “Um.”

“This is the second time today you’ve been rather inarticulate,” Lena observed.

Kara’s irritation flared up again. “Hey, I think I’ve been rather restrained given the circumstances!”

“And what are the circumstances?” Lena asked.

“You know what, I really don’t know. Why don’t you tell me so that I can be a bit better prepared for… wherever you’re taking me?”

Lena gave her an impatient look, and Kara squirmed a little under it.

“We’re going to the New York branch office of the USCIS, because we need to speak to an immigration officer, as you know.”

“Okay, but why are we going there, Miss Luthor?”

Lena looked at her a moment longer, before she sighed and looked down into her lap. She pulled on her fingers a little before she looked back up at Kara.

“You might have gathered from today that my application for a continuation of my visa was rejected. I wasn’t supposed to leave the country during the application process, but the Parisian branch of L-Corp was having an issue with one of the pieces of tech that I developed while working in National City. As it was about to go to the investors, it needed to be fixed, and I was the only one who could fix it. The loss of the contract would’ve been catastrophic, financially speaking, so I flew over there and sorted it out. Unfortunately, that put me in breach of my visa application, and it was subsequently rejected,” Lena explained.

Kara listened carefully. “Okay, but what does that have to do with me?”

Lena picked at one of her nails. “They’re going to deport me.”

Deport you?!” Kara squeaked. What the hell? L-Corp and CatCo without Lena Luthor? Kara couldn’t imagine it, and on some level, she really didn’t want to.

“Yes,” Lena replied, examining her nails before picking at them again. She looked calm, but Kara recognized the actions of someone who felt at least a little nervous.

“Uh, where are they deporting you to?”

“Ireland.”

“You’re Irish?” Kara asked.

Lena rolled her eyes. “Miss Danvers. I have no intention of letting them deport me to Ireland. I have two businesses to run here, and I don’t doubt that without me overseeing everything, things will fall to pieces.”

“You think an awful lot of yourself, Miss Luthor,” Kara said, before she could stop herself.

Lena allowed herself a tiny smile. “I have confidence in myself, Miss Danvers. There’s a difference between that and an ego.”

“I’m sorry, that was really rude of me.”

“It’s no worse than I’ve heard a thousand times before,” Lena replied, and Kara immediately felt bad, both for her words and for Lena; how horrible it must be to have to read and hear all the insulting things people had said about her. Before she could say anything else though, Lena was speaking again. “Anyway. I was talking with Miss Grant and although I’m not allowed to work for any US company while my… deportation-” she said with another roll of her eyes, “is being prepared for, you walked into the office just as I was searching for a way to stop that happening. And… now that the laws have changed-”

Kara couldn’t believe what she was hearing as the penny truly dropped. “You want me to marry you to stop you from being deported? Le- Miss Luthor, that’s fraud!”

“I’m well-aware of that, Miss Danvers,” Lena said, in a tone of voice that implied that she saw no problem with it.

Kara gaped at her. “You’re asking me, me, to risk my… to risk everything, to help you?”

Lena glanced over at her. “Yes.”

Kara slumped back in her seat. “You’re not serious.”

“I’m afraid I’m deadly serious, Miss Danvers.”

Just as Kara was about to say something else, the car slowed to a stop outside of a building. Kara looked out.

“We’re here,” Lena said, somewhat pointlessly, before reaching for the door handle.

“Wait, Miss Luthor,” Kara said, reaching for her hand and then stopping halfway. Lena rested her hand on the handle, but didn’t open it. It was pulled out of her grip though by Michael, who opened the door anyway.

“Sorry, Michael, could you just give us a moment?” Lena asked, and he nodded. She pulled the door closed, and turned back to Kara. “What is it?”

Kara shook her head wordlessly. “I-” she started. She left her hand resting on the armrest between the seats. This was her last chance to back out before this whole mess got any worse. But the moment passed.

Lena watched her carefully for a moment, and when it became clear that Kara wasn’t going to say anything else, opened the door and climbed out. Kara followed her up the steps and into the building.

They meandered through the maze of the governmental building until they reached a large room where people were sitting around in pairs, some with children, and the hum of many conversations in many different languages drifted through the air. They joined the line of people waiting to be seen at the desk and out of her bag, Lena pulled out a sheaf of documents, which turned out to be the fiancée visa application.

Kara stood quietly by while Lena spoke to the woman issuing the waiting numbers, and soon enough they were sitting in some chairs and waiting for their turn. They obviously couldn’t talk about the situation while they were sitting where they were, and not for the first time, Kara wondered just what the fuck she was doing there at all. She should’ve just refused and walked straight back out of Lena’s office before any of this had gotten as out of hand as it had.

But she hadn’t and here she was, filling in some details on the fiancée visa form while Lena watched her.

“You’re annoyed,” she stated.

“Mmhmm,” Kara confirmed as she ticked a few things on the form.

“Why?”

Why?” Kara hissed. “Do you really have to ask me that?”

“Miss Danvers-”

“Call me Kara, for goodness’ sake. It’s going to look really weird if you keep calling me Miss Danvers, Lena,” she snapped.

“Oh, right,” Lena said, looking chastened for the first time. Why Lena hadn’t thought of that herself, Kara had no idea.

They sat in silence while they waited. Kara put her earphones in and played a very annoying game called Slip Away on her cell phone, and she could feel Lena watching her out of the corner of her eye. Eventually, Lena pulled her laptop out of her bag and opened up her work email, before tapping at the keyboard incessantly when it refused to open.

“You’re suspended, remember?” Kara said snippily out of the corner of her mouth. “You’re not going to be able to do any work. Don’t you have a kindle app on there or something you can read a book on while we wait?”

Lena looked at her like she’d grown three heads before she shoved her laptop unceremoniously back in her bag and fished in her pocket for her cell phone. Kara left her to it. Her irritation with Lena seemed to come in waves, and at the moment, her surfboard was high in the water.

An hour passed in complete silence while Kara played her game on her phone, and Lena… looked through business news, as far as Kara could tell whenever she looked over to see what she was doing.

Eventually, Lena looked up suddenly from what she was doing, and she didn’t seem to know how to get Kara’s attention, if her jerky hand movements signified anything. She settled for pushing her gently in the shoulder, and Kara pulled her earphones out. “What?”

“They’ve called us,” Lena said, inclining her head to the corner of the room where a perky-looking blonde stood, beckoning them over.

“Oh, right,” she said, putting her cell and her earphones in her pocket. Just as she was about to beat her high score too.

She followed Lena through the waiting area and over to the blonde.

“Hi ladies, I’m Eve Teschmacher. Please follow me,” and Kara and Lena trailed the woman down another maze of corridors until she reached a small office which was decorated with many paintings of cats, for some reason. Kara sat warily in a chair in front of Eve’s desk, and Lena perched on the edge of the one next to her.

Kara couldn’t help but notice that her palms were sweating, and she wiped them as best as she could on her trousers. She really was having the most unexpected day imaginable. Never in her wildest dreams when she’d woken up this morning, hungover, did she think she’d be sitting in the office of an immigration official in an attempt to convince her that she and her extremely standoffish boss were going to be married. That they loved each other.

Lena handed the paperwork over the desk to Eve when she asked for it, and they both sat there while Eve looked through it all. Kara fidgeted in her seat, and she could tell that Lena wanted to stamp on her foot. She shifted her feet away from Lena. Those Louboutins looked like they’d hurt.

“Okay, well, I’m sorry about the wait you had this afternoon. It’s just been a crazy day here,” Eve said, in as high pitched a voice as Kara expected her to have.

“That’s no problem,” Lena replied in a voice entirely unlike her own. She sounded almost placating, and Kara tried her best not to sound like it was unusual for her to hear Lena speak like that. “I’m just thankful that you could see us on such short notice.”

“Oh yes, that’s quite alright. All the paperwork seems to be in order,” Eve said, flipping the top page back down and setting the visa application down on her desk.

Kara saw Lena relax her rigid posture slightly in the seat next to her.

Across from her, Eve leaned forward in her chair. “I’ve just got one question for you both before we take this any further, okay?”

“Alright,” Lena said in reply.

“Mmhmm,” Kara said, smiling. Maybe this wouldn’t be so bad after all.

Eve smiled too, but it was predatory, and Kara’s stomach dropped. “Are you both committing fraud in order to avoid her deportation back to Ireland, so that she can continue her jobs at both L-Corp and CatCo Magazine?”

“Excuse me?” Lena asked, leaning forward as well.

“What would make you think that?” Kara asked, feeling like her stomach was somewhere in her left shoe.

Eve flipped through the pages of the documents in front of her. “We had a tip-off today from a woman called Siobhan Smythe-”

Lena let out a laugh that Kara recognized as one of her false ones, and hoped that Eve wouldn’t hear it for what it was. “Siobhan Smythe. She’s a former employee who was recently let go. In fact, she caused quite a stir in the CatCo offices today before security removed her from the premises. I’m sure she just holds a grudge and this is her way of spiting me, since I was the reason she was let go.”

Kara huffed out a laugh, causing both Lena and Eve to look over at her. “Yeah, Siobhan really did cause a scene today. I think everyone will be talking about that one for weeks.”

Eve looked back and forth between the two of them, and the look on her face was shrewd.

Lena laughed as well, trying to pass the tension off as laughter at the confrontation in the office earlier. “Yes. She’s a disgruntled former employee who has it out for me. I’m sure that you’ll receive quite a few calls about me over the course of this application, given who my family is, Miss Teschmacher,” Lena added.

“I’m aware of your family, Miss Luthor,” Eve said.

“Good. I hope you understand that all of the calls you receive about me will likely be malicious in nature and I would be grateful if you could take them all with a pinch of salt. If you could let us know what the next steps are for this application, we’ll be out of your hair.”

“I’ll take all of the calls very seriously, Miss Luthor,” Eve replied, and Lena’s smile froze on her face. Despite looking like a kindergarten schoolteacher, Eve was clearly nobody to be trifled with. Her voice turned even more formal. “Because we’ve received this tip-off about you, we will be going a little deeper into your application. Let me explain what the next steps that this will entail. First of all, in about a week’s time, I’ll take you each into a room, individually, and question you about each other. The interview will last at least an hour, the questions will be in-depth, and will be about things that only a genuine partner would know about the other. There is no exact list of questions that you can look up online, so don’t bother to look for one. I’ll give you the list of questions that you might be asked, there are at least a thousand of them, and we can go from there.”

Kara tried her best not to look over at Lena, feeling like if she did, she would give the game away immediately. Her sister Alex was very fond of saying that Kara had no poker face whatsoever, and Kara just knew that Lena would have her professional face on right now.

Instead, she nodded as if none of what Eve was saying was news to her, as if she’d expected this. She had heard of green card interviews, had heard that they were notoriously difficult, but she never thought that she would be subject to one, or, if she was, certainly not under fraudulent circumstances.

“That’s fine,” she said, and was glad that her voice came out as she reached over for Lena’s hand. “I’m sure we’ll do great, right honeybun?”

“You know I hate that name, darling,” Lena said in response, but didn’t resist when Kara’s fingers wrapped around hers.

“Next, I’ll dig into your phone records. I’ll talk to your neighbors, and your colleagues, under oath, and I will ask them about your relationship. Lastly, after the interviews, you will need to submit a folder of documents that prove your relationship. Birthday cards, photos, that sort of thing. I will give you a list of the sorts of documents that you will be required to submit. Does that all sound okay?”

Lena found her voice first. “Yes, that will all be fine, Miss Teschmacher. Thank you very much for explaining this to-”

“If any of the answers don’t match up,” Eve continued as if Lena wasn’t speaking, “you will be deported immediately, and indefinitely.” She pointed at Lena as she said this, and once again, like this morning, Kara was struck by the fact that Lena did not flinch. “You, Kara, will have committed a felony that will be punishable with a $250,000 fine and a stay of five years in federal prison.”

Kara gulped. A quarter of a million dollars? She hadn’t even finished paying off her student loan yet! And she would not last a week in jail. Her mind was suddenly filled with images of the real-life prison shows that she and Alex liked to watch, and she felt sicker now than she had at any point during the day, including the moments where she had had her head in a toilet.

“So, Kara,” Eve continued. “Is there anything that you’d like to say to me? You haven’t committed any crime… yet.”

Kara swallowed. She could feel Lena’s hand in hers, and it was shaking slightly. Lena was nervous, too.

For the first time, though, it struck Kara what she was risking by going along with this harebrained plan of marrying her boss. Not only would she be marrying Lena Luthor, of all people, she would be attempting to do so fraudulently. She would have to lie to her entire family, all her friends, her colleagues, and compromise her job. If she was caught, she’d be in more debt than she would be able to pay back in most of her lifetime, have a criminal record forever, and have to spend five entire years in jail trying not to become someone’s prison wife.

Lena’s hand was heavy in hers. She was risking something too.

But $250,000 and five years in jail? A criminal record? What on earth was worth risking that? The way Eve was looking at her was if she scented victory.

“The truth is,” Kara started, and Lena’s fingers tightened in hers. She felt Lena’s thumb rub softly across the back of her hand, just as Kara did to her earlier, and she felt something inside of her change, somehow. “The truth is, Lena and I… Lena and I are just two people who weren’t meant to fall in love.”

Eve sat back in her chair. Kara chanced a glance over at Lena, who was looking at her with an indecipherable look on her face.

“You see… you see, we couldn’t tell anyone at work because she’s my boss, and because of the promotion and raised I’m going to be getting soon. We didn’t want people thinking that I had got the job just because we’re… you know. I’m sure you know. Well, anyway,” Kara blundered on, the words just coming out any which way, “we thought it would be inappropriate to tell people about us while everything was going through the works, just in case.”

“I see,” Eve said, drawing the word out disbelievingly. “And have you told your parents about your relationship? Your families?”

“My mother and I are practically estranged,” Lena said. “And my brother and I no longer speak. I’m sure you can understand why.”

“Hmm, yes,” Eve said. “And you, Kara?”

“My biological parents are dead,” Kara said, and she felt Lena’s hand suddenly tighten around hers. She hadn’t known that. “My adoptive father has also passed away. We were actually going to visit my adoptive family next week, to tell them about our engagement. My mother and sister are expecting us. It’s the anniversary of my being adopted by the Danvers family; we always celebrate it. We’ll be having visitors, and we’ll be spending the week with them. We thought we’d break the news to them then.”

“Uh huh,” Eve said, sounding no less suspicious. “And where is this big family get together going to be happening?” She directed the question at Lena.

“At Kara’s mother’s house,” Lena replied, looking at Kara.

“And where is that?”

Kara knew that Lena, of course, didn’t have the first clue where Kara was from, or where her family lived. But she was in this now. In for a penny, in for a pound.

“Midvale, Alaska,” she jumped in with. “Lena’s never been up there. My family prefer to travel over to New York, they like the history of the east coast. My sister’s applying for work here, so she’s been visiting more often. We thought we’d head up there for a change. We’ve both been so busy lately, it’ll be a nice change of pace.”

“I can’t wait, to be honest,” Lena embellished. “I haven’t taken a proper holiday in a long time. Running two Fortune 500 companies does tend to take it out of you.”

Eve looked between them both again, before her eyes settled on their clasped hands.

“Okay. This is how it’s going to go. I want to see you both back here at 11am, a week from Monday, and we will be doing your individual interviews then. Please take these documents with you on your trip,” she passed up two large heavy binders over the table to them, “and study them carefully so that you know what to expect. If I hear anything suspicious from anyone else, I have nothing against travelling to Alaska to discuss my concerns with you personally. I’ll see you both soon.”

“Thank you for your time, Miss Teschmacher,” Kara managed, before picking up both of the binders chivalrously and leading Lena out of the door with one hand at her lower back.

They walked like that through the government building, the air between them crackling with tension, until they were out on the street again and Kara let her hand drop from Lena’s back. They walked silently towards the car, and Michael opened the doors for them again. They both slid into their respective seats, the ominous white binders sitting on top of the armrest between them.

Lena provided Michael with Kara’s home address, which she evidently remembered from the fiancé visa application, and he started to drive. For the first few minutes, Kara sat and stared out of the window, too full of thoughts to voice any of them. If she was honest with herself, she felt like she was so full of pent-up energy that she could rocket through the roof of the town car and have enough energy left to get home.

There was complete silence from Lena’s seat, and she heard the brunette pull her cell phone out yet again. Kara wondered furiously to herself whether there was there ever a time when she wasn’t on her phone. She stared at New York as it passed, then the blackness of the tunnel under the river, and finally the familiar streets of home. She felt her anger simmering inside of herself, but some part of her felt hysterical as well.

The divider between themselves and Michael was still up, thankfully, because the second she finally turned to look at Lena, she knew the expression on her face was thunderous.

“A quarter of a million dollars? Jail time? A criminal record for the rest of my life?” she exploded as quietly as she could so as not to alert Michael.

“Okay, I know it’s a small favor to ask-”

A small favor?! Lena! It’s…” she scrubbed her face with her hands. “Do you even hear yourself? Do you know what it is I’m risking for you? It’s… what would my sister say, shit- she’s a cop!” Kara burst out through her fingers. “This is the easily the most insane thing I’ve ever done and that includes trying to fly off the roof of my house when I was a teenager.”

“It’ll be fine, Miss Danvers…” Lena looked over at her. “Kara. We’ll-”

Kara interrupted her. “We’re here. You’re coming upstairs,” she stated in a voice that brooked no argument. Lena opened her mouth as if to say something, but shut it, and to Kara’s surprise, opened the door and stepped out of the car. She followed Kara to the street door, up the stairs, and through her front door into her apartment. Kara swallowed the comment she was going to make about how Lena looked, standing in her living room that had never seen the red sole of a Louboutin shoe and pulling anxiously on her fingers.

Usually, when someone visited Kara’s place, the first thing they did was look around, because it was so unusual. But Lena didn’t move from her spot on the bare floorboards. She just looked at Kara, her expression almost bored.

“You’re about as bothered about breaking the law as you are about whether your pen has blue or black ink,” Kara seethed. “Do you even care what you’re about to put me through? Did you even think about it? God, I’m going to have to lie to my entire family and tell them I’m in love with you and want to marry you, when I’ve never… ugh.”

“What, were you saving marriage for someone special?” Lena broke in with a scoff.

“Not that I think you care, but actually, yes. When I got married I wanted to do it only once, for it to be for love, not for it to be a fucking sham marriage where I’m risking jail.”

Lena crossed her arms over her chest. “Kara. Everything will be fine. We’ll get married, you can divorce me after however long is legally necessary, you’ll get the job you want-”

“And I want a raise too,” Kara said flatly. “Or some kind of settlement. And I don’t want an argument about it. If I’m going to fucking jail I’m going to need a bit more money so I can pay off the $250,000 fine I’m going to get saddled with.”

Lena looked at her in exasperation. “You’re not going to jail.”

“How do you know that? You don’t know how this is going to go. You don’t know anything about me at all. I know so much random stuff about you, Lena Kieran Luthor, but you don’t know a goddamn thing about me, excuse my language. No, in fact, don’t excuse it. I’m so fucking mad right now. I must be insane. I don’t know what the hell’s got into me to make me agree to do this with you. To be your wife- what the hell was I thinking?! I’m so angry right now and I don’t care how brilliant you are, this is one test you can’t fake because it involves knowing a whole lot about another person and to be honest, I’ve never seen you take an interest in a single person. I don’t think I’ve seen you notice other people at all since I’ve been working for you.”

Kara ran out of steam, and Lena was staring at her. There was an odd expression on her face which, if she were anyone other than Lena Luthor, she would have said was hurt. Kara had a horrible feeling like she’d just struck a nerve of Lena’s somehow, although she wasn’t sure exactly which part of her tirade had done that. Right now, she wasn’t sure she cared much, either.

The enormity of what she’d agreed to crashed down on her and she sat down on her sofa, dropping her head into her hands and trying her best to breathe deeply.

She had actually told a government official that she was going to be marrying Lena Luthor. That the marriage was genuine.

She dug her hands into her hair and tightened her fists in it.

“Lena,” she said, speaking to the floor.

“Yes?” came Lena’s low voice, considerably closer than it had been a few minutes. She glanced up to find Lena standing almost next to her, before she looked back down at the floor.

“You have a private jet, am I right?”

“Yes,” Lena confirmed.

“We’re going to Midvale tomorrow. We have to meet my family. Just… please, pack something more casual than what you have on right now. It’s not the kind of place where Diane von Furstenberg would fit in, okay?”

There was a short silence. “Okay,” Lena replied. “I’ll see you tomorrow morning. I’ll make the arrangements and pick you up at 6am.”

Kara didn’t reply, even at the mention of the horrifically early hour.

The next thing she heard were Lena’s footsteps towards the door, before Lena’s voice came again. This time it was soft, like it had been in her office.

“I’m… I’m sorry about your parents, Kara.”

The door opened and closed, and Lena’s heels hit the creaky wooden steps on her way out of the building. The sound echoed in the old hallway, and Kara listened as Lena made her way out of the street door and onto the street.

She was going to marry Lena Luthor.

Goddamn.

Chapter Text

To Kara’s dismay, she wasn’t able to call any of her family members to let them know that she actually would be arriving for her adoption anniversary week. Thanks to the four-hour time difference between New York City and Midvale, it meant that someone was generally always at work. Phone calls needed to be scheduled rather than spontaneous.

The combination of painkillers and shock of what she’d agreed to had seemed to have kicked her hangover to the curb, so she ordered in some pizza and spent the evening packing for her week away at Midvale. It was late April, so the temperature was beginning to warm up, but it was never perfectly guaranteed to be light sweater weather. She packed wool, thermal tops, some heavy sweaters, hats, and a pair of trainers; the kind that was meant for warmth and comfort, not high fashion. She had plenty of lighter clothes stored up in Midvale, anyway. She put her waterproof hiking boots by the door for her to put on in the morning, because they were great for slush. She’d kick them off on the plane. She wondered whether Lena had any, then decided that it wasn’t her problem. Kara had the feeling that Lena wasn’t going to listen to her when she’d asked her to pack more casual clothes; she was sure that Lena was going to stick out like a sore thumb in Midvale.

She smiled to herself at the thought of Lena walking down Main Street in her Givenchy dresses and expensive shoes, carrying a bag of groceries. The smile turned into laughter, and soon enough she was somewhere between laughing and crying, sitting on the worn old sofa in her apartment, a slice of pizza sagging in her hand.

She had no idea how she’d got herself into this mess. On the one hand, she was going to hold Lena to her giving her the job that she wanted. She was going to hold her to the settlement. She was going to get something out of this, but on the other hand, this was going to be the most wrong thing she had ever done. Not only was she going to be lying to every single person in her life except for Lena, she was breaking the law so badly that she risked a stay in prison and the loss of everything she knew.

And for what? Because a pretty lady with beautiful eyes asked her for help? Asked? Kara scoffed to herself. Who was she kidding? Lena hadn’t asked for her help, she’d demanded it, and she needed to keep the distinction clear in her head. She should’ve turned her down flat, but at that highly-charged moment in Lena’s office, she hadn’t felt like she’d had much of a choice.

Kara desperately wanted to text Alex and ask her advice on what she should do, but she couldn’t even do that, thanks to the knowledge that everything in her phone would be reviewed by the government. All she could do was let Alex know that she would be arriving the following evening, and that she was bringing someone with her, which she would do as soon as she’d finished eating her pizza. She was not looking forward to composing that text, considering she would have to explain who the someone was.

The someone being Lena freaking Luthor, her extremely indifferent boss, and the woman her family mostly knew from negative articles in the media. It was not like Kara to bad mouth anyone; she always stopped herself before she said anything truly rude, so the worst that she had said to her family about Lena was that she was not exactly personable. Kara was so mild-mannered that her refusal to say anything specifically horrible about Lena to her family spoke volumes to them, and she knew it. She didn’t exactly talk her up either, though; the best she could’ve said for Lena before this point was the same as anyone could’ve read in any article about her. She was intelligent, accomplished, and an excellent businesswoman.

Another thing that her family knew was that she was frustrated at the fact that she’d not been able to visit them at home in Midvale for more than a couple of days at a time since she’d started working at CatCo. They knew it was because of her boss.

And, what? She was going to show up tomorrow and tell her entire family that she was marrying Lena, completely out of the blue.

…Yeah.

Kara ate her last slice of pizza before packing her single suitcase and her backpack. She made sure to shove in a couple of books and a spare battery for her cell phone, since they’d be leaving so early. It was going to be a long, long day tomorrow.

Kara picked up her cell phone and opened the messaging app to tell Alex she was coming, and that she was bringing someone. And breaking the law, her mind tossed her. She shook her head. It was now or never.

Kara: Hey Alex! Just letting you know that my vacation was approved for once! And not for just the weekend either, I’ll be there the whole week!

To Kara’s surprise, Alex replied immediately. It must’ve been a slow day. I guess we’re having that conversation now then, Kara thought.

Alex: That’s amazing!! I can’t wait to see my baby sister. I’m sure you’ve grown a whole foot since I last saw you

Kara: Ha ha ha, very funny. It hasn’t been that long!

Alex: You haven’t been home since last August Kara, and it’s April now

Kara: Yeah, but work is work, you know

Alex: Work is work, sure, but I’m shocked that woman has allowed you an entire week. Did she die or something?

Kara: No, Alex, omg she hasn’t died!!

Fuck. Fuck, fuck, fuck. Kara stood up and walked around the table in her lounge a few times before she sat back down on the sofa. She felt really sick about what she was about to do next.

Kara: Actually, that woman is going to be coming with me

Alex: Why the fuck are you bringing your boss to Midvale?

Kara: Because she and I are dating

Kara watched Delivered change to Read, and the speech bubbles appeared indicating that Alex was writing back. Kara’s stomach felt like it was somewhere around the sole of her shoe right now. The bubbles disappeared and appeared a few times before finally disappearing altogether.

She stared at her phone.

Kara: Alex?

She waited a second longer and then Alex’s face flashed up on her screen. She was calling. Oh, no. Oh no. Damn, this was infinitely worse. This would be so much easier to do by text, but that wasn’t Alex’s style at all. Why couldn’t Alex have… She swiped to answer.

“Hello?”

“Don’t give me a hello as if you weren’t expecting me to call after that bombshell,” Alex said loudly. “What the hell, Kara? You’re dating that evil woman?!”

“She’s not evil, Alex,” Kara snapped, before reigning herself in. It was a shock for Alex. Hell, it was still a shock for herself. “She’s not evil, she’s just… you know, she’s just… always been quite distant.”

“How long has this been going on?”

Damn. She and Lena really should’ve talked about this earlier. She yanked a figure out of the air. “A year and a half.”

“A year and a half?” Alex yelled down the phone. “All those times you’ve bitched about her over the phone and you’ve been dating her for a year and a half?! Are you fucking kidding me?”

“Alex!!”

“Seriously, Kara. All you’ve done for the last three years is moan about her as she declined your vacation days or was rude about someone in the office, or fired a friend of yours, or was just generally unpleasant. I know you’ve never outright called her a bitch, but you really didn’t need to.”

Kara put her head in her spare hand. This was going about as well as she expected it to, and worse, there wasn’t really any way to make it better.

“Kara, I swear-”

“I just got to know her, okay?” Kara interrupted. “I got to know her after some late nights we had to spend at the office doing prep for something or other like she’s always doing, I can’t even remember what now. She doesn’t work normal person hours, and Lena’s just… she’s just closed off. She’s not rude. She’s under a lot of pressure from both of her jobs and she has to appear really professional and she’s a secret softie, okay? And she’s damn beautiful,” Kara blundered on, heedless of the silence from the other end of the line. “Lena’s so damn beautiful, Alex, and I l-love her, and it took me forever to see it.”

Alex was still silent, and Kara didn’t know what to say next. She hoped she hadn’t said anything that could be called a lie. After all, she really didn’t know Lena at all, and here she was making assumptions about her personality. She had no idea whether Lena was a secret softie or not underneath that shell.

The part about Kara thinking she was beautiful, though? That part didn’t hold even the slightest hint of a lie.

“Alex?”

“I’m here,” came Alex’s reply. “I just… I just don’t know what to say, Kara. It’s- it’s a lot. She’s basically been the bane of your life for three years and now you’re telling me that for half of that time, you’ve actually been dating Lena fucking Luthor. And honestly it hurts a little bit- no, it hurts a lot that you didn’t even bother to tell me. And I don’t know what to say about that either.”

“Alex-”

“It’s… it’s whatever, Kara. It’s your life. I just wish you wanted to involve me in it a little more, that’s all.”

Kara felt tears well up in her eyes. She had no defense for this at all, and lying to her favorite person in the whole world on behalf of a woman who wasn’t even her friend sucked more than she could ever have imagined.

“She’s coming up tomorrow,” Kara said quietly, her voice on the edge of cracking. She tried to force her voice into being steady. “Please, just please be nice. I don’t think I could deal with it if you didn’t like her.”

“She sounds like seriously bad news, Kara,” Alex stated honestly. “Besides the fact that her family are absolutely a bunch of- where do you even start with that mad family? Beside that, all I’ve ever heard about her from you is negative. So forgive me if I’m not exactly feeling like I’ll be rolling out the damn welcome mat tomorrow, okay?”

“I…” Kara started, before wiping a hand down her face and finding her hand wet from tears she hadn’t known had spilled. “Okay,” Kara croaked. “I’ve… we’ve got an early flight tomorrow so I- I guess I’ll see you tomorrow? I love you.”

There was silence from the other end of the line, and this time, Kara felt the tears roll down her cheeks.

“I love you too,” Alex said tiredly. “I’ll see you tomorrow, Kara. Have a safe flight.”

Kara hung up and tossed her phone across the sofa before burying her head in the cushions and crying her heart out. This was just… awful, awful, awful. Lying to her entire family about being in love with Lena? Marrying her? This was the worst thing she’d ever done. The worst thing that she would ever do, most likely. And she’d never be able to take it back. It was out there, now.

She cried until her eyes felt raw and her throat burned. After she’d cried herself out, she lay on her back on the sofa, staring at a water spot on the ceiling and listening to the band in the bar next door starting their set. The beat of the music calmed her down further, until finally she was able to sit up again.

If Lena was picking her up at 6am, she needed to go to bed early tonight. Glancing at the clock on the wall, she saw it was already close to 9pm. Her thinking and packing had taken up quite a bit of time, and her phone call with Alex had taken up all of her energy. Kara wished she had a bath so that she could go and soak in it. But she didn’t, so she took a long, long shower, screw the water bill. When she was as clean as she could possibly get, Kara climbed into bed with her hair wet and a glass of bourbon in her hand and switched her tv on, flicking through the channels mindlessly until she found reruns of Bones.

She’d be tired in the morning, but it was a long flight and she could sleep on the plane if she needed to. Fuck keeping Lena company, she thought viciously.

Three episodes and three fingers of bourbon later, she was asleep.

 

* * * * *

 

Kara was fully awake just after five, having slept very badly. The little sleep she’d had had been riddled with nightmares of jail cells. Considering that she was now on the road to becoming a federal criminal, that wasn’t a surprise to her. When her alarm clock blared at 5am, she snoozed it and lay there in the dark. There were a few blissful moments where she was so tired, in that time between bad sleep and wakefulness, when she didn’t remember why it was going off so early. And then it all came crashing down on her.

Before she let her mind spiral, she took stock of her body. The one good thing she could say about this mess was that her hangover this morning wasn’t anywhere near as bad as yesterday. She thought she could probably do without painkillers, but still. She’d slid backwards a little in her hangover recovery from yesterday.

By 5:30am, she was still in bed, silently panicking and reliving her phone call with Alex. Five minutes later, she snapped herself out of it. She’d already told Alex, and that was, for Kara, the worst part. Actually making that leap from this to that. She got up out of bed to make sure she had, in fact, packed everything she needed. She left her work laptop behind; for the first time since she’d started working at CatCo, she wasn’t going to need it, even for an emergency. Lena wasn’t allowed to work due to the situation she was in, so she couldn’t possibly need her for anything. And even if she did, there was nothing Kara was going to be able to do about it, because she was deliberately leaving her laptop behind. So there, Lena Luthor, she thought, sticking her tongue out even though Lena couldn’t see her.

At 5:55am, knowing that Lena couldn’t get into the building without her and not wanting her to pointlessly ring the intercom that hadn’t worked in years, Kara shoved her feet into her heavy boots. She pulled her surprisingly heavy suitcase into the hallway, put her backpack on her shoulders and her coat over her arms, and locked the door. She shuffled down the stairs as quietly as she could with her luggage and winced when one of the wheels crashed loudly against the banister. The walls in the apartments were quite thin, and she hoped that she hadn’t just woken anyone else up.

When she opened the door to the street, she spotted Lena’s town car already waiting for her.

“Good morning, Miss Danvers,” Michael said with a cheery wave as he opened the driver’s door and climbed out. He put her luggage and backpack in the trunk, and then opened the door for her to slide into the seat. Lena was sitting on her side of the car, tapping on the screen of her cell phone.

She put it away when Kara climbed in and gave her a small, hesitant smile. “Good morning, Kara.”

“Why do you look so alert and awake so early in the morning?” Kara grumbled, peering at her blearily in the dim light of the car.

“I’d say good genes, but the honest answer is that I’ve had my morning caffeine. I’m as good at making hot chocolate as you are,” Lena answered.

Kara narrowed her eyes at Lena, and the almost playful look on the brunette’s face vanished. Kara was exhausted, and it was too early for this. “Did you just pay me a compliment?”

“Since when does Lena Luthor notice other people?” Lena replied, and Kara slumped back in her chair as the car pulled away from the curb. It was going to be like that with Lena throwing her words back at her, was it? She knew she’d struck a nerve yesterday, and apparently, Lena hadn’t forgotten.

Choosing to ignore both that and the fact that she’d just elected to start the day off on the wrong foot, Kara rolled her eyes and changed the subject. “Where’s your luggage? The trunk was empty when Michael put my stuff in there. Don’t tell me you’re travelling light? I’ve seen your receipts for additional hold luggage, you know.”

“I took it to the airport last night,” Lena said. “I didn’t know how much you were going to bring, so it’s on the plane already.”

“That was efficient,” Kara remarked.

“Oh, Kara, I assure you that nobody has ever complained about my efficiency,” Lena said airily.

It really was, seriously, too early for this. Kara didn’t think she’d ever heard Lena make even a weak joke the whole time she’d known her, and she chose the morning they were leaving on their quest to commit fraud against the government to start being funny?

As if sensing that Kara wasn’t feeling very receptive, Lena’s tone of voice changed abruptly back to her most professional. The kind of voice that Kara had heard her use on the phone while she was trying to work out a deal with someone who was testing her patience just a little.

“The flight from New York City to Midvale is about ten and a half hours, give or take. Air traffic control is aware that we are flying directly there, with no stops. I’ll be spending part of the flight writing documents to send to Samantha Arias for L-Corp, just so that she can keep appraised of what the various labs are working on. I’d appreciate some quiet during that time, as I’m reasonably sure that it’s going to be the only chance that I’m going to get to do this.”

Kara snorted derisively, causing Lena to frown at her. “I’ve brought the documents from the USCIS,” she said, sullenly. “I thought that we could use some of the time on the flight to look over them and see how much we know about each other, considering, you know, I’m going to jail and you’re being deported if we fail these interviews.”

“And businesses don’t just stop because the CEO is away from the office, Kara,” Lena said, as if Kara hadn’t mentioned the interviews at all. “There are plenty of things that need to be handed over and you didn’t give me much time to-”

“Right. It was me that was inconsiderate. I’ll remember that,” Kara said testily, turning to stare out of the window. Beside her, she heard Lena sigh slightly. They spent the rest of the ride in silence.

When the car finally stopped, Kara was glad to climb out of the tense atmosphere within the car. She took a deep breath and stretched before looking around. And straight away, she noticed that she was at none of the airports that she recognized.

“Where are we?” she questioned when she saw Lena stand up on the other side of the car.

“We’re at Teterboro,” the brunette replied, and then she pointed. “That’s my jet, there.”

Kara looked over at it. It was smaller than she expected, not that she knew what she was expecting, exactly. From the look of it, she doubted that it would seat ten people, but those few people would be very comfortable.

“Nice,” she said, walking around to take the luggage from Michael when he pulled it out of the trunk. She caught a flash of color as she rounded the car, glancing over at Lena, and then doing a double take as if she was seeing her properly for the first time that morning. “I told you that you needed to dress down a bit more.”

In the weak sunlight of the morning, Kara could now see that under her coat, Lena was wearing pressed black slacks, a flattering magenta satin shirt with the top few buttons undone, showing off a thick, rose-gold spiga necklace. Her shoes were less high than they usually were, but they still had heels. Her hair was up in its usual severe ponytail, which made Kara wonder whether or not she ever got hair headaches.

She looked beautiful, but she would appear unapproachable in Midvale, and that was the problem.

Lena looked down at herself. “What’s wrong with what I’m wearing? I didn’t bring a single Diane von Furstenberg dress, as requested.”

“Nothing, if you’re going to a board meeting,” Kara said, watching as Lena frowned at herself. “Don’t you have any comfortable clothes?”

She gestured at herself as she spoke, and she felt Lena’s gaze travel over her. Kara was dressed for a long flight – faded blue jeans that were so worn they were almost soft to the touch, her heavy hiking boots, and a dark red NYU hoody.

As Lena looked at her for a moment too long, Kara felt a blush rise up her face. The look on Lena’s face was decidedly ambiguous and Kara couldn’t tell whether she was being judged, or if Lena had some other thought on her mind that she wasn’t sharing.

“Well,” she said in a low, slow drawl that made Kara want to clear her throat, “I certainly don’t have time to change clothes now.”

“But you didn’t answer the question!” Kara said as Lena turned and started to walk towards the plane. “You’re going to look like some kind of expensive office-wear model in Midvale!” she called after her, trying not to look at the way Lena’s hips swayed as she walked or at the hand she waved over her shoulder at Kara’s comment.

She swung her backpack up onto her shoulder. “Thanks Michael,” she said to him as he handed her her coat, before trotting after Lena. Behind her, Michael gripped the handle of her suitcase and took it to the plane, where it would join Lena’s luggage in the hold.

Despite herself and the dire circumstances, Kara had never been on a private jet before, and wasn’t sure what to expect. She was still cross at Lena, but as her feet carried her towards the plane, she couldn’t help it, her mood was chased away by the excitement she felt at being granted a new experience. She walked down the small red carpet (red carpet!) and bounded up the steps. Inside, it was decorated with dark brown wood, soft cream leather chairs that wouldn’t look out of place in someone’s lounge, and actual carpet instead of whatever the rough stuff was that they had on Delta. There were eight seats in total, four on each side of the plane, one behind the other, ending in what looked like two private stalls, with bathrooms behind them.

Kara inspected the stalls; each of them contained a cozy-looking single bed with two pillows and a soft cushion, a desk with an office chair, and more electrical outlets than her whole apartment had. The TV on the wall was large and adjustable, and there was a small fridge containing bottles of water and various snacks.

Lena was up front talking to the pilot, and Kara came out of the stall to find her walking towards one of the two front seats. She settled herself into it and sat back, closing her eyes. The pilot shut the plane door, and then the door to the cockpit.

“Kara, we’re about to take off. Put your bag underneath one of the seats and take whichever other one you want,” Lena called.

Kara walked up and took the seat directly across the aisle from Lena’s, strapping herself in, and looking out of the window. It was easily the most comfortable airline seat that she’d ever sat in. Michael was still outside, leaning against the car. He gave her a wave when he saw her looking, and she returned it with a big grin. The plane started the slow taxi towards the runway, and Kara felt her excitement jump. She was used to flying coach, and this was as close to first class as she was ever likely to get.

Scratch that, she was on a private jet with no screaming babies, no cramped space with some kid kicking the back of her seat, no sticky tray tables, and a whole bed available to her should she choose to take a nap later. Nobody was going to be hogging her arm rests, spilling drinks on her, or leaning over her to peer out of the windows. She decided to relish in the opportunity while it lasted. She was so excited and that had not really been dampened by the rather rude brunette in the seat to her left either. Kara wiggled back in her seat happily.

As the plane continued to move and then turned onto the runway, she glanced across at Lena, only to find that the brunette was gripping her armrests so tightly that her knuckles had gone white. Her usually pale face had blanched even further, making her look almost ghostly. Even worse, despite the sound of the engines, Kara could hear her taking short, sharp breaths even though she was clearly trying to keep it together.

“Lena?” she asked in alarm. “Are you alright? You’re gripping the armrests pretty hard.”

Lena made a small, indistinct noise. And then the penny dropped. “Wait, Lena, are you afraid of flying?”

Lena loosened her grip ever so slightly, but it looked like the effort truly cost her. “What an astute observation,” she said. Her voice was shaky, but there was no bite in it whatsoever, as if Lena just couldn’t spare the energy for it. When Lena looked over at her a second later, Kara could see that her green eyes were wide, and clearly frightened.

Shit, Kara thought. “I used to be afraid of flying too, but then someone told me I would be more likely to kill myself tripping over a broom than dying in a plane crash. Or being bitten by a shark off the coast of Australia or somewhere.”

“Thank you for that. I'll try to file that away in a safe place,” Lena grumbled.

Kara ignored her. She knew that Lena’s sarcasm was stemming from her fear right now, and despite how annoyed she was at Lena, there was just something inside her that couldn’t set aside the fact that Lena was terrified. She didn’t have it in her to be petty and just let Lena suffer through this alone. “I just heard that distracting someone who is afraid of flying during a take-off is the best way to get them to calm down. And look,” she added, a gentle smile spreading across her face, “we're already in the air.”

Lena blinked as she realized that Kara was right. She looked out of the window to see that the plane was already banking after take-off. Kara watched as Lena let go of the armrests slowly and spread her fingers out, flexing her fingers slowly, trying to relieve them of the cramps that had no doubt built up. The armrest had indents in it from where she had gripped it so hard, and Kara had to stop herself from reaching across the aisle to take her hand in hers and offer some kind of comfort. Kara never liked seeing someone suffer; her immediate response to it was to try to help, to not leave that person alone. She just wasn’t sure how receptive Lena would be to the intrusion into her personal space, and so, she stilled her hand.

The relief that washed over Lena’s face as the plane gained a steady altitude instead of a sharp one soothed some of Kara’s own worry over Lena; at least there would be a period of the flight where Lena might be okay, if she was more relaxed now. It would’ve been awful if Lena had to spend the entire flight in a state of near-paralysis from fear. With a jolt, Kara realized why it was that she had rarely had to book flights for her boss, and why Lena preferred to fly her colleagues into New York instead of herself out of it. She also flew her potential investors and business rivals in; Kara had spent so long thinking that that was a power play that she’d never stopped to think that there might be another, very valid, reason behind it.

Kara knew this wasn’t the end of it today for Lena, or anyone who was afraid of flying, but take-offs and landings seemed to be the worst parts.

Lena sank back against the chair and Kara waited until she heard her breathing go back to normal before she turned look back out of the window.

Kara realized that she’d just seen Lena in a completely unguarded moment, and not at a time where Lena could’ve chosen to reveal part of herself. She had never read in any article about Lena that she was afraid of flying, and having witnessed Lena just now, she thought she knew why. Lena had looked like she was about to faint out of fright, and she doubted that was anything that Lena wanted to divulge to anyone.

Seeing someone be afraid of something they couldn’t control was always a humanizing moment; in that moment, Lena wasn’t the genius businesswoman, her stern, aloof boss. She was just a woman who was afraid, someone who needed a little bit of help. Someone who needed comfort. Kara felt her heart constrict with sympathy for the woman who had to carry so much on her shoulders, and yet, had been afraid to ask for help when she needed it.

Kara figured that Lena probably wouldn’t want to talk about it, so she decided not to mention it unless she did. However, she had just learnt something about Lena that would probably come up in the interview, so she logged it away in the back of her mind.

The speakers crackled to life with the voice of the pilot. “We’re just above to level off, Miss Luthor, Miss Danvers. Feel free to do whatever you need or want to, and if I need to make you aware of anything, I’ll let you know.”

Lena unbuckled her seatbelt and stood up, stretching her lower back out. As Kara watched, she busied herself with flipping a few switches around her chair, and then to Kara’s surprised, swiveled it so that it was facing the chair behind it, before locking it back into place. Lena then pressed a button in the wall in the space between the seats, and out of a cabinet door Kara hadn’t noticed, Lena pulled a folded table out, steadying it with two legs near the aisle.

She couldn’t help herself. “Does mine do that?” she asked, as Lena dragged a laptop bag out from underneath the seat that was now in front of her.

“Of course,” Lena replied, before she paused. “Would you like- do you need me to show you?”

“Uh, yes please,” Kara said, unbuckling her belt and climbing out of her seat. Lena placed her bag on her table before leaning across Kara and showing her where the buttons she needed to press were. Kara tried her best to pay attention, but Lena’s proximity was distracting, especially when she was close enough to smell the citrusy scent of Lena; was that her shampoo? Her lotion?

Kara cleared her throat when Lena stood up, swiveling the chair the same way she’d done hers a moment ago, before repeating her actions to set Kara’s table up.

“Thank you,” Kara said, her voice sounding a little like it had a frog in it. She cleared her throat again, causing Lena to look at her.

“Do you need some water? There are some bottles in the bed stalls. If you’re going, could you get me some?” she asked, before she remembered herself. “Please?”

“Sure,” Kara said, before heading back down towards the fridges she’d seen earlier. She picked out two bottles of water and a bottle of some kind of tropical fruit juice. There were no cups, but she supposed that made sense considering they were on a plane and turbulence could hit any time. It wasn’t like they were on a large plane which might manage it better; a smaller plane might be a little more buffeted.

She brought Lena her water and set it next to the two laptops she’d set up on her table. Lena was typing furiously away on one of them while looking at a complicated-looking spreadsheet on the other screen. Kara shrugged and sat back down in her seat, and pulled out a book and her earphones. She didn’t really want to listen to Lena tapping away for the whole flight.

Kara ate the snacks she’d packed, collecting the trash at the far corner of the table. She read for half an hour before she got so comfortable that she started to doze against the side of her seat. She shook herself out of it slightly, before she unbuckled her seat belt and made her way down the plane to one of the bed stalls. As she reached it, she looked back to find Lena ducking her head back down to her screen.

“I’m just going to take a nap,” she said, pointing at the stall. Lena just waved a hand at her.

She left the door open, not feeling the need to close it. The only two people on this flight aside from the pilot were Lena and herself, and Lena was busy with her work. If she was going to lie down, Lena could close her own door anyway.

She kicked off her shoes and climbed under the covers. Kara could tell that she sheets had a ridiculously high thread count. She stretched luxuriously before she made sure the belt over the bed was loosely done up over her waist, and settled back down against the pillow. She’d never had such a comfortable flight in her life, and she was asleep before she knew it.

 

* * * * *

 

Kara woke up with a start when the plane lurched suddenly. The belt across the bed kept her from falling out of it, but it wasn’t a very comfortable feeling. Lena, Kara suddenly thought, as the plane shuddered. Heedless of her own safety, she undid the belt buckle and made her way quickly down the aisle.

Lena was sitting in much the same position that she had when the plane had taken off. Kara felt her stomach drop and instead of sitting in the same seat as she’d been in before, she quickly set herself up in the one opposite Lena.

She put her belt on quickly and leaned across the table.

“Lena?”

Lena let out a long, slow breath, before opening her eyes and focusing on Kara. The look in her green eyes was one of intense fear, and Kara felt that look all the way down to her bones.

“Hey, take my hands, okay?” Kara found herself saying, pushing her sleeves up and reaching her arms across the table. Lena did, and Kara could feel them shaking in hers. “Just focus on me,” she said as the plane lurched once more. Lena shut her eyes tightly, before opening them again to look almost pleadingly at Kara. For the first time since Kara had met her, Lena was truly asking for help.

“Okay, good,” Kara said. She cast her mind around for anything to say to hold Lena’s attention as the plane shuddered around them. Rain was pelting against the windows, and Kara had no idea how long this had been going on for before she’d been woken up by it.

Out of the corner of her eye, she could see one of the folders that Eve Teschmacher had given them, and it gave her an idea. “I’m going to ask you some questions okay? Might as well do this now,” she said with a smile that she hoped was calming. “You might learn something stupid about me that’ll come up in one of the questions.”

Thankfully, Lena nodded at her.

“What’s my name?”

“Kara Danvers,” Lena replied, her voice thin and much higher than normal. “Even I know that one.”

Kara smiled at her again. “Okay, and what was my birth name?”

Lena frowned at her, and when the plane shook again, she kept her eyes on Kara’s, although her fingers tightened around Kara’s.

“I’m… I don’t know.”

“My name at birth was Kara Zor-El,” she said, and she knew she had Lena’s full attention. “I was born on September 22nd, 1991. I’m 28 years old. I grew up originally in Seattle. My… my parents died in a house fire when I was 13 years old, and I was adopted by the Danvers family. My mother’s name is Eliza, my sister is Alex. My father’s name was Jeremiah, but he passed away when I was 15. For a-”

Kara was cut off as the plane dropped in altitude quite a bit further and faster than it had done before, and Lena slid her hands up to wrap themselves around Kara’s wrists in a vice grip. Kara wrapped her fingers around Lena’s in turn, marveling at how dainty they were. She ran her thumbs across the insides of Lena’s wrists and watched as it seemed to calm Lena down, even as her own heart beat wildly in her chest.

“For a while, Alex and I hated each other. She was two years older than me and really didn’t like having some random girl living in her bedroom. She was too old to suddenly have a teenage sister cramping her style and I was too sad to suddenly be able to love a new family so soon after losing my own. But eventually we started to get on. And now she’s my best friend. We tell each other everything. There’s nobody on this earth that I trust more than her.”

Lena was silent for a moment. “It must be nice to have a sibling like that,” she said eventually.

Kara decided not to dwell on that for now, packing away any questions about Lex. Lena didn’t need to answer questions about her brother when she was already terrified.

“What was my cat called?”

“Pardon me?” Lena exclaimed at the sudden change of subject.

“I had a cat when I first moved in with the Danvers. What was it called?”

Lena fixed her with a piercing look, and Kara suppressed a shiver. Those green eyes were certainly… something. “I’m not sure, Kara,” she said.

“He was called Streaky. He was a stray, and because I felt like one too, I looked after him. Eventually, the Danvers let me adopt him. He’s buried under a tree out in the yard, but I have a lot of paintings of him.”

As the plane shuddered and jumped through the sky, Kara continued to tell Lena stories about her life. She kept it simple, starting with a fact about her life, and went as chronologically as possible. She told her about her degree, and her time on the cross-country running team, and her short stint in the softball team; she was too clumsy with the ball and therefore fairly useless. All throughout the turbulence, they kept hold of each other. Kara tried her best to keep Lena as grounded as she could while 33,000 feet in the air. Lena kept her attention on her, and Kara could see her visibly calming down.

Eventually, the plane leveled out. The speakers came to life once more with the voice of the pilot. “Sorry, Miss Luthor, Miss Danvers. That was one heck of a storm we just flew through. The rest of the flight should be smooth, and we’ll be landing in Midvale in about an hour.”

“An hour?” Kara burst out incredulously. “How long was I asleep?”

“You fell asleep about an hour and a half into the flight, Van Winkle,” Lena said, and the ghost of a smile passed over her face.

Kara smiled back at her. “So I’ve been out for… eight hours or so? Wow. I guess you got a lot of your work done?”

“I did. Your rhythmic snoring made for good background noise,” Lena said slyly.

Kara gasped. “I do not snore!”

Lena’s face was passive, but she raised an eyebrow at Kara, and it made her stomach do somersaults. At the same moment, she became aware that still had a gentle hold on Lena’s wrists, and that Lena was still holding on to hers as well. She glanced down at them, and huffed out an embarrassed giggle before slowly letting go of the soft skin under her fingertips. Lena likewise let go of Kara’s wrists and folded her hands in her lap. Kara immediately missed their warmth.

She smiled at Lena, before climbing out of the chair she was in, and sitting back in her original seat. She picked up her book and took her bookmark out, settling back comfortably. She had barely read half a page before she heard Lena clear her throat across the aisle. Kara glanced over to find Lena already looking at her, and seemingly struggling to say something.

“Thank you, Kara,” Lena said eventually, in a way that said she was definitely unaccustomed to saying the words. But to Kara, that made them all the more important. “Thank you for… looking after me on this flight. I know that saying that I’m not your favorite person is a rather gross understatement,” she said with a hint of self-deprecation, “but your kindness has been much appreciated, and I won’t forget it.”

Kara felt a blush rise up on her face. “I’m sure anyone would’ve done the same,” she replied.

“No, they wouldn’t, Kara, not for a Luthor. Definitely not for me,” Lena said matter-of-factly. “I would also like to ask you for your… discretion, I suppose, when it comes to this, and many other things that you’ll no doubt learn about me in the coming days. I’m a very private person, as I’m sure you’ve noticed,” Lena said in a more business-like, detached voice, “and I’ve worked very hard to keep my life out of the press. I would be… disappointed, were I to find any mention of this anywhere.”

Just like that, Kara was exasperated with the brunette again. “You just had to-” she started, before cutting herself off abruptly, before she said something that she might regret later. She was sure that Lena meant nothing by what she’d just said other than to reiterate her desire for privacy, but still. She’d been trusted with essentially running Lena’s working life for the past few years; did Lena still not trust her, even a little?

She knew from working with Lena for so long that she appreciated directness, so she took a moment to formulate what she wanted to say in her head.

She took a deep breath. “Lena. I do appreciate your privacy. I just need to say that what I don’t appreciate is the implication that I would leak details of your life to the press, to what, spite you?” she said, making sure to look across at Lena as she said it. “Why on earth would you think I would do that to you?”

Lena had the grace to look at least a little bit ashamed of herself. Kara thought that the brunette looked like she wanted to say something, but couldn’t work out the correct response. Kara waited for a reply, but when it became clear that she wasn’t going to get one, at least for the moment, she sighed.

For the next hour, Kara read through some of the questions that Eve Teschmacher might be asking them in little over a week’s time. The good news was, she thought, that she knew quite a lot of the basic answers about Lena already, thanks to the fact that Lena was her boss and that knowing a lot of it was part of her job. The problem was going to be getting Lena to open up enough to answer the rest of them, or to talk about her life in general. She had to get Lena to trust her somehow, and she wasn’t sure how to do it.

Lena was fiercely protective of her privacy. Although on some base level Kara understood why, she also didn’t understand why someone knowing a little more would be a bad thing. Surely it would be nice for Lena to have a friend? She knew Lena had Sam Arias, but Kara couldn’t be sure how well they knew each other, and at any rate, Sam wasn’t the one who was going to be in a fake marriage with Lena, so it was all moot.

She stared at some of the relationship-related questions on the page her folder was open to.

- Where did you meet?

- When did your relationship turn romantic?

- Who proposed?

Kara blew out a frustrated breath. She knew that she’d have to learn all about Lena, and that Lena needed to learn all about her in turn, but she’d forgotten that they’d also have to pretend to actually be a couple. Between them, they’d need to craft an entire relationship story, down to the nitty gritty details such as where they went on their first date, who chose the sofa in their lounge, what they each liked to get as birthday presents for the other.

The pilots voice interrupted Kara’s musings. “Miss Luthor, Miss Danvers, we’re going to be landing shortly. Please make sure that your laptops are off, and that your tables are stowed away, if you’ve had them out.”

Kara shoved the immigration folder into her bag, and set about pressing all the buttons that Lena had showed her earlier. She stowed her table away, swiveled her chair back around, and set it back into place. Beside her, Lena was doing the same thing. Kara strapped herself back into her seat, and looked out of the window. Outside, she could see cars driving along the roads, and further to her left, the sea stretching out. Out of Lena’s window if she craned her neck, she could see mountains; her heart soared at the knowledge that she would be home very soon. She would see Alex. She would see Eliza. She’d see her friends. Her heart beat a happy rhythm and she felt herself grinning uncontrollably. She felt herself getting excited as she looked out over the expanse of water and greenery instead of the cold steel and glass of the city.

As the pilot set them on course for landing, Kara heard Lena shifting in her seat. She was still smarting a little from Lena’s hurtful words, so she didn’t say anything.

To her surprise though, Lena spoke.

“I have exactly one friend in my life, Miss- Kara,” she said. Her voice was less than steady, and Kara caught the notes of fear in her tone. She once again fought the urge to lean over and take Lena’s hand in hers, to comfort her during the landing. She didn’t want to snap Lena out of letting Kara have a peek over one of her high walls. “Even Sam doesn’t know everything about me, although I’m sure she’d love to know me better. I keep such a tight grip on my privacy because aside from Sam, everyone I’ve ever trusted with details of my life has hurt me with them. Everyone has a motive when they want to get to know me, and after being betrayed one too many times by someone I thought I could trust, I decided not to trust anyone anymore. I decided that being an unknowable pariah was better than being a broken soul.”

Kara felt like the breath had been sucked out of her lungs at Lena’s sad words about her life. She looked over at Lena in time to see the woman lean her head back against the headrest and close her eyes. Had she been looking at Kara while she’d been speaking?

The brief glimpse that Kara had been given into Lena’s life was heartbreaking. Had Lena really been so hurt by people in her life that she’d decided being almost entirely alone was better than having people close to her? There were so many questions that Kara had in response to what Lena had said, not the least of which was to wonder how deep in Lena’s life those betrayals went.

Instead of asking, though, Kara decided to simply let Lena know she was there, and that she acknowledged Lena’s answer to her question about trust.

She leaned across the aisle and rested her hand on top of Lena’s white-knuckled grip on the armrest. As the plane descended, Kara felt Lena’s grip on the leather loosen, and eventually she let go. Without opening her eyes, Lena turned her palm over, and Kara slotted her fingers between Lena’s.

Although neither of them spoke, Kara kept hold of Lena’s hand throughout their descent.

Like she did back in Lena’s office, she tried her very best to not think about how well their hands fit together.

She was unsuccessful.

Chapter Text

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.

“Yes?”

“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.

“Lena-”

“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.

“Kara?”

“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.

Alright then.

Kara turned the key.

Chapter Text

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.

“What’s that?”

“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.

“Yes?”

“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.

But first.

“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.

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.

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.

Chapter Text

When Kara woke up, for a moment, she was disoriented. This wasn’t a gradual wake-up; she was as wide awake as if this was the middle of the day. Twisting around towards the windows, she saw that there was no light coming in from the sides of the blinds. Kara groped under the sofa for her glasses and slid them on, before fishing under the pillow for her phone.

It was 4:52am. Kara groaned, before quickly stifling the noise when she heard Lena shift in the bed to her right.

Oh right. Yeah, she wasn’t alone in this room.

The house was quiet. Nobody else would be up yet, although Eliza would get up in about an hour. Eliza always did like an early morning, not that Kara understood it. Since New York was four hours ahead of them at the moment, she figured that she was slightly jet-lagged. She’d also slept so much yesterday, and they’d gone to bed relatively early, so all in all, Kara wasn’t surprised she was awake at the moment.

Lena must really be exhausted if she was sleeping right through her jet lag. Kara wondered what time Lena usually arrived at L-Corp in the mornings. She was pretty sure from what Jess had told her over the years that their boss showed up at 7am at the very latest; at CatCo, she usually arrived at about 8:30am. Kara had the sneaking suspicion though that just because she only arrived then, didn’t mean that Lena hadn’t already been working or busy before that point. In fact, she would bet money on Lena having been up for several hours before she took one designer-clad step into the CatCo building.

Kara listened carefully. Lena was breathing deeply and evenly, which meant that she was fast asleep, and likely wouldn’t wake up if Kara got up now. As slowly and as quietly as she could, she pushed her covers off herself and snuck over to the closet to grab some running clothes and her old sneakers. Deciding against changing in the bedroom just in case, she scooped up her phone and crept out of the room.

Lena didn’t even stir.

Downstairs, Kara changed into her workout clothes and used a new toothbrush she found under the sink in the guest bathroom. After tying her laces and strapping a comical head lamp around her head so she could see any possible debris in her way, she let herself out of the front door and into the dampness of the early morning. There was a path that she liked to run on around the house and part of the island, and after a quick stretch and warm up, she set off. She relished the fresh air she breathed as she ran along the familiar path. It had been laid some time ago, and every time she was home, Kara took advantage of it.

A lot of the trees Kara passed on her way were spruce, very old and tall with their fallen spiky branches littering the ground. As her headlamp swept around her, she caught flashes of color from the arctic lupine, fireweed, and blue columbine that grew naturally here. One year, Eliza had battled with the Alaskan seasons and planted loads of daffodils; although they sometimes struggled, a lot of them always grew, and Kara loved the dashes of yellow amongst the blues and purples of the other plants.

There was just something about sitting there and being surrounded by a riot of color and the sound of the sea nearby. Kara loved it. In New York, it wasn’t possible to get the same sort of peace and serenity that she got from being here, and for the first time, Kara wondered whether she’d be able to come home more often when she was no longer Lena’s personal assistant. When she was a journalist, she would have more freedom.

That is, if the fraud against the government went off without a hitch. Kara’s stomach clenched, and she pushed the thought away. She was in it now, for better or worse.

Kara jogged on the spot when, after a while, she reached the boathouse. She’d check the weather when she got back inside, but if they were going to have a stretch of clear, dry days, she and Lena would be able to brush the flakes off it, and then repaint it. It wasn’t an overly large boathouse, just large enough to squeeze both Streaky and Eliza’s boat. The whole thing could be done in less than a day, if they were quick about it, and then it would need several days to dry. Kara nodded to herself; yup, it could be done.

Kara checked her phone and saw that she’d been running for an hour, so she headed back to the house, stretching her muscles out before she went inside. Eliza would be up by now and, sure enough, she was puttering around the kitchen, making herself a cup of coffee and putting away some of the dishes from the night before.

“Morning,” Eliza greeted as Kara slipped into the kitchen.

“Good morning,” Kara replied, giving Eliza a quick hug.

“You’re all sweaty,” Eliza complained, but she was smiling. “How was your run?”

“It was great,” Kara sighed happily. “It’s been too long since I’ve been able to run around here. I can’t wait to walk back through the woods later and see all the wildflowers properly. I think I’ll take Lena on a walk later and let her see the place properly. Show her around a bit. Ooh! I’ll show her the treehouse!”

Eliza laughed. “I’m sure she’ll enjoy that,” she said, taking a sip of her coffee as they both sat down at the kitchen table. “You’re up early. Are you jet-lagged?”

Kara groaned and playfully dropped her head gently on the table. “Yup. I slept for the majority of the flight as well. I don’t think I helped myself really, but there’s not much I can do about it now!”

“Did Lena have any problem falling asleep?”

Kara thought about their chat the night before, and the kiss on the corner of her mouth that Lena had given her before going to sleep. Kara smiled. “None at all. She was still asleep when I left, but she didn’t get any sleep on the flight yesterday. She spent a lot of time working, and the flight was pretty turbulent at one point, so she wasn’t too happy.”

“Poor dear, she must be exhausted,” Eliza tutted in sympathy, and Kara saw her eyes dip down to the ring on her finger, which she’d forgotten to remove before she went for her run. Funny how quickly she’d grown used to it being there already. “I must say I was… surprised, Kara. I understand yours and Lena’s reasons for not telling us,” she said, holding up a hand when Kara opened her mouth to object. “I’m just surprised that it’s… well, that it was Lena Luthor, is all. You’ve always been polite, but I used to get the impression that you didn’t get on with each other very well at all. In fact, it was only last month when you told me that she’d spent a whole week walking past you without even saying hello.”

“Oh,” Kara floundered. She had, in fact, complained about Lena a little when she’d spoken to Eliza the month before. There had been something rather dire going on at L-Corp; one of their investors had voiced some extremely racist opinions. Rather than keeping the investor on, Lena had chosen to break the contract and the fallout had been massive. It happened to coincide with the quarterly content meetings at CatCo and Lena had walked around with a face like thunder for the entire week. It was understandable, but at the same time, Kara was someone who thrived on friendly relations with her colleagues, and Lena’s continual stormy mood and monosyllabic answers to any questions had been difficult to deal with. And she had, in fact, not said hello to Kara for the whole week. There wasn’t even a cursory nod. It was the coldest she’d ever seen her boss.

Kara took a sip of her water and looked over at Eliza, who was still waiting for a response. She sighed, catching a drop of condensation with her fingertip as it ran down the glass. “It was just a very busy week, and she was quite upset. The whole thing with that investor being really racist was a big issue for her. It was a hugely lucrative contract, but she just cut it dead once it became clear that the other company wouldn’t come on board without this guy. So she had to make a really tough decision.” Eliza was nodding along, but this was all information that Kara had already told her. What Eliza really wanted to know about was Lena, and Kara had to improvise. “She was really quiet that week. I ran her a lot of baths and I banned her from doing any work after eight at night, because if I didn’t, she would’ve just kept going. We put her favorite movies on and just chilled out on the sofa every evening until it passed. She’s fine now. She took some fallout from the other company, but I was proud of her for rejecting the contract.”

Eliza was silent for a while as she slowly stirred a spoon around her coffee. Kara bounced her leg silently under the table nervously, because she wasn’t entirely sure she was going to like whatever Eliza was stewing over. “I’m familiar with her scientific achievements; in fact, I’m a great admirer of her work and what she’s done to turn that company around. I’ve no doubt that she’s a hard worker. But Kara, all a mother wants to know is that the person her daughter is with is the right one, and that she treats her more kindly than perhaps she’d been told about,” Eliza finished as she leveled a stern, knowing look at her.

Instead of withering under it, Kara let out the breath she was holding in relief. These were slightly easier waters to wade through, especially since her talk with Lena the night before, even if Kara still didn’t know Lena that well yet. “She’s so much kinder than she lets people see. She’s determined for L-Corp to be seen to be doing good, even if that’s at the expense of her own reputation. She didn’t want to be the CEO of L-Corp, she wanted to be a scientist, tinkering with robots down in the labs. And I think someday she’d like to go back to that. She doesn’t want to be her brother, and I think that fighting against the weight of expectation that she will be takes a lot out of her. She’s very funny, although her sense of humor is quite dry. She kind of, I don’t know, drops her stern persona at the door when she comes home and she’s so cute in her reading glasses. And she’s kind to me. She’s a real sweetheart, mom, and I love her. Even if it sometimes seems like she could crush annoying people just by looking at them.”

At that, Eliza laughed, and Kara felt even more relieved.

“Well, as much as this has come as a surprise, I look forward to getting to know Lena better,” Eliza said, settling back in her chair. “She seems like a nice woman, and not at all like how you’ve described her in various phone calls.”

Kara smiled at her, even as guilt stirred in her stomach. “I feel like I’ve done her a real disservice. She’s a wonderful person. I hope you’ll grow to love her, too.” Eliza held up her mug, and Kara clinked her glass of water against it. “So, what have you been up to lately?”

For the next little while, Kara and her adoptive mother chatted about Eliza’s work and the town gossip. Eliza caught Kara up on all the news from Midvale, from who was now dating and who wasn’t, fun things she and Alex had done together, and cooking experiments that had gone wrong.

Eventually, Eliza pushed her chair backwards and stood up. “I actually have to get going,” she said apologetically. “I know it’s Sunday, I didn’t know you and Lena would be here, and I told doctor Hartmann that I’d go into the lab today. We have an experiment running and our tech has been out sick the last few days.”

“Oh! Oh, that’s okay, don’t worry about us, we’ll be alright. I’m going to check the weather; I’ve got a few things I want to do and they all require some good, old-fashioned sunshine!”

“I think it’s meant to be dry for the next few days actually,” Eliza said, collecting Kara’s glass and putting it in the sink along with her coffee mug.

“Great,” Kara replied, pulling out her phone and checking the weather app. It was, as Eliza said, going to be dry and unseasonably warm for the next few days. Lucky! She put her phone back in her pocket and rubbed her hands together gleefully.

She was going to make Lena work for her today, for a change.

Kara gave Eliza a hug when she picked up her car keys to go to work, and Kara locked the door behind her when she left. Kara headed upstairs, mindful that it was still reasonably early for a weekend, just before 7am. Alex and Maggie were still here, although Kara remembered them vaguely mentioning that they had work in the afternoon, so she crept past their rooms towards hers… and Lena’s.

She pushed the door open, and immediately had to stifle her laughter before turning around, the snick of the door closing sounding loudly in the quiet room. She didn’t know why, and it wasn’t as if she’d thought of this very often (because what reason would she have to think of this, anyway?), but she’d fully expected Lena to be a dainty sleeper. Lena was a very elegant woman. Her reserved nature aside, her manners were impeccable, and she was never at work with a single hair out of place. Kara expected a sleeping Lena to be somewhat similar, like a piece of art.

But the reality was… exactly the opposite of her expectation.

The room was brighter than it was when she’d left, weak sunlight coming in around the blinds. She could see well enough, and what she saw made her smile.

Lena was basically nesting under the duvet and blankets. Kara could see almost nothing of Lena at all; instead, it was as if she had half rolled on top of the duvet, tucking it under herself, and then rolled back the other way. She looked like nothing less than a Lena-burrito, and the only part of her she could see was a mass of dark hair sticking out of the top of the burrito. It was quite warm in the room, so the reason for her being all bundled up like that couldn’t possibly be that she was cold. Lena was, very clearly, a blanket thief.

Just as Kara started to move across the room, intent on a shower, Lena turned over, and took most of the blankets with her across the bed. Kara clapped a hand over her mouth when laughter threatened to escape, and it must have woken Lena up, because she poked her head out above the covers.

“Kara?” she mumbled sleepily, rubbing her bleary eyes.

“Good morning,” Kara replied, the amusement in her voice clear enough for Lena to notice.

“What’s so funny?” she asked, sitting up a little and brushing her hand through her hair, only for it to tangle slightly in some knots. Kara could see her frowning even in the dim light of the room.

“I was just thinking that this is something I could tell Eve Teschmacher about,” Kara said, walking over and turning on the bedside lamp on the side of the bed that Lena wasn’t on.

Lena grimaced at the sudden light and slumped back down in bed. “And what are you going to tell her?” she asked, her voice grumpy.

“That you’re a blanket thief,” Kara said with a laugh.

“I am not!” Lena exclaimed indignantly, sitting upright abruptly and dislodging the blankets. They pooled around her waist and Kara had to snap her eyes back up to Lena’s face even as Lena put her hands on her hips.

“I love that you’re trying to look imposing even while sitting in pajamas,” Kara said, openly laughing now.

The side of Lena’s mouth quirked up in a smile. “I’m always intimidating, Kara,” she replied, raising an eyebrow.

Kara’s eyes took in the baggy X-Files tshirt, Lena’s disheveled and tangled hair, the blankets bunched up messily over the bed, and the pillow lines across one of Lena’s cheeks.

“If you say so,” Kara said, in a voice that was softer than she intended it. Lena heard the change in tone, and she gave Kara a smile that was almost fond.

Lena brought her hands up to her hair and tried to untangle it, combing it through with her fingers, as she watched Kara potter around the room. “What time is it?” she asked, and Kara looked over in time to see her wincing as she caught her fingers in a particularly tangled knot.

“It’s after seven. Would you like a hairbrush?” she asked.

Lena looked sheepish for a moment, before she pulled her hands out of her hair. “Please. I’ve got one in the bathroom, or there’s one in that suitcase there,” she added, pointing. “I must’ve been really tired. It’s past eleven in New York. I never sleep this late.”

Kara opened the suitcase Lena had pointed to, and rifled through her belongings, pushing books and various bottles aside until she located the elusive hairbrush. She passed it over to Lena, who thanked her, before climbing out of bed. One of her pajama legs was twisted up above her knee, but Lena didn’t seem to mind much, wrapping one hand around her hair and pulling the brush through it with the other. Kara’s eyes were still on the pale skin of Lena’s leg, and when Lena caught her eye, she blushed. Lena shook her leg out until the pajamas fell around her ankle again.

“I guess I’m just used to you wearing hose,” Kara said without thinking. “Your skin is paler than I… thought… not that I was- not that I was thinking about how pale your skin would be, I mean-” Kara said, wondering why on earth she was still speaking. She felt her blush deepen as blue eyes met amused green ones, before she clapped a hand to her forehead.

“I don’t go out in the sun much,” Lena replied, flipping her hair around her shoulders and running the brush through it as she watched Kara watch her. “I burn really easily, and I don’t really see the need in sitting in the sun just to increase my risk of skin cancer for no real reason. I don’t have any issue with people who do, of course, but there’s not much point in my doing it when I can’t go in the sun without bathing in SPF 50.” She looked thoughtful for a moment. “And I suppose…”

Lena trailed off, her eyes wandering the room, and Kara recognized the look on her face as the same lonely expression that had crossed her face the night before. What on earth would cause Lena to look like that while they were discussing factor 50 sunscreen?

“Lena?” she asked, a little worried as she watched the brunette’s knuckles whiten around the handle of the hairbrush. And then she clicked. “Is it something about your past?”

It seemed like Lena was steeling herself up to say something, and Kara felt a pang of guilt (guilt?). Although she did need to know the crucial things about Lena’s past, she was obviously not comfortable here. She opened her mouth to say that Lena didn’t have to tell her right now, that it could wait, but Lena got there first.

“I suppose that my mother… must’ve been quite pale, too,” Lena said, more slowly than she’d spoken before, as if she regretted starting the sentence.

Kara blew out a breath. “Your mother? Lillian?” Kara said, more than a little confused. She sensed that she was about to be told something very important, but that it wasn’t going to be pleasant. Were all of Lena’s stories going to be sad? “You don’t have to tell me if-”

“I was adopted, too, sort of,” Lena interrupted in a tone of voice that warned Kara not to ask questions. A haunted look passed through Lena’s eyes. But when she turned back to face Kara after putting the brush on the table behind her, it was gone, replaced with something that was more careful. “Lillian is not my biological mother, although Lionel was my father. For all intents and purposes, Lionel was American. In actuality, he was Canadian, and lived in the US under a spousal visa with Lillian. He was rich, and he was married to an American, so it didn’t matter too much to the government,” Lena said, her voice somewhat bitter. “My birth mother was Irish, and I was born in Ireland. My own citizenship is Irish, and because I was Lionel’s child and not Lillian’s, since she never formally adopted me, I never gained American citizenship. When he came to get me from the orphanage after my mother died,” Lena said, the careful look replaced by one that spoke of pain, “I guess his money spoke for him. He must have kept track of me, even though we lived on different continents. And instead of making me American then, by formally adopting me, I guess Lillian just… decided not to. I slipped through the cracks, somehow. I was always made to feel other by Lillian, and this was one of the ways she could most easily enforce the issue.”

Lena turned away suddenly, picking up the brush again and putting it in her suitcase. Kara was full of questions about Lena’s past, but respected her enough to not ask them right now. Why was Lena in an orphanage? What had happened to her birth mother for her to be put there? Why would Lillian and Lionel Luthor have never formally adopted Lena? She didn’t suppose it mattered now anyway, since they had never done it and now Lena was in this predicament, but guessed that their insane wealth had something to do with it. How old had Lena been when this all had happened? Nothing of this was listed anywhere; Kara was sure that something as basic as Lena’s nationality would’ve made the news had someone realized somehow that she wasn’t American. Kara had certainly had no idea.

What she was certain of, though, was that Lena was trying. She had just disclosed something deeply personal about herself, not to mention the fact that it must have been incredibly difficult and hurtful. Although Lena’s somewhat hesitant willingness to discuss her life with Kara was brought on by their situation, Kara nonetheless felt honored that Lena was sharing with her.

“Why are you dressed already?” Lena asked suddenly, changing the topic to one much lighter than the one that they had just been talking about, and startling Kara out of her reverie.

“Oh, yeah, I went for a run this morning. I woke up quite early, I guess because of jet lag, and I didn’t want to wake you or anything. So I went out and when I got back I talked with Eliza for a while before she went to work.”

“On a Sunday? I like her,” Lena said, a wry smile crossing her face, although her eyes still held the slightest hint of discomfort. “You do smell a bit actually, are you going for a shower?”

“I do not-” Kara said, before realizing that Lena was teasing her, and the mood lightened instantly. She picked some jeans and a ratty old shirt out of the closet, along with her bra from yesterday off one of the armchairs. “Yeah, I probably do actually. Do you mind if I go take a quick shower? We’ve got a long day ahead of us. Dress in something you don’t want to get ruined,” she said, before heading into the bathroom with a grin on her face.

“Ruined?” she heard Lena squeak as she closed the door. There was a pause, and then “what do you mean ruined?” Lena said, her voice louder, but muffled. Kara imagined her cupping her hands to the wood of the door to ask her question.

Kara laughed to herself before turning on the shower and adjusting it before it became a good temperature. She stepped under the hot spray of water, groaning a little as it ran through her hair and down her back. She’d always loved this shower. It was powerful, but not so much that it felt heavy. She washed her hair, shaved her legs, and used some of her favorite body wash. It wasn’t that she didn’t love her shower in her Brooklyn flat or anything, but there was just something about this one that just made her feel so much better.

She turned the water off, and squeezed her hair before stepping onto the mat. She pulled her towel, and as she did so, accidentally knocked Lena’s onto the ground. Instead of putting it back on the rack, she decided that she’d put it in the wash and just get her a fresh one. As Eliza had warned Lena the evening before, Kara went through towels quickly. She always somehow ended up dropping them on the floor or getting mascara on them, or some other disaster would befall her defenseless towels. Eliza was used to her by now, but Lena wasn’t, and she didn’t think that Lena would appreciate using a towel that had been on the floor.

Kara quickly dressed herself in the clothes she’d brought in with her, and left her hair damp around her shoulders. She stepped back out into the bedroom to find that Lena was still in her pajamas, although she’d fully opened the blinds. The weak morning sunlight filled the room, and Kara felt her heart flip over as she looked through the windows into the sea; she hoped she’d be able to get her paints out later in the week.

Kara tossed both towels into the laundry basket and turned to look at Lena, putting her hands on her hips. “So you’re going to spend the day in your pajamas?” she joked as she rocked back and forth on her heels.

Lena shot her an exasperated look, but there was no heat in it, and Kara was pleased that Lena’s usual distance was nowhere to be found.

“Of course not,” Lena replied, “but you didn’t tell me why you wanted me to dress in something I didn’t mind ruining. What are we doing today which could possibly ruin some of my clothes?”

“Today, Lena, you get to work for me, for a change!” Kara exclaimed with a straight face.

Lena’s eyebrows figuratively disappeared into her hairline, before she took a step closer to Kara. “Oh, is that right, Miss Danvers? I’m working for you today, am I?” she asked, her voice low and coquettish. The memory of Lena’s lips on hers flashed through her mind and all of a sudden, Kara flushed deeply. Lena chuckled at Kara when she saw how easily she’d reacted, and then they were both laughing.

Lena had a really nice laugh, Kara decided. She loved the sound of it, and the way that laughter lit her face up was something she wished she could see more often. Kara was so used to Lena as the stern businesswoman that seeing her laughing now, standing there in her pajamas and her hair loose, was like bright sunshine breaking through storm clouds. Kara felt herself warm all over as she basked in Lena’s glow.

They looked at each other a moment longer, Lena’s green eyes shining, before Kara cleared her throat.

“So, we’re going to help Eliza out a little by repainting the boat house, if you don’t mind?”

Lena looked surprised. “Oh, not at all. It’s been a while since I’ve done… that,” Lena said, “and I didn’t bring anything really that’s suitable for painting,” she added, looking a little worriedly at her suitcases. Kara saw the way her eyes flicked to the closet, and privately marveled at the fact that Lena had ever done any painting in her life.

“Don’t worry, you can borrow something of mine,” she volunteered, pulling open some of the drawers and starting to search through them. “I’ve got plenty of things here that I don’t mind getting covered in paint. Baggy old shirts, jeans or jogging bottoms, old hoodies…”

Lena was silent for a moment. “Are you sure you don’t mind?” she said uncertainly.

“No, not at all. That would probably look quite good for… Lena?” she said, standing up straight and turning back to look at the brunette, “I think it would actually be good in more ways than one. Eve Teschmacher said that we have to provide photos for Immigration after the interview. Do you think we should… maybe, if there are photos of you wearing my clothes, it’ll look good?”

Lena looked thoughtful. “Actually, you’re right. We have to be aware of the digital footprint, but we could get away with that somehow if we’re careful and just print photos out somewhere, or use one of those portable Polaroid printers. Ruby, Sam’s daughter, has one. We could spin it by saying we didn’t want to get our relationship leaked somehow by accidentally sending a photo to a friend and just keeping photos physical. And,” she smiled that soft smile again, and Kara felt like her stomach was on a rollercoaster, “you’re right, it would look really good if there were photos of me wearing your clothes.”

“Yup, I hear that’s a thing people do in relationships,” Kara said. “That being said, you’re a little shorter than me, and you’ll probably have to cuff the trousers.”

“That’s no problem,” Lena said, her voice coming over her shoulder as Kara rooted through the drawers, pulling out various clothes and tossing them onto the nearby armchair.

“How do you feel about cargo pants?”

“They’re fine. I used to have quite a few pairs.”

“Oh?” Kara asked, looking over her shoulder. “Somehow, I can’t imagine it.”

Lena smiled at her. “They were useful for rock or metal shows. I didn’t have to check a bag if I could fit all my stuff in my pockets.”

Kara grinned. “Lena Luthor, secret rock chick, got it.” She pulled out a pair of black cargo pants that already had some paint dotted on it. “Here, these might fit you okay and they’ve even got paint on them already.”

Lena took them and sidled up to the armchair near the closet. She picked out a handful of clothes and went into the bathroom to change.

Kara opened another drawer and dug out a few more items. A minute later, Lena breezed back out, tossing her pajamas on the bed. “Do we need anything else?”

She turned around to look at Lena, and all the breath seemed to leave her body in one whoosh. Lena had the black cargo pants on, and Kara was right, they were too big for her, because they hung low on her hips. She’d also chosen a black tank top that had a tree on the front and a dark blue plaid shirt, and she’d rolled the sleeves up. She looked like… like… Kara swallowed. Lena looked like nothing short of Kara’s idea of relaxed perfection.

With all the dark clothes and her inky hair hanging over her shoulders, Lena’s eyes looked especially green, and Kara found herself floundering in them as Lena gazed back at her with a shy smile on her face. She blushed a little under Kara’s silent appraisal, and Kara was left wondering where all the air in the room had gone.

Lena was the one to break the moment. “Do I look alright? Do I need anything else?”

“Um,” Kara said dumbly, before handing her a blue Red Sox baseball cap and a pair of old sunglasses. “You’re going to need these as well.”

Lena took them without question, but didn’t put either of them on just yet.

There was something Lena was missing, and as she thought of it, Kara snapped her fingers. “Did you bring any sneakers? Somehow, I don’t think Louboutins are going to be very practical.”

“Har har,” Lena replied with a roll of her eyes. “Yes I did, actually,” and out of one of her suitcases, she pulled an old, comfortable-looking pair of sneakers that had definitely seen better days. Kara had the feeling that she’d had them forever.

“Perfect!” she exclaimed.

Kara busied herself for a moment taking the sheets off the sofa, throwing the pillows back on the bed, and putting the sheets in her empty suitcase to hide them. She didn’t think that anyone would come in their room while they weren’t there, but at the same time, she didn’t want to take a chance on anyone seeing that they weren’t sleeping in the same bed.

Once they had both slipped their phones into their pockets and Lena was clutching their two hoodies, Kara gathered up a bluetooth speaker that she’d brought with her. She stuffed some earphones in her back pocket as well out of habit. They made their way downstairs and into the kitchen, and Kara dropped her things on the table while she went to forage in the fridge. Kara fixed herself a sandwich for breakfast using the leftover roast chicken from the night before. Lena made herself a bowl of fruit from Eliza’s healthy fridge drawer, the drawer that Kara never touched if she could possibly help it.

Lena noticed it when Kara turned her nose up at the fruit, and laughed. “Is this something I need to know? You’ve got a vendetta against fruit?”

“You know I do,” Kara replied loudly, pointing upstairs. Lena followed her finger and looked back down in confusion. “Alex and Maggie are still here,” she said in a much quieter voice, and above her, Kara could hear one of them walking around. “That’s why I’ve got this speaker. We’ll put music on while we’re at the boathouse and we’ll be able to see them before they get anywhere near us. So we can do some learning about each other while we work. We’ve got a week to teach each other about ourselves, and I think we need to… start.”

Lena nodded her agreement. Then she hummed as she poked at her fruit with her fork for a moment, before she speared a strawberry and held it up, looking at it thoughtfully. She didn’t elaborate on what she was thinking or say what she found so interesting about it, so Kara took a bite of her sandwich.

“How do you feel about chocolate covered strawberries, darling?” Lena suddenly asked in a deliberately husky voice, looking sideways at Kara as she did so to see her reaction.

It took a moment for Lena’s words, and her tone of voice, to sink in. Kara choked on her bite of sandwich, barely keeping herself from spraying crumbs all over the table. She coughed around it and Lena calmly got up to fetch her a glass of water, setting it in front of her and running her hand along Kara’s shoulders. Kara felt goosebumps erupt in the wake of her touch.

Just as she was turning to look at Lena, Alex walked in with a grumpy expression on her face. Alex did a slight double-take at Lena and her lumberjack-lite clothes, before she shuffled over to the coffee machine. “Morning,” she mumbled. “Nobody talk to me until I’ve had my morning caffeine hit.”

Kara cleared her throat after her little coughing fit. “Morning sunshine,” she said in a singsong voice, only to receive a death glare over her shoulder. Lena looked amused as she sat back down to finish off her fruit, and they both watched as Alex made two cups of very strong coffee. “Are you and Maggie working today?” Kara asked.

“Yeah,” Alex replied, stirring some creamer into her coffee and three teaspoons of sugar into Maggie’s. “Both of us are on duty, but not until the afternoon. We’re going to hang out here for a little while before we head back into Midvale. Maggie’s cable is fucked so she wants to catch up on a few shows she’s been missing.”

“Oh right, cool,” Kara said. “We’re going to paint the boathouse.”

“That sounds like a whole lot of nope for a Sunday morning, but have fun kids,” Alex said, picking up the two mugs of coffee and headed out of the kitchen.

Kara listened to Alex’s footsteps trudging back up the stairs and rolled her eyes affectionately. When they were both finished with their breakfast, Kara dumped their crockery into the sink, deciding to deal with it later, and filled bottles of water for them both.

The air outside was, as Kara’s weather app had predicted, unseasonably warm. The sky was eggshell blue with fluffy clouds, and although the air was cool, it wasn’t cold enough at the moment to need the hoodies that Lena was carrying. It was perfect weather, actually; they wouldn’t boil to death, and they wouldn’t be cold either.

Lena seemed to be thinking along much the same lines. “It’s a lovely day,” she commented. “It’s so beautiful here. I don’t often get to enjoy a quiet Sunday morning. I’m usually spending the time catching up with work without my phone ringing off the hook.”

Kara thought that was sad, but decided not to comment on it. “Well! Now you’re going to be doing work of a different kind!” she said, rubbing her hands together. The boathouse really was in need of a fresh coat. Situated next to the coast, there was a lot of salt in the air, and it needed to be repainted every few years. It could probably go a few months longer yet, but Kara loved a project, and since they were here with some time on their hands, there was no time like the present.

Plus, it would give she and Lena some more time to get to know each other. They couldn’t bring out the Immigration folder while Alex and Maggie were still around, but Kara planned to go and get it once they’d gone.

Kara took a deep breath of the fresh, clean air, and then motioned to Lena to follow her down to the boathouse. “You said you’ve not done any painting in a while?” she asked.

“Not for a long time, actually. Not since I was a teenager,” Lena admitted, but she didn’t elaborate.

“Oh? What was it that you painted then?” Kara sensed after it became clear Lena wasn’t going to say anything else.

“I helped Lex paint the rooms in the first house he bought himself,” Lena said, as if the words hurt her to say.

Kara was silent for a moment. “Well,” she said cheerily, kicking some dew across the lawn as they reached the boathouse, “painting outdoors is quite different to doing it indoors!”

“How’s that?”

“Because it’s so exposed, and the walls aren’t smooth,” Kara said. They walked around the off-white building. “We just call it the boathouse. I’m sure there’s a more technical name, but we just call it that. We use Streaky so often because it’s the fastest way of getting into town, but if the weather is really bad, we bring her up the slipway into the boathouse. It’s made of brick, but it’s rendered with concrete, and that’s what we’re going to be painting. See how it’s going all sort of… grey?”

Lena looked closer at it, before she realized what she was looking at. “Oh! It’s not supposed to be grey, is it?”

“Nope,” Kara replied. “It’s been recently power washed, but Eliza doesn’t really have the time to paint it. Because it’s by the sea, the salt gets to it really easily, and mildew and mold grow on it. We’re going to use an anti-mold masonry paint, and by the time we’re done today, it’s going to be a brilliant white!”

Lena helped Kara carry two buckets of paint down to the boathouse, along with several old canvas dust sheets that were crispy with old paint, and Lena spread them out next to the building while Kara went back for the paintbrushes, rollers, and a hard bristled broom. Kara also set up a paint-stained foldup table, and put the Bluetooth speaker on it.

Lena gave her a curious look when Kara then brandished the broom at her, her hands on her hips.

“What’s that for?” Lena asked, dodging it when it came near her.

“You, Miss Luthor, are going to use it to brush off the dead flakes of paint,” Kara said, grinning and handing the brush to her.

Lena took it. “Is this you putting me to work, Miss Danvers?” she asked.

“Yup,” she replied. “And I’m going to enjoy every second of it.”

“I’ll bet you are,” Lena said, pitching her voice low. She was looking up at Kara and her green eyes were sparkling with something other than sunshine. She had a small smirk on her face, as if she knew exactly how dry Kara’s mouth had gone at the sheer flirt in Lena’s tone of voice.

Oh god.

Having to deal with a flirty Lena while Kara was already nursing a small crush on the woman was going to be difficult. Kara hadn’t realized that Lena had such a teasing side to her personality before, and if Lena kept it up, Kara’s small crush was going to be much harder to manage.

Lena was still looking at her with those mesmerizing eyes, and there wasn’t even any reason for it; nobody was around to see them, or to overhear this conversation. So why is she flirting with me? Is she flirting with me?

At the very thought, a comfortable warmth seemed to spread throughout Kara’s body, and as blue eyes met green, she felt a blush rise up her neck. Kara decided to try to unpack that at a later time, if at all, she chastised herself. What kind of disaster would it be if she went and developed real feelings for her boss when they were destined to be nothing more than a fake marriage and a quickie divorce?

Kara cleared her throat and stepped away from Lena, missing the brief look of disappointment that flashed over Lena’s face. “Now,” Kara said, moving closer to the wall. “See these flakes? You don’t need to brush too hard to get them off. They are going to fly everywhere, and you don’t want to get them in your eyes, so put those old sunglasses on and the baseball hat. I brought a mask for your nose and mouth as well if you want, too. If there are any particularly stubborn bits, you need to scrape them off with this.” Kara handed Lena a metal scraping tool with a wooden handle, and watched as Lena carefully put it blade up in her pocket. “Be careful with that, okay?” Kara said, seeing how close it was to Lena’s arm when it dropped back down.

“I’ll be fine,” Lena said. “Okay, so are you going to give me a demonstration or just stand there and watch me mess it up on the first go?”

“I’m sure you’ll be fine,” Kara said with a laugh, “but sure. Here.” She put a mask over her nose and mouth, put her sunglasses on and topped her look off with a baseball hat, then started brushing the wall. It was quite satisfying watching the flakes fly off, and they settled on the canvas sheet Lena had spread out along the bottom of the wall. “Got it?” she asked.

Lena nodded, tying her hair up and donning her own mask, hat and sunglasses. Kara smothered a laugh at how ridiculous Lena looked in her getup, and pulled out her phone. She waved it in Lena’s direction, earning a nod in return, before aiming the camera at her. Lena flipped her the bird as she was about to take the photo, and Kara nearly dropped her phone in surprise.

“That’s one for Instagram,” Lena said with a smile Kara couldn’t see behind the mask, but she could hear it in her voice.

You’ve got Instagram?” Kara asked, hearing the incredulity in her own voice.

“I know it must seem strange to you, but I’m not a complete recluse,” Lena said, her voice teasing. “I do. Ruby, Sam’s daughter, set it up for me and insisted that I use it. Apparently, it’s what all the cool kids do these days. It’s private, of course. I do have a reputation to uphold, after all. Oh! I’ve got an idea. What is it your friend Nia calls me at work? The witch?”

Kara reddened in embarrassment. She hadn’t any idea that Lena knew that’s what people called her at work, and she felt ashamed. If Lena knew that, what else had she heard? “Lena-”

“It’s fine, Kara,” Lena said, but her somewhat muted tone belied her words, and Kara felt even worse. “I’ve been called worse than a witch. It’s pretty mild, all things considered. Anyway, I’m going to pose. Can you take a picture? I want to send it to Sam. She’ll get a kick out of it!”

“Sure,” Kara said, holding her phone up. Lena swung one leg over the broom, and posed with it as if she was indeed a witch from a storybook, and Kara couldn’t help but smile. Lena held her hand up at the camera with her fingers in the shape of horns as if she were at a rock concert, and Kara snapped the photo.

“Can I see?” Lena asked, pulling her mask down over her chin and stepping up to Kara, leaning against her side. Was there any reason for Lena to be standing quite this close? Lena was warm, and Kara resisted the urge to put her arm around her waist, instead clearing her throat and holding the phone up so Lena could see it.

It was a funny photo, and Kara sent it to Lena when she asked for it, pulling her phone out of her pocket and immediately uploading it to Instagram when it arrived. Kara tried not to look over at the account, but she could see that it had several hundred photos on it. What had Lena posted before?

So that she wouldn’t be tempted to be nosy, even though she felt it, she moved away from Lena and immediately her side felt cool. “You get first dibs on the music by the way, the password for the Bluetooth speaker is a very imaginative 1111.”

Lena laughed, and walked over to it. “I’ll warn you now, my music taste is pretty eclectic. It’ll range from Dolly Parton to heavy metal, atomic music from the 50’s, to the soundtrack from the Sound of Music.” She connected her phone to the speaker and scrolled through her music, then pressed play. Immediately, something Kara didn’t recognize started playing.

On her way back to collect the broom from the floor next to Kara, Lena bopped her hips from side to side to the music as it played. Kara tried not to stare at the sliver of pale skin that became visible when the cargo pants slipped lower over Lena’s hips, and turned abruptly to prise open the nearest can of masonry paint, feeling her cheeks heat up once more.

Golly, she sure was blushing a lot around Lena. Before she could delve any deeper into that thought though, Lena stood next to her. “Do you want me to start brushing?” she asked.

“Sure! I’m just going to stir this paint. If you brush this wall, start from the end of it, I’ll follow behind you with the paint. Hopefully that way we save some time,” Kara replied, pointing at the wall that was nearest to them and the one that had no windows on it.

Lena nodded at her and pulled the mask back up to cover her mouth and nose. The music was loud enough to be heard, but not loud enough that she couldn’t hear Lena’s muffled singing under the mask. She was off-key, and it made her smile. She’d found something Lena couldn’t do – carry a tune. As she stirred the paint, it didn’t seem like Lena cared that she couldn’t sing. She didn’t project her voice, probably thinking that Kara couldn’t hear her, but Kara could, and somehow she found it endearing. She was also happy that Lena was comfortable enough around her to sing, even though they’d only really spent just over a day together. For part of that time, they’d been bad-tempered and snappy with each other, and Kara marveled at the difference between yesterday morning and now.

The contrast could not be more vivid. Yesterday, Lena was dressed as if she was heading to a board meeting, wearing an outfit that clearly cost a fortune, and still acting like Lena Luthor. Today, she was wearing Kara’s old plaid shirt and cargo pants, a ratty old baseball cap on as she brushed the paint off a wall of a boathouse, and singing. This was definitely Lena.

And Kara liked Lena. She liked this Lena a lot. She was funny, self-deprecating, intelligent, and willing to poke fun at Kara. She knew she’d always thought that the brunette was beautiful, and there was something about the imposing, assertive businesswoman she was at CatCo that was attractive, but now she’d had a glimpse beneath the mask. Ever since the plane ride yesterday, Lena had been a lot more willing to talk, and had shared several things about herself that Kara knew had been difficult for her. Lena was private, and Kara respected her privacy, but they needed to learn about each other. Kara had expected Lena to dig her heels in a little more, but she was surprised to find that Lena volunteered information without being asked.

The more time she spent around Lena, the more she liked the person she was discovering existed. The mask she wore at work was just that, a mask. The woman beneath it intrigued Kara in a way that nobody had in a long, long time.

As Kara poured out paint into the tray, she recognized the song Lena was singing now as All That Jazz from Chicago, and she hit another bum note. Kara smiled to herself and started to sing along quietly to herself as she picked up the tray and put it down behind where Lena had already brushed.

Immediately she saw an issue with her plan. She was going to be going along behind Lena, painting as they went. Behind Lena. She was going to have a view of Lena from behind no matter what position Lena was standing in or… if she was bending over… well. Golly. Damn. Kara pushed her sunglasses further onto her face and forcibly averted her eyes from Lena’s… view, concentrating instead on making sure her roller didn’t have too much paint on it. Having the perfect opportunity to check her boss out without being seen didn’t mean she should, even though… even though, Kara wanted to.

Kara brushed a stripe of paint onto the wall, pleased at the difference even with that first line. She quickly brushed a second stripe onto the wall, and got into a rhythm. When All That Jazz neared the end, Kara couldn’t help herself. She burst loudly into song, startling Lena in front of her, who turned around in amazement as Kara carried the notes flawlessly. Lena pulled her sunglasses off and her mask down, and her green eyes were shining as she listened to Kara sing the last of the song. Kara couldn’t resist a pose as she hit the last note.

Wow!” Lena exclaimed, wide-eyed and smiling broadly, her dimples deep in her cheeks. “Kara! You can really sing. That’s definitely something a fiancée should know, wouldn’t you say?”  

Kara grinned, the compliments of both Lena’s words and her smile washing over her and causing her heart to skip a beat. “Definitely,” she replied. “I was in theater club at school, and I was in basically every musical that the school put on.”

Lena put her hands on her hips and looked at her, her head cocked to one side, dark hair with paint flecks in it spilling over her shoulder. “You know, I can see that,” she said, raising an eyebrow before giving Kara another bright smile. “What else?”

“What else? Oh, should we play twenty questions?” Kara asked, feeling excitement bubble up inside her.

“Hmm, sure,” Lena said. “Start with easy stuff.” She pushed her sunglasses back onto her face and pulled the mask back up. Lena poked the brush in Kara’s direction. “Don’t ask anything weird,” she said, but Kara could hear that Lena was still smiling.

Twenty questions with her boss. Okay. Kara could do this.

“Which would you rather be, a vampire or a werewolf?”

Kara heard Lena snort with laughter behind her mask. “Seriously? Of all the questions to ask.”

“What? It might come up,” Kara replied, although she was pretty sure it wouldn’t. It wasn’t on any of the example question pages in the folder they had upstairs. She wondered whether Lena would even answer the question.

“Vampire,” Lena stated, brushing the wall quite hard. Paint flecks flew through the air and littered the canvas sheet. “No thinking required.”

“Oh? I’d definitely be a werewolf,” Kara responded. “Why a vampire?”

Lena turned around briefly to look at her, before brushing some more paint off the wall. Kara’s eyes focused on the way that Lena’s forearms flexed as they moved.

“Vampires are much sexier than werewolves,” Lena said, as if it was a fact. “Don’t you think so? They have all this… erotic energy. I blame Bram Stoker personally, but a lot of vampire fiction and media ever since then has played up to that. And who wasn’t a fan of Kate Beckinsale in Underworld? Oh, and Kara?”

Kara, who was standing with her mouth agape as Lena was speaking, startled out of her thoughts and coughed a little. “Uhm, yes?”

“If you’re going to be a werewolf, make sure to keep your wet dog smell out of my carpets, okay?”

At that, Kara let out a loud laugh. “Oh, and she’s funny too! Alright then, Miss Luthor, toilet paper. Over or under?”

“Over. Anyone who says under is a heathen,” Lena replied seriously, and Kara decided to continuously turn all the toilet rolls in the house around at some point during their stay. And then Lena countered with a question of her own. “Pineapple on pizza, yes or no?”

“Definitely yes. Pizza is pizza. I’ll eat whatever one is in front of me.”

“I think we’ll have to test that, Miss Danvers.”

“Oh? So you really do cook?” Kara asked Lena curiously.

Lena seemed to sense that this wasn’t a silly question. “Actually, yes. I don’t have time to do it as much as I’d like to, but whenever I get the chance to, I like to try my hand in the kitchen and see what I can come up with. But,” she said in an authoritative tone that made shivers run down Kara’s spine, “I am going to make you the worst pizza on earth and you are going to eat it.”

“Challenge accepted!” Kara exclaimed. After all, pizza was pizza, right? She gulped when she saw Lena pull her glasses down far enough for her to see the evil little glint in her eyes.

What had she let herself in for? And would Lena really cook for her?

They made their way slowly around the boathouse, Lena brushing the flakes off and Kara painting around after her. Lena’s job was harder, it demanded more pressure, and she had to stop quite frequently to dig out some of the more stubborn flakes; eventually Kara put her paint down and fetched another brush from the garage so that she could help. Between the two of them, in another two and a half hours, they’d scraped enough of the boathouse that Kara was satisfied that they’d be able to paint the first coat on without incident.

During those hours, Kara had learnt a lot about Lena, and discovered that the woman definitely had the most eclectic music taste she’d ever heard. In fact, it was so varied that Kara would venture to say that Lena had no music taste at all; Kara couldn’t identify any specific genre that Lena liked more than another. Her phone shuffled from musical soundtracks, to heavy metal, to Dolly Parton, bombastic classical music, pop, and country, among others. There was also some kind of folk music that was so madcap that Kara had to ask for an explanation; it turned out she’d heard it while in a Christmas market in Bucharest one year and it reminded her of some of her travels. It turned into a discussion about how many places each of them had visited, and where they’d love to go in the future.

Kara learnt that Lena had a small home in several countries (France, Greece, and Ireland) to which she retreated if she was in those countries for business. Lena almost never took time off; aside from one occasion where she went to southern France for a week and came back as pale as she’d left, Kara couldn’t remember any time when Lena had taken an extended vacation. It was just long weekends here and there, spaced throughout the year.

She also learnt that Lena put salt on her eggs and nothing else, that she loved soft blankets, dogs, and would rather never use the internet again than not be able to read a book for a year. She found out that Lena won competitions for writing short stories when she was a teenager, hated running but loved fencing, and that her favorite cheese was Camembert. Lena adored riding horses and used to ride regularly. Lena was some kind of chess prodigy and, with heavy prompting from Kara, she modestly admitted that she had multiple trophies locked away in a vault for winning state and national chess championships.

“The next thing you’ll be saying is that you’ve given some kind of TED talk or something,” Kara said, as they finished brushing the last part of the walls. They dropped their brushes gratefully on the canvas, rubbing their sore palms. It was a few moments before Kara realized that Lena hadn’t said anything. “Seriously?” she asked in astonishment. “On what?”

Lena removed the baseball hat from her head, showering paint flecks everywhere. “The future of quantum technology,” she said, pulling the mask off as well. “Ah, that’s better. It was rather hot in there.”

“Lena,” Kara said weakly, gaping at her. “You did a TED talk?”

“Yes,” she replied. “On how quantum technology can be used to improve everyday life, for example by making batteries last long, quantum encryption for privacy, improvements in medical imaging. Things like that.”

“Golly,” Kara said, causing Lena to look over at her in amusement at the antiquated word. “I didn’t realize I was in the company of a bona fide genius.”

Lena shrugged, a faraway look in her eyes. “My intellect is just a fact of life. It’s often served to make a pariah out of me. That, among other things,” she added in a tone of voice that Kara was beginning to recognize as Lena’s attempt to forestall any questions.

Although she was definitely enjoying getting to know Lena on a surface level, Lena was a little more still reticent about sharing details of her life that were more than skin-deep. The few things she had shared that were harder, like her story of her adoption, or her fear of flying, were harder to pull out of her. After their talk the day before though, Kara knew it would take a little time.

She hoped, though, that it wouldn’t be too much time. They only had a week, and in the grand scheme of things, that wasn’t a very long time to get to know someone as well as they needed to know each other.

Even with that thought in her head though, Kara still felt like she wanted to cheer Lena up. “Well,” she said in a bright voice, “you can do amazing things that other people can’t, and your intellect is going to do a great deal of good for people around the world. And you have Sam, and Ruby, and now you’ve got me too. We’re friends, remember?”

Lena sent her a grateful smile, and it made Kara feel warm inside. “Friends,” Lena repeated.

“Mmhmm.”

“Would friends have lunch together? I’m starving after all that work!”

Kara laughed. “All that work? We’re only halfway through the job. We still have to paint this whole building!”

Lena shook her arms out. “But I’m so tired!”

“Too bad,” Kara said with a grin. “We’ve got a few days of no rain after this, and the paint needs that time to dry, otherwise we’ll have to do it twice.”

“Slave driver,” Lena grumbled, but she was smiling. “Can we at least get a lunch break?”

“Sure,” Kara said, bending over to pick up both of their brushes. “I could eat a horse. We’ll put these back in the garage when we go back up to the house.”

As they walked back up to the house, Kara could hear Lena chuckling beside her. Before she could ask why, she felt Lena’s hands batting gently at her clothes, before brushing them down her right arm, across her shoulders, and down her back. Kara felt her light touches almost like caresses, and she couldn’t stop a shiver of pleasure from running through her. She stopped walking, and she felt Lena’s hand still between her shoulder blades.

“Sorry, that tickled a little,” Kara said, trying to pass it off, and hoping her voice didn’t sound as shaky as she suddenly felt. Lena’s cheeks were dusted with pink as well, and still, she kept her hand on Kara’s back. As they stood there looking at each other, Lena’s hand moved down Kara’s back a little more, before it came to rest just above her waistband. They were standing very close to each other.

“You… were covered in bits of dry paint,” Lena said, the timbre of her voice low.

“Oh,” Kara said quietly. “Well, thanks.” Her eyes traveled over Lena, and she smiled. “So are you.”

The pink color on Lena’s cheeks deepened a little. “Would you mind…?”

Kara understood the unspoken question, and as carefully as she could, she batted away some of the paint away from Lena’s clothes. She wasn’t very effective, though, and Lena seemed to know it. After a moment Lena huffed and pulled her shirt off, shaking it away from herself and sending tiny pieces of dried paint everywhere.

At first, Kara wondered why on earth she hadn’t thought to do the same, because it seemed obvious in hindsight. But she was immediately distracted by the blush that had spread across the top of Lena’s chest under the tank top, and by the freckles on her pale shoulders. In the warm spring sunshine, Lena’s pale skin seemed to glow. She wondered what Lena would look like if she caught a bit of sun, but quickly decided that it would probably make her look a little strange. She was naturally pale, and her green eyes and dark hair only emphasized that. It suited her well; the effect of that combination was striking, and Kara couldn’t tear her eyes away from Lena as she knotted her shirt around her waist.

This was the most exposed Lena had ever been in front of her, and as Lena looked down at herself and came to the same conclusion, Lena gave her a slightly bashful smile.

“I don’t think anyone’s seen me in a tank top for quite a long time,” she said, lifting her hands to her shoulders as if to cover them up.

“Don’t,” Kara said, moving her hands towards Lena’s, and then stopping halfway at Lena’s curious look. “Uh, I mean, you look… um, nice,” Kara mumbled. “I mean, definitely put the shirt back on when we come back out otherwise you’ll burn if the sun stays out, but… yeah. You look good, Lena. Don’t hide yourself.”

Lena flushed even deeper at Kara’s words. “Alright,” she replied. “Come on, let’s go get some lunch.”

Kara glanced up towards the house, and then held her hand out for Lena to take, which she did with no hesitation. Kara squeezed her hand, and together they walked into the house.

Maggie was in the kitchen putting a glass in the sink when they entered, and she let out a low whistle when she saw them. “What’ve you two been up to then, both of you blushing like a pair of schoolgirls?”

Maggie!

“Kara was just… helping me with the bits of paint I had all over me,” Lena said in a somewhat coy voice.

“I’ll bet she was,” Maggie replied, raising her eyebrows at both of them.

“We’re just uh, coming in for lunch.”

“I’ll bet you are.”

“Maggie! How could you possibly misconstrue-”

Lena silenced Kara with a warm kiss to her cheek. “Nothing fun happening unfortunately Maggie,” Lena said, letting go of Kara’s hand. “She’s been working me really hard out there.”

“I’ll bet she-”

Kara threw her hands up in the air and stalked over to the fridge. “Oh for the love of- I cannot deal with both of you,” she said, yanking the fridge open to the sound of Maggie and Lena’s laughter behind her. “Lena, I’m making you an anchovy, pickle, and peanut butter sandwich.”

“Harsh,” Lena said, disgust marring her delicate features.

“That sounds disgusting,” Alex said, coming into the kitchen in her sheriff’s uniform. “How could you treat your loving fiancée like that, Kara?”

“Yeah, Kara, how could you treat me like that?” Lena said, clasping her hands in front of her and pushing her bottom lip out in a pout. Kara’s eyes widened as she took the adorable look in, and caved immediately.

Fiiiiiine. Just because you’re cute, you can have a decent sandwich. Or, as decent a one as I can make, anyway. You’re the chef, not me.”

“We’ll leave you two to it,” Alex said, dumping some dishes into the sink. “Wash these for me won’t you, Kara?”

Alex!” Kara huffed.

Alex ignored her, waving her hand in the air and giving her a smirk. “You wouldn’t want me to be late stopping some kind of high-tech bank heist in Midvale would you?”

Kara rolled her eyes. “I doubt if David Jacobs even remembers to lock the door to the bank half the time. No special tech required when you can just open the door.”

“All the same. I’ll be back late tonight after my shift, so don’t wait up. I’m helping mom out with taking some of her equipment to the lab in the morning, so I’ll be around,” Alex said, before picking up two muffins and passing them both to Maggie, before wrapping Kara in a hug. “It’s so great to be able to hug you again, you know,” Alex said, tightening her arms.

Kara sank into the hug from her sister. “I know,” she mumbled, but after glancing at Lena, she was unwilling to say anything else about it in case it made Lena uncomfortable. Her boss had a guilty expression on her face, and she averted her eyes when Kara looked at her. Shelving that for the moment, she reveled in being close to her sister, before letting her go and giving her a wave.

“See you in the morning!” Alex tossed over her shoulder, as she and Maggie made their way out. Just as she was going out the door, Maggie turned around and waggled her eyebrows at Kara, who threw a dishcloth at her in jest. Maggie cackled all the way to the front door.

Kara turned back to Lena in the much more silent kitchen. “I’m not really going to make you an anchovy, pickle, and peanut butter sandwich you know,” she joked, when the tension fell over her like a cobweb.

“Kara…” Lena said, her voice downcast. “I’m sorry I-”

“Let’s talk about it over lunch, okay?” Kara said gently. “We’re going to have the place to ourselves for the next while. Why don’t we take the opportunity to go through some of the questions from that folder Immigration gave us? I don’t know about you but I’m pretty sure knowing that you’d rather be a vampire over a werewolf won’t really be the first question they ask!”

Lena gave her a tiny smile that made Kara feel sad, before she nodded and headed for their bedroom. Kara busied herself by making both of them a thick roast chicken and avocado sandwich, ground some salt and pepper into it, and grabbed a couple of bags of chips from the cupboard. She was just choosing some bottles of soda or juice from another cupboard when Lena came back into the kitchen carrying one of the Immigration folders in a canvas bag. The second one was in her arms, along with a handful of pens, and a portable phone battery and a wire. She put the bag on the table and put the pens inside it, before standing next to Kara and perusing the drinks. To Kara’s surprise, instead of reaching for a Coke Zero, as she expected, Lena picked a mango Snapple.

“I know this is going to sound rather strange coming from me and all the junk you saw me eat yesterday,” Kara said, staring at Lena, who was holding the bottle in her hand, “but do you know how much sugar is in one of those?!”

“I do,” Lena replied, looking at the label before putting the bottle in her bag. “But, I let myself have one of these maybe once a year, and on a day where I’m certainly burning more calories than I usually would, today’s the lucky day.”

Kara stared for a second longer, before shrugging and pulling out a bottle of Sprite for herself, and then two bottles of cold water from the fridge.

She led Lena out to the porch swing that overlooked Midvale Sound so that they could sit in the shade to eat, but still be outdoors in the fresh air. “Oh, wait,” she exclaimed loudly before Lena could sit. She froze, halfway between sitting and standing, and looked askance at Kara. “Oh, um, I was just going to ask if you wanted a blanket to sit on, but the mattress thing is soft enough, I guess,” she finished, feeling a little silly.

Lena sat down, and Kara didn’t miss the smile that crossed her face as she turned away from her to put her bag down on the seat next to her. “I brought both of them down,” she said, handing Kara one and pulling the other out of her bag. “I thought we both might need to write answers down. I have an excellent memory, as Lex used to like pointing out, but all the same, I’d rather have something to refer back to if needed.”

“Alright,” Kara said. “Can we eat lunch first though?” She gave Lena her best puppy dog eyes expression, and although Lena’s expression was distinctly unimpressed, Kara could see the corner of her mouth twitching as if she was fighting back a smile. After a moment, her eyes crinkled with amusement and she took a bite of the sandwich, using the folder as a table for her plate.

They were quiet as they ate, except for Lena expressing her gratitude that Kara hadn’t made her as gruesome a sandwich as she’d threatened. Once they’d finished their sandwiches, Kara sat back in the seat and swung them a little, enjoying the gentle motion as they opened their bags of chips.

Lena twirled her Snapple in her hands as she looked out over the water, looking thoughtful, and Kara wondered what was going on in her mind. She didn’t have to think long though, before Lena was twisting around to look at her.

“Kara,” she said, her voice contrite. “I just wanted to say that I’m sorry. For… well, a lot of things as it turns out, but for taking your time away from your family. I don’t have much family, and the one that I do have has never been warm. Home has never been a place of acceptance, or of comfort, and although I know of course that it is for other people, I don’t have much experience of it, and therefore I don’t attach as much importance to it as I should. I’ve kept you from your family through denied vacation requests far too often just to make my own life easier, and I- I apologize. I’m sorry.”

Kara was startled to see a film of tears in Lena’s eyes; she’d been smiling only a few minutes ago, and Kara was thrown. At the same time as the thought upset her, she was impressed by Lena’s ability to show one emotion, but feel something entirely different. Once again she marveled at the difference between the rather tough businesswoman she was used to, and the woman she’d seen in the last day and a half. A week ago, Kara would never have said she’d be sitting next to Lena and listening to her give a genuine apology.

She reached across the small gap between them and put her hands on top of Lena’s, which were fidgeting with each other on top of the folder. Lena’s hands stilled under hers, and she looked up, a single tear spilling down her cheek. Kara’s heart cracked, and before she could think too much about it, she reached up and brushed it away with her thumb.

“I’m not going to say it’s okay,” Kara began, and when Lena would’ve turned away, she brushed her thumb over Lena’s cheek again, causing Lena to look up at her and meet her eyes. “Hey. What’s done can’t be undone, but for what it’s worth, I accept your apology. I know this whole situation has you like a fish out of water, but if I’m really honest with myself, and with you, you seem… this is the most relaxed I’ve ever seen you. I know your reputation matters a great deal to you, but here, with me, just be yourself, okay? That’s all I can really ask of you, and I happen to quite like the Lena that I’ve been getting to know since yesterday.” She bumped Lena’s shoulder gently. “I think that if we keep talking the way we have been today, getting to know each other should be easier than we thought. You don’t have to pretend to be anyone other than you when you’re with me. And you’re doing really well with my family.”

Lena didn’t say anything in response, but Kara hadn’t been expecting her to. She wasn’t naïve enough to think that a day and a half would completely change everything or flip their situation on its head or anything like that. She did feel like she and Lena had made a great deal of personal progress with each other in a short space of time, as evidenced by Lena’s apology, and she hoped that they would continue in that vein as best as they could.

After a moment, Lena shifted awkwardly on the seat as it moved under her. The next thing Kara knew, Lena was hesitantly leaning against her, and she could feel the warmth of Lena’s pale skin even through her shirt. “Thank you,” Lena said softly.

Kara and Lena watched the birds fly over the sound, the gentle sound of the waves a distant rumble in the quiet of the early afternoon. It was nice, sitting here with Lena like this, and Kara couldn’t lie; she liked how Lena felt pressed up against her like she was. She itched to put her arm around Lena’s shoulders, but she resisted, even as she felt her heart hammering in her chest.

Clearing her throat, Lena sat up a little, and Kara immediately missed her soft weight against her side. Lena flipped through the pages of the Immigration folder, coming to rest on the first of the pages of the example questions. “Would you like to go through a few of these?” she asked, before unscrewing the lid of her Snapple to take a sip.

“Sure,” Kara replied. “But while we do that, can we at least get a slice of pie? We can do a few questions and then take the folder down to the boathouse, and continue it there. We need to keep painting.”

Lena’s eyes shone. “What kind of pie?”

Kara grinned at her, before standing up and taking their sandwich plates indoors. Eliza had made a key lime pie as one of the desserts the night before, but they’d eaten the vanilla cheesecake instead. Kara dished them up a generous slice each, grabbed two forks, and took them back outside to Lena.

Lena looked down at the pie, before back up at Kara with a downcast expression. “I’m allergic to lime,” she said solemnly.

Damn. “What, really? I’ll go and find you something else. And I’ll have to remember that you’re allergic to it.” She made to stand up, but a warm hand on her forearm stopped her.

“I’m joking, Kara,” Lena said, her voice colored with amusement. “I love key lime pie!”

Kara narrowed her eyes playfully at Lena before she pointed her fork at her. “If they ask me about your allergies, and I say lime, it’s all your fault.”

Lena raised an eyebrow before cutting a bite of pie with her fork, and lifting it to her mouth. She closed her eyes briefly as she chewed, and let out a happy sounding hum.

“It’s good, huh?” Kara asked.

Lena nodded. “Incidentally,” she said, covering her mouth a little with the back of her hand, “I am actually mildly allergic to a couple of things. You might want to write this down somewhere-”

“Oh!” Kara said, interrupting Lena while she turned the pages in the folder. “I know some of them, I think.” Lena gave her a curious look at that. “Oh, I need to know for when I have to send your replies to gala invites; sometimes they ask about food allergies. Oh, look, there’s an allergies question. Right,” she said, twisting to look at Lena with a serious look on her face, and adjusting her glasses. Lena smiled fondly at her. “What allergies do you have?”

“Which ones do you already know about?”

Kara wrote a few words out on the paper. “Shellfish, kiwi fruit, and chamomile. To be fair, the chamomile is easy to avoid at galas; they’re not usually serving the tea, right?”

“True,” Lena conceded, “although sometimes it would be nice to have a supposedly relaxing drink on stressful days. I’m also allergic to passionfruit, by the way.”

“Huh,” Kara said, noting them down. “Bit of a shame, passionfruit. Really good in cocktails.”

“You can’t miss what you don’t know. What about you, any allergies?” Lena asked, opening her own folder and flipping to the allergies question. She sat with the pen poised over the page and looked at Kara expectantly.

“Nothing,” Kara said, taking a sip of her Sprite.

Nothing?!” Lena raised her eyebrows and let her hand with the pen slump on the page. “Well, I’m jealous. Let’s have a look at these other questions. Hmm. What’s your favorite food?”

“Potstickers.”

“Potstickers? Huh,” Lena said, writing it down in her neat script.

“What’s wrong with potstickers?” Kara said, ready to leap to the defense of her favorite.

Lena’s smile was soft when she looked up at Kara. “There’s absolutely nothing wrong with potstickers. If you behave yourself, I’ll even make them for you sometime.”

The fact that this was the second time Lena had made mention of some sort of normality outside of their strange situation made Kara’s heart leap in her chest. Lena would cook for her? When? But also, potstickers. “Seriously? You can make them?” Lena nodded. “You’re amazing.”

Lena looked pleased, and looked back down at the questions. “Which of you likes to cook? Well, me, by the sounds of it. Which of you likes to clean? From what I saw, your apartment was pretty tidy, especially since you didn’t know you were about to have someone in it,” Lena said, and Kara preened at the compliment, “but I usually just pay someone else to do it. So, shall we say you?”

Kara laughed. “You pay someone to do your cleaning?”

Lena shrugged. “I’m at work a lot, and when I’m at home, I’m usually working. I don’t really have the time, so why not? Saves me doing it.”

“Fair. Okay, shall we take these down to the boathouse so we can keep painting?”

“Sure,” Lena said, gathering up the folders. Kara carried their drinks down to the boathouse, and they set themselves back up again. Lena pulled her shirt back on to protect her skin from the sunlight. They left off the masks, not needing them now, and Lena ditched her sunglasses as well. The sun had gone back behind the clouds, although it was still warm.

Kara had managed to paint half of one of the walls before she’d stopped to help Lena brush them, so it was fairly easy to see where they needed to start from. Kara set up the paint roller trays and mixed the paint a little more, before pouring it into the bucket end. Kara let Lena start on the unpainted part of the wall while she flipped through the folders, coming across a section for-

“Oh hey, Lena, look! There are some questions here specifically for a foreign spouse.”

Lena turned around, accidentally getting paint on her trousers. “Oh? That’ll be me then, the Irish spouse.”

“Have you ever committed a crime of any kind, in this country or any other, even if you were never arrested?” Kara read out, then looked up at Lena from her position, sitting cross-legged on the canvas.

Lena pretended to think hard about it. “No, your honor,” she replied, before she added more paint to her roller and carrying on painting.

“Have you ever been a member of a Communist group?”

Lena cocked a hip and lifted a questioning hand to her face, pretending to think about it. “Nope!” Lena said, painting a very precise stripe of white right up to the corner of the wall.

“Have you ever been a member of a terrorist group?”

“No! Are they serious? I get asked this every time I go through an American airport, thanks to Lex,” Lena said over her shoulder. Kara could practically feel Lena rolling her eyes from where she was, but she could sense in the tone of Lena’s voice that the question had hit a nerve, which was understandable, given that Lena herself hadn’t done anything wrong. How tiring it must be to be consistently tarred by the same brush as her brother.

Kara flipped randomly through the question section, and decided to go through it more methodically. She asked the more boring questions first, questions about Lena’s address, phone number, email accounts, job titles, and other more general questions like what color her eyes were. Lena answered all of them patiently while she worked, gliding the roller smoothly and methodically over the wall. Kara told Lena her own answers to the same questions, and wrote hers in Lena’s folder.

“How long have you known your spouse? Three years,” Kara read out loud, writing down the answers in each folder. “When and how did you meet? Boss and employee relationship,” she wrote, and then raised her voice. “You came in and brusquely demanded your fancy hot chocolate and didn’t tell me where the machine was!”

Lena lazily flicked some paint in Kara’s direction. “I did not. I believe I at least… pointed it out,” she said. “Are you going to do some work or are you just going to watch me do it all day?”

“Oh, but I’ve been enjoying telling you what to do for a chance,” Kara said, ducking her head as Lena flicked more paint at her. It landed on the back of her hand, and she wiped it on the canvas under her knees.

“Miss Danvers.” Kara looked up. Lena had arched one of her eyebrows and was smirking at her, and Kara felt breathless – how was it that this one woman was so darned beautiful that it took her breath away? “I believe it’s my turn to ask the questions.”

Wordlessly, Kara stood up and walked over to Lena, who handed over the paint roller and sauntered (there was no other word for it, Kara thought) over to the folder. She sat down gracefully on the canvas, crossed her legs, and settled the folder across her knees. Lena took her baseball cap off, pulled her shiny hair over one shoulder, and replaced the cap, before clicking the pen open against the page. She looked up, and tilted her head at the expression on Kara’s face, who belatedly realized that she was staring. Lena’s smirk grew before she looked back down at the paper.

“Let’s do some more interesting questions. Let’s see…” Lena said, tapping the pen against her upper lip and causing Kara to paint a wonky line across the wall. She mentally slapped herself out of it while she waited for the question, painting over her mistake before Lena saw it. “Where did you go on some of your first dates?”

Kara considered her answer. Where would they have gone? “Hmm. You know, because we were hiding our relationship from my colleagues, we couldn’t really go on dates. Let’s say, we spent time at each other’s apartments, otherwise, we went out of town like some sordid couple trying to hide our affair from our spouses.”

“I’ll have you know, Kara, that had we gone on any real dates, none of them would have been anywhere close to sordid,” Lena said, her voice low and serious. She kept her eyes down, not looking up at Kara as she made notes on the page. “I would have treated you beautifully.”

And just like that, Kara was breathless again.

 

* * * * *

 

They made their way through the questions regarding the beginning of their fake relationship, inventing cooking disasters (Kara), elaborate meals (Lena), bowling nights, walks in parks, and hikes in the hills. Romantic getaways to the secluded cabin that Lena owned just outside of Salem, Massachusetts (“what? I love the history there!”); this was the same cabin that had the pond that Lena had supposedly proposed to Kara at. Quiet birthdays spent together, various gifts they’d bought or made each other, and late nights at the office ordering takeout to get work finished.

When they finished the first wall, Lena took over the painting and described her apartment and her cabin in minute detail, down to what color the furnishings were, which kinds of paintings she’d hung on the walls, and how many bathrooms there were. The more detail the better. Anything that a spouse would be reasonably expected to know about where the other lived, Lena covered it. She told Kara about the shampoo that she used (Oribe), which brand of toothpaste she preferred (Crest), face cream (La Mer), and shower gel (L’Occitane Verveine; that explained the citrus scent that clung to Lena’s skin. Kara blushed when she remembered how close they’d been yesterday when Lena had been showing her how to work the seat on the jet).

Kara provided the same information when they’d worked their way around to the third wall. She horrified Lena by disclosing that she often forgot to use her own face cream to the point that Alex wouldn’t let her buy any expensive stuff anymore, because she only ended up throwing it away. Kara’s own tastes when it came to toiletries were fairly simple – if it smelled like cookies, cupcakes, or some kind of mix of fruit, she bought it. One of the cupboards in her kitchen was overflowing with supplies from Bath and Body Works.

As she rolled the paint across the wall, she told Lena funny stories about her apartment in Brooklyn, the bartender in the bar next door who was always halfway to tanked, and about the shower being in the kitchen. Lena looked horrified at the thought of it, much to Kara’s amusement. She described the cosy armchair from which, on a winter’s morning, she could see the New York skyline, and the books she had on the nearby bookcase. She told her how much the rent was, where the wooden floors creaked, and which flowers decorated her windowsills.

By the time they’d finished the second coat on the boathouse, Kara felt like they knew a whole lot more about each other than they had done before. Granted, they were all miscellaneous details, but every detail was important. Kara was sure that Eve Teschmacher would focus on the minute details of their lives rather than the big moments, and both Lena and Kara willingly shared them.

“What kind of car do you drive?” she asked Lena, frowning down at the page when she realized that she didn’t actually know. “I’ve never known you to drive to or from work.”

“That’s because I don’t,” Lena replied, dipping the roller in the bucket of water Kara had brought over recently. Her hands were covered with paint, her forearms were splattered with it, and there were streaks and handprints all over the shirt. She leaned the roller stick against her leg and took her baseball cap off briefly to wipe her forehead, and left a white steak of paint behind. “I have a driver that takes me to and from work. It’s just easier that way, because I can get work done on the way.”

“Do you drive outside of work? Can you drive?”

“Of course I can,” Lena said, swishing the roller around in the water. “I have a car at my cabin; I have a valet that is essentially employed to leave it there for me when I want it, rather than leaving it on the property.”

“Why? Is it something expensive?” Kara asked, grinning.

“It’s… yeah,” Lena admitted, sounding a little embarrassed. “I wanted something fun to drive while I was out of the city. It’s an Aston Martin DBS Superleggera.”

“That’s so expensive that I don’t even know what it looks like,” Kara deadpanned, making sure the paint on her hands was dry before pulling her phone out and googling it. After a moment, she let out a low whistle. “Lenaaaaa, that’s some car!”

Lena shrugged. “I’m a good driver, I’m not going to crash it.”

“I’ve crashed three cars so far,” Kara said, counting them off on her fingers as she stood up to collect the smaller paintbrushes they’d used to dab paint into more awkward places. “There was Eliza’s work car that I drove through a fence and into a ditch. Alex’s car that ended up in the harbour. And there was my first car which I reversed into the garage and hit Alex’s car, which had replaced the one in the harbor. I was just always better at boats. I’ve never even scratched Streaky.”

Lena’s eyes were as wide as saucers. “I am never letting you drive my car.”

“Rude,” Kara said, unthinkingly flicking the paintbrush at Lena. She then watched, as if in slow motion, the paint flying from the brush and splattering on Lena’s cheek and chin. There was a moment of stunned silence. “Oh god, Lena, I am so s-”

She was abruptly cut off when a large glob of paint hit her face, dripping from her nose onto her chest. She wiped at it before any got in her mouth, and was immediately hit with another splatter, this time in her hair. Kara looked up in time to see a mischievous Lena, grinning to herself, dipping one of the paintbrushes into the paint and loading it up for another attack. Kara lunged towards the paint tray and picked it up, swiped a paintbrush through it, and flicked it in Lena’s direction. Lena squealed with laughter and dodged out of the way, but quickly realized her error when Kara had a portable supply of paint and all she had was her one brush full.

“That’s cheating!” Lena squeaked, quickly turning her back as paint flew towards her, landing on her back and in her hair. She kept hold of her loaded paintbrush, and Kara chased her around the boathouse, throwing paint at her every time she got close enough to aim. Lena was pretty good at dodging her though; much to Kara’s surprise, she missed more than half of the time as Lena was able to duck out of her way with quick movements. Whenever Lena got close enough to the paint bucket, she dipped her brush in it and flung more paint in Kara’s direction.

They chased each other like children, almost screaming with laughter as one of them landed a hit. The canvases on the ground fell victim to their play, and both of them would have paint stuck to the bottom of their shoes for a long time.

“How are you so… hard to hit?” Kara called after Lena, who had disappeared around the corner of the boathouse.

“I’m a champion fencer, remember? I’m quick on my feet, especially when I’m not wearing Louboutins,” Lena’s raised voice replied, floating from somewhere Kara couldn’t pinpoint.

She paused, paintbrush in hand, and crept around the corner, ducking as she did so. Lena wasn’t there, and Kara looked behind her. No Lena. She snuck back the way she’d come, hoping to catch Lena unawares, but felt a tap on her shoulder. Kara swung around with her paintbrush, but hit only air as Lena ducked beneath her arm. Before she could recover, Lena stood back up and swiped Kara across the face with her own paintbrush, coating her glasses and her right cheek with the gloopy paint. “Too slow, Miss Danvers,” Lena said, and although she couldn’t see her, the pure delight in Lena’s voice was evident.

When she tried to raise the hand her paintbrush, intent on revenge, she felt a warm hand on her forearm, pushing it gently back down. “Now now, I think I’ve won this battle,” Lena said, her paint-covered fingers sliding up Kara’s arm to rest in the cusp of her elbow.

Kara took a small step closer to Lena. “You’re right,” she replied in a sorrowful voice. “I can’t even see you.” She felt Lena’s hand move around the back of her arm, her skin tingling where Lena had touched her. She dropped her own paintbrush to the canvas, and took hold of Lena’s arm, gliding her own fingers underneath Lena’s rolled up sleeve. They were standing close enough for her to be able to hear Lena’s slightly ragged breathing.

Quick as a flash, before Lena could react and move away, Kara held onto Lena’s arm and lifted the paint tray she still had in her other hand, upending it over Lena’s head.

Lena spluttered indignantly as the paint dripped through her hair and down her chest, and Kara leaned close to her, trying to get her cackling under control. “You may have won the battle Miss Luthor, but I seem to have won the war.”

“I yield!” Lena chuckled, slapped her gently on her upper arm, no doubt leaving behind some a sticky white handprint. “I yield,” she repeated, her voice suddenly much closer. Kara still couldn’t see anything, so she took her glasses off and tried to wipe them with the hem of her shirt. Lena was blurry, but she could just about make her features out. Suddenly, she felt Lena’s arm snake around her waist, and she drew in a sharp breath as Lena pressed herself to Kara’s front.

Kara held her breath for a moment. She could feel all the soft contours of Lena’s body as she got herself as close to Kara as she could, and Lena’s breath fanned across her face. “Put your glasses back on,” Lena murmured in her ear. Kara did so, fumbling a little, although whether that was to do with how closely they were standing or Lena’s closeness, she didn’t know. There was definitely a difference. She could still barely see, having just smeared the paint across the glass, but a little nervous giggle escaped her as she took stock of the sight in front of her.

Lena tightened her arm around her waist, pulling Kara closer to her. Her dark hair was run through with paint, and she had white streaks across her face. Dots and blobs of paint covered her chest and shoulders, and that was all Kara could see of her, until she looked into Lena’s eyes. They were darker than usual, and they were crinkled at the corners from amusement. That much, Kara could see. She cursed her paint-smeared glasses.

“Let’s take some photos,” Lena said quietly, her voice a little hoarse, pulling her phone out of her pocket and unlocking it with her passcode, since her thumb was covered in paint. “Say cheese!” she said, selecting the camera and holding it up. Lena pulled away from Kara a little so she could capture their paint-covered bodies in, and Kara wrapped her arm around Lena’s shoulders as they both grinned goofily at the camera. Lena took several of them pulling funny faces and laughing, and then she pressed a gentle kiss to Kara’s cheek, snapping that photo too.

Keeping her arm around Lena’s shoulders, she snaked her other one around Lena’s waist and pulled her flush against her front. Lena let out a little “oof” at the contact, and Kara smiled softly at her. Lena’s gaze moved over Kara’s face like a caress. Kara almost felt it as Lena’s eyes dropped to her lips, and Kara felt an almost irresistible pull towards her. She let go of Lena’s shoulders and touched Lena’s paint-filled hair, twisting strands of it between her fingers. “This is going to take ages to come out,” she said, her voice low.

Lena snapped photos all the while, but her attention was not on the camera. It was on Kara.

The air around them felt heavy with anticipation. Even though there was a breeze ruffling her hair around her face, somehow, the moment felt still to Kara. She stood there, holding Lena gently against her, and let her hand rest on top of the dark hair across her shoulder. Kara could feel her own heart hammering against her ribcage, and slowly, she let her thumb brush against the side of Lena’s neck.

Lena shivered under her. Kara dropped her forehead to Lena’s, and they smiled shyly at each other as Lena took another photo.

Lowering her arm, Lena cleared her throat and stepped away from Kara, breaking the quiet moment they’d been sharing.

The world seemed to jump back into motion. Birds flew overhead, somewhere in the distance a boat horn sounded, and the water lapped at the shore just beyond them. Kara’s head felt like it was filled with balls of cotton wool though, and couldn’t help but wonder; had Lena had been as affected by their closeness as she herself had been? Surely that moment wasn’t… nothing? Surely it wasn’t just a photo opportunity?

“Oh wow, look at the sunset!” Lena exclaimed, turning her head to look into it. The orangey tone of the setting sun made Lena’s cheeks glow with color, and all of a sudden, Kara couldn’t tell any more whether Lena had been blushing or not. She felt a sudden, desperate need to know, but before she could give voice to it, Lena had walked off towards the pier.

Kara shook her head, as if she could physically dislodge the thoughts flowing through her brain about Lena. She absolutely had to get this crush under control. Doing her best to push that particular thought to the back of her mind, she followed Lena to the pier.

Lena was carefully taking a photo of the sunset without pointing her lens directly at the sun, and Kara stopped before she went too far on the pier. The air was still quite warm, and the running around they’d been doing had made her feel hotter, not to mention the… moment with Lena. Kara kicked off her shoes, put her phone and earphones in one of them, and waded into the Sound.

The water was cold and refreshing, and Kara gasped as she went deeper, the water reaching her waist.

“Kara! What are you doing?!” Lena called from the pier as she watched Kara go even deeper. “That’ll be freezing!”

“It’s nice, actually!” Kara called back, choking a little on the last word as the cold gripped her chest. “You should come in. It feels so good!”

Lena tapped her foot on the pier. “No, I don’t think I will,” she said.

“Oh come on,” Kara said teasingly, fully in the water now. She lay on her back and floated, and flicked water towards Lena’s feet. “Are you afraid of a little cold water?”

“Not specifically, no.”

Kara splashed some more water at Lena. “Come in, then! It won’t hurt you.”

“No,” Lena said flatly, pocketing her phone and watching Kara float around.

Kara looked over at her, and even though she couldn’t see too well, she could tell that Lena’s posture seemed… defensive? “Lena? Do you- do you have a problem with water?”

Lena shifted from one foot to the other, and she stood still with her arms folded over her chest. “I can’t swim,” she admitted in a voice that sounded slightly gruff.

Kara pushed her feet down and treaded water. “You can’t swim? Seriously? Why not?” she asked, amazed at that information. She didn’t think she’d ever known someone who couldn’t. For Kara, living around water much of the time, it was a necessary, and enjoyable, skill.

“I don’t want to talk about it,” Lena said, still watching her.

Kara frowned. “Lena, we need to discuss- you not being able to swim is one of those details that Immigration would expect me to know. Why can’t you swim?”

“I’m not discussing this,” Lena said, and her tone was now as defensive as her posture.

“Lena,” Kara said, her own voice coming out a little sharper than she intended, and she winced immediately.

“I said, I’m not discussing this,” Lena repeated emphatically, the unspoken back off loud and clear, even in Kara’s paint-covered ears. “I’m going… for a walk,” she said suddenly, her voice thick with an emotion that Kara couldn’t place. And with that, Lena turned and walked back up the lawn towards the side of the house, leaving Kara floating in the Sound, alone.

What had just happened? How had the mood gone from playful to- to that in just a few short moments?

Kara waded back out of the water, realizing belatedly that actually, getting wet had been a rather silly idea when she still had to pick everything up. Heading back towards the boathouse, she took her wet shirt off and wrung it, then, after sending a look up at the house even though nobody was there, pulled her tank top off as well, before pulling one of the dry hoodies on that Lena had left behind.

She pulled her phone and earphones back out of her shoe, since she hadn’t put them back on yet. Choosing a playlist with a lot of songs she could sing to, she turned up it up loud and sang to while she worked. She wondered briefly where Lena had walked off to and considered going after her, but then, the island was small enough, she couldn’t really get lost. And besides, she wanted to give Lena her own space if she was feeling a little heated. Slowly, Kara put the lids back on the paint buckets, rolled up the canvases, and made several trips to the garage to put everything away. She also brought the Immigration folders, just in case they got forgotten outside and caused awkward questions.

Under the tap in the large work sink in the garage, Kara sang along to Kelly Clarkson as she rinsed the paint out of the rollers as best as she could. Leaving them out on the wooden worktable to dry, she headed back outside to pick up the paintbrushes she and Lena had left lying around after their paint fight.

The whole place was a mess, and Kara smiled when she thought of how free Lena had seemed, how her peals of laughter had rung out across the garden. She knew Lena had a reputation to uphold, but Kara knew that if more people saw the Lena that she’s seen today, then the perception of her would change dramatically. Why was Lena holding on so tightly to her almost emotionless business persona? Surely if people saw how warm she really was, it would only do wonders for her personal life?

She picked up everything she could, and carried it back to the garage. It was getting colder, and her wet trousers were doing nothing to keep her warm. Closing the garage for the night, Kara headed into the utility room and peeled her trousers off, dumping them on the floor. She took her glasses off as well and left them on the side to clean later; she knew the house well enough to not need to see properly, and walked down the hall towards the stairs. She left the front door unlocked so Lena could come back in after her walk and headed up the stairs, already dreaming of the hot shower she would shortly be taking. As much as she enjoyed painting, she was looking forward to taking the paint from her face. It was dry and making her face feel crispy.

When she came into the bedroom, it was just as they’d left it earlier. She tossed the Immigration folders onto the bed. Not having pockets, Kara stuck the corner of her phone in her mouth and bobbed her head to Wherever You Are by Ke$ha as she stripped off her hoodie, tossing it towards the laundry basket. She took her phone out of her mouth and stood there in her underwear, hands on her hips, taking in the deep blue of the sky as the sun set for good behind the mountains.

As she was turning, intent on opening the bathroom door, she was suddenly almost knocked off her feet by someone crashing bodily into her. Already off-balance, she stumbled as their momentum pushed her backwards and over. She let go of her phone, hearing it clatter away somewhere, grabbed onto the person’s arms as they started to fall, and their combined weight sent them both tumbling to the ground. Kara landed on her back, the wind knocked out of her as the other person landed directly on top of her. The whole thing had taken less than a second.

For a second, there was utter silence. Neither of them moved. As Kara registered the wet, dark hair in front of her face, Lena spoke. She sounded more than a little agitated. “K-Kara?”

“Lena?” she spluttered, not daring to move. Her hands were still on Lena’s upper arms, which, she belatedly realized, were wet. And bare. “What- what happened?”

“I um… my towel wasn’t in the bathroom. I came out to get another one and I- I…” Lena stuttered. “And I came out to get one, and… and- you…” she trailed off in a strangled voice.

All of a sudden, as if someone had smacked her upside the head, Kara realized their situation. Lena had come out of the bathroom after a shower. She was looking for a towel.

Lena was naked.

Oh fuck.

Lena was naked. Lying on top of her, naked, soaking wet, her body pressed slickly against Kara’s, water dripping from her hair and down her shoulders and onto her and… god, she was naked and Kara could feel every single point where their bodies were touching. Lena felt so good where she was. Heat flared through her, followed closely by adrenaline and a dry mouth, and unconsciously she tightened her hands around Lena’s arms. All the moisture in her body seemed to gather in one very specific area, and she suppressed the groan that was building up in the back of her throat.

And then she remembered herself, and Lena’s modesty, and shut her eyes tightly. Willing herself to relax her hands, she let go of Lena.

“There’s… um,” Kara stopped when she heard how croaky her voice came out. She cleared her throat, and tried again. “There’s no way to do this without it being even more super-awkward, so you’ll- you’ll just have to get up, okay?”

“Mmmh,” came the reply. Lena shifted slightly before she put her hands on the floor and pushing herself upwards as quickly as she could, scrabbling backwards and off Kara.

Kara kept her eyes squeezed closed. She didn’t know what to do with her hands, so she brought them across her stomach, wiping at the water that Lena had left behind. “The towels are in the closet, on a shelf on the left,” she said. She heard Lena moving around and opening the closet door.

“Do you want one too?” Lena said, her voice a little unsteady from what Kara assumed was the awkwardness of the situation.

“Yes please.” She felt a towel dangling over her and touching her arm, and she reached up to take it, still keeping her eyes shut. Once she’d wrapped it around herself, she stood up. “Are you decent?”

“Sometimes,” Lena replied suggestively. “Sorry, that was- I mean, yes,” she said, and Kara opened her eyes to find Lena standing there, the ghost of a smile on her face from her comment. Kara walked over to her suitcase, feeling Lena’s eyes on her, and dug around in it for her spare glasses case. When she found it, she shoved her glasses onto her face and stood up, facing Lena.

“Well, that was… um. I’m sorry, Lena, I thought you were on a walk.”

“Didn’t you hear me?” Lena asked, pulling her towel tighter around herself and her eyes anywhere but on Kara.

“No I… I had music on,” Kara said sheepishly, moving to pick her phone and earphones up off the floor. She put them down on the table, and turned back to face Lena. “I’m sorry. When I showered this morning I knocked your towel onto the floor and I thought you’d prefer a fresh one rather than use it again. But I forgot to put one out.”

Lena nodded, but Kara could see that her cheeks were pretty red, and Kara rushed to reassure her. “Hey, it’s okay, at least we can’t say we’ve never seen each other at least partially naked, right?” she joked.

Lena raised an eyebrow at that. “I’m at a distinct disadvantage here. You’re still wearing your underwear at least.  I had no such luck.”

“Well I didn’t see anything or well, yeah, except your shoulders and you felt- uh, um. I didn’t have my glasses on so I couldn’t see much except… yeah. I’m going to stop talking and go and take a shower now,” she said, words not feeling like words anymore. “I didn’t see anything, but you have… very nice shoulders,” she finished, feeling a blush bloom on her face. Oh god. Why did I say that?!

Lena smiled shyly at her. “Thank you. Go shower. And wait at least a few minutes for me to get some clothes on at least.” She pulled her towel up a little more, but she hadn’t chosen the largest towel, and it exposed more of her thigh than Kara thought she realized.

“Right!” Kara said, nodding frantically. “I’m just gonna…” she stuck her thumb over her shoulder at the bathroom door and then rushed through it, shutting it quickly and leaning back against it. She pushed her fingers through her paint-filled hair and blew out a deep breath.

Kara turned the shower cold before she got in it, and tried not to think about the way it had felt to have Lena on top of her like that.

The water was freezing and she shivered as she let it cool her overheated skin down.

She needed it. She stood under it for a few very long, icy minutes before she warmed it up and began to scrub the paint off herself and out of her hair.

 

* * * * *

 

When she ventured back out of the bathroom, Lena wasn’t in the bedroom. Kara carefully listened to see whether anyone was about to come into the room, and decided better safe than sorry; she got dressed into her pajamas in the bathroom instead of the bedroom. Just to, you know, avoid further mishaps.

Lena had hidden the Immigration folders somewhere as well; Kara briefly wondered where they were, but left them wherever Lena had put them. Eliza might be home by now and that wasn’t a conversation she wanted to have.

She was still quite warm from the shower, and the heating was on, so Kara didn’t pull her usual cozy hoodie over herself before she went downstairs in search of Lena. As she came closer to the kitchen, she heard Lena and Eliza deep in conversation about Midvale.

Eliza’s voice drifted down the hall as Kara approached. “Did you know that after her twenty-first birthday, Kara drank too much vodka, if I’m remembering the story correctly, and fell into the harbor?”

“Hey! That’s not quite how it happened,” Kara interrupted as she came in, seeing the two other women sharing a bottle of red wine over the kitchen table. Lena’s hair was drying in waves and she had a big smile on her face, and Eliza was still dressed in her work clothes, sporting an equally big grin. “I’ll have you know that Alex pushed me into the harbor!”

Lena took a slow sip of her wine and considered Kara over the rim of the glass. She put it down and licked the remnants of the wine from her top lip. “It’s hardly fair that you’re blaming Alex for your clumsiness, darling,” she said slowly.

“Alex wasn’t even there, honey,” Eliza said, backing Lena up. “She was helping Maggie. You were with Winn and… Mike.” Kara didn’t miss the way that Eliza’s eyes flicked towards Lena at the mention of that last name, and she knew that Lena had noticed the slight pause before it as well. She put a pin in that one to explain later, along with the reminder to ask Lena about the swimming thing.

“I haven’t seen Winn in a while,” Kara said, sitting down after getting herself a wine glass and pouring herself a little.

“Maybe you could go into town tomorrow? Take Lena, I’m sure she’d like to look around the place. You can show her all your haunts. You could meet Alex, Maggie, and Winn for lunch.”

“That’s a great idea,” Lena said, looking over at Kara.

“Alright, but I warn you, Winn is almost as big a nerd as you,” Kara said with a laugh.

“He is that,” Eliza said. “Right, now that you’ve surfaced, Kara, I wanted to thank you both for the spectacular job you’ve done on the boathouse.” She learned over and put a hand on one each of Lena and Kara’s, squeezing. “I could see it as I came in, even as it was getting darker. It looks so bright! I moored up in front of Streaky, I hope you don’t mind. Alex is borrowing the police boat tomorrow morning and we’re filling that and mine with lab equipment to take into town.”

“You’re welcome! We had fun,” Kara replied, “and that sounds like a good idea. I’ll send them a message and see if we can set that up. Either way, we’ll definitely go into town. I’m dying for a milkshake.”

“You and your sweet tooth,” Eliza replied, shaking her head. “Now. Are you ladies hungry? I brought home a few frozen pizzas and they’re in the oven already.”

Once the pizzas were ready, Kara sliced them up and they made their way into the lounge, where they put the TV on. Eliza sat in one of the armchairs, and Lena sat down next to Kara, angling towards her a little so that their knees touched. She ate her pizza daintily, with small bites, and Kara felt a rush of affection for the woman next to her. She couldn’t say why watching Lena eating her pizza with graceful bites made her feel so cozy, but it did.

The 1999 version of the Mummy was on, and once they were finished eating their pizzas, Lena lifted her arm up, indicating that Kara could lean against her. Kara didn’t need to be asked twice, and snuggled up against her as politely as she could. After a few moments, she brought her phone out of her pocket and took a photo of them, relaxed smiles on their faces. Lena was very comfortable to lie against, and Kara fought the urge to snuggle into her even deeper. She reminded herself that they weren’t actually a couple, and the thought made her wistful. She felt a strong pull of longing towards Lena. At least, Kara sighed to herself, it would make it easier to convince Eve Teschmacher that her feelings were real if she couldn’t get her crush under control.

Lena surprised both Kara and Eliza by knowing almost the entire script of the movie, not realizing at first that she was speaking the lines quietly as they came up in the movie. When Kara noticed, she teased her at first until Lena blushed, and she mouthed along with the rest of the dialogue. It only made Kara feel an even bigger wave of affection for the unexpectedly geeky woman whose arm was currently dangling down over her shoulder. She lifted her hand up to hold Lena’s. Lena squeezed her hand, and with her other hand she lifted her phone to take another photo of them, this time from the side.

Kara was quite tired from the day; all the fresh air they’d been breathing the whole day had her yawning as she and Lena slumped slowly further down the sofa. Near the end of the film, Lena actually dozed off, her hand loose in Kara’s, and Kara smiled a goodnight to Eliza as she snuck out of the room.

When the film ended only ten minutes later, she squeezed Lena’s hand again. “Hey, Lena? Lena,” she said a little louder, sitting up and shaking the sleepy woman gently by the shoulder until she blinked slowly.

“Huh?”

“You were asleep. Do you want to go up to bed?”

Lena smiled softly. “Yeah,” she said, sitting up as well and rubbing one of her eyes.

“Come on then.” Kara stood up, and extended a hand to Lena, who took it. She pulled Lena upright, and she stretched luxuriously while Kara switched off the TV and the lights. They made their way up the stairs after Kara checked that the front door was locked, and when they reached their bedroom, Lena went into the bathroom first.

Kara made up her own bed on the sofa again, tucking the sheets and blankets where they needed to be, while she waited for Lena to be finished. When Lena came back out of the bathroom, she looked askance at the sheets on the sofa with a slightly confused, almost disappointed, expression, and Kara wasn’t sure why. Before she could ask, Lena climbed into the bed and burrowed herself beneath the blanket. Kara heard her groan of pleasure even through the layers, and she smiled to herself as she headed to the bathroom.

By the time she came back out, Lena was already asleep again despite the lamps still being on, dark hair spread across the pillow. She had both hands tucked under her chin, and the little flutter that Kara’s heart gave was becoming very familiar, now. If they were a couple, a real couple, she’d be able to climb into bed now and hold a sleeping Lena close to her. She would able to bury her hand in that dark hair and kiss her forehead, before drifting off to sleep herself.

Kara wondered how nice it would feel to be the one who got to do that.

She shook off the thought. It wasn’t real. They weren’t a real couple. She turned off both lamps and used the remote to lower the blinds, smiling as Lena snuffled indignantly as the noise disturbed her.

Kara climbed into her bed after plugging in her phone to charge, and pulled the covers up over her head.

The image of cuddling Lena as they both slept was still on her mind when she fell asleep only minutes later.

Chapter Text

Kara was standing in the middle of a forest. She had been chasing something that was always keeping just out of sight, disappearing around trees before she ever look directly at it, but eventually, it vanished. She wasn’t even sure what it was. Looking down, she spotted a tiny door at the bottom of a giant oak tree. Crouching down, she found that she was, in the end, small enough to fit through the door. It seemed she’d shrunk, but if it meant getting to the bottom of the mystery, it was all good.

She knocked on the door.

And then she knocked again, the sound echoing loudly through the forest.

The knocking continued, and she groaned, something soft hitting her in the face. Was it leaves from the tree? She pushed at it and opened her bleary eyes, seeing the shape of Lena above her, kneeling over the bottom of the bed and clutching a pillow in her hands.

“Kara!” she hissed urgently. “Kara, wake up!” Lena whapped her with the pillow again, and all of a sudden she was wide awake. A knock came again at the door, and Kara looked up at Lena. Even though Kara didn’t have her glasses on, she could see that Lena was panicked. She shot up off the sofa, yanking the pillows and sheets off the it, balling them up, and shoving them under the bed, making sure they were hidden by part of a blanket. She grabbed her glasses and put them on, and Lena quickly made space for her in the bed.

Kara had half a second of oh what the shit as she hopped from foot to foot at the side of the bed before she jumped into it, pulling the covers up and opening her arms. “Lena, do you wanna-”

Lena pulled the covers up around her before looking over at Kara, alarm gleaming in her eyes.

“Let me hold you? It’ll be more believable-”

“Are you sure that’s what you want?” Lena asked under her breath, her tone somewhat nervous. She drew the covers up around her chin and looked at Kara with wide eyes. If Kara didn’t know better, she’d say there was something different, something wanting, in Lena’s eyes.

“Yes, of course it is, we’re meant to be engaged,” Kara said hurriedly. “Just- just let me hold you!” Kara added, holding her arm out. “Please. Lena, we don’t have much time-”

Lena huffed, hearing Lena mumble something like not what I meant while she wriggled across the bed. She pressed herself warmly against Kara, the reverse of the way they’d snuggled the night before.

“Can I put my arms around you?” Kara asked, unwilling to push the boundary even though the naked incident yesterday had, well, happened.

Lena didn’t hesitate for even a fraction of a second before she agreed with a quick nod and a “that’s fine.”

Kara slipped her right arm around Lena’s waist and pulled her close, snuggling them both down against the pillows, and shoving Lena’s book into the hand above the covers. Lena was just awkwardly opening it as Kara called out, “come in!” in a voice considerably more relaxed than she currently felt.

The door opened and Alex popped her head through the door. “Morning, lovers,” she said, waggling her eyebrows, and she gave them a little wave. Kara waved back, then lay her chin on Lena’s shoulder.

“Morning Alex,” Lena said, smothering a fake yawn.

Alex nodded at her. “Did I… interrupt something?”

Kara’s eyes went wide. “Why would you think that?”

Alex gestured towards them. “Lena’s got bed hair like I’ve never seen, and her book’s upside down. Doesn’t take a genius to work out that you rearranged yourselves when you heard me knocking.”

Kara felt Lena stiffen in her arms, and so she did what she always seemed to do whenever Lena was anxious – she rubbed her thumb against whatever part of Lena she happened to be touching. The movement dislodged her shirt, which had ridden up when they’d snuggled into the pillow, and Kara’s thumb was now caressing the bare skin of Lena’s stomach. Kara felt her heart stutter. Barring the kiss at the dinner table two nights ago, this was the most intimate contact they’d had so far. Lena’s stomach was soft, and Kara wanted, she wanted so much, to move her hand up a little more, to cuddle Lena closer and find out how soft the rest of her was, too.

But however much she wanted to, she couldn’t do that. Instead, with deliberate slowness, Kara stretched her thumb across as much of Lena’s stomach as she could reach and continued caressing her with wider strokes.

She felt Lena relax under her gentle ministrations; the tension Kara could feel, but Alex couldn’t see, bled out of her and Lena slumped slightly against Kara.

“Any comment I could make would not be one you’d want to hear about your sister,” Lena replied, her voice deliberately coy. She’s relaxed enough to make a joke, Kara thought with wry amusement. But here Kara was, trying her best not to nuzzle into her boss, because she liked the position they were in so much.

At the door, Alex raised her hands in mock surrender. “Woah, woah, you’re right about that, Luthor,” she said.

Kara could see that Lena’s face was slightly smug, and she squeezed her gently as she giggled into her shoulder. Lena chuckled as well, and put the book down on the bed before resting her hand on top of the covers, above where Kara’s hand was occupied with her stomach.

Alex absolutely seemed to want to move past the possibility of talking about her sister’s sex life, because she swiftly changed the topic. “I’m just leaving now with mom. I’m helping her with the equipment for the lab. She said you wanted to meet up in town today for lunch?”

“Yeah, we thought that would be nice,” Kara said. “I can show Lena around as well, show her the sights and sounds of Midvale. Do you think Maggie and Winn would be up for lunch with us?”

“Definitely,” Alex replied with a smile. “I know Maggie’s doing Uber today, but she’ll just clock out during that time. How’s around one to meet? I’ll text her and let her know. And I’ll give Winn a call too and see what he’s up to.”

“Great, thanks sis,” Kara replied with a wide smile. “One sounds great, and I can’t wait to see Winn. It’s been such a long time.”

Alex laughed. “I know, he misses you. Nobody else can keep up with his karaoke performances quite as well as you can! I’ll let you choose the place for lunch, or Lena can, once she’s had a look around. Let me know?”

They agreed, and Alex gave them another wave before she shut the door behind her. Neither Kara nor Lena dared to even move until they heard Alex’s footsteps heading down the stairs. They heard the murmur of Alex and Eliza’s voices, and then the front door shut, flooding the house with silence.

Lena slumped fully against her in relief, letting her head loll back against Kara’s chest. Kara looked down to see green eyes gazing up at her. “That was a close one,” Lena whispered, even though there was no need now to be quiet. “I thought for sure you weren’t going to wake up, and that she’d come in and see you sleeping on the sofa.”

“That would’ve definitely caused people to talk,” Kara said, starting to laugh. “Imagine that. Show up at home with a secret fiancée and then get caught not even sleeping in the same bed.”

“It’s not funny,” Lena grumbled, but she was smiling. “I’m not sure what we could’ve told them. That I kicked you out because you ate too many snacks in bed and made a mess, maybe.”

Kara squeezed Lena again in jest, but instead of pushing her away, Lena just smiled wider. “I suppose that’s an excuse that everyone would believe,” Kara said jovially. “I have been known to eat in bed.”

There was silence for a moment, as if Lena were debating her response, until Lena’s smile turned almost predatory. “I’ll bet you have,” she said, her voice suggestive.

Kara reddened. “I didn’t mean like that!” she groaned.

“I’ll bet you’re quite the little heartbreaker under those glasses and innocent cardigans, aren’t you?” Lena continued in the same tone of voice.

Lenaaaaa-” Kara whined.

Lena arched an eyebrow. “How long would-” she paused, before she continued, “how long would an average person have to wait for a date with you? A month? Six months? A year?” Her voice got progressively lower, and even more flirtatious, if that was possible. The almost husky rumble of it did something pleasant to Kara’s insides. “How in demand is Kara Danvers? How long is your diary backed up for?”

“Oh stop it,” Kara said, starting to laugh. “I know we haven’t done the previous relationships part of learning about each other, but you should know that I’m not exactly some kind of female Casanova!”

Lena’s eyebrow climbed higher. “Oh no? No other ladies or gentlemen I should be worried about then?”

“Not a one,” Kara replied.

“Okay,” Lena said, reaching over to take her phone off the nightstand. Kara’s hand slid off her stomach as she moved, and Kara missed the warm intimacy of it straight away. Propping herself up against the pillows to the side of Kara, Lena tapped away at her phone for a moment, sending a text to someone. “We probably should have the past partner talk, you know,” she said, looking across at her for a second before her phone pinged with a reply, and her eyes turned back to the screen. Kara kept her eyes on Lena.

Lena’s dark hair was still a mess, but she didn’t make any move to tidy it, and she didn’t seem to care that she was being seen with no makeup on at all either. That surprised Kara. She’d not thought of Lena as vain; since she’d known her, Lena had never made a single comment about the way she looked, and yet, she always looked perfectly put together and beautiful. The fact that she was perfectly willing to be seen by Kara in rumpled pajamas with her hair looking like birds could nest in it was unexpected, but in a lovely way.

While Lena was having a quick text conversation with someone, Kara took the time to consider the woman in bed next to her.

Kara knew that in the past couple of days, she had seen a side of Lena Luthor that people rarely got to see, and the thought was… nice. Of course she knew, at the back of her mind, that it was because of this ridiculous situation that they found themselves in, that under normal circumstances Lena would never have shown her this part of her personality. On the other hand, though, the speed at which Lena had abandoned her usual stiff persona had been very fast, once she’d been coaxed a little. Kara had only seen flashes of it since, and once again she found herself thinking about just how much she liked this more private version of Lena.

The Lena that she wished she could see more often.

Abruptly, Lena flung the covers off herself, startling Kara out of her reverie, and walked over to her suitcase. She crouched down and unlocked it, pulling the Immigration folders out of it. When she stood up, she looked over at Kara. “Do you mind?”

“Huh?” Kara asked, her mind not caught up. “Do I mind what?”

“If we go over the past relationship questions, since we’re on the topic of the trail of broken hearts you’ve left behind,” she added playfully.

Lena,” Kara said with smile and a roll of her eyes. When she looked back at Lena, green eyes were sparkling with amusement as she stood next to Kara’s side of the bed. “No, I don’t mind at all,” she replied, holding her hand out for her folder, which Lena passed her, along with a pen.

As Lena was climbing back into bed, Kara got out. “Do you want some hot chocolate or something while we have a look through this?”

“Sure. I might brush my teeth actually. Morning breath isn’t the most attractive of traits,” Lena muttered, clambering back out of bed. She paused, and looked back at it. “I feel like we’re playing musical beds here.”

Kara barked out a laugh. “I suppose we are! Oh. Thanks for walloping me across the face with a pillow by the way!”

Lena snorted with her own laughter, crossing her arms over her chest. “You didn’t wake up when I shook you. You mumbled something about a door in a tree and pushed me away. So I hit you with a pillow, and you still didn’t wake up! So I hit you again.”

“It’s good manners to wait until the other person is awake before having a pillow fight with them, you know,” Kara said airily, waving a hand in the air as she reached the door. “And I would definitely win.”

She ducked as Lena lobbed a pillow at her, giggling to herself as she headed downstairs to the kitchen. She made herself and Lena a hot chocolate each, adding whipped cream and grating some chocolate over the top of it. She dug around in the cupboard until she found what else she was looking for – an unopened packet of candy canes left over from Christmas. She opened it and put one in each mug and, tucking some paper towels under her arm to clean up any mess she or Lena might make, carefully carried them both back upstairs.

Lena opened it when she heard her coming, revealing a brighter room; she’d opened the blinds and let in the gentle morning sun. She took one of the mugs off her, glancing quizzically at Kara when she spotted the candy cane poking out of the cream. “It’s to stir it with,” Kara said. “Trust me.”

“I do,” Lena said simply, turning back towards the bed. Kara stared after her, touched at the easy way Lena had expressed such an honest statement, even if it was only about a sugary treat. Lena put the mug on the coaster by the bed and got back into bed, settling herself against the pillows and pulling the folder into her lap. Reaching for the mug, Lena stirred the hot chocolate with the candy cane and took a sip. Her eyes crinkled in pleasure. “The candy cane makes it taste like mint! It’s like Christmas in a cup.” She beamed at Kara, the double row of dimples deep in her cheeks, and Kara’s heart leapt in her chest.

“For some reason,” Kara said, climbing into bed next to Lena, “I predict that there will be candy canes in your morning hot chocolates at work from now on.”

“I think you might be right,” Lena replied, still smiling indulgently at Kara before using the cane to try to spoon up some of the whipped cream.

Once they were both back in bed, Kara thinking about just how strange life was now that she was sitting in bed with her boss, Lena opened the folder to the previous relationships section. Kara looked at her out of the corner of her eye. Lena had brushed her hair, and it was now sitting in soft waves around her shoulders, framing her face beautifully.

“We’ll just drink these and do a few questions, and then we have to get ready to head into town. It’s already,” Kara checked the time on her phone, “wow, half past nine. We slept late!”

You slept late,” Lena corrected with a grin.

Kara huffed good-naturedly. “Well, I did win a paint war yesterday.”

Lena pointed her pen at her. “I let you win.”

“Uh huh,” Kara teased, before she looked down at her pages. “Right. Well. These questions would be so much more awkward if we were on a real date, sitting across the table from each other in a bar somewhere, questioning each other about our pasts! I mean, what was the name of your spouse’s last partner? Do you usually ask that when you’re on a date with someone?”

“Do they mean sexually or romantically?” Lena said, peering over to see what page number Kara was on and enveloping her with the citrus scent Kara remembered from the plane. Kara almost felt her brain fizzle out when Lena moved again, sitting back up and flipping to the same page as Kara.

“Uhhh…”

“And to answer your question, no, I generally don’t discuss that on dates. Then again, I haven’t exactly been on enough dates to know whether that’s normal behavior. Luthor, remember?” Lena said, pointing the pen at her own forehead. “My last sexual partner was Veronica Sinclair. My last romantic partner was…” Lena trailed off, and Kara looked over at her when no answer was forthcoming, only to find that Lena was slightly flushed and taking a sip of her drink.

“Lena?”

Lena cleared her throat. “Um, Andrea Rojas.”

Kara dutifully wrote the name down, and then she made a squiggle across the page when she dropped her pen. “Andrea Rojas? The woman who’s currently running CatCo while we’re up here?” she squeaked.

“Mmhmm,” Lena confirmed. Kara gaped at her, jealousy unexpectedly stabbing at her heart. “What?” Lena asked, frowning at Kara in concern.

“N-nothing,” Kara said, picking her pen back up and trying to get herself back under control.

“It was a long time ago. We were young, well, younger than we are now,” Lena clarified, giving Kara another quick look. “She was the friend of a friend at college, and, well. It ended badly, and now she’s running CatCo while we are, as you say, up here. For this other question, my longest relationship was with a man called Jack. We were set up by our parents, but that was before both of us realized we were gay. Needless to say, there was nothing sexual about that relationship whatsoever. He’s still a friend.”

Kara scribbled the information down on the paper. “Fair enough,” she said. “By the way, the same information for me, since we don’t know which way they mean the question. My last sexual partner was called Jodi Henderson. My last romantic relationship was with Mike Matthews.”

“Mike…” Lena said, sounding ponderous. “Oh, the Mike that Eliza mentioned yesterday, from when you fell in the harbor?”

“The very same,” Kara replied.

“Interesting. I’ve never seen you with anyone of course, but I think… you’d look good with a woman by your side,” Lena said in a slow, but teasing, voice. She could feel Lena’s eyes on her, and she looked up. Lena’s face was calm, but the intent in her eyes belied the almost easy-going expression she wore.

“Oh yeah? Why’s that?” she asked, keeping her tone light, wondering what Lena’s thought process was behind her comment and looking back down at the folder.

“I don’t know,” Lena continued, quiet for a moment as she thought about her words. “It’s just, maybe… I think you with a woman sounds just about… perfect.”

Kara looked up curiously only to find Lena looking slightly flustered or embarrassed about something, although she quickly wiped the expression off her face. Lena didn’t say anything or elaborate any further, instead taking another sip of her hot chocolate, the whipped cream now mostly melted into the rest of the drink.

She very much wanted to ask Lena why she seemed embarrassed, but something nameless held her back. She wanted to know, but at the same time, she didn’t want to ask; if there was one thing she knew about Lena, it was that she spoke her mind when she wanted to, and held herself back when she felt she needed to. Kara wasn’t about to push her into disclosing something that she didn’t want to mention.

All the same, Kara thought, what Lena had said, and the way she said it, was very… interesting. And she knew that it would haunt her.

Kara drummed her fingers on the paper. “So, to the next questions on here! Have you ever been married before? Or engaged?” Kara said eventually, reading the question out of the folder.

“No and no,” Lena replied, seemingly relieved for the deflection. “How about you?”

“No and… uh,” Kara said, her voice cracking a little on the uh, and Lena tilted her head quizzically. “I was… I guess, kind of- Mike and I weren’t engaged, but I know he was possibly planning to ask. So no, not technically. It was more that it was just kind of… understood, I guess, that we were going to eventually get married one day.”

“So,” Lena said, drawing the word out, “you weren’t technically engaged?”

Kara blew out a breath. “No. I moved to New York before that happened.”

“Okay,” Lena said, making the appropriate note on the sheet.

“Okay?”

Lena shrugged. “I’m not sure what else I can really say, or what else you’d want me to say. I’d never noticed you wearing an engagement ring at work. You’ve indicated that it’s a past relationship, and you haven’t brought him up as a current partner. I’m sure a fiancé would’ve thrown a spanner in the works of our situation. And… I’m presuming it was a while ago because you’ve worked for me for three years, although I’m not sure how long it was before that that you moved to New York.”

“It was just a few months before actually. I spent a little while settling in and exploring the city, and then I found the job.”

“Have you been in the apartment in Red Hook the whole time?” Lena asked interestedly.

“Yeah. I found it and fell in love with it. The bar downstairs is kinda loud, but they play a lot of music that I really like a lot of the time, and it’s nice to just chill out and listen to the bands play,” Kara said, and then finished the last of her hot chocolate. “It’s a great place if you like dive bars and relaxed people.”

Lena smiled at that. “I’ll have to check it out sometime.”

Kara chuckled, and then laughed out loud at the slightly affronted look on Lena’s face. “What? I can just see you wincing as your shoes stick to the floor,” she said.

Lena bumped her shoulder. “I won’t mind if they’re just sneakers. And besides, maybe it’ll be nice to go to a bar where nobody but you would know me. It might be… freeing.”

“It would certainly be that,” Kara said gently, thinking that she quite liked the idea of Lena joining her and watching a band one evening. “Maybe one day.”

Lena shot her a hopeful smile. “Yeah?”

“Yeah. Right! I think we should put these away and get ready to head into Midvale. I’d like to show you around, and I definitely think that we should take more photos while we’re out.”

Lena shuffled over to the edge of the bed and got out, stretched, and walked over to her suitcase. “Good idea,” she said, rummaging in one of them for something to wear and pulling out a pair of black jeans. “We’re not going anywhere upscale for lunch, right?” she asked.

“There’s not really anywhere like that in Midvale,” Kara replied.

“Good,” Lena said vehemently, and then she smiled. “I want to go to a normal place where nobody’s going to look at me strangely for ordering the biggest burger on the menu.”

Lena pulled out what she wanted to wear and went into the bathroom to get ready and dressed, and Kara puttered around the room, setting a playlist of piano music while she chose her own outfit from the closet. Draping her clothes over the chair, she walked over to the window and looked out over the Sound. Since it was going to be dry in the next few days, Kara thought she’d sit out here one evening and do some painting. Maybe she could try to catch a pretty sunset.

Down near the pier, the boathouse was gleaming brightly, and she wondered whether, on one of her next trips, she could repaint some of the rooms in the house as well. The thought that Lena wouldn’t be here to paint with her, though, made her feel sad. She could ask Lena whether she wanted to come with her on another trip to Midvale… maybe Lena would want to come back? The thought chased away some of her despondency.

The bathroom door opened behind her and Lena came out wearing the black jeans she’d picked out before, a deep red science joke shirt that said never trust an atom – they make up everything! in white on the front; Kara groaned at the joke, which made Lena smile delightedly. She was wearing the same sneakers she’d worn the day before, although Lena had somehow found the time or the opportunity to brush the worst of the paint off them. Kara wondered where and when she’d done it.

“Hair up or down?” Lena asked her, rubbing the hair tie she had on her right wrist.

“Down, it looks great like that,” Kara said. She wasn’t lying; Lena’s hair at work was always very sleek, shiny, and managed within an inch of its life, but the way it was hanging in soft waves over her shoulders was… cute. Kara almost kicked herself for thinking it. It was such a trite word for how beautiful Lena was, but her wavy hair was cute, and she wanted Lena to know it.

It seemed that Lena got the message loud and clear, because she smiled gently and stopped fiddling with the tie, taking it off and leaving it on the nightstand. The additional truth that Kara didn’t voice, though, was that Lena’s hair like that made her daydream about what it might be like to dig her hands into it, and the… circumstances that might to lead to her doing that. It looked so soft, and Kara’s fingers itched to run through it, to see how the strands of it might feel in her fingers.

Kara coughed to herself, pushing those thoughts deep inside herself, and slipped a hair tie around her own wrist. If Lena needed one later, she could come to her rescue.

She took the rest of her clothes into the bathroom to get dressed. Lena hadn’t bothered with much makeup, she’d only put it on around her eyes, making them even more striking than they usually were. Kara didn’t bother with putting much on either, just the bare minimum; a touch of mascara, a little moisturizer, and a dab of chapstick. She pulled her plaid shirt over the blue tank top she was already wearing, checked once more in the mirror, and gave herself a slight nod.

When she came back out, Lena was peering closely at one of the paintings on the wall, one of the sunsets that Kara had done from her room a few years ago. Kara remembered the winter evening in question very clearly; it had been very stormy, the wind howling through the trees and causing branches to crash to the ground all over the island. The rain had lashed against the windows, making it hard to see outside sometimes; the blinding whitish-grey of the driving rain almost obscuring the Sound. The sky was dark and lightning had occasionally split the sky.

Alex hated storms and was nursing a huge glass of scotch downstairs, but Kara had been entranced, turning her lights off and dragging a chair close to the balcony windows and doors to that she could sit in the darkness and see out. There was something about storms that made her feel energized. During the eye of the storm, the setting sun broke through the darkness of the clouds, painting the bottom of the horizon a fiery red. Even when the rain came back in, the color persisted. Without a second thought, Kara had pulled her easel over, balanced her phone with its flashlight on on top of the canvas, and painted what she saw. The raging darkness of the sky, the stubborn fierceness of the sunset, the rain on the windows in front of her. She painted it all, frantically swiping her brush across the canvas, and it was one of her favorite things she’d ever done.

The painting hung proudly on the wall, and Lena was examining every inch of it. She must have felt Kara looking at her, because she looked over. Her eyes were bright, as if she was in the grip of some strong feeling. “Did you paint this?” she asked, gesturing at both the painting at the window Kara had painted it through.

Kara moved closer to Lena, and ran her eyes over the painting. “Yeah. I painted it from right here, actually.”

Lena looked back at the painting, tilting her head to the side as she took it in. “I feel… this painting makes me feel… exposed, raw, like I’m… standing in the middle of a violent tempest, and yet, these,” she said, almost whispering, gently touching some of the raindrops that Kara had painted that ran down the glass in the painting, “make me feel safe. I can’t see the glass between me and the storm, but the raindrops tell me it’s there. A barrier between me and the storm. And I feel safe.”

Lena turned to Kara, and her eyes were shining. “You’re an extraordinary artist, Kara Danvers,” she said, her voice thick with emotion.

“Thank you,” Kara replied quietly. “That… truly means a lot.” She glanced back at the painting. “It’s one of my favorites.”

Lena pulled her phone out of her pocket. “May I?”

Kara gave her a pleased smile. “Of course!”

She stood back as Lena raised her phone up, making sure to get every part of the painting in the frame. Kara felt almost honored that Lena loved her painting that much. Not a lot of people got to see it; it wasn’t as if she kept it hidden away from people or anything, but she didn’t show it off either. What Lena had said was an accurate expression of her own feelings about it, and the thought made her feel warm inside.

While Lena looked at it some more, Kara pulled her shoes on and made sure that she had everything they’d need for their trip into town. They weren’t going to be going for too long, but she brought a backpack anyway, in case they saw something they wanted to pick up. Once she was done, she scrolled through the photos on her phone while Lena was grabbing herself a jacket.

“Oh,” Kara exclaimed loudly, startling Lena, who nearly dropped her jacket. “I was just wondering. Could you airdrop me the photos you’ve got on your phone so far?” she asked. “I just think we should both have a copy, you know. That way we can each print them out when we need to.”

“That’s sensible,” Lena said, scrolling through her own phone and selecting all the photos. Kara’s phone pinged with the notification. 72 photos. She accepted them all, but- “Lena, when did you take all of these?!”

Lena shrugged. “I took a few candid ones of you. I didn’t… know exactly what we’d need. Those are all the photos I’ve taken since we got here, even the ones with neither of us in.” She pointed at one of them on her phone screen – it was of the harbor. “See?”

“Fair,” Kara said, sending her all the ones she’d taken as well. There weren’t nearly as many, and she resolved to take more. The more the merrier.

Lena wrapped a huge scarf around her neck, one patterned with… skulls?! and shrugged her jacket on. Kara handed her a hoodie as well. “This might actually be warmer for the boat trip,” she said. “It can get a bit chilly.”

“Oh,” Lena said, smiling. “Thank you, that’s very sweet of you.” She pulled the jacket and scarf back off, draping them on the table for now, and pulling the hoodie over her head. It was oversized, as it was Kara’s and Kara lived for comfort hoodies, and the sleeves hid her hands. Kara bit back a smile as she watched Lena push the sleeves up her arms and huff a little in frustration when they just slid back down. Lena raised an eyebrow at her.

“What?” Kara said. “Wearing each other’s clothes is romantic, isn’t it?” Lena grinned and slapped her gently on her upper arm, before she picked up her jacket, scarf, and and Ray-Ban sunglasses.

They made their way companionably out of the house, locking up as they went, and headed down the path towards Streaky. It was another lovely day; the sun was warm on Kara’s face, the breeze was light, and the fresh scent of the sea hung in the air.

“We did a good job on the boathouse,” Lena commented, putting her sunglasses on. “It’s very bright!”

“Who knew Lena Luthor was such a good painter?” Kara teased. “I should put you to work more often. Who knows what other hidden skills you have?”

Lena’s eyebrow rose above the rim of her sunglasses, and she glanced quickly over at Kara as a smile twitched at the corner of her mouth. “Wouldn’t you just love to find out?” she said, her voice slyly provocative.

Kara choked on whatever words she’d been about to say next, spluttering, and Lena laughed, loud and uninhibited. “You’re going to be the death of me,” Kara said, grinning widely and finally got control of herself.

“Oh, I sincerely hope not,” Lena said playfully as they reached the pier, walking down it ahead of Kara towards Streaky.

Kara gaped after her. Yup. Flirtatious Lena was absolutely going to be the death of her.

But.

What a way to go.

She was lucky, she thought, that her boss was nothing like this at work. She would never get any work done, ever, if Lena kept startling her with those kinds of comments.

During the few seconds that it took to reach Streaky, though, Lena’s expression had changed to one of apprehension, and her bravado had vanished. To be fair, climbing into the boat last time was a little different because there had been a ladder down the wall towards the water. All Lena had now was a step of faith onto the boat deck. Despite the water needing to be deep enough to moor the boat, Kara knew that if she fell in and stretched, she would just skim the bottom with her toes. For Lena, though, it might as well have been the middle of the ocean.

“Here, let me get in first, and then I can help you, okay?” she said, putting a calming hand on Lena’s upper arm.

“Thank you,” came the answer. Lena’s voice was stiff, but she tried to smile at Kara anyway. Kara wanted more than ever to ask why Lena couldn’t swim, especially since they were about to climb into a boat. She also wanted to know why Lena hadn’t said anything the first time they’d got in the boat, but she suspected that it was pride. She remembered thinking that Lena had seemed a little nervous, but had chalked that up to something else. Now that she knew better, she wished she’d done a better job at looking after her, since the plane ride had been hellish enough.

Kara stepped into the boat, putting the backpack by the seats, then put her foot up on the gunwale. She held a hand out to Lena, smiling encouragingly when Lena took it. Lena held on tightly as she stepped gingerly from the pier into the boat. She handed Lena a life jacket, which she put on straight away, sitting down in the passenger seat at the front of the boat.

As Kara hopped back into the boat after untying the moorings, Lena turned around in her seat.

“I’m not afraid of boats, you know,” she said, looking a little sheepish. “Not like I am with flying. It’s… different. Flying, you’ve got basically no chance if the plane starts going down. But in a boat, at least I know, or I hope, you’d jump out and rescue me before I drowned, and this life jacket would help me stay afloat. But I… don’t like being surrounded by water, nonetheless.”

“It’s alright,” Kara replied. “I don’t think I’d like going in boats either if I couldn’t swim. I’ll go a bit slower than I did on the way over here. Just let me know if you’re uncomfortable, okay?”

Lena nodded, then settled herself back in the seat and watched as Kara used the controls to guide the boat out into the deeper water, swinging it around and heading towards Midvale. Neither of them spoke much on the way to town, Lena in her own little world and Kara content to just steer, enjoying the sea air whipping her hair around her face.

They approached the harbor, and Kara steered the boat into the same spot by the ladder. It was her designated spot, and couldn’t be changed, even if she wanted to, temporarily, for Lena’s sake. She cut the engine and looked over. Lena was slightly paler than usual, but her cheeks were rosy from the wind in her face, and she didn’t look overly stressed.

Still, Kara had to ask. “Was that alright?”

“More than,” Lena replied, reaching her hand over to cover Kara’s on the wheel. “Thank you for going slower.”

“Yeah, no problem,” she said, putting the key in her pocket. “And hey, at least we’re not going to be swinging suitcases into the boat from the top of the ladder this time!”

Lena chuckled. “Yeah, and I don’t have my laptop to worry about either.”

“Thank goodness for small mercies,” Kara joked. “Right, up the ladder you go.”

Kara balanced the boat with her weight as best as she could so that when Lena stepped up onto the ladder, the boat didn’t tip too much. She climbed the ladder swiftly, then peered over and watched as Kara climbed up after her.

Once they’d taken their hoodies off and stuffed them into the backpack, they walked into the center of town.

Midvale wasn’t a large town. It had two fairly long, mostly parallel main streets that intersected somewhat in the middle, and shops were spread along both streets, as well as on any perpendicular offshoots. It had the slightly weather-beaten look of a town next to open water. Shop signs were worn, or painted directly onto the surface of the shop, rather than having a wooden or plastic sign hanging from them. Thanks to the salt in the air, plenty of places looked like they could do with a lick of paint. One thing that Kara usually loved though, was that one day in the summer every few years, if there was a period of good weather, every business repainted their front, resulting in paint fumes wafting down both streets. Businesses were open as usual, and everyone was always very cheerful about it; Kara loved the community spirit of it all. The next Big Paint, as Midvale called it, would be happening this summer. Kara wondered whether she would be around to join in.

There were two hardware stores, one that sold electrical goods and kitchenware, and one which sold rain boots, boxes of nails, hammers, and all sorts of other things. The second hardware store was Kara’s favorite; she went in there every time she was home to pick up bits for any DIY she was doing for Eliza while home. There were various bars, each with their loyal clientele. The furniture shop that had been there forever and yet, had never even been close to closing down. The library that was housed in an old church, containing mostly books that locals had donated over the years; Kara told Lena about the many wet afternoons she’d spent in there, curled up on one of the tattered donated sofas, reading book after book and drinking hot chocolates from the café next door.

Lena was keeping pace with Kara as she was shown around, looking dutifully at everything that Kara pointed out, and commenting when she needed to or when she wanted to know something more. Kara could practically see Lena’s brilliant mind absorbing every piece of information that she was told. They also chose the place they’d be eating lunch, the Red Lion, an English-style pub that sold really good burgers and proper pints, as Kara imagined they drank across the pond.

That important decision made, Kara text Alex. She and Lena kept walking around town, and Kara told Lena stories about spending time in Midvale as a teenager.

“It was hard for me actually. I’ve said that I grew up in Seattle. Growing up in a large city like that where there was always something going on, then suddenly losing my parents and having to move to a fairly tranquil place like Midvale, where nothing ever happened… it was hard. It was wrenching. It was almost like I’d gone back in time.” Kara felt burning behind her eyes as she spoke. “I used to go to watch the Seattle Seahawks play football games with my dad, you know? I remember going there, getting dressed in our jerseys and my dad buying hot dogs and snacks. It was something we’d always done together. I loved being there in the crowd, amongst the excitement whether we won or lost, and talking about plays with my dad for days afterwards. It was our thing. And then I went from that to Midvale where fishing seemed to be the main sport, where nobody spoke, where you had to be quiet so you didn’t disturb the fish. And it was so… jarring. Aside from the loss of my parents, it took me such a long time to get used to the quiet here. Not just with the fishing, but with everything.”

Lena listened carefully, and didn’t interrupt as Kara spoke. Kara’s grief, while ever-present, was like a scar now rather than a wound, and she didn’t want to rip it open right now. Instead of verbally responding, Lena did the next best thing. She moved closer on the bench they’d chosen to sit on until she was pressed up against Kara, and lay her head on her shoulder, rubbing a consoling hand on Kara’s thigh as she spoke. Her presence was soothing, and Kara appreciated Lena’s silently offered comfort.

A memory crossed Kara’s mind and she laughed, startling Lena, who smiled at her questioningly. “You know how in New York you can get signal pretty much everywhere?”

“Mhmm?”

“Well, when I came here, I had to hunt all over the house to find the spots where you could get any cell phone service. There was one place in my room, if I hung out over the balcony with my arm out. I’d have to write the text, go over to the window, and hang out of it. There was one spot by the fire in the lounge, and another in the attic where if I opened a particular window and lay down underneath it, I could send messages. I fell asleep up there so often that Eliza put a truckle bed, a pillow, and a blanket up there for me to nap on.”

“That was very thoughtful of her,” Lena replied.

“Very much so,” Kara responded, opening the box of pains au chocolat Lena had bought for them from a bakery and passing one over to her. Lena got flakes of pastry in her scarf, but she didn’t seem to mind.

“You’re so happy in Midvale now, though,” Lena observed, licking chocolate from the tip of her thumb. “I can see that in the way you… you just look at home. How did you get from being so unhappy to Midvale being home?”

“I… you know, it was gradual. I fell in love with it slowly. I noticed that instead of strangers gazes sort of sliding away if you accidentally caught their eye, they would smile and wave at me, and wish me a good morning, or ask me how Eliza was. And at first it was kind of weird because in big cities everyone avoids each other, but here I saw the same faces all the time. At first it was kind of claustrophobic, but then it was just kinda nice. I got to know people. And it was safe here, I didn’t need to watch my back or worry if I left my bike unattended, because everyone knew it was mine. I used to find the sound of the seagulls irritating, but then… accompanied by the clean salty air and the breeze on my face, especially while on a boat, Midvale just kind of began to feel like home. And then, it was home. Being adopted was hard, and it took a long time to get used to. But I was lucky. I know not everyone was as lucky. The Danvers were wonderful, they are wonderful, and they patiently waited me out until I was comfortable enough to be one of them.”

Sitting closely together on a bench at the harbour, watching the boats bob up and down in the current, Kara told Lena how her initially fractured relationship with Alex was glued together at first with small kindnesses, then practical jokes. Eventually, they became friends, then best friends, and then sisters, and now Kara couldn’t imagine her world without Alex in it. She shared funny stories about the hijinks they’d got up to, the adventures they’d had, and the sorrows they’d weathered together. Kara and Alex were family in a way that was unbreakable.

Without prompting, although her voice was nostalgic and her eyes had a faraway look, Lena shared stories about herself and Lex as children.

Kara learned that Lena had been only four when she was adopted by the Luthors, that Lex had been thirteen, and had taken her under her wing a little. A few years later, he’d built a huge treehouse in the grounds of the Luthor Manor, a sprawling estate outside of Metropolis, and filled it with things that he’d noticed had made her smile; a telescope for looking at the stars, books about science, a large teddy bear to replace the one that Lillian had thrown away when she’d first arrived. There were various charts on the walls, small chairs for them to sit on; when Lionel had seen what they’d done with the place, he’d ordered two large armchairs, and the Luthor siblings had spent whole days up there, reading books, doing childish experiments, and playing games.

Lena recalled her earlier memories of Lex with sadness on her face and agony in her voice. On that windswept bench, Kara reached for Lena’s hand for the first time as a friend, not as a fake fiancée. Lena’s fingers tangled in hers, and the more she talked, the more strained her voice became.

“Lex… he was always the only one to visit me at boarding school. He’d fly over to Ireland, stay somewhere nearby, and we’d get to spend time together. Back in Metropolis, whenever I was home from college, he always found time for me, even when Lillian and Lionel, when he was alive, didn’t. Lionel was always busy, and Lillian was… cold, and cruel. Kindness was transactional, nothing ever given without payment or an silent IOU that I had to repay later. The Luthors weren’t a family the way the Danvers are. Lex was the only one who ever… Lex was always there, no matter what I needed him for, always nudging me in the right direction, always encouraging me in whatever I was doing. He was the only solid foundation in my life. And then eventually, he pulled the rug out from under me.”

It took Kara a moment to realize that Lena was grieving; she mourned the loss of the only brother she’d ever known, the only person in her horrible family who’d been truly kind to her. Kara felt sympathetic pain in her own heart as Lena told her how she’d had to watch Lex turn into a villain in front of her eyes, and that nothing she tried could bring him back. As he fell further and further, the madness twisting him into a diabolical someone she didn’t know any more, she lost him, and then, she’d been truly alone. Lena was mourning the loss of a brother, and she had to do it alone, because society wouldn’t let her grieve for the loss of someone they only saw as a monster.

A monster, and not the brother that she’d loved.

“I’m sorry, Lena, about your brother,” Kara said, knowing that nothing she could really say could heal the hurt that Lena carried within her, but she wanted to say it anyway.

Lena looked over at her, a tear spilling out of her brimming eyes and tracking down her face. She didn’t wipe it away, choosing to blink them away instead, and something about that tugged at Kara’s heartstrings. Without giving herself a chance to hesitate, she lifted the hand that wasn’t clutching Lena’s, and wiped the escaping tears away with her own thumb, before cupping the side of Lena’s face in her palm. Surprise flitted across Lena’s face, chasing away the sadness that had filled it only seconds before. After a moment, Lena leaned into the gentle touch, her green eyes on Kara all the while.

Kara’s breath seemed to catch in her throat. They were sitting right next to each other, Lena’s face only inches from hers. Kara knew exactly how they would look to anyone who walked past, and it seemed that the same thing had occurred to Lena, because she smiled that soft smile again that Kara liked so much. Kara felt frozen in place, not wanting to let go of Lena in any way. In fact, she only wanted to draw her closer to her. It occurred to her that all she’d have to do to signal any sort of unmistakable intention would be to smooth her thumb along Lena’s cheek once more.

The thought of it set her heart thudding wildly in her chest, and all of sudden she was aware of how soft Lena’s skin felt under her fingertips, how warm she was, how close they were sitting. She could smell Lena’s subtle perfume, could hear her slightly labored breathing, see nothing but the green eyes looking back at her.

Lena filled her senses.

All but one of them.

Before Kara could do anything about it, or think more about what she could do, Lena cleared her throat quietly and leaned back, although she kept her fingers tangled with Kara’s.

“Thank you,” Lena said, her red-rimmed eyes on the boats and her cheeks pink. “It’s been a long time since I’ve been able to talk about Lex that way. A long time since anyone was willing to listen. I’ve never been able to… grieve him. Society won’t let me. I know it’s… I know our situation is the root of that but Kara,” she said, turning to look at Kara once again, her eyes intense and focused, “I want you to know that I’m grateful. Even if you had no real choice but to listen, really, I’m… comfortable enough with you to talk about him, and that means a great deal to me.”

“You’re welcome,” Kara said, giving Lena’s hand a gentle squeeze. “But for the record, I’m not listening to you just because I have to for the sake of this situation. It’s like I said before, I’d like us to be friends, and I want to hear about your life. I’d want to hear about it even if we weren’t in this situation.”

“Kara, that-” Lena said, her voice breaking at the end of the word, but she smiled through it. “That means so much more than you know. And I think we… we are friends, aren’t we? I don’t really have friends. Just Sam. And you. And it… means a lot to me.”

There was silence for a moment, but as Kara was about to speak, her cell phone rang in her pocket. “Oh, sorry, just a second,” she said, letting go of Lena’s hand and fishing it out of her pocket. “Hello?”

“Kara?”

“Hey, Alex!”

“It’s nearly time for lunch,” came Alex’s tinny voice down the phone, and Kara pulled her phone away from her ear so that she could look at the time.

“Oh! So it is. We’ll make our way up there now,” she replied, looking at Lena and tipping her head in the direction of town, hoping that Lena would pick up her meaning. She did, standing up and gathering their rubbish from the bakery.

“I’ve got Maggie and Winn,” Kara heard them cheering and calling nonsense in the background and smiled, looking forward to seeing them, “and we’re just heading to the pub.”

“See you in ten! Bye!” Kara said, hanging up and shoving her phone back in her pocket. She turned to look for Lena, who was just coming back from the trash can further down the harbor. She gave her a little wave, and then winced at how awkward that was. She could see Lena’s forehead wrinkle in amusement as she waved back, even though she was only ten or so metres away.

“Fancy seeing you here,” Lena said as she came within earshot.

“Ugh, I don’t know what that wave was,” Kara said, rolling her eyes at herself.

“It was cute,” Lena replied with a smile, causing heat to crawl up Kara’s cheeks a little. “Cute, and childlike. It’s… refreshing. People don’t usually wave at the big bad Luthor, you know.”

“Oh, well, those people are just idiots,” Kara said, holding her arm out gallantly to Lena, who, to her delight, looped her arm into Kara’s.

Before they could start walking, Lena whipping her phone out and held it up, angling it to make sure that she framed the bobbing boats in the background. Kara smiled into the lens, ready for the photo, and then she felt Lena kiss her cheek as she snapped the photo. Kara’s grin only widened.

They started their walk up towards the town, Kara occasionally waving to someone that she knew.

“It’s beautiful here, you know,” Lena said after several minutes of silence. “Your home. It’s so peaceful. I can see why you love it here. It must be really lovely to see people you know all the time and know that they care about you.”

“Yeah,” Kara agreed. “Like I said earlier, it took me a while to get used to it. And now I feel, when I’m in New York, how cold people can be. It makes me feel strange when I see everyone avoid everyone else’s eyes. I get it, you know; it was similar in Seattle. Everyone’s in a rush to go somewhere - places to go, people to see and all. But then, I get to come back here and the pace of life is much slower, and after so many years in both kinds of places, I know which I prefer.”

“I can certainly see the appeal,” Lena said in a wistful sort of way, tightening her arm in Kara’s.

They took a slightly different route back towards the pub they were aiming for, and their route took them past the high school. Lena laughed when Kara told her the legend of the ghost that haunted the high school because they’d been given a D- on a math test.

“So they just, float around and what, wail?” Lena asked.

“I guess so. I never saw them.”

“I’d never have been turned into a ghost. Lillian might’ve though, if I’d ever come home with anything less than an A,” Lena said.

“Oh?”

“Yeah, I was never allowed to get anything so bad as a B,” Lena said, her eyes full of mirth at the very idea of Lillian finding out that she was something other than perfect. “Those times I did get a B, I just forged the report card, whether they were paper or electronic. Lillian never cared enough about me to go to any parent teacher conferences or anything, so I always got away with it.”

Kara looked sideways at Lena, caught somewhere between shocked and impressed. “Underneath all those expensive clothes, you’re a little rebel really, aren’t you?”

“Oh Miss Danvers, you have no idea,” Lena replied, her voice deliberately suggestive, before turning her head to give Kara a sly look with one eyebrow raised, a devilish smile on her face.

Fucking hell.

Luckily, Kara was saved from floundering for a reply, because they’d reached the Red Lion. Kara held the door open for Lena and followed her in, her hand on the small of Lena’s back.

The owners, Imra Ardeen and Gayle Marsh, had spent a long time living in England. Imra was English, and when they’d moved over to Alaska, she was dismayed by the lack of the pubs she was used to, so she started one of her own.

Inside, the light was low, but welcoming. The walls were a dark red and adorned with lots of framed, old-fashioned posters of various beers and liquors. Tall tables with stools were spread across the floor space, and along the walls were wooden booths with worn cushioned benches. In the back were two pool tables, always busy, and a few dart boards. There was a juke box, but mostly the music was whatever Gayle had decided to plug into the system. Today’s music seemed to consist of heavy rock music, and Lena nodded her head to the music as Kara looked around to find her friends.

“Kara!” came a shout to their left.

Kara turned to find Winn coming towards her, his arms outstretched, and she threw herself into his arms with exuberance and hugged him tightly as he swung her around. After a few seconds, he put her down, both of them laughing. “Hi! It is sooo good to see you again,” he said, before he noticed Lena standing behind Kara, fiddling with her fingers. He stepped towards her, his hand outstretched, and Lena took it. “And you must be Lena. I’m Winn, Kara’s oldest friend in Midvale. You have no idea how pleased I am to meet you!” Winn exclaimed, shaking Lena’s hand very enthusiastically. Kara thought Lena did well to replace her initially startled reaction with one of polite curiosity and a warm smile.

“Winn is the science teacher at the high school,” Kara explained.

“Ah,” Lena said, before turning her attention back to Winn. Before she could speak, however, Winn was talking again.

“I read your thesis on the issues around robots being used as replacements for humans in search and rescue operations in disaster areas,” Winn said, still pumping Lena’s hand as he gazed at her as if she were some kind of star fallen from space. “Specifically the parts where you discussed the need for developing better sensors, data standards, and rules of operations and procedures when it comes to spatial information such as whether a bridge is still structurally sound enough to cross,” he said, talking a mile a minute.

“Every natural or man-made disaster changes a landscape in multiple ways, seen and unseen,” Lena replied, taking her hand back from Winn and folding her arms, interest on her face. “One of the first tasks in disaster response is to determine how the landscape has changed and in which ways, in order to safely mount any rescue missions. Various components of robots find different terrains challenging, which means multiple machines need to be held by authorities. Invertible robots, for example, are useful in places where a human might find it difficult to turn around, but they also have far less awareness of their surroundings. Snakelike robots are difficult to build, but better than solidly-built robots in terms of exploring areas too dangerous for humans-”

Kara looked back and forth between the two of them as they talked, a blank look on her face. She could tell that Lena was using uncomplicated language for her benefit, which she appreciated, but… Winn had read Lena’s cognitive robotics thesis?! Behind Winn, Kara could see Alex and Maggie looking quizzically at her, and she shrugged in their direction.

“- can’t approach anywhere near a dog’s olfactory acuity, sniffing robots could be deployed in places which could be too hazardous for the dogs or their human handlers,” Lena said, gesturing vaguely with one hand while Winn nodded.

“Okay,” Kara interrupted, when it seemed that Winn and Lena could quite easily continue this conversation for a good while, standing in the middle of the pub. Both of them looked at her. “Let’s, uh, let’s go and say hi to Alex and Maggie,” she finished, trying to hide a smile at Lena’s brief irritation at being interrupted during a really scientific conversation.

“Sure!” said Winn, starting off back towards their table.

“Umm,” Kara said, once he was gone.

“Talking about my cognitive robotics thesis during this trip was something I wasn’t expecting to do,” Lena said, looking after Winn with a pleased smile on her face. “That was fun.”

“Don’t forget that you’re engaged to me,” Kara teased.

“Oh, darling, don’t worry. You know I’ve only got eyes for you,” Lena said, brushing a hand over Kara’s upper arm before setting off towards the table, leaving Kara spluttering behind her before following.

“Hi Alex! Nice to see you again, Maggie,” Lena said, sliding into the booth.

“Hey Luthor,” Maggie said, before shooting a look at Kara. “I see you’ve got Kara all flustered somehow.”

Lena let out a breathy laugh. “I was just teasing her,” she said, leaning over to kiss Kara on the cheek as she slid into the booth beside Lena. Kara knew that her cheeks were red, but whether it was from Lena’s flirtatious comment or the kiss, she wasn’t sure.

Once they’d looked at their menus and ordered food, everyone going for some kind of burger, even Lena, they settled in and caught up on various news and gossip. Winn, Alex, and Maggie all had drinks already, so Kara went to the bar to get herself and Lena a drink. It was only when she got there that she realized that she hadn’t asked Lena what she wanted, so she waved Lena over.

“What would you like to drink?” Kara asked, once Lena had reached her.

Lena looked over the selection of beers and ales on tap, seemingly impressed with the selection they had, since it didn’t consist of just Coors and Budweiser. “Why do they have so many different European ales?” she asked.

“The owners spent some time living in England, and they basically import all beers and ales,” Kara explained. “The other bar in town mostly stocks all the American craft beer. That way, they don’t step on each other’s beer turf, and everyone’s happy. Both places do really well, and aside from some good-natured joking here and there, the arrangement works perfectly.”

Lena nodded, but chose Guinness, her eyes lighting up when she spotted it, as well as a glass of low-sugar lemonade. Kara chose a Sprite for herself, since she had to drive the boat back to the island later. Lena bought the drinks, handing her black American Express card to the bartender, waiving aside Kara’s protests, and asked the bartender to put their entire tab on her card. The bartender told Lena he’d bring her Guinness over when it was ready, and while Kara thought that was odd, Lena didn’t seem to think it was unusual, and just nodded.

“Oh,” Kara said, her voice low and quiet, stopping Lena on the way back to the table. “Um, I was thinking. Do you mind if I- I wanted to make sure it was alright before we sat down, if I put my arm around you and things like that, while we’re here?”

“That’s fine, Kara,” Lena said, seemingly relieved that it wasn’t something more serious. “And, although I appreciate how chivalrous you’re being with my personal space, and I am, it’s not… necessary. I’m very comfortable around you, and it’s fine for you to put your arm around me or hold my hand, or… anything you want, really,” she added quietly. “I’m comfortable, I promise,” she said with a smile, before holding out her hand out to Kara.

Kara entwined their fingers, rubbing her thumb across the back of Lena’s hand as she was led back to the table, sliding in behind Lena. Even when they’d settled into their seats, Lena kept hold of her hand under the table. Kara wasn’t sure why, since nobody could see their joined hands, but she was happy to hold Lena’s hand as long as she could.

The conversation flowed, during which everyone teased Winn, since it turned out that he was a little bit of a fanboy when it came to Lena. Lena’s Guinness arrived after a few minutes, and Kara giggled at Lena’s ale mustache when after she’d taken her first sip. She wasn’t giggling anywhere near as much when Lena made her try it, coughing at the strong taste and washing it down with her Sprite to the sounds of laughter from the others.

Alex and Maggie were surprised at Lena’s exploits outside of L-Corp and CatCo, and Lena regaled them with funny stories about robots she’d built to annoy her mother as a teenager, including one she’d programmed to climb stairs, unlock doors, and follow her around everywhere she went, emitting a shrill beeping sound every time it detected her voice.

When their food arrived, they all dug in happily, Lena declaring that it was the best burger she’d had in a long time. She had, as promised, ordered the biggest one on the menu. They all stole fries off each other’s plates, even though they all had their own, and the conversation flowed easily with no awkward pauses. Lena fit in quickly and easily with everyone, Kara observed; Lena was witty, quick to laugh, and answered every question that they, especially Winn, asked her. Thankfully, not many questions were asked about their relationship, but when they did come up, both Kara and Lena gave quick answers that were similar to what they’d discussed between themselves. They stuck to the story they’d told Eliza, Alex, and Maggie when Winn clocked the engagement ring on Kara’s left ring finger, which had Winn laughing into his drink.

Kara was hungry, and finished her food longer before anyone else, to the surprise of nobody. After wiping her fingers, she draped her arm around Lena’s shoulders and pressed a greasy kiss to her cheek, making Lena mock-groan in protest and scrub at her face with her own paper napkin. Once Lena was finished as well, Kara wrapped her arm around Lena’s waist; Lena’s hand came down to settle on top of hers, her fingers gently toying with Kara’s, and Kara felt herself relax even more than she already was.

Winn was talking to Alex about a video game, Fallout 4, which as far as Kara understood, was set after a nuclear war. Lena was listening closely, since the conversation seemed to center around the synthetic humans, who were actually robots, in the game. “I sided with the Brotherhood,” Alex said. “They had the biggest guns, the best equipment, and the best armor.”

“I went with the Institute,” Winn said, and was immediately elbowed by Alex out of consternation.

“I sided with the Railroad,” Lena said, Alex and Winn fell silent and stared at her. “What?” she shrugged. “I think it was the humanitarian thing to do. The synths didn’t ask to be created, and the Institute made them so human that some of them, like Danse, didn’t even realise they were synths. How could we blame them for that? Sure, some were bad, but aren’t some humans bad? My own brother is shit on a stick, let’s be fair. I rescued the synths and set up a haven for them in Far Harbor.”

Silence greeted this apparently unexpected statement.

“You’re a gamer, too?” Winn asked, weakly.

“When do you even find the time?” Maggie asked, goggling at Lena as if she’d never seen her before.

Lena looked from one of them to another. “What, a CEO can’t do a bit of gaming to relax here and there?”

Winn leaned across the table and stuck his thumb out in Lena’s direction. “Kara, I love her. I think you’re on to a winner, here!”

Everyone laughed, and Kara rested her head on Lena’s shoulder. “What can I say? I’ve got good taste.”

The conversation continued, covering Lena’s other interests and hobbies, topics flowing naturally from one to the next without any lulls. When they’d all finished their food, Lena added the next round of drinks to her tab and they made their way over to the pool tables and dart boards. Lena was a bit of a shark at pool, but was absolutely terrible at darts, sticking more than a few of them into the wood surrounding the board. A good many of them bounced off the board entirely, lodging themselves into the floor.

Lena fit into their group of friends just as easily as if she had always been there, and every time Kara looked over at her, she was laughing, smiling, or talking animatedly, especially to Winn. When Alex and Maggie were having a particularly heated game of pool, Kara leaned against the adjacent wall, both of her arms around Lena’s waist, and her chin resting on her shoulder. She was the only one not drinking alcohol, but she felt tipsy nonetheless from the closeness of Lena, from holding her the way that she was.

When it was her turn to play a game of darts with Alex, leaving Lena and Maggie playing a game of pool, Alex hip checked her halfway through the first frame.

“You look almost disgustingly happy, you know,” Alex said, before aiming another shot at the board and missing the triple twenty by millimetres. “Damn it.” She turned back to Kara. “I’m really happy for you. I haven’t seen you look like that in a very long time. Not even with Mike. You literally look at Lena like she hung the moon and all the stars in the sky.”

Kara masked her surprise with a smile. “I am happy,” she said quietly, glancing over at Lena, who now seemed to be making a bet with Maggie on the outcome of their game. “She makes me happy. She’s nothing like anyone expects her to be.”

“That’s for sure,” Alex murmured, looking over at Lena as well. “I know I haven’t spent much time with her but I… the way you always talked about her on the phone, you made her sound… well, not like this.”

“She’s different at work. She has to be. She’s running two companies and one of them is the one her brother nearly ran into the ground. Lena can’t afford to make any mistakes, and so she doesn’t often get time to relax. As you know, I was oblivious to her gentle hints about how she felt about me. Even when we got together she was still somewhat… reserved, but she relaxed pretty quickly. Once I saw who she was underneath the mask she has to show everyone else, how playful and funny she is… I was a goner.”

Alex smiled gently at her. “It shows. You make googly eyes at her all the time. And she looks at you the same way.” Really? Kara’s traitorous brain asked. Does she really? “Maggie’s kind of a hard-ass sometimes, but she really likes Lena, too. And, so do I,” Alex finished.

“I’m… I’m glad, thank you Alex,” Kara said, somewhat choked with conflicted emotion. What would Alex be saying if she knew that the whole relationship between her and Lena was a complete sham? That they’d barely spoken personally in the three years they’d known each other, and that Kara was lying to everyone she knew? To the government? That she was risking time in prison?

But at the same time… even after only a few days, could she really say that the relationship was a complete sham, now? Lena’s eyes lit up with genuine fondness when she caught Kara looking over at her, and Kara felt her heart skip a beat in her chest when Lena flicked her hair over her shoulder and smiled softly, her dimples evident even in the low light of the pub.

“No need to thank me. Just don’t mess it up,” Alex said with a wink, before turning back to the board and throwing another dart. This one hit the mark, and she cheered.

Everyone was merry thanks to the good company and the alcohol, and the time passed quickly; the group were all taking silly photos of each other, as they always did whenever they were all together, but this time of course, Lena joined in. She pulled faces or smiled at whichever camera was pointed at her, snuggled herself up to Kara, and even allowed herself to be posed, Charlie’s Angels like, between Alex and Maggie.

By the time they were on their third round of drinks, Winn was officiating a doubles pool game between Kara and Lena, and Alex and Maggie. Lena had wound her arm almost possessively around Kara’s waist, and was scratching gently at Kara’s stomach through her shirt as they both watched Maggie line up a shot. Kara, who had switched to Coke a little while ago for the caffeine jolt she needed, pressed a sticky kiss to Lena’s cheek, giggling when Lena grumbled good-naturedly at her before turning her head to give Kara a quick peck on the lips.

Kara felt herself blush, and wrapped her own arm over Lena’s shoulders as Maggie smacked the ball with her cue, slightly too hard. The ball bounced back out of the pocket, much to her dismay. Lena smothered a competitive little cheer, making Kara smile, and took the cue Alex handed her.

Just as Lena was lining up her shot on the black, Kara heard a voice behind her.

“Hello, Kara.”

Kara turned, a smile still on her lips, and came face to face with Mike. Instantly, her good mood was replaced with awkwardness. “Hi,” she said, glancing over at the pool table. Nobody except Alex had noticed yet, and she tipped her head towards the door, indicating that she should take the conversation outside. Kara nodded. “Come on, let’s talk out on the deck,” she said.

She followed Mike through the bar, and as he held the door open for her, she looked back towards everyone else, her eyes searching for one person in particular. The look on Lena’s face was wary and unsure, her hip leaning against the side of the pool table, cue leaning against the inside of her elbow and her fingers twisting slightly in front of her stomach. Kara gave her what she hoped was an encouraging smile, and Lena’s face twitched into a small smile before Kara walked though the door and out into the early evening sunshine.

Had they really been in the pub that long? I guess time flies when you’re having fun, she thought to herself.

She led Mike over to a bench on the deck, overlooking the harbor in the near distance, and sat down. Turning to face him, she took in his familiar blue eyes, the long stubble on his jaw, and the worn canvas jacket he had always loved so much. Kara remembered wearing that jacket many times while they were together, and she felt guilt roll through her as she sat in front of him.

Kara had, and hadn’t, worried about bumping into him in town while they were here. She knew it was an eventuality, so she’d resigned herself to knowing it was going to happen sometime. And here it was.

Mike sat down next to her, his safe and steady presence comforting as usual, despite the awkward silence between them. They sat there together, listening to the birds call to each other and the muffled sound of the music coming from inside the pub. Kara squirmed, not knowing how to start this particular conversation.

Luckily, Mike took it upon himself instead. He cleared his throat, and picked up her left hand. “So, I heard around town that you’d come home and that congratulations are in order,” he said, his voice gentle, but melancholy. She could hear the slight accusation in his voice, and cringed inside herself.

“I’m sorry,” she said straight away, the words falling from her lips quickly. “I meant to tell you-”

“No you didn’t,” he interrupted, not rudely, but it stopped her in her tracks nonetheless. “It’s okay, Kara. I’d always hoped… but of course, I wanted to say that I’m happy for you. That if she makes you happy, then that’s all I need. I’m sorry, for myself of course, that I’m not the one you finally said yes to, but I saw the way you were looking at each other. Even if things between us were… unresolved, I’d like to think that I’m a big enough person to step aside when I can see that your heart lies elsewhere.”

His kind, but sad, words hung in the air between them. It was true that things between them had been undetermined, as she’d told Lena earlier that morning. Kara moved to New York, but it had always been an unspoken understanding between them that once she’d had her time there, that she’d come home, that they’d get married. At the back of her mind, Kara had always known that he was still in Midvale, waiting for her, and that he was building a home for them in the quiet town she’d grown to love so much.

Kara had also loved Mike. He was a good, generous man. Principled, understanding, and thoughtful, they’d been a very happy and relaxed couple. He’d been her first love, and she knew that the lines he’d written on her heart were inscribed with indelible ink. Mike would always be part of her life. But during her time in New York, something had changed for her. Her dream of being a journalist had taken hold of her, pulling her further away from Midvale, and although this would always be home, she was also building her own home in New York.

They didn’t talk as regularly as they used to, but when they did talk, it was still just as warm as it always was with him. Mike had always made Kara feel secure, even from far away. And she loved him, she always would, but somewhere along the way, her priorities had shifted.

And now, she’d finally shown up back in Midvale, after a long time, and she’d done it with a fiancée. Even if the engagement was false, the ring was still as real as any other. She’d blindsided her family, as well as the man who’d waited for her during the years she’d been away. Finally, the understanding between them was broken; the knowledge that she’d hurt him, hurt a good man, pained her more than the loss of the relationship they’d had on the back burner all this time.

Kara had been silent for too long. She reached across to put her hand on top of his, even as Mike sat with his head bowed down. She knew his heart was breaking. “Thank you, Mike. I know this is kind of… sudden, but I am happy.”

“I guess I just don’t understand… why her?” he asked, his forehead wrinkled in an effort to understand.

Of course, he’d heard about Lena from her, and she could understand his confusion. “She’s… I got to know her. Lena’s nothing like I thought she was. And because of our jobs, we had to keep our relationship private. I know it’s not conventional,” she said, heading off the question she could see forming in his mind, “but underneath the assertiveness, she’s warm, and kind. She’s thoughtful. Lena crept up on me, but now that we’re together, she’s- I don’t know, she’s different. And when she asked, the answer would only ever have been yes.”

Mike looked silently at her for a moment, before turning his palm facing up. She linked her fingers with his straight away, his rough skin as familiar to her as his eyes. “I’m happy for you, Kara. I am. I hope that she knows just how lucky she is.”

“She does,” Kara replied quietly, and the words felt like the end of something.

To the side of them, the door to the pub banged open, and Lena came through it, looking slightly agitated. The breeze ruffled her dark hair around her face as she looked around before she spotted them. Briefly, her eyes warmed, before they fell on Kara and Mike’s joined hands, and a look of pain crossed her beautiful face.

Kara stood up in an instant, letting go of Mike’s hand. “Lena, come and meet Mike,” she said, the words coming out slightly hesitantly.

Lena pasted a polite look on her face before holding out her own hand to Mike. They shook, briefly.

“It’s lovely to meet you, Lena,” Mike said cordially. “I’ve heard a lot about you.”

“Oh?” Lena said, glancing quickly at Kara before she turned her attention back to Mike. “I imagine not all of it was complimentary.”

Mike laughed, surprised at Lena’s forthrightness, scratching the side of his neck. “Well, no, not until recently. Now, she has nothing but wonderful things to say about you. Congratulations on your engagement! I’m very happy for both of you, and I look forward to seeing you both more when you’re up here next.”

“Thank you,” Kara almost whispered.

“For now though, I’ve got to go back to work. I was just here having some lunch when I saw you all in the back playing pool.”

“Alright,” Kara said, holding her arms open. Mike stepped into them, and she held him tightly, knowing that this really was the end of what they’d had together. He hugged her back in just the same way. After letting go, he gave them both a wave before he walked up to the end of the desk and disappeared around the corner.

“Kara,” Lena said, her voice not quite right, and Kara turned to her. Lena looked very on edge.

“Lena? Are you alright?” she asked, concerned by the way that Lena was shifting from foot to foot as if she was full of nervous energy.

“The others said to say bye. Can we go back to the boat?”

“Sure,” she replied, frowning. “Did someone say something to you? Are you okay?”

“Not here, please,” Lena said. Kara couldn’t tell whether Lena looked upset or angry, but whichever it was, she wasn’t hiding her emotion very well, and for the usually stoic woman, that wasn’t normal. The alcohol probably had something to do with it, but before Kara could think too much about it, Lena had walked off in the direction they’d come earlier, back towards the harbor.

Kara hurried after her, falling into step next to her. They walked in silence towards the docks, and Kara knew that Lena was stewing over something she didn’t want to mention while they could still be overheard.

When they reached the harbor, Kara climbed down the ladder and steadied the boat before Lena climbed down into it. Kara silently handed her the life jacket, which she put on. She slowly guided the boat out of the harbor and into the open water, speeding Streaky up as they got away from the rest of the boats.

Only then did Lena speak her mind.

“Are you mad?” she shouted over the noise of the boat engine.

“What?!” Kara shouted back, looking at Lena in confusion.

“Are you mad? Are you insane? Kara!!”

Kara looked crossly over at her. “No I’m not mad. What are you talking about?!”

Lena scoffed in consternation, and it was loud enough that Kara could hear it over the engine. “You- you have this- this whole life up here!” she said, gesturing towards Kara in frustration. “You’ve got a whole life here! Friends and family who love you and a man who- fucking hell,” Lena cursed.

“Lena what the hell?” Kara shouted as the boat bumped over the waves as she sped up more than she would normally, distracted by Lena.

I forgot!

“You forgot what?”

“I forgot what it was like to- to have a family! To have people who care about you. To have people want to be around you and say see you next time and actually mean it!”

“Lena I don’t understand,” Kara shouted over the boat, looking over at Lena as often as she dared while still driving.

“I’ve been alone for so long and I didn’t remember what it was like! And you have a whole family and a life up here, Kara! Why are you letting me ruin your life by agreeing to a fake marriage with me when you had all this-” Lena waved her arm back in the direction of Midvale, and then swung it forward towards the island- “waiting for you? Why would you- you’ve got Alex here, you’ve got Mike, you’ve- Kara! You’ve got a whole damned fantastic life up here with people who love you and want to see you more often and we’re lying to them all and why are you letting me screw it all up for you?!” Lena yelled, the wind whipping the frustrated tears from her eyes and down her face, into the air, before she had a chance to dash them away herself.

“I agreed to this!” Kara shouted when Lena paused long enough for her to get a word in edgewise. “I agreed to it! I knew this would be shitty but from the moment we told my family over dinner the other night I was all in! And we’re in it together now and we’ve told everyone so there’s no going back!”

“It doesn’t mean that I’m not ruining your life! You’re really willing to put them through this? What if they find out? It’s not too late to back out- we can break up and I’ll find some other way to-”

“We’re not breaking up for fuck’s sake!” Kara cried, hoping to stop Lena’s spiraling despair. “You asked me for help and yeah okay maybe you should’ve done that better but- shit, Lena, I agreed to it! I said yes!”

You shouldn’t have!!” Lena yelled, her voice breaking in the middle of the sentence. She stood up. “You should’ve told me to go fuck myself!”

“Lena sit down!”

Lena moved out of her line of sight, and Kara turned to watch her, to tell her again to sit down, anything. But in turning, her hands moved the wheel a little too hard and she felt the boat lurch to starboard. By some horrible coincidence, the boat hit a wave at the same time, causing the boat to pitch up and sharply to the side. It was as if they’d hit an underwater wall, and Kara held on tightly to the left gunwale as she lost her balance and slid almost out of her seat. She yanked her foot off the pedal and the boat slowed down. Frantically turning around, she saw that Lena was no longer in the boat. Where the fuck-

She must’ve fallen overboard.

Lena couldn’t swim.

Fuck. Fuck fuck fuck.

Kara felt as if she’d been doused with icy water.

“Lena!!” she called as loudly as she could, leaving the boat idling and scrambling back to the other end of the boat, looking desperately out into the water. She could feel the adrenaline race through her body and her heart pounded painfully against her ribcage. She could feel her hands shaking.

Some thirty metres behind her, she saw the bright orange life jacket bobbing in the water, dark hair just visible against the water. “Shit!” Kara practically flew back to the controls and put the boat into the fastest, tightest turn she could manage and swung it back towards Lena, going as fast as she dared. She could see Lena panicking and flailing in the water, although the life jacket was keeping her afloat.

Trying not to submerge Lena in the wave caused by the boat’s movement, she pulled up alongside Lena and leaned over, pulling her roughly over the side, both of them sprawling onto the dry deck of the boat. Lena sat up immediately, taking a deep, rattling breath, and vomited sea water over the side. Her pale hands grasped the wood so hard that Kara was afraid she was going to break her fingernails, and she pulled Lena’s hair away from her face as she coughed wetly and vomited again, her body straining and ridding itself of the sea water she’d swallowed.

When she was done, Lena slumped backwards against Kara, trembling fingers pulling at the life jacket and yanking it off, her eyes full of shocked tears and her breath coming in gasps. Turning slightly, she buried her face in Kara’s chest and burst into tears, sobs wracking her body as she cried noisily into Kara’s shirt. Kara wrapped her arms around her, and Lena curled into her, her knees underneath one of Kara’s thighs, and let herself be surrounded by Kara. Kara rocked her gently, feeling sympathetic tears spring up in her own eyes as she thought about how terrified Lena must have been, suddenly being thrown into the sea and not being able to swim.

Slowly Lena’s sobs subsided into hiccups, and the hand that clutched the front of Kara’s shirt slackened a little. Kara brought her own hand up to cover it, keeping it in place when Lena might have moved away. Lena’s cold fingers gripped her hand instead, and Kara pressed a kiss to the top of Lena’s head. They sat there in silence for a few more minutes, until Lena started to shake with the cold. Standing up briefly, assuring Lena that she would be back in a minute, Kara pulled her hoodie out of the backpack and the emergency blankets out of the floor store cupboards behind the seats.

“Lena,” Kara said gently. “I need you to take your shirt off, okay? We need to get you dry and warm as quickly as possible.” Nodding briefly, Lena reached down and peeled her shirt off, and Kara closed her eyes as Lena’s pale stomach came into view. She felt Lena take the hoodie off her and put it on, and Lena immediately settled herself back against Kara, who pulled both blankets around them, tucking Lena in as best as she could.

“My mother drowned,” Lena said, quietly, her fingers toying with the buttons on Kara’s shirt.

“Oh Lena,” Kara sighed, keeping one arm around Lena’s waist and the other around the back of her shoulders, pulling her even closer into herself.

“I was four,” Lena continued, her breath warm on Kara’s skin. “Sometimes I wish I didn’t remember it so clearly, but I do. We were at the edge of a lake, and it was a warm day. It was spring, and it was so wonderfully green. There were other people around, but not many of them. I was playing on the sand with some of our friends. To this day I don’t really know what happened. She just… went into the lake and never came back. At least, not alive.” Her voice was still shaky, and every now and again, Lena sniffled against the tears that threatened.

“I’m so, so sorry that you had to live through that,” Kara murmured, not knowing what else she could say. In some ways, she could relate, of course. Having lost her own parents so young, she knew how it felt to have that pain etch itself on your heart forever.

“I’ve been afraid of open water ever since. It’s why I never learned to swim. I can sit at the edge of a pool, but I can’t go in it any higher than my waist or I start to panic.”

Kara rubbed soothing circles in Lena’s back, occasionally reaching up to run her hand down Lena’s wet hair. They stayed there for ten or so minutes, the boat bobbing in the water, surrounded by silence. When Lena’s shivering had subsided enough for Kara to think about moving, she gave Lena her own life jacket and settled her into the passenger seat, and then covered her with the blankets. She carefully put the engine into gear, making their way slowly towards the island. Kara took extra care to make sure that the boat didn’t jump in the water at any point, and pretty soon, she was mooring Streaky up against the pier at home. Climbing out with Lena’s soaking shirt in her hand and tying the boat to the bollards, Kara held her hand out to Lena. She took it and stepped out of the boat with no small amount of relief on her face. Lena wore the blankets all the way to the house.

Once Kara let them in, they headed straight to the laundry room, where Lena stripped off her wet jeans while Kara turned her back to give her privacy. When she turned back around, Lena was standing barefoot in the laundry room, her bare legs covered to the thigh with the blankets. She’d also taken everything else by the looks of it, leaving her just wrapped in the blankets.

Lena clutched the blankets closed around her with one hand, and in the other, she held her phone, which was definitely ruined after its dip in the sea. “Somehow, I don’t think rice will cut it with the extended soaking it’s had,” Lena said, shaking drops of water out of the bottom of it.

“Isn’t it one of those water-resistant ones?” Kara asked, taking it from her and examining it.

“No,” Lena said, giving her a small smile. “I don’t take my phone to the bath, only a book, and since I don’t go on boats that often, using a water-resistant phone seemed like a bit of a waste. Well, there’s nothing to be done about it now. At least my mother will stop calling me,” she finished with a hint of amused relief in her voice.

Leaving them and the shirt in a wet heap on the floor and the phone on top of the laundry machine, they went into the kitchen where Kara poured Lena a glass of water, which she drank gratefully. She poured her another before they went upstairs to their bedroom. Lena disappeared into the bathroom and Kara heard her brushing her teeth. When she came back out, she sat in one of the sofas, drawing her knees up into the chair and settling the blankets around her.

Kara started a bath running for Lena, pouring in a generous amount of bubble bath. After that, she went downstairs and made them a hot chocolate each, and came back up to sit with her while the bath continued to run. “It’s really slow to fill for some reason,” Kara explained. “I hardly ever use it because it’s so slow, actually, but I think you could do with it this evening.”

“Thank you,” Lena said, tilting her head to one side and regarding Kara carefully. Her hair was tangled around her face, and Kara resisted the urge to lean forward and brush it behind her ears for her. Lena sipped at her drink. “Kara, I’m sorry about earlier, on the boat. For the things I said. Well, not for the things I said, because I still meant them, but for the way they came out, I guess.”

Kara set her drink down on the table. “What happened? You came out of the pub and… did someone say something to you? We’d been having such a good time and then it was like someone flipped a switch or something. Are you alright?”

“I’m fine,” Lena said, running a fingertip around the top of her mug and determinedly not looking at Kara. “I think I was just… I was in the pub, and Mike came. I know you’d told me about him before, that he’d never proposed to you, but when you went outside with him, I asked Alex about him. She, very reluctantly, I have to say, told me that the two of you had always had some kind of a thing, that everyone here thought you’d come back here one day and marry him.”

“That’s… true,” Kara hedged, watching as Lena’s finger moved slowly around the mug. “But the more time that I spent in New York, the more my career seemed to matter. Our… relationship, if you could even call it that, was on hold until I came back home. But as you know, I’ve no intention of moving back here any time soon. You know the career that I want to pursue. I can’t really do that here.”

“I understand, but Kara, here you have a family, friends, a… someone who loves you. Maybe this is coming from my own insecurities, but if I had even one person who loved me, I don’t think that I could easily give them up for a career. I’ve got the career. But today with your friends, with Alex, I… I’d forgotten how much fun it is to be around people, to have a drink and play pool in a pub. You have all these people who care about you, and you’re lying to all of them, because of me.”

“Lena,” Kara said, standing up and pulling her chair around so that it was next to Lena’s instead of opposite. “Lena, I wasn’t lying in the boat. I- you asked me to help you, and I said yes. Yeah, I was angry at the way you went about it. You could’ve asked for my help instead of demanding it, that’s true, but… I decided to go through with it in the end. I knew how crap this would be, lying to everyone I know, but… it was my decision to make. I made it. You didn’t make it for me, okay? And… I know that we are friends now, even if it came about because of this ridiculous situation. And even if we weren’t in this situation, I’d still want to be your friend. No matter how it came about, I’d want to get to know you. And actually I… you know, if we get away with this, and even if I don’t work specifically for you anymore, and we get divorced, I’d want to keep hanging out with you.”

“But I don’t understand why,” Lena burst out, her voice shaky. Her face had got steadily more distressed as Kara kept talking, even though Kara had tried to head it off. She pulled the blankets tighter around her, conscious, perhaps, of the fact she wasn’t wearing anything underneath them. “I know I have absolutely no leg to stand on here. This is quite possibly the worst business deal I’ve ever made. I recognise that this entire situation is selfish. It’s ruining your life and threatening your family and friends, and your relationship with them all. 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. “But the truth is that when, a few weeks ago, I was told what was going to happen, that I was going to be deported, I panicked. I’m sure I don’t need to tell you how infrequently that’s ever happened, but when I was discussing it with Cat, you walked into my office at just the right, or wrong, moment. I demanded your help instead of asking for it, and I did it without thinking how this would impact you.”

Kara opened her mouth to reply, but it seemed like Lena was on a roll now. The accidental dip in the sea seemed to have cracked her open, and everything she hadn’t said was flowing out.

“I can also say that I was guilty of thinking that the consequences for you weren’t as bad as they would be for me,” she continued. “Of course I have no intention of being deported, but I also had every intention of fully compensating you for your… for what you’re doing for me. You would never have had to, nor will you need to, worry about money. I have more than enough of it to make sure that you would be taken care of, regardless of how it turns out. I realize that that was a very poor way of looking at the situation but it was the only way I could think of to make it up to you, and Kara I- I apologize if such a hands-off response seemed insensitive. It’s really the only way I know how to deal with bad situations… brush it under the carpet somehow. Put a band-aid on it and push it away. I’ve never had to work at… interpersonal relationships. I’ve never been given that luxury thanks to Lex, Lillian, and the mess they left me to clean up.”

“I know we have a lot to deal with,” Kara said, when Lena paused to take a breath. When it became clear that Kara had more to say, Lena settled back in her seat and took a sip of the warming drink, and watched Kara with a guilty expression on her face. “I know. You’ve got that hanging over you and I have jail hanging over me, and we’ve been getting to know each other. I know that it makes you feel vulnerable, but I also know that you’re comfortable with me now.” Kara looked across at Lena, who still looked worried as she gazed down at her mug. “You just have to accept that someone, me, actually wants to know you, and that I will know you, okay? I have to, in order for this to work. I really like the person I’ve been getting to know recently. I wish that you… I wish you let yourself be seen like this more often. To more people.”

“I’m aware that a lot of the things that you’ll be learning about me could potentially ruin my reputation if they were to get out,” Lena said slowly, finally meeting Kara’s eyes. “If it’s not already ruined, that is. And my reputation is… is what’s been holding L-Corp together since I took over. The board still doesn’t trust me all that much, being a young woman and not a misogynistic male old git. They’d love any opportunity to throw me out on my ass and use the company to do god knows what unspeakable things, unless I or someone I trust is running it instead. They were all in Lex’s pocket. The press and the public have historically not been very kind to me. All the things I’ve done to turn LuthorCorp into L-Corp, to turn this company around to good works instead of the barbarity it was known for before… the press still vilify me. It’s as if everyone is just waiting for me to turn into another Luthor.” The hurt that caused Lena was evident. It was clear in the unsteadiness of her voice and in the way she frowned as she spoke. “I know my employees may not like me, may not respect me as a person, but they do at least respect me as a businesswoman. Of course it matters to me what people think of me. The entire future of L-Corp has been riding on what they think of me. I need to be strong, unbreakable, in order to keep L-Corp on the path of good.”

The thought flashed across Kara’s mind that what Lena really needed was some time off, some chocolate, and several movie marathons, before she truly ran herself into the ground. But before she could voice it, Lena made a quiet, indistinct sound.

Lena picked at her nails slightly, and the juxtaposition of her strong words and her vulnerable body language was drastic. “If I have a reputation as someone who is uncompromising when it comes to dealing with any kind of terrible business practice, then that’s good. If I have a reputation as a steadfast philanthropist, or as someone who is able to make the hard decisions even if it costs the company money, then that’s a reputation I need to hold on to. I can’t have anything getting in the way of that. If someone perceived me as weak, they would take aim at the softer parts of myself, try to oust me, and I can’t have that if L-Corp slides backwards because of that. As Cat Grant once said, women have to work twice as hard to be thought of as half as good as a man.”

Kara reached her hand out, waiting until Lena looked over at it and put her own in it. Kara interlocked their fingers, then settled them on her knee, her other hand on top of them. Lena looked solemnly down at them, looking nothing like a Fortune 500 CEO twice over, but a bedraggled young woman, at the end of her emotional tether, and bearing too heavy a weight for her single set of shoulders.

“And that’s… that’s all very admirable, Lena, but what about you? At the end of the day, we’re all human, and humans are social creatures, right? We’re not built to be alone.”

Lena was silent for so long that Kara thought she wasn’t going to answer. “That day that Siobhan came into CatCo, do you remember?”

“How could I forget?” Kara answered, and she heard the anger in her own voice.

Lena smiled ruefully at her before she let out a sad sounding sigh. “After you, and everyone else, went to lunch, I went into the bathroom in my office and cried.” Kara squeezed Lena’s hand, and she felt Lena’s own grip tighten in response. “It’s not the first time someone’s said those awful things, of course, but I’m not a robot. At the end of the day, I’m a woman with real feelings and being thought of as heartless makes me… sad. What she said… hurt me. She wasn’t wrong-”

“She was,” Kara interrupted indignantly. “Lena, she was absolutely wrong-”

“She wasn’t wrong about work being the only real thing in my life,” Lena said gently, but Kara heard the wobble in her voice. “I devote the majority of my time to L-Corp especially, and that doesn’t leave any room for anything else. And while I understand the sacrifice that’s needed, nobody seems to care that… that it makes me lonely. Nobody thinks that I might want to go home to someone who loves me, curl up on the sofa and watch Netflix and fall asleep with my head on someone’s shoulder. I suppose it doesn’t matter anyway, as it’s never going to happen. The one and only time someone’s ever going to marry me is going to be via a sham marriage. Nobody wants me, a Luthor, other than for what I can give them. And I wake up every morning and read the papers, and all of the hurtful things they say. There are only so many horrible things that I can read about myself in the papers before I start to cry.”

“I’m sorry that people are so shitty,” Kara said, and she was. Desperately. “I admit I had wondered why you were so impersonal in the office, and why I never saw you smile,” Kara said. Lena sniffled a little bit at that, looking down at the table, and Kara’s heart cracked a little more. “Hey,” she said, and waited until Lena looked up at her. “I understand now that it’s not so much something you want to do as something that you felt you needed to. You haven’t done anything wrong. The Luthor name is… it is what it is thanks to the actions of Lex and Lillian, not you. You haven’t done anything wrong, and it’s absolutely unfair that you’ve been tainted by the same brush because you share their last name.”

Lena didn’t say anything in response, but Kara felt the grip on her hand tighten, and she knew that Lena had heard her words. If Lena was able to keep L-Corp on the straight and narrow by making herself an excellent businesswoman, absolutely free of any stain on her character, then she did it. What made Kara sad, though, was that Lena did it at the cost of her own personal life, and right now, Lena’s loneliness was shining through.

Kara wanted desperately to lighten the mood. “Lena,” she said, shaking Lena’s hand and causing her to look up at the seriousness in her voice. “I want you to hear me, and understand something. With me, you aren’t alone. I’ve got to know you better in these last few days, and I like you very, very much. And when we get back to New York, you’d better believe that I’m going to be coming over to your penthouse or your cabin in the woods-” Lena snorted- “and I’m bringing pizza, and we’ll binge-watch Netflix. You can drive me around in your snazzy car, and we’ll laugh about the time I dumped paint all over your head, and about how you beat everyone else at pool, okay? You can quote the Mummy movie as much as you want. You’re my friend, and you’re kind of stuck with me now. And stuck with my family, and my friends. We don’t give up on people.”

“Okay,” Lena said, sounding choked. “That sounds- that sounds… Kara, I don’t know how to thank you.”

“You don’t need to,” Kara said, wishing that she could do more. “I think the bath is just about full. Let me go check it?”

The water temperature was good. Hot, but not too hot. Maybe the bath was a little over-full, but the overflow would take care of that when Lena got in it, and truthfully, she didn’t think Lena would mind. Kara set the glass of water on the side of the bath. She took out some of the vanilla-scented candles that she kept in the cupboard underneath the sink, set them up on the side of the bath opposite to the glass of water, and lit them. Turning out the light, she nodded with satisfaction to herself at how cozy and warm it was in the bathroom.

Lena peered up at her when she came back out. Her eyes were red-rimmed, and Kara knew that she was overwhelmed by the day she’d had.

“The bath is ready,” she said, and Lena smiled gratefully. “Pick out whichever books you’d like to read. Would you like another hot chocolate?”

“Yes please,” Lena said, standing up. On her way past, she put her hand on Kara’s arm. “Thank you so much, by the way, for today. I really appreciate… everything you’ve done for me. The day, and the part in the boat, and the talk just now. It all meant so much, and I won’t forget it.”

Kara smiled, and unable to help herself, wrapped her arms gently around Lena’s shoulders in a hug. Lena couldn’t return it properly, of course, because the blankets would fall down around her feet, but she rested her chin on Kara’s shoulder and breathed out a relaxed sigh and it was enough. It was enough.

With that, Lena wandered over to the bookshelves and made a decision very quickly, plucking one off straight away. She disappeared into the bathroom, closing the door behind her, but not locking it. Kara headed back downstairs to make Lena another hot chocolate. Eliza was home by that time, so she stayed downstairs for a while, telling Eliza all about their day and Lena’s unfortunate accident with the boat. Eliza was very sympathetic, and sent Kara back upstairs with the hot chocolate and a plate of cookies for Lena to eat in the bath. Eliza was going to be heading out that evening to have dinner with a friend on the other side of the island, which left Kara and Lena the house to themselves.

Kara was pretty sure Lena was just going to crash, and Kara was looking forward to reading a book or doing a little painting.

When she got back up to the bedroom, Kara realized a problem. Lena was in the bath, and she couldn’t very well leave the hot chocolate to go freezing cold on the floor outside the bathroom. She put the plate and mug on the table, and knocked on the door. “Lena? I’ve got your treats!”

There was a moment where Kara could hear some splashing around, before Lena called out, “come in!”

Kara gingerly opened the door, until she saw that Lena was entirely covered by the huge amount of bubbles. Lena twisted her head around a little to look up at Kara with a smile. “Hi!” She had damp wisps of hair stuck to her face, and Kara’s first thought was that she wanted to brush them back behind Lena’s ears. Oh stop it, she told herself. Your crush is showing.

“Hello,” Kara replied, keeping her eyes averted from the bubbles and trained on Lena’s sparkling green eyes. “You look much happier!”

“I am,” Lena said, wiggling down a little deeper into the hot water. “This is wonderful.”

She’d placed a small towel on the side of the bath next to the book she’d chosen, Gone With the Wind. “Good choice,” Kara said, pointing at it. “One second,” she said, going back out to grab the mug and the plate of cookies. “Eliza sent these up to you.”

“Oh, she’s an angel,” Lena replied, holding out a wet arm to take the plate from her while Kara settled the mug on the corner of the bath. “And so are you.”

“Well, I’ll leave you to it,” she said, smiling at Lena’s unexpected compliment. She watched as a pleased little grin spread across Lena’s face as she examined the plate of cookies, choosing which one to eat first. “If you need anything, just call for me. I’m just going to be in the bedroom with a book.”

“Okay,” Lena replied, picking a double chocolate chip cookie off the plate and taking an indulgently large bite. There was a slight pause, and then she groaned, her voice deep with pleasure.

Kara backed out of the bathroom quickly.

It was one thing to hear Lena make a noise like that in a restaurant, but while she was naked in the bath? That was another thing altogether.

Trying to push the idea of a very naked Lena from her mind, Kara turned the overhead light off and the lamps on, creating a much warmer feel to the room as the sun started to dip lower in the sky. She dragged one of the armchairs over to the balcony and opened the doors, letting the still-warm spring evening air roll through the room. For a moment, she stood with her hands on her hips, the deep colours of the approaching sunset making her feel content. Kara took a deep breath and blew it out, feeling the little tension she had in her shoulders loosen.

Picking a book at random off her bookshelves, shutting her eyes for dramatic effect, she made herself comfortable in the armchair. She was halfway through the fourth chapter of the book, Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban, she felt her phone vibrate in her pocket. Awkwardly pulling it out and seeing Nia’s name on the screen, she froze. Glancing quickly back towards the bathroom, from which Lena still hadn’t appeared, she got up and went onto the balcony. She closed the door almost all the way, so that she’d be able to hear when Lena came out of the bathroom.

Taking another deep breath, she swiped across the screen and answered the call.

“Hey Nia! How’s it going?” she said, injecting some false bravado into her tone.

“How’s it going? That’s what you’re going with?” Nia replied, sounding as if she didn’t quite know which emotion she was supposed to be feeling. “You didn’t show up to work today, and neither did the witch.”

“Don’t call her that, Nia-”

Nia scoffed so loudly that Kara pulled the phone away from her ear, not sure whether something had gone wrong with the line. “Why not? It’s what she is. Why weren’t you at work? And why were you holding her hand on Friday?”

Kara closed her eyes and pinched the bridge of her nose. “I’m… I-”

“You left with her on Friday afternoon and you didn’t come back to the office. And neither of you came in today. What the fuck is going on? You were holding her hand, Kara, and everyone here thinks that you’re dating! Is there something you need to tell me?” Nia burst out, the exasperation now clear across the miles. As well as, Kara thought, hurt.

“I’m sorry Nia, I couldn’t tell you before. I couldn’t tell anyone before.” Kara swallowed. “Lena and I-”

“Lena?!”

“Yes, Lena. Nia, please stop interrupting me. Lena and I are together. We have been for a year and a half. We’re engaged-”

“Engaged?!” Nia shrieked.

“Fuck, Nia!” Kara replied, sticking her finger in her ear at the piercing sound of Nia’s tinny voice through the phone speaker. “Yes, we’re engaged.” She waited for another interruption, and when there was only silence, Kara smiled. “You can speak now.”

“As in… you and she are… together?” Nia said slowly. “And one of you asked the other to marry them?”

“Lena asked me to marry her, yes,” Kara replied. “Where are your eyebrows right now?”

“They’ve climbed up my forehead and are visiting my hair tie as we speak.”

The silence seemed to crackle down the line until finally, Kara felt the need to fill it. Why was it that phone calls were so much more awkward than face-to-face conversations?

“I’m sorry I couldn’t tell you. It was mostly just due to her work. She’s a really private person, and we didn’t want anyone to think that there was any favoritism involved or anything like that.”

Thankfully, Nia seemed to accept the explanation straight away. “So all those times she denied your vacation requests?”

“It was just a front. She has a reputation that she needs to maintain. She’s pretty convinced that if people saw how soft she really is, her business enemies at L-Corp would use that to try to kick her out. I don’t think they like the direction she’s taking the company, and they’d get rid of her if they could. She’s determined not to let that happen.”

“That’s pretty shitty.” Kara let out a relieved laugh. She hadn’t realized how much Nia’s opinion meant to her. “So she’s soft, huh? Would never have guessed underneath those severe ponytails and killer heels.”

“Yeah, she’s actually just full of mush. Really playful, funny, and oh my god Nia she’s so beautiful!” Kara dropped her head backwards and gestured at the sky with her eyes closed. “I mean, she’s so beyond ridiculously beautiful and she’s so clever and she wears these geeky little science tshirts with terrible science puns on them-”

“Kara-”

“And have you seen her jawline? And her eyes?”

“Kara! You are so gone on her,” Nia laughed.

Kara let out an embarrassed little giggle when she realized that she had just rambled about how pretty she thought Lena was without thinking about it. “I should hope so. We are engaged after all. Oh, so hey, how is… everything in the office?"

Nia snorted again. Kara could practically see her rolling her eyes from here. “Oh you mean, since it became common knowledge that you’ve been secretly boning the boss?”

Kara dragged her hand down her face. “Oh god-”

“And that our very hot boss is actually- well, I assume she’s gay?”

“Yeah she is, but she’s really private,” Kara started to say, before she realized that of course, word was apparently already out about Lena, if Nia was the one asking her instead of being told. “I guess that cat’s out of the bag.”

“That’s for sure. Although to be honest Kara, mostly people are just surprised that someone was willing to slee- uh. That uh, that she was getting lai- you know, that… damn. There’s no polite way of saying it is there?” she finished with a sigh.

“Yeah well, neither of the two ways you tried were polite in the first place,” Kara said, a hint of reproach in her voice.

Nia caught on to it immediately. “Yeah. Sorry Kara. I think mostly people are just surprised that you’d want to be with her. She’s not exactly winning any awards for most popular person of the year.”

“There’s a lot more to her than people think there is, or that people care to find out,” Kara replied, standing in the soft glow of the lights from the bedroom in the relative darkness of the balcony. She was speaking the absolute truth, and she knew it. “She’s a good person. A good person. And not enough people see it. And- oh, hang on, she’s-”

The light from the bedroom had changed, and Kara looked over her shoulder to see Lena standing in her pajamas just outside the bathroom, tugging on the hem of her X-Files shirt and looking over at her. Her hair was wet and pulled over one shoulder; there was a damp patch where her hair was soaking into the shirt. Lena gave Kara a shy smile and a little one-handed wave before wandering over to the bed, looking at Kara once more before climbing into it. Kara couldn’t be sure in this light, but it almost looked like Lena was… blushing?

Kara felt her heart thud in her chest and she let out a breath she’d been holding since she saw her. She watched as Lena picked up Gone With the Wind and opened it. Why was Lena blushing?

Gradually, Kara became aware that Nia was trying to get her attention by calling through the phone. She shook herself. “Hey, sorry, Lena just came out of the bathroom.”

“Uh… huh,” Nia said, and Kara could practically hear the questions that she was dying to ask floating in the air around her. “Where are you right now?” is what she asked instead.

“Oh, we’re up here in Midvale.” Kara said.

Kara heard the cogs turning. “So… she did an about-turn on your vacation request then, huh?”

“Yeah. She’s been meeting the family for the first time. Um, actually Nia, I’d better go. It’s been a long day and I’ve got to go shower. I still smell a bit like sea water.”

“You smell a bit like… I don’t want to know. I’ll see you when you’re back at the office. And send me a photo of you two lovebirds!”

Kara laughed out loud, turning back to face Lena through the window. Lena looked up at her again, and Kara waved through the glass. Lena waggled her fingers at her before looking back down at her book, turning a page. “I’ll see you soon Nia, ‘night!”

She quickly hung up the phone and slipped back into the bedroom, closing the balcony door behind her.

“Hey,” Lena said, marking her page in the book with her finger and smothering a yawn with her other hand, her eyes squeezing shut in a way Kara found adorable. Wait, adorable? “Who were you chatting to?” Lena’s voice was warm and lazy, and she leant her head back on the pillows to look at Kara with a gentle smile on her face.

Definitely adorable.

“Oh, that was just Nia, wanting to know why neither of us were in the office today,” she replied, grabbing her pajamas from the other side of the bed where she’d tossed them earlier that morning. Lena’s eyes followed her as she walked around the room, and Kara felt her gaze like a caress.

“Did you tell her that we’d eloped?” Lena said languidly, and Kara laughed.

“No. I don’t think I’d actually want to elope,” Kara said, looking around for her pair of slippers and spotting them peeking out from underneath the armchair that she hadn’t moved.

“Sometimes I’ve allowed myself to dream about what my wedding might be like,” Lena said, so quietly that Kara stopped by the end of the bed and looked over at her. Lena had a wistful expression on her face, and she gazed at Kara for a moment before she let her eyes wander around the room. “I always imagined a really small wedding, hardly any people. In the woods somewhere, surrounded by wildflowers on a summer evening, the sun’s light a deep gold as it falls through the trees. Not one of these sculpted woodlands; one that’s really wild, like… like you can almost feel the myths and legends all around you. Somewhere as magical as I imagine true love must feel…” Lena trailed off.

Kara found herself lost in the imagery of what Lena had said, easily able to picture the kind of landscape that Lena described. She could see Lena in a simple dress, not white; maybe a deep burgundy, her hair wavy with blue flowers threaded through it. Kara could see Lena and her beautiful soft smile that brought out her dimples, standing in the forest with the sunlight making her glow. She could imagine how it would feel to pull Lena against her, to gently tip her chin up and-

“That… that sounds absolutely beautiful, Lena,” she said, her voice sounding heavy with an emotion she couldn’t pinpoint. Lena’s eyes met hers, and they were so tender that Kara couldn’t help but smile at her, wanting, at that moment, to be close to her, to touch her.

Leaving her pajamas on the sofa, Kara slowly rounded the bed and picked up Lena’s hand, holding it with both of hers. She could feel Lena shaking slightly. “It sounds utterly perfect,” she said, her voice low and thick. Without giving herself time to second-guess what she was doing, Kara leaned forward and kissed Lena’s forehead. “And I hope that I get to be there,” she said, standing back up straight and feeling a dull pang of jealousy towards whichever woman would be lucky enough to stand next to Lena that day.

Lena smiled up at her, although it didn’t quite reach her eyes, the expression in them slightly sad. Kara wondered briefly where the sadness came from, before it was cleared away and Lena spoke again. “Go and shower, darling. You smell like the sea,” she murmured softly, but it was enough to break the moment between them.

Kara chuckled, and it sounded nervous even to her own ears. “Alright.” She let go of Lena’s hand and picked up her pajamas again.

When she closed the bathroom door behind her, she did the most cliché thing she could imagine – she leaned against the door, trying to breathe deeply, her eyes unfocused. Shedding her clothes and tying her hair up, Kara waited for the water to be the right temperature before she climbed under the stream.

Blowing out a frustrated breath, Kara scrubbed at her body vigorously with the soap sponge. The moment back in the bedroom with Lena hadn’t even been charged. It was just… Kara couldn’t think of a word for it. If they had been a real couple, she would’ve climbed into bed with Lena and wrapped her arms around her; perhaps they would talk about their future wedding, giggle over ridiculous little details, discuss who to invite. It would be so easy for her to have dealt with that moment if they were real.

But because they weren’t, Kara didn’t know what to do with herself, or what to do with Lena. They were comfortable enough with each other now that they often touched each other in passing, or on purpose, even when they weren’t putting on a show for people. A run of a hand across their shoulders, a gentle touch to the back of a hand. And while she was happy that they had that level of friendly comfort, it just made her thoughts about Lena all the more confusing.

Kara showered quickly, her thoughts a bit of a jumble. It had been a long day, and she was feeling tired. It wasn’t even very late, but she was pretty sure that if she lay down, she’d fall asleep very quickly. Just in case that happened, when she was finished with her shower and in her pajamas, she brushed her teeth.

She was somewhat nervous about opening the door again, but she needn’t have worried. Whatever mood had been in the room before her shower had gone, and Lena was propped up in bed, reading glasses on, and seemingly thoroughly absorbed in her book.

“How was your shower?” Lena asked when Kara came back in.

“Relaxing,” Kara replied, although privately she thought that tomorrow, a long bath might be in order. Crouching down by Lena’s side of the bed, she dragged out the sheets she’d balled up and thrown under there that morning. Standing back up, she narrowed her eyes at them and brushed at some of the dust they’d picked up.

She was just tucking in the sheet under the corners of the sofa cushions when she heard Lena quietly clear her throat pointedly in order to get her attention. She glanced over at her, and Lena was now sitting up straight with her arms folded across her chest, her book abandoned by her side.

“What is it?” she asked, flicking the blanket and settling it over the sofa.

“I was just thinking that this morning was, ah, a close one.”

Kara stood up, her back now as straight as Lena’s. “Yes, that’s true,” she replied, wondering where Lena was going with this.

“So I thought that we should probably avoid that situation in future,” Lena continued, tapping some of her fingers where they rested against her upper arm.

Oh. “You want me to sleep in the bed with you?” Kara asked, putting two and two together.

“The bed’s certainly big enough for both of us, don’t you think? I don’t bite, unless…” and she raised her eyebrow, a slow, easy smile on her face.

Kara felt her mouth drop open a little and she gaped at Lena, causing her to break out into giggles.

“Oh just climb in, Kara,” Lena said, her smile wider now, amusement coloring her tone as she leaned over and threw back the covers on the other side of the bed. Kara yanked the sheet and blanket back off the sofa and bundled them under the bed again, before standing at the side of the bed, hesitating.

“Are you sure?”

Lena patted the bed suggestively before she started laughing again. “I’m sure. Just get in.”

Kara clambered ungracefully into the bed, pulling the covers up to her chin and leaving her glasses on the nightstand. Lena picked up her book again, opening it back up to where she’d left off.

“At least this way, even if someone does come in and catch us unawares, at least we won’t have to explain why you’re sleeping on the sofa and I’ve got this big bed all to myself,” Lena said, snuggling back down into bed and pushing her glasses further up her nose.

Before long, they were both reading their books, the silence between them companionable. Occasionally, one of them would laugh at something, or shift in the bed. Twice, Kara stretched and accidentally touched Lena’s foot with her own before drawing her legs up apologetically, even though both times, Lena said she didn’t mind.

Kara spent almost as much time not reading as reading. Lying in bed with Lena was distracting, even though she wasn’t doing anything except turning pages in her book. Lena’s quiet presence next to her was calming at the same time as it made her heart race. Kara wanted to move closer, but at the same time, now that they were in bed together, she was too shy to touch her even accidentally. She wanted to talk to her, but she was also enjoying the comfortable silence between them.

Her mind turned in circles, and eventually she forced herself to keep her attention on her book and Harry’s adventures at Hogwarts, rather than on the sleepy woman next to her.

Lena had been dozing off every now and again, her head drooping down before she sharply looked up again, and more than once Kara thought she heard a faint little snore coming from Lena’s side of the bed. She laughed to herself under her breath, and when Lena dozed off for so long that she dropped her book, Kara prodded her awake.

“Lena? Hey, you’re sleeping.”

Lena startled awake, and Kara clapped a hand over her mouth to keep herself from laughing out loud.

“Hmmm? ‘M not sleeping,” Lena mumbled, feeling around for her book and frowning blearily at it when she saw it was closed with the bookmark beside it instead of inside it.

“You are, it’s okay. I’m tired too. Do you want to go to sleep?”

Lena yawned, her whole body shuddering slightly afterward. “Mhmm. S’good idea.”

Kara leaned over and picked up the remote, closing the blinds three-quarters of the way down. Lena took her reading glasses off and clicked off her lamp while Kara did the same. They were plunged into near darkness, moonlight shining on the floor where it crept under the blinds and chasing away the shadows.

Beside her, Lena stretched luxuriously, childlike, like a starfish. Her foot touched Kara’s, and her hand landed on the bare skin of Kara’s upper arm. But unlike Kara, she didn’t shy away. When she finished stretching, she kept her hand on Kara, turning to face her in the darkness.

“I don’t think I’ve mentioned, yet, how much I love the peace here,” Lena confided, her tired voice muffled somewhat by the pillows. Her fingertips moved slowly across Kara’s skin, causing goosebumps to erupt in the wake of her gentle touch. “It reminds me of being in my cabin. I don’t get up there enough but one of my favorite things is to… hear the silence. And,” she said, a little more hesitantly, “thank you again for today, and for taking care of me on the boat. I really… I appreciate it. It’s been a long time since someone cared for me the way you do.”

Kara reached up to cover Lena’s hand with her own. “You’re welcome, Lena,” she replied. “I’m sorry that you got knocked out of the boat obviously, I’m really sorry about that, but I’m glad that I was able to help you.”

Lena shifted closer, letting go of Kara’s arm. The disappointment of the sudden lack of contact was more than made up for a moment later though, when she felt Lena come closer still. Kara felt her warmth even though they were no longer touching. Then she felt Lena’s hand blindly feeling for the far side of her face, exerting a gentle pressure so that they were facing each other. The next thing she knew, Lena leaned over and pressed a lingering kiss to the corner of her mouth, just as she’d done the night they arrived.

Lena’s hand was moving slowly across her face, her thumb brushing over her cheekbone. Kara felt her breath hitch, and she was sure that Lena could hear her pounding heart in the still darkness of the bedroom. Lena’s lips were so warm, so soft, on her face, and at that moment Kara wanted nothing more than to turn her head slightly and capture those lips with her own.

When Lena pulled away, she didn’t move far. Kara could still feel her breath on her skin, and Lena’s hand was still in her hair, gently scratching at her scalp. Kara was almost overwhelmed by the closeness of her, by her instinctual desire to close the distance between them.

It was as if the moment on the boat had flipped a switch between them. Any barriers that still existed seemed to have been shattered. There, enclosed and emboldened by the forgiving darkness, they both seemed to be waiting for something to happen, but were instead frozen in indecision.

It was as if the very night itself held its breath in anticipation.

Lena pressed her forehead to Kara’s, and Kara felt the hand in her hair still.

“Thank you,” Lena whispered, and all of a sudden, she was gone, back on her side of the bed. Kara felt Lena bury herself under the blankets, the bed shifting as she made herself comfortable.

Kara’s breathing was labored, and she tried to get it under control as quietly as she could. Her hands itched to hold Lena, but she settled for curling up, facing in Lena’s direction, and squeezing her eyes shut tightly.

Haunted by what she was certain was an almost-kiss, Kara took a while to fall asleep, but eventually, she fell into a deep and dreamless slumber.

Had she only been more familiar with how it sounded, Kara would have known that the absence of deep breathing from Lena’s side of the bed meant that she was not the only one who had been lying awake.

Chapter Text

Sometime in the middle of the night, Kara woke up. Groggily, she opened her eyes and wondered why she was awake. Nothing in particular seemed to have woken her up, no bright lights, leg cramps, or anything else untoward. Groping for her phone, she winced when the bright screen shone in her eyes. It was 4:47am, and Kara shoved her phone back onto the nightstand. She settled back down against her pillow and turned over to face-

Lena.

Lena was fast asleep, only inches from her face, breathing softly into Kara’s pillow. Somehow, she’d rolled over in the bed, bringing most of the blankets towards Kara. One of her hands was underneath the pillow, and Kara belatedly realized that she was almost on the edge of the bed. One more movement would probably send her to falling to the floor in a heap.

Kara lay there and blearily considered what to do. She could push Lena back onto her own side of the bed, but she might wake up and wonder what was happening. She could fall noisily out of bed, which would wake Lena up, and she would just move back to her side on her own. Climbing out of bed and sleeping on the sofa was a possibility, but that would negate the whole reason they were sleeping in the bed together in the first place. She lay there, paralyzed with indecision.

Next to her, Lena snuffled in her sleep, stretched a little, and inched closer to Kara. Kara absolutely did not mind being this close to Lena, but there were only two outcomes for this. One, Kara fell out of bed, which she definitely didn’t want to do. Or two, Lena slept on top of her. Even in her half-asleep state, Kara’s heart leapt at the thought. But, if that was going to happen, she’d prefer it if they’d led up to that, awake. She’d like it if she opened her arms and Lena snuggled into her, found the perfect comfy place on her chest, and they’d fallen asleep tangled together.

Finally, it clicked in her mind. If Lena was on her side of the bed, then she could sleep on Lena’s. Slowly, trying not to jerk the blankets and wake Lena, Kara started to swing her legs out of bed, but either Lena was a really light sleeper, or the movement was too sudden, because the next thing she knew, Lena was awake.

“Kara?” she mumbled, her voice heavy with sleep. “What, uh- what’s happening?” She pulled her hand out from under Kara’s pillow and punctuated her words with a crashing yawn.

“Nothing,” Kara whispered, startling slightly when Lena raised herself up suddenly.

“What ‘m I doing over here?” she asked.

Kara chucked under her breath. “I don’t know. But you’re about to push me out of bed.”

“God, sorry,” Lena said, sounding much more awake and shifting herself backwards and making room for Kara again. “Not sure how, um, how that happened,” she added. She reached for Kara with one hand, sleepy fingers pulling gently at her shirt. “Come back over here.”

Kara moved back towards the middle of the bed, careful not to crush Lena’s hand as she did so. Once she was no longer in danger of falling off, she settled back against the mattress, flat on her back. Beside her, Lena was partially sitting up and rearranging the blankets, which she’d somehow managed to keep mostly to herself in another impression of a Lena-burrito.

Kara sat up again and shuffled closer to her so that it would be easier to help Lena put the blankets back. When they were back to normal, Kara flopped back down, closely followed by Lena. She lay on her back, listening to Lena making herself comfortable again. Finally, Lena turned over to face Kara, moving closer until her knees curled up and gently touched Kara’s thighs.

“Goodnight,” came Lena’s soft voice in the dark.

Kara turned over to face her too. “’night, Lena.”

It took Kara no time at all to fall asleep.

 

* * * * *

 

When Kara woke up in the morning, the sunlight was streaming past the edges of the blinds and lighting the room a pleasant orange. Stretching her hand out into Lena’s side, she found it was cold, and she was alone in the bed. She was oddly disappointed. There was a part of her that wanted to wake up next to the beautiful woman who’d come to mean more to her than she’d ever expected.

Putting her glasses on, she picked up her phone to see the time, only to find out that the battery was dead. Groaning, she remembered that she hadn’t plugged it in before they’d gone to bed.

Oh well. It wasn’t like they were going to get up to much today anyway, so she didn’t need to rush out of bed for anything. They had no specific plans. Eliza and Alex would be working, she and Lena would have the run of the place. Kara linked her fingers behind her head and lay back, smiling at the possibilities ahead of them. They could go and have a walk, she could show Lena the island, show her the treehouse. Today was Tuesday, and they needed to prepare a few things for the family party they’d be having on Thursday, the anniversary of Kara’s adoption into the Danvers family. They could go shopping tomorrow morning, maybe, if Lena would be alright going in the boat again so soon.

The events of the day before rolled through her mind. It really had seemed that she and Lena had turned a corner, or that Lena’s incident yesterday had opened the floodgates a little. It wasn’t the first time that Lena had volunteered personal information about herself; in fact, Lena was very open with her now. The only time Kara had pushed a little was when she’d tried to get Lena to swim, and it hadn’t gone well. Lena’s reluctance to admit why she couldn’t swim just made her admittance on the boat even more poignant. The death of her biological mother was deeply personal and had clearly left tremendous scars, and Kara doubted that anyone, except possibly Sam, knew of the fact at all.

While she understood, of course, that she and Lena had to get to know each other for the Immigration interview, and that she would need to know details such as those, the fact was that Lena’s walls appeared to have completely broken down yesterday. There was no awkwardness between them at all now, and even when Lena made a suggestive comment here and there, it wasn’t awkward so much as it was…

Well, Kara knew exactly what she and her body thought of Lena’s flirtatiousness.

Kara was sure that the moment between them in bed last night had been an almost-kiss. But… Lena might be a bit of a flirt, but she hadn’t exhibited any interest in Kara, had she?

She was probably just reading far too much into things. Although, when she thought about it, it wasn’t as if Lena was overly shy. She threw out her suggestive comments and delighted in how flustered they made Kara. When they’d bumped into each other, when Lena had been naked, she hadn’t seemed angry or embarrassed as much as she was taken off guard. Lena certainly hadn’t minded Kara coming into the bathroom while she’d been naked in the bath. Sure, at the beginning she might’ve been a little hesitant whenever they touched each other; Kara thought that might have been simply because she and Kara didn’t know each other well, because she detected no hesitation on Lena’s part whenever Lena ran her hand across Kara’s shoulders now. Or when her fingers ran over Kara’s hand. In fact, when they’d woken up in the night, hadn’t Lena moved closer to Kara until they were touching?

Still thinking deeply, Kara swung her legs out of bed and pressed the button on the remote to open the blinds, then picked up her phone and plugged it in to charge. She went to the bathroom, brushed her teeth, and put a little moisturizer on her face. Her skin was no longer used to the constant salty air, and she wanted to stave off any dryness.

Kara was just stretching back in the bedroom in front of the windows, taking in the sun sparkling on the sea, when there was a knock at the door.

The only people in the house at the moment were herself and Lena. Why would Lena be knocking? “Hello?” she called.

The door opened infinitesimally, and Lena’s voice floated through. “Are you decent?”

“Yeah,” Kara returned with a laugh.

Lena came through the door, dressed in a pair of Kara’s sweatpants (where had she got those?) and her normal X-Files sleep shirt. Her cheeks were slightly pink, and she was holding one hand behind her back. “Good morning, Kara,” she said warmly, although Kara detected a hint of nerves. Why was she nervous?

“Good morning,” Kara replied, giving her a wide smile. Lena’s own smile brightened in response and she shuffled further into the room. Her hair was still sleep-tousled, she hadn’t bothered with any makeup yet, and she had a pair of lime green fuzzy socks on her feet that were so luminous they were practically radioactive.

Kara thought she looked entirely adorable. There was just something about seeing Lena so relaxed that made her want to sigh. There was that longing feeling again, like an insistent pull behind her ribcage. It wasn’t that Kara didn’t find Lena beautiful in her expensive clothes and her fuck-me heels, as Nia sometimes called them, but something about Lena being willing to be seen wearing pajamas and sweatpants seemed somehow far more intimate.

Lena came closer to her, still with her hand behind her back.

“What have you got there?” Kara asked, her own hands on her hips and her head tilted to one side in question.

The pink on Lena’s cheeks deepened into a blushing red, and from out behind her back she pulled a small bunch of colorful wildflowers. She looked down at them for a moment, brushing her free fingers over the tops of some of the flowers, before she presented them to Kara with minimal flourish. “I picked these for you this morning,” she said, the nerves clearer now, even though her voice was steady.

Kara reached out and carefully took them from Lena, their fingers brushing beneath the petals. With one hand she held the flowers close to her, breathing in their gentle fragrance, and with the other she took Lena’s hand, slotting their fingers together. She felt colour rise in her own cheeks as she took in how shy Lena looked in front of her, and at the thoughtfulness of the gesture.

“I wanted to say thank you again, for yesterday,” Lena said, looking down at their joined hands and then back up at Kara, her green eyes shining. “Not just for looking after me, but for the pub, too. I know that I had a bit of a freakout afterwards, but it’s been a long time since I got to just hang out like that, and I really enjoyed myself. It was nice to hang out with you, and your friends, and play games. I had a great time, Kara. I’d- I’d like it, if we could do it again, sometime.”

“Yeah?” Kara asked eagerly. “You’re welcome, of course, and I had a great time too. And- do you mean it? We can go again before we leave here, if you like?” Lena nodded, and Kara wanted to trace her dimples with her fingertips. “There’s a brilliant bar I know of in New York that we could go to. It’s got these old pinball machines and arcade games. And there are a lot of cool pubs we can go to. Alex is hoping to join the NYPD so she’ll be moving to New York, hopefully. Do you think Sam would like to come too? And Ruby too, if we go in the daytime?”

“I’d love that, and so would they,” Lena confirmed. She glanced down at the flowers. “I didn’t want to poke around for a vase without you,” she admitted. “Come help me find one?”

“Sure,” Kara said, pushing her feet into her slippers. “But you can look in any cupboard you like, if you need something,” she added.

“Are you sure?” Lena asked as they made their way to the kitchen.

“Yup,” Kara replied. “No worries at all. Just help yourself to whatever.”

In the kitchen, Lena had set herself up for what seemed like a bit of studying. The Immigration folder was open on the table, and she had a pad of paper with notes on it. Her laptop was half-closed, but the screen light was still on, indicating that she was in fact using that too. There was a little bit of cooking mess around; chopping boards, bowls, and a frying pan littered the surfaces. There was half a mug of hot chocolate on the table next to it, and in the sink, Eliza’s coffee mug from that morning.

“Did you see Eliza before she went to work? I’ve no idea what time you got up,” Kara said, yawning widely and heading over to the fridge to get some milk for her own drink.

“I’ve been up for a few hours,” Lena admitted, watching as Kara bustled around the kitchen. “I woke up at around seven. I didn’t want to wake you so I came downstairs and talked to Eliza for a few minutes before she left for work. She said to tell you that we need to go shopping, and left a list over there.” Lena pointed to the countertop, and Kara could see Eliza’s untidy doctor’s scrawl all over it.

“That’ll be for the party on Thursday,” Kara said, stretching up to open the cupboard over the fridge where they kept the vases. She reached the hand with the flowers in it, measuring them against each of the vases, before she pulled down the one she thought they’d fit in the best. Lena helped her to fill it halfway up with water, and they put it on the table, Kara arranging the flowers carefully in the vase. Opening the soda cupboard, Kara took a tiny can of lemonade out and poured the drink into the water as well, knowing that lemonade helped cut flowers to last longer.

She wanted these flowers to last as long as they could, because Lena had picked them for her, and the very thought made her feel fuzzy with warmth.

“So this party… it’s to celebrate your being adopted by the Danvers, right?” Lena asked when Kara sat down with her own hot chocolate, moving her folder out of the way so that Kara could put her drink down.

“Yeah. It’ll be fifteen years this Thursday since I was adopted,” Kara replied.

Lena made a note on the pad in front of her, and then her hand stilled, the ink from the fountain pen seeping into the paper. “Kara.”

“Yes? Lena, your pen-”

Lena’s voice was very carefully steady. “Are you telling me that I nearly made you miss your fifteenth anniversary of joining your family?”

Well, there was no answer to that other than the truth, Kara thought. “Yes, but we’re here. Lena,” she gently admonished when Lena frowned, “we’re here. And it’s going to be even better than I thought because you’re here too, okay?”

“But-”

“Nope,” Kara said, holding her hand up with a smile, before leaning forward and lifting Lena’s hand with the pen from the paper. “We’re here, and okay, before this week I didn’t think I’d have such a great time here with you, considering we’d never had a personal conversation until Friday, but Lena, I’m glad you’re here. I want you here.” Kara put her hand palm-up on the table between them, and was thrilled when Lena put her hand in hers. Kara slid her palm against Lena’s, before holding their hands up as if they were shaking them. “And I don’t want to hear another word about it, okay?”

Lena gave her the soft smile she loved so much. “Okay, darling.”

And just like that, Kara’s heart was racing again. The look in Lena’s eyes was fond, and there wasn’t anyone around to act like a couple for which meant… that Lena had meant to call her that.

“Oh, and I’m sorry for nearly pushing you out of the bed in the middle of the night,” Lena said, a slow smile spreading across her face.

“That’s alright,” Kara replied, taking a sip of her drink. Lena stood up and moved over to the stove, pouring oil into the pan and turning the heat up.

“Pushing you out of bed would be the last thing I’d want to do,” Lena said behind her, her voice husky, and Kara spun around just in time to see Lena flashing her a devilish smile with her eyebrow raised before turning back to the stove, moving the oil around with a spatula.

“You really are trying to kill me,” Kara grumbled good-naturedly into her mug, and she was rewarded with Lena chuckling, low in her throat. A shiver skittered down Kara’s spine at the sound of it. “You love teasing me.”

“Who said I was teasing?”

Kara groaned. “You are the worst.”

“I guess you’ll just have to find out for yourself,” Lena said with a playful shrug of her shoulder, before carefully using a spatula to place something in the frying pan. The oil in it was now sizzling, and Kara watched as Lena placed more of the white-ish patties into the pan, pressing them down and listening carefully as they hissed.

“What are you making?” Kara asked curiously, standing up and peering over Lena’s shoulder.

“Hash browns,” Lena replied, putting the spatula in a spoon holder and moving across to the fridge, taking out some eggs. Bending over, she pulled a tray out of the oven, which Kara hadn’t even realized was on, and checked the smoked bacon she had evidently been cooking.

Kara’s mouth immediately watered as the smell of the nearly cooked bacon filled the air.

“Sit yourself back down,” Lena commanded, using her stern voice from the office, and in the kitchen in Midvale, dressed in their pajamas, the effect was decidedly different than it was at CatCo. All the moisture in Kara’s body seemed to center in one particular place. Lena punctuated her words with a wink, as if she knew exactly how Kara had reacted, and Kara sat down without argument.

While Kara was, on the one hand, squirming in her seat, the silence between the two of them while Lena cooked them both breakfast was comfortable. Neither of them felt the need to fill it. Kara pulled Lena’s notes towards her, as well as the Immigration folder, and looked through the questions. Over the past few days, they’d learned quite a lot about each other. The question was, whether they’d be able to remember all of it come Monday morning for their interview. The notes Lena had made this morning in her elegant hand were copies of the ones she’d made the day they’d painted; Kara guessed that rewriting them helped Lena remember.

“Shall we do some more of these questions today?” she asked, just as Lena was plating the hash browns.

“Yeah,” Lena replied, cracking four eggs into the pan. She reached down and pulled the bacon out of the oven, adding several slices to each plate, before putting the pan in the sink for the moment. She turned her attention back to the eggs. “How do you like your eggs?” she asked, looking over her shoulder at Kara.

“Sunnyside up,” Kara said.

“Great,” Lena replied, gazing down into the pan. “Because I seem to have made an egg pizza and I don’t think I could flip the whole thing.”

“You’ve made- what?” Kara said, standing up and looking into the pan. Lena was right – all four eggs had fused together into one giant fried egg with… five yolks. “I thought you’d only cracked four?” Kara asked, confused.

“One had a double yolk,” Lena said with a smile, poking the side of the egg pizza to make sure it wasn’t sticking to the pan.

“Isn’t that supposed to be good luck?”

“Well. I am Irish, so I am,” Lena said in an Irish accent, and Kara barked out a laugh.

Lena judged the egg pizza to be cooked, and Kara passed her a large plate. Lena carefully coaxed it out of the pan and onto the plate and Kara cleared away the things from the table so that she could put everything down.

Lena giggled to herself while she cut a slice of the egg pizza, sliding it onto her plate without breaking the yolk. “I’ve never done this before,” she said. “There’s something for the Immigration folder.”

“What’s that?” Kara asked, attempting to get her own slice of egg onto the plate and succeeding with only a minor injury to the yolk. She ground rock salt all over her eggs and the hash browns while Lena looked on, her expression caught somewhere between tenderness and horror. “What? I like salt on my hash browns.”

Lena shook her head fondly. “I’ve never cooked breakfast for someone I’m engaged to,” she said.

“I’ve never eaten breakfast cooked by someone I’m engaged to, so we’re even there,” Kara said, taking a bite of her hash browns and moaning around the taste. They were perfectly cooked. Lena flushed an adorable pink at the praise, and tried some herself, nodding when she judged them to be good.

Her fiancée was a blushing Lena Luthor, who had just cooked her breakfast. Kara smiled as the thought wandered through her mind. And then-

“Oh!” Kara said suddenly, and loudly, causing Lena to drop the piece of egg on her fork.

Kara!

Kara pointed her fork at Lena accusingly. “You know what. You never proposed to me.”

Lena snorted. “Did you want me to?”

Kara put her cutlery down and crossed her arms over her chest in mock-annoyance. “Well. We’re engaged, aren’t we? And we have a ring?”

Lena hummed in agreement, cutting herself some more hash brown and spreading yolk on the top of it.

“And we have a proposal story, swamp witch.”

Lena looked up at Kara through her eyelashes, and rolled her eyes affectionately.

“But the one thing I don’t have is a memory of you on one knee, with this ring in your hand,” Kara waggled the fingers of her left hand across the table, “asking me to, pretty please, marry you.”

Lena laughed then, a breathy sound that made Kara’s heart swoop. “Well. If it’s a memory you need, give me the ring.” Kara slid it off her finger and passed it over to Lena, who looked at it fondly before putting it in her pocket. “I’ll ask you to marry me some time today,” she said, looking over at Kara with a small smile.

Kara laughed as well, and marveled at the easy company that Lena really was. On the one hand she was sad that more people didn’t know this Lena, the relaxed, playful Lena that was a genuine joy to be around. But on the other hand, if they had, maybe they wouldn’t have ended up in this situation, and she wouldn’t have been able to get to know her like this. That would be a huge shame, and Kara determined to just enjoy being able to know Lena.

Their situation hadn’t changed at all; in fact, they had even less time to get to know each other, but the early hostility between them had vanished, and now it was just… easy. Kara could tell that Lena’s sharp mind was absorbing everything that she told her about herself. Kara found that she was so fascinated by Lena in turn that the things that she told her went into her head and stayed there, as if Lena were suddenly the most fascinating subject at school.

Kara’s eyes landed on the flowers that Lena had picked for her that morning, and her heart softened even more. Kara couldn’t remember the last time that anyone had gone out and specifically picked flowers for her that she thought she’d like. Lena was really rather sweet in her soul, and gentle in her manner.

They finished their breakfast, and Kara loaded the dishwasher with their plates and all the cooking utensils, while Lena went upstairs to get dressed. Since she was downstairs, she went into the laundry room and hung up Lena’s clothes from yesterday, carefully spreading the scarf over the largest clothes horse so as not to get any bumps in it. Next, she turned her attention to Lena’s phone. Lena had been right yesterday; the prolonged period in the sea wouldn’t have done it any good. Most phones could survive a quick dunking if you stuck them straight in rice, but Lena had been in the water for probably close to a minute and a half.

It was lucky that they’d airdropped each other their photos that morning, otherwise the really nice ones that Lena had taken would’ve been lost forever. Kara knew for a fact that Lena didn’t use any cloud storage, knowing the likelihood of someone attempting to hack her accounts was very high. Knowing Lena, of course, they would find it next to impossible, but they would no doubt keep trying, and eventually someone might have found a way in. The fact that Lena’s phone was damaged beyond repair, though, could actually be spun in their favor, and Kara bounded upstairs to tell Lena what she’d thought of.

Before she went into the bedroom, she knocked on the door; at Lena’s call, she turned the handle and went in. Lena was sitting in the armchair that Kara had pulled over to the balcony the day before, except that she’d moved it around so that it faced the stormy painting. She was admiring it once more, but when Kara came in, Lena stood up and smiled warmly at her instead.

“Hey,” Kara said, walking over to her. “I just thought of something. You know how your phone got a dunking yesterday?”

“Yeah?” Lena said, her gaze dropping to her ruined phone when Kara waved it about in front of her.

“Well, you know for the Immigration interview? When they ask why we don’t have that many photos of ourselves, we could just say that a lot of them were stored on your phone, because your security was sky-high. And also because you have no social media accounts you would accidentally post photos to, whereas I do. And then, your phone went into the sea. Are you particularly attached to this?”

“Not really,” Lena said, eyeing it and shrugging. “It’s just a phone. I didn’t have a lot stored on it, other than work contacts and things like that, all of which are stored in my work email account anyway.”

“Not even Tetris?” Kara asked incredulously.

“Nope.”

Kara nodded. “Okay, so the next time we go to town, which will probably be tomorrow, do you mind if I throw this into the sea? That way, if they ask where your phone is and why we have no prior photos, we can just say it’s in the sea, and it will actually be there, so it won’t be a lie. And it’s dead anyway.”

Lena shrugged again, but she was smiling. “I can’t say I’m thrilled about the littering, but… oh, could we smash it to bits instead? Do you have a hammer? It could be quite therapeutic,” she said, laughter in her voice. “I can’t work right now anyway. I’ll send an email to Sam to let her know what happened to it, but like I said yesterday, at least I won’t get any more calls from my mother.”

“Fantastic,” Kara said, tossing the useless phone onto the bed, and rocking back and forth on her heels. “Thank you for breakfast, by the way.”

Lena’s smile widened with pleasure and her eyes sparkled. “You’re very welcome! I don’t often have the opportunity to cook for people, so it was lovely for me too.”

Kara smiled and held her hand out. Lena took it without hesitation, and they stood there by the balcony doors, happy just to be near each other. “I know you can cook,” Kara said, breaking the silence between them, “but do you cook regularly?”

“I do actually,” Lena replied, examining Kara’s hand. “You’ll have to tell me what this scar is from later,” she said, running her finger along a thin one that sat on the knuckle of Kara’s little finger. “Anyway, it’s my way of unwinding from stressful days, even when I don’t get home until after midnight and then still have to cook.”

“Lena,” Kara gently chided. “That’s not healthy.”

“I know, but if I don’t cook then, I won’t eat.”

Kara shook her head. “For the days you’re at CatCo, I’m going to order food in if you’re going to be staying late. After all, nobody would think that’s weird any more, since we’re engaged and all,” Kara said, swinging their hands a little.

Lena stepped closer to Kara and pressed a brief kiss to her cheek. “Thank you,” she said, giving her a tender look as her cheeks turned a little pink. “I look forward to our dinner dates.”

“So do I,” Kara replied. “Right. I have to get dressed,” she said, looking around the room, and then at Lena. She was wearing dark jeans as usual, and today’s geeky science shirt was a deep green that complimented her eyes, and showed a broken electrical circuit with the words you shall not pass written underneath. “I love the Lord of the Rings reference there,” Kara said, pointing at it with her free hand.

Lena looked down at it and grinned. “Ruby got this for me. She was so pleased when she found it. I’m really glad that this wasn’t the one that got soaked in sea water!”

Kara laughed. “I should really get some geeky shirts to wear as well. I’m sure there are some terrible word pun ones that I could get.”

“I think look great whatever you wear,” Lena said, and then stopped short, her eyes widening ever so slightly. She’d surprised even herself with her admission if the deepening color in her cheeks was anything to go by. “I’m sure that’s why you have so many people putting their names down for months in advance for a date with you.”

Kara rolled her eyes and smiled at her, and then she came to a sudden conclusion as if a light bulb had been turned on above her head.

Lena covers her nervousness with flirting.

How many of Lena’s other suggestive comments had been a cover? And for what, exactly?

Kara thought that she’d give her an out, since it was maybe something they’d need to talk about, but not right now, since Lena seemed to be a little uncomfortable. She knew she was going to think about that when she had a moment, though. “Well. You’d better put your name down quickly then if you want to ask me to marry you before someone else does it first.”

Lena gave her a tight smile that didn’t reach her eyes, but after a few seconds, it relaxed as her attempt at levity worked. “I have the ring right here in my pocket.”

Kara let go of Lena’s hand and made her way over to the closet, looking over her shoulder at Lena. “I’ve never been proposed to before, swamp witch. You’d better make it good.”

“It’ll be as heartfelt as you deserve,” Lena said quietly. She was still smiling at Kara, but it was softer now, and there was clear affection in her eyes.

Kara felt color rise on her own cheeks as she felt heat bloom within her, and she turned back to the wardrobe. She wasn’t sure what to say to Lena in response, so she said nothing, but her heart was thundering in her chest. With slightly shaking hands, she pulled out some grey jeans, a black tank top, and another deep blue plaid shirt. With a quick glance at Lena, who was leaning her hip on the armchair and watching her, she disappeared into the bathroom to get dressed.

She dropped her clothes unceremoniously on the ground and shook her whole body out in a way that would look comical if anyone else had seen it. What was happening to her?

Kara knew that Lena was sweet. She’d seen evidence of it multiple times now, and again the thought crossed her mind that other people were missing out by not knowing Lena as she did. But thinking that was one thing. Actually picturing Lena bringing someone else flowers sent a hot flash of jealousy through her body.

She didn’t want Lena to bring anyone else flowers.

She didn’t want Lena to cook anyone else breakfast.

She didn’t want Lena to make those flirty comments to anyone but her.

Fuck.

Well, shit. She was jealous of a theoretical person in Lena’s life.

Before she could think about it any longer, she mentally slapped herself out of it, hurriedly putting on a little mascara, and dressing herself. It looked to be another warm day, the last one before the weather was going to take a turn, actually. Maybe they’d better go to town today rather than the next day, because if Lena didn’t like being on water, she certainly wasn’t going to like being on it in a storm. She could, of course, stay in the house, but Kara had a funny feeling that Lena would prefer to go with her.

Glancing at the bathroom door, knowing that opening it would mean going back out and seeing Lena again, excitement buzzed through her like electricity. Kara turned back to the mirror and found that she was smiling so widely at the thought of seeing Lena, of spending a nice, quiet day with her, that she was almost laughing.

This has absolutely, definitely, and categorically moved beyond a simple crush.

Kara put her hands on the sides of the sink and forced herself to breathe deeply. In, hold, and out. In, hold, and out. She wasn’t panicking, but she did feel a little hyped, and she needed to calm down a little. When she had better control of herself, or thought she had, she blew out a breath, rolled up her sleeves, and went back into the bedroom.

Lena was sprawled in the armchair, her legs over one of the arms, reading Gone With the Wind. She was bouncing one of her feet as if tapping out a tune in her head. When she spotted Kara, she waggled her fingers at her in a little wave, and put the book down in her lap.

“You were ages,” she said with a raise of her eyebrow. “Everything okay?”

“Y-yeah, everything’s fine. I just got, um, mascara in my eye,” Kara lied.

“Ouch,” Lena replied, concern in her voice, before standing up and walking over. “Do you need me to have a look, see if you got it all out?”

“Oh no, no, I think I got it all, thanks though,” Kara said hastily. She really wasn’t sure if she could handle Lena looking deep into her eyes so soon after realizing that she like liked her.

Lena tilted her head to one side and put her hands on her hips, giving Kara a deep, considered look. “Are you sure you’re alright?”

“I’m fine,” Kara said. I’m fine. I can do this. “There’s going to be a storm tomorrow. I was wondering if you wanted to go and have a quick walk, I’ll show you around the island a little? I’ll take you to the treehouse afterwards. And then, if you wanted, instead of going tomorrow into town to get food for the get-together, we could go today? I don’t mind going tomorrow, I’m kind of used to going out in pre-storm choppy conditions, but it will be rough and I thought with you and the boat-”

Lena’s eyes went soft. “Thank you for your concern,” she said, lifting her hand and placing it on Kara’s forearm. Her hand was warm on Kara’s skin, and it sent tingles up and down her arm when Lena moved to cup her elbow. “I’d love to go for a walk with you. Let’s take a blanket and the folders to the treehouse, and we can go through a few questions there?”

“And go into town this evening and do some food shopping?” Kara asked. “We can smash your phone to bits when we get back. See who does the most damage.”

Lena’s eyes crinkled in mirth and her hand moved up and over Kara’s shirt to rest on her bicep. “We’ll see if your arm is as strong as it looks,” she said, looking at her appraisingly even though Kara’s shirt hid what she knew were her toned arms. Kara gulped.

“Okay,” she squeaked, cursing herself a little for the way her voice sounded. Lena, however, seemed to find it cute rather than something to curse; her lips curved up in an amused smile as she gave Kara’s arm a squeeze before she stepped away.

Lena’s folder was already downstairs, so Kara picked hers up. She also unplugged her phone, slipping it into her pocket; they’d definitely need to take some more photos today. Lena grabbed her cloth bag and back down in the kitchen, they filled it with snacks. They grabbed drinks from the cupboard, a can of Pringles, and a bar of dark chocolate that Lena had brought and left in the fridge.

Kara rooted around in the cupboard under the stairs until she found the largest picnic blanket that they had, and put it on the kitchen table. She also pulled out the box of outdoor cushions, so that she could put them in the treehouse, and put a long feather duster on top of it. While Lena fetched an extra pen from her bag upstairs, which she’d forgotten, Kara picked up her sketchpad and one of her sets of colored pencils, tucking them under her arm until they went back downstairs.

Leaving everything behind for the moment but a bottle of water each, they stepped out into the late morning sun. Kara’s phone told her it was 11:20am; she really had slept late, so the sun was high in the sky already. The air was warm, but there was a steady breeze that made her glad that she was at least wearing the plaid shirt. Lena had tied a hoodie around her waist, just in case.

They rounded the house and took the path that Kara had jogged down the other morning.

“So, when I first moved here,” Kara said, glancing over at Lena, “sometimes I’d feel overwhelmed by people, by the Danvers. I was just a teenager, struggling through my grief, and it wasn’t their fault, and I felt guilty about it afterwards, but I kind of… felt a little smothered. But being out here and walking around the island helped, even if it was too quiet. I loved the wildflowers, and the way that you could smell the sea even while you were in the woods.”

Lena reached out her hand, tangling her long fingers with Kara’s. “How long did you used to spend out here?” she asked, touching the trunk of a tree gently with her other hand as they passed it. They followed the old trail, the path laid with large old flagstones with weeds sprouting between the cracks, the sunlight dappling the ground and making some of the wildflowers appear as if they were glowing.

Kara hummed, then shrugged. “It depended on the weather, to start with. I used to bring a picnic blanket out and lie out under some of the trees. I always had a huge pile of snacks and drinks, and a book or two. Sometimes, I’d bring my sketch pad too, and draw what I saw as the seasons changed. If it was dry, even if it was cold, I’d stay out a long time and just put more layers on. It was peaceful. Even though I was close to the house, I loved staying out here. Eventually,” she added, elongating the y, “in one of the biggest trees near the edge of the woods, Jeremiah, that’s my adoptive dad… he passed away two years after I was adopted-”

“Oh Kara, I’m sorry,” Lena said, and Kara looked over at her, seeing her eyes brimming with compassion. “To have lost your parents and your home, and then Jeremiah not long afterwards? That must’ve been really hard.”

“It was,” Kara confirmed, her voice sounding wistful even to her own ears, “but… we have ways of remembering him. In the tree, he and Alex built me a treehouse, because I loved being outdoors so much. I couldn’t be out here when it was windy and wet, so they made it so that I could be out here in all weathers, should I want to be.”

“That was really nice of both of them,” Lena said, sounding a little emotional at the thought. “I remember when Lex built the one at Luthor Manor, and how loved that made me feel. I’m glad that you had them. Is this the treehouse you’re going to take me to see after the walk?”

“Sure is,” Kara replied. “We’ve actually walked past it already, but the steps are built into the back of the tree, so you wouldn’t have seen them. I’ll definitely take the duster up there before we go, though, because no doubt it’s full of spiders. I know Eliza likes to go up there sometimes, but I don’t know how often she de-spiders it.”

Lena shuddered. “Spiders.”

Kara grinned at her. “Don’t worry, I’ll save you.”

“You’d better,” Lena warned, her voice mock-authoritative, but Kara heard the teasing tone beneath it. “If I come home with spiders in my hair, I’m not going to be… happy.”

“Is there a spider version of Medusa?” Kara pondered out loud.

Lena spluttered with laughter. “No, thank goodness. Can you imagine having hair made of spiders? I suppose the closest would be Arachne, who challenged Athena to a weaving contest and won. Her reward was to be turned into a spider, to weave for all eternity.”

Kara whistled grandly. “That was some hubris. Remind me not to over-confidently challenge Botticelli to an art contest, or I’ll be turned into a paintbrush with glasses.”

Silence followed Kara’s statement, but not for long. Within moments, Lena had burst out laughing, her quiet amusement morphing into full-blown hysterics. Kara was bemused, she hadn’t thought her joke was that funny, especially since she’d delivered it in a deadpan manner, but soon enough she was laughing too. Lena leaned against a nearby tree for support, wiping tears from her face and struggling to catch her breath. Kara whipped her phone out and took several photos of her.

Lena, her usual composure completely cast aside in her uninhibited laughter, was beautiful. Kara wanted to capture the image of such joyful abandon forever.

The words for how beautiful she thought Lena was, especially like this, clogged in her throat, no matter how much she wanted to voice them. For now, it would be enough to have the photos. She’d show Lena later, maybe.

Once Lena had recovered enough to keep walking, they shyly linked hands again and continued their loop around the path. Kara shared more stories about the island; she had especially enjoyed the times she and her friends played hide and seek between the trees at night, creeping as quietly as they could, armed only with flashlights.

“I’ve never played that,” Lena said, feigning indifference, but Kara could tell that it was something that Lena knew she’d missed out on. From what Lena had told her, her upbringing had been very strict, and all academic. Definitely no room for playing games.

“What, hide and seek?!” Kara asked incredulously, as they found themselves back in front of the house. “Not even at boarding school in Ireland?”

“No,” Lena replied. “We weren’t allowed outside at night, although of course some of us did go. There just weren’t enough of us to play games. We snuck out in pairs if you- if you catch my meaning,” Lena said, looking at Kara out of the corner of her eyes.

“Ohhhhhh, I see,” Kara said, grinning widely. “And how many girls did you take on secret walks in the woods at night?”

Lena poked her in the stomach. “Not as many as you’re obviously thinking!”

“Who was your first kiss?” Kara asked as she tucked the duster under one arm and picked the box of cushions up.

“It was a girl called Joanna,” Lena replied, slinging her bag over her shoulder and picking up the folders and blanket. “It was… not great.”

Kara tutted in sympathy. “Well, I’m going to assume that it didn’t end with Joanna having a bloody nose like Kenny did.”

“A bloody nose?!

“Mhmm. We kissed and then I moved away. He leaned over and fell over a tree trunk. Hit a branch on the way down,” Kara said, leading the way across the lawn.

“I hope he wasn’t too badly hurt?”

“Nope, but Alex thought it was hysterical.”

Lena nodded. “I can see that, somehow. Oh wow, that’s the treehouse?” Lena exclaimed when Kara stopped, craning her neck upwards so she could see all of it.

“Yep,” Kara said, dropping the box on the ground.

Lena’s face was amazed as she took it in. The treehouse was actually quite large. Jeremiah had been a structural engineer, and the massive oak tree had a lot of strong, healthy branches. The treehouse was about five or six metres off the ground, and built around the trunk. Jeremiah had built it with tree growth in mind, cutting holes for the trunk to pass through both the floor of the treehouse and the roof. The steps to reach it were sturdy, easily able to hold an adult’s weight, and there were two windows, including the large one at the front. Kara couldn’t wait to show Lena.

With the practiced ease of someone who had done this many times before, Kara stuck the long handle of the feather duster through her belt loop, and climbed up the steps, pushing the trap door open when she got high enough. The steps continued up the trunk and into the treehouse, so she simply stepped off the top and onto the floor. Thankfully, there weren’t many spiders in here at the moment. Kara crossed over to the largest window and dusted away the old webs before she flung it open.

“Oh Romeo, Romeo, wherefore art thou, Romeo?” Kara called out dramatically.

“I think you mean Juliet,” Lena replied loudly, taking a few steps back and looking up at her with a silly smile on her face.

“Who does that make me?”

“I’m not sure,” Lena said, folding her arms. “How many spiders are up there?”

Kara let out a ghastly wail, throwing her arm over her eyes like a Southern belle in distress in an old movie. “Millions! I can’t move for spiders up here!” Kara heard Lena’s answering scoff even from up where she was. “There’s actually not that many,” she called down. “I’m just going to get rid of them and then we can get our stuff up here.”

She drew back inside the window and made sure to remove every spider she could see hanging from webs, leaning out of the smaller window and putting them on the branches she could reach. When it was spider-free, she dusted every surface – Jeremiah had installed a few shelves along the walls, as well as a large seat that folded up against the wall next to the window that Kara had often used to sit on while she painted the view. From here, she could see the side of the house and the lawn, the Sound, and a small part of the mountains beyond.

A large skylight brightened the interior of the treehouse, installed so that Kara could more easily paint the night sky through the trees. Kara brushed that free of webs as well before opening it and tilting it back, sticking her hand through the window, and wiping it as best she could with her sleeve. The shirt would just have to get washed sooner rather than later.

Once Kara was done, she surveyed her work. The treehouse was clean and bright, and the old peeling posters and art prints were still hanging in there. The treehouse had always felt like a second home; a retreat, a safe haven, and a place for telling secrets.

Kara scrambled back down the steps, taking her shirt off and tossing it carelessly on the ground when she reached it. Turning to the box of cushions, she opened it and tossed a cushion from hand to hand before trying to hurl it through the large open window. It sailed through on the first try, and she threw her hands in the air and cheered, before turning to Lena.

Lena was looking at her too, but her gaze was somewhat unfocused.

“Earth to Lena?” Kara said, waving her hand in her face.

Lena startled, comically, before giving her a somewhat shy smile. “Sorry, what?”

“You were out of it for a second there. Where were you?”

“I was just-” Lena paused, the tops of her ears turning pink, “um, so do you want help throwing the cushions up?”

Kara shrugged, passing her one. “Sure! You were pretty bad at darts though, I’m not sure if you’ll manage to get any through the wi- hey!” Kara yelped as Lena playfully swung the cushion at her. “Now’s not the time for a pillow fight!”

“Oh right, yeah, we’re supposed to be in bed for that,” Lena said with a smirk, lifting the pillow up again and lifting an eyebrow at Kara. “We can try this again later tonight, if you like?”

“As if you think you could win,” Kara replied, lunging towards Lena suddenly and taking the pillow from her, leaving Lena empty-handed.

“That all depends on your definition of winning, darling,” Lena replied, cocking a hip and resting her hand on it, her green eyes sparkling with confidence. The cocky smirk was still on her face, and despite the cooling breeze on her bare arms, Kara definitely felt warm all over. No matter what game they were playing, Kara was sure she was losing it.

She wasn’t even sure she wanted to win it, either, if losing meant Lena looking at her like that.

Unexpectedly, Lena clapped her hands, then rubbed them together eagerly. “So, are you going to show me this treehouse or not?” she said, sidling up to Kara and taking the cushion back off her. Stepping back a little, she tilted her head, aimed, and with a perfect pitch, whipped the cushion through the window. Kara heard it thunk against the wall inside.

“Uh,” Kara said, passing her another one, which Lena proceeded to get through the window without the cushion touching the sides.

Lena laughed at her confusion. “Did you forget that I was a champion fencer? You need somewhat decent hand-eye coordination for that.”

“How come you were so crap at darts, then?” Kara asked, slinging the blanket’s handle over one arm and putting the second Immigration folder inside Lena’s cloth bag with the other one. She also added the art supplies.

“For some reason, I’ve always been terrible at it,” Lena admitted, holding her hand out for the bag and hooking it over her shoulder. “Do we need anything else?”

“I don’t think so,” Kara said, leading Lena around to show her the steps. “See, they’re quite wide, and they’re solid, but watch your step anyway, okay? Do you want to go first, or should I?”

Lena nodded before putting her hands on the steps. “I’ll go first,” she said, and began to climb without any hesitation. Kara watched as she ascended, and when she was halfway up, Kara followed her up.

When she reached the top, Lena was standing at the large window and looking out of it, the breeze ruffling her dark hair. When she heard Kara step up, she turned. “Kara, I love it up here,” she said in a hushed voice, as if she felt the need to be quiet, her eyes full of delight. “You can see so much from here. I know Lex built me my own treehouse, but it was different. I think if I’d had this kind of space, I’d have practically lived here.”

Kara shifted, then placed her hands on Lena’s hips to urge her back a step; she felt Lena jump slightly under the touch she hadn’t anticipated. Kara closed her eyes briefly. She should’ve just asked Lena to move. Why did she have to torture herself this way, holding Lena gently from behind? She didn’t quite pull Lena flush against her front, but it was a close thing. She somehow felt, rather than heard, Lena hold her breath, as if the air around them stilled. The thought of touching Lena’s soft stomach the morning before flashed through her mind and the urge to slip her hands under Lena’s shirt was almost overwhelming. Lena’s own hands twitched at her side.

She kept her hands on Lena’s hips a fraction too long, and when she realized it, Kara abruptly let her go. She hoped her feelings didn’t show on her face as she stepped in front of Lena. Beside her, she heard Lena exhale quietly.

Kara pulled the folding seat down, laid the blanket on top of it, then added the cushions. She cleared her throat before she spoke. “When I was a teenager, this was big enough for me to lie down on, if I didn’t mind my feet sticking out over the edge. It’s big enough and strong enough for us both to sit on,” she said, gesturing at it.

Lena sat where Kara had indicated, closest to the window. The early afternoon sun shone through the window, high enough not to blind them, but as they sat close together on the seat, it made some of Lena’s dark hair appear almost golden.

“This is one of my favorite places,” Kara said. “I don’t bring many people here.”

In the seclusion of the treehouse, it sounded like a confession, and Lena treated it as such.

“I’m honored that you’d share it with me,” Lena said, resting her hand on Kara’s thigh, her eyes appreciative. “A week ago, we didn’t really know each other at all. How far away the office seems to me now.”

“Technically speaking, it is quite far,” Kara joked reflexively, and then immediately wished she hadn’t. It didn’t seem like the right time for a joke. Lena didn’t seem to mind, instead squeezing her thigh a little.

“It is,” she agreed easily, gazing out of the window at the water. “And also I- I feel like it’s far away, personally. This is… I don’t often get to be free of the person I have to be,” she said. “I know I was prickly at the start of this whole thing. It’s hard to let go of that persona when it’s so ingrained. But you’re… easy to be around. I like being able to be myself in front of you. You make me feel so unbelievably free.”

Kara smiled at Lena, and shuffled closer to her on the seat. “I’m really happy that you feel that way,” she said. “It’ll be weird, when we’re back at work, seeing you like that again.”

“Darling, you won’t really see me like that again,” Lena replied, her voice a little far away, as if she was imagining what it would be like, being able to smile with Kara in the office instead of using the reserved, detached expression she wore most of the time. “As far as everyone else is concerned, we’re engaged. Or we’ll be married. They’ll expect us to be more… like we are now.”

The thought made Kara happy. She’d be able to go and laugh with Lena during her lunch breaks, if Lena wasn’t busy. Bring her dinner when she stayed late. Make faces at her through the glass while she was on important phone calls.

Kara held her hand palm up on her knee, and her heart seemed to skip a beat in her chest when Lena slid her hand into hers with no hesitation at all. Lena was far more responsive than Kara had thought she’d be, and it was with a rush of joy that she felt Lena lay her head on her shoulder.

Together they sat looking out of the window, the peace of the place settling over them like a blanket. A minute passed. Two, with neither of them moved.

Kara wanted to capture the moment somehow. This moment here with Lena, she wanted to keep it. Maybe paint it. And then she realized that she could do exactly that. “Lena,” she said, under her breath. Lena hummed in acknowledgement. “Do you mind if I take a photo of us?”

Lena sighed quietly, sounding disheartened. “You don’t need to ask, Kara. I know we need to do this for the folder.”

“No, I mean. I want to take this one for us. We can do some posed ones afterwards, but I feel like I want to…”

When Kara trailed off, not knowing how to say what she wanted, Lena picked up the sentence with a small, but genuine, smile. “Like you want to save this moment?”

Kara smiled in relief and gratification that Lena clearly felt the same about it. “Yes.”

“Then take it,” Lena said, almost in a whisper.

With her free hand, Kara pulled her phone out and swiped to her camera, keeping it at eye level so that they wouldn’t need to change their position. She took several photos, some where she was looking at the lens, and others where she allowed herself to look down at Lena.

“Thank you,” she sighed into Lena’s hair. Lena’s answer was a squeeze of her hand. “Let’s take some more? Come a bit closer?”

“Alright.” Lena let go of her hand and wrapped her arm around her shoulders, smiling towards the camera. They posed a few photos, a few one of them was standing by the window, and a couple where they were wrapped in the blanket. Sitting back down, Kara thumbed through them, as well as the ones they’d taken before now. They were good photos, sweet. But something was missing, and the second she put her finger on it, nerves flooded her. She swallowed, audibly, but for the sake of their ruse against the government, she had to say it.

Lena was pressed into her side as Kara stared at her phone, resting her head on Kara’s shoulder. Clearing her throat, she decided to just take a leap of faith.

“I feel like we should have some, you know, photos where we’re kissing and stuff, to make it seem like we are actually a couple and not just two friends on vacation,” Kara said, feeling her face heat up when she heard how shaky her voice was. “Would that be alright? Do you think it’s a good idea? For the album we have to make?”

Lena made a quiet sound into her shoulder, before she reached up and turned Kara’s cheek gently with her fingertips and pressed her warm lips to Kara’s. She was so surprised that she sank into the kiss for a moment, the soft pressure of Lena’s mouth on hers entirely distracting. Lena’s kiss was soft and tender, and Kara instantly melted into it. Lena kissed her slowly, as if everything in her life had led her to this moment and she didn’t want to rush it, as if Lena wanted to memorize the feel of Kara’s lips against hers. Her thumb was tracing Kara’s cheekbone, and when she went to pull away, Kara chased her. And Lena let her.

Kara felt Lena’s lips part slightly beneath hers as she kissed her back, the warm wet of her mouth like a drug Kara couldn’t get enough of. Her hand came to rest on Lena’s shoulder, tangling in Lena’s dark hair as she pulled her closer.

“Kara,” Lena murmured, sliding her fingers slowly into Kara’s hair and scratching gently at her scalp, “aren’t you meant to be taking photos?”

“Oh,” Kara breathed. “Oh, um, yeah.” She pulled away from Lena and fumbled with her phone in her lap, her hands unsteady, and then she looked over at Lena. It was a mistake. Lena’s green eyes were darker than usual, and her cheeks were flushed a dusky pink. She was smiling gently at her and it made Kara want to sigh deep inside herself. Lena looked down as she brushed some of her loose hair messily behind her ear, before she propped her chin on Kara’s shoulder and raised her eyebrows slightly.

“Again?” Lena whispered, nuzzling her nose against Kara’s cheek.

Kara closed the distance between them and kissed Lena, feeling the smile still on her lips. She held her hand up so she could take photos of them, and as Lena cupped her face reverently in her hands, tilting her head to get better access to Kara’s lips, she felt warmth flood her body. The hand not holding the camera landed on the small of Lena’s back, and Lena made a soft sound of appreciation as they traded open-mouthed kisses.

Kara desperately wanted to deepen the kiss, desperately wanted to know how Lena tasted. But when she lowered her arm, putting her phone in her lap and intending to give in to her desire, Lena pulled away. Kara slowly opened her eyes, only to find Lena looking at her curiously, before her expression softened and she smiled. “Okay?”

She nodded mutely. That was more than okay, Lena. It was perfect. You’re perfect.

The need that Kara felt to lean forward, to capture those lips again with hers, was overwhelming. Kara’s body trembled with the effort it took to stay where she was. Lena motioned towards her phone and Kara handed it to her without question.

It didn’t feel fake to Kara anymore.

Nothing about this felt fake anymore.

It was with an almost mournful sigh that she acknowledged to herself that her feelings for Lena were real.

She wanted to kiss Lena and she wanted it to be real. The small crush she’d had on her impressive, accomplished, and beautiful boss had grown into a full-on desire to actually be with Lena, to take her out on dates and find out all the ways to make her laugh, to discover just how deeply those still waters ran, to learn all the perfections and all the flaws that made up Lena Luthor. The crush she’d tried to push deep inside the bones of herself had only grown into something she could no longer hold still.

Kara knew she would never have been able to get to know Lena like this had it not been for this ridiculous fake-engagement situation they found themselves in, because Lena would’ve had no reason to drop her professional persona around her. It took committing a federal crime for her to be able to find out just how warm, witty, and soft Lena really was underneath her shell.

She pushed the thought to the back of her head. The timing of this couldn’t be worse. Lena didn’t want a relationship; she wanted to not be deported, and Kara had just been a convenient person to call upon in her hour of need. And although they’d become friends now, even though they were close and despite knowing Lena better than she could ever have wished… at the back of her mind, she knew that this had only come about because Kara had happened to be the one to walk through Lena’s door at the right moment. Lena’s unwilling knight in shining armor. A knight who’d turned into a friend.

Kara wished, suddenly, not to be just Lena’s knight in shining armor, not just Lena’s friend, but Lena’s, in all the ways it mattered.

She wanted to be the one that Lena came home to at the end of a hard day. Kara wanted to be the one Lena curled up with under a blanket on the sofa in their pajamas, watching movies all Saturday, sharing a bowl of popcorn. Kara wanted to find new geeky science shirts in shops and buy them for Lena just to make her smile. There was so much to find out about Lena, so much to learn, and Kara wanted to learn everything. She wanted to be able to share a glance with Lena and both of them know exactly what the other was thinking.

She admitted to herself that she was jealous of Andrea Rojas, for having been with Lena. She was jealous of whoever Lena would fall in love with in the future, of the woman Lena would want to marry for real. Jealous of whoever got to tuck Lena in at night, whoever got to cuddle up to her, whoever was lucky enough to wrap her in their arms. Of the one who would get to make love to Lena the way she deserved, because Lena did deserve it.

Jealous of whoever would be on the receiving end of Lena’s soft smile, the one that she could admit now melted Kara’s heart whenever she saw it.

“These are… nice photos, Kara,” Lena said, breaking Kara out of her spiraling thoughts. Kara’s eyes took Lena in; flushed cheeks, hair tucked behind her ears, those soft, perfect lips. Lena met Kara’s gaze briefly, wistfulness in them as she shifted impossibly closer to Kara, holding the phone up. “We look so good together. The kisses… they look real,” Lena murmured, looking back down at the one on the screen. “They look real…”

They were real for me, Lena.

Kara tore her eyes away from the beautiful woman beside her and forced herself to look at the photo on the screen. It looked exactly as Kara hoped, and feared, it would.

Kara had captured, somehow, the ghost of Lena’s smile when Kara had kissed her again, as she held Kara’s face gently in her hands. She looked happy. They both did. Lena swiped to the next one, and it was worse. Or better. The camera had captured what Kara hadn’t seen – that Lena’s brow was slightly scrunched up, as if she was overcome, as if she was concentrating on getting lost in Kara. Kara felt her stomach jump at she took in how genuine they both looked.

As if it was real for both of them.

Well, it was certainly real for Kara. The thought rankled a little as the thought crossed her mind that maybe they were only real for her.

“We-” Kara cleared her throat when her voice cracked, “we do look great together,” she finished. “You look beautiful. Look how you’re smiling in this one,” she said, swiping back to the one before and looking fondly down at it. That was another one, she thought, that she would paint.

“I’d say send them to me,” Lena said, her voice low, “but my phone will be in a million pieces.”

“I’ll even let you have the first swing, since now I know how good your hand-eye coordination is,” Kara said, standing up and sensing an opening to ease the tension within herself and the hazy, heavy sense of anticipation in the treehouse. They were too close up here, she was too close to Lena. Her hands itched to hold her, to pull her forward by the hips and press kisses to Lena’s lips until they were both gasping.

She rolled her shoulders, trying to loosen them up a bit, and crouched down, pulling some drinks each for them and Lena’s Immigration folder out of the bag. She handed Lena some water and her folder, along with a pen, and sat down on the floor of the treehouse opposite her, leaning against the wall with her sketchpad and pencils beside her.

Lena unscrewed the lid of her water and drank deeply, and Kara did the same. She felt… parched. In record time, she finished her drink, hoping it would slake her thirst. She set the bottle aside and looked up at Lena, who was now sitting cross-legged on the blanket. “So, I’ve got an idea. Let’s play twenty questions, but like, they have to be things that Immigration would want to know we knew about each other.”

“Yeah, alright,” Lena agreed, leaning against one cushion and pulling the other into her lap, resting the folder on top of it.

While Lena flipped through the pages, Kara did the same in her sketchbook. Pulling her knees up slightly, she leaned the book against her legs and slowly, carefully, started to draw.

“Okay, so I was doing some research before we came here,” Lena said in a business-like tone, now that they were doing something practical. Kara smiled down at the page, liking the take-charge voice Lena was using. “One of the most common questions seems to be, which side of the bed do you sleep on?”

Kara huffed out a laugh. “Whichever side you haven’t rolled me out of.” She glanced up at Lena, who playfully clutched a hand to her chest as if Kara had dealt her a mortal blow, before she let out a short giggle. “In general, I sleep on the left side if you’re standing at the foot of the bed. I’m not fussy though. I can sleep anywhere.”

“It seems we’re well-matched, Miss Danvers. I sleep on the right. What’s your favorite film?”

Space Jam.” She heard Lena groan. “Oh? What’s your favorite movie, then? I mean, besides the Mummy, which I’m pretty sure you could quote in your sleep.”

Lena feigned throwing the cushion at her. “Hey! And, Titanic.”

Kara’s hand stilled on the page. “Titanic? Are you kidding me? And you had the nerve to groan at my favorite movie?”

This time, Lena did throw the cushion at her.

“Rude.”

 

* * * * *

 

The time passed companionably as they traded questions back and forth, exchanging little details about their lives. There were periods where they talked, and some time where they didn’t. Lena lost in making notes and reading about the upcoming interview, and as they talked, Kara sketched. At first, she drew an image of how she used to know Lena; her beautiful, detached boss. She drew her as if Kara were looking at her through the glass of her office window, the shine of the glass making it seem like Lena was in a museum exhibit. Untouchable. She drew melancholy into the downturn of Lena’s mouth, aloofness in her eyes, and her hair sleek and severe in the high ponytail she was so used to. Unconsciously, she’d used muted colors to draw this piece, and Lena looked as washed out as the expression she’d drawn on her face.

Upon examining it when it was finished, Kara realized that the image seemed to radiate loneliness. Her heart wrenched as she traced Lena’s face with her index finger. She wondered whether anyone else at work recognized how sad Lena was. Maybe Jess, over at L-Corp? She spent a lot of time with Lena, of course, but Kara had no idea how she would even pose the question. Hey, Jess, has Lena ever seemed somber to you? No. And in any case, she’d left her work laptop at home, as well as her work phone. She had no way of contacting anyone at L-Corp, or CatCo, unless she was friendly enough with them to give them her personal number, such as Nia.

Kara turned to a fresh page and picked up her pencil again.

The second image slowly took shape; dark hair, messily tucked behind one ear. Vibrant green eyes, crinkled from a smile that displayed a double row of dimples. Elegantly crossed legs. Long, delicate fingers that held the pen as if it were an instrument of beauty. A geeky shirt that revealed part of her personality while displaying her pale, freckly arms. With each pass of a brightly colored pencil, Lena came to life on the page in front of Kara. She drew the image of Lena that Kara knew now, the sweet, kind Lena who smiled with no restraint and made Kara’s heart sing.

The Lena that Kara hoped she would see at work from now on, with a ready smile rather than a frown, whose face would light up when she came in, instead of just staying formal.

She was so lost in looking at the difference between the two pictures that she didn’t hear Lena trying to get her attention until she sat down beside her. Their shoulders brushed as she made herself comfortable.

“Kara? What have you got there?” Kara picked up the picture of Lena in her office, looking at it once more before passing it over to her. Kara watched as Lena silently took the drawing in, and like Kara before her, she traced the face on the page. “Is this how you saw me, before?” she asked softly.

“Yeah…” Kara replied. “I mean, I know it’s how you have to- I know you want to uphold your reputation, and I understand why, I just- I just always thought that you looked… lonely.”

“It is,” Lena confirmed, simply. “But it’ll be less lonely, now that we’re… now we’re friends.”

“For sure,” Kara said, bumping Lena’s shoulder and passing her the second picture. “This is how I see you now.”

Lena held both of them up side by side. Compared like that, the contrast between the two was quite remarkable. Lena seemingly didn’t know what to say; her lips parted as if she were going to speak, but nothing came out. She put the happier image on top of the office one and stared down at it. Kara’s eyes dropped momentarily to Lena’s hands; she was twisting her fingers slightly, another sign than Kara had come to recognize as a physical cue of Lena’s nerves.

“Hey,” Kara said, taking them from her after long moments where neither of them spoke. “You’ve always been this person I see now. I know how hard it is for you to let go of the person you think you have to be, but I promise you, you are… Lena, you’ve been glowing ever since you let go.” Kara lifted her hand and gently turned Lena’s face toward her.

Lena pressed her face into the touch. “I know. I never realized how freeing it could be to… I was always raised to be this way,” she said, holding up the office picture. “Lillian taught me that Luthors never showed how they really felt. It was a hard-learned lesson. My life is so busy that I rarely get the chance to turn it all off. There’s always some crisis or other that I need to deal with because I don’t fully trust the L-Corp board, and they don’t trust me either. I keep going against what they want. But in this picture,” and she held up the more vividly colored one, “I look like how I’ve felt these last few days. Can I keep them?” she suddenly asked. “I think I want to put them on my fridge. To remind me.”

“Of course you can,” Kara said, pleased that Lena liked them, that they meant something to her. She pulled out her phone to check the time. “Oh, damn,” Kara said. “It’s past four! We really need to go to town to get some food and stuff for the party on Thursday. And for dinner tonight! And snacks for tomorrow. Do you want some more key lime pie?”

And with that, she scrambled upright, standing in front of Lena and holding out a hand. She hauled Lena upright, and just like that, they were standing face to face, with Lena’s back against the wall of the treehouse. Her breath caught in her throat at the sight. Lena looked pretty, so pretty, with the early-evening sun making her dark hair shine.

She felt Lena’s hand graze her pocket as she plucked her phone out, swiping it to the camera mode and handing it to Kara. The next thing Kara knew, Lena’s hands were gently resting on the wide straps of her tank top, her fingers splaying over the bare skin beneath them. A shy smile on her face, Lena rested her forehead against Kara’s. Slowly, she cupped one hand around the back of Kara’s neck, pulling her in for a kiss that was as sweet as it was soft.

For the second time that day, Kara was taken by surprise, and barely remembered to take the photo after wrapping her spare arm around Lena’s waist.

“If I’ve forgotten to tell you today, you are truly lovely, Kara Danvers,” Lena said when she pulled away, her fingers playing with the tiny hairs at the top of Kara’s neck. “The girl who finally wins your heart will be a lucky one.”

She stepped away from Kara, moving back towards the bench and putting as many of their belongings in the cloth bag as would fit.

Kara blinked herself out of the haze that the short kiss had clouded her mind with, and stooped to pick up her pencils, sketch book, and drawings. She carefully inserted the loose pages back into the book and slipped it into Lena’s bag when she opened it for her. With a flourish that made Lena laugh, she flung the cushions out of the window, along with the blanket, and closed the windows. Lena climbed down out of the treehouse first, the cloth bag slung over her shoulder, and Kara followed her down shortly afterward, shutting the trap door.

They each collected a cushion and Kara shoved them and the blanket unceremoniously into the box, knowing that they would be using them again before they left. She left the box under the stairs in the house, put her shirt in the laundry room, and together they made their way upstairs.

“We should change clothes, you know,” Lena said, and Kara looked over at her on confusion from where she was standing, pressing the button to close the blinds. “To… to take more kissing photos?” Lena finished in a voice that was more hesitant when Kara still didn’t catch on. “Um, to make it look like a different day, and not like we took them all at once just in the treehouse?”

“Oh,” Kara said, momentarily flustered when the thought of kissing Lena even more rushed through her head. “Oh, sure. Right, yeah, you’re right.” She turned to the closet and yanked out a thick blue hoodie with a large cartoon potsticker over the front pocket, and a thin cotton button-up shirt. She pulled the shirt on, only doing up a couple of buttons, before pulling the hoodie over her head. When she turned back around, Lena was on her knees, digging around in her suitcase.

“I’m not going for another swim, right?” she tossed over her shoulder with a cheeky smile.

“Not unless you want to,” Kara replied, watching as Lena sifted through some clothes.

“I definitely do not,” Lena murmured, before standing upright with clothes in-hand. “Do you mind if I just…?” she asked, gesturing at the bathroom.

“Go ahead,” Kara said, and Lena gave her a quick smile, disappearing and closing the door.

Since she was already dressed, Kara went downstairs to the kitchen and started to make a list of the food and drink that they were going to need. As everyone knew, she wasn’t much of a cook, but she could definitely at least assist with anything that didn’t involve heat. And she was usually the one who volunteered to do the shopping, since everyone else usually did the lion’s share of the cooking and the prep.

The list she was making was quite long. There wasn’t going to be a huge amount of people at the party, but still, it was a celebration, and everyone liked food at a celebration! And alcohol. She was deep in the cupboard where Eliza kept it stashed, which was, for some reason, near the floor and next to the one with the pans, checking the volumes in the bottles, when-

“Kara?” came Lena’s voice, louder than usual.

Kara jumped, cracking her head on the top of the cupboard with a hard thunk. “Ouch!”

“Oh, god, sorry! I didn’t see you,” Lena said, coming around the table and crouching down next to Kara as she withdrew from the cupboard, one hand on the back of her head and the other wrapped around a bottle of vodka. Kara pulled her hand away from her head. Lena immediately replaced it with her own, feeling Kara’s scalp for a bump. There was a tiny one, and when they both saw that there was no blood, they stood up.

“You could kiss it better,” Kara grumbled, struggling to keep a smile off her face.

Lena rolled her eyes. “You big baby. The bump is barely half the size of my little fingernail.” Her hand drifted over to the list on the table. “Is this all we need? What do your family usually like to have at your parties?”

“You know, normal party stuff,” Kara replied, rubbing her head and getting her first good look at Lena. She was wearing skinny black jeans that showed off every curve she had, heeled ankle boots, a V-neck black silk shirt, and an open green suede jacket. She’d clipped half of her hair back, leaving the rest of it to fall softly over her shoulders. The jacket brought out the green in her eyes, which she’d emphasized with dark green eyeshadow and extra eyeliner.

In short, she looked… she looked-

Lena flushed prettily under Kara’s blatant appraisal, but Kara could tell that she was pleased, and her blush only added to the overall effect which Kara could simply describe as gorgeous.

“You look wonderful, Lena,” Kara eventually said, clearing her throat. “I feel like I should change. I am way underdressed!” She looked down at herself, stretching her hoodie out by the hem and sticking one leg out.

“Please, don’t,” Lena replied, tugging a little at the potsticker pocket of Kara’s hoodie. “I like what you’re wearing.”

Kara felt her own cheeks warm. “Well, alright then.”

“What do we need to buy tonight?” Lena asked, slipping her hands into Kara’s hoodie pocket, and Kara could feel the warmth of them through the fabric. Suddenly, Lena’s eyes lit up. “Does anyone else who’ll be coming like scotch?”

“Alex does,” she answered. “Why?”

“Because I hate seeing a good bottle of scotch go to waste. Someone needs to enjoy it with me,” Lena said, withdrawing her hands and picking up the list again, skimming her eyes over it. “Is this all we’re getting? You need something a little healthier.”

Kara pulled a bleurgh face. “Lena, no.”

Lena looked at her sternly. “Lena, yes. We’re getting some nutritious food,” she said, running her finger down the list before picking up a pen and adding notes to it. “I’m going to make you a healthy dinner tonight at least and you’re actually going to like it.”

“Some chance of that.”

“Excuse me, but is that doubt I hear in your voice, Miss Danvers?”

Kara rolled her eyes. “I’ll eat mostly anything, as long as I don’t have to cook it, but I have to say, I’d pick a Chinese takeout over basically anything else.”

Lena cocked an eyebrow. “We’re not having Chinese for dinner. That’s not going to work on me, you know,” Lena said when Kara pouted. “I’m making you a healthy dinner and that’s that. Although,” she added with a sly glance, “if junk food is all you eat, I have no idea how you have the abs you do. Do you work out?”

Kara spluttered. “Lena! How do you-” and then she remembered the naked incident. Lena would’ve had to look at her in order to know where to dangle the towel Kara needed. And as she recalled, she hadn’t been wearing much more than Lena had been. “Oh. Um… well, I run. But I don’t go to the gym or anything.”

“So you’re just naturally… like that,” Lena said, flicking a finger up and down in the direction of Kara’s torso. Lena turned away from her, but Kara heard her mutter a word to herself that sounded distinctly like delicious.

By this time, Kara was blushing so hard she felt it could be seen from space. Lena had looked at her. Lena liked what she saw.

Oh, hell.

Lena sat down at the table and added more items to the bottom of the list, and Kara hovered in the kitchen, needing to distract herself. She didn’t really know what she should be doing now that Lena had taken over writing the shopping list. She wandered around the kitchen a little, opening cupboards and examining the contents, looking for a snack, before she remembered the Pringles in the bag. They hadn’t eaten all of them while they were in the treehouse, so she popped the lid off them; she was just about to eat two in one go when Lena stood up.

“Ready to go?”

Kara gazed forlornly at the Pringles in her hand, before stuffing them in her mouth anyway and nodded. Lena’s face was caught somewhere between fondness and disdain, and it made Kara laugh.

And then, she choked as a bit of chip went down the wrong way. She clapped a hand over her mouth to avoid spraying the table with chip crumbs, and Lena just sighed, fetching a glass and pouring her some water. She set it down in front of her, and Kara grabbed at it like it was a lifeline.

“So this is what I have to look forward to in married life? You choking on too-large mouthfuls of food?” Lena asked, rubbing soothing circles on Kara’s back while she fought to get control of herself.

Kara tried to look up at her as indignantly as possible while desperately trying to clear her throat and wipe her streaming eyes.

“I’ll- I’ll have you know,” Kara said, coughing into her hand, “that I’m- that I’d be a good wife!”

Lena ran her hand across Kara’s shoulders before she swept down between her shoulder blades. “I know, darling,” she said reassuringly. Even during her discomfort, Kara thought that Lena’s hand on her back felt… nice.

Kara muffled her last coughs with her hand, before she glanced up at Lena, whose lips curled into a smile. “Do you feel better now?” Her hand slid up to rest on Kara’s shoulder.

“Yeah,” she croaked, her throat a little sore. She got up and poured herself a second glass of water, downing that one as well.

“Are you sure?”

“Yeah,” she replied.

Lena gave her a firm look that Kara recognized from the boardroom. “One chip at a time from now on, okay? And no-” she pointed at Kara, “seeing how many potstickers you can fit in your mouth at once.”

“Have you been talking to Alex?!” Kara wailed as she followed Lena out of the kitchen, listening to the sound of Lena’s laughter echoing down the hall.

Before they left the house, Kara dashed upstairs and grabbed two backpacks and a cooler bag, and a hoodie for Lena to wear on the boat. They walked companionably down to the boat, Kara telling Lena about the time she’d fit so many potstickers in her mouth that she couldn’t chew them, and had to pick them back out with chopsticks in front of the mirror. The horrified expression on Lena’s face told her that she definitely hadn’t seen anyone at any of her fancy galas try the same trick. Alex had been beside herself laughing at the time, but both of them had had a severe telling-off by Eliza when she’d heard about it.

Kara stepped into the boat, helping Lena in as usual, and handing her the hoodie and life jacket. Lena settled herself into the passenger seat of the boat, and as Kara was pulling the boat out into deeper waters, she noticed that Lena’s grip on the console and the gunwale next to her were almost white-knuckled. The same kind of terrified grip that Lena had on the plane on the way there.

Immediately, Kara killed the engine of the boat, letting it drift naturally to a stop.

“Lena, hey Lena?” she asked, sitting down in her seat and holding her hand out, rubbing Lena’s upper arm until she opened her eyes and green eyes met blue. “Hey, you’re okay,” Kara said, in as calming a tone as she could manage. “How can I help?”

Lena shot her a grateful glance. “I’m- I’m okay, really,” she said, but her voice was quavering, and Kara wasn’t fooled in the slightest.

Kara disagreed. “You’re not okay,” she said, reaching her other hand over to take hold of Lena’s. “I can go by myself. Do you want to go back-”

No!” Lena burst out, so suddenly that it made Kara jump. “You can’t live in fear. Just- just go slowly? And… when we get to the place where I fell out, can you stop?”

Kara frowned at the odd request, but nodded. Turning back to the wheel, she turned the ignition once again, putting the boat into a slower rate of knots than she’d yet taken with Lena. In fact, she was only going half the speed she went the day before, and she had already been going slower than usual. Thankfully, the water today was calmer today as well.

One peek over at Lena told her that she was only marginally more comfortable, so she held her hand out. Lena took it in an instant, her fingers slotting between Kara’s and holding on tightly. “Just hold on to me, okay?” Kara said, maneuvering the boat a little more awkwardly than she was used to, but it was doable. She rubbed her thumb against the back of Lena’s, down to the middle of her wrist and back up, and Lena’s fingers relaxed a little. Pleased with the result, Kara continued their journey towards town.

Neither of them spoke. Lena appeared lost in thought if her closed eyes were any indication, and Kara aimed the boat towards the spot where Lena had fallen in the day before. When they reached the spot, she shut the engine off again and turned in her seat.

Lena twisted to face her, and Kara was gratified to see that Lena seemed a lot calmer than she had ten minutes before. They were still only halfway to Midvale, but she seemed… alright. Kara let go of some tension that she hadn’t realized she’d been holding in her shoulders, and unclenched her jaw. If she didn’t think any better, she’d swear she’d just been more stressed than Lena, who now looked completely comfortable in her seat as she gazed over at Kara.

Slowly, with barely a wobble, Lena stood up out of her seat and walked back towards the deck, looking out over the sea with folded arms as the boat bobbed gently in the water. Kara watched her, making sure that she didn’t go too close to the side, but she was also curious about why Lena had asked to stop here.

She didn’t have to wait long.

Lena turned around and beckoned her over. Careful not to rock the boat too much, what with two people standing up now, Kara made her way over to Lena, who took her life jacket off and laid it on the floor. Straight away, Kara reached out both hands to steady Lena by the upper arms.

“Lena? Why are you taking that off?”

“Shh,” she said, taking the hoodie off as well and dislodging Kara’s hands, placing it on top of the life jacket. She ran her fingers through the loose parts of her hair a few times, twirling a lock of it around her fingers before she let it go.

For a moment, they stood together in the boat, Lena eyeing the water nervously.

“You know, ever since my mother drowned in it, there’s something about the sea that’s always unsettled me. The way that it’s so deep, and how there are things in it that we haven’t even discovered yet,” Lena said, her fingers tapping on her folded arm. “And while, as a scientist, the thought of new discoveries obviously excites me, and I’m interested in what we could find and learn, the deep, dark, and often silent ocean… it bothers me. I could watch documentaries about sea life for days, go to humane aquariums and look at the different species, and I’m fine. But whenever I’m surrounded by the sea, like this, I… panic.”

Kara stepped closer to her and put her hand on the small of Lena’s back. “You’re not panicking now, though,” she observed.

Lena turned to face her, and Kara’s hand slid around to rest on Lena’s waist instead. The smile on Lena’s face was almost serene, completely at odds with her words about the ocean. She glanced at it again, before her eyes met Kara’s. “That’s because of you,” she admitted.

Kara was confused for a moment. “Me?”

Lena gave her a glittering smile that reached her eyes, and Kara felt herself bask in the warmth of it. “Yes, you, Kara Danvers. My whole life, I’ve managed to rarely be surrounded by water, unless I could possibly help it. Until this week, at least. And on our very first day here, I had to climb down a ladder into a boat and be sailed across the sea to an island. And yesterday, I fell in the sea-”

“I’m sorry-” Kara started to say, but she stuttered to a stop when Lena placed her hand on her upper chest, before her fingers began to toy with the strings hanging from Kara’s hood.

Lena kept her eyes on Kara’s, her gaze intent. “You have no need to apologize,” Lena said quietly, “none at all. Something occurred to me last night. That here, when I was in the sea and panicking, I was facing my greatest, my most primal fear. And you saved me,” she said, her voice low, almost at a whisper. Kara instinctively leaned closer so that she wouldn’t miss anything Lena said. “You saved me, and you made me feel safe again.”

Lena stepped closer to Kara, the hand by her chest sliding around her neck and the other around her waist, until Lena was hugging her, burying her face in the crook of her neck. “Nobody’s done that for me for a long, long time,” she murmured against Kara’s skin, the feel of which sent shivers down Kara’s spine. Kara wrapped her arms around Lena’s waist and pulled her even closer, breathing in the subtle scents of Lena’s perfume and shampoo. She felt surrounded by Lena, almost giddy with how happy that made her. There was no place that Kara would rather be than exactly where she was, with Lena’s arms around her.

She felt Lena’s breath against her neck before she pulled away. She stayed close, settling a palm on Kara’s cheek for a moment, before she gave her a crooked smile and sank to one knee. Lena took Kara’s left hand in hers, and with the other, she revealed the ring that Kara had chosen. At the sight of it in Lena’s hand, Kara’s heart started to race.

“I know we’ve only really known each other for a short time, but…” Lena said, her voice wavering slightly as she looked up at Kara, “you make me happy. I can’t think of anyone who’s taken such gentle care of me. Even when I basically demanded that you marry me, you helped me. Even when you were mad at me, when I was afraid on the plane, you helped me. You are a good person, such a good, kind person, and I can’t think of anyone else I’d rather be on this… this crazy journey with,” Lena said, and Kara was shocked to see that Lena’s eyes were glistening, as if she were on the edge of tears. “I feel safe with you, safer than I’ve ever felt with anyone. I promise to always do my best by you, in whichever way you need me to. And I’m not demanding, now; I’m asking. Kara Danvers, will you marry me?”

It felt exactly like a proposal should, and Kara was powerless against the feelings that flooded her. She felt choked with the sincerity that Lena was showing her, with the way she bared her emotions. The tender way in which Lena held her hand, the way she gently stroked her thumb over the spot where the ring would rest, caused tears to spring to her own eyes.

“Of- of course I will,” Kara managed, her breath catching in her throat as Lena slid the ring home. It sparkled on her finger, and Lena gazed almost longingly at it, Kara’s hand held between both of hers. Lena looked up at her from her position on the deck, her eyes swimming with happiness that looked so genuine that Kara felt her heart flip over in her chest.

Before she knew what she was doing, she sank to her own knees and kissed Lena, sliding her hands across her cheeks, down her jaw, and her fingers coming to rest, tangling in dark hair. Lena’s own hands came up and Kara felt them gently cup her own face, as Lena kissed her back. It was as heartfelt as it was desperate, and Kara felt herself overflow with warmth when Lena pressed back against her with not a single trace of hesitation.

The whole world seemed to shrink to the feeling of Lena’s lips moving against hers, to the way her thumb moved against Kara’s cheekbone. To the way Lena’s soft lips parted. To the way the warm heat of her mouth pressed so firmly to Kara’s. Lena made a whimpering around at the back of her throat, and Kara’s fingers clutched tighter at Lena’s hair as Lena wrapped an arm around her waist and pulled Kara flush against herself.

Kara almost gasped at the contact, and when she felt the barest touch of Lena’s tongue against her bottom lip, heat flashed through her. She allowed the entrance Lena asked for, and immediately the kiss changed. It became intense; it was deeper, bolder. At the first swipe of Lena’s tongue against hers, Kara’s knees felt like they were going to buckle. At the first taste of Lena, they did. But as Kara fell back on her haunches, one hand dropping to the small of Lena’s back, Lena came forward. Within a moment, their position had changed, and Lena was kneeling over Kara’s lap, her thighs straddling Kara’s waist.

Lena tasted like mint, and the thought burst through her- she was kissing Lena. She was kissing Lena, and Lena was kissing her back. She could feel the way her body was pressed up against hers. Delighted in the way she had to crane her neck upwards to reach Lena’s mouth. Loved the way that Lena kissed her with reckless abandon and no inhibition at all. Loved the way that Lena kissed her like she was precious, the gentle but firm pressure of her mouth, the sharp nip at her bottom lip followed by the soft, soothing press of her tongue.

They broke apart, both breathless, one of Lena’s hand’s on the back of Kara’s neck, the other wrapped around her bicep; Kara could feel the dig of her fingertips through the hoodie as Lena held on tight. Kara could feel Lena’s breath ghosting against her sensitive lips, and she leaned upwards to press a soft, sweet kiss to Lena’s mouth before she sat back again.

Slowly, as if she thought Kara would move away, Lena ran her thumb across Kara’s bottom lip, a bashful look on her face. Kara closed her eyes as Lena’s fingertips moved over her face, tracing laughter lines, the scar between her eyebrows, the corner of her mouth. They didn’t speak as they sat together on the floor of the boat, the sea lapping gently at the sides. When Lena’s fingertips left her face, Kara’s eyes met Lena’s, and her warm green eyes were full of affection.

A shy smile crossed Lena’s face as she disentangled herself from Kara, sitting back on her own haunches. There was a silence between them, as if neither of them knew what to say about what had just happened.

Had Kara just got caught up in the moment of the emotional proposal? Why had she kissed Lena? And why had Lena kissed her back? And not just a quick kiss that could be passed off as something fake for the camera, no; that was a real kiss. It had been deliberate, on both their parts.

And Kara didn’t know what to do with that.

Neither, it seemed, did Lena, who carefully got to her feet, holding onto Kara’s shoulder for balance. She bent to pick up her hoodie and the jacket, before straightening up.

Kara stood up as well, and they looked at each other silently, until Kara started to giggle, the adrenaline of the moment catching up to her. Confusion crossed Lena’s face for a moment before she gave her a more hesitant smile.

“I hope the proposal… um, I hope it didn’t disappoint,” Lena said, looking at Kara earnestly, as if she was searching for something in her face.

“No, not at all,” Kara replied. “In fact I- if I hadn’t known it was fake, I would’ve thought it was real.”

Whatever Lena had been looking for, she seemed to find it in Kara’s words. A flash of hurt zipped across her face so quickly that Kara wasn’t sure she’d seen it at all, before Lena plastered another smile on her face, one that didn’t reach her eyes.

“Good,” she said quietly, before making her way back to her seat without looking at Kara.

Kara, too lost in the daze of the kiss, didn’t notice the way that Lena’s shoulders had slumped.

When she sat back down, Kara switched the ignition of the boat on, and swung it gently around back towards Midvale. During the time they’d been stopped, the boat had drifted to face towards the open sea. She cast a worried glance over at Lena to see if she was alright, but Lena was looking out towards Kasiana Island.

“Are you alright?” Kara asked her.

“I’m fine,” Lena said quietly, folding her arms over her chest. “Go slow, okay?”

Kara watched her for a moment, before she turned her eyes back to the water. Lena was nervous of the water, after all. She moved the boat through the water, the same half-speed she’d gone before, and they made their way towards Midvale. The sky was starting to darken with the approaching sunset as the early evening wore on. Kara quickly looked at her phone, seeing that the time was close to 6pm, and wished she could step on the speed a little. She resisted, thinking of Lena’s comfort, and eventually, they docked against the same ladder as always.

Kara tied the boat up while Lena took her life jacket back off, leaving it under the seat at the front, along with the hoodie. It was a cool evening, but not cold, and the breeze was almost warm. A nice evening for carrying groceries through town without overheating. Kara steadied the boat while Lena climbed off it and up the ladder, and Kara slung both backpacks and the cooler bag over her shoulders and arm, before climbing up herself.

When she reached the top, she found Lena standing there with a somber look on her face. Before Kara could ask her if she was okay, the expression cleared and Lena held her hand out. “Pass me one of the bags?” she asked. “Can’t have you carrying everything like a pack mule. Doesn’t seem fair.”

“Har har har,” Kara replied, handing one of the backpacks over to her. She had to suppress a laugh when Lena put it on her back; the ratty old sports backpack didn’t go at all well with what she was wearing, but Lena didn’t seem to mind one bit. Kara was once again struck by how much had changed since they first arrived.

But Lena hadn’t really changed, had she? No, Kara thought, as she fell into step alongside Lena. Lena had just allowed herself to be seen by Kara. She’d let Kara in, let herself be seen as the geeky, funny, witty, and… seductive woman that she was. Lena’s flirtiness made her head spin, and the memory of their kiss on the boat filled her mind. It was obvious to her with every step that she needed to have a shower. More than ever, she was sure that she wanted Lena, in all the ways that she could want someone.

Despite how fast it would’ve been, Kara wished that the proposal on the boat had been real. She knew how ridiculous it would seem to someone hearing their story; knowing each other for three years, but never having had a personal conversation until a few days ago, and wishing that they could be together after only those few days. It was as if beneath Lena’s professional armor, she’d found the person she’d been looking for, the person she wanted to be with.  

The thought terrified her. They were supposed to be faking a relationship; Kara wasn’t supposed to be letting her very real feelings blossom into some kind of unrequited love. She looked over at Lena, walking beside her. Her jawline was sharp, but Kara knew from experience that it was soft to the touch. Her countenance didn’t give much away, but Kara now knew that the only reason Lena didn’t smile all the time was that she didn’t allow herself to; that in fact, left to her own devices, Lena smiled a lot. She couldn’t believe that just a week ago, she’d never seen Lena display a real smile. Now, it seemed, she’d hardly seen her display anything else.

Kara knew her feelings were real, but the way that Lena had kissed her… the passionate, yet gentle, way that she’d kissed her today, especially that last one… Kara felt that was real, too.

She missed a step as a lightbulb flashed on in her mind. Did Lena have feelings for her, too? Shit, had Kara hurt her feelings on the boat? That look on her face had been hurt, and Kara couldn’t believe she hadn’t recognized it.

Lena had been looking for some kind of confirmation that Kara felt the same, and all Kara had said was that it was fake.

Kara felt her heart sink. What if she’d blown it already? What if Lena was already hardening her heart against Kara, chalking her up as just one more person who’d hurt her? She felt her pulse quicken at the thought of it. She had to turn it around, somehow. She had to make it up to Lena.

The proposal, while not necessarily real, had been given with genuine feelings. What words Lena had spoken, she meant, and Kara was almost sure of it.

She didn’t want Lena to think that her feelings, if that’s what they were, weren’t returned.

But then, Kara thought with horror, how awful would it be to really fall for Lena, really fall for her, then fail the relationship interview on Monday morning? How terrible would it be to be ripped away from Lena, after she’d only just found her? To suddenly have Lena forced to the other side of the Atlantic, away from her, all alone? As alone as Kara would be? Who would hold her hand on the plane?

The thought squeezed at Kara’s heart like a vice, and without thinking about it twice, Kara reached her hand out and took hold of Lena’s, holding it tightly with her own. Lena looked bemusedly at her sudden movement, but Kara only closed the distance between them, unwilling to even be at arm’s length away from her.

She’d have to show Lena how she felt. Surely, she could somehow find the courage to do that? But should she even broach the topic, knowing how much it would hurt if she was wrong, or how much it would hurt more if she was right and they failed the interview?

Kara swallowed, hard. This was an impossible situation, and her thoughts bounced around in her head so quickly that she could hardly hold on to one before another one made itself known.

It crossed her mind that this would’ve been so much easier if they’d actually hated each other. If Lena hadn’t been so kind, so sweet, so thoughtful, and so damned lovely underneath her work mask. If Kara hadn’t been nursing a crush on her ever since the first time she met her. If Lena's self-inflicted, martyr-like loneliness hadn’t wrenched at Kara’s heart and made her determined to do something about it. If she didn’t find her so attractive or impressive. If she didn’t admire her courage and fortitude so much.

If she didn’t know how Lena’s lips felt against hers.

But she did.

And now she didn’t know what to do. She felt panic rise within her at the two stark choices that ultimately, she had to choose between.

One. She could keep Lena at arm’s length, put a stop to whatever was happening between them, to whatever could happen between them. Protect both of their hearts, concentrate on passing the interview and getting Lena’s visa, and in the meantime, breaking at least Kara’s heart in the process. Possibly breaking both of their hearts, depending on whether or not Lena felt the same as Kara. She was sure that this option wouldn’t lead to them even having a friendship, never mind a relationship.

Two. She could lean into whatever was happening. Find out how Lena really felt, even though she was pretty sure that Lena had already shown her with her kisses, had probably been trying to show her in that nervously flirty, but shy way that she had. In the way she brought her flowers, in the way she was always checking how Kara was, the way she teased her. They could see where it went, possibly fall for each other, and try to pass the tests. This way, they could be truly happy. Or, they could be absolutely heartbroken if they failed the test, and Lena was deported.

Neither option filled her with confidence, and she supposed that her tension must have been visible on her face, because Lena dragged her into the next alley they passed.

“What’s wrong?” she asked, looking at Kara with worried green eyes.

“I’m uh, I’m okay,” Kara lied, and she knew that Lena hadn’t bought into it for a second.

Lena gave her such a penetrating look that Kara was squirming underneath it. “Kara.”

“Lena, not here, please,” Kara begged. “I’m okay, nothing’s changed.” Lena’s eyes darkened, and not in a good way. Kara scrambled to fix it before she broke it forever. “It’s- I mean, I haven’t changed, neither have you, I- I’m just trying to sort some things out in my head. I promise it’s not you, or well it’s partly you, but it’s not a bad thing, or at least, it might not be-”

Kara,” Lena interrupted firmly. “I must say that while I do find your inarticulateness endearing at times, this is not one of those times. I can’t make heads or tails of what you’re trying to say, because you seem to be trying to say something and then immediately doubling back on it. And you look like you’re panicking.”

Kara floundered, unsure of what to say in response, and kind understanding dawned on Lena’s face. She came closer, placing a calming hand on Kara’s cheek. Kara found that her thoughts quieted immediately.

“Darling,” Lena murmured, and Kara’s heart leapt. “Is this about… what happened on the boat?” Her eyes searched Kara’s, the light in them dimming as Kara confirmed nothing. “You don’t need to… you don’t need to worry about that. Not if you don’t…” Lena sighed, not finishing the sentence. “Just let me know, are you alright? Are you hurt, somehow?”

No, but I think you are, or we could be, and I’ve just discovered that that’s killing me.

“No, I’m- I’m okay,” Kara said, placing her hand over Lena’s on her face. “I just need to think a little.”

“Are you sure?”

I love this caring side of you, Lena.

“Yes.”

“Okay then,” Lena said, stepping away from Kara and waiting. Kara pulled her gently by the hand back out onto the street. They were almost at the grocery store, and they really needed to get the shopping done before the store closed at seven.

Martians was Midvale’s largest grocery store, and it was run by a lady called M’gann M’orzz, who was married to J’onn J’onzz, the security guard at the airport. She’d spent her life travelling the world and falling in love with a lot of different foods. When she’d inherited a large sum of money from her parents, she’d used the money to start a store where she could sell the basics, but from time to time she’d do a Greek month, or run an Italian deli, a Turkish stall, or anything else that took her fancy. She imported all sorts of meats, cheeses, and other delicacies from whichever country it was at the time, and Midvale’s citizens enjoyed the exotic food for as long as it lasted. Generally, it didn’t last very long, because M’gann’s events were always very popular with people eager to try some something new. She always did one during the Big Paint, and everyone spent their lunchtimes eating interesting things.

Despite herself and her worries, Kara wondered whether there was an event on right now.

The door to Martians slid open as Lena grabbed a small shopping cart from the rail outside and wheeled it to the entrance. Lena fished the list out of her pocket, which Kara had entirely forgotten about, and unfolded it. She ran one of her long fingers down it before looking up at the bright signs hanging above the aisles. “Shall we make a start?” she asked. “Or should I just quickly go to the liquor store over the road and pick up some scotch for Alex and I?”

“Oh,” Kara said, checking the time again. “Go and get the scotch first, because they close earlier than Martians. I’ll get going with this.”

Lena handed her the list a little reluctantly. “Kara,” she said, her voice low and teasing. “Don’t buy the whole shop. We only have two backpacks and a coolerbag-”

Kara struck a muscleman pose without thinking. “Sure, but I have strong arms and can carry a lot.” She hid her inner wince at how ridiculous that sounded, and just went with it. Even though the hoodie hid anything she could display, she found herself flexing a little under Lena’s incredulous stare.

“Could you pick me up with just one arm?” Lena wondered, obviously distracted, tapping one finger on the side of her face as she thought.

“Hmm, maybe,” Kara replied. “Let’s try!”

“Oi, you two, stop flirting in my store and spend some money instead!” came a call from the counter. Kara spun around and flushed when she saw M’gann leaning back against some shelves behind the till, her arms crossed and her face wearing a knowing expression.

Lena, to Kara’s surprise, didn’t seem embarrassed at all. “How many bags of groceries do you think she could carry back to that boat of hers?” Lena asked, wandering over to the counter followed by a sheepish Kara.

“Quite a few, I’d say,” M’gann replied, looking at Kara as if she was weighing her up. “With you on her back as well.”

“Well. We’ll have to give that a try some time,” Lena replied, slipping her arm through the crook of Kara’s. “Is that biltong?” she asked, looking across at the display. “And boerewors? Beef?”

“Yes,” M’gann said, straightening up as she sensed Lena’s interest. “Have you been to South Africa?”

“Many times,” Lena said, letting go of Kara and perusing the selection of sticks of meat hanging up under the glass. “How wet is this?”

“It’s about medium,” M’gann said, “but if you want it drier, I can dry some for you.”

“I like it medium actually, maybe a little wetter,” Lena replied, her voice deep, glancing sideways at Kara.

“Lena,” Kara almost choked, interrupting before she could get too off-track. The double entendre was clear in Lena’s smirk. “Didn’t you need to go and buy some scotch?”

Lena snapped her fingers. “Yes. But I’ll be back,” she said to M’gann, before she gave Kara a kiss on her cheek and walked out of the store.

Both Kara and M’gann watched her go.

“She’s really pretty,” M’gann commented after they watched Lena disappear into the off-licence. “Full of moxie, too.”

“That’s for sure,” Kara sighed fondly.

“Can you keep up with her?”

“I really hope so.”

Kara spent the time that Lena was gone walking up and down the aisles, getting the things on the list. Despite her display earlier, she’d been doing the shopping with the boat in mind for years, and she knew where the weight limits were. Kara fetched the lighter stuff while Alex and Eliza, sharing a different boat with an easier mooring spot, got all the heavier items such as drinks, canned goods, and any equipment they ever needed to move around. Kara’s shopping trips were more frequent, but less heavy, and she never minded. The feeling she got while she was whipping across the water was akin to how she thought it must be to fly. It was so freeing.

The shopping cart quickly filled with the essentials and the things that Kara had noticed they were running low on at home. She added a few treats as well. She was just adding a very large bar of chocolate when it was snatched out of her hand.

“I’m pretty sure that I didn’t add a chocolate bar the size of both of our faces to the list,” Lena drawled.

“Oh, but-”

Lena silenced her with a raise of her eyebrow. “I’ll let you have it on one condition,” she said, holding the chocolate hostage.

Kara rose to the challenge. “What’s that, then?”

“You eat every bite of the healthy meal I’m making for dinner.”

“Lenaaaa,” Kara whined, but it was just for show and Lena knew it, judging by the way she waved the chocolate at her. “Fine,” she conceded, and Lena put the chocolate in the cart.

“That wasn’t so hard, was it?” Lena said.

Kara grumbled under her breath, and beside her, Lena chuckled.

“Did you get your scotch? You were a while over there.”

For some reason, Lena’s face turned a little pink. “Yeah, I got talking with the owner. Did you know he’s done a tour of all the scotch distilleries in Scotland? All of them?”

“How many are there?” Kara asked absently, picking bags of popcorn off the shelves and adding them to the cart.

“A hundred and twenty.”

“Shit, really? He must’ve been toasted pretty regularly,” Kara laughed.

“Yeah, well, he had some really nice stuff in his shop…” Lena said, trailing off. Kara noticed that she gripped the handles of her backpack a little tighter, as if it was really heavy.

“Lena.”

“Yeeees?”

“How many bottles of whisky did you buy?”

Lena pouted.

“Oh my god, how many?!”

“Well, in my defence, I don’t know what kind of whisky Alex likes so I bought one from each of the whisky-producing regions-”

“How many are there?” Kara squeaked, pushing the cart around the corner.

“…five.”

“You’ve got five bottles of whisky in your backpack?!” Kara asked incredulously, her voice climbing in pitch. The cart screeched to a halt in the middle of the aisle, causing Lena to bump gently into her back.

“Yeah.” Kara gaped at her. “You look like a fish like that. A really pretty one, but still.” Kara snapped her mouth closed. “I got some really nice ones that the owner pulled out from the back once he realized that we share a taste for Islay scotch. I’ve got, um, a lot of whisky at home already, so I won’t need to bring these back to New York with us. I’m sure Alex will enjoy them.”

Kara rolled her eyes fondly. “I’m sure she’ll be thrilled,” she said, holding out her hand. “Let me carry them for you. That bag’s got to be heavy.”

Lena handed it over to her without complaint, looking relieved. “Right. I’m going to get the ingredients for dinner,” she announced. “Stay here!”

Kara stayed where she was, watching as Lena headed towards the fish section.

“Little finger, meet Kara Danvers,” Kara heard M’gann say as she passed the top of the aisle, waggling her little finger at Kara as she went. Kara laughed and stuck a different finger up at her, hearing M’gann’s laughter echoing as she passed out of sight.

Not long later, Lena came back carrying four large salmon fillets, tenderstem broccoli, baby asparagus, and some other kind of green… thing. Kara’s face must have looked as dismayed as she felt, because when Lena caught sight of it, she struggled to keep from laughing out loud.

“Every bite, or no chocolate,” Lena reminded her.

“Yes, dear,” Kara replied.

They finished the rest of their shopping before they made their way up to the counter. When they got there, Lena looked at the sticks of biltong before selecting four for M’gann to slice. Once it was weighed and bagged, Lena picked out a few pots of the South African spices, insisting that they would be good with the steaks they’d chosen. M’gann added it to the total and Lena handed over her black American Express card before Kara could open her own wallet.

M’gann’s eyebrows rose when she saw it, but she said nothing as she swiped it through the reader and Lena signed her name. Lena tucked the card back into her purse, before shoving it unceremoniously in her back pocket. They crammed a few of the lighter items in the bag with the whisky, whatever would fit, and some into the other backpack, before ending up with five shopping bags between them. Kara took three and Lena two, and they both said bye to M’gann as they left.

“She was nice,” Lena commented as they made their way down the street. It was dark already, and with a slight pang of guilt, Kara realized that they’d actually been in the shop way past the closing time. Given how much they, or Lena, had spent though, she didn’t think M’gann minded.

“Yeah, she is,” Kara replied, and then explained about the different food weeks that M’gann did from time to time.

“Oh, so that’s why she had all the South African food in the shop?” Lena asked. “I haven’t had biltong in a while.”

“I don’t even know what biltong is,” Kara admitted.

“I beg your pardon? Does this mean I get to introduce you to something new?” she asked, sounding pleased. She stopped and put her bags on the ground, fishing through one of them until she found the bag with the biltong in it. She pulled out a piece and inspected it before passing it to Kara, who eyed it dubiously.

“Just give it a go.” Kara did, and immediately her mouth burst with flavor as she chewed it. It was tender and moist, not at all dry like she expected it to be; it had a deep taste, savory, but Kara couldn’t place the flavour. All she knew was that it was delicious, and Lena must’ve read the look on her face, because she passed her another piece straight away.

“It’s healthy,” Lena said, laughing into her hand as she watched Kara enjoy it.

“Nothing that tasty can possibly be healthy Lena,” Kara said. “Can I have some more?”

Lena raised both her eyebrows, but dutifully passed her another piece. “It’s cured, dried meat. People add all sorts of spices or herbs in the rub, but essentially, it’s salt, black pepper, and vinegar, plus whatever else. Then it’s hung up in a specific kind of drying box.”

“So it’s not cooked?”

“Not at all,” Lena said, picking up the bags and carrying on down the street.

“And you can make this?”

“I’ve made it many times. I developed a taste for it while I was visiting South Africa once, and I make it at home whenever I’m in the mood for it. It’s a good, healthy snack,” Lena emphasized, “as long as you don’t eat it by the bucketload. There are no additives, and it’s only as fatty as you want it to be.”

“Well, color me amazed,” Kara said happily, hefting the bags in her hands as they continued towards the boat. It wasn’t that Kara disliked healthy food exactly, but like she told Lena, the best stuff was always the stuff that wasn’t good for you. She was even more doubtful that Lena could make broccoli and asparagus taste good, but she’d just have to trust the woman next to her.

And she did trust her, in more ways than one. It was just one more implausible truth that she’d come to accept in the last few days; that in Lena, she’d found someone she could trust to do the right thing to the best of her ability.

Aside, of course, from attempting to defraud the government. But even that was being done without regard to her heart and with her companies in mind, rather than herself.

Shaking her head at the contradictions that Lena presented to her life, they made their way to the harbor, stopping to chat to anyone who said hello to them. She introduced Lena to no less than seven new people on the way, including some of her old teachers from high school. Thankfully, she always had the excuse of their shopping that needed refrigeration, because Lena seemed keen to ask each of her old teachers about what Kara had been like in class.

When they got to the boat, Kara climbed down and Lena tied the handles of the bags, dropping them carefully over the edge to Kara’s waiting arms. It was much faster doing it with another person, Kara thought as she stashed another bag at the back of the deck and indicated she was ready for another. Usually she had to scramble up and down the ladder multiple times to get everything down into the boat. Finally, Lena climbed down the ladder herself, stepping carefully onto the deck. Kara turned the side lights and masthead lights on, so that she could see where she’d be going; crossing the Sound in the dark wasn’t difficult, but she’d still need to be vigilant.

Once Lena had got into her hoodie and life jacket, Kara set the course and they began their homeward journey. Lena’s face was lit by the different colored lights, but mostly by the masthead light, making her look rather ghostly. It was very bright, and Lena was already pale, and she almost seemed to glow. Kara kept casting glances over at Lena as often as she dared, and loved the way that the light cast shadows on her face. She very much wanted to see how Lena would look bathed in moonlight, rather than something artificial, and wondered how she could orchestrate that happening.

When they passed the spot where they’d stopped earlier, despite the cold breeze on her face now that night had fallen, she felt heat wash over her. It seemed that the same thing had occurred to Lena, because she looked steadily over at Kara. Movement caught Kara’s eye, and she looked over, only to see Lena’s hand returning to her lap. Had she tried to reach over? Throwing caution to the wind, she held her own hand out, and Lena tentatively reached for hers, slotting her fingers between Kara’s.

The smile on Lena’s face was almost relieved, but Kara could tell that there was an undercurrent of something else there as well. All at once she was hit once again with the thought that perhaps Lena did indeed feel something for her more than she had said, something more than friendship, something more than a fake engagement.

The boat engine was too loud to have a proper conversation over while they were travelling, so they made the trip in silence, but with their fingers entwined. Somehow, Kara thought that said more than words could, anyway. She could feel Lena’s thumb travelling over her skin, and her gentle touch sent shivers up and down her arm.

As they approached home, Kara saw that Eliza’s boat was already tied up to one side of the dock. She carefully maneuvered Streaky to the other side, helping Lena out of the boat and passing all of the shopping out to her.

Lena’s silence was ongoing though, and for the first time, the silence between them seemed somewhat awkward. It was disturbing for Kara, because the silences they shared now were always comfortable. But not now. The air felt thick with something heavy, and she felt it settle on her shoulders. As they approached the house, Kara put her bags down on the lawn, and stopped Lena with a hand on her arm.

“It’s my turn now to ask if you’re okay,” Kara asked quietly, when Lena had turned to face her.

Lena sighed, putting her bags down in the grass as well. “Is now really the time to talk about this?”

“What’s this?” Kara asked. “Lena?”

Uncharacteristically, Lena kicked a boot against the grass, a gesture that seemed so unlike her that Kara immediately reached out to put her hand on Lena’s shoulder. “I’m okay,” Lena mumbled.

“You don’t seem okay,” Kara replied, ducking her head to get into Lena’s line of sight.

At that, Lena gave her a look very reminiscent of the moment she walked away from Kara when she asked Lena why she couldn’t swim. “Kara,” Lena said, not unkindly, meeting her eyes. “When you didn’t want to talk about… it, I respected that. Just- for now, at least, could you please grant me the same courtesy?”

“Of course, I’m sorry,” Kara said, stepping away from Lena.

“I think we… maybe we should. Talk about it, I mean,” Lena hedged a little, stepping up closer to Kara, clearly unwilling for there to be distance between them. “But not when we’re about to spend some time with Eliza.”

“Okay,” Kara said. “May I just ask though if- if we’re… are we talking about the same thing?”

Lena’s eyes filled with compassion, and she tilted her head to the side as she placed her hand on Kara’s forearm. “I think that maybe we are. And I don’t know where we- but, we should go in. This food needs to go away, and big strong women such as you need their dinner, right?”

Kara appreciated Lena’s attempt at levity, as well as her admission that she was also struggling with what was happening between them. She wondered, though, whether it was for the same reasons.

“Right,” she said, flexing again and making Lena laugh, even if the sound was a little choked. “Come on. Let’s get this inside and you can attempt to make me eat more healthy food.”

Every bite,” Lena repeated, pointing a finger playfully at Kara, “and if you compliment it, you’ll get some chocolate for dessert.”

“Oh game on, Miss Luthor!” And with that, Kara picked up all five bags of shopping and struggled up the lawn with them, leaving Lena trailing her, her laughter now free of sadness.

Lena opened the door for her when she reached it, and Kara wobbled down the hallway to the kitchen. When she burst through the door there, Eliza’s head snapped up in alarm as Kara almost tripped over her own feet. The shopping bags flailed as she fought to keep her balance, and it was only when she felt Lena’s arms wrap around her middle from behind that she caught herself.

“Okay?” Lena murmured in her ear.

“Yeah, yeah, I’m okay,” Kara stuttered, the adrenaline making her giggle. “Hi,” she said to Eliza, who had stood up to take some of the bags off her.

“Hi girls,” Eliza replied. “Did you have a good trip into town?”

“Lena bought the entire liquor store,” Kara said, ratting Lena out immediately.

“Hey!” Lena protested. “I didn’t buy the whole store-”

“You totally did. You bought five whole bottles of scotch-”

“Well I didn’t know what Alex would like!”

“You two are like an old married couple already,” Eliza butted in, smiling at both of them. “I can’t tell if I should get you both sticks to poke each other with or give you both a hug for making me laugh.”

She opened her arms and both Kara and Lena stepped into them, all hugging each other for a second, before Eliza let them go and put a hand on each of their cheeks. “I’m actually going to go to bed now, because I have to go in to work early tomorrow; I’m leaving early to come home before the storm hits. Alex and Maggie are in the living room though, if you want to join them?”

“Oh okay,” Kara said. “I hope you sleep well!”

“Goodnight Eliza,” Lena said, before Eliza wrapped her in an additional hug. Lena’s face wore a look of surprise, before she melted into the embrace and squeezed her eyes shut.

When Eliza had gone upstairs, Maggie poked her head through the door. “Thought we heard you two! How are you both?”

“Great,” Lena replied, before she called out, “hey, Alex!”

“Yeah?” Kara heard her shout back.

Lena unzipped the backpack and started pulling out the bottles of scotch she’d bought.

“Alex!” Maggie and Kara both shouted together.

“What?!”

“Do you want some scotch?” Lena called, cocking her head in the direction of the living room.

The next thing Kara knew, Alex had come out of the living room, dressed in her uniform, although it was rumpled. “Scotch, you say?” Her eyes lit up when she saw what Lena was pulling out of the bag and placing on the kitchen table. She beelined over straight away, picking up one of them. “I’ve not even heard of some of this stuff,” she said, her voice full of awe.

“Oh?” Lena said, an interested look on her face. “Well, have you both eaten?” Alex and Maggie both shook their heads. “Alright. Well, I’m going to prepare dinner and it should be ready in about half an hour or so, if you can wait that long?”

“Sure,” Maggie said. “Thanks Lena.”

Alex was still staring at the bottles with a look of disbelief on her face.

“I didn’t know which you’d like, so I got one from each of the whisky-producing regions of Scotland. I suppose that Islay is part of the Islands group but since Islay is one of the islands, I just went with that, since it’s my favorite,” Lena said, pointing one out. “That’s from Islay. Octomore 6.3. It’s very heavily peated. Do you like that?”

Alex was silent for a moment, before she turned to Kara. “It’s lucky she’s already engaged to you, otherwise I’d be asking her to marry me right now,” she said, her voice completely serious.

As one, they all started laughing. “Go on, open it,” Lena urged. “I wasn’t sure if you had any Glencairn glasses, so I picked two up as well,” she said, pulling two small boxes out of the bag and heading over to the sink to wash them. Kara handed her a tea towel to dry them with, and Lena handed one to Alex.

Alex opened the bottle of whisky, and immediately her eyes lit up. “My god. It smells like a fire,” she said excitedly, pouring herself a dram of it and taking a deep sniff. She took a sip, let it settle, and swallowed it. She breathed out as if she was breathing fire itself, and she closed her eyes.

“I think she’s having a religious experience,” Maggie stage-whispered, and Lena snorted inelegantly, causing Kara to laugh as well.

“I should hope so. I hope the rest will be just as holy,” Lena said, bending over to get the baking trays out of the cupboard. “Kara? You can chop the new potatoes.”

“Yes ma’am,” Kara replied dutifully, fetching herself a knife from the rack. She took her hoodie off and left it on the back of one of the chairs, before rolling the sleeves of her shirt up. Between her and Lena, they chopped up enough potatoes for the four of them while Alex and Maggie put the rest of the shopping away around them. When they were done, Lena seasoned the potatoes with olive oil, salt, and black pepper, before putting them in the oven.

Next, she laid out the salmon fillets on the second baking tray, making sure there was a gap between all of them, and filled the rest of the tray with the tenderstem broccoli, asparagus, and… the other green vegetable Kara didn’t recognize.

“What’s this?” she asked, poking at it dubiously.

“It’s samphire,” Lena said, furrowing her brows at Kara. “You lived in Alaska, how do you not know that?”

“It’s green,” Kara said, as if that was enough of an explanation.

“Eliza always had such difficulty trying to get Kara to eat her vegetables,” Alex said, raising a glass to Lena. “Kudos to you for giving it a try in front of witnesses.”

“Oh, I’m sure I can get her to eat it,” Lena said, pouring herself a dram of the Octomore before squeezing a lemon out over the food in the tray. “I bribed her with chocolate.”

“That’ll do it,” Alex said, taking another sip of her drink. “Damn. This is good shit Lena,” she said, once she’d got her breath back. “How come I’ve never had this before?”

Kara noticed that Lena was blushing slightly as she finished drizzling the fish. She didn’t say anything as she put salt, pepper, and olive oil on it as well, before putting it in the oven.

“I think what Lena’s trying to say without saying anything at all is that the scotch was expensive,” Kara said eventually.

Kara! It- it wasn’t that much. And in any case I’d want you to keep it here as a- as a thank you for the welcome you gave me,” Lena said, her voice marked by shyness and more than a little embarrassment.

“So you’re actually a secret softy, is that it?” Maggie said, wrapping her arm over Lena’s shoulders. Her voice was kind though, and Kara could hear the implied gratitude in it as plain as day.

“You’d have to ask Kara,” Lena demurred.

Kara, who had just put the second baking tray in the oven, turned back to face them. “She absolutely is,” she confirmed.

“Well then,” Lena said, but her face said she was pleased. She looked at the kitchen clock so she’d know when to take the food out of the oven, and they all went into the living room, turning the kitchen light out on their way.

Maggie had a beer on one of the side tables, so she and Alex made their way over to the sofa next to it, and Kara sat on the other sofa. Lena sat down next to her, but Kara could tell she was still feeling the moment from outside from the way she didn’t sit up against her as she usually would.

Either Alex or Maggie had built a fire, and they hadn’t put any other lights on, so the firelight sent dancing patterns of light across everyone’s faces. Kara leaned back slightly against the armrest so that she could look at the fire, as well as surreptitiously at Lena, who was sipping at her drink quietly.

Maggie told everyone about the day she and Alex had had, which was busier than usual. Someone had called in that their cows had escaped on the outskirts of town, so they’d both had to spend half their day helping to corral two heifers who weren’t prepared to go back to their fields.

Lena was laughing at the story, but Kara barely heard it.

Instead, her mind was aflame with the memory of the kiss that they’d shared on the boat. The heat from the fire was relaxing her, and the sofa she and Lena were sitting on wasn’t very large. Even with Kara leaning against the armrest and with Lena not sitting as closely as usual, they were still touching at the calves. Although they were still dressed, it was as if Kara could feel every centimetre of where they were touching, the contact making her skin feel like it was scorching. In a nod to their fake engagement, the hand that wasn’t wrapped around her glass, Lena had resting on Kara’s knee. Every now and again, she would shift, and every time she did, it sent a jolt of fire straight through Kara.

The flames danced Lena’s face into both light and shadow, and it made her look moody, mysterious, and seductive. Her face right now reminded Kara of myths and legends; she looked somehow timeless, and Kara’s heart beat fast when Lena looked over at her, her eyes dilated from looking across the room in the dim light. But Kara’s mind, and body, told her it was for another reason, and she felt her whole body flush in response.

Kara was almost squirming next to Lena on the seat, her heart pounding hard in her chest, and the urge to do something about it was nearly impossible to ignore.

Unable to stop herself, she leaned forward and took Lena’s hand from her knee, settling back down on the sofa with it cradled between both of hers. Lena’s eyes caught hers, and Kara could see she was puzzled, but Kara just need to hold some part of Lena. Maybe the nervous tension inside her would dissipate if she could just distract herself enough…

It was a mistake, though, holding Lena’s hand. She was warm, and Kara loved the way that their hands seemed to fit so well together. Despite Lena’s unwillingness to talk about it earlier, and her decision to not sit as close to Kara right now, she was clearly not as unaffected as she pretended to be. Kara heard Lena’s breath hitch as Kara ran her index finger down the middle of Lena’s palm and back up. Kara touched her own fingertips to each of Lena’s before pulling them back down, softly tracing them across Lena’s skin all the way down to her own fingertips.

Turning Lena’s hand over, Kara drew shapeless patterns into the back of Lena’s hand, her heart pounding harder than ever. She knew what she was doing. This was the most deliberate, intimate way that she’d ever touched Lena, and the knowledge of it made her chest feel tight and her breath come quickly.

This was touching Lena because she wanted to. Indulgently. Unambiguously.

Turning her hand again, Kara slowly ran the backs of her nails up the inside of Lena’s wrist and into her palm.

Lena snatched her hand away from Kara, as if she’d been burnt, and stood up abruptly. “I’m just going to check on the dinner,” she announced in a shaky voice to Alex and Maggie, who didn’t seem to notice anything was up. When she was gone, Kara got to her feet as well, and followed Lena out.

As she stepped into the kitchen, she noticed Lena had left the light off. The only reason she could see Lena at all was because the light from inside the oven cast a low glow throughout the room. Lena was standing with her back to Kara, but when she heard that someone had followed her in, she spun around, her hands clutching the work surface behind her.

For a moment, neither of them moved or spoke. Slowly, Kara moved towards Lena, giving her every opportunity to tell her to stop. Lena said nothing; she watched as Kara made her way toward her, until finally Kara was standing right in front of her. The engagement ring twinkled in the glow of the oven, and it caught Lena’s eye. She took Kara’s hand, turning it over so that they could both see the ring, glowing in the space between them. Lena looked up at Kara, a silent question in her eyes.

When Kara reached up and unclipped Lena’s hair, letting it fall down around her shoulders, framing her face in dark waves, Lena still didn’t stop her. When Kara slid her fingers up the back of Lena’s neck and into the soft dark hair, gently scratching on her way up, Lena shivered, resting her own hand on Kara’s upper chest. When Kara stepped closer to her, closing the distance between them, Lena gripped the front of Kara’s shirt and pulled her the rest of the way.

It was messy when their lips met. They crashed together and all the tension that had built up throughout the day spilled over as they grabbed at each other, Lena with her arms around Kara’s neck, pulling her closer, and Kara with one hand fisted in Lena’s hair, the other around her waist, holding her tightly against her.

It was wet, open-mouthed, and Lena bit Kara’s lower lip before soothing it with her tongue. Kara felt an animalistic growl rumble deep in her throat as she pushed back against Lena, lifting her up onto the counter without breaking the kiss, and pressing herself between her legs. Lena wrapped her legs around Kara, locking them together, and Kara pushed her tongue into her mouth, reveling in the whimper she heard in response. She tasted of the scotch she’d been drinking, as well as something else that Kara knew was just Lena, and Kara couldn’t get enough of it. She tightened her fingers in Lena’s hair, and angled her head for better access.

Lena gave as good as she got, pulling at Kara’s hair to tilt her head up higher and raking her nails down the back of Kara’s neck. She could feel Lena’s chest heaving against hers as they held on tightly to each other. As the fire of their first coming together ebbed to a burning smolder, their kisses grew slower, more purposeful. Lena’s nails were replaced by her fingertips, her tight grip with soft touches, as Lena kissed her as if there was nothing more important in the world to her than making Kara feel warm, feel cherished, feel loved.

Finally, they rested their foreheads against each other, just breathing heavily in the same space, but unwilling to let go of each other. Kara lay her head against Lena’s chest, hearing her heartbeat for the first time, and there was something so indescribably intimate about it that she felt like she might cry, especially when Lena dropped a soft kiss to the top of her head.

For a few moments, they were silent. Lena tenderly stroked Kara’s hair with gentle care, and Kara was content to rest just where she was, listening to Lena’s heart and feeling the rise and fall of her chest as she breathed.

Suddenly, light flared in the kitchen and Kara winced, and above her, Lena hissed a little as she shielded her eyes.

“Oh my god I’m so sorry,” Alex said, sounding absolutely mortified at her interruption. She pointed weakly at the oven.

“Oh, um,” Lena said, reaching up to wipe the corner of her mouth with the tip of her thumb. “I think dinner should… should be ready,” she said, pushing Kara back a little so that she could slide off the counter. Her eyes were darker than Kara had ever seen them, and when Lena looked at her, she felt an answering throb deep inside herself.

Lena wandered over to the oven, her eyes flicking up to look at the time, before she opened it and donned oven gloves, pulling both baking trays out of the oven. With unsteady hands, Kara brought out four plates and set them out, Lena dishing them up.

Maggie came in shortly afterwards, and immediately caught on to the tension in the room. “Alex,” she said, slapping her on the upper arm. “You interrupted them, didn’t you?”

“I didn’t mean to!” Alex almost wailed. “Sorry ladies, really,” she said again, rubbing her arm.

“I’ve never seen broccoli baked before, Lena,” Maggie said, changing the subject entirely.

“Oh, yes. I was experimenting one day at home and I just found that it tasted so much better this way. You’ll have to let me know what you think,” Lena replied, and Kara had to hand it to her; she sounded as if they hadn’t just spent the last five minutes wound tightly around one another.

Kara felt nowhere near as composed. There was absolutely no chalking that up to the situation they found themselves in.

Those kisses had been raw passion, and they were as genuine as anything Kara had ever felt before.

Kara cleared her throat and tried to pull herself together. She laid the table with cutlery while Alex brought the plates over, and Maggie filled the dishwasher with the pans. Each of them poured themselves a non-alcoholic drink to have with dinner, and they all sat down around the table to eat.

Kara still felt like her head was full of fog, and judging by the slightly dazed look on Lena’s face, no matter how steady her voice had sounded, so was hers.

Thankfully, Alex and Maggie were there to relieve the tension.

“This is amazing,” Maggie said, around a mouthful of food. “I have never tasted vegetables this good before!”

Kara looked across at Lena, who raised an eyebrow at her. “Every bite,” she said once more.

Kara thought she would’ve eaten vegetables with every meal forever if it meant that Lena would kiss her like that again.

Luckily, she concurred with Maggie. The vegetables actually were delicious. In fact, she couldn’t remember the last time she had actually enjoyed eating them. The potatoes were soft, the broccoli was crunchy, the asparagus tangy with the lemon juice and pepper, and the samphire salty. Each of them went very well with the salmon, and before long, Kara had cleared her plate, and was stealing pieces of broccoli from Lena’s plate. Lena hid her laughter, but Alex wasn’t quite so polite.

She fished her phone out of her pocket and took a photo of Kara stealing vegetables from Lena’s plate. “Mom will never believe this!” she exclaimed, leaning sideways to show Maggie the photo she’d taken.

“If I hadn’t seen it with my own eyes, I never would have believed it either,” Maggie said, letting out a low whistle as Kara chewed on the broccoli with gusto.

By the time they’d all eaten their fill and Kara had been rewarded with her promised chocolate, everyone was yawning. Lena hid hers behind her hand; they’d spent a lot of their time outdoors today, and Kara figured the fresh country air was getting to the city girl as Lena seemed to struggle to stay alert as the time passed.

Eventually, once the dishwasher was on and after her second glass of scotch, Lena said her goodnights to Alex and Maggie before heading upstairs. Kara followed not long after, telling them that she’d see them both the day after tomorrow for the party. They’d be leaving with Eliza early in the morning. As she was leaving, Kara picked up the vase of flowers that Lena had picked for her that morning.

When she reached the bedroom, Lena was already in the bathroom; the shower was running, and she could hear Lena humming something tuneless through the door. Kara put the vase on the nightstand next to her side of the bed, gently brushing some of the colorful petals. She never wanted to forget them; taking her phone out, she took several photos of them, aware of the smile on her face as she did so. Slipping her phone back in her pocket, she busied herself with making the room cozy, closing the blinds and turning the sheets down ready for bed.

She desperately wanted to talk about the kiss, the kisses, that they’d shared with each other today, but with Lena looking like she was about to fall asleep on her feet, she figured that it was a discussion better saved for tomorrow.

That didn’t mean that they weren’t rolling around and around in her head, though. For the second time that day, Kara was absolutely certain that she needed a cold shower.

The dinner had helped to calm her down though, and while earlier she’d been full of nervous energy, now, she mostly just felt like she was glowing from the inside with warmth and happiness. When Lena came out of the bathroom, looking sleepy and soft with her damp, dark hair over one shoulder, Kara couldn’t help wrapping her up in a hug, breathing in the clean smell of her and pressing a kiss to the side of her neck. Lena buried herself into Kara in turn, sighing happily and closing her eyes. They held each other for a moment, before Lena tapped her with her fingertips. “Go shower, then come to bed,” she murmured. Kara let her go, and she shuffled off towards the bed in her fuzzy socks.

Kara’s own shower was quick. She wanted to take her time, but found that she couldn’t, knowing who was waiting for her on the other side of the door. Once she was all scrubbed clean and fresh, she towelled herself off, brushed her teeth, and headed back into the bedroom.

Even though she’d not been very long, Lena was already dozing against her pillow, snuffling adorably awake when Kara climbed into bed next to her. Kara plugged her phone in, took her glasses off, and turned out the light, before she felt Lena’s hand toying with the sleeve of her pajamas.

Kara took the hint and opened her arms, and Lena shuffled over and lay her head on her chest, one hand over Kara’s heart, and her leg slung over to rest between Kara’s. Kara wrapped her arms around Lena, feeling like she could burst with elation. She pressed a kiss to Lena’s forehead, and when Lena craned her neck up, she kissed her, warm and soft and unhurried. When Lena sighed happily into her mouth, Kara only held her closer.

They didn’t need to say anything. The gentle, sleepy kisses they shared with each other said it all for them. The next day, they would talk, but for right now, Kara was content to hold Lena as she fell asleep. It wasn’t long before she, too, was asleep.

Chapter Text

Kara woke slowly; things around her felt different. Firstly, she was warm, warmer than she usually was when she woke up. Secondly, there was something tickling her nose. Thirdly, something warm was underneath her shirt.

Everything became clear when she opened her eyes, and she couldn’t keep the smile from stretching across her face. She was lying in the middle of the bed, and Lena was asleep on her chest, breathing softly. Lena’s usual bird’s nest of bed hair was what was tickling her nose as she breathed in, and Kara had to suppress her laughter as she thought about how hard Lena was going to find pulling a brush through it later. She had no idea how it got as messy as it did, but Kara found it endearing. Thirdly, the something underneath her shirt… it was Lena’s hand.

She’d reached underneath Kara’s shirt as if it belonged right there on Kara’s skin.

In her sleep, Lena’s hand was moving as if she were typing something slowly on her laptop, tapping on a key every now and again against the bottom of Kara’s ribcage. Her arm was stretched across Kara’s stomach, the weight of it pleasant and comforting.

Their lower legs were tangled together as well, and Kara felt her whole body flood with contentment as she realized that in her sleep, Lena had gravitated towards her. As well as that, in Kara’s own sleep, she’d seen fit to wrap Lena up in her arms and hold her against herself. She’d wrapped one of her arms across Lena’s shoulders, and the other was on Lena’s upper arm.

Lena snuffled and stretched in her sleep, making it obvious that her other arm was underneath Kara’s neck, as if Lena too had tried to hold Kara as she slept. The thought warmed Kara’s heart further, and as she lay there, wrapped up in Lena, she couldn’t pinpoint a morning where she’d woken up quite as happy as this in a long time.

She didn’t think she’d ever woken up this happy.

When Lena had finished stretching, she snuggled closer to Kara, her body relaxing, and she breathed a wakeful sigh. “Kara?” she murmured, her voice heavy with sleep.

“Hmm?”

Lena shifted a little, and then her fingers on Kara’s ribs seemed to freeze as she realized where her hand was. Kara really didn’t want her to remove it though, so as Lena started to withdraw it, Kara slid her hand down Lena’s arm and stopped her before she’d moved too far. Kara felt Lena smile against her chest; she relaxed again, stroking her fingers across Kara’s skin so gently that it almost tickled.

“Hi,” Lena said, her voice low and gravelly. “You don’t mind me being under here?” she asked, sliding her hand further around Kara and pulling it back, the gentle scratch of her nails causing goosebumps to erupt in their wake. Kara shivered, and Lena chuckled, kissing the underside of Kara’s jaw.

“I don’t mind at all, as I think you-” Kara blew out a shaky breath as Lena ran her nails down Kara’s side “-can tell.”

Lena gave her a wicked grin, before experimentally raking her nails fully across Kara’s stomach. Kara groaned deep in her throat, and before Lena could do anything else, Kara flipped them. Lena squeaked in sleepy surprise, gripping on to the soft part of Kara’s waist as Kara repositioned herself. Her knees were straddling Lena’s waist, the blankets pooled around her hips. She balanced herself either side of Lena’s shoulders, careful not to accidentally pull her hair.

It was a mistake, but absolutely not a mistake at the same time, to look down. Even without her glasses, Lena was close enough for Kara to be able to take her in. Lena was still giving her a devilish smile, but her eyes were soft and filled with clear affection and warmth. The desire was there, too, but as bold as Lena had been with her nails, Kara knew, somewhere deep down in the bones of herself, what Lena really wanted.

She traced a fingertip down Lena’s jawline, making sure to brush her thumb over Lena’s cheekbone as she passed, before she cupped her hand around the back of her neck. Lena got the hint immediately and leaned up towards Kara, reaching for her face with both hands.

Before anything could happen though, Kara sat back on her haunches, pulling her face away from Lena’s. Straight away, Lena’s face almost crumpled with disappointment, and Kara scrambled to undo it.

“I’m conscious of my morning breath,” she said, and Lena let out a startled laugh as her expression cleared when she realized that it wasn’t a rejection.

Oh,” Lena said, leaning back on her elbows, a relieved smile on her face. “I- well, shall we brush our teeth?”

Yes,” Kara replied emphatically, coupled with nodding, which just made Lena laugh even more. Kara felt like her chest would burst with how wonderful the sound was. She couldn’t believe that she’d known Lena for years but never heard her genuine laughter until this week. The thought seemed criminal.

Kara shuffled backwards and then climbed out of bed, holding her hand out for Lena to take. “To the toothbrushes, dear lady?”

Lena, her hair a mess and one of her sleeves bunched over her shoulder, gave Kara a soft smile and allowed herself to be pulled to her feet. “Thank you. How chivalrous you are.”

“I won’t be very long,” Kara promised, picking up her phone and her glasses before wandering into the bathroom. Before she closed the door, she poked her head around it for a last look at Lena, who was standing at the end of the bed and looking adorable.

“See something you like?” Lena asked in an overly seductive voice, gesturing to herself.

Kara blushed and hurriedly shut the door, the sound of Lena’s laughter following her through.

She sorted herself out in the bathroom and was standing in front of the mirror, brushing her teeth, when she turned her phone on. She was shocked to discover that it was already 10:45am. They’d slept really late today. It must’ve been all that fresh air the day before, at least, that was probably Lena’s excuse. What was Kara’s?

Was the secret to a truly great rest sleeping in the arms of someone she wanted to be with? She brushed her teeth a little harder when the thought crossed her mind that really, sleeping next to Lena should’ve been difficult. It should’ve been really hard to sleep next to someone she desperately wanted to kiss, and yet, it was the easiest thing in the world. They weren’t really together, but the day they’d had filled Kara with some dangerous hope that there might be something more for them that what they already had.

The panic that she’d had in the alley the night before resurfaced, and Kara frowned at herself in the mirror. They did need to talk, but the somewhat traitorous part of her heart told her that they still had time before they had to make a decision about what they wanted. They had to get through the interview first; they would have a much better understanding of where they might stand with each other once they’d passed the massive hurdle in their way.

Kara felt like she had two parts of her body at war with each other; her sensible mind versus her impulsive heart that just wanted someone to love.

Her mind screamed at her that they could end up separated by a whole ocean, that they should stop before one or both of their hearts got broken. That putting a stop to whatever was happening between them was the safer option, since the consequences of them failing the interviews were so dire. Deportation for Lena, prison for Kara. Even though the way that Lena looked at her, the way she kissed her, told her that Lena most likely felt the same, was risking failing the interview worth the heartbreak that could ultimately follow if they did?

Her heart said something different. While you’re still here in Midvale, it whispered temptingly, make it real. The kisses that they’d shared already were all real ones, that much was clear when Kara thought back on them. What if they leaned into what was growing between them? What if they passed the interview, and they were happy? The crush that Kara had had on Lena had only grown in the time they’d spent together, and Lena… Lena had kissed her. Lena had initiated every kiss the day before, even when there were no cameras on them. Even when there was nobody to see them.

Damn, Kara thought as she clutched the side of the sink. She wanted to kiss Lena. She wanted to take her on picnics in her favorite spots. Kara wanted to go for long drives at night, singing to whatever came on the radio, go for walks on the beach, get a dog. She wanted to spend whole days doing nothing but loving the wonderful woman she’d discovered beneath the mask, in all the ways she could.

You’ve been waiting your whole life for a person like Lena. Do you really want to pass up the chance to see where this could go?

It didn’t take Kara long to realize that when she thought of Lena, she saw far into the future. She saw them curled up on the sofa twenty years from now, arguing over the inevitable future Star Wars Episodes XVI, XVII, and XVIII. She saw them teasing each other about grey hairs. The time she was spending with Lena now only made her want to spend even more with her.

The thought should’ve scared her. A month, heck, even a week ago, it would’ve scared her.

It didn’t.

Instead, it just made her feel warm inside. Lena’s soft smile floated across her mind, and she sighed in such a way that Alex would’ve laughed and called her lovesick if she’d heard it.

She rolled her eyes at herself and put her toothbrush back in the holder, catching the silly smile on her face in the mirror as she did so.

Kara couldn’t deny that she was conflicted over what they should do. She told herself that they shouldn’t pursue whatever was happening, but at the same time, she knew, deep inside herself, that there was no way she was going to be able to push Lena away. Her heart had chosen Lena; indeed it seemed to have chosen her long before she’d realized it. It really hadn’t taken much for Kara’s feelings to accelerate far past a mere crush to… something close to… no, surely not this soon? She shoved the thought away.

The rate at which her feelings had developed led her to think that she’d felt more strongly about Lena than she’d thought. That her feelings had run deeper than she’d realized.

Something else that she couldn’t deny was the fact that she wanted to leave the bathroom and wrap her arms around Lena Luthor, the secret softie.

Lena was sitting in the large armchair by the open balcony door once again when she came out. She’d opened the blinds so that the sunlight streamed through the glass, turning the tips of her dark hair almost golden. Lena had brushed it while she’d been gone, and the breeze ruffled it slightly as she turned a page in her book. At the sound of the bathroom door opening, Lena looked up and over at her, her face wearing a look of slight trepidation.

“Kara? Are you alright? You were… quite a while,” Lena said hesitantly, tucking the book down the side of her thigh against the armrest.

“I was?” Kara asked, pulling out her phone and checking the time.

“Yeah,” Lena replied, standing up and facing her. “Do you want to go down for breakfast?” she asked. Kara heard the insecurity in her tone, though Lena tried to hide it. Even if she had managed to hide it, the fact that she was pulling on her thumb and index finger was indication enough to Kara that Lena was feeling somewhat anxious.

Wanting to reassure her, even though she didn’t know what had changed since she’d gone into the bathroom and come back out of it, Kara walked over to her and took both of Lena’s fidgeting fingers in hers.

“Did you know that you twist your fingers around when you’re nervous?” Kara asked quietly, sliding her fingers along Lena’s gently, making sure to touch each knuckle as she passed it, before she locked both of their hands together.

Pink tinged Lena’s cheeks. “I- I did know that. But I didn’t realize that other people had noticed.”

Letting go of her hands and wrapping her arms around Lena’s waist instead, Kara felt Lena relax against her. She fit perfectly in her arms, almost as if she was made to be held by Kara. Her hands were still high up on her chest, and she felt Lena’s breath on her neck as she slotted herself into the space above her collarbone.

“You don’t need to be embarrassed about it, if that’s why you’re blushing,” Kara said into Lena’s hair.

“I’m not- no, that’s a lie. I am. I hadn’t realized that I was being so obvious,” Lena replied, her voice muffled as Kara held her tighter.

“I don’t think it’s obvious to anyone but me.”

Lena pulled back slightly so that she could look at Kara, splaying her fingers out over Kara’s shoulders, brushing off imaginary lint. “Oh? And why is it obvious only to you?” Her question was curious, but her voice was pitched low and her smile was mischievous. Kara recognized it as the other nervous trait of Lena’s that she’d uncovered the day before; Lena covered her nerves with flirtiness.

But why was she feeling nervous, now?

“Because I’ve been paying attention to you,” Kara admitted, and immediately, it was as if Kara had said exactly what she needed to hear, because Lena smiled absolutely radiantly.

“Is that so?”

“Yeah,” Kara replied, ducking her head and kissing Lena on the cheek, and was rewarded by feeling her shiver in her arms. “But I do want to ask you something. Will you tell me why you felt nervous just now?”

Lena’s fingers stilled on her shoulders. “If you’d like me to,” she answered.

“I do,” Kara replied, rubbing soothing circles against Lena’s back. “I want us to be honest with each other, even if we aren’t with anyone else. And also I- I want to know you as best as I can, and not… not just because of this situation.”

Lena’s radiant smile returned. “Really? In that case… can I tell you when I come back out of the bathroom?” she asked.

“Whenever you’re ready to tell me,” Kara said seriously. “Never before, okay?”

“Thank you, darling.” Lena tapped her on the shoulder, and Kara let her go.

Once the door had shut behind Lena, Kara climbed into bed, her arms crossed behind her head.

A few days ago, if Kara had asked Lena to bare some part of her soul, she was pretty sure that Lena would’ve been far more defensive about it. It was a testament to how much they’d grown to trust each other, especially in Lena’s case with trusting Kara, that she was willing to let her walls down far more easily than she had before.

Lena’s growing trust in her, though, meant that her heart wanted to wander down a dangerous path. At this point, even this early in their… relationship? Close friendship? Fake-but-real-feelings relationship? Kara didn’t know what to call it. But even so early into whatever it was, Kara couldn’t bear the thought of being away from Lena permanently.

Lena being deported would just about be one of the worst things that could happen.

When Lena came back out of the bathroom, some of the worry must’ve shown on her face, because Lena was immediately climbing into bed beside Kara and asking her what was wrong.

“Aren’t we both deep in our feelings today?” Kara tried to tease, but her voice belied her tension and Lena noticed straight away. Lena was sitting cross-legged on the bed and looking down at Kara, her hands rubbing at her own knees. She was obviously concerned, and the nerves that she’d displayed before she went to the bathroom were visible again.

“Hey,” Kara said, sitting up herself and stilling Lena’s hands. Perhaps a touch hypocritically, she thought, since she wanted Lena to be honest, Kara sidestepped her own worries about the possible consequences of their situation and just stated what was on her mind. “it wasn’t anything that wasn’t solvable. I was… I was just thinking that if we failed this interview and you got deported, I would really, really miss you.”

“You would?” Lena asked in a wavering voice, looking away from Kara and down at their hands. The insecurity in her voice was very clear.

Of course I would! Lena,” Kara admonished, waiting to continue until Lena’s worried green eyes met hers before she spoke again. “Of course I would miss you. Don’t you understand how I… I- after we… golly,” she spluttered incoherently. “After the way we- how could you think I wouldn’t miss you? Wait,” she said, and she let go of Lena’s hands to prop the pillows up against the headboard so that they could get really comfy. She lay back against them and opened her arms. “Come here?”

Lena gave her a shy smile before she lay down too, aligning herself perfectly along Kara’s body and wrapping her arm over her waist, but over her clothes this time. Kara cocked an eyebrow at her before she reached down and lifted her shirt until Lena’s hand was resting on her bare skin.

“Much better,” Kara said, and Lena chuckled against her. “Where’s this insecurity coming from?”

“In the name of total honesty,” Lena said, stroking the skin of Kara’s side a little, “I’m not used to people wanting me in their life. Or saying they’d miss me and actually meaning it. And I believe you when you say that you would, which is strange for me. I’ve told you that I decided not to trust people any more, and I’ve also admitted my loneliness, which I’ve never done before. I feel… comfortable, being vulnerable with you. I trust that you won’t hurt me the way others have.” She scratched her nails gently on Kara’s skin, and even at the strange angle, Kara could tell that Lena’s expression was both somber and thoughtful. “And being who I am, with Lex and Lillian being who they are, I guess it’s… maybe it’s difficult for me to think that someone would actually want to be with- I mean, would actually want to get to know me, and not just to use my friendship against me later.”

“I would never-”

“I know you wouldn’t, darling,” Lena said, and Kara felt her smiling against her collarbone. “I’m just saying that it’s hard for me to think that someone would actually… I think earlier, I was possibly just…” she sighed and snuggled closer. “I don’t know how to say this without it sounding not the way I want it to, so I’ll just say it. Earlier, I think the thought that yesterday was a one-off crossed my mind, or that the… the kisses weren’t real, just a product of the situation. But… they were for me. And I’m scared that they weren’t real for you.”

Kara twisted around so that she was facing Lena. She looked slightly sheepish, but the undercurrent of truth in her words was obvious. For a moment, Kara just gazed at her, their faces close enough on the pillow they shared that she could feel Lena’s breath on her skin. She wondered how she could address Lena’s fears without adding to them, but maybe overthinking wasn’t the best approach. Lena appreciated directness, and maybe that was the way to go.

She lifted her hand from Lena’s waist and brushed the backs of her fingers along Lena’s jaw, before she did something she’d wanted to do since they’d arrived in Midvale. Slowly, she pushed her hand into Lena’s hair, not to pull her closer, not to scratch soothingly at her scalp, but simply to feel how silky soft it was.

“I’ve always loved your hair, you know,” Kara whispered, and Lena’s eyes, which had closed at Kara’s gentle touch, snapped open to meet hers with an intense gaze. “It’s always so sleek at work, and to be honest I’ve genuinely wondered how you don’t give yourself hair headaches with how tightly wound it is sometimes. But since we’ve been here and I’ve seen it loose, I’ve been wondering how it would feel between my fingers. I’m very tactile and I’ve wondered how soft it would be, because it looks so soft, and I’ve just wanted to dig my hands into it. It’s kind of… wild, especially in the mornings. And I’ve wondered whether you like having your hair played with, whether you’d like it if I was the one who was twisting strands of it around my fingers.”

To emphasize her point, Kara lifted Lena’s hair away from her scalp, allowing herself to give Lena a gentle head massage before each time she did it. It wasn’t long before Lena made a quiet noise in the base of her throat and pushed her face deeper into the pillow, pleasure written all over it.

“Until we came here, I’d never seen a genuine smile on your face. And now that I know you have so many smiles, for so many different kinds of things, I can’t imagine not knowing them,” Kara continued, shifting a little closer to Lena while still playing with her hair. “My favourite one is a soft smile you seem to reserve just for me. It makes my heart feel so warm and you get these dimples just here,” she said, tracing Lena’s face at the right spot and feeling those wonderful dimples form beneath her fingertips. “And don’t get me started on your laughter. I love the sound of it; it makes you seem so free and unrestrained.”

Kara stroked Lena’s cheekbone with her thumb. “You’re so brave. You carry such a huge weight on your shoulders, and you do it all alone. You’re braver than anyone else I know, and I admire you for your strength. I’ve admired you for a long time, actually. But this week has been special so far. I’ve never enjoyed getting to know someone as much. And even though I know the reasons why you behave the way you think you have to at work, I think that… that it’s such a travesty that people don’t know the Lena that I do, now. Because the person you are is wonderful beyond anything I’d ever imagined.” She pushed Lena’s hair back behind her ear and let her hand rest lightly on Lena’s cheek.

Lena swallowed. “Kara-”

Kara ran her thumb along Lena’s bottom lip and the corner of her mouth, effectively silencing her. “I love the way you say flirty things because you like the way it flusters me. You always know just what to say to throw me off, and you always look so pleased with yourself when you’ve done it. And you know what else? Something I’ve noticed since being here is just… you love life. You love to cook. You love taking walks. You threw yourself into painting the other day and didn’t mind that you looked like you’d done the whole thing with your hands instead of the roller. You’re very playful. You’re attentive when we’re learning about each other, and you bought five bottles of scotch just so that you could make Alex happy. You pay attention to all the flowers we have growing outside. You love art, and you love so many different kinds of music. You can’t really sing, but you do it anyway. Your eyes light up when you’re talking about scientific things with Eliza and Winn, and there’s passion behind your words and in your voice when you speak about things you love.”

The hand that Lena had underneath Kara’s sleep shirt was trembling.

“And none of this is false,” Kara said. “I… I’m aware of how I’m feeling, but until now, I- I wanted to be sure that you thought it was real. I never wanted to push your boundaries beyond anything you’re comfortable with. What you think, and how you feel, is so important to me. And… for me, our kisses have been real, too. All of them. How could you possibly think that they weren’t?”

“Kara…” Lena said, her hand sliding slowly up and down Kara’s back, leaving fiery trails in her wake. Her voice was quiet, pleading, and when she finally settled against Kara’s lower back and pulled her closer, Kara gave her what she wanted.

She closed the distance between them and pressed her lips to Lena’s, and she heard Lena’s breath hitch. Lena sighed against her mouth, clutching desperately at Kara’s back. Kara’s whole body shivered at the feel of it, and Lena broke the kiss. Kara opened her eyes and found Lena looking intently at her. There was something in her gaze that she couldn’t read, but she knew how it made her feel; her mouth felt dry as all the moisture in her body shot downwards. Lena’s eyes darkened, and a shy smile graced her lips.

While one of Kara’s arms was wrapped around the back of Lena’s shoulders, the other had danced between touching Lena’s face and settling on her hip. Lena pressed another kiss to Kara’s lips before she looked down, taking the hand that was on her hip and slowly sliding it under her sleep shirt and onto her stomach. Shifting a little, Lena lay on her back, and still with Kara’s hand beneath hers, encouraged Kara to explore.

Kara almost felt like she could cry at the intimacy of it, at the trust on Lena’s face as she looked up at her. Only when Kara began to move on her own did Lena return to Kara’s face, pulling her gently back down for another kiss.

Kara’s hand drifted over Lena’s stomach, and the memory of holding her the other morning flashed across her mind. Lena was just as soft as Kara had thought, had imagined, and she had a slight tummy, which Kara instantly wanted to press kisses all over. There was a spot just to the side of her belly button that she discovered was ticklish, and Kara felt Lena smiling into their kisses every time Kara passed over the spot and making her jump.

When she felt the first tentative brush of Lena’s tongue against her lower lip, Kara groaned into her mouth, the hand on her stomach sliding to her hip and tightening.

In a second, Lena had broken the kiss, pushing Kara back a little. For a moment, Kara was confused, but when Lena sat up a little and grasped the hem of her shirt, she understood. With one quick movement, Lena pulled her shirt off and tossed it to the side, leaving her in a lacy black bra. And suddenly, Kara was confronted with what seemed like miles and miles of beautiful, pale skin, dotted with freckles.

“Lena… god, Lena, you’re so…”

Kara slowly ran her fingertips up from Lena’s stomach until she was almost touching her bra, watching in fascinated wonder as goosebumps erupted wherever she’d touched her. For a moment, Lena did nothing but breathe, but then she yanked her back down. Lena instantly took advantage of Kara’s surprise to kiss Kara even more deeply, pushing her tongue straight into Kara’s mouth, a relieved noise coming from her throat.

The kiss had rocketed past their shyer ones from just before, and Kara felt heat surge through her as she felt the pain-pleasure of Lena’s nails at her back. Kara wasted no more time and straddled Lena, kneeling over her lap as she pulled her upright. Breaking the kiss only long enough to pull her own shirt off, she gasped as the Lena slowly ran her nails from Kara’s hairline all the way down to her lower back with both hands.

Oh god, do that again,” Kara burst out, wrapping one arm over Lena’s shoulders and the other around her waist. Lena did, and this time when she reached the bottom of Kara’s back, she spread her hands around, sliding her nails up Kara’s side as well.

Now, Kara was the one who was trembling. She pressed her forehead to Lena’s before holding her hand above where Lena’s heart was. She could feel it racing beneath her fingers, and she looked up to find Lena’s eyes smoldering, darker than Kara had ever seen them.

“You make me feel…” Lena said, her voice hoarse.

“Feel what?” Kara whispered, stroking Lena’s side, loving the way she could feel Lena shaking with the desire to do more, with desire for her.

Lena’s answer was a slow, languid kiss, all hot tongue and wet exploration. If they’d been standing, Kara’s legs would’ve turned to jelly in an instant. Lena was doing something absurd with her tongue in Kara’s mouth, reducing Kara to mere whimpers as she expertly stoked the fire burning under Kara’s skin. One of Lena’s hands was tangled tightly in her hair, keeping Kara exactly where she wanted her, while the other slid down Kara’s back and dipped just below Kara’s waistband. She stayed there only for a brief moment, before she raked her nails up Kara’s back once more and cupped Kara’s neck.

Lena’s kiss was firmly between loving and possessive, vulnerable and bold. It was almost a mirror of her personality; that beautiful, contrasting mixture of shyness and seduction, and Kara couldn’t get enough of it, couldn’t get enough of Lena. Couldn’t get enough of the feel of the soft skin of her stomach beneath her fingertips. If just kissing Lena made her feel like this, what would it feel like if she kissed her somewhere else? How happy would it make Kara, how happy would it make Lena, if she were to press her lips against Lena’s stomach, her collarbone, her chest? Or… Kara groaned into Lena’s mouth, and she felt Lena grip her tighter.

Kara’s stomach chose that moment to growl, loud and insistent, and Lena looked up at Kara in astonishment, her eyes still clouded with arousal. For a moment neither of them said anything, but then her stomach growled again, and they both started to laugh. Kara sat up, and Lena placed the flat of her palm against where the noise had come from.

“I think we need to feed the beast,” Lena said, her voice a little husky, but she laughed again, sitting up herself and draping her arms around Kara’s hips and lower back. Kara shuffled closer when she felt Lena give her a gentle, encouraging squeeze, wrapping her arms around Lena’s shoulders. Being able to feel Lena shake with silent laughter in her arms made Kara feel indescribably happy.

“I think you’re right,” Kara replied when they’d both quieted, pressing a kiss to Lena’s forehead.

Kara, however, was reluctant to move, and so, it seemed, was Lena. Their passion had cooled to something much gentler, and Kara, having the advantage of sitting in Lena’s lap, reveled in the feeling of being able to tip Lena’s face up and kiss her softly. Their kisses now were unhurried, more about just being happy with the closeness of each other than with exploring. Kara cradled Lena with one arm and stroked her hair, traced her fingertips along her collarbone, across her shoulder, down the top of her arm. Kara mapped every freckle that she came across, loving how much they stood out against the pale skin that surrounded them.

Lena, for her part, seemed to be enjoying herself by touching every centimetre of Kara’s lower back and sides. She could feel Lena’s fingers moving over her spine, across her ribs. But sometimes, she was content only to rest her head on Kara’s chest, listening to her heartbeat. Kara could feel her breathing, the gentle cadence of it making her feel warm inside. The way that Lena touched her with quiet, reverent tenderness made her feel cherished in a way she’d never felt before.

“I could touch you forever,” Lena whispered against Kara’s skin, pressing a lingering kiss to the middle of her chest. “I would be happy forever if I could hold you just like this.”

Kara’s breath hitched at Lena’s words, the rush of hope and affection they brought filling her chest and making her heart race. Lena’s arms tightened around her waist, and Kara looked down to find Lena’s beautiful green eyes brimming with contentment and happiness as they met Kara’s. Lena’s smile was shy, but she looked absolutely elated. Kara wasted no time in ducking down and kissing Lena, one hand on her cheek and the other around her shoulders, basking in the feeling that Lena wanted to kiss her just as much.

She wondered just how deep Lena’s feelings really ran.

She wondered, once again, about her own.

Her stomach growled once again, and Lena put her palm over the sound, laughing into Kara’s mouth. “I can almost feel it telling you that it wants food!”

“Alright, alright! We hear you!” Kara said to her stomach, struggling to contain her own laughter. “Let’s go and eat something. I can’t remember the last time I waited for so long before breakfast or… I guess it’s brunch, now.” She gave Lena one more quick kiss before moving backwards and away from her, and she felt her breath leave her body when she looked back at Lena.

She was now sitting cross-legged, her dark hair disheveled from all the ways Kara had had her hands in it. Her lips were redder than usual from all the kissing they’d been doing, and Kara felt herself flush at the thought of it. But most of all, she was sitting there in only her pajama bottoms and her bra, looking all kinds of seductive. Kara felt that pull towards her again, wanting nothing more than to gather Lena up in her arms and not let her go for the next several hours. To spend time worshiping every inch of her body, to learn what her skin tasted like. To know what she tasted like, and to learn it felt like to have Lena gasp her name.

Kara’s body clenched with pleasure at the thought of it.

Something of it must’ve shown on her face, because Lena’s eyes narrowed playfully. “Kara, we have to eat,” she said, her voice a mock warning. She climbed out of the bed and standing by the side of it, her hands on her hips, a smirk on her face, and one eyebrow raised. The commanding pose was not unlike something Lena would do in her office sometimes, but now, paired with bedroom Lena and the fact she wasn’t wearing a shirt…

“Lena,” Kara choked, taking a step towards her.

“You have to eat,” Lena said, pointing at Kara, before putting her hand back on her hip and giving her a stern look. Her eyes were dark, though, and Kara could see the minute way that Lena was biting her lip.

“I want you so much,” Kara blurted, restraining herself from closing the small gap between them. Normally, Kara might feel embarrassed at saying something so blatant, but not this time. She did want Lena, and she wanted Lena to know it.

Lena’s eyes roamed over her torso, slowly and deliberately, and Kara felt it almost like a physical touch. It was on Kara’s face, though, that Lena’s gaze settled, and it was with understanding in her eyes that she stepped forward and caressed Kara’s face. “The feeling is mutual, darling,” she said, “but you have to eat. And I’m not going anywhere.” Lena brushed her thumb across Kara’s bottom lip, leaning in and following it a second later with her lips and the barest hint of her tongue. And then she was stepping around her, picking up her ripped jeans from the top of one of her suitcases and a tshirt at random before disappearing into the bathroom.

Kara instantly flopped backwards onto the bed, letting out a low groan at the ceiling and squeezing her eyes shut tightly.

Lena was going to be the death of her in the very best of ways.

Wandering over to the closet, she pulled out some sweatpants and a green long-sleeved shirt, pulling them on hastily before Lena came back out of the bathroom. The slip slide between her legs told her that she needed a shower, and to probably change her underwear, but if she wasn’t dressed by the time Lena came back out of the bathroom, she had a feeling that they wouldn’t be eating nor dressing any time soon.

She shook herself out like she imagined a dog would, feeling ridiculous but a little better, and was just about to start some energetic star jumps when Lena came back out of the bathroom. She froze at the image of Kara standing with her arms and legs outstretched.

“Is there something I should be aware of?” she asked, her voice laden with amusement.

“Nope!” Kara replied, standing up straight, swinging her hands behind her back and rocking up on the balls of her feet. “Nothing at all. I just thought, you know… I’m, um, full of energy.”

“Full of energy?” Lena repeated, walking closer and running a fingertip up Kara’s arm until she shivered. “You could always save it for later.”

Oh.

Kara nodded several times, making Lena laugh, before she caught sight of her science pun tshirt for the day. It was red with a beaker half-full of green liquid in it, surrounded by the words once I told a chemistry joke, but there was no reaction. She groaned, and Lena’s face dimpled at Kara’s response to her shirt.

“How many of these do you have?” Kara asked, gesturing at it.

“Half a closet full,” Lena replied. “In all sorts of colors!”

“I think I’m scared of how large your closets actually are.”

“Probably something you should know for the interview,” Lena said coyly, reaching up and straightening Kara’s collar. “I should draw you a diagram of my apartment so that you know where everything is. And so you know where your own clothes should be living.”

Kara briefly wondered whether Lena had meant to say should instead of would, but was distracted by Lena wrapping her arms around her and nuzzling her face into her neck. “Come on cookie monster,” Lena said, before Kara could reciprocate, releasing her and linking their fingers. “Let’s go and see what we can find you for brunch.”

She let herself be led by Lena all the way downstairs and into the kitchen, where Lena sat her down in one of the chairs. She poured them both a glass of orange juice, straining the pulp out for Kara but leaving it in her own drink, and set about looking in the fridge to see what she could make. Ten minutes later, Lena was humming to a song on the radio that she’d switched on after she’d mixed flour, baking powder, sugar, and a little salt in one bowl. She was currently whisking milk and egg in another bowl, telling Kara that she was making pancakes, and thereby fulfilling one of Kara’s hitherto unknown dreams.

Trying to distract herself from the idea of having some clothes in Lena’s place, a place she’d never been, never even seen, Kara picked up her phone. Her phone had largely been ignored since they’d been up in Midvale, and she had unread messages building up. There were several messages from work colleagues, some of them not being very complimentary, but there were several other messages that weren’t as unpleasant to read.

Jess Huang: Hi, Kara! I heard on the grapevine that you and Lena are actually engaged! Congratulations! I had no idea you were even dating, but now that I think about it, it makes perfect sense. You two are quite perfect for each other and I’m really pleased for you both. Can’t wait until you’re back in NYC and we can catch up!

Kara smiled. She’d always liked Jess, and she also knew that Jess really liked Lena. It was really nice too, Kara thought, that Jess has said that she thought Kara and Lena were perfect for each other. Kara was under the same impression, after all. She tapped out a reply.

Kara: Thanks Jess! Yeah, we kept it quiet just because of Lena’s job etc, but we’re really happy and having a good time up here in Midvale! Pick the time and place when we’re back next week and I’ll be there! :)

There was also a message from Nia, which had been sent the day before and Kara hadn’t even noticed.

Nia: Hey girl, how’s it going up there in Midvale?

Kara: Hey! It’s going really well thanks. Lena’s fitting right in with everyone and she bought Alex five bottles of scotch the other day, so it’s safe to say that Alex was pretty happy!

To Kara’s surprise, Nia replied immediately.

Nia: FIVE bottles of scotch? I’ve met your sister and she’s no lightweight, but FIVE bottles of scotch?

Kara: Yeah, she didn’t know which kind Alex would like, so she bought a selection

Nia: You can’t hear me, but I just whistled loud enough for the whole office to look over at me. So did it work?

Kara: It was Alex, what do you think?

Kara: She told me it was lucky that Lena was already engaged otherwise she’d be marrying her herself

Kara: Hands off sis, she’s taken

Nia: I can feel your possessiveness from here. Did Alex give her the shovel talk?

Kara: You know what, I’ve no idea actually. I should probably check

Nia: I’m pretty sure that Lena can look after herself

Kara: She’s softer than you think she is! And Alex is pretty scary

Nia: You’re right there

Kara: So how’s it been in the office? Is my name mud yet?

Nia: Nah, not really. Like I said the other night, I think people are just surprised. It definitely made the news and I’m not sure how much of it you’ve got up there, but the tabloids are having a bit of a field day now that Lena’s out of the closet. Apparently, nobody had any idea, except for you obviously

Nia: And like I said before, some morons are having some issues imagining the fact that anyone would want to be with Lena, let alone marry her, so I’d expect some crude jokes when you get back to the office. I’ve tried to shut them down but you know how some of the shitty people in this office are

Kara: Ugh. Thanks for defending our honor!

Nia: Hey, if you’re engaged to her and you love her, then she’s good enough for me too, okay? And I look forward to getting to know her better. And to apologizing for calling her names this whole time. And to you. Noonan’s when you’re back?

Kara: For sure! I’ve got to go though now, Lena’s making me pancakes for breakfast and I think I’m going to be coming back to the office needing bigger clothes!!

Nia: Hahaha alright lovebirds, see you soon!

Kara laughed, putting the phone back down on the table. The other messages could wait, because Lena was just plating up a large stack of pancakes. Kara’s eyes widened when she saw them; they were thick and fluffy, and there were tons of them.

Lena,” Kara exclaimed, agog at the teetering pile of pancakes that Lena set down on the table, along with a plate and some cutlery.

“For you, darling,” Lena said, bending over to give Kara a quick kiss before heading back to the cupboards. “What would you like on them? Do you have any maple syrup?”

“Y-yeah, it’s… it’s in the fridge,” Kara said, still staring at the pancakes. She poked the top one carefully with the fork Lena had left on the table, and it sank into it perfectly. Kara let out a little squeak of excitement and was about to lift one of them onto the plate when she suddenly had a brainwave.

“Hey, do you want to have breakfast out on the porch?” she asked, turning around in her seat to watch Lena pull the maple syrup out of the fridge.

“Sure,” Lena replied, her eyes lighting up at the suggestion.

“Let me go get us some hoodies. That storm will be moving in and it won’t be as warm as the last few days have been. And I don’t want you to get cold!” Kara said, standing up from the table and dashing upstairs. Out of her closet, she pulled one of her warmest hoodies. It was one Alex had brought home from the UK after she’d gone there on vacation with a few friends. It was made by a company Kara didn’t recognize, called Animal, but it was thick and warm, and was very fluffy on the inside. It was her favorite one, far too nice to get ruined in New York’s polluted streets, so she kept it here. Kara ran her hand down the inside of it, feeling how soft it was; it would be perfect for Lena, and she loved the idea of Lena wearing her favorite hoodie.

She chose one for herself and carried them both downstairs, along with the vase of flowers so that they could get some more sun during the daytime. But it was mostly so that she could look at them while they spent some time in the kitchen today. There was a soft look in Lena’s eyes when she saw Kara carry them into the kitchen, and immediately Kara was glad she’d done so.

“You really like the flowers,” Lena said, moving over to them and leaning over, breathing in their gentle scent.

“I do,” Kara said. “I especially love them because you picked them for me.”

Lena smiled, but there was a look in her eyes that was sadder than Kara expected, and immediately she dropped the hoodies on a chair.

“Hey,” she said. “What’s up?”

“Oh, I was just thinking about all the other flowers I’ve given you over the years,” Lena said in an offhand manner. “I don’t think you liked those ones quite as much, somehow.”

“What flowers?” Kara asked, feeling a little stupid. Lena had never given her flowers before, had she? She racked her brains, but came up with nothing.

Lena looked at her a little incredulously, as if she’d just proved her point. “Have you… never noticed the flowers on your desk each week?”

Kara cast her mind back to her desk and to the small vase of flowers that was always on the far corner of it. They arrived each Monday, and always lasted the whole week without wilting. The next Monday, a new bunch would be there. Kara had no idea who put them there or why, and nobody else had seemed to know when she’d asked, but they were pretty, and they were fresh, so she’d left them there. They were always very pretty, and Kara liked to look at them.

“Those were from you?” she asked, putting two and two together.

“Yes,” Lena replied, fidgeting with her fingers. “I know I wasn’t a very good boss in many ways. I wasn’t very… personable, but I always tried to brighten your week with flowers. I’d thought you’d realized they were from me, especially since they matched the ones in my office, but… well, it doesn’t matter. I never knew how to say just say thank you to you for being such a wonderful assistant, and because I- well, because the office is always full of people when I’m there. I thought the flowers might say it for me. Evidently not,” she said, poking Kara in the stomach. “Maybe I should’ve said it with pancake deliveries every morning instead.”

Somehow, Kara knew that missing the message of the flowers had hurt Lena a little, even if she didn’t say it. “I’m sorry that I didn’t realize,” she said, stepping up to Lena and wrapping her arms around her waist. “They are beautiful every week, and I did try to find out where they came from, and nobody could tell me. But I look at them all the time, and they do make me smile.”

“Really?” Lena asked hopefully, and Kara smiled.

“Of course!” She gave Lena a kiss, a sweet one, and then pulled back. “Right! These pancakes aren’t going to eat themselves!”

“No, they aren’t. I’ve taken out a plate for us each and the cutlery, as well as a can of whipped cream I found, and the maple syrup. I chopped up some fruit earlier, but I wasn’t sure how you would… feel…” she trailed off, looking at Kara’s horrified face at the thought of healthy pancakes. “Clearly, the fruit’s for me,” she finished, rolling her eyes good-naturedly.

“The fruit’s for you,” Kara nearly sang, “and the sugar is for me. Let’s go!”

Lena picked up the plate with the stack of pancakes and gestured with Kara to follow her outside. Lena had piled everything up on the table near the swinging porch bench. It was chilly outside, and there was a brisk breeze whistling through the trees, making the branches around the house creak. The hair whipped around their faces, and Kara knew instantly that it would be difficult to eat comfortably.

“I’ve got an idea,” Kara said abruptly, causing Lena to halt halfway to sitting down. “Let me get a backpack, a Tupperware box, and some paper towels!”

“Alright MacGyver,” Lena said, looking confused. “But don’t be too long, the pancakes will be getting colder!”

“Good point,” Kara said, picking them up and dashing back inside the house. She yanked a Tupperware box out of the cupboard that was filled with nothing but boxes with too many lids, and carefully piled the pancakes up inside one, carefully sealing it with the right lid. Placing it inside a backpack that was in the cupboard under the stairs, she swung it carefully onto her back. She stuffed some kitchen roll in her pocket, and tied both hoodies around her waist before she went back outside. She stuck the cutlery in her pocket too, and got Lena to slide the plates into the backpack beside the box, as well as the fruit that Lena had already, luckily, put in a box.

“What are we doing?” she asked, as she zipped the bag up for Kara.

“We’re going for a pancake picnic in the treehouse,” Kara replied, loving the way Lena’s eyes brightened at the thought. Lena fetched the blanket out of the box they’d left it in, and tied it around her neck like a cape. Within minutes they’d climbed into the treehouse and spread the blanket on the ground, as well as the food and the plates.

“Here you go,” Lena said, dishing out several of the warmest pancakes and putting them on a plate, and passing them over to Kara. “And your maple syrup and cream.”

Kara gleefully drenched the pancakes, lifting each one up for maximum syrup spreading, and took her first bite. They had been cooked to absolute perfection, and she moaned around the taste and the fluffiness of the breakfast Lena had cooked for her.

“Good?” Lena asked, glancing over at her before putting some chopped bananas and strawberries between two of her pancakes.

So good,” Kara said around her mouthful, barely managing to swallow it before shoveling in another mouthful.

“Don’t choke,” Lena advised, taking smaller, more dainty bites of her pancakes.

It was more sheltered in the treehouse, but Kara had opened up the window, and it was chilly. After they’d finished eating, Kara pulled on her hoodie and passed Lena over the one she’d brought for her. She watched out of the corner of her eye as Lena pulled it on and settled it properly on her shoulders, flipping her hair out, zipping it up, and snuggling down into it with a happy smile on her face.

Kara shifted closer to her so that they were both leaning against the wall, and wrapped an arm over her shoulders so that Lena could lean up against her comfortably. Lena linked her hand with Kara’s as it dangled down over her shoulder, and then she looked at it a bit closer.

“Hey, I forgot to ask you yesterday. What was this scar from?” she asked, running her finger along the scar on Kara’s little knuckle and making her skin tingle.

“Oh,” Kara said, peering over at it. It was a C-shaped scar, almost like a crescent moon. “Before we got a dishwasher installed, I was washing some glasses from dinner. The water was hot, and the glass was thin. I shoved my hand into the glass with the sponge, and on the way down, the glass shattered. But my hand kept going and the glass… it damn near sheared off the top of my knuckle.”

Lena winced. “Ouch!”

“To be honest I didn’t even notice the pain to start with. The cut was so clean that all I saw was blood everywhere. The skin and the flesh from above my knuckle was hanging off in this zombie-like flap, and I was so panicked about that that I hadn’t noticed I’d sliced my palm open right the way across as well. I left bloody handprints all the way to the bathroom, as well as blood all over the floor. Alex freaked when she came back in from the garage to find blood all over the place. I had to use paper stitches to keep the wound closed and so it would heal flat.”

“That must’ve been painful,” Lena said, tracing her finger over the scar from one end to the other, before giving it a little kiss and sending a thrill running through Kara.

“It was more annoying than painful, although it did hurt,” Kara said, her voice a little wobbly from the feel of Lena’s lips on her skin. “The scar’s a lot smaller than the cut was, luckily. But it made it really awkward to paint because it was right where my hand would bend, so it kept re-opening. I kept getting blood on my paintings and on anything I was writing on. It sucked! Do you have any scars, I mean, aside from this one up here by your eyebrow?”

Lena touched it with her finger. “I got this one because I got a little too close to a spinning part in a robot I was building once. Luckily my glasses took the brunt of it. Otherwise, I have some chicken pox scars, some on my hands from accidentally touching the top or the side of the oven while pulling things out of it carefully enough. I’ve got one on the bottom of my left foot where I was changing a lightbulb in bare feet, and it shattered all around me on a carpet. I couldn’t see all the pieces and I guess I just stepped in the wrong place. Wearing heels after that was… unpleasant.”

Excuse me, I cut my foot before and my shoe is filling up with blood,” Kara quoted in an accent not quite her own, and then laughed when Lena gave her a blank look. “Aw, come on. Romy and Michele’s High School Reunion? You can’t tell me you’ve never seen it!”

“I certainly can.”

“Oh, we’ll have to watch it. We’ll watch it later,” Kara said eagerly, tightening the arm around Lena’s shoulders. “That is, if we don’t lose power. There’s going to be a storm soon, after all.”

“A storm,” Lena repeated quietly, turning to Kara. “I like storms. Can we watch it from your room? Will it be like your painting, do you think?”

“Yeah, we can see it pretty well because of the balcony doors,” Kara replied, trying to keep herself on topic despite the distraction of Lena nosing through her hair. “We’ll have to have the lights down low though.”

“Sounds fine to me,” Lena said, her voice muffled from nuzzling against Kara’s neck.

Kara gave up all pretense of trying to concentrate when she felt Lena’s lips and the tip of her tongue on her neck, before Lena brushed her hair back and pressed a kiss to the sensitive skin behind her ear. Kara let out a little whimper and instinctively tilted her head to give Lena better access. She was rewarded when Lena started kissing a trail from behind her ear and down her jaw, until she felt fingers turning her face towards Lena’s.

Up in the relative quiet of the treehouse, wrapped up in only each other, the kisses they shared were warm and open-mouthed. Kara forgot to worry about their situation, or the oncoming storm, or anything else. The wind in the trees was silenced as the atmosphere they created settled around them. Her mind was consumed by the woman sitting next to her, wearing her hoodie, and kissing her like the only place she wanted to be was where she was right now. Kara dug her hand into Lena’s inky dark hair and let Lena overwhelm her senses.

The spell they found themselves under was broken by a shout from down below. “Kara? Lena?

Lena pulled away from her, turning her head. “Is that Eliza?”

“Yeah,” Kara said, reluctantly letting go of Lena and climbing to unsteady feet. Somehow, Lena’s kisses fried her brain no matter whether they were passionate and full of fire, or full of unhurried gentleness. Again, the thought crossed her mind that Lena had ruined her for ever kissing anyone else. Not that she wanted to kiss anyone else, when Lena existed in the world.

She crossed over to the window and waved at Eliza, who was standing below and looking up.

“The wind’s picking up,” Eliza called. “Do you girls want to come inside and help me bake the cake and cookies?”

“Cake and cookies?” Lena said from behind her, still curled up against the wall. “How could Kara Danvers say no to those?” she joked, smiling up at her.

“The simple answer is that I can’t,” Kara replied, helping to pull Lena to her feet. She didn’t let go, though. Instead, she pushed Lena up against the wall, prompting a squeak from her as Kara pressed herself up against her and kissing her firmly. She licked against Lena’s bottom lip and was given entrance straight away, giving Lena a deeper kiss at the same time as she gripped her hips, pulling them even closer together. Lena made a low whining noise in her throat at the dual sensation hit her, and it made Kara only kiss her harder. Lena threw her arms around Kara’s neck, burying her hands in her hair and clutching at it desperately as she fought to keep herself upright under Kara’s unexpected, but clearly welcome, onslaught.

They broke apart, and Kara’s chest was heaving. “But you make it so hard for me to want to leave. Even for cookie dough,” Kara said, her voice almost a growl. She reached between them and swept her thumb across Lena’s bottom lip.

“I’m- uh, I’m glad I rank somewhere near cookie dough at least,” Lena said, seemingly unable to come up with any thoughts deeper than that. Kara chuckled, and together they gathered up the crockery from the kitchen, filling the backpack with it. Kara closed the window, making sure it was locked tightly before the storm, and they climbed down out of the treehouse.

Kara carried their things into the kitchen while Lena stowed the blanket away in the box under the stairs, and she filled the dishwasher with their dirty plates. Just as she was turning it on, Eliza came into the kitchen.

“Hi there,” she said, giving them each a quick hug. “Have you eaten?”

“Lena made us a huge stack of pancakes,” Kara said happily, and Eliza gave Lena an appraising look.

“She knows the way to your heart,” Eliza said, and Lena laughed.

She certainly does, Kara thought. She’s somehow found her way in and filled all the empty spaces in my heart with her laughter and her smiles and her soft kisses.

“Does it mean though, that you’re not going to make off with the bowl of cookie dough and hide in the house with it and a spoon? That’s what she used to do when she was a teenager,” Eliza said with a conspiratorial wink at Lena. “She’d be up in the attic on that bed of hers, or in the treehouse. There’d barely be any dough left by the time we got the bowl back.”

“Oh god,” Kara said, covering her face with embarrassment.

“I think the solution,” Lena said, giving Kara an amused look when Kara peeked through her fingers at her, “is to give her a small bowl of cookie dough that’s all her own, leaving us to make actual cookies with the rest of it.”

“What a good idea!” Eliza exclaimed. “Let’s do that.”

“Oh,” Kara objected, uncovering her face. “But-”

“No buts from you,” Lena said, leaning over and kissing her on the cheek. “If you’re good and only eat the dough out of the small bowl, when we get back to New York I’ll take you to the cookie dough shop in Brooklyn.”

“There’s a cookie dough shop in Brooklyn?!” Kara practically screeched. “Are you serious? Why haven’t you told me this before? And more importantly, how on earth do you know about it when I didn’t?!”

“A girl’s allowed her sweet treats,” Lena replied, folding her arms over her chest while Eliza laughed at Kara’s indignation. “They do all sorts of flavors, and you can have as many scoops as you want.”

Kara threw her arms up in victory. She might have lost this battle, but she knew she’d win the war if she could just contain herself and not eat the entire bowl of dough.

The chocolate chip cookies that Eliza had made since Kara joined the family were very quick to make, once the dough was mixed. Between them, Lena and Eliza mixed up two large bowls of cookie dough, knowing that they’d have to make extra both to satisfy Kara’s enormous appetite for sweet things, and because Eliza and Alex would take boxes of cookies to work with them. Aside from the dough, the reason why Kara loved these particular cookies so much was because they only took just over ten minutes to bake in the oven. The cookies never came out uniformly, but they were oaty and chocolatey and delicious, and Kara loved them.

And because they baked so quickly, whenever they made them, the kitchen and all the surfaces became covered with trays of warm, fresh cookies, and it was very easy to steal several of them and disappear to the treehouse.

There was almost nothing Kara loved more, now, than sitting in the kitchen while cookies were being baked, the scents and tastes of it still a comfort after all these years. She’d have to remember to tell Lena; it seemed like something she should know. Not because she needed to, but because Kara wanted her to know.

The thought forefront in her mind, she caught Lena’s hand as she walked past with a spatula in her hand. Lena looked down at her questioningly, but smiled when Kara pulled her down to sit sideways on her lap.

“Hello darling,” Lena murmured, pressing a kiss to Kara’s temple.

“Hi,” Kara replied, wrapping her arms around Lena’s waist. “I just wanted to talk to you about cookies.”

“Do you like them more or less than cookie dough?”

Kara pretended to think for a moment. “Umm, probably both about the same if I’m honest! No, I just wanted to tell you why baking cookies here means so much to me.”

Lena looked intrigued and her eyes were soft. “Alright.”

“Baking cookies have kind of become a symbol of me joining the Danvers family. I guess it was pretty obvious when I arrived that I really loved sweet things.” Kara caught Eliza’s eye and grinned at her. “So, she would often bake cookies or cakes or something else if I was feeling a little less skittish on whatever day. I remember quite a few occasions where, not long after I arrived here, I’d creep into the kitchen because the sweet smells coming up the stairs were too much to resist. At first, I just kind snatched treats off the trays and retreated, but slowly, I started staying longer. Sometimes I’d bring a book down here and read. Other times, if I was feeling bolder, I’d bring my homework and do it at the kitchen table while everyone else talked and baked. And eventually, I started to join in on the conversations, or I helped with the simpler baking tasks. And that’s why we always have cookies when I come home, but especially on the anniversary of my adoption,” she finished.

Lena’s eyes were a little misty. “That’s… really sweet, Kara,” she said, giving Kara a chaste kiss. “Thank you for telling me.”

“I wanted you to know.”

Lena smiled at her, and lay her forehead against Kara’s.

“You two are adorable,” Eliza said from the other side of the kitchen, gazing over at them with fondness on her face.

“We are,” Lena replied with a smile and a look over at Eliza. “I’m going to go and help her,” Lena said to Kara, before she climbed off Kara’s lap with a brush of her hand across Kara’s shoulders.

Kara pulled out the drying racks for the cookies, stacking the tiered ones on top of the stove cover and next to the fridge. There wasn’t much else that she could do while Eliza and Lena prepared the dough; she’d just be in the way, so once she’d set up the trays, she sat back down at the table. She was content to just watch and listen as Eliza talked to Lena about her experiments at work, and Lena asked the appropriate questions and made suggestions when she thought of something that could be done differently.

Lena’s eyes were shining and her smile was bright when she talked about her own experiments in the L-Corp labs; Eliza was an interested audience, and Lena talked with her hands while she explained some kind of new search and rescue robot that she and her scientists were developing. Kara sat with her chin resting on her hand and wondered, watching Lena, how anyone could ever think her indifferent if they ever saw her like this.

Lena caught Kara’s eye, doing a slight double-take when she saw the almost dopey way that Kara was looking at her, and gave her a radiant smile. Kara gave her a lazy smile back, and Lena put her mixing bowl down with a clunk. She made her way quickly across the kitchen, her fuzzy socks sliding on the floor in her haste, and wrapped her arms around Kara’s shoulders from behind, her chin on her left shoulder. “Hi,” Lena murmured. Kara leaned into the embrace, squeezing her eyes closed and feeling happiness rising in her chest.

“Hi,” she replied, lifting her hand to stroke the back of one of Lena’s hands, before meeting Lena’s warm lips with her own in a closed-mouthed, but lingering, kiss.

“What was that look for?” Lena asked, her voice affectionate.

Kara smiled, nuzzling her nose against Lena’s. “You just looked happy, that’s all. I love seeing you like this.”

“Yeah?”

“Yeah,” Kara confirmed, playing with a lock of Lena’s hair. “You’re… glowing.”

Lena hummed in her ear before letting her go. “I am,” was her simple response. “And I know what’ll make you happy.” Lena wandered back over to the mixing bowl she’d left behind and scooped out a very large spoonful of dough, tipping it out into a smaller bowl and sticking a spoon into the side of it. “Here,” she said, setting it down in front of Kara with a flourish that made both Kara and Eliza laugh.

Kara dug her spoon into the dough and chewed on it, groaning. “I can feel the sugar flowing through my veins,” she said dramatically, before spooning another dollop into her mouth.

“Well, that’ll be her for the next while, Lena,” Eliza said, picking up a tablespoon and digging out a little dough, putting the blob of it whole on the baking tray.

“Aren’t you going to measure them equally?” Lena asked, looking worriedly at the haphazard way that Eliza was spooning the dough onto the tray.

“Nope,” Eliza replied, while Kara ate another mouthful of dough. “We like them coming out whichever way they want to. Some will be huge, some tiny, some oddballs will have no chocolate chips. And they’ll all be lumpy.”

Kara smothered a laugh at Lena’s almost distressed look. She was sure that Lena was one spoon and a set of weighing scales away from attempting to construct the perfect chocolate chip cookie. As she watched, Lena tentatively dropped a dollop of dough on the tray, and then tried to pick up the exact same amount afterwards, huffing in amused frustration when she couldn’t get the amount right.

Eventually, Eliza left Lena to it and got started on mixing the ingredients for a cake, a plain Victoria spongecake; Kara’s favorite, to the surprise of everyone who knew of her sweet tooth. Two trays of cookies were about ready to come out of the oven, and once she was finished with her cookie dough, Kara got up and grabbed the oven gloves.

“Careful,” Lena said, watching Kara take the hot trays out of the oven.

“Oh, I’ve got precious cargo. I’m not about to drop cookies on the floor,” Kara replied, pressing her spare hand to her heart and pasted a wounded expression on her face.

Lena sidled up close to her. “I was more worried about your fingers,” she said, leaning against her side and keeping her voice low and husky, so that Eliza wouldn’t hear.

Kara choked. The tray of cookies slid out of her grasp and hit the countertop corner first, sending a shower of cookie crumbs everywhere.

“Kara!” Eliza chided from the other side of the room while Lena threw her head back and laughed.

“I- um, I’m sorry,” Kara spluttered, swiftly righting the tray and narrowing her eyes at Lena, who was gripping the countertop and giggling helplessly. With a spatula she placed the cookies on the closest drying rack, before she added more dough to the tray, shoving it back in the oven. Lena was sweeping the crumbs up with shaky hands, a smirk still on her face, and when she turned back around from the sink, Kara saw that her eyes were sparkling with mischief.

“I’m going to get you for that,” Kara warned her, one hand on her hip.

Lena raised an eyebrow and stepped up, placing one hand on Kara’s upper arm and leaning up until Kara could feel Lena’s lips brushing her ear. She shivered in response, reaching out to steady herself with her hands on Lena’s waist. “I’m counting on it,” Lena whispered in Kara’s ear. Lena’s voice sent a jolt right between her legs, and she tightened her fingers in response, still aware that Eliza was in the room.

Lena stroked her hand down Kara’s arm before moving away from her, concentrating on spooning out more dough onto trays for baking. Her face was tinged pink though, and Kara knew that she was nowhere near as unaffected as she was pretending to be in front of Eliza.

Not being able to touch Lena the way she wanted to because they weren’t alone was a new kind of torture that Kara had never felt before. As much as she had loved Mike in the special way she’d had for him, she’d never needed to hold herself back from saying what she wanted to. She’d never had to squeeze her fists closed to the point she could feel her short fingernails digging into her palms in order to stop herself from reaching out to touch the object of her affection the way she wanted to. Instead, she settled for hugging Lena from behind while she spooned out cookie dough.

Since this morning, she’d been in a state of constant anticipation, tempered only by the presence of Eliza. The way that Lena had been almost brazen, yet shy, in bed earlier had just left Kara desperately wanting more, and their kisses in the treehouse had not helped. The fact was, now that she knew what it was like to kiss Lena, and especially now that she knew that Lena wanted the same thing that she did, it was doubly hard to keep her hands off of her. Not just in a sexual way, but also just to touch her, just to be near her.

She wanted to play with Lena’s hair, lie on the sofa with her head in Lena’s lap and read books, take baths together. Kara knew that her feelings were moving fast, but the truth was, all that soft mushy stuff was her favorite; she loved to spend days doing nothing with the person she was with. Kara loved the coziness and the snuggling and the quiet, lazy mornings spent doing crossword puzzles over a shared plate of pastries.

The truth was that Kara loved the quiet side of romance. Big, grand gestures were all good and well, but coming home after a hard day to find a bath run for her with her favorite takeout ordered, followed by cuddling under a blanket watching a movie beat lavishness every time. Taking care of someone, and being taken care of in return, and doing her best to make someone happy? That was what Kara considered the basis of love, along with deep trust and a willingness to always listen.

Kara glanced to her side, at Lena, and felt her heart skip a beat when Lena looked over at her too, a soft smile on her face when her eyes landed on Kara’s.

Kara already knew that Lena was one for the smaller gestures. Oh, Lena was a multi-millionaire, a billionaire if the stock levels of L-Corp were to be believed, but Lena was far more understated in the way she presented herself in private, and in private was what mattered. Lena liked to cook, and liked to cook for Kara, out of pure enjoyment. She brought Kara flowers, and had in fact been giving her flowers for years, even if Kara had never noticed. Despite getting off on the wrong foot, Lena had listened to her and brought casual clothes to Midvale, and was far more comfortable in them than Kara had expected. Lena was perfectly willing to be seen with her hair a mess, sleep in her eyes, and her pajamas twisted around her legs, even from the very first morning. Lena had put her trust in Kara about being in a boat when she was afraid of the sea, and couldn’t swim.

This situation concerning Lena’s deportation had thrown them together in a way that forced them to really see each other. They could have approached it in a clinical way. They could’ve studied, provided answers to each other, and pretended it was a business deal.

Instead, they’d decided to do it as friends. And despite the crush she’d nursed for years, in Lena, she’d found someone whose company she truly enjoyed. She’d found someone who made her laugh, who valued the same things that she did, and who appreciated the same things that Kara herself loved. The idea of coming home to Lena at the end of a day came to her so easily. She could see her persuading Lena not to work on a Saturday so that they could go for a walk in the park.

Lena made her laugh, made her think, and kept her on her toes. Lena was continually surprising her with her bold nature hidden beneath a shyness Kara had never expected Lena to possess. She was confident and forthright at work, but at heart, she was quiet and tender, and Kara felt that knowledge pluck at her heartstrings.

She glanced again at Lena, who was now helping Eliza pour the cake batter into the cake tins, and felt her stomach swoop. Lena had tucked her hair behind her ears and was frowning in concentration, but then her brow cleared and she smiled at Eliza, laughing at something she’d said. And once more Kara was struck by the desire to touch those dimples with her fingertips, to press kisses against her lips, to see those lovely eyes shine with laughter.

Kara could no more stop herself from falling in love with Lena than she could stop herself from breathing. She was falling, she knew it, and Kara welcomed the gentle hand that Lena was holding out to her, knowing that to reject it would shatter more than one heart.

In any case, Kara had no wish to reject anything that Lena offered to her. There was still so much she didn’t know about Lena, and yet, there was nothing in this world she wanted more than more.

A loud boom that rattled the windows in their frames started Kara out of her reverie, and to the side of her she saw both Lena and Eliza jump. While Kara had been lost in her own world, Lena had spread the cookies around the kitchen and Eliza had put the cake halves in the oven. Had Kara helped them while she’d been thinking? She didn’t even know. She shook her head in a physical attempt to clear her thoughts, and found Lena giving her a concerned look.

“I’m fine,” she said, holding out a placating hand, which Lena took in both of hers.

“The storm’s getting closer,” Eliza said, pulling back the kitchen curtain to take a better look at the ever-darkening sky. “It’s going to be a big one. I’m a bit concerned about Carole the other side of the road, in case the power goes out. Since her husband went, she’s been all alone, poor dear.”

“Carole’s an elderly neighbor of ours who lived on the other side of the woods,” Kara explained to Lena, before she turned her attention back to Eliza. “If you left now, you’d have time before the storm hit,” Kara said, taking a look out of the window herself. It was already evening, and now the sky was an ominous dark grey, the clouds heavy with rain. Cracking the window open, she could smell the ozone in the air. “But if you’re going to go, you should go now, so you can easily get back in time before it hits.”

“Where are your batteries?” Lena said, realizing what was going on, and snapping into her efficient business mode. “And a spare flashlight?”

Kara pointed at the drawer in question, and Lena immediately set about preparing a package of supplies for Carole. Kara fetched their backpack from earlier, taking it into the lounge and picking out some candles and a spare box of matches. When she got back to the kitchen, it was to find Lena piling the table high with a packet of batteries that fit the large flashlight she’d found, a plastic bag full of ice packs, another bag with some duct tape, a wind-up radio Eliza had fetched from the garage, and a few other useful bits and bobs.

“Take her some of the cookies, too,” Lena said, opening a Tupperware box and filling it with the warmest, freshest cookies. Kara’s heart expanded even further as she watched Lena snapping the lid onto it, tucking the box carefully into the top of the backpack. Holding up a hand in thought, Lena suddenly dashed from the room and upstairs; Kara could hear a few things hitting the ground as Lena looked for something, before she came back downstairs holding a mobile battery bank and a multi-plug charging wire. “I have no use for this right now and I don’t know what kind of phone she has. Obviously she shouldn’t really be using it in a storm but I know that if I had a phone, I’d rather it not be plugged into a socket right now,” she said, stuffing the battery and the wire into the side pocket of the bag. “You never know. She might need to call someone.”

“Thank you, Lena,” Eliza said, taking the bag from her. “That’s really thoughtful. I’m sure her kids will want to call to check on her. They live over in Anchorage these days.”

“Do you need us to come with you?” Lena asked as she and Kara followed Eliza down the hall.

“No, I’ll be alright,” Eliza said, putting on a heavy waterproof coat and sliding her feet into her rainboots.

“Be careful,” Kara implored, casting an eye at the sky through the open front door. The wind howled through it, causing all of them to shiver, and rain soaked the welcome mat. “Let us know how things are when you get there?”

“I will,” Eliza replied with a smile, giving them both a hug before disappearing out of the door and heading for the woods. Kara watched her until she was out of sight, and then closed the door. As she did so, her phone rang, Alex’s name on the screen.

“Hey, Alex,” she answered, following Lena down the hall back to the kitchen.

Hey, are you both okay there?

“Yeah we’re fine. Eliza’s just gone off to see Carole and check if there’s anything she needs before the storm hits,” she replied, sitting down at the kitchen table after snagging a cookie from one of the drying racks. Lena mimed smacking her hand with a spatula, and Kara stuck her tongue out at her. “Are you and Maggie both on duty tonight?”

We’ll both be around yeah, in case anyone needs assistance. We’re both at the station now with Maggie’s laptop and her hard drive full of movies. Everyone here is pretty used to storms anyway, I think we’ll be fine if people just stay indoors. We’ll probably have some downed trees, boats getting damaged in the harbor, that kind of thing.

“Oh, shit, the boat,” Kara said, standing up quickly. She couldn’t believe she’d forgotten it! “I’d better get Streaky into the boathouse before the water starts getting really choppy. I think Eliza’s put hers in already. Can I text you when I’m done? I’d better go do it now.”

Sure. Be safe, both of you. Love you, sis!

“Love you too. Watch Star Wars!” she shouted down the phone, hearing Alex and Maggie laugh as she hung up.

She turned to Lena, who was just putting the last of the cookies into a fourth Tupperware box and sealing it. “I’m going to have to go and get Streaky up the slipway and into the boathouse,” she said.

Lena nodded, opening the oven and taking both halves of the sponge out, setting them on cooling racks as well. “Do you need my help?”

“If that’s okay? I’ll just need you to stand on the slipway and make sure I’m lining the boat up to the trailer, is that okay?”

“Sure. Can I borrow some rain boots? I didn’t bring any. And not surprisingly, none of my coats are quite good enough for this kind of weather.”

Kara gave her a wry smile before she headed down to the cupboard under the stairs, yanking out a pair of boots for herself, then looking back at Lena. “Come and choose the size you think will fit the best?” Lena did, and Kara pulled out a heavy coat each for them.

Luckily for them now, although it was something Kara loved to make fun of Alex for under normal circumstances, Alex liked to go to the army surplus store and buy old camouflage coats, among other things. The coats were large, made of gore-tex, and extremely tough. Kara passed one to Lena, and immediately cracked a smile; the coat absolutely drowned her. It was one of the largest ones, so it went three quarters of the way to her knees, and Kara was sure that it would have fit both of them in it, if they had the time to try it.

Kara got herself ready, and just as Lena turned around with the rain boots she’d picked out, Kara snapped a photo of her in her coat, before she started laughing helplessly. Lena rolled her eyes at her, but Kara showed her the photo before she left her phone on the hall table, and Lena’s eyes crinkled with amusement. A moment after they left the house, they were stumbling down the rain-drenched lawn, their boots sinking into the already-boggy ground, and clutching onto each other as laughter shook them both. Unused to the boots, Lena slipped just before they reached the pier, and Kara caught her around the middle, pressing a wet kiss to her lips. Lena looked absolutely ridiculous in the coat, but it only endeared Kara more to her.

“Come on,” Kara said loudly, raising her voice to be heard over the driving rain splattering their coats and the wind howling around them. “I’ve got to get the winch hitched up to the trailer and get that down into the water.”

With fumbling fingers in her haste, Kara unlocked the boathouse, rushing inside and hooking the winch up to the trailer. Eliza’s smaller boat was already up on its trailer, wheel chocks preventing it from rolling back out towards the sea. Kara hooked the winch to Streaky’s trailer, opened the garage-style door, then pushed the trailer out and down the slipway towards the water. Heedless of the way the water sloshed over her boots and into her socks, she walked the trailer into the water. It had to be deep enough that the propeller wouldn’t hit the slipway, and she was in the water up to her waist before she reached the correct depth. She locked the wheels in place, then waded back out of the water and onto the pier to fetch Lena, who had been watching her with a worried, but fascinated, look on her face.

Taking Lena’s hand, she led her to the top of the trailer. “I just need you to stand here and let me know if I’m lining the front of the boat into this part of the trailer,” she pointed at the partially-submerged v-shaped part of the framework, above the rubber bumpers, “okay? Just wave at me like I’m doing some seriously bad parallel parking or something, okay?”

“Bad parallel parking? That seems plausible,” Lena joked, but then she nodded, her face serious. She stood where Kara had told her to, the water lapping over her boots, and put her hands on the top of the bow stop.

“When I tell you to, attach the winch strap here, like this,” Kara demonstrated, “and then give me a thumb’s up. Alright?”

“Okay!” Lena called over the wind, just as thunder rolled overhead.

Kara cast the boat off from the bollards and stepped onto the deck, being careful not to slip on the slick surface. She couldn’t believe that she’d known the storm was coming and that she’d forgotten to put the boat away. Turning on the engine, she eased the boat forward in the choppy water, being careful not to let it hit the pier nor move forward too quickly. She wiped her glasses with the back of her hand and squinted through them, easily able to see Lena, but not the sides of the trailer. Driving the boat forward until Lena was more or less in front of her, she tried to guide it home. Lena waved to her left, so Kara inched the boat starboard until Lena held up her hand in a stop signal, waving her forward again.

Slowly, the boat moved into the trailer, Kara all the while cursing herself for not doing this earlier when it would’ve been much easier, and she didn’t have to contend with the angry waves. One moderate one hit the starboard side of the boat, pushing it port, and Kara heard the side of the boat hit the top of the wheel fender. Kara winced, patting the dashboard in a wet apology, but she knew the damage wouldn’t be too bad; the bonus was that she now knew exactly where the rest of the trailer was, and she was able to drive the boat successfully into the trailer.

“Now, Lena!” she shouted, and she watched Lena lash the winch strap to the boat and then the trailer, giving her a double thumb’s up and a smile. Kara turned the engine off.

Next came getting off the boat. Normally, Kara would just jump off into the water, but with the storm moving in fast, she didn’t know what the waters might have brought in close to shore. The pier was too far away for her to safely reach, so instead, she gingerly made her way onto the bow, trying her best not to slip sideways and hurt herself on the gunwale on the way into the water. The trailer wasn’t large, but she didn’t want to land on that either, and she couldn’t see it under the water. Sitting on the gunwale, she eased herself into the water, gasping at how cold it was as it made its way up her chest.

She could see Lena’s panicked eyes as she moved forward to help her, and Kara knew that it was an extension of Lena’s own fear of the water. Kara was a strong swimmer though; she didn’t try to keep her feet on the bottom as a wave hit her in the face, she propelled herself forward with a few strong strokes until her knees hit the slipway.

“Refreshing,” she quipped as Lena crouched down to help her up. Thankfully, the wave hadn’t swept away her glasses. Her clothes were waterlogged and heavy, and she squelched up the slipway, Lena following her, until she was in the dry of the boathouse.

“Are you alright?” Lena asked, her teeth chattering with cold.

“I’m okay,” she replied, turning the switch to start the winch and watching as it kicked into life, slowly pulling the boat up the slipway. “Are you?”

“I’m fine, just freezing,” Lena said, giving her a shivery smile.

“I’d hug you, but that would just make it worse,” Kara joked, shaking a leg and watching the water cascade out of it onto the floor. Lena’s eyes widened and she took an exaggerated step away.

When the boat had made its way into the boathouse, Kara made sure it was parked correctly, turned the winch off, then kicked the chocks behind the wheels.

“Ready to get back inside?” Kara asked, flicking the switch to close the garage-style door the boat had come through.

“Are potstickers your favorite food?” Lena replied.

Kara grinned at her, and they stepped back out into the pouring rain. The sky was much darker now, and Kara could hear the thunder more frequently. No lightning yet, but she didn’t want to take the chance of getting caught outside, so she locked the door as quickly as she could. Their boots sank into the sodden lawn even more than before, and they squelched up to the garage. Inside, they shook off their coats, hanging them up on hangers near the work bench, and they both kicked their rain boots off. Kara set hers upside down on the boot rack to let them drain a little easier.

Lena led them into the utility room through the back door in the garage, and next to the washing machine, Kara started to undo her jeans. Her phone rang on the hall table just as she’d got the first button undone, and she sighed. “Lena, could you get that? I don’t want to track these soaking jeans through the house.”

Lena slipped through the kitchen and down the hall, and Kara heard her answer it, her low voice drowned out by the sound of the storm outside. While she waited, she peeled her trousers down her legs, along with her socks, and shoved them into the washing machine. Kara pulled off her shirt as well, wrapping herself in one of the towels on the sideboard. She was pretty cold and needed a hot bath or a shower to warm up, but being out of the wet clothes helped. She was just patting herself dry when Lena came back, holding Kara’s phone in her hand.

“That was Eliza. She said that she’s going to stay at Carole’s house. The line was quite bad, but she said something about the electricity going; she didn’t want to leave her alone. I’ve put the sponge cake halves in airtight boxes, so they’ll be good for the party tomorrow once I’ve made the filling. And you’ve got a text from Alex as well. I didn’t want to read it because… well, privacy,” she said, holding the phone out to her.

“Oh, I don’t mind,” Kara said, wiping her glasses before taking the phone and opening the message. “She just wanted to know if we got the boat inside alright.” Kara’s fingers flew over the screen, responding to tell her that everything had gone fine. “Okay. Did you want to leave any wet clothes here?” she asked Lena, looking down at the wet legs of her pants. “I’m not going to turn on the washer now because of the storm, but it’s better we leave them here.”

Lena raised an eyebrow at her before she undid her pants, pulling them down her legs and handing them to Kara with a subtle clear of her throat. Kara snapped her eyes away from the pale skin that had just been revealed, feeling heat rise in her cheeks at being caught looking, and shoved Lena’s pants into the washing machine as well.

“Come on, I’ll run you a bath. You look like a drowned rat,” Lena said, holding out her hand.

“Uh,” she said dumbly, taking Lena’s cold hand in hers. “Do you, um, not need a towel too?”

“No,” Lena replied, her eyes sparkling. “I’m alright. I wasn’t the one who went for a swim in the sea today.”

Kara huffed out a laugh and let Lena pull her through the house and up the stairs, sitting without complaint when Lena pushed her into the armchair, turned only one lamp on, and went into the bathroom. She left the door open, and Kara watched as Lena first washed her hands, before turning to put the plug of the bath in and twisting the hot tap on. Kara tried valiantly to keep her eyes above Lena’s waistline, but she couldn’t help it whenever her eyes dropped to the sway of Lena’s hips.

Or to the expensive-looking lace-trimmed hipster panties she had on.

Or to the long expanse of pale skin and defined calf muscles, no doubt strengthened by the years of wearing the fuck-me heels around the offices she worked in. When Lena stretched over the bath to turn the cold tap on as well, her shirt rode up, exposing a sliver of skin at her stomach, and Kara felt herself ache with want.

When Lena stood up straight again, Kara snapped her eyes up to her face, but the pink tinge to Lena’s face and the knowing smirk on her face told her that Lena knew that Kara been staring. There was a pressure in her chest and in her abdomen that made it hard to breathe; she swept a hand through her damp hair and shrugged with a smile. She wasn’t really sorry for getting caught. Lena’s smirk morphed to a shyer smile as she made her way over to Kara, her hands tangling in the hem of her shirt. Kara kept her eyes fixed on Lena’s even when her instinct was to let them fall to her soft lips, her gentle hands, her perfect waist, her pale legs that Kara wanted to run her hands up the back of…

“Lena,” Kara choked as she reached her, long fingers trailing across Kara’s bare shoulders. “H-how much of the bath is run?”

Fingertips traced her collarbones from behind. “Mm, not much of it,” Lena murmured, and Kara felt the tips of Lena’s hair tickle her skin as Lena bent over.

“I want to take a bath. I do,” Kara said, her voice wavering. “But maybe after- I think right now a shower might be, uh…”

Kara heard Lena chuckle in her ear, the low sound rolling right through Kara and down between her legs. Lena’s hands toyed with the top of Kara’s towel, but very deliberately didn’t touch Kara’s upper chest. “Do you need a cold shower?”

Kara leaned her head back onto the chair and squeezed her eyes shut. If she couldn’t see Lena, maybe the words would come out less shakily. “Any kind of shower. Hot. Cold. Lukewarm. Anything to wash the sea off me as quickly as possible.”

“Oh?” Lena said, her voice sultry. “Are you in a hurry?”

She caught one of Lena’s wandering hands and pulled it to her face, kissing her palm and flicking her tongue out. Behind her, she heard Lena take a sharp breath, and the hand Kara wasn’t holding gripped her shoulder. “Yes,” Kara said hoarsely, opening her eyes and twisting around to look at Lena, finding her beautiful face only inches from hers. Her pupils were dilated and her eyes were locked on Kara’s. The air was thick between them, and when Lena’s eyes dropped to her mouth, Kara crushed their lips together with a whimper. The hand on her shoulder tightened and without breaking the kiss, Kara pulled Lena around the chair and into her lap. Kara felt her towel pull a little and Lena let out a little oof sound as she landed between Kara’s legs. Kara smiled into the kiss, wrapping her arms around Lena’s waist. Lena’s legs dangled over the armrest, and Kara gave in to her desire, trailing one hand up the outside of Lena’s thigh.

Kara could feel Lena’s hot breath on her lips as she cupped her face in her hands; her breathing was slightly ragged, and she slid her hands along the bottom of Kara’s jaw and into the hair at the back of her neck. Kara felt shivers skitter down her spine, and she could feel Lena trembling against her. Lena touched her forehead to Kara’s as Kara inched her hand up her thigh. When her fingers brushed lace, Lena huffed out a frustrated breath and shot off her lap.

“In the shower. Now,” Lena commanded, her face flushed and her voice unsteady, and Kara felt a bolt of arousal shoot through her at the fact that Lena was just as flustered as she was. Lena’s eyes flicked down, and as the cooler air hit her stomach, Kara understood why.

Lena’s sudden movement had dislodged her towel, and it sat open, revealing her whole left side. Aside from her underwear, Kara was naked, and when she stood up, she left the towel behind. A choked sound came from Lena’s throat, and wordlessly, she pointed to the bathroom. Kara didn’t need to be told again.

It was one of the most hurried showers she had ever had. She scrubbed herself from top to bottom with hasty movements, making sure to remove the salt water from her skin, and shaved her legs so quickly that she was surprised that she didn’t nick herself. When she was satisfied, she stepped out of the shower and turned the water off, before using a bit of deodorant and wrapping a spare towel around herself.

Kara opened the door, steam from the bathroom curling in tendrils around her ankles. She found Lena by the balcony doors looking out at the storm, which was well and truly underway. The balcony was solid, so Kara couldn’t be seen from outside when she walked up behind Lena and put her hands on her hips. Lena lay her head back against Kara’s shoulder and breathed out a sigh as Kara’s hands, warm from the shower, slid under her shirt to rest on her waist. Kara raised her arms slowly, feeling the material of Lena’s shirt pool around her wrists, but she slipped her hands higher, taking the shirt with it, pulling it over Lena’s head and tossing it behind her.

Lena turned around in her arms, now just in her underwear, and gave Kara a look that was full of arousal, but underneath it there was clear vulnerability. Slowly, deliberately, Kara dragged her thumb across Lena’s lower lip, and green eyes darkened further as Lena’s gaze met Kara’s in an intense look that held no secrets.

“This means something,” Lena whispered, catching Kara’s hand and holding it in hers. “If we do this it’ll… it’ll mean something to me.”

“I want it to,” Kara replied quietly, “because… because it’ll mean something for me too.”

Lena’s answer was a slow, open-mouthed kiss, and she pulled Kara’s arms around her waist before settling hers over Kara’s shoulders. The kiss might have been slow, but it was heavy in feeling, and Kara felt the pull of arousal building within her, making her clutch desperately at Lena’s back, trying to pull her closer.

“I need to shower too,” Lena said, her voice low and gravelly, removing her arms and stepping backwards. She was closer to the cold glass than she realized, and as her bare back made contact with it, she jumped back into Kara’s surprised arms, uttering a surprised “shit! That’s freezing!”

The moment broke through the air of anticipation between them, and Kara kissed her again, laughing into it as she picked Lena up gently and turned around, setting Lena down away from the window. “I hope that wasn’t a mood-killer,” she said, still giggling as she let Lena go.

“Definitely not,” Lena replied, chuckling at herself. Her eyes were still dark, and they raked over Kara; Kara felt it just as surely as Lena had followed her look with her hands, and she took a half step towards Lena.

“I’m going in- in the shower,” Lena said, looking very much like she wanted to step back towards Kara herself, but was forcing herself not to. She backed up towards the bathroom, and then disappeared behind the door.

Kara found herself shaking both with laughter and with anticipation, the adrenaline running through her body at the thought of maybe going further with Lena, with maybe… touching her. Kara shook herself out, and looked out at the storm in the sky. Now that Lena wasn’t in her arms, the rest of the world came back to her.

The thunder rolled across the sky, and lightning crackled across the sky, highlighting the angry water that crashed against the shore. In the brief illumination provided by the lightning, Kara could see the branches of the trees whipping around in the fierce wind, and she wouldn’t be surprised if they lost power.

With that thought in mind, Kara pulled her pajamas on quickly and slid her feet into her slippers, before heading downstairs and into the kitchen. She pulled a box of matches out of one of the kitchen cupboards, then took some of the lightly scented candles. She carried them back upstairs, smiling as she heard the shower still going in the bathroom, then set a candle on each of the nightstands, and another on the table. She was in the process of lighting the last one when the lights flickered, and then went out altogether.

“Kara?” Lena called straight away from the bathroom.

Kara crossed over to the door and opened it slightly, resisting the urge to look through it. She wanted Lena to choose the moment to let Kara see all of her, and Kara wouldn’t take that from her, no matter how much she wanted to cast her eyes on the most beautiful woman she’d ever seen. “We’ve just had a power cut. I’ve got some light out here though, so we’re alright.”

“Okay,” Lena replied, and the scent of Lena’s body wash floated through the door, causing Kara to sigh. “I’m not going to be much longer. And… I’d like to see the storm.”

“Take your time,” Kara said, closing the door again. From behind it, she thought she heard Lena say something under her breath, but it evidently wasn’t meant for her ears.

Kara climbed into the bed, settling the blankets over her legs, and looking out. The candles didn’t cast much light, so she could still clearly see through the glass into the outdoors. This had been one of her favorite things when she lives here; looking out of the windows and out at the storms. The open view from her window down to the Sound allowed her a perfect vantage point to observe the power of nature and she had always felt awed by it, while still being safe inside. That was why she had painted the storm that time, the painting that Lena so admired on the wall.

Maybe she’d give the painting to Lena. Or… perhaps a new one?

She relaxed against the pillows, her body still thrumming with energy, but she was a little calmer now, and as she lay there, she thought about Lena. About how beautiful of a person she found her to really be. About how much she enjoyed her company. About how they still didn’t know each other inside and out, but what Lena had told her had only whetted her appetite to know even more. Until this week, Lena had been enigmatic, but with gentle (and sometimes not so gentle, Kara admitted to herself), prodding from Kara, she had let Kara into her life and had done so with open arms.

Once Kara had taken the mask from Lena, she’d been given a gift. The woman behind the mask was nothing like the indifferent boss that Kara had known in the office. It was truly as if Lena pretended to be a different person at work, and she had worn the Lena Luthor mask for so long that she seemed to have forgotten how to just be Lena. But once she let go of her tight hold on it, the mask had fallen, and it was like rays of sunshine breaking through the clouds in the storm outside.

Lena was a bright light. She was a burst of laughter in a quiet crowd, a gentle brush of fingers relaxing tense shoulders. Lena was a burst of flavor in the middle of a bland meal Kara hadn’t realized she was eating.

The bathroom door opened and Lena stepped out barefoot, having left her slippers in the bedroom. Her hair was up in a loose bun for the shower, and when she caught Kara’s eye, she reached up and pulled it out, letting it fall messily around her shoulders with a smile Kara’s mind could only describe as sultry. Lena wandered over to the balcony, her eyes on the storm outside, and Kara was transfixed by the pleasing sway of her hips. She was helpless to get out of bed, making her way to Lena as she stood there, a silhouette against a sudden flash of lightning.

The rain pelted the glass and thunder shook the sky as Kara reached Lena, wrapping her arms around her waist from behind and laying her head on her shoulder. She gave Lena a little squeeze, and Lena ran her hand over Kara’s forearms as she gazed out at the angry sea and sky before them.

“All of life is a storm,” Lena said quietly, resting her head against Kara’s. “You jump from one hard thing to the next, resting in the eyes when you reach them. And then you forge out into it again, taking with you the lessons learnt from the last adventures, and hope that they’ll help you understand where to go next.” Lena’s voice trailed off as lightning flashed again, making her pale skin look even more ethereal than usual.

Lena glanced over to the painting Kara had done of the storm, hard to see in the darkness of the room. The candle flickered on the table, throwing a little light over the painting and making it look like the painting was as alive as the storm outside. Another flash of lightning lit the room, and Lena waited for the answering thunder before speaking again.

“But sometimes,” she said, “you’re lucky enough to find someone to wander through the storms with you. A hand to help you up when you stumble over something you didn’t see coming. Someone to hold a lamp up for you to see through the rain to the shelter.” She turned in Kara’s arms. “Someone who makes you feel safe even when you’re afraid. Someone who makes you feel protected, when you never have before.”

Kara didn’t know how to respond to Lena’s heartfelt words, but it seemed Lena didn’t expect one, because she raised herself up and pressed a gentle kiss to Kara’s lips, and then again, before she walked Kara back a step. Lena stepped out of her embrace, and lifted a hand to the towel’s knot at her chest.

“I don’t want to wait any longer to know how it feels to be yours,” Lena whispered. She looked almost shy, but with a quick flick of her fingers, she loosened the knot and dropped the towel to her feet. The candlelight cast shadows over her body, but Kara could see enough to know that Lena was… she was…

Kara stepped up to Lena and smoothed a hand over the hair draped over her shoulder and giving Lena a soft, but firm, kiss. She wasted no time before sliding her hands down over Lena’s behind and to the back of her thighs, stooping slightly and picking Lena up. Lena squeaked a little, but got the message and wrapped her legs around Kara’s waist while Kara supported her. She carried her over to the bed before laying her down on it, climbing up onto the bed after her.

Lena shifted up the bed towards the pillows, pulling Kara after her and down onto her, Kara’s hips pressing hers into the mattress. Both of them groaned at the close contact, Lena’s fingers fisting the material of Kara’s sleep shirt. Lena’s mouth was hot and wet on hers, and she locked her legs around Kara’s back, pulling her down even more firmly against her.

“You’re wearing-” Lena gasped out as Kara rolled her hips, “you’re wearing too many clothes,” she finished, pushing Kara’s hair behind her ears.

“Oh,” Kara murmured, looking down at herself briefly before glancing back up, swallowing audibly at Lena’s dark eyes. Lena reached down to the hem of Kara’s shirt, a question in her eyes before Kara nodded, and Lena pulled her shirt up and off. She sat up briefly, intending to do something about her pyjama bottoms as well, but the sight in front of her was too much to resist.

Lena was looking up at her, one arm across her stomach and the other behind her head. Her inky hair was spread across the pillow, and she was wearing that soft, dimpled smile that Kara loved so much. Reaching down, Kara rested her hands on Lena’s hips, her fingers reaching around, and sliding her hand all the way up the side of Lena’s torso. She inched up and into the dip of her waist, the bottom of her ribcage, her thumbs brushing the sides of Lena’s breasts as she made her way up and back down. She was content, just in this moment, to feel Lena’s soft skin under her fingers, see the way that goosebumps flared in some places but not others, and to smile at the flush of pink on Lena’s upper chest and her neck. Kara felt like her hands were made to be devoted to Lena’s body. 

She ran the flat of her palm up from Lena’s stomach and slowly slid it upwards, past her belly button, between her breasts, up the side of her neck and into her hair. She pulled gently, and Lena sat up, never taking her eyes off Kara’s.

Kara knew, could tell from the look in her eyes, that Lena rarely exposed herself this way. That she had rarely let herself be so vulnerable, with either her body or her feelings. Trust was hard for Lena to give, but she gave willingly it to Kara. She put her trust in Kara’s heart, her mind, her hands. It was all right there for Kara to read in those lovely green eyes.

Her words about finding her way in a storm were about more than just a storm, and Kara knew it.

“As much as you want to know how it feels to be mine,” Kara whispered, ghosting kisses over Lena’s cheeks, her forehead, the tip of her nose, “I want to be yours, too. You are lovely, Lena Luthor. And I can’t believe that I get to kiss you like this, that I get to see you like this.” Kara heard her voice crack in the last words, but she didn’t care. She shimmied her pajama pants down her legs, kicked them off her, and pressed Lena back down to the mattress.

At the first touch of full-body contact, something in Kara broke. She surged forward, giving Lena a kiss as desperate as it was heartfelt. She needed to taste her, to feel her, and she pushed her tongue into Lena’s mouth as soon as Lena’s lips parted. She took one of Lena’s hands, locking it with hers under the pillows, and fully gave in to the pull she’d been feeling all week. Lena was here, with Kara, and it was as real as anything Kara had felt.

She pressed Lena hard into the mattress with her hips, and Lena gasped into her mouth, nipping at Kara’s bottom lip before soothing it with her tongue. With her other hand, Lena dragged her nails down Kara’s back and Kara hissed in pleasure. Lena kept going until she reached her ass and, gently digging her nails in, she encouraged Kara to move against her.

Kara’s breath hitched as she began to rock her hips into Lena’s, and she gripped at Lena’s waist, watching as Lena’s chest heaved. She moved her hand up to touch Lena’s breast for the first time. Lena arched into her hand as Kara palmed it, tightening her hand around Kara’s under the pillow. Kara felt her nipple hard against her palm, and skimmed her thumb across it. Lena made a soft sound of approval at the back of her throat, and with no hesitation, Kara lowered her head to take Lena’s other nipple into her mouth.

The reaction from Lena was immediate. As Kara dragged the flat of her tongue over Lena’s nipple, her hand shot up and Kara felt fingers tighten in the hair at the back of her head, keeping her where she was. When she grazed it with her teeth, the hand in her hair tightened almost painfully, and she answered it with a squeeze to Lena’s other breast.

Kara,” Lena breathed, and Kara looked up to find Lena with her head thrown back into the pillows, the candlelight catching the mahogany in her hair, and Kara didn’t think she’d ever seen a sight more beautiful in her life.

“You’re so beautiful,” Kara said, before kissing Lena once more. Kara knew that she was slick between her own legs, could feel it every time she rocked up into Lena’s hips. She ached with the need to touch Lena, and for Lena to touch her. Sitting up slowly, Lena whimpering at the loss of pressure on her lower abdomen, Kara knelt between Lena’s bent knees.

Lightning flashed through the room, Lena’s pale skin glowing for a moment before the light from the candles took over once again, making her look soft once more. Lena watched her as Kara’s eyes moved down her body, followed by the reverent touch of her hands. Every freckle she came across, she touched with a fingertip. There were many of them, and Kara loved each of them. When Kara’s hands reached Lena’s hips, she put a gentle pressure on the top of one of Lena’s thighs, and Lena lowered it, allowing Kara to swing one of hers over it. The other, she pushed to the side, encouraging Lena to spread her legs wider.

Lena was wet, so wet, for her. She could see the dampness on her inner thighs, could see the soft folds between her legs glistening. Lena was still watching her, and with a sense of awe and privilege, Kara ran her fingertips down from Lena’s knee. She could feel Lena shaking with anticipation under her touch, and the temptation to just rush in, to bury her fingers or her tongue between Lena’s legs, was almost overwhelming. She forced herself to go slowly. To savor this.

When her fingers met the slick wetness on Lena’s inner thigh, she brought it up to her mouth and, making sure Lena could see, slipped her fingers into her mouth, tasting Lena for the first time. She was salty-sweet, and she could hear Lena’s breathing quicken at the sight. Kara trailed her wet fingers back down Lena’s thigh, and Lena pushed her head back into the pillow, blindly reaching for one of Kara’s hands. Kara held it, and this time when she reached Lena’s inner thigh, she didn’t stop.

She swiped two fingers through Lena’s slick folds, and Lena’s body almost folded in on itself, a low, relieved groan coming from deep in her chest. Kara felt an answering throb between her legs at the sound of it.

Lena’s hand twitched on her stomach as Kara moved through Lena once again, wetness coating her fingers as she passed Lena’s entrance and moved up. She found Lena’s clit and gave it a quick brush with her index finger. Lena’s body jerked, and Kara loved how responsive she was under her fingers, even though she’d barely touched her.

Kara leaned down to kiss Lena once more, a kiss that was as languid as the exploratory movement of her fingers between Lena’s legs. Lena’s hips bucked impatiently, and Kara smiled into the kiss, feeling the frustration in the way Lena moved, the way she breathed, in the way that Lena let go of her hand so that she could dig it into her hair.

Fuck,” Lena blurted when Kara brushed her clit again, and Kara felt fingers wrap around her wrist. The leg that was flat on the bed came up to push between Kara’s legs and oh, she could feel how wet she was by the way Lena’s leg slipped against her, and judging by the gratified look in Lena’s eyes, so could she. “Kara, you’re…” she said, in a tone that was full of the same awe that Kara was feeling herself. Kara rocked against Lena’s thigh, leaving neither of them in any doubt as to how wet she was.

Lena crashed their lips together again, and it was hot and messy, her tongue pressing into Kara’s mouth. Lena’s hand moved down to where Kara was stroking her, their fingers slipping together, before Lena moved her down slightly. “Please, please,” Lena whispered, “please-”

Kara felt the increase of moisture as Lena rocked her hips up, and she was so wet, it was so easy, to feel the way that Lena parted beneath her fingers as she pushed two inside her.

Lena’s whole body seemed sighed in relief as Kara filled her up, pushing her fingers as deep as they could go, before she pulled them almost all the way out, before pressing them in again. Awe turned into urgency when Lena started to move her hips in a rhythm Kara followed with her fingers, increasing the pressure and speed, delighting in the gasps she was pulling from Lena’s throat every time her thumb pressed against her clit. Kara curled her fingers, pressing into Lena’s g-spot, and Lena let out a throaty moan into Kara’s mouth, the hand in her hair tightening every time Kara hit the right spot.

When Kara added a third finger, Lena bit her lip and looked up at Kara, her green eyes wide and dark, before she shut them and wrapped her leg around Kara’s back. As Kara curled her fingers inside her, she could feel Lena tightening her muscles as if she wanted to hold her there, and Kara increased the pressure on her clit. Lena’s hand scrabbled around Kara’s back, her nails digging into her as she gave in to the pleasure Kara was giving her. As Kara sped up, Lena’s voice climbed higher. Kara loved that Lena was not quiet; her breathing was heavy and labored, every yes and fuck and fuckyesrightthere only making Kara throb and curl her fingers more, hitting the spot every time and causing Lena to moan. Lena’s body was writhing beneath her now, their kisses messy and less coordinated as Lena rocketed towards the edge. Kara wished she could draw it out, but she could feel Lena fluttering around her and she knew Lena wouldn’t last much longer.

When Lena came, she was surprisingly silent, a sudden intake of breath as her body arched in tension, jerking whenever Kara’s thumb bumped her clit as Kara coaxed her through her orgasm. Lena breathed her name, her hand on Kara’s between her legs, holding her there, before she chased Kara’s mouth for a kiss. Kara kissed her softly, tasting salt in the slight sheen of sweat on Lena’s skin.

As Lena’s breathing slowed down, Kara made to pull her fingers out, but Lena stopped her. Kara looked down at her in question, and found Lena’s eyes almost mischievous. Lena kissed her quickly, before indicated that she wanted Kara to roll onto her back. “Gently,” she murmured, and, her fingers still buried in Lena, Kara did carefully as she asked until Lena was on top of her, her knees either side of Kara’s hips and her messy dark hair hanging over her shoulders.

Outside, lightning crackled across the sky and illuminated the room for a moment, and Kara knew that the image it let her see would stay in her mind forever. Kara gazed up at the sight of Lena sitting back on her haunches, Kara’s hand between her legs, her fingers glistening with Lena’s slick release. The look on Lena’s face was caught somewhere between sultry and blissful, and when she started to rock her hips again, Kara’s eyes widened. She latched a hand to Lena’s hip as Lena ground against her, the candlelight casting shadows across her skin and making her look like nothing less than a goddess.

Lena bent forward slightly, increasing the pressure on her clit as the angle changed, and she groaned, her hands gripping Kara’s waist tightly. Kara didn’t have to do anything except keep her hand as still as she could, watching the glorious sight in front of her, feeling Lena’s walls clench around her fingers as Lena rode her fingers, chasing a second orgasm. Kara could tell by the tightness of her fingers that it wouldn’t take long, and sure enough, within seconds Lena had arched her back a second time, Kara’s name escaping her lips in a breathless sigh. Kara’s fingers were wetter than ever and when Lena gently pulled herself off them, Kara groaned at the sight of Lena sitting back, Kara’s fingers in her mouth, tasting herself as her tongue lapped at the slickness that coated her skin.

Kara felt herself clench at the sight as her body reminded her that a world existed outside of Lena’s exquisite pleasure. Lena was still breathing harder than normal, but it was with determination in her eyes that she leaned over Kara, slowly licking along Kara’s bottom lip and moving back when Kara tried to chase her. “Lenaaaa,” Kara whined, reaching for her face and pulling her down into a hot and messy kiss, trying to buck her hips up into Lena, who was still sitting in her lap.

Lena pulled away from her, running a single finger down the side of Kara’s neck and her chest, circling her nipples slowly as Kara squirmed under her. A single fuck breathed out of her when Lena cupped both of her breasts, running her thumbs over her nipples at the same time. Kara pushed her head back into the pillows as Lena bent over her, feeling Lena’s hair tickling her torso as she kissed her way down from Kara’s jaw. She nipped the soft skin of Kara’s breast with her teeth, before soothing it with her tongue and Kara just knew it was going to leave a mark. Her hand dug into Lena’s hair, keeping her there as she mumbled “again” into the pillow at the side of her face. She felt Lena smile against her chest as she did as requested, nipping and sucking marks into Kara’s upper chest and dragging her nails down the side of Kara’s ribcage hard enough to cause Kara to hiss in pleasure.

“I want to taste you,” Lena murmured into Kara’s skin, nipping it once more. Kara whimpered at Lena’s words and at the pinch of pleasure-pain that Lena was inflicting on her. Lena continued her movement downwards, her hot tongue licking a trail down Kara’s abs before she sucked a bruise into her side, long fingers gripping Kara’s hips. “You smell so good,” Lena said in a thick voice, nosing at Kara’s lower stomach before she pushed Kara’s legs further apart. Kara chanced a look down and her breath caught in her throat as she watched Lena kiss her way up her inner thighs and tucking her hair behind her ears. Kara jumped as she felt the tip of Lena’s tongue against her thigh as Lena pressed a gentle kiss there.

Kara started to tremble when she felt Lena’s thumbs tenderly pull her wet folds apart, sliding against the slick skin she found there and spreading her out. She whined when Lena’s thumb deliberately brushed her clit, once, twice, before her fingertips found her entrance, dipping in briefly before withdrawing.

At the first sure touch of Lena’s tongue between her legs, Kara let out a low groan and buried one hand into Lena’s hair, pulling her closer. Lena licked a broad stripe up from her entrance to her clit, circling it with the tip of her tongue before pressing the flat of her tongue against it. She moved slowly, almost torturously, taking her time and finding the places that made Kara shake with pleasure. When Lena dipped her tongue into Kara’s entrance, Kara looked down to find Lena looking back up at her, her green eyes intense; Lena didn’t break eye contact when she slipped her tongue back up and wrapped her lips around Kara’s clit, sucking gently. Kara’s eyes squeezed closed and her fisted grip in Lena’s hair tightened.

Lena sped up slightly, more familiar now with what Kara liked, and she worked Kara up into a frenzy. Her tongue, so sharp in the office, was gentle and loving as she worked Kara closer to the edge. Kara felt Lena’s fingers around her entrance, and when Lena slipped one finger inside her, curling to bring Kara even more pleasure, she groaned, long and low. She reached down and held the hand that Lena had wrapped around her thigh, locking their fingers together and jerking when Lena pressed the flat of her tongue against her clit again. The pressure of her tongue just like that coupled with her finger curling just so rapidly pushed Kara closer to the edge, and her breath came in short gasps as Lena moved her tongue, increasing the pressure as much as she could.

Kara was rocking her hips against Lena’s mouth, faster and faster, her voice climbing in pitch as pleasure coiled tightly in her abdomen. The pressure within her was building quickly, and lost in her pleasure, she pulled on Lena’s hair until Lena pushed a second long finger inside her. She curled them both, pressing exactly where Kara needed her. At the same time, she flicked her tongue over her clit and sucked on it, hard. Kara tumbled over the edge with a strong orgasm and a loud cry of Lena’s name, moaning as Lena coaxed her through the aftershocks with her tongue.

While Kara got her breathing under control, Lena lay her head on Kara’s thigh, looking up at her with clear adoration in her eyes. A moment later, she felt Lena licking gently around her inner thighs, cleaning her up a little, before she scooted up a little and smiled up at Kara from her stomach.

“Come up here,” Kara managed, unwinding her fingers from where they were still tangled in Lena’s hair. Lena obliged her and crawled up her body, trailing kisses over her abdomen and chest, before she settled into that perfect spot between Kara’s neck and shoulder. Kara tipped her head up a little and kissed her slowly, softly, her tongue meeting Lena’s and tasting herself in Lena’s mouth. She groaned, and Lena smiled again, resting her hand on Kara’s cheek and smoothing her thumb over her cheekbone.

Kara gathered Lena up against her, winding their legs together, before pulling the blanket up over them to warm their cooling skin. Lena snuggled into her, pressing kisses to any part of Kara she could reach; her collarbone, the dip of her throat, the very top of her breast.

They lay there together, and Kara felt Lena breathing against her. She could feel the rise and fall of her chest against her, feel her breath on her skin, and she stroked one hand down Lena’s back. Lena sighed against her, her body relaxing. In the quiet, Kara was happy just to lie there and hold Lena, to touch her and know that they’d just told each other more than words could say.

A flash of lightning lit the room, followed immediately by a loud clap of thunder, making them both jump with the nearness of it. It set both of them giggling before they settled back down, Lena smoothing her hand over Kara’s side.

“Some storm, huh?” Kara asked, kissing the top of Lena’s head and playing with her hair, lifting it away from her scalp and twisting it around her fingers.

Lena hummed in pleasure, shifting against Kara. “Mhmm,” she agreed sleepily, closing her eyes.

They’d made love, Kara thought. They hadn’t had sex, they’d made love with, and to, each other. And now there was no door for her to hide behind anymore. There was no coming back from the fact that Kara’s heart had tumbled off the fence it had been sitting on and landed firmly on the side of love.

She loved Lena. She was in love with Lena, and she wanted to be with her.

As happy as she felt right now, though, there was a nagging feeling at the back of her mind. The interview plucked at her happiness, reminding her that it was there. Lying next to Lena like this, hugging her close after having made love to her, was the best thing in the world. She knew what Lena’s face looked like when it was full of pleasure. She knew what it felt like to make Lena shake with want, and she knew how Lena tasted. Lena had made the choice to jump forward into the next part of… whatever their relationship was now, and Kara had been there to catch her with her arms wide open.

But they hadn’t talked about where they could possibly be going with each other. She was sure it was at the back of Lena’s mind as well; there was no way that she could’ve missed what was happening between them. If they had spent this week together for any other reason than the one they had, Kara would be telling Lena right now that she loved her, that she wanted to be with her for as long as Lena would have her. But without it, she might not have got the chance to get to know Lena like this.

Kara simultaneously cursed, and was glad for, the reason they were even here. Lying to her entire family, committing fraud against the government, risking her career and her future for someone was one thing. Doing the same things for a woman she loved and respected was a different thing altogether. It was still wrong, but because of it, Kara had found the woman she wanted to be with.

And she couldn’t even tell her that. It was like the elephant in the room. It would almost have been easier if they hadn’t become close because at least then her heart wouldn’t be as in as much danger as the rest of her was. She could’ve remained detached, viewed it as a job, something to focus on, get past, and try her best to forget about. But her heart was in danger, because she loved Lena, and on Monday they could be ripped apart from each other if they failed the interview.

Unconsciously, she pulled Lena closer to her. Lena’s breathing was deep and even now; she’d fallen asleep curled up against Kara, and Kara felt like her heart was bursting with love for her. This beautiful, wonderful woman, who’d asked her to do an immoral thing, but then turned out to be the person she’d been looking for her whole life. She was funny, smart, bold, thoughtful, caring, seductive, and a big, cuddly softie.

Kara felt her eyes prickle with tears from her worries. She wasn’t going to tell Lena that she loved her, not right now. It was just going to make it too hard for them both when they hadn’t even done the interview yet.

They were stuck in this little bubble up here in Midvale where everyone believed they were a couple. And in many ways, they were a couple. But outside their happy bubble, the federal government existed. Lena didn’t hold an American passport. Their jobs were in jeopardy. And as much as Kara didn’t want to think about it, as much as she wanted to hold onto this perfect week, the real world was out there. They could have this week, enjoy this time they had together, but come Sunday, they would be on their way back to New York.

Right now, they were in their own eye of the storm. Kara wanted to protect Lena as best as she could, but she felt panic settle over her heart at the thought of what they had to do, and what would happen if they didn’t manage to do it well enough.

But now, this moment, Lena was in her arms, and she was determined to enjoy it. She shuffled down the bed a little, and the movement woke Lena, who snuffled a little before nosing into Kara’s hair.

“Hi,” she mumbled, her voice heavy from her short nap, but happy.

“Hi yourself,” Kara replied, fitting her lips to Lena’s and loving the feeling of Lena yielding to her instantly, her body sinking against Kara’s. They shared slow, loving kisses, and Lena brushed Kara’s hair behind her ear. When she pulled back, Lena’s eyes were gentle.

“You make me happy,” she said simply, giving Kara a soft smile.

“You make me happy too,” she whispered. Kara couldn’t tell if her heart was bursting with love or cracking with heartbreak, so she did the only thing that she could; she pulled Lena on top of her and held her, feeling her settle between her legs and letting the weight of her comfort her as she lay there with her. She imagined she could feel Lena’s heart beating against her own chest, and she tightened her arms around her waist.

What were they going to do?

Some of her worry must have shown on her face because Lena ran her thumb across the frown lines on Kara’s forehead. “What’s wrong?”

Kara sighed. “I’m just- I’m just worried about Monday. And we- I’m not sure what we’re…”

“I’m worried too,” Lena interrupted, her thumb moving from Kara’s forehead to her lips. “I’m trying not to think about it, but I’m worried about what’ll happen if on Monday we don’t do well enough. I feel so much for you. I care for you Kara, so much, more than I have for anyone in a very long time. I don’t feel lonely any more, not when I’m with you, and I’m scared to lose that. And I’m afraid that- I’m afraid of what’ll happen to us if…” Lena abruptly sat up on her knees, the blankets going with her and falling around her waist. She made no move to cover herself up, instead swinging her legs over the edge of the bed.

Lightning flashed at that particular moment, and it illuminated Lena sitting there, her shoulders hunched, her arms wrapped protectively around her stomach. It was a profoundly lonely image, and Kara scrambled to move to sit next to her, draping her arm around Lena’s shoulders. “Hey,” she said. “Hey, I’m here.”

“You’re here,” Lena repeated sadly. “You’re here, and we’re here together. And later, I’d like for us to be- for there to be-” Lena shook her head, as if even saying the words was too much. Kara knew exactly how she felt. Lena was echoing the words that she had herself been thinking only minutes before.

“I’d like that too. I’d like for there to be an us after this, Lena. We’ll just take each day at a time, okay?” Kara said, reassuring her, even though she felt far from reassured herself. “I’m not going anywhere.”

“Promise?” Lena asked, her voice sounding more broken than she’d ever heard it.

“I promise,” Kara said, and Lena laid her head on her shoulder.

They sat there in silence for a few minutes, their back to the windows and the storm that was still raging outside. Rain still hit the glass, the wind still howled, and the thunder rolled overhead. But they were here, inside, with each other. For now, they were safe, and they were warm, and they were together.

“I just keep thinking about how much of a toll this is going to take on you,” Lena said finally, running her hand up and down Kara’s thigh almost mindlessly. “About how much you stand to lose if this all goes wrong. I don’t- I only have Sam, and Ruby, and they’ll understand. I have L-Corp and CatCo, and I’ve been thinking that… well, I own L-Corp. It’s mine, regardless of what the board says. I bought all their shares when I took over. I own 80% of the shares. I gave Sam 15%, and the other 5% I could buy back. I could relocate the headquarters to Dublin, make it an Irish company instead of an American one. Everyone in the New York office would keep their jobs, it just would become an Irish company. I could buy a building in Dublin. Build some labs, hire a whole new staff. I could take the running of the company out of the board’s hands altogether. Build a board that I would trust, and who would trust me.”

“That’s a drastic move,” Kara said, Lena’s serious words echoing in her head. “That’s a really drastic move.”

“I know,” Lena said, smiling briefly before her face turned pensive. “I know. It’s not ideal by any means. CatCo is… Cat Grant could find someone else to run it in my stead. I could sell my shares in it. You could have them. I don’t care. But what I do care about is taking care of you,” Lena said, as if she hadn’t just been talking about an obscene amount of money as if it were nothing.

“Lena-” Kara started, but she realized she had nowhere else to go.

Lena just glanced at her, holding her gaze for a moment, before looking back down at the twisting fingers in her lap. “Ever since we came here and I’ve seen what you’re risking for me, when I didn’t even ask you, I feel sick. You’ll never want for anything, not ever. I’ll give you whatever you want.” Lena looked up, and Kara could see even in the dim light that her eyes were full of tears. “Ever since we’ve been here, and I’ve been able to be just Lena, not Lena Luthor, I’ve been… happier than I’ve been in my life. I haven’t really thought about work in days, because I know Sam’s taking care of it. I knew how much the expectations of my life weighed, but I didn’t realize how heavy they really were until I had them taken away from me, and until you- until you helped me see past the person I had to be. Until I was given a chance to be the person I am. And I don’t know if I can go back to how it was,” she said in a whisper. “I don’t know how to live with myself, asking you to put your whole life and all your relationships on the line for me like this. And I’m terrified that it’ll all be for nothing. What if we fail? What if I’m deported, your family and your friends all find out that we lied to them? What if you go to prison, Kara?! I am terrified for you. How on earth can you bear to sit with me like this? How could we have-” she gestured to the bed behind them. “How could we have been together, like this, after what I did? How do you not hate me for doing this to you?”

If Kara had thought that Lena was vulnerable earlier, it was nothing to how she was now. Not only was she sitting completely naked, having given herself to Kara completely and let herself be made love to in return, she was sitting here baring her soul.

Kara could feel Lena’s spiraling panic and stood up, moving in front of her. Kara stepped between Lena’s legs, pulling Lena against her, and Lena’s arms wrapped around her waist. Kara could feel Lena’s tears spilling down her cheeks. She could feel them on her chest as they transferred from Lena to her.

“Hey, hey,” Kara said, this time knowing that her heart was cracking. “I’m not going to pretend that I’m not worried, okay? I’m not going to say I’m not also terrified, and that the guilt of lying to everyone I know and love hasn’t been taking a toll on me. I’m not going to pretend I’m not guilty of choosing to do that, even though you didn’t ask me. Lena, don’t forget that I chose to help you. I could’ve said no. I could’ve told Eve Teschmacher in her office what you’d asked me to do. I could’ve saved myself, and I didn’t. I chose to help you. And yes, lying to my family hurts. But Lena, Lena,” Kara said, her own voice shaking, and wiping the tears from Lena’s cheeks.

“I want you to listen to me very carefully,” she said, not saying anything more until Lena looked up at her, her eyes shining with more tears and the self-loathing of her speech. “I am not lying to my family when I tell them that I care for you. That is not a lie. I- Lena, I feel more deeply for you than I ever expected to. I’m in- you’re not just my boss to me. You’re so much more to me than I ever thought- I found you,” Kara said, not sure whether her words were making any sense at all. “I found you, Lena, and you’re such a good person. Getting to know you has been such a wonderful journey and I don’t want it to stop. I don’t hate you, I could never hate you. How do I hate the person who calms my storm?”

Lena’s arms tightened around her waist, and she lay her head back on Kara’s chest.

“I don’t deserve someone like you in my life,” Lena mumbled against her skin. “But I’m- I’m ever so glad you’re here.”

“So am I,” Kara replied, stroking Lena’s hair with one hand and her back with the other.

They stayed like that for a few moments, each drawing comfort from the other. The dam had burst, and they were now at a more honest place than they’d ever been. Kara was desperately sorry that Lena was taking the majority of the blame, that she was feeling so terrible about everything. But equally, there was nothing that Kara could do to truly calm Lena’s fears, not when her own were exactly the same and she didn’t even know how to tell herself what to do.

She cradled Lena against her, this soft woman who’d claimed her heart without knowing it. Kara still couldn’t bring herself to tell Lena how she truly felt. Maybe Lena already knew. But now, when things were raw and uncertain, wasn’t the time to tell her. The burden of Kara’s feelings would only make Lena feel worse.

Instead, there was the next best thing.

“Lena?”

“Hmm?” Lena replied, pulling away from Kara and wiping the last of the tears from her face.

“What would you say to some dinner and cookies?”

Lena huffed out a surprised, wet-sounding laugh. “I love cookies,” she said, giving her a watery smile.

“Alright,” she said, pulling Lena to her feet. “And hey. We’re in this together, okay? I want you to remember that. Lena and Kara.”

“Lena and Kara,” she repeated, stepping into Kara’s arms and giving her a hug. “I like the sound of that.”

“And,” Kara said, running her hand down Lena’s bare back. “I love that we made love with each other. I loved every single moment of what we did together, and yesterday, and every other day. Everything with you is real and I wouldn’t change any of it. I just want you to know that.”

When she leaned up to meet Kara, Lena’s lips were warm and soft on hers. It was a tender kiss, and Kara felt Lena’s hands on the sides of her neck.

“Also… nobody has ever complained about your efficiency,” Kara murmured, half-remembered words from the start of their trip coming back to her suddenly. “And neither will I.”

Lena was silent for a moment before the words registered in her memory. She pressed a kiss to Kara’s cheek and chuckled. “I didn’t exactly mean that situation, but if you’re not complaining either, then I’ll take that as a compliment.”

“Oh, it’s definitely a compliment,” Kara confirmed, brushing her fingers over Lena’s lips, and then looking down at herself. “I look like I’ve gone a round with a boxer with… very tiny fists.”

“What?” Lena said, before she looked at Kara’s torso as well. Even in the low light, the bruises that Lena had made in Kara’s skin were obvious, and Lena started to giggle, finally leaning against Kara again and laughing into her chest. “I’m sorry!” she said, running her finger over one near Kara’s collarbone.

“I’m not. I didn’t really realize that I liked it that much until today.”

“I’ll remember that,” Lena replied, laughter still in her voice. “We should probably put some pajamas on. Just in case Eliza comes home.”

“Oh, that’s a good point!”

Kara found her own pajamas easily enough, but Lena’s were another matter. They searched for them and found them kicked to the bottom of the bed, sandwiched between two of the blankets. Lena pulled them on, Kara mourning the loss of Lena’s nakedness even if she understood the reason why. They both put on some fuzzy socks and, taking care to blow out the candles and pick up the matches, they made their way downstairs hand in hand.

The storm was still going on outside, and it was dark in the kitchen until Kara turned on a flashlight. She knew her way around well enough, but Lena didn’t, and she didn’t want her to stub her toes on any of the furniture. She could see by her phone that it was past 8pm, but with the electricity out, there wasn’t any way to cook anything. Opening the fridge, Kara peered in it to see what they could possibly eat.

To Lena’s amusement, and Kara’s horror, the only things that were in the fridge that they didn’t need to cook were salad ingredients and some ready-cooked chicken breasts.

“Chicken salad for you then,” Lena said, plucking the lettuce and other greens out, as well as a packet of tomatoes.

“Leaves,” Kara said, suppressing a shudder.

Lena snorted. “It’s a salad, Kara. It’s not going to kill you!”

“It’s leaves, Lena!” she protested. “You can’t make a meal out of leaves!

“My fiancée is a child,” Lena muttered good-naturedly, setting everything out on the counter. “Hey, could you get me a candle or something please, darling? Otherwise you’re going to have to stand there and watch me chop lettuce.”

“Sure,” Kara replied, leaving the torch with Lena and going carefully into the lounge. She picked out the first candle she felt, one in some kind of tin, and carried it through into the kitchen. She lit it, and Lena fetched a knife to start chopping the lettuce up.

For a few minutes, everything was fine. Kara hopped up on the counter and watched Lena’s hands as she worked, halving the avocado and scooping the stone out with a spoon. And then-

“Kara?”

“Yes?”

“What is that smell?!” Lena asked, sounding disgusted and burying her nose in the crook of her elbow.

“What sm- oh,” she said, eyeing the candle. “I think it’s that.”

Lena hastily blew it out and Kara wordlessly passed her the flashlight.

“It smells burnt! Like some… like some centuries old wooden house that had a fireplace nobody ever bothered to clean and then lit fish oil lamps in,” Lena said, shining the flashlight on the label.

“That’s oddly specific.”

Resident Evil 4D candle,” Lena read off the label. “The scent of horror, fear, and adrenaline. Kara! This candle smells gross! Why would anyone own this?” Lena said, shoving the lid on the candle as quickly as she could to mask the smell.

Kara was at a loss for words for a moment before it clicked in her head. “Oh! It was for when Alex was playing Resident Evil VII here. She said the ambiance was better here than at her place on the mainland. She’d sit in here with her VR headset on and we lit this candle so that I guess she could smell the place she was in in the game. The best part was sneaking up behind her while she was playing and scaring the shit out of her though. I tapped her on the shoulder once and she threw her controller across the room and smashed one of Eliza’s vases!”

“I can imagine that she wasn’t very happy with you afterward,” Lena said knowingly.

“She didn’t see me for a second. I dived behind the sofa.”

“Of course you did,” Lena said fondly. “If you ever do that to me though while I’m working on some VR tech, I won’t be held responsible for whatever I throw at you!”

Kara laughed. “I value my life. Although Alex does have a gun.”

“I’m an expert markswoman,” Lena said casually, when Kara looked over at her. “I’m not just a businesswoman. I could most likely beat Alex in a shooting competition.”

“Now that is something I would love to see!” Kara crowed. “Let me get you another candle that doesn’t smell like some kind of death. Do you mind being here in the dark for a moment? I’ll take the flashlight and pick something nicer.”

Lena didn’t, so she went back to the lounge and searched the candle cupboard for something that smelled a little better. She pulled out a tall vanilla candle and a rose scented one, bringing them back into the kitchen for Lena to choose between.

Lena sniffed them both dubiously, before her expression cleared. “The rose one,” she said decisively. “It smells like one I have at home.”

Kara lit it and it was, indeed, much nicer than the Resident Evil candle, which Kara pushed far away from her.

Lena continued chopping up the salad ingredients, throwing things into the bowl when they were ready. She seasoned things as she went with whatever she could find in the cupboard. She found peri-peri salt in one of them and ground it all over the cucumber and tomatoes, mixing it in together. On the avocado, she ground a little salt and black pepper, before squeezing some juice from a lime over it, tossing that into the bowl as well. “This is going to be the weirdest salad ever,” Lena commented, fetching some strawberries and shrugging, chopping them up and putting black pepper on them too before throwing them into the bowl.

“Black pepper on strawberries?!” Kara said, aghast.

“You’re going to like it, don’t worry,” Lena said with confidence, mixing everything together with a huge spoon before separating it into two bowls. Next, she removed the skin from the chicken and sliced that as well, adding black pepper and a drop of soy sauce to the top of each slice. Putting the chicken on a separate plate, she put it all on the table and gestured at it. “Voilà,” she said. “Weird chicken salad.”

To her surprise, Kara did like it. The salty extras Lena had added to almost everything made the usually boring leaves, in Kara’s opinion, much tastier. Even the strawberries mixed with the black pepper and lime juice from the avocado tasted good, although she doubted it would be something she’d make at home. That being said, she thought as she chewed some lettuce, she’d probably eat anything that Lena prepared for her.

When they were finished, Kara dumped all their dishes into the sink, and Lena borrowed the flashlight, heading upstairs and coming back down with one of her work laptops.

“What’s that for?”

“It’s for us to watch a movie on,” Lena said, producing a USB thumb drive from her pocket. “I wasn’t expecting to actually watch any movies on my laptop while we were here, but it’s always in the bag for emergencies. I’m not exactly sure what’s on it.”

“I bet Romy and Michele’s High School Reunion isn’t one of them,” Kara muttered with a wry smile, picking up the candle from the counter, as well as a box of cookies.

Lena laughed and followed Kara into the lounge. Lena held the candle while Kara pulled the coffee table over to the sofa, and put the candle down on it along with the laptop. She sat down, sinking into the perfectly worn sofa cushion, and Lena sat down next to her, switching her laptop on and logging in with her fingertip. When it was loaded, she put the USB into it and waited for it to boot up.

To Kara’s surprise, none of the files she could see in the lists Lena clicked through were work-related. They seemed to mostly consist of folders of travel photos, music, tv shows, and movies. Lena answered Kara’s silent question. “I can’t save non-work-related things on my laptop for security purposes,” she said, opening a folder full of movies. “But every now and again, I just want to look at something more fun on my lunch break, when I remember to take one. Choose whatever you’d like.”

Kara picked the laptop up and set it on her lap, looking through the list of movies. “The Mummy, why am I not surprised?” Beside her, Lena laughed, leaning against her. “Cold Mountain, too sad. Star Wars, what looks like all of them, you’re such a geek. Ready Player One; I’ll read the book first. My Cousin Vinny… What’s that?”

Lena smiled mischievously. “You haven’t seen it?”

“Nope. It’s not a horror movie is it?”

“No, it isn’t. It’s a comedy, one of my favorites. Would you like to watch it?”

“Sure,” Kara said, putting the laptop back down and getting comfortable while Lena pressed play on the movie and leaning against Kara’s side, opening the box of cookies.

Not ten minutes into the movie, Kara was already loving it and laughing uproariously at the dialogue while Lena chuckled along, seeming to derive happiness out of Kara’s enjoyment of it. Kara lifted her arm up and Lena snuggled against her. They got comfortable, although Lena was constantly jostled by Kara laughing so hard she had to sit up to get herself under control. It was a very funny movie, and Kara couldn’t believe she’d never seen it before.

Halfway through it, she paused the movie and made them each a hot chocolate with a candy cane in it, and they sipped them happily as the movie continued.

When Vinny appeared in court in a purple suit, Kara was helpless. Rarely had a movie made her laugh quite this much. Although she would never have imagined Lena watching this before, looking across at her and seeing the wide, dimpled smile on her face now, Kara could see her turning this on after a particularly bad day at work. Lena was mouthing the words along with the movie, just as she did with the Mummy, and Kara wondered just how many movies Lena knew all the dialogue to.

When the movie was finished, Kara was wishing it was longer, and had already memorized some of the dialogue. Carrying the candle up to the bedroom, they quotes parts of the movie to each other like a couple of movie geeks, Kara starting to laugh again whenever something funny rolled through her mind. She was definitely going to recommend the movie to Alex, and she thought Maggie especially would love it.

In a show of domesticity, she and Lena did their teeth together at the bathroom sink. Whether it was residual humor from the movie or not, Kara didn’t know, but she kept getting the giggles while she was brushing her teeth, causing Lena to bump her in the hip with her own and roll her eyes at her.

Kara had never felt so comfortable with anyone else in her life as she did with Lena.

She left Lena to finish using the bathroom on her own before she used the guest room downstairs, making sure the garage door was locked before she came back upstairs.

The rain was still pelting the balcony doors and windows, the thunder loud. Lena came out of the bathroom just as a particularly large fork of lightning split the sky, making her jump.

“I haven’t seen such a prolonged storm in a long time,” Lena said, wandering up to the windows and looking out at it. Kara stood by the bed, trying to memorize the way Lena looked as she gazed out at the wild darkness outside. It was too late now, but she could definitely try to paint Lena into a storm painting at some point.

Judging by how much she loved the one that she’d already done, Kara knew that Lena would appreciate it.

“Do you want to close the blinds tonight, or leave them open?”

“Open,” Lena said, raising her voice over the thunder that rumbled overhead.

“I was hoping you’d say that,” Kara replied, and Lena smiled at her. “I love watching storms, when I can.”

“Me too,” Lena said, sitting on the edge of the bed. “Some of the windows in my apartment overlook Central Park. It’s the room where I like to do my reading, and whenever there’s a storm, I open the windows and sit in there, watching it happen. I don’t think there are many places in the city with such an unobstructed view of the sky, unless you’re very high up, and I use it to my best advantage.”

“If you ignore the telephone wires, the view from my apartment isn’t too horrible either,” Kara said, climbing into bed and trying to smother a large yawn. She took her glasses off, setting them on the nightstand, and blew the candle out.

“I believe you,” Lena replied, getting in beside Kara and curling up against her immediately, like she belonged there. With a jolt Kara thought, Lena did belong there, sharing the same space as her. “I’d like to visit your apartment again under… better circumstances. Maybe we could watch a storm together there,” Lena said, hope in her voice.

Kara’s heart warmed. “You can come over any time you like, storm or no storm,” she said, crooking a finger under Lena’s chin and tipping her face up for a kiss.

The kiss was tender, slow and open-mouthed, the barest hint of Lena’s tongue on her lips. It was the kind of kiss that made Kara want to smile, so she did, and soon enough, Lena was smiling too. Kara gave in to her desire to touch Lena’s dimples with her fingertips, hesitating only a moment before leaning over and pressing her lips to them instead. She pulled Lena against her and squeezed her gently, still hardly able to believe that she could do that any time she wanted.

Lena peppered Kara’s face with soft, lingering kisses, before kissing her once more on the lips and laying her head down in her favorite spot on Kara’s chest. Lena slipped a leg between Kara’s and one hand under her shirt, resting on her ribcage. “Sweet dreams,” Lena whispered.

“And to you. Goodnight Lena,” Kara replied, kissing her forehead before closing her eyes. It didn’t take long for the day to catch up to her, Lena’s quiet breathing soothing her, and she fell asleep with a smile on her face.

Chapter Text

When Kara woke up, the first thing she noticed was the silence. The storm was over, and the weak morning sunlight was just beginning to light the room. She was surprised that the sound of the rain and thunder hadn’t kept her awake during the night, but in some ways, she found storms quite relaxing.

And maybe… maybe it also had something to do with the woman she was sharing her bed with.

Kara was facing away from the window, and Lena was sprawled over her as if she was the coziest pillow ever made. Kara must’ve got hot in the night because she’d somehow lost her sleep shirt, and Lena was breathing softly into her shoulder blades, deeply and evenly. One of Lena’s hands was curled possessively across her side, her fingers were twitching slightly like they’d done before, as if she were playing the piano. Kara idly wondered whether Lena had ever played; she seemed to have the hands for it. She tried to make a mental note to ask her when they were both awake.

One of Lena’s legs was sandwiched between Kara’s, and although it wasn’t quite high enough to be pressing against her, she found that the thought of it was enough to make her want to flip over and wake Lena up. It had been far too many hours already since she’d last kissed her; Kara thought that Lena deserved a lot of kisses, for many different reasons, and she still couldn’t believe that she was the one that Lena wanted to share her kisses with.

Lena shifted in her sleep, the arm around her waist tightening a little before it slackened again, and Lena nuzzled into Kara’s back even more closely than she had been before. Her breathing was still the same, and Kara felt warm and safe, wrapped up in Lena’s arms.

It was still too early to get up, so Kara decided to let herself enjoy this peaceful, quiet moment. Slowly, so as not to wake Lena, she shifted a little, pulling Lena’s hand around to settle on her stomach and linking their fingers. Lena didn’t wake up, but she let out an adorably happy sounding mmm and sleepily pulled Kara against her. They were lying so close together that Kara doubted you could fit tooth floss between them. Lena’s leg was now firmly pressed up against Kara, and she suppressed a groan. Short of waking Lena up, there was nothing she could do about it.

Maybe it would bring her the best kind of dreams?

Grinning to herself, Kara turned her face into the pillow and closed her eyes. It didn’t take long before her breathing was as even as Lena’s.

 

* * * * *

 

When Kara next woke up, it was to someone gently shaking her shoulder. Kara yawned widely, blearily rubbed her eyes, and fumbled for her glasses on the nightstand. Lena’s smiling face came into view, and Kara peered sleepily up at her as she stood by the side of the bed, a mug between her hands.

“Good morning,” Lena said, bending forward to give Kara a brief kiss.

Kara hummed into it before, “oh, no fair, you’ve already brushed your teeth!”

Lena chuckled before she stood back up. “I did. I’ve actually been up for a while. Did you know that you talk in your sleep?”

“I do not!” Kara protested, her voice still hoarse from sleep.

“You do too,” Lena said fondly, reaching down to stroke Kara’s hair with one hand. “I definitely shouldn’t tell you any secrets.”

“Oh yeah? I’m usually pretty good at keeping secrets, unless they’re my own. What did I say?” Kara asked, letting out a throaty groan as Lena scratched gently along her scalp. It just felt so good

To her surprise, Lena flushed a little, although whether it was from what Kara had said while asleep or from the sound Kara had just made, she wasn’t sure. “Let’s just say that you said something very… nice, about my- about my tongue.”

Oh,” Kara said. From her words, then. It seemed that having Lena’s thigh wedged between her own legs had made a difference to her dreams after all. So much, in fact, that she’d apparently talked to Lena about it in her sleep. “Well, as I recall, you do have a very talented tongue,” she husked, watching with delight as Lena’s blush deepened.

“I’m very glad you think so,” Lena replied, her voice a little shy, but Kara could tell she was pleased from the way her eyes were crinkling at the corners.

Kara smiled so widely that her cheeks hurt. Lena’s bashfulness made her feel kind of giddy because she knew she was one of the few people who got to witness it. “I definitely think so,” she said, reaching up and resting a hand on Lena’s hip. “If I had brushed my teeth, I would kiss you right now and remind you how much I love doing that.”

Lena looked down, red-faced, into the mug she had in her hands, before holding it out to Kara. “I made this for you,” she said. “And, for the record,” she added in a much quieter voice that was full of sincerity, “I love kissing you too.”

Kara took the mug off Lena, her heart warming at what was in it; Lena had made her a hot chocolate, topped with whipped cream, and put a candy cane in it. It was just the way that Kara loved it best, and for some reason the knowledge that Lena had taken notice of that made her feel like her breath was hard to find.

She set it carefully on the nightstand and swung her legs out of bed, not missing the way Lena’s eyes widened at the fact she wasn’t wearing anything on top. “Give me just a minute?”

Lena nodded, climbing into Kara’s side of the bed and immediately wrapping herself up in the blankets, her eyes peeking over the top. “Don’t be long,” she said, her voice muffled.

As requested, Kara didn’t take long in the bathroom. She brushed her teeth, finger-combed her hair, and made herself as presentable as she could in her old pajama bottoms and no shirt. But then, she reminded herself, she had certainly been less than presentable the evening before, since she’d been wearing nothing at all, and Lena had not seemed to mind one bit.

The knowledge and memory of that gave Kara a boost of confidence. She put a little swagger into her walk on her way back over to the bed; Lena looked up and coughed slightly into her own hot chocolate as she watched her approach over the rim of her mug. Kara made sure to maintain eye contact with Lena while she crawled across the top of the blankets towards her. When she reached her, she took the mug out of her hands and plucked her reading glasses off, leaving them both on Lena’s nightstand, and gave Lena a searing kiss. It was one that had Lena cupping her hands around the back of Kara’s neck and pulling her closer, and Kara leaned into it, tasting chocolate on Lena’s tongue.

“What was that for?” Lena asked breathlessly when Kara pulled back, wiping the corner of her mouth with the pad of her thumb and smiling.

“For being you,” Kara said, passing Lena’s glasses back. She propped herself up against the pillows, pulled the blankets up over herself, and reached over for her mug. “Plus, you brought me a hot chocolate just the way I love it, and I think that deserves some extra appreciation.”

She scooped some of the cream out with the candy cane and ate it. “This doesn’t take like the cream from the can…” she said, looking down at it. It looked much thicker than usual, and she looked over at Lena in question.

Lena hummed as she took a sip out of her own mug. “I whipped the cream.”

“What, yourself?” Kara asked, scooping more of it up.

“It tastes better that way,” she stated, but then she looked a little more hesitant. “Do you like it?”

“Yeah!” Kara confirmed, gleefully taking another mouthful of the cream and groaning in bliss.

Lena gave her a dimpled smile. “I’ll keep that in mind for the future,” she said, leaning over to kiss Kara on the cheek, then shuffling over so that they were sitting next to each other. Kara hadn’t noticed, but Lena had Gone With the Wind open on her lap, and once she was settled, Lena picked the book back up, resting it against her knees.

Kara watched her for a moment, then tried some of the hot chocolate. It was dark, rich and creamy, and almost sinful in how good it tasted. It was the liquid equivalent of a hug from a lover, and made Kara feel almost as good. With a jolt of humor, she thought that thanks to the candy cane, the fact that she had just brushed her teeth didn’t make her hot chocolate taste weirdly of toothpaste.

This was nice, Kara thought. She glanced over at Lena with her glasses perched on her nose, her pajamas wrinkled and soft-looking, reading a book in bed. She looked more comfortable than anyone had any right to be, considering that she’d only spent a few nights sleeping in this bed, and a wave of longing crashed over Kara. She wanted mornings like this with Lena, both of them happy enough to not need to talk, content just to be next to each other. In some way, she wanted to tell Lena that, without actually saying it. And just because she didn’t feel the need to talk, didn’t mean that she didn’t want to touch her so much that her fingers almost ached with it.

With one hand, she brushed some of Lena’s hair behind her ear, before stroking her fingers down Lena’s jaw and across her lips. Gently, she traced her eyebrow, sighing when Lena’s eyes fluttered closed at the tender attention. She trailed a fingertip down Lena’s nose, bopping the end of it playfully and laughing when Lena opened her eyes only to narrow them at Kara in mock annoyance. When Kara stroked her lips again, though, they parted slightly beneath her touch, and gradually, Lena closed the distance between them.

The way that Lena kissed her then, slowly and quietly, was without a doubt a kiss that Kara would hold in her memory forever. It was soft, full of a simmering heat, Lena’s fingers curling almost possessively under her chin. Lena was kissing her not because she wanted to push it further; she kissed her just because she wanted to, and Kara surrendered to Lena’s gentle theft of her heart.

When they parted, Kara could feel Lena’s breath touching her lips, and she leaned their foreheads together. Lena pressed her warm lips against Kara’s once more before she pulled back. Her expression was shy, and there was something fleeting in her expression that Kara couldn’t place. It was almost as if Lena was willing Kara to understand something, but when she didn’t, too lost in the way Lena’s eyes looked like galaxies when they were thoughtful like this, Lena didn’t look disappointed or hurt, she just looked fond. She stroked Kara’s cheek with her fingertips, before she cuddled up against her, sighing when Kara wrapped her arm around her waist and pulled her closer.

Kara was lucky that she hadn’t tipped her hot chocolate all over the sheets thanks to the purely distracting nature of Lena’s heartfelt kiss. Having Lena snuggled up against her now was all kinds of wonderful, and she was determined to remember every moment of it and keep it close to her heart.

“This makes me happy,” Lena murmured, kissing the underside of Kara’s jaw before picking her book back up again. “Being here with you like this. It makes me happy,” she continued, glancing back up at Kara before back down at the pages of her book and finding where she’d left off. Kara squeezed her gently, letting her know that she’d heard her, before she settled against the pillow and finished her hot chocolate.

Kara contentedly scrolled through her phone, playing a game one handed while she listened to the birds outside and the rustle of pages next to her. Lena read very quickly, if the speed at which she was turning the pages was anything to go by. Kara wondered how many books Lena got through a year, or even if she ever had time to read fiction books, what with all the work she had to do.

“Hey, Lena?” she asked, waiting until Lena made a small hum of acknowledgement when she finished the sentence she was on. “How many books do you read in a year?”

Lena closed the book around her finger and looked into the middle distance. “Not as many as I’d like. Work keeps me busy, and you noticed that I often forget to even have lunch at CatCo, never mind taking an actual lunch break.”

“You need to take better care of yourself,” Kara chastised her, no heat in it at all.

“I know,” Lena replied. “When I go to my cabin up near Salem, I read there. It’s peaceful, and when it’s cold out, I just pile blankets around me and sit outside, reading, as long as I can before I freeze to death. There’s just something about reading outside surrounded by the snow, breathing in the fresh air, that’s just sort of… perfect, you know?”

“I’ve never done that, actually,” Kara admitted.

“Well if you wanted- if you’d like to visit my cabin,” Lena began, before clearing her throat and looking up at her, “you’re certainly welcome to. But I’m still not letting you drive my car.”

Kara let out a laugh at that, pretending to be offended and pressing a hand over her heart. Lena smiled indulgently and folded her arms over her chest, not minding at all that she’d lost her page in her book.

“Not even a short test drive?” Kara wheedled.

“After hearing what you’ve done while behind the wheel of a car, you’re not even going to be allowed to turn the key,” Lena said, struggling to keep a stern look on her face even while her mouth was twitching with laughter.  

“Don’t you trust me?”

“I do. Just not with my car,” Lena replied with a mildly derisive snort.

Kara lifted the side of Lena’s shirt and tickled her just in the right place, causing Lena to splutter with laughter and squirm away from her and out of bed. “Hey!

“You’re no fun.”

“I’m lots of fun,” Lena protested, standing with her hands on her hips at the side of the bed, looking down at Kara who was now sprawled across it.

Kara scooted over to the edge of the bed until Lena was standing between her legs. Carefully, Kara planted her feet next to Lena’s, and then slowly stood up, making sure to slide her body against Lena’s every inch of the way, until her hands were in Lena’s hair and wide green eyes were locked on blue as Lena gazed up at her. “I take it back,” Kara whispered, ghosting a kiss on Lena’s cheek. “You’re fun in every way I never expected, and then some. And I’d love nothing better than to stay in here with you all day and have one very specific type of fun, we do actually have quite a lot to do today.”

Lena huffed when she realised Kara was right, and stepped away from her. “If you want us to get anything done, you need to put some kind of shirt on, otherwise I’ll not be responsible for my actions,” she rasped, causing Kara’s stomach to clench at the sound of her voice. She flicked a finger around Kara’s bare torso.

“See something you like?” Kara said, echoing Lena’s words to her from the day before.

“Yes,” Lena said simply, biting her bottom lip and not hiding the desire in her eyes when she let her eyes travel down Kara’s body and back up to her face. “Very much so.”

Electricity crackled between them, and Kara took half a step towards Lena, who held up a hand. “You said we have a lot to do,” she said, pointing a finger at Kara.

“That’s true…” Kara said, allowing a whine into her voice. She saw Lena’s already wavering determination falter even further, and she took another step towards her. Lena walked straight into her arms, ducking her head under Kara’s chin and scratching her nails down Kara’s back, causing her to groan into Lena’s hair.

Quick as lightning, Lena twisted out of Kara’s embrace. “You need to get dressed,” she said, her voice heavy and her eyes dark. “We have tonight,” she added, punctuating her words with a cocky raise of her eyebrow.

Kara laughed, even though there was an insistent throbbing between her legs that called for Lena’s attention. “Alright.” She looked around the room for her bra, finding it on the back of the chair, and pulling it on. “Better?”

“…vaguely,” Lena said, trying and failing to keep her eyes on Kara’s face. Knowing that Lena wanted Kara as much as she wanted Lena was a really, really good feeling, and Kara wanted nothing more than to ignore the obligations they had this morning and let them both give in to what they obviously wanted. Kara could tell Lena was struggling with it as well from the way she stepped from foot to foot while looking at Kara.

“We’ll have tonight,” Kara promised.

Lena nodded, a soft smile on her face. “What do we have to do today?” she asked, watching as Kara pulled yet another hoodie out of the closet and yanked it over her head.

“I have to get Streaky back into the water for a start,” Kara said. “Because of the storm yesterday, I didn’t rinse her hull off like I should’ve, so the best thing for me to do is to get her back into the water as soon as possible. After that, we have to check around the house for any storm damage, downed trees in the woods, things like that. Make sure there’s no smashed windows, check on the treehouse. I should really check the fridges as well-”

“Oh,” Lena interrupted. “I checked them already. I think the power came back on not long after we fell asleep, because the electric clock on the lounge wall is only a couple of hours behind what it should be.”

“Eliza made that clock in the lab,” Kara said, thinking of it, “specifically so that she would always know how long the fridges in the lab had been off after a power cut until the generator cut back in. It was so she could factor in that loss into any sensitive experiments. It worked so well that she brought one home, so that if our fridge and freezer had been off in a power cut should it happen overnight, we could check our stuff. I’m still not exactly sure how she made it, but it’s always been very helpful.”

Lena looked impressed. “I should ask her to make me one for my cabin,” she said thoughtfully.

Kara laughed. “I’m sure she’d do it for you. She likes you.”

Lena’s cheeks flushed. “Do you think so?” she asked in a hopeful voice.

“I know so,” Kara replied.

Lena looked both happy and relieved. “It’s been a long time since I’ve met the family of someone I’m da- since someone’s family has liked me at all, to be honest. As we’ve discussed, I haven’t really been able to date much, and after Lex… well, it’s been a long time. And as unconventional as this has been, the fact that Eliza likes me… that means a great deal to me.”

Kara held a hand out to Lena, who took it, and she rubbed her thumb over the back of it. “She does like you. Alex does too. Everyone who’s met you has liked you. You’ve defied the terrible reputation I gave you that I still feel awful about,” she said, kissing Lena when she looked like she was about to protest and say something silly like I deserved it, “and they all love you. And I- I still can’t believe that I’m lucky enough that you seem to genuinely like me, too.”

Lena regarded her for a moment, before she smiled. “Aren’t we a pair of saps?”

“I wouldn’t have it any other way.”

After that, both of them finished getting dressed. Lena pulled on a pair of sweatpants, before rooting through her shirts to find something to wear. She seemed to have a never-ending supply of terrible science pun shirts; today’s was a dark blue one that complimented her eyes nicely and had a picture of a robot posing. The caption said, if a robot does the robot, is it just dancing? Kara let out an undignified snort at that one. “You are actually the geekiest person I know, and I’ve known Winn for a long time.”

Lena looked pleased, and preened a little at the compliment. “I have always been a geek,” she said proudly.

“I should put you two in front of a Star Wars marathon and see which one of you out-geeks the other.”

“Now that sounds like a challenge I’d be glad to win,” Lena said, and Kara smirked at how clearly she could hear the competition in Lena’s voice.

Kara handed Lena a thick hoodie for her to wear. The storm had definitely passed, but a quick glance out of the window told her that the warm weather they’d been experiencing was definitely over now. Lena pulled it on gratefully, and once they were both ready, they linked fingers and headed downstairs. In the garage, Kara inspected her rain boots and found that they’d luckily dried overnight. They both pulled their respective boots on, and Lena stepped through the door and onto the lawn. Immediately, she shivered.

“Damn,” she said, wrapping her arms around herself.

The air was much colder, the muggy warmth having been swept away by the storm. It was much fresher, and Kara could smell the salt in the air as the breeze tossed her hair around her head. Lena had sensibly tied her hair up in a messy bun, but Kara had no such forethought. She shoved it roughly down the back of her hoodie and pulled the hood up, pulling on the strings to tighten it, and ignoring the amused looks Lena was shooting her direction.

There were few trees on the Danvers’ lawn, and luckily, none of them had fallen over in the storm. Kara could see one bollard on the pier had broken, but it had been on its way out for a while, and Kara had just never had time to repair it. That would be a job for future Kara; at least the storm hadn’t taken the whole pier out. They squelched across the soggy lawn, puddles sitting in the flatter areas; the water table had risen overnight, but hopefully it would lower quickly.

The boathouse was completely unharmed by the storm. Kara unlocked the boathouse door, satisfied at how well their paint had held up in the storm; it had been a baptism of fire for it, and it had held up very well. Lena was a good painter, it seemed, and more than ever, Kara wanted her to come back for Midvale’s Big Paint in the summer. She could just see Lena, a scarf wrapped around her hair, wearing paint-covered overalls and laughing at something stupid while halfway up a ladder Kara was steadying for her.

Smiling at the image in her head, Kara pressed the button to open the larger boathouse door, grateful when it opened without any issues.

Thankfully, getting a boat into water was much easier than getting one out of it in a hurry. “So what’s going to happen,” Kara said, catching Lena’s attention, “is essentially the same as we did yesterday, but in reverse. One of us needs to let the winch go, and the other direct the trailer with the boat into the water. I’ll do that, because I’m more used to it. Once it gets to the right depth, I’ll tell you to stop. I’ll get into the boat, and you’ll unlash the winch strap when I tell you to. I’ll basically just have to reverse the boat backwards. You can give it a little push if it’s not going anywhere fast.”

“Alright,” Lena said, moving around the boat to where the top of the winch was. Kara showed her how to operate it, and in no time, Kara was walking the boat down the slipway. She’d done it so often that it was second nature, and really all she was doing was keeping a hand on the hull as it made its way slowly towards the water. Once the trailer and the back of the boat hit the water, Kara shouted for Lena to slow down a little on the winch. Kara watched until the back of the boat started to float satisfactorily, and she waved at Lena to stop. Kara made her way up onto the pier, judging the distance carefully before she took half stride, half leap into the deck of the boat.

She landed sure-footed, and checked to see that the back of the boat was, indeed, floating the way she needed it to. It was important that the propeller wasn’t anywhere near the slipway, and she was sure it wasn’t. She started the engine of the boat, relieved despite herself when there weren’t any jarring noises from the back.

“You can unlash it now,” she said to Lena, who had come down the slipway and was standing with her boots in the water. Lena unlashed the winch strap from the boat, and Streaky floated cleanly backwards into the water with no issues at all. Kara let out a little cheer and out of the corner of her eye, saw Lena throw her arms up in victory on the slipway. She’s so cute, her mind tossed at her, and she agreed with herself as she threw the mooring ropes around one of the undamaged bollards. Once the boat was moored, Kara turned the engine off and climbed back out onto the pier, winding the winch back up and locking the boathouse up tightly again.

“Good job, chief mate,” she said to Lena with a salute, whose surprised laughter seemed to spill out of her, uninhibited and lovely.

“That’s a title I never thought I’d have, considering my love of the open water,” she said, smiling in a proud sort of way when she got her breath back. Kara wrapped her arm around her shoulders, Lena winding one around Kara’s waist, and they made their way back up to and around the house.

It was a good time to check whether there were any fallen trees near the house. Kara always did a check after a big storm, because fallen trees could be a safety issue if they were on any of the paths through the woods. If they fell within the woods themselves, often the people who lived on the island would chop it up for additional firewood, or for crafts if the wood was good quality.

As they rounded the house, Kara could see that the treehouse was undamaged, and none of the windows were broken either in the treehouse or on their actual house, which was another relief. A lot of the wildflowers hadn’t been so lucky. The colorful petals that had greeted them previously had all been blown who knew where, and the woods seemed far more bleak without them there. There were several downed trees, mostly the smaller, younger ones, and Lena was silent as she looked around the woods as they walked, taking in the signs of destruction that the storm had wrought.

“We’re so removed from certain parts of nature in New York,” she said, before she shook her head. “I know we’re at risk from the sea. Hurricane Sandy was absolutely horrific. I was in my late teens when that happened; Lex and I helped with recovery efforts in Brooklyn and the devastation we saw there was just… beyond words. In fact the street you live on was one where I… I thought about it, after I left your apartment. I know you love it there, but I think now I’ll… worry.”

There wasn’t much she could say to assuage Lena’s worry; acts of nature were nothing that people could one hundred percent prepare themselves for, so she just squeezed Lena’s hand to let her know that she’d heard her. Growing up here, though, surrounded by nature, Kara knew that it always found a way to repair itself. The wildflowers would be back within a few days with new buds, the fallen trees would be made into something else or left to form new habitats for the species that lived nearby. It might feel more dreary now, with the breeze cold on their faces and the lack of any colors but brown and green, the stumps of the fallen trees jagged and sharp, but it would be back to normal very soon; Kara took heart in that. She made a mental note to ask Eliza to take some photos for them so that she could show Lena once it was all back to normal.

In the meantime, she allowed herself to enjoy their slow walk around their part of the woods. Who knew how often they’d be able to have mornings like this, walking hand in hand, in any kind of woods once they were back in New York? For one, the only real large patch of trees was the North Woods. The rest of the city was just forests made of buildings, and even where there were parks, they were always full of people. No, Kara liked the quietness and the privacy here on the island, being able to hear the fresh breeze blowing through the trees and not a single car horn being pressed in rage.

And then something Lena had said earlier floated back through her mind.

“Your cabin near Salem,” she said, glancing over at Lena. “Do you go for walks there?”

“All the time,” Lena replied, looking a little pensive. “I don’t get to go out there as often as I’d like to, thanks to work. And I’m a little worried about what’ll happen to it if the interview doesn’t go well. My apartment would be easy to give up, it’s just a shell where I spend time I have to. I wouldn’t miss it, except for the view. But my cabin is where I go to live, you know? I’d have to hire someone to look after it for me.” Her voice was sad, and Kara stopped them both on the path, tugged her closer, putting her arm around her shoulders again to comfort her. Lena leaned into the touch. “I bought it after everything went to hell with Lex, so that I could have somewhere to just escape, be away from everyone. It was a good decision, in the end. I spent quite a lot of time there until the trial, like some hermit in the woods, and then I had to come back to run LuthorCorp. L-Corp, now. But I try to get up there every chance I get.”

“You don’t go too often,” Kara stated, knowing that she didn’t. Kara was the one who organised Lena’s calendar after all. She knew that Lena took a disturbingly low amount of personal time off, and until this week, she’d never really thought about what it was that Lena might actually do with her time.

“That’s true,” Lena replied, standing back from Kara and folding her arms over her chest. Her eyes were faraway. “Sometimes, late on a Friday, if the week has just been too much, I’ll have had enough of the city and just need to get away. I take the city car I have and drive the four or whatever hours to get there, through the dark. I take my work with me, those times. If I’ve planned the trip in advance, I’ll take the train and no work with me. It’s a several hour trip, and I just read and catch up on whatever book or books I’m reading at the time. I spent Thanksgiving there, and it was very… peaceful. I can take long walks and admire the trees; I learnt all their names, and the names of the native flowers. If I need to, I can go into town. There’s a café there that does the best waffles, I’m sure you’d love them. Perhaps, if everything goes well with the interview, and we… if you still want to be with- if we make a trip up there, maybe I could take you there,” she finished, hope in her voice. “We’ll see if you can actually finish one of them, because goodness knows, I can’t. They’re too large.”

It was the second time this morning that Lena had mentioned them both visiting her cabin. “I’ve never met a waffle I couldn’t finish,” Kara joked. Lena’s face fell a little at Kara’s response, though, and as she looked at her, Lena’s eyes slid away from Kara’s to look around the woods instead. She was still smiling, but the smile was tight, and something in it told Kara that Lena was, at the very least, a little bit upset.

“Hey, what’s wrong?” she asked immediately, not wanting the sad expression that was lodging itself on Lena’s face to stay any longer than it had to.

“It’s just-” Lena started, before blowing out a huge breath. “It’s just that I know our situation means that we can’t really make plans with each other beyond Monday.” When her eyes met Kara’s again, they were intent. The breeze blew wisps of hair around her face that had worked themselves loose from her bun, and Kara wanted to reach forward and push them back behind her ears. Before she could, though, Lena had brushed them off her face herself with jerky, frustrated movements. “It’s like Monday is some sort of barrier that I can’t see beyond, do you know what I mean?”

Kara did, absolutely. It was like a malevolent sort of fog that she couldn’t see though. “Yes. I know what you mean, and I feel the same about it.”

“I’m going to be bluntly honest,” Lena said, a humorless laugh escaping her lips. “I haven’t been afraid to be vulnerable with you. Until this week, I’ve been lonely, you know that. I’ve been alone out of some kind of masochistic sense of self-preservation, but for the first time in a long time, I’ve… I’ve let someone in. And I trust you, implicitly. I don’t need to tell you that that really doesn’t happen very often.”

Kara thought of the way that Lena had laid herself bare before her; emotionally, physically, and mentally. For someone so rigidly private, Lena was certainly happy to share herself with Kara now.

“I love the time that I’m getting to spend with you,” Lena continued, “but it feels like there are some devils on my shoulders whispering to me about how I’m going to ruin your life, about how we could fail on Monday… about, and I know that I shouldn’t feel this, but I’ve struggled so long with my last name being a barrier to any kind of relationship that it’s almost hard for me to believe that we really have this,” she said quietly, trailing her fingers slowly across Kara’s shoulders, “that you’re real. That what we share together isn’t just some elaborate fantasy that I created and that I’ve been holding onto. Which is ridiculous,” Lena said with a scoff. “I guess there’s this little voice in my head that’s telling me I don’t deserve you.”

Kara leaned against the side of the house, pulling Lena against her. “It isn’t an elaborate fantasy,” she said. “And what we have is real, I can’t say that enough. I may not have expected it, especially given how things were between us before we arrived here, but what I feel for you is real. You deserve happiness. And I don’t want this week to be the only week that I get to spend with you.”

“Me neither,” Lena said, and finally, her smile relaxed into something much more genuine. “You make me happy. I wish that the circumstances were different, that I could’ve taken you out properly. Taken you on dates, like you deserved. Got to know you organically instead of it being forced like this. But fate wasn’t on my side.”

“Would we have got to know each other, if not for this?” Kara wondered out loud.

“I wanted to,” Lena said quickly, then bit her lip as if she hadn’t meant to say it. Kara looked at her in surprise, and Lena blushed, shrugging her shoulders. “But you didn’t even realize that the flowers on your desk were from me, or that the treats in the break rooms were always your favorites, or that the gala invites weren’t work-related.”

Kara’s mind flew back to the conversation that they’d had with her family the first night they’d arrived. How Kara herself had joked that Lena had been confused why Kara had shown up to the galas that Lena had invited her to and had worked instead of dancing with her. Kara spluttered wordlessly as she realized that Lena had apparently liked her a lot longer than she’d thought she had. “You- you really asked me to those for… not for work reasons?”

Lena let out a thoughtful hmm as she looked at Kara, wrapping her arms around her waist. “Yes. I suppose I was too subtle whenever I asked, but maybe it was a way of testing the waters to see if you were interested, but… no. I wanted to dance with you,” she said, simply.

Kara mentally kicked herself. “And the trip to Paris?”

Lena was silent for a moment, as if she were embarrassed at her own intentions. “I’d overheard you talking to Nia about how much you love art. And being here, I can see just how good you are at it. I thought you would’ve liked to have gone to the art museums there. There are some beautiful ones, and I know several of the owners. We could’ve gone at night, taken our time, and looked at anything you wanted. And I thought that… I did have to go for work, but it would’ve only been in the day. And it’s stupid, stupid really, because we weren’t friends and I shot down the only personal conversation you tried to have with me, but I thought that you might’ve gone with me, anyway. And… talked to me outside of work.” She huffed out a breath and looked up at Kara with frustrated eyes, but Kara could tell the frustration was directed internally, rather than at Kara.

“I just wanted to get to know you. But over in New York, where my… where I was the way I was at work, I can see why you didn’t… well, anyway. When you told me at the start of the week what you thought of me, I won’t lie, I was hurt; I’m not going to lie and say I didn’t deserve it because I did, but it hurt nevertheless. I’m only human on the inside, after all, and I’m not very good at personal relationships. I didn’t know how to talk to you, and my subtlety went right over your head. It’s probably for the best, actually,” she said with a small self-conscious laugh that hurt Kara’s heart, “because otherwise everyone at CatCo would’ve noticed how their horrible boss was pining pathetically over her assistant, who never noticed her the way she wanted to be. It would’ve given them one more reason to laugh at me.”

“Lena, no,” Kara said, but apparently Lena wasn’t done.

“And plus,” she continued, picking at a loose thread on Kara’s hoodie and not meeting her eyes, “I wasn’t out. Although… this week has changed the way I think about a lot of things. Being removed from L-Corp and CatCo has given me a new perspective on the way that I run my own life. And knowing what I know now, how we feel about each other, I would’ve done things differently. I would’ve… tried harder.”

Now it was Kara’s turn to be silent. This was… a lot. What Lena had said was a lot, and Kara knew that her surprise was clearly written all over her face. It wasn’t often that Kara was truly stuck for words, but this was definitely one of those times.

Lena had liked her all this time. Lena had legitimately liked her all this time. It was with another jolt of realization that Kara thought back on their cover story of Lena having hidden feelings for Kara; apparently, there was more than a grain of truth in it. And Kara only had herself to blame for not noticing that Lena had been trying, in her own subtle and constrained way, to get her attention. It said a lot about Lena that she had been protecting her own heart with one hand while making too-subtle overtures with the other, and it made Kara feel terrible that she just… hadn’t noticed. Maybe she just hadn’t wanted to see? Had she been too blinded by Lena’s reputation to not see the woman in front of her? Had Lena’s professional mask just been too good, too tightly held, for Kara to see through it?

Kara dipped her head and kissed Lena, wrapping one arm around her lower back and the other around her shoulders. She felt Lena sigh against her, lips parted enough for Kara take the invitation she was given. Warmth rushed through Kara as Lena kissed her with as much need as she felt herself. Lena’s hand came up between them to grip the front of Kara’s hoodie, the other at the small of her back, pulling her closer. They leaned there against the house, letting their kisses say everything they couldn’t.

“I liked you too, you know,” Kara breathed against Lena’s lips. Green eyes opened and looked up at her, surprised but hopeful. “I admired you so much. I was always so impressed by you and the way that you’re just some force of nature,” she said, slipping her hands underneath Lena’s shirt to rest on the bare skin of her waist. “I thought you were beautiful in an untouchable sort of way. But knowing you now, you’re even more lovely like this. But… I’ve been nursing a crush on you since the very first day we met.”

“What?” Lena whispered, her voice hoarse.

“Yeah,” Kara sighed, kissing Lena once more. “Ever since we got here, I’ve been trying to keep my crush under wraps, because I was so sure somehow that you didn’t feel the same. I’ve been- it was so hard not to say something. I always thought you were so intelligent, so brave, so impressive. And getting to know you here has only made me like you even more. My crush got so wildly out of control that every kiss we shared, I wished was real. Every soft smile you sent my way made me melt. It’s ridiculous how much I like you. And… maybe you’re right and your hints were too subtle, but… and I know how stupid this whole situation is, but I got you out of it. And I want you so much, Lena, in every way, and now that I know what it’s like to be with you, I don’t ever want to be without you. And it was really weird to hope that something would happen between us, to hope that you felt the same, but at the same time be terrified that you did because… because I didn’t want to lose you if Monday went to hell.”

Lena leaned her forehead against Kara’s for a moment, before she let her back fall against the wall of the house with a thud. “Being with you is what I want, but this situation… if it goes badly, I-”

“We’ll deal with it when it comes, okay? There’s nothing we can do about it until then. We still have several days to learn even more about each other. I know today is going to be busy, but we have tomorrow, and the day after, and the whole flight back on Sunday. And I think we know each other pretty well now, right?”

“Right,” Lena conceded, sounding as sad as Kara felt about the fact that their trip was coming to an end. And then she smiled. “How many closets do I have?”

“Too many,” Kara said in a deadpan manner, and Lena burst out laughing. Kara swallowed it with another kiss, feeling the laughter still in the shape of Lena’s lips, before she pulled her against herself in a tight hug.

“It’s you and me,” Lena said, her voice muffled against Kara’s hoodie.

“Yeah,” Kara said, swaying Lena gently from side to side. “It’s you and me.”

Kara felt her phone buzz in her pocket, and pulled it out to look at it. It was hard to concentrate on the screen when Lena was pressing soft kisses against her cheek and along her jaw, but when it buzzed a second time, she sighed and looked at it. It was Alex, reminding them that they would be arriving in a few hours for the little get-together they were having that evening for the anniversary of Kara’s adoption.

“Oh wow, it’s late,” Kara burst out when she saw that it was just after midday. Kara didn’t want to move from this spot, but reluctantly, she stepped back onto the path. “I had no idea the time had gone so quickly. I must’ve been really tired, huh?”

“Tired you out, did I?” Lena said with a wink and a sly smile.

“Oh damn, you’ve been flirting with me the whole time we’ve been here and it was killing me!” Kara exclaimed loudly, and next to her, Lena burst out laughing, an unrestrained and lovely sound that filled Kara’s heart to bursting.

“Well, I have to admit that I indulged myself a little,” Lena said between breathy laughs, opening the garage door for Kara to walk through.

“A little, she says,” Kara replied, kicking her rain boots off and putting them on the stand. “A little.”

“If it was going to be the only chance I got to flirt with you before being deported all the way to Ireland then I was definitely going to have a good try!”

They were still laughing when they came across Eliza in the kitchen, who smiled fondly at both of them.

“You’re both very happy today,” she commented, putting the kettle on. “Would either of you like something to drink?”

“Hot chocolate please,” Kara and Lena both chorused, sending them into fits of giggles once more. Eliza rolled her eyes at both of them before setting about making their drinks.

“Oh to be young and in love,” she said quietly to herself.

Kara’s rumbling stomach interrupted them, and Lena patted it before getting up, making her way over to the cupboard to pull out pancake ingredients once more, to the delight of Kara.

“Eliza, would you like some?”

“Yes please, Lena, if you don’t mind? Carole didn’t have much in the way of food over there.”

“Oh? How was Carole?” Kara asked, taking a sip from the glass of orange juice that Lena set down in front of her with a gentle brush of her fingers along the back of her hand.

Lena chopped fruit before beginning to expertly cook pancakes on the stove while Kara and Eliza discussed Carole and the state that her property was in. She hadn’t been too badly hit, and that morning, they’d both called around the other residents on the island, checking up on them and making sure that there was nothing needing doing. Apparently, including the trees that Kara and Lena had spotted, there were nine trees downed on the island that were going to need chopping up.

“We’ll have to send Alex around with the chainsaw again,” Kara said, remembering the last time they’d had a storm this large.

“Alex and a chainsaw?” Lena replied from the stove, turning around with two teetering stacks of pancakes in her hands, putting one each in front of Kara and Eliza.

Kara groaned at the sight of them, reaching for the bottle of maple syrup that Lena was holding out to her from the fridge.

“These look wonderful, Lena dear, thank you,” Eliza said, giving Lena a warm smile as Lena set down the bowl of chopped fruit on the table as well.

“You’re welcome,” Lena replied. “I love to cook. It’s actually one of my favorite things to do. It’s kind of like messy science, in a way. Put raw materials together in certain ways, add heat, hope things don’t explode, and see what happens!”

Kara choked with laughter around a mouthful of fluffy pancakes and Eliza chuckled across the table.

“W-what’s the worst cooking disaster you’ve ever had?” Kara asked, once she’d swallowed.

Lena hummed thoughtfully while she poured more pancake batter into the pan. “Well, it wasn’t exactly all my fault, but once I made a pizza from scratch. I made the dough myself, cut the tomatoes and other vegetables out of my garden. Aside from the cheese, I’d done it all myself. I made the most wonderful-looking pizza, and I asked my friend Sam’s daughter Ruby to put it in the oven for me while I went to check on something else. I came back ten or so minutes later to take it out of the oven to find that she hadn’t put it on a tray, so the entire thing had fallen in pieces through the racks, only to cook on the bottom of the oven.”

“Oh no,” Kara said, her hand over her mouth.

“Oh yes,” Lena replied in a mournful tone. “All that hard work, and only the oven enjoyed it. We had to order in, in the end. I didn’t have enough patience to make a second pizza.”

“I wouldn’t have either,” Eliza commented, adding more strawberries to her pancakes.

“That wasn’t as bad as the time I got hungry after one very long day at L-Corp. I got home, kicked my heels off, and put fries and chicken kievs in the oven. I promptly fell asleep on the sofa and woke up the next day with a bad back and the blackest food I’ve ever seen in my oven. It took weeks to get the smell of burnt garlic out of the furniture.”

Eliza winced while Kara tapped her lip with her fork. “What does burnt garlic smell like?”

Lena chuckled as she slid a small stack of fluffy pancakes onto her own plate, taking care to turn the stove off before sitting down. “We aren’t burning some just so that you can smell it. Trust me, you really don’t want to.”

“And I don’t want to be sitting here with all the doors and windows open for the next week to air the place out,” Eliza said, pointing a finger at Kara, who held her hands up in surrender.

“It doesn’t smell as bad as that candle from last night though,” Lena said, raising her eyebrows as she spread slices of banana between the pancakes, adding a little maple syrup and topping it off with whipped cream.

“The Resident Evil one?” Eliza asked with a feigned shudder.

“That’s the one.”

“Hey, it’s not that bad-” Kara started, before being silenced by a look from the other two women. “Fine.”

The three of them sat around at the kitchen table, discussing the storm, the cleanup, and other cooking disasters that they’d had in the past. Eliza and Lena also shared stories about various explosions they’d caused in their labs over the years, some accidental, some not, if Lena’s evil little smirk was anything to go by. Kara could just imagine Lena in her white coat and goggles, adding too much of one chemical to a test tube and then retreating behind a shield to watch it go up in flames, cackling maniacally. The fact that she could imagine it at all was a testament to just how drastically her opinion of Lena had changed in the last few days, and she gave Lena a fond smile over the table.

It wasn’t too long before Eliza was standing up and collecting their plates, explaining that she had to take her boat into Midvale to bring back Alex, Maggie, J’onn, and M’gann for their little party later.

“Oh,” Lena exclaimed, standing up as well with a frown on her face. “I still have to make the buttercream for the cake.”

“You don’t have to do that,” Kara said.

“Kara, darling, have you ever seen a Victoria sponge without any kind of filling? It’ll be as dry as old boots if we don’t put anything in it!” Lena replied, shaking her head and fetching the ingredients she needed from the cupboards, as well as a huge mixing bowl.

“I’ll see you later ladies,” Eliza called over her shoulder as she stopped by the kitchen door. “I’m going to bring some more vodka and things back as well. Do either of you need anything from town?”

“I don’t think I do,” Lena said, “but thank you.”

“Me neither,” Kara said. “Do you need help getting your boat out of the boathouse?”

“Oh, yes please,” Eliza nodded, smiling gratefully.

Eliza slung her bag over her shoulder and picked up a pair of sneakers in the other. They both headed out to the boathouse in their rain boots, Kara having pulled on a light coat to keep her warm, since she was only wearing a hoodie on top. It was still quite fresh outside, and the breeze whipped the hair around her head once more. But not being in front of Lena now, she didn’t feel the need to try to keep it tidy. Let her look like Medusa on a bad hair day.

“Lena is a lovely girl,” Eliza commented, glancing at Kara as she waited for her to open the boathouse door.

“I know,” Kara replied, hearing the happiness in her own voice. She pulled the door open and gestured for Eliza to go ahead of her.

“That much is really obvious,” Eliza told her, walking over to the winch behind her own boat. “I know I said it earlier in the week, but she’s very different to how you used to talk about her. And I’m really happy for the two of you. It’s obvious how much you both care for each other and that’s all I wanted for you.”

“I know,” Kara repeated, an uneasy sense of guilt and happiness mixing in her stomach. They’d managed to avoid too many conversations where they’d actually have to lie to people, simply because most of the time they’d been here, Kara and Lena had been alone in the house. But later, the house would be full of people. And whereas they might have admitted their feelings for each other, making the fact that they cared for each other not a lie, they were still committing fraud against the government. The basis of the relationship that they supposedly shared was all false, even if the feelings were real. The line between truth and lie was being heavily blurred, and while Kara was beyond thrilled at just how much truth she and Lena shared now, the thought of the lies between her and everyone else still made her very uncomfortable.

Kara let the winch unwind while Eliza walked her boat down the slipway and into the water, and Kara watched her with a feeling of foreboding. She wasn’t sure what had brought it on, only that she felt like a rock was sitting in her stomach. Lying didn’t sit well with her no matter who she was lying to, and this particular lie went all the way to the government.

She shook her head forcefully, as if doing so could shake the thoughts from her head. There was no real use worrying about it now. She and Lena would just have to do their best on Monday and hope for the best. If they did well and got to stay together, they could always just come up with some other kind of plan later, fudge some details. The engagement story would always have to stay the same, but they could just keep the real one to themselves.

The real one. Her mind shot back to the moment on the boat where Lena had got down on one knee in front of her. The real one. How real had it been? There was no way that Lena would actually propose marriage after just a few days, not when she didn’t yet know how Kara really felt, but the words behind it, what she’d said when she’d asked? There was truth in those words, and they hit Kara like a sledgehammer. Lena had been trying to tell her then how she felt, and Kara had missed it, again, thinking that it was just another part of their fake relationship situation.

But Lena’s words had been so heartfelt, so genuine.

And yet… even if Kara’s head had thought they weren’t real at the time, her body had thought they were. She remembered feeling choked with emotion, remembered the way she’d sunk to her own knees and kissed Lena for real for the first time.

She wanted to kiss Lena again. Once. Twice. A hundred times. A thousand times.

Once the idea of kissing Lena again flashed through her mind, the thought of all the times they’d kissed the day before played like a movie in her mind’s eye. Her hands tingled with the memory of touching Lena’s skin, and she crossed her legs reflexively when she thought of when Lena had-

“Kara stop!

Jolted out of her thoughts by Eliza’s shout, she slammed her hand on the button to stop the winch, only to look up to see Eliza trying to pull the boat back up the slipway, the water almost over her rain boots.

“Shit,” she mumbled, reversing the winch and guiltily pulling the boat back up a little so that Eliza could get into the boat without it floating away and crashing into the pier.

She stopped the winch when Eliza waved at her, and Kara walked down to the bow of the boat. “Sorry about that,” she said.

“I’ve never known you to not pay attention while letting a boat out,” Eliza said, the scolding very light. “What was on your mind?”

“Lena,” Kara replied honestly, looking up at her adoptive mother with a sheepish grin and a blush rising on her face.

Eliza smiled gently at her. “Well, I suppose I can’t get mad at that. No harm done here, anyway. Think you can manage to unlash it?” she joked.

“Har har,” Kara replied with a roll of her eyes while Eliza walked up onto the pier and put her feet in her sneakers. She stepped gracefully into the boat, leaving her rain boots on the pier, and when Eliza let her know, Kara unlashed the winch strap from the bow and the boat floated cleanly into the water.

“Perfect!” Eliza called. “Text me if you need anything!”

Kara waved at her before giving her a thumbs up, picked up her discarded rain boots, and headed back up to the house. The whole thing hadn’t taken much longer than ten minutes, but somehow, she’d run the emotional gamut, ending with her feeling distinctly hot under the collar at the thought of the beautiful green-eyed woman waiting for her in the house.

Not wanting to wait any longer before seeing her again, she walked quickly up the still-sodden lawn. She could feel her excitement growing, the cold wind biting through both the hoodie and the coat she was wearing. The thought of being alone with Lena again was intoxicating, and she kicked her rain boots off gleefully. She washed her hands at the sink in the garage, using plenty of soap; the winches weren’t exactly the cleanest of things.

Heading back into the kitchen, she found Lena standing almost where she’d left her. She had her back to Kara, and was beating the buttermilk mixture while whistling off-key to an upbeat classical piece on the radio that Kara didn’t recognize. Lena didn’t hear her approach, and Kara took a moment to appreciate the sight in front of her. Lena was swaying her hips from side to side while she finished up what she was doing. Kara swallowed hard when her loose, wavy hair spilled over her back from her shoulders and she caught a glimpse of that sharp jawline. Her mouth felt dry and her hands twitched as desire rocketed through her so quickly that she squeezed her legs together.

All of a sudden, it was like the air had been sucked out of the room. Kara could practically hear the blood pounding in her ears, could feel her body pulse with the overwhelming need to have Lena come undone at her hands once more.

Lena jumped when Kara wrapped her arms around her waist from behind, the bowl clattering the last couple of inches to the kitchen counter. “Kara!” she burst out in surprise. Whatever she was going to say next was choked back when, in one swift movement, Kara swept her hair back and pressed her lips to Lena’s neck. Her right hand snaked down and spread against Lena’s stomach, pulling her back against Kara’s hips. One of Lena’s hands gripped the end of the kitchen counter; the other landed on the hand on her stomach, pushing it down until they hit the waistband of Lena’s sweatpants.

“Kara,” Lena whispered, as Kara’s fingers slipped under the waistband to touch the top of Lena’s panties. Kara moved her lips down to that soft part between Lena’s neck and the start of her shoulder, kissing it and tasting her skin briefly. She started to rock her hips into Lena from behind.

“You looked so beautiful, dancing to the music just now,” Kara murmured against Lena’s skin, nipping it for good measure and drawing a hiss out of Lena. “I just had to touch you again.”

She lifted the edge of Lena’s panties with her ring ringer, slipping it and her pinky finger beneath it, stroking her hand back and forth across Lena’s lower stomach. She delighted in the quickening of Lena’s breath, the way she leaned her head back onto Kara’s shoulder.

“God, Kara, please-” Lena stuttered out, taking in a shuddering breath as Kara’s middle finger dipped below her panty line as well. Kara could feel the beginnings of the neat, dark hair beneath her fingers, and she couldn’t help it; she bucked her hips even more strongly into Lena. “Fuck,” Lena hissed. “Fuck.

“I bet you’re wet,” Kara said, licking a stripe into Lena’s skin before biting down on it gently. She felt Lena’s hand skitter across the top of her own. “I bet if I touched you right now, you’d be so wet for me.” She heard Lena whimper as she spread her legs, wordlessly telling Kara what she wanted. Kara pulled her fingers out of Lena’s panties and cupped Lena from the outside, feeling her fingers slide easily along the fabric. In less than two minutes, Lena was already soaked, and Kara groaned. While she stroked Lena through her underwear, she used her other hand to slide up and under Lena’s shirt until she reached her lacy bra, rubbing her thumb over a rapidly hardening nipple.

Kara could see Lena’s knuckles tightening on the counter, and Lena dropped her head down as she let out a low moan from her throat. Kara could feel Lena trying to press herself into Kara’s fingers, so she pulled them away from Lena, who groaned in frustration. Kara’s fingers left damp trails across the bare skin of Lena’s abdomen as she teased her, her fingers flicking the front of Lena’s panties again. “Fuck, Kara, I’m- please-” Lena ground out, her hand tangling with Kara’s and dragging it downward again.

“Is there something you want?” Kara said, bending forward so that her whole body was along Lena’s, then pulled her back upright, pushing her bra roughly upwards so that she could have better access to Lena’s breasts.

Yes there is,” Lena hissed, her breath stuttering again when Kara’s fingers slipped under her panties again, this time holding off from touching her. Along the backs of her fingers, she could feel she slickness of Lena’s arousal on the material of her underwear.

“Do you want me to touch you?” she asked, rolling one of Lena’s nipples between her thumb and forefinger.

Lena sucked in a rattled breath, spreading her legs even more and pressing her ass back against Kara. A jolt ran through Kara; she was the one making Lena feel want like this. Kara felt a surge of wetness between her own legs at the thought. She pressed her hand over Lena’s heart, and she could feel it beating wildly under her touch.

“Please, my love, please,” Lena uttered quietly, her voice hoarse with desire.

And maybe it was the words Lena had said, maybe it was the needy way she’d said them, or maybe it was the way she felt Lena shaking with want against her, but Kara stopped her teasing. She slipped two fingers through Lena’s slick folds, spreading her apart with them. Lena’s whole body seemed to sigh in relief at the contact, but it wasn’t long before her body went taut as Kara slid her fingertip across Lena’s clit. Lena let out a choked sound and when her knees threatened to buckle beneath her, Kara wrapped her other arm around her middle.

“I’ve got you,” she whispered as she stroked through her again, her fingers coated in the evidence of Lena’s arousal. “I’ve got you.” Lena’s breath came quickly; she was already close, Kara thought with amazement. She grazed Lena’s clit again and felt Lena’s body shudder with pleasure.

She slipped her fingers back and pushed two inside of Lena up to her second knuckles, feeling Lena hot and wet around her. Lena groaned, her hand wrapped around Kara’s wrist as she pulled out and stroked through her again. Kara moved her fingers up and ran them over Lena’s clit, applying pressure and loving the way that Lena bucked forward into her hand. She could feel Lena’s body tightening in her arms, felt her fluttering in her hand, and when she felt Lena start to spasm, Kara slid her fingers quickly along her clit, and Lena fell hard over the edge. She cried out, throwing her head back against Kara’s shoulder and panting through her orgasm. Kara heard her name twice, among yes and fuck, she knew she would never get enough of hearing her name falling from Lena’s lips like that.

When Lena finally relaxed, Kara pulled her fingers out of her panties and Lena turned around her arms, burying her face in her neck. Kara chuckled, still painfully turned on, but she wrapped her arms around Lena and hugged her.

After a moment, Lena pulled her face down and kissed her, soft and gentle. Kara could feel her smiling into it, and so did she. They swayed together in the kitchen, happy to just hold each other.

Eventually, Kara let Lena go and stepped back. Lena’s face was flushed, her eyes wide and beautiful, and Kara wanted nothing more than to call Eliza, tell her to stay in town, and take Lena to bed. She wanted to take Lena to bed and make love to her, take her time, and press her tongue into every soft place she could find.

Lena clearly read the look on her face, because she smiled, slowly and knowingly. Her dimples deepened on her face, and Kara smiled. “I just… couldn’t help myself,” she heard herself say.

“You’ll find no complaints from me,” Lena replied, stepping up to Kara. “I don’t know what got into you, but whatever it was…” she pressed her warm lips against Kara’s in a brief kiss, “I liked it. Who knew you had that in you?”

Kara shrugged, but the truth was just that there was something about Lena that made her want to touch her, that made her want to find out each different sound Lena could make if she touched her here, and there.

Lena’s smile turned predatory, but when she pushed her fingers into Kara’s hair behind her ears, the words she whispered into her ear were not let’s go upstairs, but “I still have to finish the buttercream.”

Kara let out a surprised laugh, the pent-up energy inside her making it loud and desperate, and soon enough they were both giggling. Lena stepped from foot to foot, her blush deepening as she no doubt felt just how soaked her panties were, and Kara’s heart turned over in her chest. How was Lena this adorable? Kara felt insanely lucky that she was the one that Lena turned her soft smiles on, who Lena let see her blushes. Who Lena let give her a reason to blush in the first place.

“We still have tonight,” Lena said quietly, a promise in the way her hands ran over Kara’s shoulders and in the way her eyes darkened as she let her gaze run down Kara’s body and back up. Lena bit her bottom lip and hid none of the desire from her face, letting Kara see exactly what she needed to in order to understand that Lena wanted her right now as much as Kara wanted Lena.

“I know,” Kara replied, giving Lena another hug before stepping back again. “Do you, um, do you need any help with the buttercream?” she asked, pushing her glasses up her nose and rocking a little on the balls of her feet.

“No, it’s ready actually. Or, it was,” Lena said, eyeing it, “before you…” she smiled at Kara. “Let me just give it another stir. It’s ready to put on the cake. Could you fetch me both halves, along with whichever kind of jam you’d like in the middle?”

“Sure!” Kara said cheerfully, still trying to shake the way her name sounded coming from Lena’s lips in the middle of an orgasm from her mind. She washed her hands before she pulled both halves of the cake out of the fridge, setting one half on a serving plate on the counter, the other staying on the small plate it was already on. She opened the cupboard that held the preservatives and pulled out a jar of strawberry jam. It may be the most common, but it was a favorite for a reason, and you could never go wrong with a classic. “Does the jam go on first, or the buttercream?”

“It doesn’t matter,” Lena replied, tasting the buttercream with a teaspoon, nodding to herself as she judged the taste. “It’s your cake, you can have it any way you want.”

“As long as it’s full of both, I don’t mind either.”

Lena passed her a butter knife and a large spoon from the drawer at her hip. “Spread as much as you like then, and I’ll add the buttercream to the other half.”

Kara opened the jar and, to Lena’s horror, stuck the knife in it, swirling it around a bit, and poured the jam onto the cake. “Kara…” she trailed off, staring at the way Kara gleefully spread the jam around with the back of the spoon. “That’s going to be really thick!”

“I like a double stuffed cake,” Kara commented, catching the look on Lena’s face and laughing. “If it spills out the sides, it doesn’t matter.”

Lena looked like she very much wanted to say that it did matter, but didn’t have the heart to. Instead, she gave Kara a look that was somewhere between exasperated and fond. She turned the other half of the cake over so that she could access the flat side, and picked up the spoon, and dug it into the buttercream. Kara watched as Lena carefully spread the buttercream very neatly around the cake, adding more and more and making sure that it was of an even thickness the whole way around.

If a drip of buttercream went over the side, Lena diligently removed it with another knife. The end result was as if Lena had got a computer to do it for her; it was so perfect that it could’ve been a piece of art. Looking at their two halves of the cake, Kara had to laugh. Lena had listened to her and used quite a lot of buttercream, but it was so very neat, and then there was Kara’s; the jam was messily dripping down the sides of the cake, and the symbolism struck Kara as funny. They’d have to join the two pieces together, and each of their halves reflected a little about their personalities. Lena’s tidy, carefully constructed half, and Kara’s more carefree side.

Lena eyed them both as if she were evaluating what the best step forward was. She pointed her spoon at her half, then at Kara’s, and back again, before she licked the rest of the buttercream off it and stuck it in her mouth. The sight of Lena Luthor standing in her kitchen, hair disheveled, hands on her hips and a spoon dangling out of her mouth struck Kara in a way that she couldn’t name. She pulled out her phone and took a photo of her just as Lena’s eyes flickered over to her, and Kara smiled down at the image. Within a few clicks, she’d made the photo her lock screen. Lena was still watching her when she looked back up at her; her green eyes were sparkling, and Kara shrugged, giving her a wide smile.

“You looked cute,” was all that she said, and Lena pulled the spoon out of her mouth to beam back at Kara.

With difficulty, Kara dragged her eyes away from Lena and cleared her throat. “Right, these halves. Which way round should we do them?”

Lena snorted. “Given that your half looks like it’s bleeding, I think mine should go on top.”

“You on top, eh?”

Lena smacked her lightly across the upper arm, but Kara certainly didn’t imagine the quirk of her eyebrow, or the hard swallow. “Yes, mine on top. Otherwise, it’ll just look like it’s bleeding upwards and that’s just weird.”

“We can just cover the sides with more buttercream,” Kara said slowly, looking at Lena out of the corner of her eye.

“I’m not sure we have enough buttercream to cover all that mess,” Lena said in a ponderous tone. “We actually don’t, though, and I don’t have time to make more, so we’ll just have to get this right straight away.”

“Alright,” Kara said, clapping loudly then rubbing her hands together. “Let’s do this.”

Lena lifted her half of the cake slowly, and with great care, set it on top of Kara’s, moving it gently this way and that until it sat perfectly on top with almost no oozing out of the sides.

“Well, that was a little anticlimactic,” Kara observed.

Lena chuckled. “What were you expecting? Me to drop it and cake to go everywhere?”

“A few splashes of jam, at least!”

“I can always throw some jam at you, if that would make you feel better,” Lena said, reaching for the jar of jam in question.

Kara slid it quickly away from her. “I think I’ll be alright, thank you!”

Lena passed her a sieve and a box of powdered sugar. “The last thing is to get this on the top of it. I really need to start getting ready for this party; do you think you can do this without making this kitchen look like a cocaine lab?”

“I’m not completely hopeless you know!”

“I think the poor cake begs to differ.”

Kara swept Lena out of the kitchen. “It’ll look perfect, you’ll see!”

“Alright, I believe you,” Lena said with a smile, standing on the bottom stair. She swept her hands down her body, as if she were brushing off dust. “Well, I certainly need a shower,” she murmured, glancing up at Kara with a smirk, and Kara felt herself flush. “What should I wear for this party?”

“It’s not so much a party as it is just a sort of small get-together, so it’s not too formal. Eliza will probably be taking photos though, so wear something you don’t mind being put into a photo album for the next however many years…” she trailed off, clearing her throat again at the thought of Lena being in her family photo albums. “Wear whatever you like. You always look beautiful,” she finished, gazing up at Lena.

Lena’s expression was soft. “So do you,” she said. “Okay, I’ll see what I’ve got with me. No Diane von Furstenberg, as promised.”

Kara stepped up to her. “I know I said you would’ve stuck out like a sore thumb if you wore something like that here,” she said, “but I’ve always thought that you looked… stunning, in them.”

Lena stepped down and put her hand on Kara’s upper arm. “After being here, I can see how they’d have looked quite out of place. Truthfully, I’m much more comfortable in what I’m wearing right now, and it’s what I wear when I’m at the cabin,” she tilted her head to the side and smiled, “when I’m in my happy place. However, I’m glad to know that you noticed them because,” she leaned up and Kara shivered when she felt Lena’s breath on her ear, “I always wore my favorite ones when I knew I’d be seeing you.”

At that, Lena headed up the stairs, a sway in her hips, as Kara was left standing at the bottom of the staircase, gaping after her like a fish out of water. Lena’s low, bedroom voice echoed in her ears and she felt it all the way down to her core.

Lena is going to kill me with her flirting and I’m going to enjoy every damn second of it.

She wandered back into the kitchen and pulled her phone out of her pocket again, looking at the lock screen. She could see the crinkles at the sides of Lena’s eyes in it, and Kara felt such a rush of love for Lena that she had to restrain herself from heading up the stairs after her, just to hug her.

It was ridiculous. Kara knew she was tactile, but never before had she had such a desire just to be around someone, just to hold their hand or wrap her arms around their shoulders. She felt a pull towards Lena that she’d never felt before; it was insistent. It was ever-present in the same way that the engagement ring was; she had quickly grown used to its presence, but every now and again, it caught her attention, and she’d see it sparkling on her finger. She’d remember the way it had felt to have Lena slide it home on her finger, the tears in their eyes as she’d done so. And every time she looked at Lena, that insistent pull was there, whether she acknowledged it or not.

Kara had no idea, none at all, how it would feel to go back to work and not be able to be with Lena like she was with her here. If everything worked out, she had a feeling that they’d be sharing a lot of secret glances, late takeout meals at CatCo, and long weekends at the cabin whenever Lena could manage to get away. Kara figured that she’d be trying to persuade Lena to stay at her place or prompting cabin trips at every opportunity.

Still daydreaming of the future, while simultaneously kicking herself for doing so because everything hinged on Monday, Kara picked up the sieve and poured some powdered sugar into it. She winced when immediately a cloud of it settled over the part of the kitchen worktop that had no cake on it, resolving to clean that up later before Lena saw it. She sieved the powder onto the top of the cake, making sure that it was a relatively even coating, and then put everything that she was finished with into the dishwasher.

When she headed upstairs to fetch what she needed, Lena was still in the shower. Kara picked what she was going to wear out of her closet; some clean jeans, a tank top to go under a nice shirt, and a pair of comfortable loafers that she only wore indoors. To her, they were basically glorified slippers; she was sure that people wouldn’t really mind if she kept wearing her fuzzy slippers, but she’d like to make an effort.

She picked up her hairbrush, a spare towel out of the closet, and made her way down the hall to the room that Alex or Maggie usually stayed in, if they were over too late to go back to the mainland. There were spare razors and things under the sink for Maggie’s use if she forgot her toiletry bag, so Kara took a razor, stripped off her clothes, and jumped into the shower. Alex’s was far less temperamental than her own, and before long, she had washed her hair, shaved her legs, and climbed back out of the shower. She used some of Alex’s deodorant before pulling her underwear and jeans on.

Sending a mental thank you to Maggie, she used the hairdryer that was stored in one of the cupboards and dried her hair, before using the curling irons to wave her hair as nicely as she could do it. She was so used to making her hair presentable, what with being Lena Luthor’s assistant, that it took her hardly any time at all to get ready. There were no hair products to use, but she didn’t really miss them. She had a funny feeling that Lena probably wouldn’t want to run her hands through hairspray anyway, and her body felt warm at the thought.

She was so efficient at getting ready quickly that she was done within three quarters of an hour. The only thing she had yet to do was put some light makeup on and she’d be ready. Kara checked the time on her phone and saw that she still had at least half an hour before Eliza would be back. Neither Kara nor Lena had thought of anything else that they’d needed, so there was no reason for Eliza to delay in town.

With that in mind, she went back towards her own room, pausing to knock on the door before entering. The shower was no longer running, and no matter what their relationship was now, she didn’t want to burst in on Lena and invade her privacy. When she heard Lena call out, she turned the doorknob and headed inside.

Lena was sifting through the closet, a towel wrapped around her body and her wet hair hanging around her shoulders. She looked over her shoulder when Kara walked in. “Hi darling,” she said, before turning her attention back to the clothes. “I’m just deciding what’s best to wear. I seem to have brought what you would call boardroom clothes, casual clothes, and not much in-between. Except for maybe this dress…” she plucked at a dress bag that Kara hadn’t noticed her hanging up when they’d first arrived and looked back at Kara. “It’s nothing really special, just one block color. But it won’t look like I’m heading to the boardroom, or anything, I promise.”

Kara let out a fond laugh at Lena trying to justify her reasons for wearing the dress as if Kara had the final say. “I’m sure I’ll love it however it looks, unless it’s actually a dress that says that potstickers suck, and then I’m afraid the engagement is off.”

Lena turned around and pouted at her. She actually pouted; bottom lip out, furrowed brow, sad expression. Kara felt her heart kick into overdrive. “Noooooooo!” she wailed, enveloping a still-damp Lena in a hug. “I promise not to call it off, even if that’s what your dress says! Wait,” she said, holding Lena by her upper arms. “I’m pretty sure that that pout is something I’m never going to be able to say no to, isn’t it?”

A smirk slowly spread across Lena’s face at Kara’s words. “I suppose that time will tell,” she said cryptically.

“Well I- um, yeah,” Kara spluttered, and Lena smirk softened into a smile at Kara’s inability to form words. “I’m sure the dress is lovely,” she said. “Did you bring shoes?”

“Would Eliza mind if I wore shoes in the house?” Lena asked.

“No, not at all. I’m pretty sure you don’t wear them to go like, farming in or anything, so they’ll be fine.”

“Great,” Lena replied. “I’ll just… finish getting ready then,” she said, indicating the table, where she’d laid out her hairdryer, straighteners, and curling iron.

“Sure! I’ll just grab my makeup,” Kara said, dashing into the bathroom and pulling out everything she needed. “I’m just going to go downstairs and make sure that everything is set up. I know Eliza pulled the table out in the lounge earlier so it’s just a case of me pouring chips and things into bowls, as well as some of that biltong, and putting the cake out. We won’t bother with the pizza until people arrive and we know what they want.”

“Okay,” Lena said, pressing a soft kiss to the corner of Kara’s mouth, stroking her cheek with her fingertips. “I don’t think I’ll be too long. I’m quite good at getting ready in a hurry.”

“It’s all those early-morning meetings,” Kara joked.

“Ugh, don’t remind me. I’m not looking forward to them starting up again. Truth be told, I’m quite enjoying my break from them. It’s been a while since I was last able to wake up when my body was actually ready to.”

“I’m glad you feel relaxed here, really,” Kara said, the sincerity in her voice clear even to her own ears. “I’ll just head out and let you get ready. Eliza will be back soon with Alex and Maggie, and J’onn and M’gann will be coming at the same time.”

Lena nodded, and Kara left her to it. Back in Alex’s bathroom, she applied light makeup; a bit of mascara, a little eyeliner, a touch of eyeshadow. Dabbing at any smudges with a makeup remover wipe, she judged herself ready, and made her way downstairs.

Just as she was walking into the kitchen, her phone buzzed in her pocket.

Alex: Hey! We’re just at the harbour now. We won’t be too long. J’onn and M’gann are just closing up the shop and they’ll be right behind us

Kara: Great! Can’t wait to see you all!

Alex: Maggie found a dartboard in the storeroom at the station. I don’t know what it was doing there, but we’re bringing that. We’ll set it up in the garage and see whether Lena can improve her game or not. And M’gann said she’ll bring some Guinness!

Kara: Amazing! She’ll love that :) thank you! I’m just going to pour all the chips out and stuff

Alex: See you in a bit!

Kara slipped her phone back into her pocket, taking a moment to look at Lena’s spoon photo again with a smile.

You’re whipped, her mind tossed at her, and she rolled her eyes at herself. It’s not like she didn’t know that already.

Kara switched the radio station to a pop one and busied herself with pouring chips into bowls and placing them on the table in the lounge, singing along to Love On Top by Beyoncé as she did so. She took some of Lena’s biltong out and put that in a bowl as well, but not before eating quite a few pieces and savoring the flavor. It tasted so good that she still couldn’t believe it was actually a healthy snack.

Out of the drinks cupboard she pulled various bottles of soda, putting them in the lounge alongside the glasses Eliza had set out earlier. Kara deliberated for a while over which of the bottles of scotch Lena had bought to put in the lounge; she didn’t know much about which one might be popular, so she just brought them all out, leaving them on the mantelpiece above the fireplace.

The cake she and Lena had decorated went into the middle of the table, and Kara had to resist doodling a happy face right into the middle of the sugar on the top. As she was staring at it, she wondered why she shouldn’t do it; reaching out, she gave it two eyes and a wide smile, grinning to herself at the thought of Lena’s face when she saw it.

She also set out a huge plate of their cookies, taking one to nibble on while she poured herself a drink of lemonade. She was just taking a sip when she heard Eliza’s boat outside, and she opened the front door to wave.

It was still only early evening, but the air was chilly, and it nipped at Kara’s face as she watched Eliza, Alex, and Maggie clamber out of the boat. None of them hung about, coming quickly up towards the house.

When Alex reached her, she flung her arms around Kara, and Kara staggered backwards under the sudden weight of her. “Happy fifteenth anniversary of being adopted into the best family on the planet!” she exclaimed, squeezing Kara even tighter.

“Thank you!” Kara squeaked, struggling to breathe but laughing at the same time. Alex relaxed her arms a little, but then Eliza joined in, and they had a Danvers group hug right there on the porch. Kara was dimly aware of Maggie taking a few photos of them, but she was too lost in being embraced by her family to think anything of it.

She was grateful, had always been grateful, that she had been adopted by the Danvers. They’d taken in a girl who’d lost everything and given her a home, waiting her out when she was still reticent, and opening their arms for her to just walk straight into when she was ready. Although her relationship with Alex had been rocky to start with, they were now as close as if they’d been blood related. Kara felt that everyone deserved an Alex in their life, and of all the blessings that being a Danvers had brought into her life, Alex was the greatest.

“I can’t believe it’s been fifteen years already,” Eliza said, letting go of them and dashing a tear out from under her eye.

“Neither can I,” Kara said, wrapping her arms around Alex’s shoulders and smiling when Maggie pointed her phone in their direction. “Fifteen years of annoying Alex and it’s still never got old!”

Alex laughed and gave her a gentle shove. “Just for that, I’m taking an even larger slice of your Victoria sponge,” she said in such a serious tone that Kara pressed a hand over her heart.

“You wouldn’t!”

“Oh, I would!”

Kara saw Eliza and Maggie roll their eyes at each other, well-used to the Danvers’ sisters teasing each other by now, and led the way into the house. Kara and Alex followed just behind them.

“I brought Mario Kart,” Alex said as she kicked her dirty boots off in the hallway and slid her feet into slippers.

“No way, really?” she asked, an edge of excitement in her tone. “I still need to get Maggie back for that blue shell she shot at me in the last tournament we had.”

“Has Lena ever played?” Alex asked as they made their way into the lounge. “Oh, great! You made the cookies!” She picked one up and bit into it, joy spreading across her face. “It has been a long day and they are just what I needed.”

“We always have these cookies,” Kara replied, picking another herself and giving Alex an affectionate sisterly glare. “And, I’m not sure actually. She’s upstairs getting ready; I’ll ask her when she comes down.”

Once the four of them had grabbed a plate of snacks, Kara making sure that everyone had at least one piece of biltong on their plates they all settled into sofas and armchairs around the lounge and talked. The anniversary of Kara’s adoption was something they always celebrated, but in a low-key kind of way; it was mostly just an evening they tried to spend with family, or those who were honorable members of the Danvers. Sure, they baked Kara’s favorite cookies and sometimes made a cake, but it was essentially the same kind of evening as they would normally spend; they just made an effort to spend it together as if it was another birthday. Kara supposed that, in a way, it was.

After ten minutes or so talking, Maggie got up, and a few minutes later Kara heard a banging coming from the garage, followed by the sound of something falling over. She got up to investigate and found Maggie balancing precariously on a rickety old table while she knocked a nail into the wall. The dart board was on the floor near the table; that must have been what had fallen over. Kara rushed over to steady the table for her when she saw it wobble and heard an ominous cracking sound.

“Thanks,” Maggie said over her shoulder when the table stopped moving beneath her, giving Kara her signature cheeky smile. “Can you pass me the dart board?”

Keeping hold of the table with one hand and her hip, Kara picked up the dart board which Maggie had brought and passed it up to her. Maggie hung it up, making sure it was straight, and accepted Kara’s hand when she offered it to help her down.

“There!” she exclaimed, as she and Kara looked at her handiwork. If anyone missed the board, the darts would just embed themselves in the wooden wall or the table, and it wouldn’t matter. She figured that Lena would be the one to cause the most holes in the wall, and the thought of Lena making a permanent mark on her home made her smile.

“I think we should leave this here, what do you think?” Maggie asked, turning to look at Kara. “It’s not like anyone will miss it at the station; I think it had been there since before Alex started her medical training, judging by the amount of dust that was on it.”

“Ew, I’m glad you cleaned it before you brought it over,” Kara said, tugging Maggie back out of the garage and walking with her back to the lounge. Someone had turned on a music player somewhere and All the Small Things by Blink-182 was playing in the background, reminding Kara of high school.

She made her way over to the table of food once again. “I really want to have some cake! I’m just waiting for Lena to come down so she can see what a mess I made of it.”

“Something tells me that Lena is one of those women that’s perfected the unimpressed eyebrow raise,” Maggie laughed as she looked over at the happy face Kara had drawn on the cake.

“You tell me, Maggie,” came a low voice from the doorway she and Maggie had just come through. Kara whirled around to see Lena leaning against the doorframe, the eyebrow in question raised, but very quickly a soft expression settled over her face as her gaze landed on the cake. “You just couldn’t help yourself, could you?” she asked, walking over to the table.

Kara felt her stomach do somersaults as she watched Lena approach. Her hair was loose, hanging in dark waves and curling around the ends. She’d tucked it behind her ear on one side, showing off some teardrop diamond earrings. The dress was dark green and uncomplicated, as Lena had said, but it was no less striking for that. It hugged her shape and the green of it suited her pale skin and dark hair. Her eyes were sparkling as they met Kara’s; she’d added a light amount of eyeliner and smoky dark eyeshadow that drew eyes to hers instantly.

Kara couldn’t look away, couldn’t believe that of all the people in the world, their eyes only fell upon each other.

Time seemed to slow as Lena crossed the short distance to her. The thought that Lena looked so classically beautiful she could star in an old-time Hollywood movie skittered across her mind. She seemed absolutely timeless, and when Lena was finally standing next to her, Kara felt all her breath leave her body in one go. When Lena’s fingers danced up the bare skin of her wrist, breathing was something she had to remember how to do.

“You look- you look beautiful,” Kara managed.

A shy look crossed Lena’s face. “You don’t think it’s a little bit too much?” she asked, brushing her hands over her hips in a self-conscious manner and looking around the room to see how everyone else was dressed. “I feel a bit overdressed, but it was this or the boardroom clothes and I don’t want to look like I’m about to conduct a meeting-”

“You look perfect,” Kara interrupted. “Really,” she emphasized when Lena looked less than convinced. “You’re beautiful.”

The apprehension left Lena’s face, and she leaned over to press a kiss to the corner of Kara’s mouth, wiping her lipstick away when some of it was left behind. “And you look pretty dapper yourself,” Lena said, stepping back to take Kara in. “I mean, I know I saw you a little earlier but I- there’s something about the way you roll your sleeves up in a shirt that… does something for me,” she finished in a whisper.

“Oh really?” she asked, pushing them up a little further.

“Mhmm,” Lena confirmed, her eyes on Kara’s forearms. When Lena looked back up, she raised an eyebrow at Kara, and her face was mischievous. What happened between them in the kitchen earlier raced through Kara’s mind. She felt a blush creep up her face, and from the way Lena’s eyes darkened slightly, something very similar was crossing her own thoughts.

Kara’s mouth felt dryer the longer she and Lena looked at each other, and the air between them felt thick, as if the rest of the world dissolved around them. Somewhere in the background, music was still playing, but for the life of her Kara couldn’t tell what it was. There was only Lena, the very telling uptick in the sound of her breathing, her fingertips sliding lightly up Kara’s forearm to rest just under her elbow. There were her eyes, looking like green and blue nebulae… Kara thought she could get lost in them, given enough time.

Before she could start waxing lyrical about Lena’s eyes in front of other people, Lena cleared her throat softly and glanced over Kara’s shoulder. “We still have later,” Lena murmured, only loud enough for Kara to hear, and she felt her blush intensify.

Just then, Maggie startled Kara by throwing her arm around her shoulders and wolf-whistling in Lena’s direction. Kara resisted the temptation to stick her finger in her ear as the sound rang in it. “Damn, Lena, you scrub up well,” Maggie said, not being shy about the once-over she gave her.

Lena’s lips twitched as she bit back a smile. “Thanks, Maggie, I think,” she replied, looping her arm through Kara’s. “You look pretty smart yourself, but unfortunately for us both, I’m a taken woman.”

“What do you mean, unfortunately?” Kara asked pointedly, poking Lena teasingly in the stomach with her spare hand.

“Come on, lovebirds, we’re going to play Mario Kart before J’onn and M’gann get here and we get pizza grease all over the controllers,” Maggie said, and Kara gave an exaggerated shudder at the thought of it.

Kara passed Lena a plate, and when she’d filled it with a few snacks, mostly biltong, they headed over to the TV where they’d set out a few footstools and turned an armchair around.

“You look lovely, Lena,” Eliza said as she and Kara reached them.

“Yeah, you really do,” Alex said, raising a glass of scotch in Lena’s direction. “Hope you don’t mind, but I decided a glass of Octomore was just about perfect for this competition we’re about to have.”

“Not at all,” Lena replied, “it’s yours. And thank you both. I’m really glad to be here for this.”

“And we’re happy to have you,” Alex said, swinging her legs around and patting the seat they’d just been resting on. “Take a seat. I hope you’re better at this than you are at darts.”

A few minutes later, Kara, Lena, Alex, and Maggie were heavily involved in their race around Bowser’s Castle, one of Kara’s favorite tracks, laughing loudly whenever someone got hit by a red shell or slipped on a banana skin. Kara was actually winning for a whole thirty seconds until Alex hit the other three with a thunderbolt, rendering them all tiny and shooting past them. Only a few moments later, Maggie let out a maniacal laugh when she used a mushroom to zip past Alex. Lena was mostly silent, watching the screen intently with a furrowed brow and her hands barely moving on the controller. She was sitting primly, one leg crossed over the other, her eyes focused. She proved to be the dark horse, however, when a blue shell slammed into Maggie’s Bowser character before she quickly followed it up with three red shells. She let out an evil little cackle before crossing the line in second place, but ahead of the other three.

“What?!” Alex said, slapping her hand to her forehead, her controller dangling next to her face.

“Oh it’s on, Luthor,” Maggie said, settling in for their next race.

Kara said nothing, just gaped at Lena as she sat up straight and flicked her hair over her shoulder. She looked every inch the CEO of L-Corp right then, and Kara just shook her head as Lena relaxed her posture, beaming at her before turning her attention back to the screen.

“Rainbow Road, ladies?” Lena asked airily.

“150cc or bust,” Maggie muttered, pressing the button to select the race.

The four of them played race after race, Alex and Lena splitting most of the wins between them, Kara none, and Maggie battling one of the others for second place. Lena was excellent at placing bananas at the exact right spots to make everyone else spin out, as well as holding on to red shells to use at the best possible time. Lena explained in a break between races that she and Lex had used to play Mario Kart on an old Nintendo 64 years ago, and that she could never quite let go of the nostalgia of the game and its various versions. In a surprising turn, Lena informed her that she in fact owned a Switch, and took it up to her cabin to play with sometimes. Kara could just imagine Lena sitting in her cabin, blanket wrapped around her knees, trying to perfect strategies for winning races.

“What?” Lena asked when Kara stared at her in amazement for a little too long. “I keep up with current gaming technologies. In a lot of ways, gaming is driving a lot of technological advancements. Also, when I have to put in my appearances at L-Corp family days, I can’t look like a complete loser when we hook a Switch up to the cinema screen and hold competitions. And, I always make sure to lose at the last possible moment. Kids may like sticking their tongues out when they win, but they’re generally too young to care who I am. They just want to beat an adult at a game, and I’m happy to let them.”

“When Jess told me about those competitions, I just thought you must’ve been rubbish at the games. When actually, it turns out you’re just really sweet,” Kara said, leaning over to kiss her on the cheek.

“Not so sweet that I’m not going to kick your ass in this next race,” Lena smirked, letting out a laugh at the mock-offended look on Kara’s face. “I don’t have to pretend to be crap at this in front of you!” They played a few more races, Lena true to her word and not letting Kara even get past her, but Kara didn’t mind one bit. Seeing Lena this free and happy was more than enough for her, and she silently made a note to buy a Switch when she got back to New York, hoping that they’d be able to play games on it together. That is, if everything went well on Monday.

The thought threatened to pop her good mood, so she pushed it away and focused on the race at hand. Maggie was attempting to sabotage Alex by bumping into her shoulder under the guise of terrible fake sneezes, to the point where Alex was elbowing her every time she got too close. Eliza was calling encouragement over their shoulders and laughing whenever someone used a thunderbolt.

So far, this was the best adoption anniversary Kara could remember having.

After stocking up on snacks and refilling their glasses, they all made their way into the garage so that they could set up a darts competition. Since there was an odd number of people, they teamed up in pairs and whoever scored the lowest points of the losing pair was swapped out so someone else could have a turn. Eliza turned out to be a shark at darts, and Lena was useless at it; Lena spent most of her time on the sidelines sipping a glass of wine and laughing at everyone’s attempts at poor sportsmanship. There were badly timed coughs, poking people just as they were about to let go of the darts, and random loud noises that made people jump. Lena also took on the role of photographer, using Kara’s phone to take photos of her with her family and friends.

When the doorbell rang, Lena wasn’t playing, so she got up to go and answer it. Kara heard the jovial voice of J’onn at the door, greeting Lena loudly and introducing M’gann formally, even though they’d already met at Martians. There was, though, an additional voice that Kara didn’t expect or recognize; straining her ears, she tried to listen, but she couldn’t make out any words that anyone was saying.

When J’onn and M’gann came into the garage, Lena wasn’t with them.

Kara greeted them both, giving them a big hug each and letting them know about the snacks in the lounge. She let them both take over her spot in the darts, curious about why Lena hadn’t come back, and who the extra voice was.

M’gann answered her question before she asked it, though.

“A friend of Lena’s came into Martians this evening,” she told Kara, picking up one of the darts and throwing it towards the dart board, effortlessly sinking it into the triple twenty and rubbing her hands together in anticipation of a good game. “Real pretty. Said her name was Sam and that she needed to speak to Lena really badly. I hope you don’t mind, but we brought her with us. We can take her back to town later, if she’s not staying here with you all?”

“Oh,” Kara said, scratching her neck thoughtfully. “She works with Lena. I’ve never actually met her, but I’ve talked to her a lot on the phone. I should go and introduce myself, and we’ll bring her down here in a bit. She must be exhausted with that flight.”

“Go, go,” J’onn said, picking one of the darts up, his massive hand dwarfing it. “Alex, I hope you’ve brought you’re A-game!”

Kara left them to it, J’onn’s booming laughter echoing through the garage and out into the kitchen as she stepped into it. She could hear Lena and Sam talking in the lounge, and wondered why on earth Sam had flown all the way out to Midvale. Her stomach lurched at the possibilities. When she turned the corner into the lounge and saw the somber look on Lena’s face, her fears were not assuaged in the slightest.

“Hi,” she said, giving them both a small wave when two sets of eyes turned to her.

“And you must be Kara Danvers,” Sam said, her voice warm and friendly. She stood up from the armchair she was leaning against, holding out her hand for Kara to take when she reached them. Her handshake was firm, but polite, and she had an easy smile on her face.

“I am. And you must be the famous Sam Arias,” Kara said, wrapping one arm around Lena’s waist, stroking her hip with her thumb. Lena leaned her head on Kara’s shoulder, a happy sigh escaping her.

Sam laughed, a very pleasant sound, and Kara relaxed slightly. “I don’t know about famous, but it’s lovely to put a face to the name at last. And I hear congratulations are in order? May I see the ring?” she asked, looking between them.

“Of course!” Kara exclaimed, letting go of Lena briefly so that Sam could examine her hand.

“It’s beautiful,” Sam said, turning Kara’s hand so that the tanzanite shone a deep purple and light danced off the diamonds. “Really stunning. I can’t believe Lena didn’t tell me she proposed. I’m not going to say I’m entirely surprised, Lena is one for her privacy after all, but when I saw the news this week I-”

“Sam,” Lena admonished lightly, “you’ve already given me enough grief over this!”

“Yeah, and then you threw your phone in the sea so that you wouldn’t have to talk to me anymore,” Sam said with a chuckle, bumping Lena’s shoulder with her own. It was nice, Kara thought, to see how familiar Sam was with Lena, and was glad that Lena did have a real friend who was close enough to her to tease her like this. Judging by the look on Lena’s face, she didn’t mind one bit.

“I could’ve guessed, anyway,” Sam said, turning a sly eye on Kara. “She’s had a crush on you for the longest time and even though I had no idea you were even dating, I was not surprised to see that you were engaged.”

“Oh?” Kara asked, putting her arm back around Lena’s waist and raising her eyebrows questioningly. “A crush on me for the longest time, eh?” she asked, laughing when Lena prodded her in the side. “I’m just glad you finally got around to asking me to marry you, swamp witch.”

Swamp witch?” Sam spluttered, coughing inelegantly into her glass of wine.

Lena rolled her eyes, but sank in closer against Kara, who pressed a kiss to her temple. “It’s a nickname that Kara’s had for me since the proposal. I dropped the ring in the pond and had to go swimming after it.”

“Romantic,” Sam said with a snort.

“So what brings you all the way up to Midvale?” Kara asked, curiosity getting the better of her at last. “Not that I’m not glad to meet you at last, but Midvale is quite a long way to come to see Lena when she’ll be back in in New York on Sunday night.”

“True, true,” Sam said with a smile, but Kara could hear the hesitation in her voice, and for some reason, she was speaking louder than before, as if she wanted her words to be overheard. “Well, I needed to get Lena’s signature on some important documents, and I couldn’t get hold of her. Unfortunately, for this only a wet ink signature will do. I was hoping to get them tonight and fly back tomorrow, because it really can’t wait.”

“That sounds absolutely hellish,” Kara commented. “It’s a long flight.”

“It is, but I made sure to book first class on L-Corp, considering it was for business reasons,” Sam said with a wink, her posture relaxing as she leaned back against the sofa again.

“Why are we all standing?” Lena said suddenly. “Should we… go upstairs?” she asked, giving Kara a look that said she wanted this conversation to be private.

“Sure,” Kara shrugged, letting go of Lena and folding her arms.

She could tell that there was some kind of tension in the air that was going unvoiced, and it made her feel quite nervous. Despite Sam’s friendliness, something about the way that her eyes kept looking between them made the hairs on her arms stand up.

A minute later, they were all sitting in Kara’s bedroom with the door closed, Sam and Lena on the sofa at the end of the bed and Sam on an armchair. They were sitting somewhat close together what with the way Sam was leaning forward towards them on the sofa. Giving them a shrewd look, Sam cleared her throat and spoke in a low voice. “So, I did need to get Lena’s signature, that’s not a lie. But the truth is that it could’ve waited until she got back. All of Lena’s emails indicated that she was taking a short leave of absence and that I should take over as acting CEO for the time being, which is fine. But imagine my surprise when I ask her to sign some documents and she states that she can’t because she’s in some sort of trouble with Immigration.”

Kara and Lena shared a worried glance.

“First of all, although I was aware that you were an Irish citizen, I had no idea you had some issue with Immigration,” Sam said, shooting Lena a somewhat hurt look. Lena bowed her head a little in acquiescence of Sam’s gentle rebuke, and Kara squeezed her hand. “There’s not much more to say about that, but I want you to understand that I will help you no matter what happens. From what Lena’s said, she’s in direct violation of her visa terms, and that she can no longer work for an American company while this is all being sorted out. And while that’s problematic, I can handle L-Corp in her absence. But…” she trailed off, looking down at the wine in her glass as she swirled it around, “but what concerns me more is that yesterday I had a call from an Eve Teschmacher.”

Kara sucked in a breath loud enough for Sam to look curiously at her.

Sam sighed. “You'd told me that you were on a leave of absence," she said to Lena. "Eve didn't elaborate on the terms of your visa violation in regards to L-Corp and what you can or cannot do. I had a meeting to get to anyway, and the call was brief. The long and short of it was that she wanted to ask me about you two, as a couple. She seemed to be under the impression that you two were committing fraud against the government, that your relationship is a sham, and that you’re only doing this so that Lena won’t be deported.”

Lena gripped Kara’s hand so tightly that Kara had to fight off a wince, although nothing showed on Lena’s face at all other than polite shock. Sam gave no indication that she’d noticed anything untoward, because she kept talking.

“I’ve known Lena for a long time. Given that I haven’t been able to get in contact with you, I decided the best course of action was to fly up here myself and talk to you both. Ruby is at a friend’s for the night,” she said to Lena, who looked satisfied at the answer to her unasked question. “Kara, we’ve only spoken on the phone but you’ve always been lovely. And I don’t mean to be awkward about this, but I’ve known about Lena’s feelings for you for a long time. She rarely opens up about this kind of thing, as I’m sure you know, but one too many glasses of wine two years ago and it all became painfully obvious. Her voice is soft when she speaks about you,” Sam said.

Despite the feeling of ice sliding down her spine, Kara felt warm at Sam’s words. “I know,” she replied softly, shuffling even closer to Lena until there was no space between them. “We just… we just wanted to keep it quiet. Lena’s so private, and I wanted to respect that in turn,” Kara said. Sam nodded.

“What I just wanted to ask was… the timing of this obviously seemed suspicious to this Eve person. And I love you Lena, and I trust you Kara; whatever you tell me, I’ll believe. Is this relationship real?”

“It’s real,” Lena announced without hesitation, her voice strong and steady. Kara detected no trace of a lie anywhere in it. “It’s real. I sometimes can’t quite believe it, but it is. I’ve been keeping up with the news at home. The tabloids seem to be having a field day with the fact that I’m gay, but nobody else seems to give a damn. I haven’t had a single email from any board member about it, much to my own surprise, so I have to conclude that they either don’t care or that they’ve decided that there’s nothing they can do about it as yet. Which is, frankly, more than I expected from that nest of vipers, and I suspect that has something to do with your presence, Sam.”

Sam raised her glass to Lena with a wink. “You know I’ll always defend your honor.”

“Lena’s the best thing that’s ever happened to me,” Kara blurted out, startling the other two women with her vehemence. “It’s been hell not being able to talk to people about how happy she makes me, and this is just… I wish that- I wish Eve would just stick her nose in someone else’s business,” she finished huffily.

Both Sam and Lena laughed. “Amen to that,” Sam said. “On the phone she sounded like some kind of high, evil Disney princess.”

“She looks like one too, to be honest,” Kara mused, and Sam laughed into her glass of wine.

“Shall we rejoin the party?” Lena asked, suddenly seeming a lot happier than she had been when they came upstairs. Kara knew that her fears weren’t assuaged, and that they’d need to talk about this later, but for now they had each other, and there was cake to eat.

“Yeah,” Kara said, standing up and pulling Lena to her feet, giving her a mostly chaste, but lingering kiss. When they broke apart, Lena’s eyes were shining and Kara couldn’t help it; she pressed another quick kiss to Lena’s lips. Behind her, she heard Sam clear her throat, and she felt Lena smile. Lena’s eyes went to Sam for a moment, before they focused back on Kara.

“I’d say I’m sorry, Sam, but I’m not at all,” Lena said, her eyes still on Kara. She felt Lena’s thumb brush over the back of her hand and Kara melted.

“You two are adorable, but I’m hungry, and I saw food downstairs,” Sam said, and when Kara glanced over at her, she rubbed her hand over her stomach.

The three of them laughed, and Kara led the way back downstairs. Kara was quite hungry herself; it had been a while, at least in Kara’s estimation, since she’d last eaten anything substantial, and there was pizza to be cooked. As they headed down the stairs, she tried to let go of the knot of tension that was trying to settle in her stomach after Sam’s warning about Eve poking around. There was nothing they could do about it right now, and nothing specific had changed either. They’d still have to leave their little bubble of happiness up here in Midvale. They’d still have to do the interview on Monday. They’d still have to face the scrutiny of their colleagues.

Hopefully, they’d still have each other.

Kara popped her head into the kitchen when she spotted Eliza in there by herself.

“Hi girls,” Eliza said, gesturing for them to come in and holding her hand out for Sam to shake with a smile. “I’m Eliza, Kara’s adoptive mom.”

“I’m Samantha Arias, I work with Lena at L-Corp in New York,” Sam said, stepping forward to shake Eliza’s hand as well. “I’m sorry to have just shown up like this on a day during some kind of occasion.”

“Oh no, the more the merrier, especially if you’re a friend of Lena’s,” Eliza said kindly. “What kind of pizza would you all like? I’m about to start putting them in the oven. We’ve got pepperoni, vegetarian, meat feast, four cheese and the most controversial of all, Hawaiian.”

“Pineapple absolutely belongs on pizza,” Lena stated firmly, smiling when Kara grimaced. “What? You have pineapple on your gammon steaks, don’t you?”

“Yeah but that’s different,” Kara almost whined. “That’s not on bread!

Lena rolled her eyes and chuckled. “I’d love the Hawaiian, if that’s alright Eliza?”

Kara voted for the pepperoni. After some persuasion from Kara and Lena, and insistence from Eliza, Sam elected to go for the meat feast. “Same as Alex, you two can share,” Eliza said, dutifully pulling all the wrapping off the huge pizzas.

“Do you need any help?” Lena asked her.

“No, no, you all go ahead into the lounge. The rest of them are in there,” Eliza said, turning the oven temperature up.

They filed out of the kitchen and into the lounge. Maggie was sitting next to J’onn on the sofa, showing him how to play Mario Kart. The tiny Switch controller had almost vanished in J’onn’s large hands, and M’gann was laughing so helplessly that she could barely hold herself upright on the armrest of the sofa she was sitting on as she watched. Alex was in the middle of pouring herself another glass of scotch, before she put the cork back into the bottle and turned around.

When her eyes landed on Sam, Kara saw her fingers on her glass slip a little, and to Kara’s astonishment, a slight blush rose up her cheeks. It seemed that Lena had noticed as well, because she squeezed Lena’s hand and tilted her head towards Sam, who had apparently clocked Alex too.

“Hey,” Alex managed, unsticking her feet from the floor and moving away from the fireplace. “I’m Alex, Kara’s sister. I don’t think we’ve met?”

“I’d have remembered,” Sam replied, her lips curving up into a wide smile. “I’m Sam, I work with Lena.”

They shook hands, holding on for a moment longer than necessary, and Kara suppressed the urge to make a comment about how obvious both of them were being. Lena must have been thinking along the same lines, because she dragged Kara over to the table with the food on it. She didn’t say anything, but there was a knowing smirk on her face when she glanced back towards them. When she looked up at Kara, there was a mischievous expression on her face.

“Interesting,” Kara murmured.

“Isn’t it?” Lena agreed. “Come on, let’s cut some of your happy face cake.”

“Dessert before pizza? Miss Luthor, how scandalous,” Kara laughed, reaching for the knife to the side of the plate while Lena picked up two small plates and bumped her with her hip.

The evening was one of the most fun that Kara could remember spending in the last while. She was up here, at home in Midvale, with all of her favorite people. Lena was by her side, and Alex and Sam seemed to be getting on like a house on fire judging by the way they kept gravitating towards each other to talk. When Maggie caught sight of them sitting together on the sofa and talking, she sent Kara a wink and raised her glass in a salute.

There were multiple tournaments of Mario Kart, Sam being better than all of them; she modestly explained that it was thanks to a large amount of practice playing with her daughter. She fit in with their group instantly, especially when Winn appeared later halfway through pizza having taken a water taxi over to the island. He gave Lena a shy wave and everyone stood around chatting for a while, but before long he was subsumed into video games; he, Maggie, and Alex put Smash Bros on and spent a long while laughing loudly.

Kara and Lena spent a long time talking to J’onn and M’gann, the latter wanting to swap travel stories with Lena. They’d been to a lot of the same places, albeit at different times, and they shared their favourite hot spots and restaurants on several continents. After a while, Winn joined them and he and Lena got talking about more technical things while Kara teamed up with M’gann in a game of darts against J’onn.

They shared a couple of pizzas out in the garage before they made their way back into the lounge, Kara beelining to the food table for more cake. She looked around for Lena, finding her absorbed in a conversation with Eliza. They were discussing nanobots that Lena had been developing, gesturing with her hands as she seemed to draw diagrams in the air.

Kara was just cutting herself a second slice of the delicious Victoria sponge, which had some of the best buttercream she’d ever had (she briefly wondered whether she was just biased since Lena had made it, but dismissed the thought when Maggie voiced the same thing). As she slid the slice onto the plate, Sam sidled up next to her, another glass of wine in hand.

“Hi!” Kara said brightly, taking a bite of the cake and letting out an approving hum.

Sam smiled at her. “Hey,” she said, “may I have some cake?”

“Sure!” Kara mumbled around her mouthful, gesturing at it with her fork before she swallowed. “Lena made the buttercream.”

“She is excellent at making cakes actually; she makes all of Ruby’s for her birthdays. If you don’t mind me asking, what’s this party for?” Sam asked her, cutting herself a slice of cake.

“It’s the anniversary of when I was adopted by the Danvers family. It’s been fifteen years.”

“Congratulations,” Sam said warmly. Her eyes flicked over to where Alex was sitting next to Maggie. Sam shifted uncomfortably, and Kara had a flash of understanding.

“Oh, don’t worry about them, they’re just friends,” she reassured Sam quickly. “I mean, they used to be together years ago, but they wanted very different things. They’re best friends now, but Alex is single. And, in case you were curious…” she trailed off to see Sam angling herself towards her, attention fully on Kara’s words even if she tried to look relaxed, “she applied to work for the NYPD. She’s hoping to move to New York within the next few months if it can be managed.”

Sam’s brows cleared, a hopeful look now on her face. “That’s… that’s interesting,” she murmured.

“That’s what I said,” Kara said, having another mouthful of cake.

Both of them silently observed the room and the people in it while they ate. Kara felt surprisingly at ease in Sam’s company, even though they’d never spent any time together and had never met before today. Sam had a welcoming, cheerful presence, and although Kara had the feeling that she was no-nonsense, her impression was that she was a sincere and pleasant person. She had to be, if she was one of the only people that Lena trusted.

“All of the… other business aside,” Sam said, leaning closer to Kara so that only she could catch the words, “I really do just want to say that I have never seen Lena as happy as this, ever. And I know that has a lot to do with you, and the fact that she’s finally able to be open with someone about both herself, and about your relationship. I don’t get to spend as much time as I would like to outside of work, but it’s really wonderful for me to see her happy. She doesn’t open up to people very often, and most of those who she’s trusted have let her down in a really bad way. She wouldn’t say it to my face, but I know that she was afraid to get close to someone in case they broke her heart. But she got close to you, and I feel… I feel that you’ll keep her safe no matter what, and that’s all I can really ask of you.”

Kara was silent for a moment, absorbing Sam’s kind words. “She makes my heart happy,” she said, eventually.

Sam laughed. “That was corny, Kara, but I understand the sentiment.”

A smile crept across Kara’s face. “I can’t help it. She makes me feel like I always imagined it was supposed to feel like, you know?”

“I’m glad that you two found each other,” Sam replied. “She deserves to be happy, and if you make her happy and you treat her well, then that’s all I care about.”

“You’re not going to give me the shovel talk?” Kara asked.

“No. I feel like that was implied,” Sam laughed, her eyes sparkling. “But if it makes you feel better, I’ll tell you this. If you break her heart, if you let her down in any way, I will make you wish that you’d never even looked in her direction.”

“Understood,” Kara replied weakly.

“Don’t worry,” Sam said, straightening up and smiling at her. “I can see how much you love her from the way you look at her like she hung the moon and all the stars in the sky. I’ve got the feeling that you’d rather chop your own hand off than hurt her in any way, so any threat I could make towards you on her behalf would be nothing to what you’d do to yourself. And that in itself is enough for me to know she’s in safe hands,” Sam said. Her voice was warm, and the words rang true in Kara’s heart. Something of it must have shown on Kara’s face, because Sam was suddenly taking hold of her upper arm. “Just take care of her. She acts tough, but she’s a big ball of mush on the inside.”

“I will take care of her as long as she wants me to,” Kara promised, hoping against hope that she was speaking the truth, her mind flashing to their upcoming interview. The knot in her stomach made itself known once again, and she rubbed her hand over it surreptitiously.

“Good,” Sam said. “This cake is amazing, by the way.”

Kara laughed, feeling a little appeased by her conversation with Sam. “Isn’t it? Thankfully for everyone here, I only had anything to do with the jam, otherwise you’d all be in the ER tomorrow.”

“Oh, don’t, I don’t want to get ill on a flight,” Sam said, squeezing her eyes shut in mirth at the thought.

“Do you want to play a bit of Smash Bros?” Kara asked.

“Sure!”

Soon enough, Alex had wandered over and joined in, and Maggie sat the other side of Kara. Maggie teamed up surreptitiously with Kara, leaving Sam and Alex to shyly pair up against them. Maggie elbowed Kara, nodding towards the other two and winking. Kara stifled a laugh. They began their match with Winn shouting encouragement to both teams over their shoulders. It was fairly evenly matched, but midway through their second game, Kara felt a warm hand slide down the back of her neck and rest on her bare shoulder under her shirt.

She could smell Lena’s gentle perfume as she leaned over the back of the sofa, and shivers skittered down her spine when she felt Lena’s lips against her ear. “Are you happy, darling?” she whispered, stroking her fingers over Kara’s collarbone. Kara was distracted enough to let Sam knock her off the edge of the map with a giant hammer, and she didn’t even care.

“Yeah,” she said, turning her head to look at Lena while her character reloaded, and peppering her cheek with kisses until Lena laughed.

“Any chance you can… sit the next round out?” she asked in a low voice.

Kara scrambled out of her seat so quickly that Maggie jumped. “Maggie, hold down the fort for a minute. Defend my honor and don’t let me die!”

“What?” Maggie asked in an aghast voice. “Not a chance. Winn!” she called. “Come and take over Kara’s spot for a minute!”

Winn eagerly took the controller off Kara and wedged himself onto the sofa, easily taking over Kara’s character. Before Kara and Lena had even left the lounge, Kara heard a howl of outrage from Alex as Winn knocked her off the map.

Lena pulled Kara down the hall towards the guest bathroom, pushing the door open and pulling Kara in after her. She heard the snick of the lock behind her.

Kara had no time to ask what was up before Lena was pushing her against the door and pressing herself up against her. Any words that she had been about to say were swallowed when Lena tugged at her bottom lip with her teeth. “I missed you,” she whispered when she let it go.

Kara didn’t waste any time in wrapping her arms around Lena’s waist and dipping her head down to capture Lena’s lips. Their kisses pushed straight past soft and right into the messy, dirty kind of kiss that usually ended with ripping clothes off. Lena clutched at handfuls of Kara’s shirt, untucking it so that she could slide her hands up Kara’s sides. Kara had just about enough self-restraint to not get Lena’s dress in disarray, but the same couldn’t be said for her hair. Kara dug her hands into it, slipping her fingers through it when their kisses slowed, and gripping it tightly when they were more intense. Lena groaned when Kara’s fingers tightened in her hair, her tongue doing something obscene in Kara’s mouth. It was as if she were conducting magic, making Kara’s legs weak and her chest breathless. There was an insistent ache between her legs that only grew in intensity the longer they stayed pressed together. Lena tasted like the scotch she’d been drinking, and Kara’s back arched against the door as Lena scratched her nails down her side.

Kara broke the kiss with a gasp when Lena shifted slightly to the side and she felt Lena’s fingers dip below her waistband. When had Lena even undone her pants? Lena pushed her hand deeper, stroking Kara through her underwear and making Kara’s hips jump towards her.

“I see you missed me too,” Lena said wickedly, her voice husky and sounding like dark chocolate and sex. Her fingers slowly moved against Kara, and she spread her legs a little to give Lena better access.

Lena-” Kara stuttered when her fingers brushed over her clit. Even though her underwear, she was sensitive, and she dropped her forehead to Lena’s shoulder and groaned.

Just as soon as it seemed she’d started, Lena withdrew her hand, bringing her slick fingertips to her mouth and slowly licking them. Kara’s eyes widened at the sight, and her hands gripped Lena’s hips even harder. Lena seemed to relish it, her eyes darkening, and she ran her wet fingers over Kara’s lips.

“As much as I’d like to stay in here with you all night, darling, you have guests,” Lena murmured, pushing herself off Kara. When Kara reached out for her, Lena linked her hands with hers and pushed them against the door to the sides of Kara’s head. “Keep them there,” she whispered, before reaching down to cup Kara once more, before slowly doing Kara’s trousers up. The friction of Kara’s pants against her sensitive skin causing her to huff out a frustrated breath at Lena, who had backed away from her. She could feel that she was very slick, a testament to the speed at which Lena had pushed her from zero to sixty in no time flat. She desperately wanted to take Lena upstairs, ruck her dress up around her hips, pull her underwear down and press her fingers or her tongue between her legs…

“Oh really?” Lena asked, a hint of smugness in her tone.

“Did I say that part out loud?”

Lena nodded, reapplying her lipstick in the mirror before she stepped up close to Kara. “You’ve got one thing wrong, though. I’m not wearing underwear,” she said, right into Kara’s ear.

Fuck, Lena,” Kara groaned.

Lena raised an eyebrow at her and unlocked the door. “You’ve got quite a bit of my color on you. You might want to… clean yourself up,” Lena said, before she smiled devilishly and walking out of the door.

Kara listened to her heels clicking down the hall, before she shut the door and leaned back against it, trying to get her breath back under control. Lena is going to melt me into a puddle and I’m going to enjoy every second, she thought to herself. When she stepped in front of the sink, she saw that, yes, she had Lena’s color on her. She wiped the lipstick off her lips as best as she could while trying to keep the silly grin off her face.

When she eventually got back to the lounge, Lena smiled knowingly at her from across the room, and Kara had to stop herself from dropping her eyes below Lena’s waist. Knowing that she wasn’t wearing anything under that dress was doing something delicious to Kara’s body, and she was sure that Lena could read it in her face.

So, apparently, could Maggie.

“Keep it in your pants,” she smirked as she stood next to Kara by the food table.

Kara startled. “What?”

Maggie folded her arms and gave Kara a look which plainly said, really? “You look like you want to stalk across the room, pull Lena upstairs, and rip her dress right o-”

She felt Maggie laugh when Kara clapped a hand over her mouth to stop her from finishing that sentence within earshot of Eliza. “Alright, alright,” Kara hissed.

“You have got it bad,” Maggie observed when Kara removed her hand. “Both of you do. I’m happy for you both, really. It’s awesome.”

Kara sighed happily. “Thank you. And you’re not wrong, I just don’t want certain people in this room to hear… that.”

Maggie clapped her hands together with glee. “Oh, Kara, if you think they don’t already know what you two were just doing, you’re a fool.”

She felt a blush creep up her chest and neck. Looking down, she realized that while she had been concentrating on getting Lena’s lipstick off of her face, she’d forgotten to tuck her shirt back in. It was extremely rumpled, especially around the lapels where Lena’s hands had been gripping the fabric between her fingers. She caught Sam’s amused eyes from where she was standing next to Lena.

“I should… uh, I should change my shirt,” Kara said to herself, avoiding everyone’s eyes while she made her way to the door. She heard Lena’s laughter chasing her as she rushed upstairs, throwing the shirt into the corner of her bedroom before choosing one that didn’t look as if they’d been doing… exactly what they’d been doing.

The rest of the evening was more chilled out. Everyone was happy to sit around and watch a film of Kara’s choosing, as per tradition. She picked Some Like It Hot, because it was a classic and one of Eliza’s favorites. Everyone draped around the room on various sofas and armchairs, except for Winn who was happy on the floor, propped up on some spare cushions. Sam and Alex sat together, talking quietly to each other. In her dress, Lena couldn’t lie back or curl up against Kara like she obviously wanted to if the little huffs of annoyance she was letting out were any indication. In the end, she settled for sitting primly on the end of the sofa with Kara sat cross-legged on the floor in front of her, while Lena played with her hair for the majority of the movie.

Kara enjoyed the movie, as she always did, but she enjoyed Lena laughing at the dialogue even more. Lena’s fingers in her hair sent her into a tailspin of relaxation, and she felt herself slump against the sofa as Lena’s hands worked her into a state of bliss.

When the film was over, everyone laughing at the iconic last lines, J’onn stood up and stretched.

“I think we’re going to head back to the mainland,” he said, looking at his watch. “I hadn’t realized it was so late.”

“Okay,” Kara said, standing up and brushing herself off. “Thanks so much for coming, J’onn, and you M’gann, it really means a lot.”

J’onn folded Kara into a hug. “You’re welcome, you know you’re like family to me Kara,” he said, his voice uncharacteristically emotional. He cleared his throat when he let her go. “Does anyone need a lift back over the water?”

Winn and Sam both put their hands up.

“I’ve drunk too much scotch to drive us back tonight,” Alex said apologetically to Maggie.

“No problem. I figured we were staying here anyway,” Maggie replied soothingly.

“Lena, that scotch is… something else,” Alex called across the room to Lena, holding her nearly empty glass up.

“I know,” Lena said with a smile, picking her own glass up from the side table and holding it up in salute.

There were plenty of hugs to go around, everyone happy to have been able to spend the afternoon and evening at the Danvers’ place. Kara saw Sam and Lena talking quietly to each other, heads close together in the kitchen before they hugged; whatever they were talking about made Lena smile so widely that her double dimples were visible, and Kara’s heart expanded in her chest. Sam rubbed Lena’s upper arms before she gave her another quick hug and starting down the hall towards Kara, who was near the front door.

“You’re not going to be staying longer?” she asked, when Sam stopped next to her.

“Unfortunately no, I have to get back to the office; I’ve got a flight booked for the morning,” Sam replied glumly, looking as if she wished she could stay.

“That’s a shame, but it was lovely to meet you at last, Sam,” she said sincerely.

“And you too, Kara,” Sam said as she wrapped Kara in her arms. “Don’t forget to take care of our ball of mush.”

“I’ve no intention of letting my swamp witch go,” Kara said with a laugh that was shared by Sam when she stepped back. “Shall we plan to meet when we’re back in New York? I think Lena would like that.”

“Definitely,” Sam replied. “Give me your number and we can set something up?”

“Sure,” Kara said, fishing her phone out of her pocket.

Sam made a grab for it before she could unlock it, though. “Oh my god, this photo of Lena!” she crowed. “I love it! Lena, have you seen this?”

“Hmm?” Lena said, wandering over to them. She peered at the screen, cocking an eyebrow up at Kara once she realized that it was her lock screen photo. “That was earlier today.”

“This is the best photo of you I’ve ever seen in our entire friendship,” Sam said excitedly. “Kara, please make Lena put that on her Instagram page. I know Ruby would absolutely love it.”

“I will,” Kara promised, taking her phone back off Sam so that she could unlock it. Sam keyed her number into it, giving herself a quick call so she could get Kara’s number as well.

“Perfect. Well, I’ll see you both when you’re back in New York!” Sam said, giving them each a last hug.

Kara, Lena, Eliza, Alex, and Maggie stayed on the porch until the others had climbed into J’onn’s boat, which he’d moored at the end of the pier. They all waved until he’d turned it towards the mainland, and retreated back inside.

In good spirits, they all helped to tidy up the lounge, wrap up the snacks that hadn’t been eaten and refrigerating anything that needed to stay cold. Kara was eyeing up the leftover pizza for breakfast the next morning. That is, unless Lena planned to make pancakes again. They moved the furniture back into place and tidied up any of the mess that had got on the floor.

By the time they were done, they were all yawning, and said their goodnights to each other in the kitchen after pouring themselves glasses of water to take upstairs with them. They’d all had a couple of drinks, and hydration was a thing, Kara reminded herself.

Back up in their bedroom, Kara set their drinks on their nightstands and plugged her phone in. She started to yawn, but swallowed it when she turned around to see Lena looking at her with a heated expression on her face.

“Any chance you could unzip me?” she asked.

Kara almost fell over her own feet on the way to Lena, causing Lena to laugh, and gently turning her around. She slowly unzipped the dress, making sure to press a kiss to the back of Lena’s neck. She trailed her fingertips down each inch of skin that was revealed to her as the zip crawled down her body, sliding her hand around to Lena’s stomach when she was able to. When it was far down enough that it reached her waist, Kara let her go. Lena stepped forward, lowering the dress just enough to prove that she wasn’t wearing any underwear before pulling it back up and heading to the bathroom with a smirk.

While Lena was in the shower, Kara peeled off her own clothes, throwing them into the washing basket and picking up her shirt from earlier. The thought of what they’d been doing while she was wearing it caused a blush to rise to her face as she remembered Lena licking the taste of Kara off her own fingers. Clenching her legs together, Kara tossed the shirt into the washing basket as well, stripping off her underwear too.

Two can play at this game, she thought.

A short while later, Lena came back out of the bathroom, the ends of her hair damp from her shower and her face pink from the heat. She was still midway through knotting her towel when she caught sight of Kara, sitting naked on the edge of the bed with her legs crossed, her eyebrow raised, and a wicked smile on her face. Lena’s eyes darkened, and she made her way over to Kara, pushing herself gently between her legs.

“Hi.”

“Hi, Lena,” Kara replied, settling her hands on Lena’s waist over the towel. Gods, Lena smelled so good. She tutted and leaned back when Lena tried to kiss her. “Oh no you don’t,” she said, standing up and swiveling them round so that Lena was the one standing against the bed.

“And you’re not going to be needing that towel,” she said, stepping back and holding her hand out for it.

Lena gaped at her for a second before she pulled her towel off, leaving them both as naked as each other. “No touching,” Kara said, draping the towel over the edge of the sofa. “And if we’re going to do this, we’re going to need to be as quiet as possible.” Standing back in front of Lena, who was nodding her assent, she slid her hands slowly up Lena’s body. She stroked them up Lena’s thighs, over her behind, hips and waist, up her sides, over her chest, before finally sliding them into Lena’s hair. On her way up, she’d made sure to brush her fingers over Lena’s soft stomach, circling her nipples with her thumbs and her lips, and pressing her tongue into the pulse point in her neck. By the time she stopped, Lena’s hands were fisted by her sides, shaking with the effort to keep from touching Kara.

“I’ll be right back,” she said teasingly, stepping away, picking up the towel, and leaving Lena standing by the edge of the bed.

“Kara!” Lena burst out, goosebumps evident on her arms and her green eyes almost desperate with desire.

“That was for earlier.”

“You’re evil.”

“I don’t think you mean that,” Kara said, standing by the bathroom door, flexing her bicep just a little as she propped herself against the frame with her arm.

A choked sound came from Lena, who took half a step towards Kara before Kara held a hand up. “Nope. You’ll just have to wait until I’m finished in here. And then I’m coming back out, and I’m going to kiss you for hours.”

After her shower, Kara made good on her promise. She did kiss Lena for hours, covering as much of her skin as she could with her kisses and soft touches. She trailed her fingers across Lena’s skin, mapping the freckles she found, scratching just deep enough to make Lena hiss with pleasure.

Kara stroked Lena, paying gentle homage to her body with her fingertips, her hands, her mouth, and her tongue. She pressed into soft places wet with need, brushed that spot inside that made Lena’s back arch. She kissed her most sensitive parts until Lena was gripping Kara’s hair hard in her hand, her legs over Kara’s shoulders.

Gentleness gave way to a breathless intensity after Lena’s second orgasm when Kara pressed her into the bed with her hips, their skin salty with sweat and their bodies pressed and rocking together. Lena’s hands gripped the back of Kara’s neck and her shoulder blade, and their eye contact as Kara brought Lena to the edge once more was almost blistering in its heat.  

When Lena had to bite into her pillow to stop herself from crying out, Kara fell over the edge too, panting Lena’s name into her hair.

Lena wasted no time before crawling down Kara’s body, sucking marks into her skin and scratching her the way she knew by now that Kara loved, before she made love to her with her fingers and her tongue. Kara groaned deeply when Lena tapped her on the thigh; she looked down to see Lena’s mouth coated in her slick arousal and giving her a wolfish smile before ducking her head back down.

Lena worked Kara up until she was seeing white as her body released the tension within it that Lena had so expertly wrought with her tongue.

Afterwards, Kara lay with her head on Lena’s chest as they tried to get their breathing under control. Lena gently stroked her hair, working her fingers through the tangles that had made their way into it from their activities. Kara idly drew patterns in Lena’s skin with her fingertips, smiling whenever Lena twitched if it tickled too much. There was no need for words; their kisses had said everything for them, as well as the possessive marks they’d left on each other’s bodies. Kara rubbed her thumb over a small, blooming lovebite that she’d made on Lena’s left hip, marveling once again at the facts that she could do this, that Lena would let her do this to her, and most incredible of all, that Lena wanted her to.

She wrapped her arm around Lena’s waist, her hand coming to rest on Lena’s side as she listened to Lena’s heart beating.

After a while, they both dozed off, their bodies exhausted, but it was less than an hour before Kara had Lena writhing under her once more. Three of Kara’s fingers were buried inside the warm wet of Lena as she pressed herself against Lena’s back, coaxing her upright for a moment so that they could kiss, messily, over Lena’s shoulder. It wasn’t long before Lena was panting into the pillow once more as Kara worked her into oblivion, Lena’s cry muffled by the pillow as she came hard around Kara’s fingers.

It was only ten minutes after that that Kara was approaching her own cliff once more, Lena’s fingers buried deep inside her and curling exquisitely as she straddled Lena’s hips. Her other hand gripped Kara’s thigh, her nails digging deliciously into her skin. Kara’s hands were tightening in Lena’s hair, holding her close to her chest as heat rushed through her and she saw stars behind her eyelids.

All the while, they loved each other silently, unspoken words formed on their lips but lost to the night as they chose to share their emotions through touch instead. Every stroke of Kara’s fingers down Lena’s cheek, every affectionate brush of Lena’s hand through Kara’s hair, told a story. Every time their eyes met with heat or with tenderness, words passed between them that had no need to be voiced.

And when Lena finally pulled the blankets up around a nearly sleeping Kara, tucking her in and snuggling up against her, there was no need for words. Soft sighs and gentle hands as they held each other were all either of them needed to drift into sleep.

The last thing Kara remembered was Lena pressing her warm lips against her forehead; one last wordless declaration of the love and trust they’d placed in each other, before sleep claimed them both. The night’s silence fell around them as they lay wrapped in each other, their breathing even, content in the peace and safety that they’d found in each other’s arms and hearts.

Chapter Text

After the intensity of their night, during which they woke up once more to make love to each other, they both slept late. When Kara woke up, the sunlight was already streaming into the bedroom through the balcony windows. Lena was sitting up next to her, reading a book, and weaving her fingers through Kara’s hair.

“Mmm don’t stop,” Kara mumbled into the pillow, closing her eyes again against the brightness. “Feels good.”

Lena chuckled, the sound coming from low in her throat. She obliged and dug her fingers further into Kara’s hair, scratching gently along her scalp. Kara groaned in pleasure, moving closer to Lena and wrapping her arm around the bare skin of her waist. It seemed that when Lena got up to open the blinds, she hadn’t bothered to put any clothes on, and Kara was… moved by that.

Even though they had been intimate quite a few times by now, it was one thing to be naked when things were about to happen; it was quite another to be willingly vulnerable when intimacy wasn’t expected. Kara’s eyes snapped open. Lena was lying there, the covers pushed down around her waist, and she wasn’t wearing anything save her reading glasses. There was nothing sexual about her nakedness; Lena was just feeling comfortable and relaxed with Kara, if the soft look on Lena’s face gave her any indication.

Lena smiled, then shuffled down the bed so that they were at eye-level with each other. She kept her hand in Kara’s hair, twirling it between her fingers, and pressed a chaste kiss to Kara’s lips.

“Good morning,” she whispered, kissing Kara once more.

“Good morning, swamp witch,” Kara replied, her voice still hoarse from sleep and stroking Lena’s hip with her thumb. “What time is it?”

“It’s ten minutes past midday,” Lena replied, just as Kara’s stomach growled loud enough to stop Lena from saying whatever she was about to say next. Instead, breathy laughter spilled out of Lena as surprise crossed her face. Lena looked so adorable that Kara wasted no time before cuddling her closer, giving her an affectionate squeeze. When her giggles subsided, Lena glanced up with a scrunchy-nosed smile. “We really need to feed you,” she said, patting Kara’s stomach.

“That’s probably a really, really good idea,” Kara agreed with a smile. “I’m shocked that Alex and Maggie haven’t tried to wake us up.”

“One of them did knock an hour or so ago, but you were still fast asleep then.” She paused, before her face turned a little more serious. “I think we should talk about Sam’s visit and what it means for us, if anything,” Lena said, in a tone of voice that suggested that she’d been thinking about it for a while that morning already. “And I’d like to look through some more of the questions from the folder. I want to learn more about the woman who takes my breath away,” she added with a smile.

And just like that, Kara’s whole body seemed to flood with warmth and affection. She moved impossibly closer to Lena, laying her head on her chest, wrapping one arm around her waist, and tangling their legs together. “I’d like that too,” she murmured into Lena’s skin, pressing a kiss to her sternum.

“We should wait until Alex and Maggie have gone back to the mainland. They both have a shift today, I remember them telling me yesterday.”

Kara nodded, and she felt Lena’s fingers trailing through her hair again. “Yeah. I’m sure there are a lot of things I still don’t know about you. Like,” she said, craning back a little so she could look at Lena, “you kind of… tap your fingers on my skin when you’re sleeping, as if you’re playing the piano. Have you ever played?”

Lena huffed out an amused breath, dancing her fingers along Kara’s spine. “As a matter of fact, I did play for a little while; Lillian thought it was befitting, so I started learning when I was six. But at school, they had more instruments, and I when I was a little older I discovered that I was better at the flute. I played for years, but not regularly for a while now, not since running CatCo as well as L-Corp.”

Kara felt a smirk crossing her face. “And this one time, at band c-”

Before she could finish the sentence, Lena had clapped a hand over her mouth. “Do not finish that sentence, Miss Danvers.”

“But it’s tradition-” she started to say, her words muffled against Lena’s palm.

“Not a single word more about band camp,” Lena warned authoritatively, a stern look on her face, but there was no heat whatsoever in her words.

“Miss Luthor, I do believe you’ve lost your touch,” Kara teased. “I’m not intimidated at all.”

Lena raised an eyebrow, and Kara’s insides turned to jelly. “Is that so?”

Kara surveyed Lena for a moment. As usual after waking up, her hair was a bird’s nest, there were small bruises in her skin that Kara had left the night before, and she had sleep in the corners of her eyes. Her eyes were sparkling behind her reading glasses, and they were crinkling as she fought to keep a smile off her face. She failed miserably, her dimples deepening in her cheeks as she gazed at Kara in mock-exasperation.

“Yeah, it’s so,” Kara confirmed with a nod. “You’re just so charming that any intimidation techniques just aren’t going to work on me. Besides,” she said, trailing her hand up and down Lena’s side, loving the way that Lena shivered under her touch, “I’ve seen you with cake flour on your face and paint in your hair. It’s going to be hard to be appropriately daunted by you at work when in my mind’s eye, all I can see is your beautiful smile.”

“You are really something else, Kara Danvers,” Lena whispered, a slight blush high on her cheeks.

“So are you, Lena Luthor,” Kara returned seriously. Her stomach chose that moment to rumble again. “And apparently, so is my stomach! Shall we get up?”

Lena threw the covers off herself and climbed out of bed, stretching luxuriously once she’d stood up. Kara could see her back muscles working as Lena reached her arms as high as she could make them, before her body seemed to slump. “I hate how great stretching feels but how crap you feel after you’re done,” Lena grumbled.

“Would some breakfast make you feel better?” Kara asked, looking around for her pajamas or something else to put on quickly.

“You know, I think it would!”

“In that case, we should go and have some,” Kara said, pulling a pair of sweatpants and a plain hoodie out of the closet. Lena watched her as she wandered around starting to get dressed, but made no move to do so herself.

“I think I… need to take a shower,” Lena suddenly said, clearing her throat.

The non-sequitur made Kara frown a little in confusion, and she turned around to see Lena standing with her hands on her hips and a mischievous smile on her face. Kara stared for a moment, the smile on Lena’s face only growing as the seconds ticked by. And then-

Oh,” Kara finally said, feeling a blush creep up her neck.

“There it is,” Lena said with a laugh. “Do you want to brush your teeth before I go in the shower? I did mine when I got up earlier.”

Still feeling distinctly warm at the reason why Lena felt she needed a shower, Kara dashed into the bathroom, and took care of business. As she was squeezing some toothpaste onto her brush, the thought that she should probably shower as well crossed her mind, her blush deepening. Beside her, Lena knocked before cracking the door open. She caught Lena’s eyes in the mirror behind her when she came in a moment later to turn the shower on. They were dark, and as Lena passed her, she ran her fingertips slowly across Kara’s lower back. She felt a shiver run through her as Lena’s fingers left her, and she hurriedly spat her toothpaste into the sink, turning on the tap to rinse her brush.

Kara watched her through the mirror as Lena turned the shower on. While it was warming up, Lena stepped up behind Kara and propped her chin up on her shoulder, pressing herself into Kara’s back with her hands sliding around onto her stomach. Lena didn’t say anything, she just looked at Kara in the mirror while one of her hands slid lower.

Heat pooled between Kara’s legs and she gripped the sink with both hands as Lena’s hand crept lower still. She held off reacting a long as she could before she spun around in Lena’s arms, meeting Lena’s seductive smile with her lips and walking her backwards until they both climbed into the shower together.

Half an hour later when the water was starting to run cold, Kara was feeling happy and giggly. The heat inside her sated for now and there were some fresh marks on her body courtesy of Lena’s nails. Lena herself looked supremely satisfied with herself, her wet hair hanging down her back and a smile on her face like she was the cat that got the cream.

They both dressed in comfortable clothes. Lena was wearing Kara’s sweatpants again; she doubted at this point whether she’d ever get them back. Today, Lena’s shirt had a picture of a cell with a camera and said biologists take cellfies. Kara groaned when she read it, which only made Lena smile harder; she wondered whether Lena would ever run out of science pun shirts, and what she would do if she did. So, she asked.

“I’d just buy more, or make them myself. I buy these types of shirts whenever I see them,” Lena said, pulling it away from herself by the hem and looking down at it. “You can never have too many of them. Lillian absolutely hates them, as you can imagine. But,” her eyes twinkled, “that’s never stopped me from doing what I want to do. She hates all my piercings too. Oh Lena, is it really necessary to turn yourself into Swiss cheese?” she drawled in a tone that was so reminiscent of Lillian’s phone manner that Kara burst out laughing.

It was past one in the afternoon by the time Kara placed a tall glass of orange juice in it in front of Lena, who sipped it gratefully.

“Parched, are you?” Maggie said very loudly from behind her, causing Lena to cough into her mug in surprise and spill a little over the side. Kara whirled around to see both Alex and Maggie, fully dressed, coming into the kitchen from the lounge where they must have been sitting.

“Nice of you both to make an appearance,” Alex joked, shoving Kara lightly in the shoulder.

“Finally thirsty for something other than each other?” Maggie teased, sitting down in the chair opposite Lena and sending her a suggestive wink.

Lena’s initially taken aback expression was replaced by one that Kara recognized from the boardroom. Although there was a little color on her pale cheeks, she flipped her hair over her shoulder and leveled a stare at Maggie that would quieten even the loudest board member.

“We only got up so that we could replenish our energy levels,” Lena said, her voice deliberately provocative. There was silence for a moment before Maggie slapped her hand on the table, throwing her head back in laughter, while Alex choked a little as she avoided Kara’s eyes.

Lena 1, Alex and Maggie 0.

“Touché Lena,” Maggie managed. “I’d think of a good response but I think Alex is about ready to bolt away from this conversation as soon as she humanly can.”

“That’s definitely true,” Alex said grumpily into her coffee.

Once Kara had made herself a drink, she sat down at the table as well. There was little she loved more than lounging around in comfortable clothes on a lazy morning with some of her favourite people. The kitchen window was open, the smell of the sea breeze in the air. It was warm in the kitchen and the cool breeze from the window was welcome, especially once Lena started pottering around and cooking various things for lunch for everyone.

Alex was talking about the NYPD application she’d sent in, and wondering whether her experience up in Midvale would be enough. It wasn’t like she’d be going in as a complete rookie, she was saying, but she also hadn’t grown up in a large city like New York. Seattle had had its issues, plenty of them, and she’d seen a lot of bad things while working as a doctor there, but the hospital was almost always the end result of what went on on the streets. Midvale wasn’t large enough to have anywhere near the kind of crime level or variety that New York had, but, she asked with a shrug, “some experience has got to be better than none?”

“I’m sure you’ll at least get an interview,” Maggie said, leaning over the table and putting her hand on top of Alex’s. “And,” she said, drawing the word out slyly, “you’ve got more motivation now. If you do get accepted, you’ll be able to take Sam on a date.”

Alex’s eyes lit up at the sound of Sam’s name, and she twisted in her chair to look at Lena. “Hey, Lena, Sam’s definitely single, right?”

Lena snorted over the pan of bacon she was frying. “Did she somehow give you the impression that she wasn’t?”

“Well, no,” Alex said, rubbing the back of her neck nervously. “But I just wanted to… check.”

Lena turned away from the pan long enough to raise an eyebrow at Alex. “She’s single. She finds it a little hard to date because it seems that a lot of people don’t want to date a single mother with a teenage daughter. Ruby is a sweetheart, by the way, and although Sam works a lot, her life revolves around her daughter.”

Kara knew that Alex’s greatest desire was to be a mother, and she also knew that the way that she and Sam had seemed to hit it off the night before was rolling round and around in Alex’s mind. Alex was a cautious woman, not quick to trust someone with her heart, but she’d also not had such instant chemistry with someone in a long time. Kara knew that Alex would be thinking about Sam a lot in the weeks to come, and given the way that Sam had silently asked Kara about Alex, she thought the feeling would be mutual. She wondered whether they’d swapped numbers, and resolved to see whether she and Lena couldn’t contrive some reason to get them to meet each other again as soon as possible.

Ten minutes later, while Maggie was pondering about what she would do if Alex did in fact move to New York and “leave me behind entirely, Alex, honestly, I should be offended,” Kara laid the table with plates and crockery while Lena piled up heaping piles of crispy bacon and scrambled eggs onto serving plates. She put them in the middle of the table before quickly chopping some fruit for herself, and Kara made sure to get some bacon and eggs onto Lena’s plate before Alex took all the bacon and Maggie all the eggs.

“Thank you,” Lena said when she slid gracefully into her seat, a glass of orange juice in her hand.

“Thank you, Lena,” Alex and Maggie chorused.

“This bacon’s amazing,” Alex said, already on her third piece by the time Lena had sat down. “Kara, I don’t know how you’re not the size of a house if Lena cooks this well.”

Kara glanced over at Lena, who looked up as well with an unreadable expression on her face. Thankfully, Maggie misinterpreted the look they were giving each other. “They burn off all that energy, Alex,” she said blithely.

At that, Alex choked on a piece of bacon so badly that Kara had to get up to pass her a glass of water. Alex’s eyes were streaming and her face was beetroot, which completely nullified the indignant glare she tried to give Maggie. “You- you-” she tried, before shaking her head and drinking more water, spluttering into it.

“Take your time, take your time,” Maggie said with an airy wave of her hand.

Kara rolled her eyes fondly. Alex and Maggie had a great friendship now; it was a pity that they had differed so strongly on whether or not to have kids. But then again, it meant that they’d almost become even closer than they had been, now that the pressure of that decision was no longer on their shoulders. Kara had always been grateful once she’d moved to