Lena opened the present late that night, finally alone in her pjs, in her bed, in her own damn apartment.
Inside the garish red and blue wrapping was a brand spanking new… baseball glove.
It took a couple solid minutes for her laughter to die down. She placed the mitt on her bedside table next to her glasses and turned off the light.
The ships had arrived in the night, abrupt as a lightning strike, seven months ago. Just like in a self-centered disaster movie, dotting the skies over North America, Antarctica and Russia; cold and sprawling areas.
They came with weapons and technology beyond imagining, with scared and tired children in brightly colored robes. Somewhere on the precipice between conquerors and refugees, and before the line could be crossed in either direction, came Lillian Luthor with an inventive, convenient solution: a daughter of Krypton’s most powerful family, and a daughter of Earth’s. In place of charity or diplomacy or surrender, a union.
The president had a daughter too, of course, but politics have an unimpressive half-life while wealth only grows and grows.
“Hello, Miss Lena, pleasure to make your—uh!—pleasure to be see you now again.”
This time Kara, beautifully bruise free, was carrying a McDonald’s takeout bag. Lena grabbed it from her and peered inside. Sure enough, a single cheeseburger and a packet of fries.
"You didn’t bring one for you?” Lena asked through a suppressed chortle.
“It’s customarily that I give to you food,” Kara said earnestly. “It’s very important for me."
A Kryptonian courting ritual with Earth’s most American food. "So, what? You want to sit and watch me eat?"
Kara nodded eagerly. "Would you like we will sit in the eating—"
“Shh!” Lena pressed her finger to Kara’s chin, just missing her lips. She glanced around. “Come on. We’re sneaking out.”
She let her hand trail down Kara’s arm to her hand, and Kara intertwined their fingers.
Lena wondered idly about alien customs and societal norms as she swallowed against the heartbeat in her throat.
She dragged Kara to her four favorite hole-in-the-wall spots and picked up everything Kara’s eyes lingered on. They ended up hauling six bags of every fried food imaginable. Lena’s hands shook with the giddy, juvenile excitement of petty rebellion as she unlocked her apartment door and spread out their selection of empanadas, samosas, gyoza, and other doughy packets from around the world on her living room table.
No cutlery, no plates; just the variety of restaurant napkins and two beers Lena had grabbed from the fridge. Kara’s eyes were the size and shape of flying saucers.
“All right!” Lena announced, clapping her hands together. “Dig in.”
The burger had long since gone cold, but that was alright. Lena bit into it with all the enthusiasm warranted for such a fucking adorable gesture, and Kara, as promised, watched.
“It’s very filling,” Lena managed through her mouthful, and made a point to finish the whole thing and the limp fries too.
Kara had been rapt, hands folded in her lap, body angled forward, and by the end she was beaming.
“Thank you for the food,” Lena told her. “Your turn.”
Under Lena’s pointed stare, Kara tentatively picked up an eggroll. Lena gave her a resolute nod, and, maintaining eye contact and an odd tension, Kara brought it to her mouth and bit down, the crunch perfectly articulated in the quiet between them.
And that was that. Lena had never seen someone so hungry nor so enamored with food. Kara ate methodically, vigorously, chewing with passion and precision, demolishing their piles of comfort food like it was a god damn art form.
And Lena—Lena got it. She totally got it now. Maybe not such an alien courting ritual, after all.
Five takeaway bags later, they collapsed on the couch together, stuffed and lazy. Lena turned on Netflix and queued up a show at random. At some point Streaky emerged from the bedroom to join them, no doubt looking to diversify his napping locations.
“This is your living place?”
“Mm hm,” Lena hummed. “Not as manory, right?”
“And this?” Kara asked, gesturing at Streaky. “Your… kin?”
Lena let out a cackle. “Cat,” she provided. “Maybe I’ll get you a picture book.”
Streaky jumped unceremoniously onto Kara’s lap and she froze, beer bottle halfway to her mouth, shooting Lena an awed and apprehensive look.
Lena sipped her beer and sunk back into her side of the couch. "He likes you,” she said as Streaky gave Kara’s thigh a few requisite kneads and settled down. “Big surprise."
“Big surprise,” Kara repeated softly, raking careful fingers along the top of Streaky’s head, her body relaxing a visible degree into the sofa cushions. “I like you same,” she murmured to the cat.
Lena took a swig of her beer and trained her eyes on the television.
Twenty minutes into the show Kara had tipped sideways, propped diagonally across the couch, knees bent at an uncomfortable angle, anchored by the ball of cat in her lap. She was snoring softly, shallow. Dead on her feet. Or, her ass, really.
Lena inched closer and gave Kara’s hip a gentle nudge. "Hey. Scoot back for me, alright?” She guided Kara’s upper body to lie flat, mindful of the cat. “Legs up, there you go. Human custom, you know how it is.” She got Kara’s feet on the couch, wrinkling her nose at the shoes. She considered taking them off for her, but it seemed… overly intimate. She could just vacuum later.
Streaky grumbled over being jostled but settled back into the warmth of Kara’s body just fine. Cats had an uncanny knack for comfort. Kara could certainly use some.
Kara finally let her head drop onto the throw pillow, nuzzling her face into it just a little. Her fingers went slack around the empty beer bottle, lips subtly parted, a strand of hair sticking to them.
Lena draped a blanket over Kara’s legs, a respectful distance from the reigning cat, and stepped back. She could get used to this, this image of perfect ease, dozing buzzed and warm and sated on her couch, with her cat, under her blanket. She could, but, much more horrifyingly—she wanted to.
“Humlm,” Kara mumbled in her sleep.
“Yeah,” Lena agreed softly. “I know. Time’s definitely up. Wanna spend the night anyway?”
Lena folded herself into the armchair opposite with her tablet and a pillow. Just to have something to hold. “For the cat’s sake, of course.”
The tender sounds of sleepy breathing were her only response.