Lena Luthor looked down at her news scroll a pit forming in her stomach.
Cat Grant Master of Politics Returns to Media Empire
L-Corp’s CEO had bought CatCo knowing this was a possibility. Cat had spent the last year completely disentangled from work with the company, shares held in a trust while she managed the political campaign of the new president elect.
Her candidate was a bright young congresswoman with passion and charisma. She reminded Lena distinctly of Kara Danvers when she spoke inspirationally to the masses as Supergirl. Obviously, the woman had Lena’s vote, but Cat had helped the rest of the country fall in love with her too, achieving the first landslide democratic victory in a generation.
Lena had hoped the woman’s success would springboard into a stable career in politics, keeping her permanently away from- certain people. But she had supposedly declined the cabinet position to resume work at the helm of her media empire.
From a purely business perspective, Lena shouldn’t see the change as anything but positive. CatCo’s shares took a nosedive after the woman announced she was stepping down. That was the reason Lena had been able to purchase the company for a song, but financials had made feeble progress in growth since.
It was just that she didn’t like the woman. Cat Grant was present on occasion at functions hosted by the Luthor family in her boarding school days. Lena was instructed to avoid unmediated contact with the press, so they had rarely spoke, but had felt the woman’s curious discerning eyes on her from across the room. It made her uncomfortable, like that gaze could root out all her secrets.
That didn’t feel like enough of a reason for her emotional response. Being a Luthor and a CEO she worked with people she loathed every day. She couldn’t put her finger on what bothered her about this. Kara had certainly provided a glowing review of their time working together. Somehow the woman had managed to put Supergirl through her paces as an assistant. Lena knew how much Kara admired the woman and Lena had always respected her opinion.
~Maybe talking it out would help. Kara might know the best way to approach her.~ As good an excuse as any to go see her favorite reporter anyway.
The CEO hated nothing more than showing up empty handed when she wanted to ask a favor, so Lena made a pit stop before work and stepped out of the elevator weighed down with several pounds of baked goods and a coffee with enough sugar to make her teeth hurt thinking about it.
When the doors slid opened the blonde girl was already striding toward her, that special megawatt smile blinding everyone around her.
Alex had told her once that Kara only smiled like that when Lena was around. It was radiant, like her cells were leaking out a little of that sunshine to share with the world.
Of course, Alex could have just said that because one night when Lena was absolutely plastered, she let slip how attractive she found the woman’s sister. Now it seemed like Alex was on a mission to get Lena to make an ass of herself.
“Lena!” The bespectacled reporter exclaimed. “I didn’t think you’d be here for hours.” Kara took the food from her and set it on Winn’s desk. Shooting a warning look at the man before turning back to envelop Lena in an affectionate hug.
The CEO’s shoulders dropped as she relaxed into the embrace, appreciating the fragrance of smoke and strawberries that was so uniquely Kara.
Whispering conspiratorially gave her an excuse to linger. She leaned close to the Kryptonian’s ear. “I know I haven’t said a word since I walked into the building. Keeping tabs on my heartbeat again?”
Kara shivered when Lena’s warm breath touched her. “I -um. No. Kind of,” she stammered pushing up her glasses.
Too much maybe? ~Smooth Luthor, creep out the only friend you have in National City. Your very innocent, very straight, adorable, sexy, kind... best friend. ~
The blonde shook her head and grinned. “Only on the days when I know you’re dropping by CatCo. I know how busy you are, and I never want to miss a chance for Lena time,” she said.
Lena ignored the happy tingle creeping up her neck. “I was actually hoping to pick your brain today. Any chance I could buy a few minutes of your valuable time with several thousand calories.”
“Are those?” Kara asked. The girl turned sharply to look at the bag abandoned in front of Winn who was trying to sneak something out of it.
Lena snatched it from him. “You’ll thank me later when you have fingers.” She said in response to his whine.
Kara was staring at the brown paper with a predatory lustful look.
~Jesus Christ. I’ll go back and buy that bakery tomorrow.~
Lena refused to consciously acknowledge her purchase of CatCo as a pretext to keep her life entangled with Kara’s. The Luthor had always been a woman consumed by her work and having Kara be part of it let her hold out hope that she might actually be able to keep her as a friend.
It would be a lot harder to rationalize L-Corp branching out to acquisitions of a local mom and pop eatery, but to see that expression on the Kryptonian’s perfect face-.
“Of course, darling,” Lena said, voice pitched a little too high. ”But we probably shouldn’t let people see you inhale them in public.
“Right.” Kara replied. The girl nodded brusquely and Lena saw Supergirl make an appearance as she took Lena by the hand and marched her across the room to her office.
Blinds closed, Lena found her hands suddenly empty and watched as the hero floated over her desk, sky-blue eyes gleeful as she reached her hand into the bag.
“Lena, have I mentioned you’re my favorite person?” she asked, pulling out a flaky pastry. Lena took a seat in front of her.
Kara moaned biting into it, eyes closed in ecstasy.
Lena crossed her legs a little tighter.
Halfway through the treats, Kara turned to apologize. “Sorry, what was it you wanted to talk about?’
Lena opened her mouth to speak but paused when she noticed Kara slide her glasses down and frown at the door behind her.
Lena felt a jolt of alarm, the last time that had happened her friend had foiled an assassination attempt, taking a dozen bullets in the chest meant for Lena.
Instead of going into Supergirl mode, however, Kara jumped up and seemed to double down on Kara Danvers. Smoothing her skirt, pushing up her glasses and muttering to herself.
The girl crossed the room in a blur, took her hand off the door handle to pull at her hair tie, golden curls cascading to her shoulders. Then she shook her head and gathered it back up. She turned to Lena looking indecisive. “Um.” She said nervously. “Up or down.”
“Kara what-“ Lena started to ask.
“Right, Kara Danvers,” she muttered. “Stupid idea, have to have it up.” She exhaled slowly and pulled the door open.
And there she was.
Across the office stood Cat Grant, treasure of National City, queen of all media, recognizable despite the sunglasses obscuring half her face in a couture white dress that accented everything it was to be powerful and feminine.
Lena rose and felt her back straighten. The silk clinging to her form suddenly felt like armor as she starred the woman down. Kara stood frozen in place between them.
Lena heard the girl sniffle, apparently stalled in an attempt to hold back her emotions.
Cat Grant sauntered toward them a soft smile on her face looking at Kara. She paused midway across the room, removed her glasses revealing a single raised eyebrow.
“Well?” she asked expectantly.
Kara squealed happily and ran over to her, her hug lifting the woman’s heels from the ground. Kara pivoted their positions, spinning the woman around and Lena saw that smile again.
But it wasn’t for her best friend this time. She frowned and felt that pit grow.
“Kiera.” Cat chastised. “Honestly, you would think I came back from the dead.”
Kara released her instantly and the older woman reached up to touch her face fondly. “No need for tears. What did I teach you?”
Lena walked up to them.
“Why don’t we catch up in my office?” Cat offered.
"But, um. Miss Grant. James.” Kara reminded her.
Cat made a tisking sound and spun on her heel waving one finger over her head to indicate Kara should give her a minute.
The girl jumped sensing Lena walk up behind her. She noticed Kara still had droplets clinging to her lashes and held her hand back from wiping them away.
“Isn’t she great?” Kara asked enthusiastically. She palmed her forehead. “Hello Kara. You guys haven’t actually met. Come on, I’ll introduce you.”
Walking up to the opened door of the CFO’s office they heard.
“Come now Jimmy. Not keeping up on current affairs. I made a press release this morning, plenty of notice.” He opened his mouth to speak but the woman cut him off. “No shoo. And take this sportsball with you. We will have a talk later about your uninspired performance in my absence. Do not think I am unaware of your extracurricular activities,” she said in deadpan. The tall man fidgeted like a schoolboy.
Cat pushed James’ prized possession, a basketball signed by the NC Stars after their NCAA victory tour, across his former desk.
Lena admired the woman’s power move, but felt a note of sympathy for the man after he palmed the ball in one hand and muttered “Unbelievable,” as he passed the two women to leave the room.
~Huh,~ Lena thought, ~He certainly showed more spine when I took over CatCo. ~It seemed the queen’s subjects all held her in a sort of special reverence.
As Kara and Lena entered Cat was busy collecting nick knacks from the display shelf, irritability discarding them into a box.
“Close the door.” She said without turning. Her tone changed, became smoother. “Excellent, now that we’re alone. What did I tell you about taking what you-“ she started before her eyes snapped to Lena "want."
She looked at the Luthor with much the same expression she had a half dozen years ago. Lena’s jaw tightened as she felt that acute probing interest on her again. They settled in front of the woman’s desk.
“On second thought Kiera,” Cat said not breaking eye contact with Lena. “Terribly long flight, would you be a dear and find me a cup of, well you know what I like.”
Kara jumped to attention as if commended by a drill sergeant and turned to execute her mission. Lena placed a hand on the girl’s arm and shook her head slightly. The CEO stood and walked around the side of Cat’s desk bending forward to reach the intercom.
“Julia, please have refreshments sent to Mr. -Ms Grant’s office.”
Kara stared at Lena. When her friend’s gaze flicked downward Lena noticed Cat’s eyes narrowing.
~Am I hallucinating? Did Kara Danvers just sneak a look own my dress.~ The girl's tongue darted out to wet her lips. ~Maybe...No.~
Lena’s heart was beating loudly in her ears. ~Shit, can she hear that? ~ With all the office mishaps, Kara had started to occasionally switch out her lead-lined glasses.
Cat Grant was watching the exchange carefully. She deliberately turned to Kara indicating an introduction would be appropriate with a glance.
“Sorry Miss Grant. This is Lena Luthor. She’s the CEO of. Well, I’m sure you know who she it. I mean she owns the whole building and everything.”
“Half.” Cat corrected sitting back into the leather chair.
“Of course,” Kara continued. “Lena’s my best friend. I mean that’s not why she’s here. She works here, -sort of. But I met her that day you gave me back my resume, remember? She thought I’d make a good reporter too.” Kara blushed. “Not that I am yet or anything. I still have a lot to learn.”
“I read that piece. It was fair, well argued.” Cat said. “Now your recent series on alien civil rights, those are gold. A little push on the dissemination metrics and you’ll have a Pulitzer to decorate that tiny office of yours before the year is out.
Kara beamed, looking almost drunk from the praise.
Cat turned to Lena and tapped a finger against her lip considering the woman.
Lena did wish Kara wasn’t here to watch them play this game, but that did not mean Lena was going to back down from it. She held eye contact and settled back with a confident expression, letting the silence intensify between them.
Kara looked on with a frown and Lena sighed inwardly at her forced error deduction when the girl said, “Oh. Um, have you guys met? You didn’t mention that Lena.”
“Only in passing.” She said still leaning back comfortably. “Luthors were somewhat more reticent in establishing contact with members of the press. Before you inspired me of course Kara. It’s wonderful to see you again Cat.”
“Lena,” the older woman replied with a nod. “I had almost forgotten that gala. How old were you?Twelve? So precocious. You certainly are filling out that dress better now.” She smirked giving the dark-haired woman an appreciative look.
“Fifteen.” Lena corrected tightly.
“Yes, well I have never been good with aging children. How’s your,” she paused. “Well no, I don’t suppose asking after your family would be in good -taste.”
Kara frowned. “Lena is great Miss Grant. Nothing like her brother. You should see all the amazing projects at L-Corp, world changing, crazy impressive. And the hospital. Oh, and she almost cured cancer. She will soon I'm sure.” The blonde said rapidly coming to the defense of Lena’s reputation. The young Luthor felt a warm glow.
“That’s quite the list.” Cat said with a false smile. “Obviously, no offense intended.” She gave a dismissive wave. “You must think terribly of me.”
Kara’s eyes went wide. “I mean you’re amazing too of course.” She turned to Lena, “Miss Grant was the first person to really give me a chance out of college. I learned so much from her and she talked Snapper into giving me a shot. Really I don’t know what I would have done without her.”
~You’ve mentioned.~ Lena thought dryly. The media queen was a favorite topic of Kara’s. She would sometimes quote the woman when she was working on a life problem like Forest Gump quoting his mother.
~Maybe that’s why she’s so fixated on her approval.~
Kara had lost her own mother at such an important age. Twelve years old, just starting to fumble through what it meant to be a woman. As great as Eliza was, the Kryptonian might have some of the same mommy issues Lena nurtured in her garden of psychological complexes. Might be looking for that maternal validation wherever she could.
And here was a woman who seemed willing to take advantage of this wonderful sunbeam of a person. Keira, making her a coffee gofer, fishing for the girl to verbalize the depth of their connection. Lena could taste the competitive challenge in the air and knew she was playing with Kara to lure her in.
That pit was replaced by cold fury.
They continued their exchange with friendly tones, indicating motives and intentions in subtextual code that went over Kara’s head. She wasn’t sure what Cat wanted from Kara exactly, but it was clear she aimed to extradite Lena from the girl’s life.
It brought her back to a dark memory from boarding school.
The young Luthor had legitimately tried to seek out friendship one time while she was there. The girl was from new money, no familial ties to the Luthors and very little familiarity with social elite politics.
It had been going well until a cheerleader named Veronica, whose father had just lost a Luthor account decided to poach her out of spite. Lena watched helplessly as Vicky pulled Lena’s friend Andrea to her table at lunch, whispering into her ear and giggling brightly as she glanced over to a gloomy teenage Lena.
At fourteen with only a few chess trophies to her name, Lena lacked the confidence to make a countermove.
But not today.
Today Lena Luthor was the CEO of a fortune 500 company. She was responsible for pushing the field of biomedicine forward years. She could wear the absolute shit out of couture and this friendship was the most important thing in her life.
For Kara she would dismantle the God damn world- she could definitely take down this narcissistic titan in last season's Louis Vuitton’s.
“You know Cat. I feel that CatCo should capitalize on the publicity of your return. Maybe I can help with that.”