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Nothing Gold Can Stay

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We’re not OK, are we? 

It was a miracle that Lena saw the email at all. She only checked it infrequently, often going weeks or in this case, months without ever opening it. The only person who contacted her was Sam and while they exchanged pleasantries now and again, the brunt of their communication consisted of Sam keeping her up to date on the comings and goings at L-Corp. Not that Lena was all that interested these days. She had walked away from the company, leaving Sam to take over in her stead. That hadn’t been the only thing she had left behind. She had walked away from National City, had walked away from the people she thought were her friends, had walked away from Kara…

Sometimes it felt like no time at all had passed between then and now but it had been ten years which made the reason for Sam’s email all the more puzzling. Why now? she wondered.

Dear Lena,

I hope you’ve been well. I wish that this was your regularly scheduled pop-in that I’m sure you just love. Ruby and I are doing just fine. Her a little more than me and that’s exactly why I’m emailing you. Lillian came out of the woodwork a few weeks ago and made a grab for L-Corp. With as many lawyers as we have on retainer, I assumed that they would be able to deal with it without much fuss but it looks like she might have some ground to stand on. The news hasn’t gone public yet but I’m sure it will soon enough.

Lillian’s using your absence to try and sow discord with the shareholders and I’m sorry to say that it’s working. The Luthor name still holds weight and while I’m sure you knew, some on the board weren’t thrilled with the direction you took the company. They can evidently hold a grudge.

The lawyers are gearing up for a slog and if I thought we’d come out the other side fine I would never even think about bothering you. But if stock prices tumble any lower it might be enough to swing some on the fence to their side and force me out. I have a lovely retirement package all lined up  but I doubt you want the company falling into Lillian’s hands. Would it be too much to ask you to come back to National City for a week or two?

No one can handle Lillian as well as you can and reminding everyone that you’re simply retired and not dead would do a lot to swing the pendulum in our favor. You don’t have to,  of course. I know you left for a reason and I feel bad for asking you back to help solve a problem that I should be able to handle on my own.

All the best
Sam

P.S. How’s Fi?

She re-read the email twice before powering down her laptop, staring at the blank screen and her reflection in it. If not for Sam, Lena would have been sorely tempted to simply let Lillian have the company. She had missed a lot of things in her ten years away from National City but dealing with her mother was not among them. Returning there now to get into what promised to be a drag-out fight with Lillian was the last thing that she wanted to do but what choice did she have? Whatever reason that Lillian had for trying to regain control of L-Corp, Lena knew that nothing good could come from it. She needed to go back, no matter how much she didn’t want to. 

She powered on her laptop, opened up Sam’s email again, and typed out a very short message.

Sam,

I’m sorry that I’m only just seeing your email now. I’ll be on a flight to National City as soon as I can, tomorrow at the earliest. Try not to let Lillian get under your skin too much, it’s what she wants. Fi’s doing well, you can see for yourself soon enough.

Lena

Was that why you’re doing this? Lena wondered. To get under my skin? That seemed as good a guess as any but she knew how pointless it was to waste time speculating. She would know soon enough. Right now, she was more concerned about Fi and what to do about her.

If she doesn’t want to go then we won’t go, Lena told herself. I’ll do what I can from here and if I can’t stop Lillian from taking back the company, I’ll do my best to make her work for it.

She stood up, rubbing at her neck, working out the kink that had already started to settle there. Gone were the days that she could spend all day working on her laptop until an ungodly hour, sleep far too little, and somehow find the energy to do it all over again the next day. She thought that she might sleep well tonight if only out of necessity. She might very well be leaping back into the lion’s den after so many years away. And this time with a child in tow… 

It seemed the textbook definition of insanity to bring Fi intentionally into Lillian’s orbit. She wasn’t sure if Lillian knew that she was now living in Ireland or if she had simply never bothered to look for her. She hadn’t left a forwarding address when she left National City but she hadn’t made an effort to cover her tracks either. Her exile had been of the self-imposed variety, at least that’s what she had thought of it at first.

I’m too old for this shit, Lena thought, a very wry smile on her lips. She padded down the hall towards her bedroom and stopped at the room right next to hers. The door was covered so completely in drawings that Lena almost had trouble finding the handle. She turned the knob silently and opened the door just a crack so she could peek in on the young girl dozing in a bed that would take her several years to grow into, her raven-colored hair spread out in a corona on her pillow.

Lena smiled, happy to see her sleeping peacefully. She shut the door, lingered there for a moment to make sure that there was no interruption in Fi’s rhythmic breathing, and padded the rest of the way down to her bedroom not feeling the least bit tired.

When Lena awoke the next morning she wasn’t at all surprised to see that Fi had climbed into bed with her and had a book open on her lap. This was their morning routine and Lena found it infinitely better than waking to the sound of an alarm

Their eyes met and Lena snaked a hand out from under her blankets to ruffle Fi’s hair, pressing her hand gently to Fi’s cheek. “How did you sleep, my treasure?”

“Good,” she said and turned a page of her book.

“Me too,” Lena lied. She had fallen asleep sometime just before dawn. She felt more confused than tired but she didn’t let it show on her face. “What page are you on?” Lena asked, sitting up and leaning in close to get a glimpse of Fi’s book.

“This one,” Fi said, smiling shyly and turning the book towards her.

“Eighteen flavors?” Lena nodded her approval. That poem was the one Fi most requested when she read her a story from Where the Sidewalk Ends. “That must have made you hungry,” she joked. “Let's go get you some breakfast and me some coffee. No ice-cream though, at least not for breakfast.”

That got Fi giggling and she carefully closed the book, trapping a small flower-shaped bookmark between the pages.

Lena stood up and felt the cold seep into her through her bare feet. She scooped Fi up in her arms and padded down the hall towards their small kitchen. Cooking had never been what Lena considered one of her strong points but with nothing but time on her hands and especially after finding herself caring for a child, she had picked up a few tricks along the way. Not that she was likely to need any of them in the morning.

“Cereal?” Lena asked, setting Fi down.

Fi nodded and pulled her chair back from the table before clambering into it effortlessly.

“Semi-healthy,” she asked, holding up one box. “Or unhealthy? She held up a far more colorful box in her other hand and pretended to look shocked when Fi chose the far less healthy option. “Good choice.” She set the box down on the table, grabbing a bowl and spoon for Fi, setting them down in front of her.

“We’re almost out of milk,” Lena said, taking the carton from the fridge and giving it a shake. She instinctively went to add it to the grocery list she kept attached to the fridge before she remembered that they might not even be here tomorrow. “Fi?”

Fi had just finished carefully pouring cereal for herself and looked up at Lena, almost looking nervous.

“What do you think about going on a little vacation?” Lena asked, busying herself with the espresso machine.

“A vacation?”

Lena nodded. “I got an email from an old friend of mine. She needs my help with something back in National City…”

“Where you used to live.”

“Before I came here, yes.” Lena smiled. She took her coffee, walked over to the table, and pulled her chair out before sitting down. “If you wanted to come with me I thought we could take a trip there. Just for a week, maybe two. But if you don’t feel up to it, we don’t have to go. I’m sure I can be plenty helpful working from here.” I could put inconveniencing Lillian under the special skills section on my resume, she thought. I’d have a ten-year gap in my work history that would be rather hard to explain, of course. 

Fi swirled her spoon around her bowl, looking first at the calendar on the far wall and then to Lena. “When would we leave?”

“Today if we can manage it,” Lena said, already knowing that she would have no trouble securing tickets if she tried to get them.

“Today…” Fi’s gaze returned to the calendar and so did Lena’s, comprehension dawning on her face after puzzling over Fi’s reluctance for a moment or two.

“Halloween…”

Fi looked embarrassed but nodded.

“We would never miss that,” Lena assured her. She reached out and squeezed Fi’s arm gently. “We’d just have to do our trick-or-treating there.” She glanced out the window. “National City is a big place, you’re almost guaranteed to get more candy there.” The small town they lived in might have been a great deal friendlier than any city Lena had ever been in but she knew that even if they were to visit every single house on their route twice it would take them less than an hour and that was including the obligatory oohing and aahing over whatever costume that Fi picked out. 

“But if you would rather stay here, Fi, that’s perfectly fine.” Lena hated the idea of whisking Fi off to National City if she didn’t want to go when Lena wasn’t all that certain she wanted to return.

“I want to go,” Fi said, shaking a little more cereal into her bowl.

“Are you sure?” Lena asked.

Fi nodded. “I’m sure.” She looked up from her cereal bowl shyly. “How much more candy do you think I could get?”

Lena looked at her over her coffee cup, not sure if she should laugh or not. “I’ll run the numbers and get back to you.”

“I’ve never been on a plane,” Fi said, her bright smile dimming somewhat.

“There’s nothing to it,” Lena said, not thinking now was the time to tell her that she didn’t like flying either. “And you’ll be right next to me.” She scooted her chair closer to Fi’s so that they were right next to one another. “Just like this.” Lena gave her a playful bump with her arm. “So if I snore on the plane you’ll need to wake me up so I don’t bother everybody else on board.” She made an exaggerated snoring noise that sent Fi into hysterics.

“I’ll just let you sleep,” Fi assured her and made a similar snoring noise.

“How very sweet of you,” Lena said and plucked a marshmallow from the top of Fi’s bowl and tossed it into her mouth.  No backing out now, she thought, the gears in her head that had ground to an unwilling halt when she had drifted off before dawn starting up again. They might be able to make an afternoon flight if they were lucky but she would need to be quick. She took two hurried gulps of her coffee, nearly scalding her mouth in the process, and stood up from her chair. “I need to see what flight I can get us on. Can you go to your room and pick out some clothes and toys you want to take with us?”

Fi stood up and nodded. She made a mad dash towards her room nearly tripping over her own feet when she came to a very sudden stop in the middle of the living room. “We didn’t buy my costume yet,” she said, looking worried again.

Lena hadn’t forgotten. They had gone costume shopping a handful of times but each time they had, Fi hadn’t been able to definitively choose. She had come close the last time but indecision had won out. Now, with only a few days before Halloween, she would need to come to a decision soon. “Do you know what you want to be for Halloween?”

Fi shook her head, looking far too distressed for one as young as seven.
“You have the whole plane ride to decide,” Lena said, wanting to put her mind at ease. “And then we can go shopping once we land.”

“Right after we land?”

“If you’re not too tired? Right after we land.” That was likely a given. Fi was at that age where there were simply not enough hours in the day to completely tire her out no matter how valiantly Lena tried. Just last week they had spent nearly all day at the park and while Lena couldn’t remember ever feeling more tired, Fi had continued to run circles around her right up until her bedtime.

“I won’t be,” Fi said, already running off again.

“I might be,” Lena called after her, knowing she was too far away to hear her properly, smiling despite how nervous she felt. She was going back to National City. The thought didn’t fill her with dread as it might have years ago but she felt uneasy at the prospect of returning. What was the saying? You can’t go home again? Just like Wendy couldn’t return to Neverland, Lena felt like she had left that part of her life too firmly in the past to revisit it now. Even after all this time, Lena couldn’t be certain if it ever really was home to her but it was maybe the closest thing to one before she had moved here and found Fi.

How have you been? Lena wondered, putting her mug and Fi’s bowl in the sink, a hazy image of Kara and her standing in her old penthouse floating to her mind, the image becoming sharper and the memory beginning to play out in her head.


Ten years ago

“We’re not OK, are we?”

Kara had rehearsed this conversation in her head so many times and hated that she had already gone so far off-script. They had just met up the day before for lunch. Not exactly like old times but the closest that they’ve come to it in months. It’s how things had been since the two of them had begun the arduous process of easing back into a friendship that Kara had feared had been beyond repair. 

They were talking again and Lena had even started coming to game nights again but Kara couldn’t shake the feeling that Lena was simply going through the motions. Her smile seemed so different and while Lena was more than happy to let Kara pull her into a hug, Lena never tried to hug her.

It could have all been in her head. After months of barely speaking to one another, it would have been all too easy for her to manufacture a problem that wasn’t even there. She hoped that the look of polite confusion on Lena’s face at Kara’s strange question would morph into one of bewilderment. That whatever strangeness she felt was either all in her head or simply another bump in the road that they would need to get over.

“No, Kara… We’re not OK.” There was no anger in her voice, in fact, to Kara’s ear it sounded completely devoid of emotion. Their eyes met for an instant and Lena stood up, crossing the room towards the balcony, and looked out over the city where the sun had just begun to sink below the horizon.

“I understand if you’re still angry.I’ve been rushing things, I know…” Alex had warned her of doing just that a number of times. She had been the lone holdout in the group that hadn’t quite yet forgiven Lena although she had for Kara’s sake at the very least been friendly when their paths had crossed. “If you need more time, Lena, I can give you as much as you need.” She smiled wanly. “It’s really no trouble.” You’re worth the wait.

“I don’t think it’s just time I need Kara…” She took a deep breath and Kara could hear Lena’s heartbeat that she normally found so soothing, hammering at a frantic pace that was at odds with the almost serene expression on her face. “I’ve been trying, I really have been-”

“I know you have,” Kara said quickly. “I have too.”

Lena smiled. “I’ve noticed. And I’m grateful, Kara, I am. It’s just… It’s not that simple. I know that I can trust you again someday, Kara…” Her smile brightened and then dimmed like the shuddering flame of a candle. “But that’s not what I’m worried about. I  don’t know if I can ever trust myself again. I loved you so much and I still hurt you… I lied to you for months, I used you.”

Loved? Not love?

I could have killed you at the Fortress.”

“Lena, you were hurt and angry…”

I was,” Lena said. “And a part of me still is. It wasn’t an excuse then and it isn’t one now.” She looked down at the floor, and Kara watched a tear slide down Lena’s cheek before dropping to the floor. “Who’s to say I won’t lash out again? Not ever try and hurt you again?”

“You wouldn’t do that,” Kara said. She stood up, meaning to hug Lena, something she seemed to sense because Lena stuck an arm out as if to ward her off.

“You don’t know that Kara and neither do I and that’s what scares me.” She looked at her reflection in the balcony door and turned away from it as if she could barely stand to look at herself. “I thought that I was different from Lex… That I was better… But maybe deep down I’m really not.”

“No!-”

“If it was just time Kara…” She shook her head again. “I wish it was just time that I needed.”


It turned out that getting ready for and onto the flight to National City turned out to be far more of a white-knuckle experience than Lena had expected. The only tickets she could get that day were for a flight leaving in the early afternoon which gave her very little time to get both of them ready and to the airport. 

Even as she tore through the house, first looking for both their passports and then pulling her luggage out of a hall closet that she hadn’t opened in years and running down the mental checklist of things she needed to do before they left, she was careful not to let the worry show on her face. The last thing she wanted to do was for Fi to worry before they even boarded the plane. Children seemed at both times oblivious and hyper-aware about such things and Lena was relieved to see that her panic about their trip hadn’t spilled over onto her. Fi appeared to be too preoccupied with choosing her costume to notice Lena’s unease about the trip. 

It was only after they had boarded the plane and were getting settled into their seats that Fi seemed to realize that the thing they were sitting in was going to go up into the air before too long. Lena fastened Fi’s seatbelt, pulling it tight and making an exaggerated clicking noise with her mouth when the seatbelt latched that couldn’t quite entice a laugh out of Fi but it did get her to flash Lena a very weak smile.

The logical part of Lena wanted to put Fi’s mind by assuring her that statistically flying was the safest way to travel but knew better than to frame it that way. It did little to put her mind at ease and doubted that it would do much for Fi. As it so often did, distraction seemed the far better option. “You know, I still need to pick a costume too,” Lena whispered, settling back in her seat. “Any suggestions?”

Fi who had been looking straight ahead, kicking her feet nervously against the seat, stopped suddenly and turned to look at Lena appraisingly. “Maybe something scary,” Fi said. “But not too scary.”

“Never,” Lena said, putting a hand on her chest as if such a thought were simply unfathomable. “We don’t want to scare everyone.” Not an easy thing to do when your last name is Luthor.

“Or me,” Fi said and shook her head.

“Or you,” Lena agreed. “ Hmm... “ She felt the plane give a little jerk as the pilot prepared for takeoff. “What about a witch?”

Maybe… What kind of witch?”

“Definitely a good witch, I don’t think that’s so scary.” No matter how much I might look the part of a bad one.

“Like Glinda?”

“Maybe a little less pink but somewhere in that general area, love.” She felt the plane begin to pick up speed and clasped one of Fi’s hands tightly in her own, squeezing it. “Wand or no wand?”

Fi looked momentarily distracted, glancing out the window before returning her attention to Lena. “No wand,” she said as if it was the most obvious thing in the world.

“You’re right,” Lena said, nodding in agreement. “But what about you, my treasure? Any clue what you want to go as?”

Fi shook her head. “I think I need to see the costumes first.”

Lena nodded wisely. “Never a good idea to rush.”

“Mom?”

“Hmm?”

“We’re flying.” Fi pressed one hand to the window, peering down at the ground that Lena knew must have looked so far away already.

Lena took one of Fi’s hands and held it tightly.  “Are you nervous?”

Fi shook her head, still staring out the window. “It feels like magic.”

It really can… Lena stroked Fi’s hair, settling back into her seat, feeling more at ease, not thinking of the science of flight but of how it felt to fly with Kara and how safe she felt in her arms…


True to form, Fi hopped off the plane fresh as a daisy while Lena zombie-shuffled through the airport the way she always did after a long flight. After a brief stop at a coffee shop in the terminal for a pick-me-up and to the service desk to rent a car they were on the road again.

As they drove into the city, Lena felt pangs of familiarity as she spotted places and buildings that looked to have changed so very little in the time she had been away. It felt however briefly that she had never truly left. Not that she felt that way for long. The longer she drove the more it felt to her like she was playing a game of ‘Spot the Difference’. This was unquestionably National City but it was no longer her National City. Places, people, and businesses had come and gone during her time away and if asked a question about the city she would only be able to speak in the past tense. 

She pulled into the parking lot of the first store that they happened across and walked inside, hand-in-hand with Fi, letting go of her hand only when she promised not to run and watched as she immediately broke that promise when she spotted the aisles devoted to Halloween supplies.

She’s going to run facefirst into a cart if she isn’t careful. Lena jogged after her, ready to scold her and finding it impossible to do so when she saw the look of wonder on her face she had from staring down the aisle at the sheer number of costumes she had to choose from. 

Lena watched Fi reach instinctively for one of the costumes closest to her. She held it out to Lena and smiled.

“This one is pretty.”

“It is pretty, but are you sure you want that one, Fi?”

Lena knelt so that she and the young girl were at eye-level. She gestured down the aisle with one swoop of her arm. “Because there are so many costumes that you haven’t looked at yet. Why don’t we hang onto this one and wait and decide later?”

She clutched the princess costume tighter, tapping one finger against her chin, thinking a long while before she held it out to Lena, smiling. “Can you hold onto it for me?”

“It would be an honor,” Lena said and took it from her, draping it over her arm and shaking her head slightly when the girl immediately tore down the aisle, coming to a sudden stop only a few feet away.

“I like this one too,” she said, pointing to a cowboy costume complete with miniature ten-gallon hat. 

“You might be the first cowboy from Ireland, love,  but you would look cute in that.”

“Can you hold onto this one too?” she asked sweetly.

She already knows how to play me like a fiddle, Lena thought. “You think it’ll disappear if you turn around?”

She shrugged and Lena took the costume off the rack, watching Fi return to browsing. Maybe should have snagged a cart, she thought. Lena watched Fi take off down the aisle, running far too fast for her liking, passing by several costumes that didn’t seem to catch Fi’s eye. A ghost, a witch, a zombie, a grim reaper, and a vampire. Lena was just about to tell her to slow down when Fi came skidding to a stop.

“Did you find another one you like?”

Fi whipped around and nodded, beckoning Lena to join her. “I want this one,” she said confidently and pointed.

Which one?” Lena tried to follow where Fi was pointing and knelt down again to try and follow where she was pointing.

“This one,” Fi said and pointed again, this time tapping her finger against the costume.

“That one…”

Fi nodded, the bright smile on her face faltering somewhat when she saw the look on Lena’s face. “You don’t like it?”

Lena blinked, shook her head, and smiled brightly, ruffling Fi’s hair. “Just want to make sure that’s the one you really want.” She held up her arms to show Fi the other costumes she had already picked out. 

Fi looked at the costume in her hand, held it out, looked up solemnly at Lena, and nodded. “I’m sure.” Instead of handing it to Lena to hold she clutched the miniature Supergirl costume tight to her, mimicking how Lena had draped the princess costume over her arm. “Is it too expensive?” she asked, looking suddenly worried.

Lena chuckled. “No, love, it isn’t too expensive.” She ruffled her hair and jerked her head back in the direction they had started. “Let’s put these back and see if we can find something that I  can wear.”

There was no shortage of witch costumes for Lena to choose from although most of them would have shown a bit too much leg considering how cold Halloween was supposed to be. She settled on an emerald green cloak that was not only more sensible but would offer her at least a modicum of protection against the wind if Halloween night turned out to be a cold one.

“We’ll just tell people I’m a good witch if they ask,” Lena said when they had climbed back into the car. It will be up to them if they choose to believe me or not she thought.

“They’ll know,” Fi said confidently. She was still clutching the Supergirl costume, turning it over to get a better look at the cape.

“I like your confidence.” Lena grinned and pulled out of the parking lot and back out onto the busy street. “I know you still have plenty of gas in the tank but I’m ready to drop,” Lena said, punching at the car’s GPS to get directions to the hotel she had made reservations with before they had left. 


“I’m a little tired too,” Fi said.

“That’s a first,” Lena said. “I was starting to think that I adopted a very adorable robot who had no need for sleep.”

“Beep.” Fi giggled and went back to fiddling with the radio.


Fi had been more than a little tired. She was sound asleep when Lena arrived at the hotel and remained so up until Lena tucked her into bed. She woke up just long enough to smile sleepily at Lena who pressed a kiss to her forehead.

Lena lingered in the doorway before shutting the door behind her. She knew that Fi wouldn’t be down for long and if she were smart she would get a nap in before then but first, she needed to make a call.

Not even sure if the number that she had programmed into her phone was correct, she held the phone away from her ear and listened to it ring a handful of times before she heard someone pick up.

Hello?”

“Sam?”

There was silence on the other end of the phone and Lena shifted the phone to her other ear.

“Lena?”

“Hi.”

“Hi yourself…”

Lena heard the sound of a door closing and guessed that Sam had just closed her office door. 

“I’m back,” she said, barely able to believe it herself.

“Welcome back.”

“It would be a lot better if I wasn’t coming back to send my mother crawling back into whatever hole she crawled out of.”

“Preaching to the choir,” Sam said and let out a beleaguered sigh. “ I went back and forth on even reaching out to you about it… Have you ever seen a lawyer cry?” She groaned. “Don’t get me wrong, I’m really happy to actually hear your voice but I just wish you were coming back because you wanted to and not because I had to go running for the teacher.”

“Don’t make it sound like you put a gun to my head, Sam. I always meant to come back and visit…” She was sure that it sounded to Sam just as sincere as someone telling a coworker on their last day to ‘keep in touch’ but Lena truly meant it. “Maybe I needed the kick in the ass.”

“Maybe.”

“How’s Ruby?”

“Living it up in Metropolis,” she said and Lena could hear the careful politeness fade from Sam’s voice sounding much more like the Sam she used to know. “ There’s still a Ruby-shaped hole in our apartment wall from when she got the acceptance letter into university there. Getting her to visit me on weekends is like pulling teeth but she calls almost every night. Sometimes I think she just wants to brag about how much fun she’s having,” Sam joked.

Is that what I have to look forward to with Fi? Lena wondered.   “And how are things at L-Corp?”

Sam sighed and Lena could have sworn she could hear the clink of a bottle, wondering if Sam hadn’t just poured herself a drink. “About the same. We haven’t gone to trial yet but we will. Lillian has all the support she needs to escalate things but she hasn’t yet. I think she’s just having too much fun playing with her food.” 

Lena made a face. “Not that my mother doesn’t love reveling in misery but it doesn’t really sound like her. She’d much rather gloat after she’s won.”

“I’m not complaining, it’s given us time to try and get a defense cobbled together and for me to get off my high horse and call in the cavalry.”

Lena laughed, covering her mouth so as not to wake Fi. “Please tell me you’re not talking about me. I’m a decade out of practice when it comes to sparring with my mother. I don’t know if I’ll be the help you’re hoping for but I’ll do what I can.”

“Either way, I get to see you again. Win-win, in my book.” 

“Spending time with me is not all it's cracked up to be,” Lena said. “You already got me on the plane, no need to keep buttering me up.”

“Take the compliment,” Sam insisted. “Is the munchkin with you?”

“Napping right now, which means I should be too, she’ll have me up half the night I’m sure.”

Like an angel, I’m sure. Don’t let me keep you. I have to fly out to Keystone City tonight to finish closing a deal otherwise I’d want to see you tomorrow. I’ll be there through Halloween. Is it alright with you if we meet up on the first? I can give you a better rundown of what’s happened before you actually have to see Lillian.”

“That’s fine. Gives me a couple of days to get settled and Fi would be heartbroken if we didn’t get to go trick-or-treating.”

“What’s she dressing up as?”

“Supergirl,” Lena said, shaking her head a little, still in disbelief that Fi had chosen that costume out of all the others there.

“She’s going to look so adorable. I’m going to want to see pictures. I would suggest keeping an eye on her though. There are going to be hundreds of Supergirls running around come Halloween night. Don’t want to lose her in the crowd.”

Lena smiled. That sounds about right. “I always do,” Lena said. “But thanks for the tip.”

“Speaking of Supergirl… I know that she’d love to know you were back. She’s still using her same number. If she didn’t drop her phone in a puddle last year she might still be using the same phone too...” Sam made a noise that Lena took to mean she found such behavior more confusing than charming.

“I’m not back, Sam,” Lena said patiently. “Not for too long anyway.”

“All the more reason to call her. I’ll text you later if that’s alright with you…”

“Of course, it is, Sam.” She felt a pang of guilt that Sam thought she even needed to ask for permission first. She was Lena’s one remaining link to her old life in National City and while their emails to one another were sparse and never very detailed, she did still consider her a friend although how good of a friend that Lena had been to Sam was extremely debatable which made her all the more determined to clean up Lillian’s mess for her.

“Go sleep. If Fi is anything like Ruby was at that age, she’ll be up in less than an hour ready to take on the world.”

“I will. Have a safe flight, Sam. It’s good to hear your voice again.”

“I’d say the same thing but there’s a video of you that we show to all the new hires… It’s only been a week or so since I’ve watched it last… But it is good to talk to you again Lena, I missed you.”

“Missed you too.” Lena ended the call, setting her phone down on the table and stared at it before slipping back into the bedroom and laying down beside Fi. She was sure that what Sam had said was true, Fi’s batteries would be at full charge in no time. Lena didn’t expect to be able to sleep very long but she needed to get what she could now. Get her head a little clearer for what was to come. Just a day ago, her life’s biggest worry was what candy to leave out in front of their house for any would-be trick-or-treaters and now she had to deal with this mess that her mother had made on top of everything else… She closed her eyes, felt herself already starting to drift, and instead of fighting it, let herself sink deeper and was asleep within seconds.



The weather on Halloween was just as cold as the forecast had predicted and Lena and Fi had only walked a block before Lena put the hood of her cloak up in an effort to keep her ears from freezing. She tried to coax Fi into putting on a hat but she had steadfastly refused, crossing her arms in front of her and shaking her head.

“Supergirl doesn’t wear a hat,” she said, prancing along beside Lena, her treat bag banging against her knee.

“How do you know?” Lena asked, still clutching the hat tightly in her right hand.

“Pictures,” she said and held her arms out in front of her running ahead of Lena for a while before falling back to Lena’s side.

You might have me there, Lena thought. “Supergirl also doesn’t catch colds,” Lena said, rubbing her hands together and placing them over Fi’s ears in a bid to warm them up. “If it gets any colder you are putting a hat on. You can be a trendsetter…” She looked around at two other young girls dressed up in Supergirl costumes run past them the other way, giggling to themselves.

“What’s that?” Fi asked.

“Never mind,” Lena said and pointed up to the next house. “Do you want to try this one alone?”

Fi looked up at the house and then back to Lena. “I want to go with you.”

Lena smiled, offered Fi her hand, and walked -hand-in-hand up to the house. She pressed the doorbell and heard movement from the other side of the door.

“What do we say?” Lena whispered when the door opened and a kind-faced woman opened the door beaming at Fi.

“Trick or treat!”

“Adorable,” the woman said. She dropped two small candy bars into Fi’s outstretched treat bag and rummaged around in the bowl beside the door for another one and held it out to Lena.

“Thank you,” Lena said, smiling, “but-”

“Mom.” Fi tugged on Lena’s cloak and stood up on tiptoe to try and whisper to her discreetly. “You have to take it. It’s polite.”

Lena bit back a laugh and nodded. “You’re right, where are my manners?” She caught the woman’s eye who looked incredibly amused at the exchange and winked. She took the candy from her and slid it into one of her pockets. “Thank you,” she said.

“Thank you,” Fi parroted, smiling brightly up at the woman.

“You’re very welcome, both of you.” She waved to Fi and shut the door again, the paper skeleton hanging on the front door looking to do a kind of dance as it shimmied to a stop. Lena turned around to grab Fi’s hand and saw that she was already back on the sidewalk peering into her treat bag like it was a window into Narnia.

“Ready to call it a night already?” Lena teased unable to stop herself from mussing Fi’s hair a little even after she spent so much time combing it straight earlier.

Fi waved a hand out in front of her. “No way.” She skipped ahead, careful not to stray too far ahead, turning back now and again to make sure that Lena was still there.

“No candy until we sit down somewhere,” Lena warned, watching Fi’s arm snake its way into her bag. “You could choke.”

“And then I couldn’t count it all when we go back to the hotel.”

“That too,” Lena said.

They found themselves in a good rhythm for the next half hour. One of them ringing the bell or knocking on the door while Lena took a step back so that Fi could have the brief moment of the spotlight to herself although Fi often did her best to make sure that they shared it.

“My mom’s a good witch,” Fi said, putting extra emphasis on the ‘good’ at the next house they visited.

“How ominous,” the man at the door joked, rubbing a hand over the stubble on his beard.

“No tricks tonight,” Lena assured him. “Say thank you,” she reminded Fi.

“Thank you!” Fi said, bounding off the stoop making the cape on her costume momentarily billow out behind her making a trumpeting noise with her mouth to give herself a short bit of music to fly to.

“Have a Happy Halloween,” Lena said.

“No problem there, all my kids are grown up.” He pointed at Fi who was running up and down the sidewalk with her one free arm outstretched her treat bag unbalancing her somewhat. “She eats any of that and you’re going to have a long Halloween.” He waved cheerfully and shut the door behind him, leaving Lena to watch Fi make herself dizzy.

Lena scooped her up producing a giggle, careful not to lift her too high, spinning her around. “I think I can fly you to one house,” Lena said. If I don’t trip over this damn cloak and send us both to the ground.

Just as Lena was about to ring the bell her phone rang, feeling it vibrate in her pocket. She instinctively reached into the nearest pocket, realizing that it was in the pocket under her cloak. “Do you want to try and do this one on your own, love” She slipped a hand into her cloak as she tried to dig the phone out of the pocket of her jeans. “I think this might be an important call. Good witch business.”

Fi nodded, switching her treat bag to her other hand and reached up to ring the doorbell.

“Say trick or treat and then say thank you afterward,” Lena reminded her, finally fishing her phone out and slid her thumb over the screen to accept the call.

“Hello? Sam?”

“No, so sorry to disappoint.”

Lena felt her blood run cold and she found herself turning herself away from Fi, stepping off the stoop, yanking her hood off hurriedly. “Mother…”

“You could sound a little happier to hear from me. It’s only been a decade or so.”

“Maybe try calling me again in another ten years and we’ll see where we’re at then.”

“Can you talk?” Lillian asked, completely ignoring Lena’s barb.

“I’m busy,” Lena said, pacing in front of the apartment building.

“With your daughter?”

Lena’s mouth flattened into a thin line and she bit down on the inside of her cheek to stop herself from letting loose whatever poison barb she had ready to toss in her mother’s direction. “You’ve been spying on me? Glad to see that you haven’t changed since I last saw you.”

“I would hardly call keeping tabs on your daughter spying.”

“And when have you ever treated me like a daughter?”

Lillian sighed. “I didn’t call to fight.”

“Whatever you’re trying to do with L-Corp and with Sam, I won’t let you get away with it.”

“That’s why I’m calling…”

“You can-” Lena turned back around to the front door and saw that the stoop was empty, her heart seeming to stop in her chest, the hand clutching her phone clenching into an awkward fist.

“Lena?”

She returned the phone hastily to her pocket, cutting the connection and jogged up the stoop, pounding on the door, not letting up until she saw the shadow of someone on the other side.

“You don’t need to-”

“The girl,” Lena said. “The one who was just here, did you see where she went?”

The scowl on the red-headed woman’s face vanished upon hearing the panic in Lena’s voice and she opened the door wider. “The little girl with the Supergirl costume?”

“Yes,” Lena said.

She pointed down the street. “I think she went that way. She must have walked right past you... If you give me a second to change out of my pajamas I can help you look.”

“Thank you but it’s fine,” Lena said, already back on the sidewalk. She ran, nearly ripping her cloak at the knees while she passed a number of children with their parents, one of them a ghost carrying a jack-o-lantern pail that stared at her as Lena sprinted past.

Nothing to see here, just the world’s worst fucking mother, Lena thought, scolding herself. It would have been easy (and tempting) to blame Lillian for losing track of Fi but it was Lena’s fault. There was the laundry list of excuses she could pull from if she was looking to shirk blame. ‘I just took my eyes off her for a second’, or ‘I told her not to go anywhere’. Just finding herself in such a situation made her face burn with shame and felt hot even against the bitter wind.

“Fi!”

She passed a girl in a Supergirl costume that was at least two heads taller than Fi but that didn’t stop her from bending down low to verify that it wasn’t her.

“Mom?”

“Fi?” Lena caught sight of her just ahead illuminated by the dull yellow glow of a streetlight, put on a burst of speed that tore her cloak at the knee all the way up to her thigh. Hardly noticing, she skidded to a halt in front of Fi, bending down painfully on one knee. “You can’t just run off like that Fi! I know you’re excited but when I looked up and saw you were gone…” She brushed a hand over her eyes, wiping away tears. “You need to stay where I can see you.”

“I’m sorry…” She wrapped her arms around Lena’s side and held tight. “I didn’t mean to run off… But…” She pointed up.

Lena glanced up hastily and saw a cape fluttering in the wind. “There are a lot of Supergirls out tonight, Fi. If you try and chase after each one, I’m never going to-”

“Lena...”

For the second time that night, Lena felt her heart stop in her chest, feeling it begin to beat faster. She kept one hand on Fi’s arm, too afraid that she might run off again and stood up on legs that suddenly felt very shaky.

“She knows your name,” Fi said in a hushed whisper.

Kara…

Lena opened her mouth to say something, to say anything when she felt strong arms wrapping her up in an impossibly tight hug. You changed your hair, Lena thought, wrapping her one free arm around Kara, only relinquishing her grip when she felt Kara start to pull away.

“Mom.” Fi tugged at Lena’s cloak and produced a faint tearing sound as the cloak ripped higher up on her leg.

“Yes, love,” Lena said, tearing her gaze away from Kara who was gazing back at her with the same look of wonderment that was on Lena’s face.

“How do you know my mom?” Fi asked, suddenly turning her attention to Kara.

“Your mom?” Kara’s gaze focused briefly on Fi then onto Lena, then quickly to Lena’s left hand and finally back to Fi again. “We’re friends,” she said, bending down onto one knee so that she and Fi were eye-level. “Best friends.”

“Wow,” Fi said, sounding awed. She beamed at Lena and took a step back. “I’m dressed like you,” she said.

“I noticed,” Kara said, smiling right back. “I hope yours is a little more comfortable than mine,” she said and pulled at her suit.

Fi made a face and shook her head which made Kara laugh. “But I still love it. I never want to take it off.”

“Oh boy,” Lena said. “She might mean that,” she whispered to Kara, not wanting to risk planting that idea any deeper into Fi’s head than it might already be.

“What are you doing here?” Kara asked.

“Trick or treating,” Fi answered before Lena even had time to open her mouth to speak.

“I can see that,” Kara lifted Fi’s treat bag, pretending to have trouble. “Heavy,” she said, wiping her brow with the back of her hand. “You must be really strong.”

Fi giggled and shook her head.

“What are you doing here?” Lena asked. National City wasn’t that big but still, the chances of them meeting like this were infinitesimally low.

“Halloween patrol,” Kara said and gestured around. “Not really necessary but I wasn’t getting any trick-or-treaters at my place,” she said in a voice just above a whisper.

“If you still live in a walk-up apartment…” Lena said. Her mouth curved into a sly grin that dulled somewhat when she realized that Kara’s life during her time away was a complete mystery to her. Sam gave her the occasional update but it had been a long while since she had mentioned anything about Kara…

“Mom…”

“Yes, love?” Lena smiled and bent down low when Fi waved her in closer. If you need to use the bathroom we’ll have to see if the next house doesn’t mind us coming inside for a bit. She bent her ear close enough so that Fi could whisper into it, wincing a bit when she whispered just a bit too loudly into her ear.

“Can Supergirl come trick or treating with us?”

“I don’t know, Fi…” Lena looked up, sure that Kara had heard Fi, super hearing, or no super hearing. “I’m sure she’s too busy for that…. But there’s no harm in asking.” She cleared her throat, suddenly aware that she might be more nervous to hear Kara’s answer than Fi was.

“Would you like to-”

“Yes. I’d love to.” Kara tapped her ear and smiled at Fi. “Super hearing.”

“Thank you!” Fi crowed, bouncing up and down, looking very much like she wanted to run circles around them and maybe stopped herself from doing so for Lena’s sake.

“Thank you for inviting me,” Kara said. “It’s an honor.”

Chapter Text

Lena very reluctantly let go of Fi’s hand when she felt her try and tug free of her grip after they had walked only a few steps, amused and a bit relieved when she offered it to Kara instead who took it without missing a beat, exchanging a quick look with Lena. She nodded and felt her stomach do a nervous kind of shimmy when Kara smiled at her. 

“Do you like my Mom’s costume?” Fi glanced sideways at Lena. “She’s a good witch.”

“Like Glinda,” Kara said.

Fi nodded enthusiastically. “Except mom didn’t want to wear pink.”

“Your mom doesn’t like pink,” Kara said. “But I think she looks nice in it.”

Lena felt her cheeks grow hotter and she gave a nervous little shake of her head.

“Can you ring the bell?” Fi asked Kara, tugging her hand free of Kara’s grip the same way she had done to Lena.

“I sure can.” Kara pressed her finger to the doorbell and Fi slipped behind Kara, hiding behind her cape.

“Trick or treat!” she said, leaping out from behind Kara when the door opened.

The older woman who had answered the door looked at Kara, her gaze lingering there briefly before turning to Fi. “Matching costumes,” she said and beamed at Fi.” She groped out and grabbed a plastic cauldron of candy on a table near the door. “Your daughter’s so cute,” she said, sprinkling a few pieces of candy into Fi’s bag and smiling at both Kara and Lena.

Lena’s eyes widened and she opened her mouth to correct her before thinking better of it. There was very little to be gained by clearing up the misunderstanding except maybe hurting Kara’s feelings and Lena thought she had already done more than enough of that.

“Thank you,” Fi said sweetly, peering inside her bag and looking up at the woman.

“You’re very welcome, sweetheart.” She shut the door and Fi took another peek inside her treat bag.

“I don’t know how you’re going to finish all of that,” Lena said. She’s definitely going to give herself a stomachache, Lena thought. She lifted up her arm and let the cloak slide down her arm a bit so she could peek at her watch. “We probably have time for a few more houses before people start turning their lights off. I'd say you had enough candy but I'd hate to deprive anyone of seeing how cute you look in your costume."

By the time they reached the last house for the night, Lena could tell that Fi was beginning to droop. It could have been jet lag but Lena would have put her money on how much extra energy she was spending lugging that treat bag around with her all night.

“You ready to fly back to the hotel, Supergirl?” Lena asked, bending down and tugging Fi’s bag from her grip without any resistance from Fi. It really was heavy.

Fi blinked sleepily, appeared to weigh her options carefully, and nodded. “I guess so…” She cast a look down the street towards the houses they hadn’t yet visited and let out a little sigh that melted Lena’s heart.

“Do you want me to carry you?” Lena offered, immediately trying to figure the logistics of such a thing with her in a cloak and one arm weighed down with what felt like a twenty-pound sack.

“I can carry her,” Kara said. “If that’s alright with you,” she added quickly. Before Lena was able to answer one way or the other, Fi reached her arms up and took a little running leap the way she did so often with Lena, fully expecting Kara to catch her. Lena started forward, the kind of panic that comes with raising a child who hasn’t quite figured out that they aren’t bulletproof, stealing over her incredibly quickly and vanishing just as fast when Kara scooped Fi up in her arms like it was the most natural thing in the world.

“She’s heavy,” Lena warned, pointing Kara back in the direction of where their hotel was. In another year or so, Lena would struggle to carry her like she was used to doing. In another year, she reminded herself, she’ll probably not want to be picked up like she does now. The thought would have been a sobering one if Lena’s mind wasn’t already full of other worries, other thoughts. 

“I think I can manage.” Kara smiled.

“She’s Supergirl,” Fi said, as if Lena needed the reminder, sounding almost admonishing.

“I must have gotten the two of you confused,” Lena said, squinting a bit, leaning in closer as if to get a better look, and kissed Fi on the cheek which got Fi laughing.

The fact that Fi was mostly silent during their walk back to the hotel was proof that she was maybe a bit more tired than she let on. Jet lag had a way of knocking even the most seasoned travelers on their ass and even the endless wellspring of energy that Fi drew from seemed to have a limit. It was Lena who had never felt more awake. She was brimming with a nervous kind of energy that made her feel restless even at the brisk pace they were walking. Seeing Kara again, running into her after so long… Her brain (and more importantly, her heart) still needed time to process everything, although she had ten years to do that already and she still felt like that hadn’t been enough time.

After ten years, the silence should have been uncomfortable or perhaps even unbearable considering how they had parted… But to Lena, it felt peaceful. Or it might have simply been the calm before the storm, either way, Lena wanted to enjoy it as much as she possibly could until then.

“Are you staying long?”

Lena shook her head. “A week, maybe two.” She looked at Fi who was resting her head on Kara’s shoulder, her eyes looking no less inquisitive than they ever did even with her so close to nodding off, and turned her head away from the both of them to utter a very quiet “tell you later,” that she knew Kara would have no trouble picking up with her super hearing. What later? A voice asked her.

“Later then,” Kara said softly.

“Later, what?” Fi lifted her head off of Kara’s shoulder a bit before letting it rest there again.

“Later than I thought it is,” Kara said, smiling. “You must be tired.”

“A little, ” Fi said. “But not too tired for a bedtime story,” she added.

“Of course not. I don’t think you’d ever be too tired for that.”


Fishing the hotel keycard from her pocket as they stepped out of the elevator, Lena fumbled with it a bit, passing it in front of the sensor and holding the door open for Kara and Fi before stepping in herself.

Kara lifted up Fi high enough over her head to coax a sleepy giggle out of her before she set her down next to her. “Last stop of the night.”

“Let’s get you cleaned up and into your pajamas,” Lena said, rummaging around in the smaller of the two black suitcases pushed up flush against the wall and pulling out a pair of pajamas covered in moons and stars. “Then one story if you can keep your eyes open that long.”

Fi reached behind her, wrapping the cape of her costume around her like it was a security blanket. “I could sleep in this…”

“You could also sleep in these,” Lena said. “Even Supergirl wears pajamas.” She jerked her head towards Kara and exchanged a quick look with Kara.

“Yup,” Kara said. “I don’t have a pair with me right now but when I go home-”

“You could borrow some from my mom.”

“She’ll put on her pajamas when she goes home.”

Fi looked up at Kara for a moment before shuffling over to Lena and tugged at her arm, waving her in again to lean closer.

This time, Lena was smart enough not to lean in as close as she did the time before and saved herself having to jerk back when Fi began whispering just a bit too loudly in her ear.

“Can Supergirl read me my bedtime story?”

“She’s not a genie, love,” Lena said reproachfully. “We’ve taken up enough of her time.” She looked up at Kara apologetically. There were so many things that she still felt that she had to apologize to Kara for that it felt strange to need to add having an overly persistent daughter to the list.

“If it’s alright with your mom,” Kara said. “I’d love to read you a bedtime story.”

“Of course, it’s alright with me…”

“It’s alright with me too,” Fi added

“How fortuitous,” Lena said, shaking her head a little looking amused.

“What’s fortuitous mean?” Fi looked quizzically up at Lena.

“It means you’re lucky. Let’s get you out of your costume and into your PJs.”

“Supergirl needs pajamas too if she’s going to read me a story.”

“It’s what we do at home,” Lena clarified when she saw the slightly puzzled expression on Kara’s face. Their bedtime routine varied day to day, sometimes they would watch TV together and some nights Fi would draw while Lena would read next to her but they ended each night the same way. Both of them in their pajamas before Fi would pick a book to read before bed. “You don’t have to wear them,” Lena said. “But if you want to. There’s a pair in that suitcase,” she said pointing to the larger of the two.”

Ushering Fi into the bathroom she helped her unclip the cape of the costume draping it over her arm like a waiter might a serviette. “You really should take a shower but I think just washing your face will do.” Fi could wash up on her own but Lena did need to do a spot check for bubbles now and again, sometimes finding a few behind her ears.

Clambering up onto the small step stool in front of the sink, Fi turned on the tap and splashed water on her face, getting a considerable amount on the sink as she did. “Why didn’t you tell me you were best friends with Supergirl?” she asked, working some soap into a lather before closing her eyes tightly and scrubbing her face.

Lena cast an eye at the closed bathroom door feeling a little inchworm of guilt creep into her stomach.  “Well…” Lena said carefully. “I’ve been away from National City for a long time now. Ten years.”

“That’s a long time,” Fi said, her voice slightly muffled while she dried her face with a towel.

“It is,” Lena agreed. “And after all that time away… I wasn’t sure if Supergirl and I were still friends…”

“Oh,” Fi said, seemingly satisfied with Lena’s answer. Then is Supergirl friends with Kara too?”

There was a crashing sound from the other room that drew both of their attention, Fi whipping some water onto the mirror and onto Lena’s cloak. Lena stared at the closed door for a moment, her cheeks reddening. Were you listening?

“They are,” Lena said, thinking that was the closest to the actual truth. “Arms up,” Lena said and helped Fi into her pajamas letting her do the buttons on her own.

“Can we see Kara before we go home?”

Maybe, love.” Technically you’ve already met her.

“She must miss you,” she said matter-of-factly.

“And why do you think that?”

“Because if I didn’t see you for ten years I’d miss you even more than this much.” Fi stretched her arms out wide and smiled up at Lena.

“I’d miss you, even more, my treasure.” Lena kissed her forehead and pulled her into a hug. “I’ll let you brush your teeth. Make sure to get the ones in the far back or they’ll get lonely.”

Fi nodded. “I will."

Lena exited the bathroom and was more than a little surprised to see Kara sitting on the sofa wearing her polka dot silk pajamas.

Kara stood up at once when she saw Lena. There were a couple of inches of bare ankle that showed when she did, the pajamas just a touch too small for her. “I guess I could have flown home and got my pajamas but-”

Lena shook her head. “You’ve already gone out of your way enough. Sorry that they’re a little small…”

Kara stretched out her arms so that the sleeves slid further up her wrists. “They’re still comfy.”

“I should change too.” She pointed to the bedroom. “I’ll be right back.”

“Take your time.”

“I would but I’m afraid Fi will come out before that and rope you into never leaving,” Lena said.

Kara giggled. “She does have a way of weaponizing that cuteness, doesn’t she?”

“You have no idea.”

Lena disappeared into the bedroom and re-emerged a couple of minutes later wearing a charmeuse caftan, her hair done up in a messy high ponytail. Fi was sitting next to Kara on the sofa, her treat bag laying on the coffee table with a few pieces stacked up into a neat little pile.

“Taking inventory?” Lena asked.

Arranging,” Fi replied.

“That can wait until tomorrow, I think. You still need to pick out a story.” Luckily she had only packed a few books to take with them. The huge shelves at home were full to bursting with books and not only did it take Fi sometimes an eternity to pick a book, but she had also quite recently discovered that picking a chapter book had the added benefit of delaying her bedtime a considerable amount.

“I already picked.” Fi held up the book on her lap and Lena knew at once what one she had picked. It was Lena's own well-worn copy of Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland. Fi had been the one to pick it out from all the others on the shelf and it was what they had been working their way through for the past week.

I’ll give you the benefit of the doubt that you just happened to pick the only chapter book we brought, Lena thought. She would have probably tried to get Fi to pick something shorter like Goodnight Moon if she didn’t look like she were already half-asleep despite her valiant efforts to stay awake.

“Let’s get you tucked in,” Lena said, scooping Fi up off the couch, book and all. She made a waving gesture with her free hand for Kara to follow her. The stubborn part of her brain, the logical no-nonsense part that remained skeptical of the stranger things in the world despite everything she had seen still wasn’t quite ready to believe that what was happening was real. It is all a very vivid dream, the clipped, irritable voice that spoke for that part of herself warned her. 

As if she could read Lena’s mind, Kara chose that moment to reach out and take the book from Fi, her hand brushing featherlight against Lena’s shoulder as she did, which was enough to get her heart thumping double time for a few seconds.

Once Fi was tucked in and her pillow was appropriately fluffed, Lena sat down on the other side of the bed instead of right beside Fi like usual. Tonight, that spot was reserved for Kara. Whatever Kara’s plans for the evening were, Lena was willing to bet that she had never believed that she would ever be shanghaied into reading someone a bedtime story.

“You don’t have to do the voices,” Fi said, the expression on her face in complete opposition with her words.

“Oh, I have to do the voices,” Kara said, plucking the bookmark from between the pages and setting it down on the small bedside table.

Kara made it through half a chapter before Fi began to nod but wasn’t completely out until Kara was closing in on the end of the chapter. Lena watched her shut the book gently, sandwiching the bookmark delicately between the pages and setting it down on the bedside table before they both slipped from the room, Lena turning the knob before shutting the door so that the latch didn’t catch.

Lena turned to Kara, still not sure what she should say to her even though she had spent the last three hours trying to figure that out. She opened her mouth to maybe apologize, maybe even tell Kara how much she missed her but what came tumbling out of her mouth was completely different.

 “Coffee?” The offer is more non sequitur than anything else and Lena wouldn’t have been surprised if Kara looked back at her confused or even a little angry at how glib it must have sounded to her. We haven’t seen each other for over a decade and the best thing that I can come up with is to offer her coffee.

“I’d love some.”


Ten minutes later, both of them were sitting on the couch, not quite on opposite ends with an identical cup sitting in front of them. Lena watched a tiny curl of steam rise up off of hers, gathered what little courage she had been able to scrape together, and opened her mouth hoping that her second attempt at making conversation would go a lot better than her first.

“Thank you for coming with us tonight,” Lena said. Her gaze flickered over to the bedroom and then back to Kara. “You made Fi’s night. Probably her entire year. Hard to top trick-or-treating with Supergirl.”

Kara smiled. “Trick-or-treating with Lena Luthor,” she countered. “That might just do it.”

“Not when I’m the one who makes her eat all her vegetables, no exceptions, not even for kale.”

“I take it back then,” Kara said, smiling at Lena over the top of her coffee cup. The smile seemed to flicker, then fade and then return brighter than ever looking to Lena’s eye a bit too bright. “How old is she?”

“Seven,” Lena said. “Almost eight. If you’re not careful you’re going to get an invitation to her birthday party.”

“Don’t know how I could miss that,” Kara said, catching Lena’s eye before dropping her gaze to her lap. “And her dad?”

“Her dad?” Lena noticed Kara look down at her left hand again and understood at once, again, a little slow on the uptake. Lena shook her head and set her coffee cup back on the table. “I adopted Fi three years ago.” Even to her own ears, it sounded strange. Lena Luthor. A mother. If it sounded strange to Kara it didn’t show on her face, merely waiting, maybe hoping that Lena would elaborate more. 

“The place I moved to in Ireland, it’s a small village, even smaller than Smallville. Everyone is friendly enough there but nobody tries all that hard to get too close.” She smiled. “Almost the perfect place for someone like me. I’d run into Fi’s mother at the bookstore there now and again. The selection is somewhat lacking but it’s quaint. I liked spending time there more than I liked shopping sometimes. She and I would never chat long.” She gave a kind of lopsided smile and shrugged her shoulders a bit as if saying ‘it is me after all’.

“We had the same taste in books and I’d sometimes recommend a few and she would do the same for me.” It was tempting to leave out details. Not lies per se, but it would be a step down a perilous slope that Lena knew from experience was a slippery one. “Sometimes she’d be the only person that I’d talk to for days… weeks at a time. Her and Fi, of course.” She saw the frown forming on Kara’s face and she waved a hand out in front of her. The last thing she wanted was Kara’s pity but she did want to be honest with her. They both owed one another that much at least.

“And then I didn’t see them for weeks and when I started asking around about them I learned that there had been an accident. I wanted to find the family that would take care of Fi, to offer them condolences or money so that they wouldn’t have to worry about how they would raise a child in addition to mourning for the family they lost. But Fi’s father wasn’t part of the picture and she had no family to speak of. I found out she was in an orphanage a few hours away…”

Lena cleared her throat, picking up her coffee cup again and pouring a bit more into her cup before taking a measured sip. “Sometimes when I was really young, right after the Luthors adopted me and I guess for a few more years after that, I liked to imagine what it would be like if I were adopted by a different family. Not so rich and not so cold. I wondered how different things could have turned out that way… But that was a little girl’s fantasy. Like daydreaming about getting a letter from Hogwarts or that you’ll wake up with superpowers and a destiny waiting for you to come and seize it.” She took another small sip of coffee and smiled brighter. “But look who I’m talking to.”

Kara smiled and glanced away looking somewhat pleased but pensive all the same.

“But then you grow up a little and you realize how many children stay in foster care until they’re old enough to leave it… I wanted to make sure that didn’t happen to Fi. I drove down to the orphanage. I thought that I could give a generous enough donation and get wheels turning that would ensure she would find a good home.” Lena sighed. “Maybe not my finest moment,” she admitted.

“You had the best of intentions,” Kara said, her voice firm.

“That could be my middle name,” Lena said and smiled a bit wider when she saw the way the corners of Kara’s mouth twitched when she said it. “When I got there I asked to see the person in charge. She was on a call and while I waited I asked if I could see Fi. I don’t know why I did. I was almost a stranger. The strange bookshop woman that her mom would chat with from time to time.The woman who sometimes bought her sweets.

“She was sitting in the playroom by the window with a book open on her lap and she reminded me so much of myself when I lost my mom… It brought all those bad memories rushing to the surface. And even though I knew how she must be feeling, how hurt she was, I had no idea what I could say to her to give her any modicum of comfort. But when she saw me she came running to me and I scooped her up into a hug and my heart just broke. I knew I couldn’t leave her there and that I couldn’t just throw money at the problem like I thought I could.”

“So you adopted her,” Kara said.

Lena nodded. “Not the easiest thing in the world to do but money has a way of cutting through bureaucratic red tape like a hot knife through butter. I know how ridiculous it must sound, how it must look... “ She pointed at herself. “I’m probably the least qualified person in the world to be a mother.”

“You’re wonderful with her, Lena.”

She’s wonderful,” Lena insisted.

“You won’t get any argument from me,” Kara said.

Silence closed in on them again, this one was a little less pleasant than the one from earlier. If they hadn’t opened Pandora’s box by now they had certainly cracked the lid which meant about the same.

It was enticing for Lena to remain silent, to let Kara do the heavy lifting and be the one to be the vanguard, to find a way to navigate their quagmire of friendship or at least what was left of it. It would be easy and it would be like old times, it would also be wrong.

“We read your articles,” Lena said, and when Kara gave her a slightly puzzled look she elaborated. “The one you wrote two months ago on police corruption in Hub City was amazing. I had to clean it up a little bit to read it to Fi but she got the gist of it… I think.”

“Oh.” Kara looked pleased and nervously tucked a lock of hair behind her ear. “I’m really proud of how the article turned out.”

“You should be.”

Kara beamed at her, that thousand-watt smile of hers that had a way of being both warm and disarming. “You told Fi about me?” She cleared her throat and looked away briefly. “I heard you and Fi talking earlier…”

“She hasn’t quite mastered her indoor voice just yet,” Lena said, “and of course I did, Kara. She doesn’t know everything but she knows almost everything.”

“Like what?”

“Now you sound like, Fi,” Lena teased, almost taken aback at the earnestness of Kara’s question. “She knows that you were my first friend here when I moved to National City, my first best friend ever. That you’re an amazing reporter, obviously. That you eat way too many potstickers in one sitting than anyone should. That you hate kale almost as much as her and that you have an older sister and that you’re both adopted. Pretty much everything except the whole saving the world thing.”

“She was right,” Kara said, her hands clasped together clumsily, wringing together nervously.

“Right about what?”

“I missed you,” she said simply, tears beginning to fall as quickly and suddenly as a summer storm. “I missed you every day, Lena. I thought that I heard your heartbeat tonight but I’d fooled myself so many times before after you left that I couldn't trust myself… But you’re really here…”

I did too, Kara...

Lena slid closer to Kara on the couch, closing some of the careful distance that the two had put between themselves when they had sat down. She hesitated, feeling as if she were teetering on the edge of some impossibly high precipice before forcing herself to leap. “I missed you too… Even when I didn’t feel like I deserved to.” She pulled Kara into a hug that was returned almost at once. Kara’s head nestled against the crook of Lena’s neck setting off a depth charge in the pit of her stomach, shyness, and timidity all rolled into one.

Her breath didn’t hitch in her chest even though there were tears. She could feel them falling against Kara’s shoulder, embarrassed and a little relieved when Kara didn’t shy away from them.

“Are you… Are you still angry with me? Are you still hurting?” Kara’s voice comes out ever so slightly muffled but still plenty audible. Lena’s hearing couldn’t hold a candle to Kara’s but Fi could not only be shy but could also mumble with the best of them making Lena well-versed in deciphering the unintelligible.

Those two questions were tied together, mutually inclusive, entangled into one, and from the way that Kara’s grip on her tightened,  Lena could guess that she was expecting one answer while hoping for another. They’re questions that Lena used to ask herself almost daily, never really expecting her answer to change but hoping that it might. Are you angry? Yes. Are you hurting? God, yes.

“No, Kara. I’m not angry with you anymore. I haven’t been for a long time now…” She had never believed that she would have been rid of that anger entirely. Not when it burned so hot and it seemed to become an essential part of herself, poisoning her and keeping her alive at the same time. There had been days that her anger had seemed to vanish only to reappear again like the swallows returning to Capistrano until one day it had gone and never returned. 

The hurt however was something more ineffaceable. It was something that Lena had learned to live with. Their parting had left deep scars and even after all the years that had passed since then they still ached. 

“Are you still angry with me?”

Kara shook her head against Lena’s shoulder. “No, I’m not angry, Lena. Not even a little bit.” She broke their embrace, wiped at the tears that were still falling, and clutched Lena’s hands as if Lena might suddenly disappear if she didn’t. “Why didn’t you come back?”

Lena bit her lip and shook her head. “I couldn’t,” she said, shame bleeding into her voice, her eyes flicking up and away from Kara. “I could never trust myself again after what I did to you. The best thing, the only thing that I could do was to stay away from you and everyone else. I hated leaving like I did but I knew you would be alright. You had Alex and Eliza and Nia…  You had everybody that mattered and  I knew you would be alright.”

“I didn’t have you... “ Kara blinked, two fat tears gliding down her cheeks. “How could I ever be alright without you?” She sniffled and pulled Lena into another embrace, tighter this time, just short of bone-creaking.

“If you wanted,” Lena said carefully, weighing each word before she said it. “If you could forgive me, we could start over…”

“I don’t want to start over,” Kara whispered, her head resting on Lena’s shoulder. “I don’t want to pretend that everything we had didn’t happen, Lena. I just want you back in my life. Is that okay?”

The logical thing, the careful thing to do would be to mull over Kara's question. For both their sakes it would have been best to approach it carefully and to examine it from every angle imaginable before coming to a decision but feeling Kara's arms around her, feeling her tears, all she can hear is her own heart screaming at her to take another leap.

"Nothing would make me happier."

Chapter Text

There were more tears. A lot more tears and Kara knew that later on when she had some time to herself there would be even more. Of course, there would but that was later and here with Lena was now and that was all that mattered. That was all that had ever mattered except Kara had figured that out just a bit too late the last time… She didn’t have any plan on making that mistake again.

There was more coffee too. Purely for Lena’s benefit, of course. Kara had never felt more awake although she was more than happy to let Lena top her mug up and watch the little curls of steam chuff upward and disappear into nothing.

When Lena sat back down beside her their knees banged together and Kara scooted closer so that their shoulders were touching. She could hear Lena’s heartbeat thrum faster, change tempo in time with her own from andante to allegretto like the flutter of a bird’s wing. As appealing as the idea of another hug sounded to Kara, she eyed the steaming coffee cup clutched delicately in Lena’s right hand and had a premonition of disaster. She opted instead to take Lena’s free hand and hold it tight, interlocking their fingers.

“I’m actually back because of a problem at L-Corp,” Lena said, setting her coffee cup back down on the table and curling her body so that she was facing Kara. She wrinkled her nose and for the first time that night, Kara saw something resembling a frown cross Lena’s face. “It’s my mother…” She made a face as if to say, of course, it is and surprised Kara when she started laughing. “I guess some things never change.”

Kara’s smile widened and she gave a delicate shake of her head. “No,” she agreed. “Some things never change.” She ran her index finger around the rim of her coffee cup. “I still don’t like kale,” she joked, “despite all of Alex’s efforts to make it more palatable and,” she said shyly, “you still look so-”

“Tired?” Lena suggested giving her head a little shake as if this was the only answer that made sense.

“-beautiful.”

“Lena spluttered and slopped a little coffee over the rim of her cup. It trembled a little in her hand and Kara heard her heart speed up like it had just heard the crack of a starter’s pistol. “I did retire,” Lena said, setting her coffee cup next to Kara’s on the table. “Probably did wonders for my skin,” she joked, her voice sounding slightly dreamy, her gaze drifting to and fro before their eyes met again.

“Do you miss it? L-Corp, I mean.”

“Well,” Lena said and Kara watched her glance back towards the room where Fi was sleeping. “I only semi-retired. I’m still doing my own research but mostly on small-scale projects and I’ll sometimes consult on some of the projects going on at L-Corp. I don’t miss the board meetings or business dinners. But I miss my lab and I know it makes me sound crazy but I kind of miss working all night on a project.” Lena giggled. “Falling asleep on the couch in my office and somehow having enough energy to do it all again the next night. You stopping by in the mornings and bringing me coffee might have helped.”

“You were right on the way to work,”  Kara said, the smile on her face turning a bit more sly.

“It was in the complete opposite direction from CatCo,” Lena said, laughing. “I always felt so guilty when you came rushing in some mornings with a coffee for me  but I never could force myself to actually tell you to stop.”

“Free coffee is hard to turn down,” Kara said and nodded wisely. "Even for a billionaire."

“Even for a billionaire," Lena agreed, smiling. "I was afraid if I told you to stop coming by you might actually do it,” Lena said shyly. “I had never met anybody that was always so happy to see me, especially in the mornings.” She stuck out the tip of her tongue and gave Kara a bump with her shoulder that sent a shiver racing down Kara’s spine. “I would have felt slightly less guilty if I knew you could fly though,” she teased.

Kara felt the uncomfortable prickling of guilt working its way down into the pit of her stomach and found herself searching Lena’s grin for any sign of hurt, knowing just how good that Lena was at hiding it. “I know I should have told you so much sooner, Lena, I-”

“Kara…,” Lena said, cutting her off. “I already told you that I’m not angry anymore.” She gave Kara’s hand a reassuring squeeze and Kara felt the pressure building in her chest abate. “What you said about not wanting to start over… I don’t want that either. I don’t want to throw away everything we’ve shared, the good or bad but I don’t want to dwell on the bad any longer… I’ve done that too much already. Deal?”

“Deal.” Kara held up her free hand and extended her pinky for Lena to shake with her own. When she did, Kara tugged Lena’s hand into hers and brought them both into her lap. “There’s so much I want to tell you, Lena… So much I want to ask you but I don’t know where to start.”

“Start anywhere,” Lena said. “We’ll wind up in the same place eventually,” she teased.

Kara nodded shyly. I hope that’s true Lena, I really, really do. 

Kara lost track of the time. Both of them did. She had been in the middle of telling Lena about the new article she was in the middle of writing when Lena lifted her head up off of Kara’s shoulder and pointed out towards the balcony. Kara turned her head and could see the first streaks of dawn beginning to lighten up the sky.

“We talked all night,” Kara said, sounding both guilty and elated at the same time.

“We had a lot to talk about.”

“Still do,” Kara said softly. One night certainly wouldn’t be enough for them to say all that they wanted to one another but it had been as good a start as any but Kara couldn’t stop herself from wishing that the night had lasted a tiny bit longer.

“I’m free almost every night,” Lena joked. “After Fi’s story, of course. You’re lucky she didn’t try and rope you into reading her another chapter. Her puppy-dog eyes? Definitely should be classified as deadly weapons,” she said in mock seriousness.

“We could always have the DEO take a look at her. Make sure she’s not endangering anybody with all that cuteness.”

“Speaking of the DEO, how’s Alex?”

“Alex is doing great. Still with the DEO but she stepped down from being director three, no, four years ago.”

“She’s not?” Lena asked, sounding surprised. “I assumed she’d be running the place by now.”

“She might have been if she wanted to.” That was the trajectory that Kara thought her sister would continue on. Not that Alex had ever been gunning for such a position but in Kara’s eyes that had made her a far better candidate than anyone intentionally seeking out the position. “Her and Kelly got married… Oh geez, eight years ago?” Kara laughed. “It doesn’t seem like that long ago.” With Lena back in her life, pressed up beside her on a couch, looking back at the past felt like she was looking at it through both ends of a pair of binoculars. Some events seemed closer than they really had been and some seemed even more distant.

“I had no idea,” Lena said. She reached for her cup and took a sip of the cold coffee that remained, made a face that Kara imitated quite uncannily, and set it back down again with a clatter.

“They have two albums full of photos and a wedding video that they break out every anniversary if you want to see. Makes me cry every time. They’re actually in the process of adopting right now,” Kara said and smiled somewhat wistfully, her thoughts turning briefly to Fi. “They’d been planning on it for a while now, just waiting to get all their ducks in a row.”

“I guess that’s easier to do when you trade in your holster for a pocket protector,” Lena joked. 

“You’re still here!” Fi crowed, startling the both of them. She stood in the bedroom doorway rubbing sleep from her eyes, still looking like she was halfway between the waking world and the land of nod not quite sure which direction to commit to just yet. “Did you stay the whole night?”

Kara blushed a little and nodded. “I did. I was talking with your mom and I lost track of the time.” That wasn’t the first time that had happened and Kara sincerely hoped that it wouldn’t be the last either. They had found a way to heal a wound that Kara had once believed to be a mortal one but the details of just what that meant for both of them were still up in the air. Still deep in negotiations, Kara thought.

“How did you sleep, my treasure?” Lena patted the spot next to her and Fi hopped up on the couch next to her, holding tightly onto her arm.

“I slept good, but I’m hungry,” Fi said, her gaze falling on her treat bag still laying on the coffee table that Kara and Lena were using as a footrest.

“How about we order breakfast,” Lena offered. She moved one of her legs so that it formed a kind of barricade between Fi’s treat bag and her. She stretched for a paper menu still propped up neatly on the counter beside the couch and just barely snagged it between her fingers.

“Can Supergirl have breakfast with us?” Fi asked, this time not bothering to whisper in Lena’s ear this time.

“Unless she has somewhere else she needs to be…”

“I’m right where I want to be,” Kara said, catching Lena’s eye, noticing the color rising in Lena’s face and felt her stomach do a nervous flip, leaning over to get a better look at the menu.

“What do you like to eat for breakfast?” Fi asked, peeking at Kara from behind Lena’s arm.

Kara tapped a finger against her chin. “That’s a tough one because I like to eat a lot.” She patted her stomach and grinned when Fi started to giggle, hiding her face behind Lena’s arm.

“Bit of an understatement,” Lena said under her breath, her lips curved into a playful smile.

“Let’s see,” Kara said and ran a finger down the menu. “Let’s try and find something I don’t like, I think that will be easier.” She worked her way down the list shaking her head, looking more at Fi than the menu. “No,” she said, looking disappointed. “I think I like everything here… Wait.” She tapped the menu. “I found something. Salad,” she said in a tone usually reserved for when one receives socks at Christmas. “Not just salad, kale salad,” she said and shivered.

“That’s the brunch menu, I don’t know if that counts,’ Lena said, laughing.  

“Mom likes salads,” Fi said, beaming up at Lena before leaning over her and beckoning Kara to get closer. “I don’t like them either,” she said, giving her head a little shake while she snuck a peek up at Lena who had the sense to pretend that she hadn’t heard.

Kara used her hand to turn an imaginary key in front of her mouth and winked at Fi before looking up at Lena who was looking back at her with a curious expression on her face.

Twenty minutes later, there was a knock at the door that sent Fi scurrying back to the bedroom at a speed that made Lena grimace and chase after her. “How she doesn’t constantly have scraped knees is a miracle,” she muttered, shaking her head. “Do you mind getting the door, Kara?”

“Already on it,” she called over her shoulder, floating over to it and touching down onto the floor before opening the door.

“There’s another cart,” the balding man on the other side of the door said, gesturing behind him, waiting for the go-ahead to push the first one through. This was said with all the professionalism one could expect when renting one of the more expensive rooms in an already pricey hotel but Kara could see the way his eyes scanned the room, likely expecting to find several more people in the room to explain the enormous breakfast order Lena had placed.

“I’ll grab the second one?” Kara suggested.

“That’s quite alright,” he said, pushing the first cart inside before hurrying back out and pushing the second one in as well. “Please enjoy your stay and your breakfast,” he said. He flashed Kara a congenial smile and shut the door behind him.

“I talked her down to just the cape,” Lena said, Fi balanced on her shoulders still in her pajamas with the cape from her Supergirl costume clipped to her PJ’s.

Kara grinned. “Those famous negotiation skills at work.”

“Oh please,” Lena said, lifting Fi off of her shoulders and swooping her down towards the ground and back up before setting her down. “Give me another stubborn executive any day of the week.” She pointed at Fi, still smiling. “She could give them all a run for her money.”

The kaleidoscope of butterflies in Lena’s stomach had been dead set on fluttering about with no end in sight but that hadn’t stopped her from eating a scone from the plate of pastries on one of the carts and munching on a pair while she listened to Fi ask Kara far too many questions and for Kara to answer every single one without fail in between bites of her food. You’re so good with her, she thought, watching the both of them with her chin propped up on her hand. She had reached for another muffin and veered her hand towards the fruit bowl instead. She had made the mistake in the past about overdoing it on carbs after an allnighter and nodded off during a board meeting and was in no rush to repeat it.

“That’s not a napkin, love,” Lena said, watching Fi out of the corner of her eye, fighting the urge to laugh when Fi jumped a little, letting go of her cape and reaching for a napkin that Kara held out to her. “If you’re going to have that on all day-”

“I am,” Fi said, dabbing at her mouth daintily to wipe some powdered sugar off her face.

“-then we should try and keep it as clean as possible. At least until we see Sam.”

“At L-Corp?”

Lena nodded. “At L-Corp. You’ll like her, I promise and I’m sure she’ll like your cape.”

“Definitely,” Kara agreed, standing up suddenly, rattling her utensils when she banged her knee on the table.

“Trouble?” Lena asked.

“Fire,” Kara said. She took a step towards the balcony, came to a shuddering halt, and looked down at herself. “Pajamas,” she muttered. “That would have been embarrassing.” She smiled sheepishly and appeared to disappear for a moment, reappearing dressed in her Supergirl suit. “If you’re not too tired,” Kara said. “And I’d completely understand if you are… But if you’re not, could we maybe have dinner tonight? The three of us?”

The three of us…

“Yes,” Fi said, her forkful of waffle halfway to her mouth dripping syrup onto the table.

“I think she was talking to me, love, but, yes. That sounds great. If you’re not-”

“I’m not busy,” Kara said quickly. “And I really want to stay but…”

“I know… Go be a hero,” Lena said, lifting Fi up out of her chair. “Wish her luck, love.”

“Good luck!” Fi cried. “Be careful too…”

“I will,” Kara said. “I promise. See you tonight! Six-ish?”

“Tonight,” Lena agreed, waving with her free hand and felt her heart leap into her throat when Kara smiled at her.

"It's a date," Kara said, blushing a little before she flew out onto the balcony and disappeared.

Lena felt Fi start to wriggle like a greased fish in her arms and set her down, watching her run to the window and stare up at the sky, what remained of her breakfast all but forgotten. Smiling to herself, she walked over to where Fi was at the window, knelt down beside her, and planted a kiss on her cheek.


The L-Corp building was exactly the same as Lena remembered it and seeing it pop into view as they drove closer to it, she felt, not for the first time since arriving in National City that she had somehow stepped back into the past. There was a sea of faces that Lena had never seen before filtering in and out of the building but one familiar one that she hadn’t expected to see, at least not outside her office.

“Sam? What are you doing out here?"

“Lena!” The slight frown on her face vanished as if by magic and she raised a hand to greet her, heels clicking against the cement while she hurried over to her. “I was just texting you,” she said coming to a stop in front of them. She had her arms opened for a hug when she locked eyes with Fi, immediately dropping down so that she was eye-level with Fi. “Hi.” 

“Hi,” Fi said, using Lena as partial cover, peering out at Sam.

Sam looked up at Lena, one hand over her heart. “Lena, she's so adorable. Oh my God.”

“Don’t I know it,” she said, smiling proudly. “Remember I told you about Sam, love?”

Fi nodded. “She took your job at L-Corp.”

“Took over,” Lena corrected, fighting back a laugh. “There’s a difference, love.”

“I kind of took it,” Sam joked, nodding. “Your mom can have it back any time she wants.”

“No take-backs,” Lena said, opening her arms up and accepting the tight hug, returning it with the same gusto. “I missed you, Sam,” she said, wishing that there was a better way to convey her feelings, hoping that her hug might get her message across a bit more than her words ever could.

“I missed you too.” Sam held her at arm’s length surveying her with Lena doing the same.

“What’s the verdict?” Lena asked.

“You look tired,” Sam teased. “Does it have anything to do with me begging you to fly all the way here to help me? Help me Obi-Wan Kenobi. You’re my only hope.”

“I was up all night,” Lena said.

“Jet lag?” Sam made a face and patted her arm apologetically.

“With Supergirl,” Fi said, coming out from behind Lena, already over the initial bout of shyness she almost always had around strangers.

“With Supergirl? Really?”

Fi nodded. “We had breakfast together too.”

Sam’s eyes went wide, her smile looking a bit too sly for Lena’s liking. “I want to hear all about that, I really do but I need to tell you something first.” Sam braced herself against the wind and grimaced. "Kind of why I'm freezing my butt off out here. Your…” Sam started, glancing down at Fi. “Lillian is upstairs. Waiting for you.”

“How the h- heck does she know I’m here,” Lena said, catching herself just in time to stop herself from swearing. The surprise phone call out of the blue the night before had been bad enough but knowing that her mother was keeping close enough tabs on her to intercept her at L-Corp was a step even beyond that.

“No idea, but she’s waiting up in meeting room B for you. If you want to avoid her I suggest just heading back to the motel and waiting it out.  She’ll get bored eventually and we can hash out a plan later."

“Tempting,” Lena said, hoisting Fi up and holding her tight to her. “But if I avoid her here she’ll show up at the hotel.” She had checked in privately at the hotel but she was under no illusion that would be enough to keep Lillian from finding her if she was properly motivated. “I need to help Sam with that work problem. It’s really important but it will be really boring too,” she said, not at all worried about overselling that particular point. Boring and incredibly horrible, Lena thought. “Do you mind staying with Sam for just a bit while I take care of it?”

“Will you be very long?” Fi asked, looking unsure.

Lena shook her head adamantly. “Not very long at all  and if you think I’m taking too long you can call me on Sam’s phone and I’ll rush right over. I’ll just be up there on that floor,” she said and pointed towards the twentieth floor. “Not far away at all.”

“And I can show you your mom’s old office.” Sam pointed higher. “She worked all the way up there. Or we can just ride the elevator up and down. It goes pretty fast. If I didn’t have so much work to do all the time that’s what I would do all day, every day.”

Fi gave Sam a careful smile, looking back at Lena for a brief moment. “Can we do both?”

“It’s your mom’s company,” Sam said. “We can definitely do both.”

“Is that okay?” Fi asked, looking up at Lena.

“All systems go, my treasure. Just don’t let anyone step on your cape.”

“I won’t!” she cried, wrapping the cape around her defensively while she giggled.

I’d rather ride up and down the elevator with you and Sam, Lena thought. Of course, she would have rather done pretty much anything else than go talk to her mother.

As if Sam could read her mind she beckoned to the both of them. “We can ride up together,” she said, digging her keycard out of her pocket.

Walking into L-Corp had the quality of a dream, one that lost some of its etherealnesses holding Fi. The divide between her past and present became clearer and she could see both at once as if they existed side-by-side. Sitting around the table having breakfast with Fi and Kara had felt different, it had felt real. It felt like home, Lena thought, knowing how crazy that might have sounded if she had voiced it out loud.

You need sleep, she told herself. But right now you need to focus and you need to steel yourself because you’re walking into a cage match with the undisputed champion of all that’s horrible. That thought jolted her awake better than a cup of coffee ever could and she held Fi a little tighter to her as they stepped onto the elevator and she punched the button for the twentieth floor.

The ride up was fast, faster than Lena remembered it ever being and when the doors opened she stuck her foot out to make sure the door wouldn’t shut before she let Fi hop down. “I promise I won’t be longer than twenty minutes. That’s about one chapter of Alice if I show you all the pictures,” she said, knowing that Fi would have a better grasp of time when explained in something so familiar to the both of them.

Fi nodded. “Do you think Supergirl can read me another chapter tonight after dinner?”

That lightened the mood considerably and Lena felt Sam’s eyes on her, inquisitive and wondering, not all that different from Fi’s most of the time. “I don’t want to go making promises for other people, love but I’m almost certain she will, and if she’s too busy, then I will. If that’s alright with you,” she said, kissing her forehead.

Fi gave her a thumbs up and kissed her on the cheek.

“I’ll be right back,” Lena promised. “Go have fun with Aunt Sam.” She gave Fi one final hug and set her down.

Sam offered Fi her hand which she took after a moment of contemplation, holding it tightly. “What did you dress up for on Halloween?” Fi asked Sam as Lena stepped out of the elevator.

“A very tired CEO,” Sam said, winking at Lena as she stepped out of the elevator. “I’m actually still wearing my costume,” she said as the doors closed.

The walk back down the hall towards Meeting Room B was familiar as was the sickening clench of her stomach when she caught sight of her mother waiting for her, head bowed slightly and her hands clasped in front of her. She looked up when Lena’s hand closed on the knob of the door and stood up when she entered.

“Do you have people following me, mother?”

“Hello to you too, Lena.” Her mother sat back down, her gaze not quite as steely as Lena remembered it being, lingering longer on her face than it ever had before. From a distance, she had looked exactly as Lena remembered her looking but up close, Lena could see the appearance of fine lines around her eyes and mouth. Thin creases that did not so much age her as complete the look of a woman that is not to be trifled with.

“I’ll take that as a yes,” she said and pulled out the seat directly opposite her mother and sat down. “How else would you know I would be here?” Her eyes narrowed, not under any illusion that anything she could do would actually cause her mother to feel anything resembling shame but she at least needed to try.

Lillian sighed, a sound that Lena had heard too many times to ever truly forget. How any person could pack so much disdain into one utterance was truly impressive and for one brief second, Lena had to fight very hard against the urge to laugh.”I called,” Lillian said, unclasping her hands. “Several times, actually. If you had bothered to answer your phone…”

Lena instinctively reached for her phone, surprised to see so many missed calls, very quickly turning the ringer back on.

“And you hung up on me last night,” she reminded her.

“You should be used to that by now, mother.” Lena’s expression remained stony but she gave a small almost imperceptible shake of her head. “I had an emergency to deal with last night.”

“So soon after getting back?” Lillian’s eyebrow arched upward at an impressive angle but she seemed disinterested in pursuing the topic any further, leaning back a bit in her chair. “I am not having you followed, Lena. And if I was, I’m sure that you would have realized that by now.”

“That almost sounded like a compliment.” She reached for one of the bottles of water on the table that Sam had likely brought in when seeing Lillian into the meeting room. She unscrewed the cap and took a drink, mulling overseeing how long she could make the bottle last if she tried drinking it all in one go. It wouldn’t buy her all that much time but it would piss her mother off quite nicely, although she had never needed to ever try that hard to do that. 

She drummed her fingers on the bottle. “Enough niceties,” she muttered and looked up to meet her mother’s gaze. “Whatever reason you have for wanting to try and take L-Corp from Sam, whatever you’re scheming… It ends now. The company is in far better hands than it ever was in a Luthor’s. I won’t allow you to undo any of her hard work for what I can only imagine is a grudge. But whatever it is, I’m telling you to drop it. Walk away.”

Lillian opened her mouth and Lena was so sure that she would let out another one of her trademark sighs that she was all the more surprised at what came out of her mouth next.

“I don’t want L-Corp back, Lena.”

That caught her off guard and Lena knew at once that it showed on her face. “You’re lying,” she said, shaking her head. “Unless you’re just that bored and looking to cause trouble for Sam, and for me,” she added as an afterthought with none of the venom she meant to send it out with. Yes, the plane ride was an inconvenience, yes, she would have rather not have dragged Fi into a mess that she had washed her hands of years ago but in a roundabout way, Lillian was responsible for her seeing Kara again. If not for her or Sam’s email, would she have come back, ever? It was a possibility, she supposed,  but not a very likely one.

“Please, Lena,” she said and gave a very brief shake of her head. “If I wanted L-Corp back then I would have been much further along in the bid than firing off warning shots and overpaying my lawyers for a bit of paperwork.” She looked somewhat affronted and sat up straighter in her chair. “Just as I would never assume you lost your edge in the time you’ve been away, I can assure you that I haven’t lost mine.”

“Yes,” Lena agreed. “I would never accuse you of losing your edge, mother. You’re nothing but sharp edges.”

Lillian chuckled. “Not untrue,” she said, her head tilted to one side, eyes still focused on Lena. She took a deep breath and let it out all at once like air from a rapidly deflating balloon. “Which is why I went to such lengths to get you here. You wouldn’t have come otherwise.”

Lena’s eyes narrowed. “So,” Lena said slowly, trying to figure out what angle her mother was working, examining it from all angles like an overly intricate puzzle box. “You made Sam’s life a living hell to get me to come back to the city… For what?”

“To apologize to you, Lena. To try and make amends…” She clamped her mouth shut but the slightly uneasy look on her face was easy enough to read. If that’s possible, it said.

“Make amends?” Lena let out a bark of laughter. “You’re not in the market for a kidney, are you, mother?”

“No,” Lillian said plainly, her mouth turned upward into something resembling a grimace. “My mortality is not the impetus for this, Lena. I-” She gnawed on her bottom lip, showcasing that carefulness that Lena had learned early on after finding herself adopted by the Luthors. “I like to think,” she said carefully, qualifying her statement instead of simply stating it as fact, “that I’ve changed.”

Did hell freeze over while I was away?

“As unbelievable as you may find that,” Lillian said as if she could read Lena’s mind. “I have been trying to be better.” She gave a somewhat petulant looking shrug, rolling her shoulders. “If you need proof of that, you can ask Kara Danvers. I haven’t had any run-ins with her since you left National City.”

“Kind of a low bar. Not having Supergirl put you back in prison is not the accomplishment you seem to think it is.” She had every intention of checking the veracity of her claims with Kara later. Their all-night conversation hadn’t drifted onto the topic of Lillian but now she kind of wished that it had although Lena doubted if she was lying. It was too flimsy of a lie to serve any real benefit. If she had tangoed with Kara again during her time away she would have read about it. She would have watched it on the news. A Luthor and a Super going mano a mano was front page, we interrupt this program kind of news that you heard about whether you wanted to or not.

“Have you talked to her yet?” Lillian asked with a certain glibness as if her and Kara’s reunion was ineluctable.

  Maybe it was, a voice suggested.

“You have,” she said after studying Lena's face for a moment,  not waiting for Lena to answer either way. “Have you forgiven one another?”

The question was one that should have been dripping in venom, in that special kind of pity that Lena sometimes thought had been reserved wholly for her alone especially when it came to Supergirl but there was none which put her guard up even more. “That’s none of your business,” Lena said coldly.

“I suppose it’s not,” Lillian said agreeably.

“If you’ve been keeping tabs on me all this time, why not come to me? Why go to all this trouble?”

“You never even told me that you were leaving,” Lillian reminded her. “When I found out I tracked you down-”

“I was never trying to hide,” Lena said hotly, hearing the steady beat of war drums in her ears that she associated with holidays at the Luthor household, that fury that threatened to burst out of her like an alien in a B-grade horror movie.

Lillian smiled. “I know that. If you didn’t want to be found… It would have been nearly impossible to find you. I just wanted to know where you were,” she admitted. “I knew why you left. The Kryptonian broke your-”

“You don’t know why I left,” Lena said, cutting her off, bitter cold seeping into her voice like frost creeping along a windowpane. “I didn’t leave because of a broken heart.” Her broken heart had been the driving force between a lot of bad decisions but her leaving National City wasn’t among them.

“Either way,” Lillian said, keeping her voice remarkably steady. “You had a falling out with Supergirl and your other friends and I just assumed that you would come back someday. After you had cooled off after the timer on that stubbornness expired but you never did. You stayed away.”

Yes, Lena thought, because that was best for everyone. Best for Kara and best for me. She had truly believed that. It had been the one thing that had stopped her from returning some nights when the loneliness felt overwhelming when the days and especially the nights felt long and she missed Kara and missed the life she had left behind. Until Fi had come along she had thought that ache might never truly vanish.

“And the reason you didn’t come knocking on my door in Ireland to apologize? You either couldn’t be bothered or maybe you’ve just recently had an epiphany about wanting to reconcile? Not that there’s anything to reconcile in the first place.”

“Your daughter,” Lillian said and looked out the window of the meeting room like she expected to see her waiting just outside for Lena to step back out. “When I found out you had adopted, I was surprised, to say the least. I knew then that you likely didn’t have any plans of returning to National City and I thought about flying there…. Having the conversation that we’re having right now or at least trying to have. But I reconsidered.”

“Not enough frequent flyer miles?”

“You wouldn’t have wanted to see me, and by that point, you had lived there for nearly seven years. I didn’t want my coming to see you be the thing that uprooted you.”

“You wouldn’t have scared me off, mother.” Lena drummed her fingers on the table and turned her wrist towards her to steal a glance at her watch. She had promised Fi she wouldn’t be long and she intended to keep it.

“Maybe not but if I showed up on your doorstep out of the blue Lena, I’m sure it would have crossed your mind to cover your tracks and find a new place to live if only to keep me away from your daughter…” She said this with the business-like efficiency that Lena was so used to hearing but there was something else hiding behind in its shadow. Something that to Lena’s ear sounded almost like guilt.

Lena unscrewed and screwed the cap of her water bottle off and on again “You’re not wrong,” she admitted. “The thought would have crossed my mind.” Probably more than a thought, Lena mused. Keeping FI safe had been directive number one and two when she had decided to adopt Fi and if her mother had come sniffing around, she would have wanted to put some distance between her and Fi. One or two oceans worth of distance...

“Of course it would have,” Lillian said, her mouth curved into a smile of grim satisfaction.

“I’m here now. You did all of this because you wanted to apologize to me,” Lena said in a skeptical tone. “And after you do, you’ll stop going after L-corp, after Sam?”

“I told you that I have no interest in L-Corp, Lena.” She cast an eye around the room. “But I would like something in return for my agreement to step away from the table.”

Of course, you do,” Lena said, who had been waiting for this other shoe to drop with all the force of a falling house into the Land of Oz. “And all for the low low price of what exactly?”

“Dinner.”

“Dinner?”

“With you,” Lillian clarified. “You and Fiona.”

“Out of the question,” Lena said and crossed her arms tightly around her, shaking her head adamantly. “If you think that I’ll let you blackmail me into letting you into her life then you don’t know me very well at all,” she said, already beginning to seethe. “But look who I’m talking to.”

“I said dinner, Lena,” Lillian said in an infuriatingly patient tone that Lena didn’t care for in the slightest. “That’s all. No more, no less. I have no expectations or demands after that.” She pushed her chair back from the table, signaling that she had laid all her cards down on the table.

“Most people don’t start off apologies by asking for favors.” Maybe she shouldn’t have been shocked that such a basic principle was lost on Lillian. Had she ever apologized for anything? The halfhearted teeth clenched ones hardly counted. The ones that she had been happy to dole out when there was no other option available.

“You’ll get the apology, either way, Lena. But as far as L-Corp goes… Having dinner together are the terms. No negotiation on that front, I’m afraid.” She leaned over the table, looking at Lena stubbornly until their eyes met. “Do you think I like going to such lengths to arrange a simple dinner with my daughter?”

“Sam and I can beat you in court,” Lena said. She said this with the same slow patience that Lillian had shown her just moments ago. Scheming could only get one so far, especially since profits at L-Corp had never been better even with all the money being poured into more charitable ventures.

“I’m sure you can,” Lillian said, batting a hand out in front of her. “But that will take time and money. I’m sure you’ve already done the calculations.” She wrinkled her nose. “I’m not asking you to even meet me halfway here, Lena.” She let that truth hang in the air like a slow-moving blimp. “I’m sure you don’t want to hear it, Lena but I am sorry.”

Lena felt her bristling like a spooked cat. Her muscles tightened so completely and so quickly that she could have sworn she heard the cords in her neck tighten as she sat up straighter in her chair. “An apology won’t fix things,” Lena said plainly.

“I know… But regardless… I owe you one, I owe you several.” She cleared her throat. “I wasn’t the mother that you or Lex needed.” Her eyes misted over and she blinked twice and they were clear as a freshly washed windowpane.

How many itty bitty boxes do you have, mother? Lena pondered.

“If there was anything that I could do to take it back... “ She shook her head, the fine lines around her mouth deepening when she frowned. “If there’s anything I can do, I would be more than happy to do it.”

“And if I ask you to leave L-Corp alone to not bother Sam ever again? That I want it in writing? Would you do that?” Lena flashed a very dry smile.  Asking her mother for that felt to her like asking a genie for more wishes. There might be a degree of hesitation and her mother might even find such a request amusing but the rules were quite clear. Crystal clear. No wishing for more wishes and no giving something away for free.

“I knew you’d ask that.”A ghost of a smile touched her lips and Lillian reached for her purse and set it between them like a divider before she opened it and pulled a number of documents held together with a paperclip. “I’ve already signed them,'' she said, watching Lena begin to flip through them.

“This is a-”

“Share transfer agreement,” Lillian finished, pushing a pen over to Lena’s side of the table. “It seemed the most expedient solution. Anything else and I could have gotten the contract thrown out in court, this is infinitely more cut and dry.”

The contract itself was fairly boilerplate, one that Lena had no trouble skimming even with so little gas left in her tank. “You want to give me half of your remaining shares in L-Corp?” She looked at her mother over top of the documents looking for any sign of a tell, already knowing that she didn’t have one.

“That would leave me with about a five percent share in the company. I could get every single board member to go along with a hostile takeover and I still wouldn’t have enough power to follow through with it. I told you that I had no interest in L-Corp, Lena. And if this is what you want,” she said and pulled a pen from her purse, holding it out to her. “If this is all I can do for you then sign and you never have to see me again.”

Lena began to look over the contract in more detail, looking for any sign of tampering or hidden fine print that might come back to bite her in the ass later. When she found none she began the somewhat tedious task of initialing and signing everywhere she needed to, flipping back and forth to make sure she hadn’t missed anything, feeling Lillian’s gaze on her as she did so.

Lena paused, the pen just a centimeter or so away from the paper when she looked up. “You could apologize a million times and it wouldn’t be enough,” she said.

“I know that.” 

“And whether  genuine or not, one act of contrition won’t be enough to make me trust you again.” Lena doubted such a thing was even possible. ‘Impossible’ was not a word that Lena had ever taken much stock in but it seemed appropriate now. “I’m still not convinced this isn’t some elaborate plan to…” She shook her head looking more tired than angry. “To do something horrible.”

Lena signed her name on the last page with a particularly savage flourish and let out a breath that she had just realized she had been holding. “I have told Fi about you. She knows she has a grandmother…”

“How magnanimous of you.”

“So glad you think so…” She capped the pen and held it out to her mother as some kind of quasi-olive branch. “If Fi wants to meet you then we can have dinner together. But if you say anything, do anything to hurt her, dinner will be over and I’ll make you regret ever luring me back here.”

“Of course you will,” Lillian said.

“And you’ll apologize to Sam.”

“Oh, Lena. It’s just business. If she can’t handle a little stress-”

“An apology letter will suffice. I’m certain she would prefer it to another face-to-face meeting and I’ll be in touch soon.”

“I hope so. I’ll leave my ringer on,” she said as Lena strode past her, the corners of her mouth turned ever so slightly upward.


"How did it go?"

Sam had been pushing Fi around in her office chair and had brought her to a spinning stop in front of Lena when Lena had stepped into her office.

“Not bad,” Lena said quickly and in a somewhat hushed whisper. She bent down close to Fi and returned the jubilant smile on her face with one of her own. "Someone's been having fun."

"We have," Fi said, looking up at Sam and kicking her legs a little to make the chair rattle a bit closer to Lena. "I missed you though."

"And I missed you," Lena said, planting twin kisses on both of Fi's cheeks. She handed the folded up contract to Sam and couldn't stop herself from grinning despite still trying to process everything that had happened with her mother. "Say thank you, Lena.”

Sam's eyes scanned from left to right, flipping through the contract, skimming it, her brain likely making the necessary leaps in logic and ran a hand through her hair, mussing it before she smoothed it flat again. "You have to be sh-" She coughed loudly, glancing over guiltily at Fi. "sleepy," she said, pointing at Lena and mimed wiping a bead of sweat from her forehead when Fi hopped off the chair and began running around the office, her cape flapping out behind her, none the wiser.

“So that’s it?” Sam looked just as skeptical as Lena felt.

"I can give you the abridged version now and the longer version tomorrow? I really am tired."

"Give it to me on the way back to the hotel," Sam said. "I'm driving. Least I can do," she said, making exaggerated moon eyes at Lena. "If you wait and let me tell the lawyers they'll want to carry you out on their shoulders or dump a cooler of Gatorade over your head, I'm not sure which.”

"I think I'd prefer the nap," Lena said, scooping Fi up as she made another pass near them with her arms stretched out in front of her.

"I should get that engraved on my coffee mug," Sam said, jangling her car keys and gesturing towards the door.

Chapter Text

Lena had been able to give Sam a very truncated version of events while remaining mindful about what Fi might overhear in the backseat. Lena knew that no matter how engrossed Fi was with the video she was watching on Lena’s phone she would absorb at least some of what Lena was saying and saved some of the more salient points of their meeting for later, like how her mother seemed to have had a complete personality transplant since her time away.

Once back at the hotel, Sam had walked with Lena and Fi to the elevator, switching her phone to vibrate when it continued to chirp incessantly at more frequent intervals the more she ignored it. There were lots of things that Lena missed about her work at L-Corp but the seemingly never-ending barrage of phone calls and texts from business associates was not among them.

“I know you have plans tonight,” Sam said, looking at Lena sideways. “But I would like to catch up, see the munchkin again before you leave. Somehow a yearly email is not enough time to keep abreast of everything going on in each other’s lives.” 

“No,” Lena said, trying and failing to ignore the little stab of guilt when she thought of how she had kept Sam at arm’s length all these years. “Not nearly enough. I really did miss you, Sam.”

“Naturally.” Her lips curved upward into a smile as the elevator doors dinged open. “We have lots to catch up on, especially in light of recent events,” she said slyly.

“You mean my mother seemingly finding a heart out of the blue?” Lena whispered, ignoring how hot her cheeks felt as she ushered Fi into the elevator, trying not to overthink that evening’s plans with Kara.

“You know I don’t,” Sam teased as the elevator doors began to close. “It was good seeing you both.”  She held a hand up to her ear in a ‘call me’ gesture and waved enthusiastically to Fi who slipped behind Lena poking her head out from behind her but waving just as enthusiastically back. 

Against all odds, Lena had been able to coax Fi into a short nap and while Lena would have liked to sleep longer it would be enough to see her through the evening and not wreak any more havoc on her sleep schedule.

They ate lunch in their room watching one of the DVD’s that Lena had packed, Fi tossing out questions that as always never seemed to follow a straight line leapfrogging from one topic to the next with seemingly no rhyme or reason with Lena happy to answer each one to the best of her ability. A day would come when Lena wouldn’t have an answer for her, but so far, at least, she was batting a thousand.

When six o’clock rolled around, Lena wasn’t sure whether to expect Kara at the balcony or the door. She divided her attention between them evenly while Fi had put all her money on the balcony, sitting right next to it with a book open in her lap, not really reading it but ruffling the pages ever so often.

“You’ll give yourself a paper cut if you’re not careful,” Lena warned. She too looked out the balcony window to the portrait-sized view of the city. She stood up off the sofa meaning to join Fi but froze halfway up when there was a sharp rap of knuckles on their door. 

Fi stood up like a shot, looking back towards the balcony. "I thought that she would fly here," she said, sounding a little disappointed. Not that it stopped her from making a beeline to the door. Used to these bursts of speed that Lena couldn’t help but envy, she caught Fi around the middle just before she had time to throw open the door and lifted her up. 

Blinking innocently, Fi looked almost surprised to see Lena. “I think it’s Supergirl,” she said as if she alone was privy to that information.

Lena nodded. “It might be, but before we open the door we need to make sure because-”

“Because we don’t open the door for strangers,” Fi answered without a whiff of sarcasm that might accompany such a statement if Lena were to ask her the same question in a few years.

“That’s right,” Lena said and held Fi close enough so that she could peer through the peephole. “Is it Supergirl?”

Fi gazed through the peephole, closing her other eye like she was peering through a telescope as she did, and fell silent for a moment before turning her head back towards Lena. “I think it’s Kara,” she said and gave a quick shake of her head to show that she wasn’t completely sure either way.

“Kara?” Lena’s eyes widened. She too gazed through the peephole and saw Kara waving to her warmly. She wasn’t surprised to see that it was Kara that had come knocking but she was surprised to see that she had come wearing her glasses instead of her cape…

“Mom?”

Lena’s gaze shifted briefly back to Fi. She flashed her a very brief very luminous grin and fumbled briefly with the lock before opening the door and taking a step back to let Kara inside. She was wearing a comfortable-looking pair of high waisted jeans and an ivory-colored sweater

“Kara…” Their eyes met and Lena’s gaze flickered away for one brief instant before it returned the two of them exchanging identical smiles as she set Fi back down who was looking at Kara quizzically. “I… I wasn’t expecting you.”

You weren’t?” Catching up just a beat later, she nodded very briskly and pushed her glasses up a little higher on her nose. “You weren’t. I ran into Supergirl today after she helped put out that fire downtown and she told me that you were visiting and I really wanted to see you. Both of-

“Fi!”

Lena watched as Fi took one of her patented running leaps, arm outstretched towards Kara, her expression serene, one of a trapeze artist who trusted their partner implicitly. Kara caught her easily, lifting her high and bringing her down rocking her from side to side like she was slowly floating back down to the ground which delighted Fi.

The death-defying leap was nothing new but Fi was always shy around strangers. It had taken running into Fi and her mother in the bookstore a number of times before she had stopped peering out from behind her mother to wave shyly at Lena when they ran into one another.

“How’s that for a hello,” Lena said reproachfully, letting out a comically loud exhale through her nose. “You’re just lucky that Kara caught you.” She gave Fi’s cape a little ruffle with her hand. “That cape doesn’t mean you can fly,” she reminded her.

Fi nodded dutifully and turned her attention to Kara. “Where’s your cape?”

“My cape?” Kara’s eyebrows shot upward and she fiddled with her glasses, looking to Lena as if she were shrinking into herself in a bid to make herself look smaller. 

Fi nodded. “Do you have it on under your sweater?” She craned her neck trying to get a better look, eyes shining brightly before turning her attention back to Lena. “Can I wear my cape under my shirt or my pajamas?” She plucked at her shirt, eyes alight with possibility. 

Lena exchanged another brief but meaningful look with Kara, communicating without speaking, too rudimentary to be called telepathy but something in the ballpark at least.

“Fi..." Lena said gently, not quite sure what to say. “This is Kara . You know who she is. You’ve seen lots of pictures…”

“You have lots of pictures of me?” Kara looked pleased, fiddling with her glasses again.

Lena blushed, a little too distracted to feel too embarrassed about that revelation. There had been a time that her home in Ireland hadn’t had a single photograph or memento from her time in National City. It had been too painful a thing being reminded of what she had left behind until one day it had become too painful not to have them there.

Fi studied Kara’s face, looking momentarily unsure like she had suddenly found herself on shaky ground before her smile returned and she leaned back precariously closer to Lena. She whispered in that voice of hers that was the farthest thing from a whisper: “I know she’s Supergirl,” she said in a tone that might have had the faintest hint of pity that  Lena might not have caught on.

“I was waiting for you over there,” Fi said and pointed to the spot on the floor next to the balcony she had recently vacated. “I thought that you would fly in through the balcony,” Fi said, sounding almost disappointed that she hadn’t.

Kara’s gaze settled on Lena, exchanging another look, this one closer to telepathy because Lena could almost hear Kara’s voice in her head: Is it okay? Lena glanced nervously at Fi and saw how at home she seemed in Kara’s arms, how safely that Kara was holding her, and responded to Kara’s question with a small smile.

“I can fly in through the balcony next time,” Kara offered. “Just as long as you promise that you’ll let me in.” She pretended to pound on an invisible door with her free hand which made Fi giggle.

“Supergirl foiled by a locked door,” Lena teased, the carefree expression on her face morphing into one of puzzlement. “Fi?”

“What?”

“How did you know that Kara was Supergirl?”

Fi stared back at her, looking equally as puzzled. She studied Kara’s face for a moment and turned back to face Lena. “I just knew. Why?”

“You just amaze me is all,” Lena said, voice dripping with affection.

“You amaze me,” Fi said, returning Lena’s compliment with gusto.

“Such a sweet thing to say and so far from bedtime at that,” Lena teased, eyes twinkling. “But before we have dinner, we need to talk about something.” She dropped to one knee so that she and Fi were face to face knowing that there would come a time that she wouldn’t need to stoop 

“What about?”

“Well,” Lena said, wishing that the numerous parenting books she had read over the years had included a chapter about secret identities. “About Kara and about Supergirl.” She looked up at Kara, giving her the green light to jump in any time, feeling somehow lighter knowing that this particular teachable moment wasn’t one she wouldn’t be facing alone.

“There’s a reason that Supergirl keeps her name a secret,” Lena said, not for the first time since diving headfirst into motherhood like she was edging out onto a tree branch unsure if it would bear up under her weight.

“Because of the bad guys?”

Lena smiled. Luckily for her, this matter was much more black and white than some of the other things the two would need to discuss one day. So often things were shades of varying grey rather than just black and white and who knew that better than herself? “Because of the bad guys. And not just because it could be dangerous for Kara but to keep the people she cares about safe.”

“Like you and your mom,” Kara said. She joined Lena on the floor choosing to sit instead of kneeling. She lifted Fi into her lap. “I know that it’s a big secret to keep,” Kara said and she glanced at Lena when she said this, a silhouette of guilt crossed her face and she reached a hand out that Lena took almost at once, her heart picking up speed like a locomotive.

“It’s a good secret,” Lena assured her. She wanted to make that abundantly clear. “Aunt Sam knows too… So it’s one that we can share with the people that Kara cares about the most.”

“I can keep it,” Fi said. She looked from Kara and back to Lena. Her face was all business and with her raven hair tied back in a ponytail, Lena could see herself in her. She wasn’t sure if that was a good thing or not.

Lena smiled warmly. She was certain that Fi could keep the secret. If she hadn’t been Lena would have made a go of convincing her that Kara was Kara and Supergirl was Supergirl but even if she had, Lena wasn’t so sure that it would have done any good. Bells couldn’t be unrung, after all. “I know you can, my treasure.”


“And so do I.” Kara grinned and floated up off the ground keeping a tight hold on Fi as they rose high enough for Kara's head to brush the ceiling and touch down on the floor again.

“Mom! Did you see us? We flew!”

“I saw.” She stood up and stroked Fi’s hair, then the side of her face. She did the same thing sometimes when she slipped into her room at night to check in on her before turning in herself. Almost as if she needed to be sure she was still there.

Kara’s stomach gave a comically loud rumble that seemed to surprise even her. She grinned sheepishly and toyed with her glasses a bit. “Do they have Big Belly Burger in Ireland?” she asked, looking around at both Lena and Fi.




Ireland didn’t have a Big Belly Burger. The powers that be hadn’t expanded out that way. There was, of course, no shortage of fast food places even in the small town that she had put down roots but in Lena’s humble opinion there was nothing that could compare to Big Belly Burger. 


Settled down on hard plastic seats at a table in the corner, the three of them ate their way through two trays piled high with burgers and fries while they talked until all that remained was a few blots of ketchup and a crumpled pile of burger wrappers.

Full and feeling more than a little drowsy, Lena took a sip of her cola, banking on the brevity of the sugar rush to see her out the other side of her approaching food coma. She gave the haphazard pile of wrappers a little jab with her finger as she counted and tilted her head mischievously. “Thank God that the hotel has a gym. My metabolism isn’t what it used to be.” She sighed dramatically, one eyebrow arched playfully. Maybe in a few more years when her youth was more firmly behind her, she might find it hard to joke about such things but for now, she had no trouble at all.

“You probably still eat too much kale,” Kara said, scrunching her nose as Fi nodded vehemently, still pushing the toy car that had come in her kids' meal across the table. 

“And you don’t eat enough,” Lena countered.

“I had a kale salad just the other day. Honest!” she said when Lena looked at her skeptically. “If you make me fly home and dig the receipt out of the garbage...” she mumbled, grinning to herself.

“Kara Danvers willingly choosing to eat kale? I’m just going to assume that pigs learned to fly while I was in National City while I was away.”

Kara went slightly pink and she crumpled up the burger wrapper in front of her into an impossibly small ball, placing it daintily on top of the pile, her gaze settling somewhere over Lena’s right shoulder. “It reminds me of you…”

It was Lena’s turn to blush, thankful that Kara’s gaze was still fixed somewhere over her shoulder but waited until their eyes met before she spoke. After a decade apart, Lena had no desire to leave things unsaid and she was certain that Kara felt the same. “It’s just too bad that you’ll never get a chance to miss me that much again… It’s going to be impossible to get you to eat vegetables otherwise,” she teased.

“You don’t eat vegetables?” Fi asked. Lena could almost hear the gears turning in her head and Lena could already hear the defense that Fi would mount the next time she set down a plate in front of her with too much green on it: Supergirl doesn’t eat vegetables!

“I eat vegetables! It’s just your mom eats too many and it makes me look bad. And she’s usually so sweet.” Kara put a hand over her heart, eyes closed for a moment before she opened them again, hand reaching for her oversized drink. “I completely forgot! How did your meeting at L-Corp go? Good news, I hope.”

She wouldn’t have gone as far as to call it good news but she also couldn’t classify it as bad either. A first for when it came to her mother. Lena stole a  glance over at Fi who was steering the toy car along with the table's edge, deftly avoiding what looked like a ketchup stain that might have been there since Lena had last been in National City. “The meeting went well… I think. Lillian signed over the majority of her shares to me. Without that… She can make a lot of noise but it would be impossible to do anything more than that.’

“That fast?” Kara’s face fell and it looked like she realized it a second too late because she overcorrected and smiled toothily. “I figured that you would be here for a while cleaning up that mess…”

Me too…

“But that’s great… For Sam, and for the company. And you,” Kara added, looking somewhat guilty.

“I don’t know about great,” Lena said, shaking her cup and rattling the ice that remained inside like a maraca. “You didn’t have any run-ins with her at all while I was gone, did you?”

“No.” Kara took a long sip of her drink, draining half of it in one giant gulp. “She’s been off the DEO’s radar for a while now too. She’s been, as far as I can tell, a model citizen.”

“Next time you do a patrol you might want to look for those flying pigs,” Lena said. Kara’s testimony was another point in her mother’s favor but it was not nearly enough to absolve her completely of all suspicion. Her mother had no goodwill to draw on and years worth of duplicitous behavior that made Lena doubt if taking the olive branch that she had extended to her was wise, especially with Fi in the picture.

“She wants to have dinner together,” Lena said, tracing a finger along the rim of her cup, grinning when she saw the gobsmacked expression on Kara’s face.

“Who wants to have dinner together?” Fi asked, leaping back into the conversation.

Not for the first time did the idea of simply lying to her mother about Fi not wanting to have dinner with her leaped into her mind. It was by far the most expedient solution. Sam had what she needed and while her mother would definitely know that she was lying, what did that matter, really?. She would have (for the first time in her life) the moral high ground on Lena which while irksome didn’t mean anything to Lena especially when it meant keeping Fi far from her mother’s orbit. But if she truly just wanted dinner together, no strings and no hidden machinations…

“Your grandmother...  While we’re visiting, she thought it would be nice if we have dinner together. If you wanted to, of course, Fi.” Lena tried her best to keep her tone at the very least, neutral, not quite able to find it within herself to sound excited about the prospect of dinner with her mother but maybe if she had more time…. Or alcohol, she thought. That would help tremendously.

“My Grandma?” Fi asked, her eyes wide as she let the toy car go. It bounced off one of the plastic trays on the table and careened off the edge of the table. Before it hit the ground, Kara reached out a hand, caught it, and slid it back onto the table, not taking her eyes off Lena the entire time.

Lena nodded. “My mot- My mom,” she said, earning an inquiring look from Fi that passed as quickly and easily as a summer storm. “She wants to meet you.” I just wish I knew that was all she wanted…

“Meet me?” Fi asked, sounding sincerely surprised, eyes wide and doelike.

“Meet you, yes,” Lena said, chuckling. “Who wouldn’t want to meet you, my treasure?”

“I want to too. I want to meet grandma.”

That might be the first time that anyone’s ever been excited to see you, mother… 

“Can Kara come too?” Fi asked, tugging on Kara’s arm as polite as can be.

Lena couldn’t think of any person that her mother would have less liked to share a meal with except for maybe Kara’s cousin. It was something so unlikely that Lena had trouble even imagining what that might look like. In her mind’s eye, she saw her mother and Kara sitting on opposite ends of that impossibly long dining table that you almost needed to shout across in order to be heard. She could hear the clatter of silverware and feel the uncomfortable silence that rolled in like a thick morning fog. The image became so vivid that Lena gave her head a little shake and looked up at Kara.

“Well…” Kara said diplomatically, not floundering exactly but to Lena’s trained eye it looked like she would get there sooner rather than later. “I think that-”

“Would be a lovely idea,” Lena finished for her. “If you’re not busy... “ She leaned closer to Kara, pretending to try and get a better look at the menu so she could whisper to Kara without Fi realizing. “If you don’t want to go,” she hissed. “You don’t have to.”

“I am never too busy for you or your mom,” Kara said. “But are you sure that it’s okay? If it’s just family I wouldn’t want to intrude…”

“You can’t do that if you’re invited,” Lena reminded her. “Right, Fi?”

“Right!” Fi chirped, bouncing a little in her seat, reaching for the toy car and pushing it along the edge of the table. “So you’ll come?”

Kara nodded, looking around at both of them. “I wouldn’t miss it for the world.”




The night air was just beginning to bite when the three of them arrived back in the hotel room and Lena took a moment to rub her hands together to force some warmth back into them. “The winters in Ireland are a lot milder,” Lena explained. “My body’s not used to the cold.”

“Maybe you should start wearing a cape,” Kara teased and sped over to the couch, grabbed a blanket, and returned to Lena’s side in the blink of an eye.  She wrapped the blanket around Lena’s shoulders before she had time to protest.

Blushing, Lena drew the blanket tighter around her. “I’ll take it under advisement.”

“That means that she’s thinking about it,” Fi said helpfully to Kara. She had heard Lena use that same turn of phrase many times before and had already asked what it had meant.

“While I think about it. How about getting washed up and into your pajamas?”

“I can do that,” Fi said, already making a beeline for the bathroom, cape rippling out behind her.

“Cape off!” Lena called after her, fishing her cellphone from her pocket. “Could you go help her with that? I should call my mother before it's too late. Let her know that Fi agreed to meet her and to set an extra place at the table,” she teased.

“You gave me the easy job.” Kara laid a hand on Lena’s shoulder, squeezed gently, and floated past her towards the bathroom, sparing a glance back, flashing her a thumbs up.

“Still welcome to trade,” Lena muttered, grinning to herself when she heard Kara let out a guffaw of laughter from the other room.

"No way!"

Lena had expected (or maybe hoped) that the phone would ring long enough for her to prepare herself for the call but her mother picked up right after the second ring.

“Hello, Lena.”

“I told you that I would be in touch,” Lena said, as always, feeling as if she needed to be on the defensive from the get-go when it came to her family, not that there was much of it left. She and her mother were all that was left of the Luthor name. 

“Yes, I still remember this afternoon vividly enough. I’m not quite that old yet, Lena.”

“If you’re free tomorrow-”

“I am,” Lillian answered without waiting for Lena to finish. “It would be much harder to find a day I was busy.”

“No book club?” Lena snarked, unable to help herself.

“No. I’m not that lonely,” Lillian said, sounding mortified as if joining a book club was the one line she would not under any circumstances cross no matter how lonely she might have been.

“Then we can have dinner tomorrow,” Lena said. She turned towards the bathroom at the sound of laughter and splashing from inside and the corners of her mouth tipped upward. “Fi wants to meet you too.”

There was a momentary silence on the other end before Lillian spoke again. “I’m glad to hear that.”

Let's hope you stay glad, Lena hoped. “And Kara will be coming too,” she said, refusing to tiptoe around the subject.

More silence. “ As a guest, I hope and not a bodyguard. I understand your trepidation, Lena, but I can assure you that it’s just dinner.”

“As a guest,” Lena said, a faint note of amusement in her voice. “You don’t mind?”

“No, Lena, I don’t mind. Were you maybe hoping I might?”

“Maybe a little bit,” Lena admitted. “Tomorrow then?”

Yes, tomorrow. Five o’clock. I’ll text you the address. It’s not all that far from where your old apartment was… It shouldn’t be that hard for you to find.”

“I’ll manage, I’m sure.”

Is Fiona allergic to anything? Anything she doesn’t like?”

Lena blinked, surprised at the foresight. Was this really the same woman who had on some days forgotten (or pretended) that she didn’t even exist when they had been living under the same roof? The same woman who had shipped her off to boarding school without so much as a goodbye and had never once seemed at all interested in getting to know Lena?

Lena?”

“No allergies to worry about. She doesn’t like edamame or kale all that much but she will eat it without too much fussing.” Kara complains more than her… “You’re not cooking, are you?” She found the idea of her mother turning over a new life unbelievable enough but trying to imagine her in the kitchen with an apron tied around her waist baking cookies was even harder.

“I would hate to ruin the surprise,” Lillian said, her voice lathered with sarcasm. “Thank you, Lena… I thought when you called….”

“I would cut and run? Even I’m not that cruel, mother.”

“No, you’re not, but I wouldn’t have blamed you if you did.  I’ll see you and Fiona and Kara, tomorrow…”

“Tomorrow,” Lena said. She resisted the urge to pinch herself to make sure that this wasn’t some very elaborate dream.

Does Kara have anything she can’t eat?”

Lena stifled a chuckle with the back of her hand. “She’s pickier than Fi…”

“I am not!” Kara yelled, her voice floating out from the bathroom.

Is that her?”

Lena blushed. “It is.” She cleared her throat, shifting her phone from one ear to the other. “She loves potstickers. But that might be a bit too difficult…”

“I’ll keep that in mind. Have a good night, Lena.”

“Good night, mother.”

Lena lingered on the phone a few moments after the call disconnected before setting it down on the coffee table in front of her.

"How did it go?" Kara had poked her head out from the bedroom. She had her hair up in a messy bun and she had taken off her glasses.

"Good? I think? Honestly, I'm kind of waiting for the other shoe to drop."

Kara chuckled. "And if there is no other shoe this time?" she asked.

Lena blinked. "I don't know. I guess that means I'll have to call home every now and then and visit on her birthday." It sounded to Lena too normal when her entire life had been anything but. "Either way.... Agreeing to have dinner with Lillian Luthor, you have to like Fi an awful lot to agree to that," she said, only half-joking.

Kara nodded, hands up in mock surrender. "What gave me away?" She took a few steps closer to Lena, closing the distance between them.

"I told you, weaponized cuteness." Lena pretended to furrow her brow and let out a little gasp of surprise when Kara pulled her into a hug, her head coming to rest against Kara's shoulder.

"I still can't believe you're here," Kara whispered. "Can't believe that I get to hug you again..."

"Want me to pinch you?" Lena asked breathlessly. She could hear her heart pounding, almost feel it thudding away, and tried not to think about how Kara could most definitely hear it as well, might even feel it with how tight their embrace was.

"I want you to stay," Kara whispered in her ear, sending bolts of electricity arcing down Lena's back. "I know it wouldn't be easy... And I don't want to uproot Fi... But promise me that you'll think about it." Kara jerked her thumb back behind her towards the bedroom and cleared her throat. "Fi's waiting for a bedtime story and I think she prefers the way you read for Alice." She sniffed, pretending to look hurt. "We can take turns if you don't mind sharing the spotlight..."

"With you? In a heartbeat. Maybe we could have some coffee afterward?"

"It's a date," Kara said and pointed back towards the couch, taking a few steps toward the bedroom. "If you don't mind sharing your pajamas, that is."

"Share?" Lena cocked an eyebrow upward, still blushing. "Those are definitely yours now, you probably stretched them all out," she teased.

Chapter Text

Stepping out of Alex and Kelly’s bathroom for the third time that afternoon, this time wearing a blue dress, Kara did a half-hearted turn and immediately looked to Alex to gauge her first impression. “Is it better than the green one, at least?” She pointed to the small pile of clothes in the middle of the living room, outfits that she had already tried on and ruled out.

“It’s definitely better,” Alex said, looking at Kara with the careful eye of an art critic, getting up from her spot on the couch and stepping closer. “But that's just because you look better in blue." 

"It's not too much?"

"It might be," Alex said cagily and sighed loudly when Kara disappeared back into the bathroom before she could stop her. "If it was dinner with anyone else," she called through the door, not bothering to raise her voice, sure that Kara could hear her just fine. "I’d say you were overdressed but you're having dinner with—

"Lena, I know," Kara said and stepped out once again, this time wearing a floral print dress, face already downcast. "Which is why I brought half of my closet over here… Maybe I should fly back…"

"I was more talking about you having dinner with Lillian Luthor," Alex said and flashed Kara a grin before her lips thinned, suddenly looking pensive. “Are you sure that Lillian just wants to have dinner, Kara?”

“I am. Lena has her doubts, obviously, but even she admitted that Lillian seemed sincere.”

“Well, faking sincerity is not exactly out of Lillian’s wheelhouse,” Alex said with a shrug and ran a hand through her hair.

“Maybe not,” Kara admitted, “but in all that time that the DEO kept tabs on her, Lillian never got so much as a parking ticket. I don’t know, Alex. After all that time apart, all that time alone, I’d put more money on her wanting to reconnect with Lena than try and get revenge on her.”

“You might have a point,” Alex said after a long stretch of silence. “Just promise that you’ll keep your guard at least partway up while you’re there.” She brushed some hair from her face and managed the easygoing smile that Kara was so fond of. “But, I did want to circle back around to Lena,” she said and pointed to the couch before walking over to it and flopping down on it, patting the cushion next to her. 

Kara glanced over at the remaining outfits that she had yet to try on but shuffled over to the couch and sat down beside Alex. “What about her?”

“Where to start,” Alex said, a bemused smile spreading across her face. “How about with the fact that Lena’s been back in town a few days and you decided to keep that to yourself. Until this morning, when you burst in, nearly knocking Kelly over on her way out the door, carrying an armful of clothes and yelling about having to pick what to wear to dinner with Lena and her mother. And her daughter .”

“I only have half an hour,” Kara said apologetically. She checked her watch needlessly and checked it again right after as if worried that the minute hand might suddenly lurch forward and make her late for dinner. “I don’t want to be late for—”

“Your date,” Alex finished for her and stood up off the couch. “You can give me the bullet points now and fill in all the blanks tomorrow if you have the time. But while you do, let’s make sure you know what you’re wearing before you go.” She reached down into the pile of clothes that Kara had yet to try on and pulled out a teal turtleneck sweater. “Go try this one on and then tell me again how you ran into Lena.”



Piled into a cab with Kara on one side and Fi on the other, Lena felt the skeptical part of her brain offer up one final argument in favor of canceling dinner. After growing up in the same house as Lillian, she had more than enough material to form a very compelling argument. There were years and years of awful holidays and dinners within the manor to draw from, experiences and memories that she still could recall with alarming clarity. But as the cab rolled one street closer to Lillian’s apartment with evening traffic slowing them to almost a crawl, Lena found herself surprisingly calm.

It might have had something to do with Kara who was sitting on her left and cradling Lena’s hand gently in her lap, looking out the window the way a first-time tourist might, or it could have been Fi who was sitting on her other side with a book open on her lap, lost in her own little world and the knowledge that Lena would do anything she needed to protect her. Or maybe, just maybe it was the cautious inkling of hope that her mother really was sincere this time, that this wasn’t another manipulation, one last chance to get a swipe in at Lena before Lena went somewhere out of her reach…

“We’re here,” Kara said softly, giving Lena’s hand a gentle squeeze as the cab came to a stop in front of a high-rise apartment that looked remarkably similar to the building of Lena's old penthouse.
“Last chance for the three of us to make a run for it,” Lena whispered, leaning just close enough to Kara so that Fi wouldn’t overhear, only mostly joking.

“Just say the word,” Kara whispered back, unbuckling her seatbelt and stepping out of the car. “But,” she said and stuck her head back inside the car, “I am starving so…”

“I am too!” Fi said and gave Lena’s arm a gentle tug

“Are you? Must have been all that flying you did today,” Lena said and gave Fi’s cape a flutter that she had on over her blouse. She lifted FI carefully out of her seat and clambered carefully out of the cab, wrapping Fi’s cape around her so that it didn’t get caught in the door.

“No!” Fi said laughing, hiding her face in the crook of Lena’s shoulder. “That’s not why!”

“No?” Lena asked, feigning shock. “I guess you wore the cape in case of an emergency then?”

Fi nodded gravely. “An emergency,” she agreed and exchanged a smile with Kara.

“Thinking ahead,” Lena said, nodding approvingly. “I doubt that there will be an emergency at dinner, although,” she said and leaned close to Fi’s ear to whisper conspiratorially. “Kara has been known to eat too much, we might need to roll her home.”

“My place is a long way from this part of the city,” Kara said and pointed with an exaggerated motion to highlight just how far away it really was. “I think it would be too far for you to roll me anywhere, so I’ll try not to eat too much.” She traced a cross over her heart and smiled.

“You can stay with us,” Fi suggested, looking at Kara over Lena’s shoulder. “Then you can both read me a story tonight.”

“You are just a font of good ideas, aren’t you, my treasure?” Lena tousled Fi’s hair and glanced over at Kara apologetically. “But Kara might be—”

“Just waiting for a proper invitation,” Kara finished. She took the stairs leading up to the apartment two at a time and paused with her hand near the intercom. “Maybe you should be the one to ring the bell,” she said sheepishly.

“And run away?” Lena teased, coaxing a small titter from Kara that she covered up with a cough. It took her only a moment to double-check the apartment number before punching it into the call box.  She heard an audible buzzing sound from somewhere inside and pushed open the front door.

“What floor does grandma live on?” Fi asked, marching in behind Lena, taking her usual position behind her the way she always did when priming to meet someone new. 

Grandma, Lena mused. Bet you never thought anyone would ever call you that. But I never would have thought someone would ever call me mom… 

“Grandma lives right at the very top,” Lena said as all three of them stepped into the elevator. The doors slid shut and Lena scanned the array of buttons before pressing the one that would take them to the highest floor.

It wasn’t just Fi who took refuge behind Lena when they came to a stop in front of the door to Lillian’s penthouse, Kara also took a small step back so that Lena was in the lead. Lena paused with her finger on the doorbell and shot Kara an amused smirk before pressing it and heard the faintest chime of bells from inside. She heard footsteps approach and the click of a lock before the door swung open to reveal her mother standing there wearing something that Lena had never seen her in before: an apron.

“Hello, Lena,” Lillian said with a carefulness that Lena had never heard before. She opened the door wider and made brief eye contact with Kara who had clasped one of Fi’s hands gently in her own. “Kara.”

“L—Miss Luthor,” Kara quickly amended and smiled warmly at her, looking just as nervous as Lena felt.

“And you must be Fiona.”

Fi nodded shyly, peering out at her from behind Lena. “You’re my grandma?” she asked looking up at Lena for confirmation.

Seeing the careful skepticism on Fi’s face, Lena was both proud and more than a little amused, the corners of her mouth twitching as she nodded. “Yes, my treasure, this is your grandma.” Please, please, for the love of God, don’t let this be a mistake. 

“Come on in,” Lillian said and took a step back to let them inside. She cinched her apron tighter around her waist and when a buzzing sound came floating in from the kitchen she very quickly pointed them towards the living room. “I just need a minute to check on dinner. Make yourselves comfortable.”

“You’re cooking?” Lena called after her mother’s retreating form, unable to stop herself. She and Kara exchanged identical looks of surprise. Lena couldn’t recall a single time that she had ever seen her mother in the kitchen back at the mansion, something that she was sure the staff was thankful for, which might have been why so many of them had taken their breaks there.
“I am,” she called back, once again, her response devoid of the icy chill that Lena simply had expected to accompany every word out of her mouth. “I took a class,” she said, “A private class,” she added as if she too found the idea of her taking a cooking class with others just as mind-boggling as Lena did. 

Still processing the fact that her mother had seemingly learned to cook, Lena sat down stiffly on the end of the leather sofa sitting against the far wall. She managed a genuine smile when Fi clambered up beside her and it only widened when Kara sat down on Fi’s other side. She kissed the side of Fi’s head and gave her cape another little flutter with her hand. That seemed enough to blow the last stubborn dregs of shyness away because Fi didn’t bother to lean close to Lena’s ear to whisper the question she had.

“Does grandma live here all by herself?”

“Not completely,” Lillian answered before Lena had been able to cobble together a polite enough answer. She had returned from the kitchen with a streak of flour on her cheek that she wiped away with a kind of fussiness that Lena recognized from her childhood. It was the face her mother made when she felt as if she had been inconvenienced. “Loki’s stalking around here somewhere,” she said and put her hands on her knees as she bent forward to peer underneath the piano on the opposite wall.

“Loki?” Lena asked.

“I have a cat,” she said primly and pointed towards a chair situated close to the door overlooking the large balcony.

“A cat?!” Kara and Fi said together, both of them bending down to get a better look underneath the chair that Lilian was pointing to. Fi hopped off the sofa and took a few steps towards the chair that Lillian had pointed to before trotting back to Lena. “Can I go say hello?” she asked sweetly.

“I don’t know,” Lena answered honestly. “He might be napping,” she said. And he might scratch, Lena thought, not wanting to vocalize that concern for fear of scaring Fi. “Better ask Grandma,” Lena suggested trying not to dwell too much on the idea of her putting her trust in her mother, something that she had learned time and time again was a bad idea...

“He’s always napping. You can definitely say hello,” she assured Fi and when Fi took off like a shot, she caught Lena’s eye. “He’s never once scratched me,” she said as if she could read Lena’s mind. “The worst thing that he’ll do is beg her for more attention.” She shook her head and looked to Lena as if she had a hard time fathoming such an existence. 

“Be gentle with him, Fi,” Lena called over to her, still wanting to run to her side, despite all of her mother’s assurances. 

“I’ll go say hello too,” Kara said standing up. “I love cats.” She reached over and gave Lena a reassuring squeeze on the arm that got her heart immediately racing. Kara flashed Lena a somewhat knowing smile, stood up, and walked over to where Fi was laying on her stomach to get a better look under the chair.

“You named him, Loki?” Lena asked.

“It seemed appropriate,” Lillian offered up and when she didn’t elaborate any further, Lena considered the matter closed until Lillian pointed to the arm of the couch which she realized was riddled with scratch marks. “Five scratchings posts in the house and he still loves to scratch up every bit of Italian leather in the apartment.”

“Good taste,” Lena offered and was surprised when Lillian chuckled. Had she ever heard her laugh before? She had definitely heard her cackle several times or at least do something very similar to it when she had been in the middle of gloating but she couldn’t recall a single time that she actually laughed. It suits you, mother.

“If only his palate was so discerning. He’ll eat anything I put down in front of him.  But our dinner’s ready, just waiting on the potstickers. I—”

“You actually made potstickers?”

“You said that Kara loves them,” she said slowly. “Did you not?”

“I did. I just didn’t expect you to make them.”

“You didn’t have to go to all the trouble, Miss Luthor,” Kara said from the other side of the room. She had successfully coaxed the cat out from under the chair and was sitting cross-legged on the floor with him curled up in her lap while Fi gently stroked under his chin, looking completely in love. The cat was a sleek-looking tortoiseshell that had a brilliant patch of orange over its left eye and despite his nap time being interrupted, looked completely at peace lying there in Kara’s lap despite them just having met.

“You can call me, Lillian, Miss Luthor seems a bit formal now,” she said with a very tiny shrug of her shoulders that made it clear that the decision was wholly Kara’s.

“Alright then. “Lillian," she said carefully, testing the waters.

“Should I call you Lillian too?” Fi asked shyly, her attention split between the cat who was purring contently with its tail sashaying left to right and Lillian.

“I would prefer Grandma,” she said with a small smile. “But, whatever you prefer, Fiona.”

Fi hummed. “Grandma’s better,” she said after a few seconds of very careful deliberation.

Lillian nodded. “I think so too.”




Lillian had prepared a roast chicken and potatoes that she cooked to near perfection with a spinach salad that Lena was able to spoon onto her plate without a fuss. Maybe because Kara had made a big show about piling a large portion onto her plate just before she had passed the bowl to them. Lena wasn’t sure if the show was for Fi’s benefit or her mother’s but appreciated it all the same. There was also a platter of potstickers that Lillian carried out of the kitchen not long after everyone had sat down that she set down closest to Kara.

“It’s my first time making them,” she said and surveyed the platter with a sour expression on her face, clearly not happy with the result. “Not that it’s an excuse but they could have turned out better.”

“They look amazing,” Kara gushed, phone already in hand while she tried to find a good angle to snap a picture. “ This was your first time?” She gestured to the platter and snapped a quick photo that she seemed happy with because she stowed her phone back in her pocket. “I really hope you didn’t go to all the trouble for me, though. It’s too much.”

“It was no trouble.” Lillian sat back down and pulled her chair closer to the table. “Cooking has become something of a hobby of mine.”

“I noticed,” Lena said and held out her plate to let Kara drop a few potstickers onto her plate. “Since when did you take up cooking?”

“Oh… Four years now?” She furrowed her brow and Lena could better see the fine lines that bracketed the corners of her mother’s mouth that appeared to be one of the few signs that her mother did in fact age. “I don’t have a particular knack for it, but that might be why I’ve gravitated to it.”

“You always did like a challenge,” Lena agreed. “Natural talent or not,” she said, this is all very good. It’s our first home-cooked meal since getting here.” Maybe the last, she reminded herself. Her reason for being back in National City would officially be concluded after tonight and under other circumstances, Lena would be more than ready to return. But there was Kara to think about, and what she had asked of her the night before… To stay...

“Thank you, Lena…”

“You’re welcome,” Lena replied, nonplussed, and turned her head towards Fi to partially obscure the shock that she knew was visible on her face. “How’s your dinner, my treasure?”

“Really good,” she replied with a forkful of potato halfway to her mouth. Lena watched her left hand twitch towards her cape and Lena slid a napkin over towards her like a card dealer and winked. “Not a napkin,” she reminded her with a grin. “You can’t possibly save the world in a dirty cape.”

Fi nodded solemnly and took the napkin, dabbing at her mouth.

“She went as Supergirl for Halloween,” Lena said, turning back to her mother. “If the cape didn’t make it obvious enough. I have pictures if you want to see,” she offered.

“I’d love to."

Once again surprised, Lena reached into the pocket of her jeans and pulled out her phone. She leaned closer to her mother and quickly swiped through a series of photos that she had taken since then. There was one she had taken in front of L-Corp with Sam standing just off-center with her hand half-heartedly covering her face and a few others of her and Fi taken in their hotel room. She finally found the ones she had taken on Halloween night and blushed when she swiped to one she had taken of herself, Kara and Fi huddled together in front of one of the last houses they had visited before calling it a night.

“It looks like the three of you had a good time,” Lillian said without a hint of mockery in her voice.

“We did,” Kara answered, spearing another potsticker off the platter and dropping it onto her plate. “Best Halloween I’ve ever had.”

“And I got lots of candy,” Fi added.

“Yes, you could open up your own sweet shop,” Lena said, thinking of the candy mountain that Fi had spent so much time arranging just right on the coffee table in their hotel room and how with even the three of them nibbling on it together it was still very much a monolith of chocolate and nougat. 

“I did make dessert too,” Lillian said and speared a few pieces of spinach onto her fork. “So I hope that you haven’t had your fill of sweets just yet.”

“Oh no,” Lena answered for Fi and reached over to give her arm a playful squeeze. “I don’t think that’s possible. For Fi or Kara,” she teased.

“Hey!” Kara said, not able to mount a stronger defense with her mouth full of food.

“Not possible,” Fi agreed, and maybe because she knew dessert was coming she took another bite of her salad and smiled sweetly at Lena who smiled right back.




After the table had been cleared, Lillian brought out a chocolate cake from the kitchen on a glittering glass cake stand that she set in the middle of the table before she hurried back into the kitchen muttering about plates.

“I can help you with that,” Lena offered. She stood up, chair scraping against the floor in her haste to follow after her. Stepping into the kitchen, Lena took a moment to marvel at the kitchen which was so clean that it was glittering. There was a bowl of fresh fruit on the kitchen island and a neat stack of dishes in the sink, evidence of how time-consuming preparing their meal had been. Lena found her gaze drawn to a number of cookbooks lined up neatly against the wall near the looming tower that was her mother's fridge, fit so snug against one another that it must have been a hassle pulling one out without yanking the whole damn row out with it.

“You weren’t kidding about cooking being a hobby,” Lena said and accepted the handful of dainty pastry forks that her mother held out to her.

“No,” she said, taking a handful of small plates down from a high shelf. "I thought it would be a waste of the kitchen if I didn't put it to use. She took a few steps back towards the dining room and came to a sudden stop. "Everything was really okay?"

"More than okay. Fi asked for a second helping of salad which isn't always the easiest thing. That's the equivalent of snagging a Michelin star or two. Maybe even harder.” 

Lillian chuckled. "I'll have to take your word for it.” She took another step towards the dining room and stopped again. “Lena?”

“Yeah?” 

“Thank you for agreeing to dinner,” she said and glanced over her shoulder at Lena very briefly before she swept from the kitchen before Lena could reply. Following in her wake, Lena passed forks around the table while her mother cut generous wedges of cake for the four of them.

She took the two plates that her mother passed to her and placed one down in front of Fi who was waiting just as patiently as a kid seven going on eight could be. “What do you say to your grandma, Fi?”

“Thank you, Grandma!” Fi said, leaning so far over the table that she nearly put her elbow in the piece of cake in front of her. The thank you came easily and so full of genuine appreciation that Lena could feel the enormity of her love for Fi swell in her chest.

“You’re very welcome, Fiona.” Lillian smiled hesitantly and almost seemed to shrink under the intensity of Fi’s smile, her gaze lowering to the piece of cake in front of her that was still untouched.

“Do you make a lot of cakes?” Fi asked her while she carefully used her fork to saw off a bite-sized piece of cake and speared it on the end of her fork.

“Not many,” Lillian said. “I’ve never cared for sweets if you can believe it.”

“Oh,” Fi said, the shock on her face making it clear that she almost couldn’t believe it. “But you still made one today.”

“Today is a very special occasion,” Lillian said. “It’s not every day that you get to meet your granddaughter.” She picked up her fork and cut a small wedge off the already thin slice she had set down in front of herself and smiled. “Tell me if it has too much chocolate.”

“Oh, I wouldn’t worry about that,” Lena said, wholly unconcerned.

Fi nodded in agreement and took her first bite. She chewed and immediately began to tap Lena persistently on the arm. “It’s really good,” she said in one of her patented loud whispers.

“I had a feeling it was,” Lena said and pointed to Kara’s plate which was already empty save for a few crumbs.

“I like cake,” Kara said without an ounce of shame. “It was amazing, Lillian. Everything was. I’ve been baking for years and if I ever made something as good as your cake I might need to consider opening up a bakery.”

“You’d be depriving the world of an amazing reporter,” Lena scolded playfully. She might have asked Kara just what she might call this fictitious bakery if Fi didn’t tug once again on her arm to get her attention.

“Can I go pet, Loki?” Fi asked sweetly, showing off a plate that was even cleaner than Kara’s.

Lena glanced over at her mother before she nodded. “Yes, you can, but let’s go wash your hands first before you do. I don’t think he would like it if you got chocolate all over him," she said and pointed out a smudge of frosting on Fi's pinky finger.

“The bathroom is just down the hall, first door on the left,” Lillian said, pointing to a hallway right behind her.

“Did you have a cat growing up?” Fi asked hopping down off her chair with her hands held out carefully in front of her.

“No,” Lena answered, smiling to herself. “I had horses.”

“Horses?”

Lena nodded.

“Can we get a horse?”

Walked right into that one, didn’t I? “We’ll be right back, just as soon as I get done negotiating with Fi.”

“Take your time,” Kara said, looking completely unworried. She had cut another sliver of cake for herself and had a forkful of cake almost to her mouth when Lillian cleared her throat.

“Kara?”

“Yes?!”

“May I ask what exactly you are to my daughter?”


Haven’t you already asked me this question?

Kara felt her cheeks start to burn and felt incredibly thankful that she hadn't actually taken a bite before Lillian had asked her question because she probably would have sent a spray of crumbs out over the length of the table. “I—”

“I already know,” Lillian said quickly, pushing her half-eaten piece of cake away and folding her hands on the table in front of her. “I just wanted to be sure that you knew, Kara.”

“We’re friends again,” Kara said and when Lillian’s gaze turned a degree or two colder, she bristled uncomfortably in her seat. “I want to be whatever Lena needs me to be,” Kara said after a long stretch of silence. “As a friend or something more… I just want her to be a part of my life again.”

Lillian let out a sigh and tapped her fork impatiently against the side of her plate. “That’s very… noble,” she said slowly, each word sounding as if it caused her physical pain. “But after all the time you two spent apart…”

“I asked her to stay,” Kara said in a very small voice. “I want them to stay. With me,” she added needlessly, suddenly not the least bit hungry. She was still waiting to hear Lena’s answer and while she had tried not to dwell on it, she hadn’t been all that successful. She told herself that either way, they had found their way back to one another and that would be enough for her and at first she had truly believed that but with each passing day it was becoming more difficult to believe that.

“Well,” Lillian said, looking somewhat mollified. “That’s something, I suppose.” She pinched the bridge of her nose between her thumb and index finger and let out a long, low sigh before she looked up to meet Kara’s gaze. “While I have you alone,” she said. “I owe you an apology as well. Multiple ones, I’m sure…”

“Lillian,” Kara started and fell silent when Lillian held up a hand.

“I’m embarrassed about the person I was before, the things that I did…” She let out a very long sigh and shook her head. “I hurt you a great deal, tried to…” She pursed her lips and fell silent. “I can’t even say it out loud,” she muttered. “I know it doesn’t make up for anything that I did and you don’t need to accept my apology but I want you to know just how truly sorry I am for hurting you.”

“Of course I’ll accept your apology.” Kara looked at her completely nonplussed. “After a meal like that, I don’t know how I could not,” she joked, smiling brightly.

Lillian chuckled. “Now you know why I took all those cooking classes.” She cleared her throat and gestured to Lena’s recently vacated chair. “I doubt that Lena will ever want to meet me again,” she said. “If you and Lena ever did finally stop beating around the bush… You wouldn’t need to worry about seeing me again if you were worried about another evening like this...”

Kara shook her head, listening to the sound of the running faucet in the bathroom, and could hear Fi making careful inquiries about the possibility of them getting a pet and smiled. I don’t know how you don’t spoil her rotten, Lena… Smiling, she turned her attention back to Lillian. “I can’t speak for Lena… But I would be crazy to turn down another dinner invitation if it ever came my way…”

“Anyone that wants to spend time with me,” Lillian muttered and shook her head disapprovingly in a way that Kara found strangely familiar. “Whatever happens between the two of you in the future, Kara… Please don’t hurt my daughter.” Lillian suddenly looked fearful and her eyes sparkled. She glanced away for only a moment before looking back at Kara, the sparkle completely gone as if it had never been there in the first place.

“Never,” Kara said. She leaned forward in her chair and felt her stomach clench uncomfortably at the sudden resurgence of old memories, old pain. “I would never hurt Lena or Fi,” Kara said solemnly. Never again. “ Never.”

Lillian sniffed and sat up even more straight-backed in her chair. She pushed her chair back and stood up. “You said that you had a cat growing up?”

“Yes,” Kara said and found herself smiling at the memory. “Streaky. He was my first friend here on Earth if you don’t count Alex and she didn’t really like me all that much when I first arrived so…”

“Interesting name,” Lillian said, striding past Kara towards the living room. “I’m sure that Loki would love all the extra attention he can get unless you have chocolate on your hands too....”




Lena had imagined the evening to be spent watching the clock until they had spent the appropriate amount of time there before beating a hasty retreat. What she hadn’t imagined was spending the evening swapping stories with Kara about their lives while Fi sat stock-still so as not to disturb Loki who had taken up residence on her lap, curled up there, purring and glancing up at Fi now and again with one eye opened blearily until she continued petting him.

Lillian didn’t do much talking, seemingly happy to just listen, asking the occasional question without ever drawing too much attention to herself as if she were afraid that she was somewhere that she didn’t truly belong and didn’t want to draw attention to that fact.

Only when Lena caught Fi dozing did she finally catch her mother’s eye who seemed to understand at once.

“It’s fine, Lena,” she said before Lena had a chance to speak. “You’ve stayed long enough.”

Lena could only nod, not quite sure how to answer. She stood up and was surprised at just how tired she felt until she realized that it was nearly midnight. I should have had you in bed hours ago, my treasure. She leaned down to scoop Fi up and did so only after giving Loki a gentle nudge and a scratch behind his ears to get to slink off of Fi’s lap and over to the spot on the couch that Lena had just stood up from.

Lifting her as gently as she could, she felt Fi stir against her shoulder as she tried to get her bearings.

“Mom?” Fi mumbled against her shoulder.

“It's past your bedtime, love. It’s time we head home.” She heard Fi mumble something incomprehensible against her shoulder and snuggle closer while she walked with Kara right behind her.

When they reached the door, Lena felt Fi once again stir against her shoulder and she leaned up to whisper in her ear.

“I want to say goodbye to Grandma,” she said, her voice still thick with sleep.

“Go right ahead, my treasure.” Lena expected her to wave but instead, Fi reached out and urged Lillian closer which she obliged, looking politely confused.

“Thank you for the cake, Grandma, and for meeting me,” Fi said before she leaned forward and kissed Lillian on the cheek before snuggling back against Lena’s shoulder.

“Thank you, Fiona,” Lillian said in a very quiet voice, touching the place on her cheek where Fi had kissed her, clearly touched. “Fi…”

“Lena…” Kara gave her shoulder a gentle squeeze. “I can take her and wave us down a cab if you like…” she offered. 

If you want some more time to say goodbye, Lena thought, knowing that was what Kara wanted to offer her. “She’s heavy,” Lena warned her with a smile before she handed Fi off just as gently as she could manage.

“Supergirl, remember?” Kara flashed Lena a radiant smile and took Fi from her. “Thank you for the lovely evening, Lillian.”

“You’re very welcome, Kara. Thank you for coming.”

Kara beamed and very gently eased open the apartment door, stepped out, and shut it behind her soundlessly leaving Lena and her mother alone.

The silence that immediately began to grow between the two had the potential to turn awkward and it probably would have if Lillian didn’t almost immediately bolt from the room. “I bought a Christmas present for Fiona,” she called from the other room. “For you as well. I know it’s a little early but I thought I should give it to her now…” She returned from the other room with two gifts wrapped in delicate gold wrapping paper and held them out to Lena.

“You didn’t have to do that…”

“You didn’t have to come to dinner,” Lillian countered.

“I suppose I didn’t,” Lena agreed, still not taking the gifts from her. “Christmas is still months away.”

“Lena…” she said, taking on a tone that Lena found far more familiar. “If you don’t want to give her the gift, you don’t need to take it.”

“It’s not that,” Lena said and found herself considering something that would have seemed crazy just a day or so ago… Or maybe it still was. She watched Loki pad over to Lillian and wind between her legs, purring.

“I told you that he can never get enough attention.” Lillian sighed but reached down to scratch him behind his ears anyway.

“I know that Fi would love to see him again and if she knows that there’s a Christmas present in the house, the suspense is going to drive her up the wall… So maybe you should just hold onto it… Give it to her closer to Christmas. Maybe you could visit us if you like…”

“Of course, I would.” Her mother blinked and cleared her throat. “If that’s alright with you.”

“I think it is,” Lena said carefully, still not quite able to put her guard down completely.

“Anytime, Lena. Whenever you’re ready.”

“I shouldn’t keep Kara waiting too long, it’s freezing out and I don’t want Fi to catch a cold.” She reached for the door and had her hand on the knob when Lillian spoke again.

“Yes, I think you kept that poor girl waiting long enough, don’t you?” She caught Lena’s eye when she poked her head back inside and waved her off the same way that Lena sometimes did when she gave Fi permission to go play.



“Fi’s going to demand that I read her two stories tomorrow night to make up for missing tonight,” Lena said as she sat down next to Kara on the couch in her pajamas, hair pulled back into a ponytail. 

“That sounds fair,” Kara said agreeably. She grinned at Lena and pulled her closer to her, sending Lena’s heart into overdrive for a few seconds .

“Taking her side?” Lena joked, putting one of her legs up on the coffee table.

“I hate to pick sides,” Kara whispered. “But…” She shook her head sadly. “I might have another weakness other than kryptonite. Alex might want to run some tests to be sure…”

“I warned you,” Lena said and felt her breath catch in her chest when Kara leaned her head against her shoulder.

“You read her one and I read her one? How does that sound?” Kara asked, looking up at Lena without lifting her head.

It sounds wonderful.

“Are you sure that’s how you want to spend your evening?” Lena asked, almost afraid to hear her answer.

“Lena,” Kara said, almost sounding as if she were scolding her. “There is no other place that I would rather be. Nowhere.

Taking a breath, Lena waited for her heart to stop beating quite so fast before she spoke again, knowing that Kara could hear it clearly. “What you asked me to think about last night, Kara…” She felt Kara tense beside her, bracing herself.  “I want to stay with you Kara, I didn’t even need to think it over for a second to know that, I just…”

“Just what?”

“It’s been so long,” Lena said thickly. She tried to blink back the tears that had begun forming and knew at once she was fighting a losing battle. "And I have Fi now."

“But you’re here,” Kara said. She sat up and took Lena by the shoulders gently, “I’m here . That’s all that matters And I love Fi. Why would that matter?"

“I’m older,” Lena said and pointed to Kara. “And you look exactly the same as I remember you, Kara. It doesn't look like you've aged a day..."

“I did change my hair,” she said and pointed to her forehead. “No bangs, if you didn’t notice.”

“You know what I mean,” Lena said, sniffling.

“I don’t, Lena,” Kara said, her eyes wide. “You lost me.”

“Do you still…” She tried to steady herself and found herself unable to hold back the floodgates any longer, tears beginning to fall that Kara brushed away without question. “Would you still want me?”

So worried about the truth that she might see on Kara’s face, Lena tried to turn away and felt Kara press her hand against her cheek, caressing it softly, urging her to meet her gaze. Fighting against the inevitable for a moment longer, she looked up and saw Kara staring back at her, a scant few inches separating them.

“Lena,” Kara said, so close to her now that Lena could feel the softness of her breath against her lips when she spoke that made it hard for Lena to remember to breathe. “I never stopped.”

Lena bit back a tiny sob and groped for Kara's hand, finding it and letting Kara guide it to the small of her back.

"Can I kiss you?" Kara whispered.

Lena answered Kara's question with the tiniest of nods and felt Kara's lips press against hers, tentative at first before she heard Kara let out a breathy sigh that Lena thought she might hear in her dreams. Leaning into the kiss, her fingertips pressing firmly against the small of Kara's back, urging her closer, to do away with any distance between the two of them, wanting her impossibly close. She felt Kara's hand travel up along her arm, electricity racing up her arm like a lit fuse until Kara's hand was tangled in her ebony locks and pulled Lena into a kiss that was all fireworks and warmth that she hoped would never end.

Chapter Text

Waking to the soft flutter of pages being turned, Lena rolled over onto her side and smiled sleepily at Fi who had one of her books open on her lap, reading silently, her index finger moving smoothly across the page as she went as if she were deciphering some ancient text in a long-dead language.

“Good morning, my treasure,” Lena said, sitting up and planting a kiss on the side of Fi’s head.

Fi giggled and shut her book without bothering to sandwich her flower-shaped bookmark on the nightstand between the pages before she clambered into Lena’s lap. “Good morning! Where’s Kara?” she asked, tilting her head up to look at Lena.

“Did you check under the bed?” Lena asked as if that was one of the most natural places to look. She made sure she had a secure enough grip on Fi and tipped over slowly, making a low whistling sound as they fell which made Fi shriek with laughter. “Is she under there?”

Fi hung over the edge of the bed, peered underneath, and pulled herself back up. “No!” she said and hugged herself tightly to Lena.

“That's because she's back at home probably still fast asleep,” Lena said and after a moment to get her bearings, she pointed in the general direction of Kara’s apartment. “Even Supergirl needs her rest.” She realized a moment later that at least for a few more years she could use that same line of reasoning as a kind of ace up her sleeve when trying to convince Fi into bed at a proper time or to eat the vegetables she spent more pushing around her plate than actually eating them. Well… maybe not the vegetables.

Fi nodded but looked crestfallen all the same. “She didn’t want to stay?”

“Didn’t want to stay?” Lena shook her head and ran a hand through Fi’s hair. “I practically had to push her out the door,” she said, which wasn’t much of an exaggeration. They had spent several hours tangled up together on the couch, kissing and talking and when the sky outside had just begun to brighten, Lena had been the one to reluctantly insist that Kara go home and get a good night’s rest, ignoring the unwarranted praises that Kara had started to sing about the couch they were sitting on. And when they had said their final goodbyes standing in the doorway, Lena had seen her off with a bashful kiss and a promise that they would see each other tomorrow.

“We can see her after breakfast,” Lena promised and grinned when Fi’s face immediately lit up. “You must be hungry,” Lena said and lifted Fi up out of her lap so that she could swing her legs out of bed. “How about we go out for breakfast? Brunch,” she amended when she got a look at the clock on the wall.

“Can I wear my cape?” Fi asked politely, tilting her head back so that she was looking straight up at Lena.

“You don’t even have to ask, my treasure.”



The coffee shop across the street which looked as if it had just gotten through its early morning rush was nearly deserted, which meant that Fi could take as much time as she wanted to look at the baked goods in the display case without holding anyone up. After ten minutes of intense deliberation, she chose a chocolate muffin about the size of a softball while Lena opted for a croissant.

“Use the tongs,” Lena said and pointed to where they were hanging just beside the display case and held out the tray for Fi while she got up on the tips of her toes and extracted both the muffin and the croissant with the careful precision of a surgeon. She beamed up at Lena, gave the tongs a few clicks, and put them back carefully.

“Anything else I can get you?” the young barista at the register asked when Lena slid the tray down toward them.

“I’ll have an espresso macchiato,” Lena said after looking over the menu. “And what about you, love?”

“Hot chocolate,” Fi answered almost immediately and pointed to where it was on the menu board.

Was almost hoping you wouldn’t spot that, Lena thought but nodded all the same when the barista caught her eye, likely waiting for Lena to sign off before ringing them up. “That’s definitely your sugar quota for the day, love,” she said and handed over her credit card to the barista who swiped it through and handed it back to Lena in one fluid, practiced motion.

“I’ll bring your drinks over shortly,” the barista said and flashed them both a wide grin that lit up her face.

Lena let Fi lead them over to a table by the window, following along in her wake, smiling whenever Fi turned back now and then to glance back as if she were worried Lena might not be there when she turned around.

A little later on, when the barista came by with their drinks, Fi already had made a sizable dent in her muffin, tearing off bite-sized pieces of it, emulating Lena who was doing the same with her croissant.

“Here’s your espresso,” the barista said, setting the cup down in front of Lena. “And your hot chocolate.” She slid the mug in front of Fi and reached into a pocket of her half-apron, pulled out a can of whipped cream, and gave it a tiny shake. “Do you want—”

“Yes!” Fi cried and realized that she had been a bit too loud because she clapped a hand over her mouth and shook her head apologetically. “Yes, please,” she said, her tone far more measured, and offered the barista a bright smile.

Lena watched the barista spray a large cumulus cloud of whipped cream on top of Fi’s mug, topping it off with a small shake of cinnamon from a shaker that she pulled from the same pocket of her apron.

“Thank you!” Fi said sweetly, hiding her face partially behind the whipped cream mountain that was now perched on top of her mug.

“You’re very welcome,” the barista said and smiled at the both of them before retreating back towards the counter, humming a song under her breath as she went. 

“Maybe we’ll walk to Kara’s,” Lena said, only half-joking. “We’d save money on the taxi and if we’re lucky I might be able to get you to go to bed sometime after midnight.”

“We’re going to go see Kara?” Fi asked, her face lighting up.

“Unless you want to do something else,” Lena said, already knowing her answer.

“Nope,” Fi said and waved her hands out in front of her, nearly toppling over her hot chocolate in the process that Lena steadied with both her hands out of reflex, anticipating just such a thing happening. “I wish Kara could have had brunch with us,” Fi said wistfully.

“Me too, my treasure...” Lena smiled and took a small sip of her coffee. “ But , there was something I wanted to talk to you about, just the two of us,” she said and leaned forward as if she had a secret meant only for Fi’s ears and Fi’s ears only.

Fi leaned close, elbows on the table, eyes brimming with curiosity.

“Our vacation didn’t turn out at all like I thought it would,” Lena admitted and could have listed several reasons why. Never in her wildest dreams would she have expected to find that her mother had seemingly turned over a new leaf or to run into Kara while trick-or-treating… Never expected to find that Kara had missed her just as much as Lena had missed her or that she and Fi would get on like a house on fire…

"Are you having fun?" Lena asked and chuckled when Fi immediately nodded in agreement. 

"A lot of fun," she crowed. "I got to meet Kara and Sam and Grandma and Loki…" The reality that their vacation would inevitably need to come to an end seemed to hit Fi with the speed of an unexpected summer storm. Fi's smile disappeared and her bottom lip jutted out almost comically. "I'll miss them," she said and Lena heard the faintest hint of a warble in Fi's voice that made Lena stand up and slide into the booth beside Fi, wrapping her up tight, tight into a hug. 

"They'll miss you too, my treasure," Lena said and pressed a kiss to Fi's temple, stroking her hair gently. "But we can visit them lots , I promise.” She traced an X over her heart and placed her hand over it and smiled when the corners of Fi’s mouth twitched up into a weak smile. “But that’s what I wanted to talk with you about, just us.”

Fi sniffled and looked up at her. “About going home?” she asked and buried her face against Lena’s shoulder.

Lena nodded. “Kind of,” she said and laughed when Fi looked up and tilted her head to the side, looking puzzled. “Kara would really like us to stay in National City longer,” she said. 

“Stay longer?” Fi blinked, her interest in what remained of her hot chocolate all but forgotten. “Could we really?” she asked, the possibility of just such a thing not having occurred to her.

“We could ,” Lena said. “If you wanted to, Fi. But you don’t need to decide now,” she added and hugged her tighter. “Plenty of time for you to—”

“I want to stay,”  Fi answered, her mouth curved up into a triumphant grin, just short of radiant. She looked up at Lena, eyes wide. "How long can we stay?" 

"Well…" Lena said the way one does when desperately playing for time. “I’m not sure,” she said, answering completely honestly. “How long would you want to stay, my treasure?”

Fi looked at her and Lena could see the gears turning in her head and the unsure shyness that sometimes stole over her. She stretched out her arms out as wide as they would go and giggled. “This long.”

“Ah-ha,” Lena said and patted at the pocket of her jeans. “Of all days for me to forget my measuring tape.” She closed one eye and patted Fi’s arms, pretending to try and eyeball a measurement. “How long is that exactly?”

“A long time,” Fi said wisely and tried to stretch her arms even further and might have managed an extra centimeter or two. “A long long time,” she added as if that clarified matters.

“A long, long time,” Lena repeated, making sure to put the proper emphasis on the second long, still not quite sure what that really was in Fi-time but guessing that it was a lot longer than a couple of weeks. “I like the sound of that,” she agreed and kissed Fi on the nose.

“Fi giggled and held onto Lena tight. “Then we can stay?”

Lena nodded. “Of course we can, my treasure.”

Fi’s grin widened and she tugged urgently on Lena’s arm. “Then Kara can have brunch with us tomorrow then, right?”

“I’m sure if she isn’t busy, she’d love to have brunch with us, but why don’t we go ask her?”


The last time that Kara remembered her apartment actually being messy was nearly two months prior when she had been the one to host a game night. The tradition had persisted throughout the years although the frequency with which they met had tapered off drastically. That still hadn’t stopped Kara from spending a good half an hour going over every bit of her apartment with a feather duster even dusting out of reach places she could only reach by floating a good six inches off the ground and needlessly fluffing each and every pillow in the apartment feeling more like an overly enthusiastic hotelier.

She was arranging the throw pillows on her couch for the third time when she heard a fusillade of frantic knocks on her front door followed closely by a series of much slower ones

Taking one last quick look around her apartment she spotted her now empty coffee mug on the kitchen table, dashed over to it, and deposited it in the sink before zipping over to the door all in the span of a few seconds.

When she threw open the door, Kara had a moment to exchange a very shy smile with Lena before a very raven-haired blur leaped at her and she threw her arms out and caught Fi around the middle, lifting her up higher before lowering her back down to the ground slowly.

“Fi!” Lena said reproachfully, still standing in the hallway. She covered her mouth with her hand and Kara thought she might be smiling despite her tone. “You need to give Kara a little warning before you do that. Give me a little warning.” Lena ran a hand through her hair and muttered something about gray hairs that made Kara have to bite back a chuckle.

“Sorry,” Fi said, craning her neck to look at Lena before turning her attention back to Kara. “Thank you for catching me,” she said sweetly. “I knew you would.”

“You are very catchable,” Kara said. “Did you have breakfast already?”

“We had brunch,” Fi informed her.

“And you didn’t invite me?” Kara asked, closing her eyes and pretending to look hurt. Not that she would have been able to eat all that much even if she had. The memory of her and Lena entwined together on the couch, the way Lena’s lips felt against hers still far too vivid in her mind, the cloud of butterflies in her stomach fluttering relentlessly about leaving her without much of an appetite. 

“We should have!” Fi said and tugged on one of Kara’s arms, patting it consolingly, a gesture that was even sweeter considering her age, and looked up at Kara earnestly. “But you can have brunch with us tomorrow. The day after that too if you want.” She beamed up at Kara. “Because guess what?” And before Kara could indulge Fi with a very enthusiastic ‘what’, she continued on. “We’re going to stay here longer!”

“Really?” Kara asked, her voice coming out an octave higher than usual. She whipped her head around to look at Lena and when Lena offered her a shy little nod and smiled at her, she rose up shakily on legs that didn’t feel like her own and let out a peal of deliriously happy laughter. “You’re staying,” she said and scoped Fi up again even though she had just set her down, already growing accustomed to how it felt to carry her.

“We’ll need to celebrate,” Kara said as if this was a foregone conclusion. She might have started rattling off ideas if she didn’t catch sight of Lena taking very careful steps deeper into her apartment, head on a swivel as she looked here and there. Not much has changed, she thought but realized that wasn’t exactly true. She hadn’t made any drastic changes to her apartment over the ten years that Lena had been absent from her life but she had made a large number of small changes. Only drips and drabs, but those had pooled together into something much larger. A new couch, new photos on the walls, a myriad of different colors that she had painted the walls over the years, new television, new books…

“Would you like the tour?” Kara asked, stretching out an arm and pointing towards the living room, speaking more to Fi but looking at Lena.

“Yes, please,” Fi said politely, looking genuinely interested in something that even adults oftentimes found utterly boring. She herself could remember a handful of painful housewarming parties for CatCo employees that she had been forced to suffer through.

“I’d love the tour,” Lena said and after taking one last look at some of the photos on the far wall she returned to Kara’s side and pressed a kiss to Fi’s cheek. “Keep a tight hold on Kara,” she said. “Wouldn’t want you getting lost on the tour, love.”

Fi giggled, looked at Kara, giggled again, and then obliged, wrapping one arm tight around Kara.

“Don’t want you getting lost either,” Kara said, those damn butterflies flying in formation in her stomach as she reached out her free hand and felt them dive in unison when Lena’s fingers interlaced with hers.



The tour lasted only ten minutes or so even with Fi’s constant barrage of questions like a magician pulling scarves from their sleeve. Kara answered each one and relished how brightly Fi lit up when she did. 

"And this is where I paint," Kara said when they returned to the living room, having done a complete circuit around her apartment, returning to where they had started. She gestured to the little space she had created for herself by the balcony. There was a small red stool that sat in front of the blank white canvas on an easel that was beginning to sit just a bit crooked. 

"What kind of things do you like to paint?" Fi asked sweetly. 

"Lots of things," Kara said. "Sometimes I paint things I see." She pointed out the window and grinned. "The view of the city is really pretty, especially in the evening when the sun is going down and the lights in all the windows start turning on. And sometimes I paint whatever pops into my head.” She made a popping sound with her tongue and Fi laughed against her shoulder.

“I like to paint too,” Fi said and turned her head in Lena’s direction and Lena nodded in agreement.

“She has quite the collection on display on her bedroom door and a nice burgeoning second collection growing on our fridge as well. She's very good.”

“No,” Fi said bashfully and reached for Lena, either to try and stop her from singing any more of her praises or simply because she wanted to be nearer to her.

“It’s true,” Lena said, crossing her arms over her chest and leaning just close enough to kiss Fi on the cheek.

“I’d love to see them someday,” Kara said earnestly and took a few steps toward where a few of her completed paintings were propped up against the wall. “But you can look at a few of mine if you want. They’re never going to hang in a gallery,” she warned as she set Fi down and watched as she sank to her knees to get a better look at them. 

“Mom! Look!” Fi scrambled with a dexterity that even Kara envied in a bid to give Lena an unobstructed view of the first painting, one that Kara had done just a few weeks prior. It was the view from her balcony at dusk. “Look how pretty it is.”

“It’s beautiful,” Lena said and squeezed Kara’s hand gently. “I always… I always liked the view from your apartment,” she said softly. 

Fi stared at the painting for a few moments longer, craning her neck to look at it from another angle. “ Really pretty,” she declared.

Lena nodded in agreement on Kara’s left and gave her hand another gentle squeeze. Their eyes met and Kara felt a blush rising in her face like mercury rising in a thermometer that deepened all at once when she remembered what painting was next in line behind the one they were all admiring.

Kara watched with some degree of embarrassment as Fi carefully slid the first painting aside, knowing that it was a bit too late to put the proverbial genie back in the bottle. I did say that I paint what pops into my head…

“Mom!” Fi chirruped. She had started to move the first painting aside, pushed it only a few inches but had stopped suddenly when she caught a glimpse of the painting and ran back to Lena’s side. She looked up at Lena, eyes gleaming brightly, and tugged on her arm. “Come look,” she said.

“It’s not a painting of potstickers, is it?” Lena teased, glancing over at Kara out of the corner of her eye, and slipped her hand free to allow Fi to pull her along.

“It’s...” Kara said in a voice just barely louder than a whisper.

“It’s you, mom,” Fi said as Lena lifted the painting up higher, and from the angle that she held it an oblong of sun illuminated it and Kara could see some errant brushstrokes that she had either been unable to get rid of or had simply missed while she had been painting. 

“Kara…”

“I painted that a few months ago,” Kara said. Her gaze was centered wholly on the floor. She felt hot and thought if she started blushing any more she’d be able to fry an egg on her face. “I think… I know ,” she amended, feeling that the time for tiptoeing around her feelings had come and gone. “I was missing you and I…” she trailed off, feeling that so many stories from the decade that the two of them had been apart could begin the same way. I was missing you and I spent an evening looking through our old pictures… I was missing you and I ordered what you would always get at Big Belly Burger... I was missing you and spent half the night hoping that wherever you were that you were happy...

“It’s beautiful,” Lena said softly. Kara watched her trace her finger gently across the canvas before turning it slightly so that Fi could look at it better.

Considering the subject, Kara thought.

“You know,” Lena said as she set the painting back down. “Fi and I are going to be staying here longer and I only packed enough clothes for a couple of weeks…. There are also a hundred other things that I should take care of if I can. I was already thinking we might need to fly back to get a few things. If you wanted to... if National City could spare both its top reporter and its protector for a couple of days, would you want to come back with us? We could give you the tour… let Fi show you some of her best pieces…”

Fi’s eyes lit up at this and while it was plain to see that she would have liked nothing more than for Kara to fly back with them she didn’t say so aloud. Instead, she thrummed with excitement, bouncing on the balls of her feet, looking from Lena to Kara and back again.

“You don’t even have to ask,” Kara said with a tiny shake of her head. Her cheeks were still flushed and while she began to make a mental checklist of what she would need to do before leaving, Fi caught her eye looking politely confused.

“Does that mean you’ll come with us?” Fi asked. 

"If you'll have me," Kara said and dropped to one knee so that she and Fi were eye-level. “You know, I haven’t had a vacation in forever and I—”

The next words out of Kara’s mouth vanished as her lips curved into a smile.  Fi took a running leap in her direction. She earned another reproachful look from Lena that was quickly replaced with a guilty smile as she watched Fi sprint forward. Kara caught her easily, lifting her up high and spinning her around just fast enough so that her cape fluttered out behind her. 

“You can sleep in my bed,” Fi offered sweetly. “You can even move some of my stuffed animals if you want.”

“We have a guest room,” Lena said. “It’s full of old research and clothes that Fi’s outgrown but there is still a bed there somewhere . I think…”

Kara might have told Lena that she would be more than happy to sleep on the couch or the floor but before she could a knock at the door startled all three of them.

“Were you expecting company?” Lena asked.

“It’s Alex and Kelly,” Kara said apologetically and used her x-ray vision to peek through the door to confirm so. “I texted her this morning and she said she wanted to see you and Fi and it completely slipped my mind.” She knocked herself on the forehead with the flat of her palm. “I should have run it by the both of you first,” she moaned. “Just a minute!” she called and looked at Fi whose smile had diminished significantly.

Likely sensing Fi’s nervousness or maybe seeing it on her face, Lena was at their side in an instant. “You’ll like Alex and Kelly, love.” She pressed a kiss to Fi’s forehead and tousled her hair. “I’m nervous too,” she said and flashed Kara something of an apologetic look. “So we can be nervous together, doesn’t that sound fun?” Lena scrunched up her face and coaxed a small titter out of Fi.

“Do you want to wait with your mom while I get the door?”

Fi pondered this quandary deeply. She looked first at the door and then to Kara and then finally to Lena, looking unsure of herself.

Kara understood. She understood both of them and it was why she hitched up Fi higher on her shoulder, holding her close to her as she offered Lena her other hand and when Lena took it she clasped it tightly. “We can go together,” Kara suggested and bounced Fi a bit in her arms. “How about that?”

Fi seemed to find those terms agreeable because her smile slowly returned, relaxing a bit in Kara's arms.

“We’re going to look ridiculous answering the door like this,” Lena muttered in a voice that only Kara could hear and she wasn’t at all surprised to see that Lena had started to blush.


If Alex and Kelly thought the three of them looked ridiculous answering the door together, Kara with her hand clasped together with her own and Fi perched on Kara’s arm with her face partially obscured with her cape, Lena couldn’t detect it on their faces. Or maybe it was simply because they too were holding hands.

It was a supremely odd feeling coming face-to-face with more people that she believed she would never see again. All in all, it felt like she was in some retelling of A Christmas Carol. Ghosts from her past that she had come to realize might not have to stay that way. 

Lena could recall reading about a phenomenon that stated married couples inevitably began to resemble one another. From what she could remember it was a result of a long period of shared emotions. Lena wasn’t sure how true that really was but Alex and Kelly were certainly dressed similarly. Both were wearing leather jackets: Kelly’s burgundy, Alex’s black. 

“Hi,” Lena managed to say in a voice that sounded somewhat close to her own, wishing desperately that there was some kind of social do-over that she could enact, a button that she could press, or perhaps a formal request that she could file…

Before Lena could attempt a second greeting, Alex stepped forward, her hand slipping from Kelly’s. “Is it okay if I hug you?”

Lena chuckled and took a small step forward. “Of course it is,” she said, still feeling nervous but a lot less so knowing that Kara was standing beside her. “I’ve been told that I give pretty good hugs,” she said and looked back at Fi whose face was partially obscured, pressed tight against Kara’s shoulder.

“She does,” Kara agreed, nodding earnestly. It took a moment for comprehension to settle in on her face and her already pink cheeks began to redden again. “Oh, Rao… You were talking to Fi…”

“She gives the best hugs,” Fi said, some of her usual cheer coming through in her voice.

“You’re setting the bar too high, love,” Lena joked, feeling as if that had somehow broken the ice. She held open her arms and was very quickly enveloped in a very firm embrace.

“We’ve missed you,” Alex murmured. She squeezed tighter still before letting go, holding onto one of Lena’s shoulders as if she were afraid she might disappear if she broke contact.

“We have a lot to catch up on.” Kelly spread her arms and met Lena halfway, pulling her into another hug. “Lots and lots to catch up on.”

“We’re just lucky that Kara was generous enough to tell us that you were back in town,” Alex said and jabbed an accusing finger at Kara.

“I know!” Kara groaned. “But everything was happening so fast and...  And you’ll have plenty of time to see both of them because they’ve extended their stay,” Kara said, grinning happily.

“Very good news,” Alex said, her attention not on Kara but on Fi. “I’m Alex,” she said softly. “And you’re Fi, right?”

Fi nodded and Lena saw that she was slowly but surely beginning to come out of her shell. It almost never took too long. Fi was far too gregarious to let a little thing like shyness keep her contained for very long.

“Kara’s had nothing but wonderful things to say about you, Fi. The both of you.” Alex pointed to Lena and seemed to relish how Kara appeared to squirm on the spot, eyes twinkling, exuding that unmistakable older sibling energy.

“No…” Fi said and shook her head as if the idea was an unfathomable one.

“Yes,” Kara said and gave her a little bounce which dislodged a gale of laughter from Fi that seemed to lighten the room just as much as the bright afternoon sunlight streaming in through the windows.

If anyone peeked in on the five of them seated around Kara’s living room a while later, they might have believed that this kind of gathering was a regular occurrence. The laughter was too carefree and frequent and the way that Fi sped around the living room making brief stops here and there like a bee sampling from a selection of flowers.

Kelly had been right, they had a lot to catch up on. Faced with just how much that Lena had to share, how much she wanted them to share with her was strangely daunting, like she had been suddenly placed at the base of some impossibly tall mountain and been told to get climbing. But here she was, here with Fi and with Kara and all at once the mountain didn’t seem all that tall.

“—knocked me over when I was heading out the door.”

“Sorry?” Lena said, looking over at Kelly. “Who almost knocked you over?”

“Her,” Kelly said and pointed at Kara, trying very hard not to laugh.

“Maybe if Kara hadn’t tried flying over with every single article of clothing from her closet then maybe—”

“It wasn’t every single thing from my closet,” Kara said. She waved her hand dismissively, cheeks reddening.

“What were you doing?” Lena asked, looking around at all three of them, feeling she had lost the thread of conversation.

“Deciding on what to wear to dinner yesterday,” Alex said.

“Dinner…” Lena said, still feeling around in the dark until she heard a click and everything settled into place. “Oh…” She smiled over at Kara who smiled back, albeit shyly, red to the tips of her ears.

“Yesterday was really fun,” Fi said. She had come to a skittering halt next to Alex, stopping long enough for Alex to give her cape a little shake.

“Yeah?” Alex glanced over at Lena looking politely shocked and Lena had to fight the urge to laugh, knowing that if she did, Fi would very much want to be in on it as well. The can of worms that was Grandma as Lena best knew her was not on the docket for the day or for that decade even.

“Yup.” Fi nodded and plopped down on the floor next to Alex. “Grandma’s a really good cook and her apartment is really nice and she has a cat…”

“A cat?!” Alex asked.

Lena nodded. “Loki,” she said and gave her head a little shake to show that she was just as surprised as Alex.

“Cats make incredibly good companions,” Kelly offered.

“Mom…”

“Getting a pet is a big responsibility,” Lena said, already wise to where Fi’s brain had leaped. “But we can talk about it more later. Over breakfast,” she added.

“Okay!” Fi replied in a singsong voice, barreling over to Lena and hugging her tight, leaping into her lap with a surprising amount of grace. Crisis averted , Lena mouthed over Fi’s head and smiled when Alex and Kelly exchanged identical grins.



Their conversation showed no sign of waning even when the afternoon had begun its slow march toward evening and the five of them had dinner huddled around Kara’s kitchen table eating pizza while they continued to swap stories, only stopping when Alex had informed them that she and Kelly had an early appointment with their adoption agency the next morning.

Kara, Fi, and Lena had seen the two of them off much in the same way that they had answered the door, huddled close together, holding hands, only this time, Fi was perched in one of Lena’s arms, looking well-fed and sleepy.

“I think it’s time to get you to bed,” Lena whispered, trying her best not to jostle Fi too much.

“I wanna stay,” Fi said. She wriggled in Lena’s arms, eyes opening almost comically wide for just a moment and she gave her head a tiny shake. “I’m not sleepy,” she said and turned her head and looked at Kara as if she were looking for backup.

“I know you do, love,” Lena said patiently, stroking Fi’s hair. . “But we can see Kara tomorrow morning,” she said placatingly, knowing that it wasn’t exactly the same thing but the next best thing to it.

Fi mumbled something that Lena couldn’t quite make out and shook her head against Lena’s shoulder more incessantly.

“You could stay,” Kara whispered in Lena’s ear, the suddenness of it sent a shiver that went racing down her spine like falling dominoes. “I have the guest room you two could stay in. You don’t have to if you don’t want to and I’m sure the hotel bed is a lot comfier…”

“Fi gets up really early,” Lena warned. “And she doesn’t have her PJ’s or—”

“It’s only a minute away,” Kara said and put one hand on her hip, grinning sheepishly. “For me at least…”

How can I say no to both of you? 

“What do you think, my treasure? Do you want to spend the night at Kara’s?”

“Yes!” Fi said her sudden burst of exultation like a trumpet blast in Lena’s ear. “I want to stay.” She peeked over Lena’s shoulder at Kara, beaming at her, looking suddenly a lot more awake.

“I think she wants to stay,” Lena said.



When Kara returned to her apartment a few minutes later, landing back on her balcony, she saw Lena and Fi sitting together on her couch. The glow from the television illuminated their faces and Kara could make out the tail end of a conversation from whatever movie they were watching.

Fi had found her second wind before Kara had departed but it seemed like that too was passing. Her head was resting against Lena’s side, eyes nearly closing completely shut before opening again as if Fi were willing herself to stay awake.

Kara watched this scene and felt a keen ache in her heart. I hope there’s room for me , she thought. As if Lena had somehow caught wind of Kara’s earnest wish she looked up from the television, their eyes meeting, identical smiles forming on their faces in unison.

Lena mouthed something that Kara had no trouble making out: That was longer than one minute. 

By Kara’s count, it had taken her five. Most of that time had been spent making sure to grab everything that they might need. Pajamas, books, and their toothbrushes had gone into a small canvas bag that Kara often took shopping. 

Kara slid the balcony door open as quietly as she could manage but Fi still sat up like a shot when the latch clicked. She yawned but clapped a hand over her mouth as if she was trying to shove it back down.

Kara reached into the bag and pulled out Fi’s carefully folded up pajamas. “It looks like you could use these.”

“I’m not that sleepy,” Fi said as if Kara had accused her of just that.

“She did have a lot of chocolate,” Lena conceded, taking the pajamas from Kara with a smile. “You think that you can keep your eyes open long enough for a story?”

Fi nodded sincerely. “Of course.”

Ten minutes later, they had all changed into their pajamas, and Fi was tucked into bed, sitting up against the headboard with a blanket drawn up over her lap. She really did look tired and Kara felt a teensy bit guilty, hoping that the bed was comfortable enough, knowing that if she tried to get Lena and Fi to sleep in her bed instead she would only be met with steadfast resistance and therefore hadn’t even brought it up.

“Take your pick,” Kara said, shaking back the already short sleeves of the pajamas that Lena had gifted her. She brought out the books that she had collected from their hotel room and held them out like a hand of cards.

“Hmmm.” Fi leaned closer, examining each one carefully. Her hand hovered over them slowly as if trying to divine which book was the best option. She made two slow passes over them before she withdrew her hand.

“Can you tell me a new story?”

“On such short notice?” Lena asked, pretending to collapse on the bed, tilting her head up to steal a glance at Fi who was trying valiantly to hold in a fit of laughter, one hand over her mouth. “Can it be about spreadsheets and cost analysis?” Lena asked brow furrowed exaggeratedly.

“No!” Fi giggled.

“She never wants to hear a story about spreadsheets and cost analysis.” Lena shook her head sadly. “So picky,” she teased and planted kisses on both of Fi’s cheeks.

“I could tell you one,” Kara said shyly. Creative writing had never been one of her strengths. One need only look at some of the more outlandish lies she had told over the years in a bid to keep her identity as Supergirl a secret. Being asked to pull a story out of thin air like a magician plucking rabbits from their hat was a tall order but Kara felt strangely confident. “Unless you’d rather your mom tell you one, and I would completely understand. Your mom is the most fascinating person I’ve ever met,” Kara gushed. She heard Lena’s heartbeat momentarily faster and that alone would have been more than enough to keep Kara smiling the rest of the night but then Lena laid her hand over hers, their fingers interlacing and her smile widened.

“Says Supergirl,” Lena muttered, looking unconvinced but happy nevertheless.

“Yes, please,” Fi said. She kicked her feet up and sent the blankets puffing upward before gently falling back down around her legs.

“Saving me again,” Lena said, catching Kara’s eye and scooting closer to Fi. She wrapped one arm around Fi’s shoulder and drew her closer. Tonight, she was more of an audience member than the storyteller. 

“Do you prefer, a long time ago or once upon a time?” Kara asked.

Fi pondered this question for a moment. “Once upon a time.”

“Very good choice,” Kara said, nodding sagely. She cleared her throat, feeling more than a bit nervous. “Once upon a time, there was a girl who lived in a very very far away kingdom.”

"Was she a princess?" Fi interjected.

"No," Kara said with a quick shake of her head. "She wasn't a princess. Unless you want her to be, of course.” Kara might have been the proverbial driver of this particular tale but she was more than happy to take certain detours on the way to the destination.

Fi shook her head after a few seconds of deliberation. “It’s your story,” she said fairly. 

“The kingdom was a beautiful one. It shone with light and the girl’s bedroom was in a high tower where she could see all of it.” She smiled fondly and saw understanding dawn on Lena’s face, their eyes meeting for just an instant. “She’d sometimes visit other kingdoms with her father and while she liked them very much, she thought that nothing could compare to her kingdom… her home. But one day something terrible happened.”

“What happened?” Fi asked. Her blue eyes were wide and unblinking, blankets drawn up higher still.

“The kingdom that the girl thought she would live in forever was suffering from a curse. The people there tried to find a way to break the curse and save their kingdom but it was too late.” Kara shook her head gravely. “But some of the girl’s family, they came up with a plan… They’d send their children to someplace far far away, someplace safe. But there was only enough time to send the girl and her cousin. The girl didn’t want to leave though. She wanted to stay there in the kingdom with her family.”

Fi nodded gravely and snuggled closer to Lena who kissed her gently on the forehead, brushing her hair back.

“The girl was very sad and very stubborn. Her mother knew this and so she gave the girl a quest. To be brave and to protect her cousin. Because they were being sent so very far away. The girl wanted very much to make her mother happy, to make her proud and so she promised to do just that.

“As she made her escape, her kingdom was swallowed up by the curse and while the girl’s cousin got away safely, the girl wasn’t so lucky.”

“Did the curse get her?” Fi asked. Her blankets were now drawn all the way up to her chin.

Kara leaned closer and gave Fi’s hand a comforting squeeze. “ All my stories have a happy ending,” she assured her and when Fi stuck out her pinky finger, Kara did the same and shook it before continuing.

“The curse put her into an enchanted sleep,” Kara said. “It was very dark wherever she was and she was very alone. When she woke up, so much time had passed that when she finally arrived at the kingdom her parents had sent her, she was surprised at what she saw. While she had been sleeping, she hadn’t aged a day but her cousin had. When she met him again, he was older than her, so much so that she couldn’t even recognize him.

“And that was when the girl realized that she couldn’t keep the promise she had made to her mother because while she had been sleeping, her cousin had not only gotten much bigger than her but he had become a brave knight as well. So brave and so strong that everybody in the kingdom knew his name.”

“Wow,” Fi said, looking clearly impressed.

“He was so young when he arrived in the new kingdom that it felt like home to him. It was home to him. But the girl…” Kara shook her head. “She missed her kingdom, she missed her family, she even missed the view from her bedroom window. She missed all those things. Her cousin found a family that agreed to care for her as if she were their own. She was very lucky that the first people she met in that new place were so kind, that they did their best to understand the girl, even when she didn’t understand herself. The girl even got an older sister, something she had never had before…”

“Did they get along?” Fi asked.

The corners of Kara’s mouth twitched and she had to tamp down the urge to laugh. “ Not at first,” she said. “Because getting a younger sister dropped into your lap can be a really good thing but it can also be a really annoying thing. At least for a little while. “But you know what?”

“What?”

“They became almost inseparable later. That’s how much they grew to love each other.”

“What does inseparable mean?” Fi asked in a very loud whisper to Lena who had reared back a little when Fi started speaking.

“It means always together,” Lena said and clasped Fi’s hand warmly.

Kara nodded in agreement and fiddled with her glasses as she found the thread of the story again. “Years passed and the girl felt like something was missing in her life, something very important but she could never figure out what it was. It was always just on the tip of her tongue,” Kara said and stuck her tongue out at Fi which got her chuckling. “She wanted to help people, to keep them safe, but she wasn’t sure just how to do that, because if she followed in her cousin’s footsteps, becoming a knight… it would be very dangerous.

“But then one day, destiny came knocking.” Kara rapped her knuckles on the side of the bed and Fi’s eyes widened even further, beaming.

“What happened?” Fi asked in an awed whisper.

“She..” Kara began and faltered for a moment, feeling that she had momentarily run out of road. “She saw a dragon…”

“Did she have to fight it?!”

“No,” Kara said and felt a stab of regret when she saw disappointment momentarily cloud Fi’s face. “She had to save it. But the only problem was that it was very big and very heavy, but if she didn’t do anything a lot of people would have been hurt. The girl saw it and she knew what she had to do even if it was dangerous.”

“What did she do?”

Kara smiled and slowly levitated off of the bed until her head nearly touched the ceiling. “She flew.”

“She could fly?!”

“All knights from her kingdom could fly,” Kara said as she floated back down to the bed. “They could fly and they were incredibly strong and fast… She flew and even though the dragon was very heavy, she was able to save it and a lot of other people that would have gotten hurt if she hadn’t and from that day on she knew that she wanted to keep helping people so she decided to become a knight like her cousin.”

“But she was stronger than him, I bet,” Lena said, her eyes twinkling as she stared back at Kara.

“Well…” Kara cleared her throat, knowing that she would normally answer that question a bit more diplomatically but she thought making an exception just once wasn’t the worst thing in the world. “She was a little stronger than him,” Kara said and pinched her thumb and index finger together leaving a little space in between, considered and then spread her fingers further apart.

“But by that time the girl had her own c— town to protect,” she said, catching herself at the last moment. “There were lots of people that needed to be protected but it made the girl very happy to be able to help so many people. And then one day, one very remarkable day,” Kara said, putting the appropriate pauses in her speech, hoping to increase the suspense. “The girl met somebody very special… She met a woman who was a lot like the girl in many ways. She wanted to help people too.”

“Was she a knight?” Fi asked. 

“Not exactly. She was a…”

“A witch?” Lena offered with a wry little grin.

“A good witch,” Kara said firmly after trying and failing to come up with something better. “When they first met, the girl knew that she was somebody very special, not just because she wanted to help people but because the girl felt a kind of connection between them. The girl wanted to get to know her better and after being very persistent..." Kara saw Lena cover her mouth with her hand to hide the fact that she was chuckling. "They became friends. Best friends. And the girl realized that she had found something that she didn't even know that she was looking for." Kara smiled and saw the slightly puzzled expression on Fi's face fade in and out like a badly tuned-in radio station. "They also made a very good team. The girl was a very brave knight but there were so many times that the good witch saved her that she eventually lost count." If Kara had to guess she would have guessed the number was somewhere in the double digits.

"So good, in fact, that the girl wanted them to be partners forever because she couldn't imagine her life without them in it. But she was terrified to tell the good witch that..."

"Why?" Fi asked, looking genuinely puzzled.

"Because she was afraid that she might lose her somehow... And after she had lost her kingdom... the girl was very afraid to lose anything so important to her ever again." Kara leaned closer to Fi and ruffled her hair gently. "She wasn't always brave," she whispered. "And she should have been," Kara said wistfully. "Because one day, the brave knight and the even braver good witch had a fight and even though they both apologized to each other and wanted to go back to being partners..." Kara shook her head. "The good witch had more adventures she wanted to go on and she wanted to go alone."

"Why?" Fi asked. "Why didn't they go together?" She clung more insistently to Lena's arm and Lena kissed the top of her head.

"Because," Lena said and paused. "Do you mind if I tell this part?"

Kara shook her head. "Of course not."

"The good witch wanted to protect the brave knight because a good witch is still a witch... and she didn't want to ever hurt the knight because she meant the world to her and thought it was best if she left on her own adventures because she thought it was the best thing to do even if she would miss the knight every day if she did that because she loved her that much..."

Kara nodded and fiddled with her glasses for a moment to blink back tears. "And even though the knight wanted to chase after her, beg her not to leave... she knew that she needed to let her go, even if it broke her heart to do so because she believed that she would see her again someday, somehow."

"You promised me that your story has a happy ending," Fi said, looking worried as if Kara might have forgotten already.

"It's coming," Kara said and winked. "That day came ten years later. The brave knight was patrolling the town, making sure that all was well and not really expecting anything because it was a very quiet night when she happened to run into a princess. This was already special enough because the princess was incredibly bright and kind, but she had run off ahead of her mother and worried her a lot."

That sentence seemed to jog Fi's memory because her eyes became comically round and she gripped Lena's arm incredibly hard. "Mom..."

"And she came hurrying after the princess, very worried, she even tore her cloak at the knee... It was the knight's best friend. She had come back and they had found each other somehow after a very long time part. A lot had changed since then for both of them since they had been off on their separate adventures but not everything... They still cared about each other very much and this time the knight knew that she needed to be brave if she wanted to keep them in her life."

"Them?" Fi looked up at Kara, eyes still just as bright as they always were but they were drooping, sleep was beginning to win the war of attrition.

"The good witch and her daughter." Kara smiled and adjusted her glasses shyly. "Because even though they only spent a little time together, the knight grew very fond of the princess very quickly. She was one of the kindest, gentlest people she had ever met. She also happened to be a very good painter and chocolate-eater," Kara said, giving those details glibly as if they were common knowledge. "So, the knight made a vow. Do you know what that is?"

Fi nodded her head carefully. "A promise?"

"That's right!" Kara grinned and her eyes lit up. "The knight made a vow that wherever the two happened to go, her good witch and the princess, she would be with them wherever they happened to go if they wanted her there..." She smiled shyly and realized that her hands were knitted together in her lap, not realizing she had been twisting them together nervously for some time now.

Fi nodded and while she looked sleepy, she reached a hand out to Kara that she clasped gently. "I bet that they do..."

"You know what?" Kara said and scooted a little closer to Fi, tucking the blanket up higher around her and fluffing her pillow. "I think so too. And that is the happy ending," she whispered.  "Of that chapter, at least. And there are so many left to write."

Fi nodded and lay back with a yawn, stretching one arm up high before pulling it back under the blanket. Lena watched this unfold and moved catlike up off of the bed. She stroked Fi's forehead softly and planted a very light kiss where her hand had been. "Sleep tight, my treasure. Lots more adventures tomorrow."

Fi stirred and for a moment Kara thought that Fi might try to fight the inevitable, get her head above the current but instead she groped a hand out in Kara's direction.

Not wanting to jostle her, Kara floated up off the bed and touched down at the side of the bed beside Lena, and hugged Fi. "Have lots and lots of sweet dreams, Fi. I'll want to hear about each one."

While Lena crept quietly from the room, Kara followed closely behind, remaining as quiet as she could until she had shut the bedroom door behind them.

"I doubt that I'll get any calls for a book deal," Kara said offering Lena her hand shyly.

"I loved your story," Lena said, her voice thick and her brilliantly green eyes sparkling. She looked at Kara's hand and almost took it but changed her mind at the last moment and pressed herself up against Kara's side, wrapping an arm around her waist as they walked back towards the living room.

"I hope Fi did too," Kara said, blushing.

"Oh, she's going to want to hear you read her a new chapter every week. I could probably find you a ghostwriter." Lena raised her eyebrows suggestively and bit back a laugh. "I'm probably good for another hour or so. Do you want to—”

"Make out?" Kara suggested, hoping that the two were on the same wavelength.

"I was going to say watch TV," Lena said, coming to a stop, mouth curved into a Cheshire-like grin. "But... I think we could do both..."

Chapter Text

The slat-thin ray of early morning sunlight that found its way in through the small gap in the curtains made Lena roll over to stop its slow march upward towards her face, not quite ready to wake up yet. A little later, the soft sound of ruffling pages brought a sleepy smile to her face and she reached out an upturned palm, feeling Fi’s hand fit perfectly in it a few moments later. For a moment, it was almost too easy to convince herself that they were back home in Ireland in their cozy little house instead of the guestroom of Kara’s apartment.

“Good morning, my treasure,” Lena mumbled groggily. She gave Fi’s hand a gentle but clumsy squeeze. She rolled onto her side, blinking as that ray of sunlight she had tried so hard to avoid, poked her in the eyes. She drew the paisley sheets up to her chin, not at all surprised to see Fi sitting with a book open in her lap. “Such an early riser. Are you sure you’re not part robot?”

Noo ,” Fi said, giggling. She shook her head emphatically from side to side and slid down to hug Lena, clinging to her side, disappearing completely under the blankets before she let her head poke out like a groundhog that had just seen its shadow. “Do you think Kara’s up yet?” she asked in a voice that very much wanted to be a polite whisper but came out just a tad louder than that.

Lena blinked some of the sleep from her eyes, looking around for a clock when she heard Kara answer from the other room.

“I’m up! I’ve been up for a while… Packing,” she said and there was a loud thump that Lena guessed was her setting a very heavy suitcase down followed by the sound of footsteps approaching. There was a very light knock on the half-open door before Kara stepped inside. She was still in her pajamas, hair done up in a messy bun that looked on the verge of coming undone. She looked at Lena and they both shared a shy smile before Kara turned her attention towards Fi. “How did you sleep, Fi?”

“Like this,” Fi said and spread out an arm so that it hung over the edge of the bed, eyes closed tight while she made exaggerated snoring noises that quickly turned into a fit of giggles. 

"What a coincidence," Kara said. "That's exactly how I slept.”

Fi beamed and buried her face against Lena’s side before looking inquisitively at Kara. “What were you packing?”

“My suitcase,” Kara said. “I haven’t been on a vacation in a long time and I never know what to pack…”

“Do you even need to pack one?” Lena teased. She sat up, resting against the headboard while she rubbed some sleep from her eyes. “We’ll only be gone a couple of days and if you really wanted to, you could just fly back and pick it up?”

“That’s not the same,” Kara said and fixed Lena with a sagely patient smile. “But I probably did overpack… I’ll give it another go after breakfast.”

“I can help you pack,” Fi offered. She clambered over Lena and hopped down onto the floor. She grinned up at Kara, absolutely thrumming with the kind of energy that Lena couldn’t help but envy so early in the morning.

“I would love your help,” Kara said. She grinned at Fi, scrunching up her nose as she did. “But how about breakfast first? How do you like your eggs?”

Fi pondered the question for a moment before answering. “All mixed up,” she said and made a vigorous mixing motion with her hand before she held out her arms to Kara expectantly. Not missing a beat, Kara lifted Fi and spun her around once before rising a few inches off the ground while Fi shrieked with laughter.

“She likes them scrambled,” Lena said, pretty sure that Kara could suss out what Fi meant without a translation but didn’t see the harm in making sure. She slid out of bed and ran a hand through her very messy hair and smiled up at Fi who was peering down at her, waving like she was perched atop a parade float.

“I am very good at mixing,” Kara assured Fi as she floated back down to the floor. “Do you want to help me crack the eggs?” 

Fi nodded and looked at Lena over top of Kara’s left shoulder. “Can I?” she asked.

“Of course you can, love.” Lena leaned forward and planted a kiss on the crown of Fi’s head, having to get up on her tiptoes to do it. "We can all help."


Both Lena and Fi were used to navigating a kitchen that any realtor worth their salt would classify as cozy which made Kara’s worried apologies about having to maneuver around one another as they made breakfast all the more amusing.

“Ours isn’t much bigger,” Lena said. She set down the knife she had been slicing a grapefruit with and pointed where Kara’s fridge stood. “Your fridge might even be a little bigger,” Lena said and held up her hands to roughly measure. “I’d try and find some pictures of it on my phone but you can see it for yourself soon enough.” She laughed nervously and picked up the knife again, cutting off a smaller section of grapefruit for Fi. “I should have cleaned up a little better before we left,” she said, trying to remember the state she had left their house before the two had set off for National City.

“You definitely don’t have to tidy up for me,” Kara assured her. She handed Fi another egg with all the delicateness of a surgeon’s assistant. “One more, I think,” she told Fi.

“One more,” Fi repeated, taking the egg from Kara carefully and tapping it gently against the countertop several times before prising it apart carefully over the large mixing bowl that Fi had already cracked nearly a dozen eggs into.

“No shells,” Kara said, sounding very impressed as she leaned closer to the bowl, inspecting it. “Not even a little bit.” She let out a low whistle and wrapped Fi up in a one-armed hug. “You’ll have to give Alex some advice on how to crack eggs because she does it on the edge of the bowl and there’s always a little bit of shell when she makes eggs,” she said in a low whisper as if there was someone else there that might overhear her.

“She's an excellent helper," Lena said and smiled when she saw Fi use the cape clipped to her pajamas to hide her face shyly behind it. "I simply don't know what I would do without her," she said and could only hope that Fi would someday understand just how true that really was and saw from the way that Kara was looking back at her that she understood.

“I have been looking for a designated baking assistant,” Kara said and shook her head sadly as if the search thus far had been a particularly exhausting one. “If you were interested…”

“Baking assistant?” Fi peeked out from behind her cape for a moment before letting it flutter behind her again. She shook her head, looking unsure. “What does a baking assistant do?”

“Well,” Kara said, grabbing a wooden spoon from a drawer and holding it out to Fi. “Mixing, for one. Measuring.” She began to tick them off on her fingers, holding up both her thumb and index finger. “And tasting, of course.”

“I can do that!” Fi crowed, looking from Kara to Lena and back again.

“Is that a yes, then?” Kara asked and crossed her fingers, pretending to look away as if she couldn’t bear the suspense of not knowing.

“Yes!” Fi said giggling and once again reached around to hide behind her cape, fresh laughter pouring out from behind it like water from a spring. 



"I already got the okay from Andrea about taking some time off," Kara said, heaping another large spoonful of scrambled eggs onto her plate before dousing it liberally with pepper. "I think she's in Japan ironing out a merger. When I texted her last night that I would be taking some personal time, she texted me right away." She caught Lena’s eye and exchanged a wry smile. 

 Kara reached for her phone, tapped the screen a few times. She sent me back this and cleared her throat before reading the very brief text she had woken up to. “ Such a nice change of pace for you to give me advance notice before you disappear, Kara. See you when you get back.” 

Lena smirked and a bite of egg wiggled off her fork as she tried to stop herself from laughing. She set her fork down with a clatter and nodded. “Some things never change,” Lena said and passed Fi a napkin just as she bit into a piece of toast that she had slathered liberally in strawberry jam.

“No,” Kara said and exchanged a shy smile with Lena. Lots of things had changed in the ten years since they had last seen one another but not everything, at least, not the things that mattered most. “Some things never change…” Never will change, she thought.

“Are you going to fly us back?” Fi asked. She had taken a few dainty nibbles of her toast, jam smeared on one corner of her mouth that she dabbed away carefully with the napkin Lena had handed her.

“I could ,” Kara said and looked sideways at Lena, not wanting to commit to anything without Lena signing off first. “But I could also sit next to you on the plane.”

“Just like this?” Fi said and pointed to where Lena sat on her right while Kara sat to her immediate left.

“If you don’t mind giving me the window seat,” Kara said, eyes wide as if she couldn’t quite believe that Fi could be that generous.

“I don’t mind,” Fi said sweetly.

“Well…” Lena said and glanced sideways at Kara, nibbling on a piece of bacon that she finished off in two dainty bites before she elaborated on her idea. “I was thinking about that and I wanted to see Sam again before we left… even if we are coming right back. If she’s really left my lab intact then I think we could travel a different way…”

“What way?” Fi asked, leaning close, elbows propped up on the table.

“It’s a surprise, my treasure,” Lena said and turned an imaginary key in front of her mouth, locking it as well as tossing it over her back for good measure.

Oh ,” Kara said, eyes shining, just a little slower on the draw, and nodded. “That would be even faster…”

“Faster than what?” Fi asked.

“Faster than a speeding bullet,” Lena said and turned another imaginary key on the other side of her mouth before she pressed a kiss to Fi’s temple. “How about a hint?” she offered.

“Yes, please. A good one.”

“A good one,” Lena agreed, nodding as she tapped her index finger against her chin. “I have one,” she said and chuckled when Fi sat up straighter in her seat, staring up at Lena unblinkingly. “The hint is,” Lena said, enunciating each word carefully, adding the proper mystique. “Narnia.”

“That is a good one,” Kara murmured and understood just how dangerous Fi’s puppy-dog eyes really were when she looked at Kara with them on at full blast. “Oh Rao, Lena how do you not just spoil her to pieces?”

“It’s very difficult,” Lena said and made a show of covering her eyes with her hand, peeking out through a small crack at Fi who looked to be very deep in thought, turning over Lena’s hint in her mind, brow furrowed in concentration. “Something that you’ll have to get used to,” she warned, lips turned up in a shy smile.

“Yeah, I will,” Kara said, her voice quavering just a touch, enough for Lena to notice and reach over and give her hand a very firm squeeze as if she somehow knew that Kara needed the reassurance that this was all indeed real.

“Narnia,” Fi said out loud, clearly speaking to herself as she tried to decipher Lena’s clue, head tilted up, the furrow in her brow deepening.

“Why don’t you ponder over that while you help Kara pack, love,” Lena suggested. "I'll clean up the kitchen while you do. After that we can go see Aunt Sam and say hello… and goodbye. For a few days at least."

“Are you sure?” Kara asked, still holding onto Lena’s hand, not wanting to let go until she absolutely had to. “I could have it done a lot faster,” she offered.

“Very sure,” Lena said laughing. “I can handle a few dishes while you two pack.” She pushed her chair back and stood up, beginning to gather up the dishes. There was the clink of plates shifting against one another as Lena stacked them up three-high, gathering their utensils in one fist like a bouquet.

"We won't take long," Kara said and stood up as well. "Will we, Fi?"

"Nope!" Fi shimmied out of her chair without pushing it back and took two great galloping leaps towards Kara who caught her on the second leap and carried her into the living room just fast enough to ruffle the cape clipped to the back of Fi's pajamas on a wing and a prayer.


Just like the first time that Lena had laid eyes on L-Corp again after so many years, Sam was waiting for her outside of the building. She was dressed smartly in a suit that didn’t look like it offered her much protection from the shockingly cold wind judging from how she had taken refuge behind a pillar near the entrance, but she still came over when she spotted Lena’s rental car pull up.

“You know that traditionally we’re the ones that are supposed to wait to see the CEO. Not the other way around,” Lena said as she stepped out of the car, pulling Sam into a hug before she could do the same. 

“And wait longer to have to see the little munchkin again? Not a chance.” Sam grinned and watched as Fi hopped out of the backseat, landing with all the grace and showmanship of a gymnast who had just finished up a very difficult routine. “Hi again,” Sam said, bending down as she had the first time she had met Fi so that they were eye-level.

“Hi again,” Fi parroted back happily.

“I heard from your mom that you’re going on a little trip. All of you together,” she said and her gaze flicked over to Kara, her warm smile morphing somewhat into a grin that made Lena think that Sam had most likely already worked out some or all of the gaps that Lena hadn’t had the opportunity to share with her yet about how things had progressed between Kara and her.

"Yeah," Fi said without a hint of shyness, eyes twinkling as she pointed to the much smaller suitcase that Kara had clutched in one hand. "But we'll be back soon.”

“Well, I’m very happy to hear that because I happen to know a bakery in the city that has the absolute best cookies I have ever had and it would be a shame if I didn’t get to take you and your mom. And Kara, of course,” she added, her smile once again morphing ever so slightly into a smirk.

“Well, now we have to come back,” Lena teased as if they had only been on the fence about returning instead of fully committed.

“Yes, you do,” Sam said. She looked as if she might continue speaking but after bracing herself against a particularly strong, particularly cold breeze she made a face as if there was someone she could blame for the weather being so cold and walked back towards the entrance to the building, urging them to follow after her.

“Do you have a wardrobe in your office?” Fi asked Sam when they all squeezed into an elevator together. 

“A wardrobe?”

“We’re actually going down ,” Lena said and jabbed the button that would take them down to the floor her lab was on and was struck with the strangest feeling of deja vu as they began to descend. “To my old lab,” she said, answering the question that she was sure Fi wanted to ask before she could even ask it. “It’s probably all dusty.” She wrinkled her nose and made a face, pretending to dust some invisible dust off of Fi’s cape that got Fi to laugh and bury her face against Lena’s side, holding onto her tight.

When the elevator doors slid open soundlessly Lena expected to see every piece of lab equipment shrouded in white sheets and those sheets covered in a thick layer of dust which made it all the more shocking when the lights flickered on and Lena found herself staring at her lab exactly as she remembered it. So much so that Lena had to resist the urge to rub her eyes, as if doing so might dispel what she was half-convinced to be a mirage. 

"I don't understand," Lena said, looking over at Kara who looked just as surprised as her.

“You really think I’d just seal your lab up like the Cask of Amontillado and call it good?” Sam tutted and reached for the bank of switches that operated the lights and flicked a few more on, illuminating a few of the darker corners of the lab, those too just as spotless, looking more like Lena had just stepped out for the day rather than the decade. “I have a cleaning crew come down here once a month to do battle with the dust bunnies. Just keeping the lighthouse,” she said and gave Lena a shy shrug of her shoulders. “And it’s a good thing that I did…”

“Very brave of them,” Lena replied, glancing back at Sam to offer her an appreciative smile, all while keeping a close eye on Fi as she began to venture out on her own, knowing all too well that Fi’s shyness around people did not extend to unfamiliar places which was exactly why Lena had lost her on Halloween. The memory of that night brought with it a revenant of the fear she had felt when Fi had seemingly vanished. It crept over her like a looming shadow that was banished the instant she saw FI come to a skittering halt and caper back towards her, perhaps sensing Lena’s unease.

“The floors are slippery, so be careful,” Lena warned and grinned to herself, remembering all the times she had been dangerously close to a painful tumble herself. How she somehow navigated her lab, oftentimes in a sleep-deprived state in heels was just one of the many things that she couldn’t quite understand how she had done it now that that part of her life seemed so distant it felt like a dream of a dream.

“Yes,” Kara agreed, sliding one of her feet along the very freshly polished floor. “But if the unthinkable happens, I’ll catch you,” Kara said and as if to prove that she could, she sped over to Fi in an instant and scooped her up in a hug. “Just in the nick of time,” she said and wiped imaginary sweat from her brow.

Fi giggled and nodded in agreement, looking over at Lena. “I’ll be careful,” she said and she wriggled one arm free to offer Lena her outstretched pinky finger. “I promise.”

“I will too,” Lena said in a low clandestine whisper and winked at Fi before entwining her pinky with Fi's. “If you want to look around with Kara and Sam while I get the surprise ready,” Lena suggested.

“What things?” Fi asked, her head swiveling to look first at Lena, then Kara, and finally Sam, not picky about who answered the question, just as long as somebody did.

“Secret things,” Lena said and exaggeratedly pursed her lips, giving the same kind of nonanswer she gave when Fi tried to suss out her Christmas presents by prodding at them gently, oftentimes looking at them from every imaginable angle, as if that might result in new insights. “Give me just ten minutes, love.”

“I’ll give you as many minutes as you need,” FI said sweetly although she did swivel her head around, using the extra height from Kara holding her to look around the lab, perhaps looking for a wardrobe.

“Let’s start with ten,” Lena said with a laugh and kissed Fi on the cheek.

“I bet your mom doesn’t have a lab this big back home,” Kara said, walking towards one of the lab’s workstations with Sam walking in sync beside her. “Or maybe she does,” Kara amended, glancing over her shoulder in an attempt to catch Lena’s eye.

“No,” Lena said with a laugh, spying what she was looking for stashed underneath one of the worktables pressed against the far wall of the lab. You really didn’t touch anything, did you?

She bent down, careful not to bang her head as she edged the heavy box out from under the table, impressed that even that was devoid of any sign of dust. There was no sign of a visible hinge but there was a small indent near the top that Lena pressed her thumb against, hoping the biometric lock was still in working order.

She was just about to call Kara over to brute force it open when there was an audible clicking noise and the lid swung open revealing the box’s meager contents. She reached inside and plucked the watch from inside, brushing the pad of her thumb over the face of the watch.

She stood up, bringing the watch over to her old worktable, her thumb looking for the hidden release on the back, and found it on her third pass. She pressed hard and prised the back panel off, doing a spot check of the intricate wiring looking for any signs of damage. Once she was satisfied that the transmatter portal watch was still in working order she pocketed it instead of putting it on.

Didn’t even need the full ten minutes , Lena thought as she nudged the box back under the desk with her foot.

“Mom?” Fi called, her voice echoing off the lab walls, doubling up on itself.

“Yes, my treasure?” She turned around and saw Fi on her tiptoes looking at one of her lab stations where several beakers were arranged in neat evenly-spaced racks beside rows of glittering pipettes that were spaced far more neatly than they had ever been when Lena had used the lab.

“Did you work here all alone?” Fi asked, raising her voice just enough to cause another echo, making it sound like there was a chorus of Fi’s asking her the same question all at once.

“I did ,” Lena answered and saw the polite surprise on Fi’s face as she looked at both Kara and Sam as if she had heard something she couldn’t believe without more tangible proof. “Sometimes I sat right here,” Lena said, scooping Fi up, feeling more than a little envious at how effortlessly Kara could do so and set Fi gently down on one of the chairs pushed in neatly around the edge of the table.

“Right here?” Fi asked and patted the chair.

Lena nodded. “And sometimes I worked over there and over there too.” She pointed to opposite corners of the lab, grin widening.

“Because you wanted to help people,” Fi said proudly, looking up at Lena and exuding so much affection that Lena couldn’t help but feel a bit unworthy of it.

“Yes,” Lena and Kara said together in such perfect unison that Sam began to chuckle.

“Sometimes I would start working in the evening and not finish until the next morning,” Lena said, recalling all the nights she had spent working down in her lab instead of returning to her penthouse, sometimes unsure if she stayed because she found it so easy to get absorbed in her work or simply because she had no desire to return to an empty penthouse. 

“Didn’t you have a bedtime?” Fi asked, confused, a delicate crease in her brow starting to form.

“She certainly should have,” Sam muttered, looking sideways at Lena.

“Sam’s right,” Lena agreed, hanging her head with a bit of theatricality to show Fi that she truly was remorseful. “I should have had a bedtime. And before you ask, yes, you still need a bedtime. We can discuss an extension…” Lena cleared her throat and produced her phone, navigating to the calendar and then to June of the next year.  She showed it to Fi and pointed to the first Saturday of that month. “Your birthday,” she said.

“My birthday!” Fi cheered. “Can Kara come to my birthday?” she asked Lena but looked at Kara when she did.

“I couldn’t keep her away if I wanted to, my treasure.”

“No,” Kara said sadly, shaking her head. “You couldn’t.”

“And Grandma and Aunt Sam, too?”

“I’ll clear my schedule right now,” Sam said and made a sweeping gesture with both arms to show that Fi’s birthday would take precedence over any previous engagement she had already scheduled.

“We’ll make a guest list,” Lena said, sure that the number of people that Fi would want to invite would only increase shortly. “But back to that surprise,” Lena reminded her before Fi could return to rattling off more names.

“Where is it?” Fi asked.

“Hold out your hand and close your eyes tight,” Lena instructed and waited until Fi had done both before she reached into her pocket and retrieved the watch. She pressed the watch into Fi’s hand. “Now you can open them.”

“A watch?” Fi prodded it with her other hand before lifting it delicately, turning it over in her hand and holding it by one of the straps.

“A very special watch,” Lena said and smiled when Fi immediately cradled it all the more carefully after she said that. “It’s not a pair of ruby slippers or a magic wardrobe, love, but this can take us home... It can take us anywhere we want to go.”

“Anywhere?” Fi asked, looking up at Lena without a hint of disbelief on her face, more than happy to take Lena at her word, more than happy to believe that there was indeed magic in the world.

Almost anywhere,” Lena revised and brushed a hand through Fi’s hair before swiveling the chair she was sitting in so that she was facing the center of the lab. “Why don’t you press this button?” Lena suggested and tapped it featherlight to show Fi which one to press.

“This button?”

Lena nodded and watched as Fi pressed her thumb against the small silver button. The sudden appearance of the shimmering portal in the center of the lab made Fi rear back in surprise. Not that she was in danger of falling, Lena had suspected such a reaction and wrapped one arm around her shoulders.

“What is it?” Fi asked, looking up at Lena for a moment before she returned to staring at the portal.

“It’s a portal,” Lena said, and knowing that alone wouldn’t be enough of an explanation, decided to describe it the same way Fi had described how it felt to fly on an airplane for the very first time. “It’s like magic,” Lena said in a voice just above a whisper. “We’ll step through it and when we step out the other side… we’ll be back home.”

“It is magic,” Fi said and hopped off the chair, throwing her arms out to steady herself when she landed, doing a graceful kind of pirouette, nearly wrapping herself up in her cape.

“We’ll be back in a few days, Sam,” Lena murmured, trying to hide the fact that she had begun to blush. All three of us…

“Sure beats ten years,” Sam joked, pulling in Lena for a hug. “I’m buying you dinner when you get back and I’m buying the munchkin as many cookies as she can eat.”

“First time we see each other in years and you immediately start flexing your salary,” Lena teased, glancing over at Fi who had dragged Kara closer to the portal, walking around it and examining it from every angle imaginable while still keeping a bit of distance between her and the portal.

“You two look good together,” Sam whispered, pulling Lena closer, lips so close that they were almost pressed against Lena’s ear. “But then again, you always did,” she said with a shrug as she pulled away reluctantly from the hug.

“Maybe,” Lena said modestly and stole a glance over at Kara, not the least bit surprised to see her looking back at her. “Definitely,” she amended and gave Sam’s arm a little tug, pulling her along in her wake as she stepped closer to where Kara and Fi were standing.

“Ready to go, my treasure?”

“Go?” Fi asked and shuffled a few steps back and pointed to the portal, suddenly looking uneasy. Still gripping tight to Kara’s hand she motioned Lena to come closer and Lena obliged, getting down on one knee and turning her head just enough so that Fi could lean in close.

“Will it be scary?” she asked in a whisper meant only for Lena.

“No, my treasure,” Lena soothed. She sandwiched Fi’s hand in both of her own and pressed a kiss to Fi’s temple. “You know why?”

“Why?”

Still holding onto Fi’s hand, Lena leaned close to Fi’s ear and whispered, “Because I’ll be with you, love. And…” She looked up at Kara who was still holding tight onto Fi’s other hand, suitcase in the other, not wanting to assume, not wanting to burden Kara with something she might not want, and most importantly, not wanting to promise Fi something that wasn’t hers to promise.

“And I’ll be with you too,” Kara said softly. “I won’t let go of your hand until you tell me to.” She swung Fi’s arm and held on tight, still smiling. “All of us together.”

“Then…” Fi said carefully, looking from one to the other. “I’m ready to go,” she said and let go of Lena’s hand briefly to wave goodbye to Sam.

Sam waved back with gusto, smiling. “Have fun, Munchkin.”

“I will!” Fi flashed Sam a toothy grin before turning her attention to the portal. “Ready,” she repeated, not looking up at Lena this time.

“Count of three?” Kara suggested and gave Fi’s arm another little swing. “Want to count us down, Fi?”

“Yes!” Fi chirped and Lena saw the last residue of unease on Fi’s face disappear when she smiled up at the both of them.

“Whenever you’re ready, love.”




When Kara stepped through the portal, there was a very brief moment where she feared something might have gone wrong. She had expected the three of them to step out in front of a quaint cottage bathed in warm afternoon sunlight. She ended up only being half-right. There was a cottage and while it was maybe a tiny bit too big to be considered quaint, Kara thought it was close enough. But there was very little sunlight to speak of. A very thin band of orange-red sunlight was visible on the horizon, the sun almost completely set, the sky around it a beautiful purplish hue.

“Time difference,” Lena said, perhaps seeing the confusion on Kara’s face. “And that’s our—”

“Our house!” Fi grinned up at her. “Do you like it?”

“I absolutely adore it,” Kara gushed. To her, the cottage looked as if it had been plucked from the pages of some dusty well-worn picture book, the kind you might stumble across deep in a sunkissed bit of meadow deep in some sheltered woods. She spotted a chimney perched atop the slanted roof and it was all too easy for her to imagine smoke chuffing from it when the weather turned a bit colder, the warm glow from the fireplace reflecting in the bay window. There was a thin, almost spindly walkway that led to the sturdy oak front door.

“You haven’t seen the inside yet,” Lena said, laughing. “Or have you?” She cocked her head and looked at Kara sideways.

“No! I want it to be a surprise,” Kara said, scandalized at the mere thought she might actually try and sneak a peek before she had been given the tour. “I’m ready to be given the full tour.”

“That won’t take long,” Lena warned, gesturing needlessly to the cottage. “It’s even smaller inside.”

“It’s perfect,” Kara scolded and gave Fi’s hand a gentle squeeze, hoping that she might provide the appropriate backup.

“Yeah,” Fi chirped and tugged on Lena’s hand. “It’s perfect.”

“Oh, is that how it’s going to be from now on?” Lena asked, swinging Fi’s arm up as the three of them set off towards the house. “Outvoted and overruled?”



For as small as the cottage was, Kara insisted on exploring each room thoroughly, taking in every detail, wanting to memorize each one, to savor it the same way she would a good meal. Asking nearly as many questions as Fi did when Kara had given the tour of her apartment.

She had oohed and aahed over some of Lena’s decorating touches throughout the house. She had done two circuits around the small wooden table in the kitchen, eyes drawn to the two chairs pushed up close to one another, one Fi’s, the other Lena’s. In the living room, she had marveled at the record player sitting by the window and thumbed very quickly through the sizable stack of records in the cabinet beside it.

“And this must be your room,” Kara said when Fi led her by the hand down a short hallway and stopped in front of a door covered in overlapping drawings, a silvery doorknob just barely visible underneath a sheaf of overlapping drawings.

“Yes,” Fi said, suddenly retreating to partially conceal herself behind Lena, peering out from behind her at Kara. “I drew all these too,” she said and pointed back towards the kitchen where the fridge was similarly covered from top to bottom in Fi’s artwork.

“I don’t know how I could ever pick a favorite.” Kara shook her head, peeking underneath a few of the drawings to get a better look at those hiding underneath, and the radiant smile on her face only deepened when she saw just how many drawings there were of Fi and Lena together. “I love them all.”

“Me too,” Fi admitted shyly and after glancing up at Lena she returned to Kara’s side. She rubbed at her chin, pondering over something before she very shyly pointed out a drawing of her and Lena sitting together on the brown leather couch in the living room, a book open between them, a thin squiggly line drawn in purple across the front of it in place of a title.

Before Kara could get a closer look at it, Fi flipped it up carefully to reveal a picture of Supergirl flying above a city, several skyscrapers drawn in a variety of colors while a bright yellow sun occupied one corner of the page.

“That’s me!” Kara said and leaned in closer. “And you even got my hair right…” She floated up just high enough into the air, arms stretched out in front of her  to better emulate the way that FI had drawn her in the picture. “And I didn’t even pose for it. Next time though,” she promised and put her feet back down on solid ground and held her arms out to Fi who leaped into them without an iota of hesitation. “Maybe an action pose?”

Fi seemed delighted at the prospect, the corners of her mouth curled upward into a rapturous grin that Kara fully believed to be contagious. “We can draw together,” she suggested and twisted around in Kara’s arms to reach for the doorknob and pushed open the door just hard enough for it to swing open to reveal Fi’s bedroom.

“There’s a switch on the wall,” Lena said and snaked a hand past Kara to nudge the light switch on the wall, bathing the room in warm light from a fixture in the center of the room.

The walls had been painted a delicate sky blue, a task that Kara was sure Lena had done on her own while the ceiling had been painted a slightly darker shade. Surrounding the ceiling light were a number of glow-in-the-dark stars that still retained at least some of their luminescence. Tucked away in one corner of the room was a desk where a mishmash of books was stacked pell-mell in uneven towers while an enormous box of crayons occupied another corner, acting as a paperweight for a thick stack of drawing paper.

Fi’s bed was nestled under the window where outside the moon was just beginning to rise higher in a sky utterly devoid of clouds. The bed itself was large, even larger than Kara’s bed back home which left plenty of room for a number of stuffed animals to occupy one side of the bed while still leaving plenty of room for Fi to curl up unimpeded. 

“This is even nicer than my room,” Kara gushed and felt herself melt when Fi wrapped her arms more securely around her neck. “I love it.”

“Haven’t you said that about every room,” Lena teased, giving her a playful bump with her shoulder.

“I have ,” Kara admitted without a hint of guilt in her confession. “And I’ve loved each one.”

Lena’s smile deepened and she nodded. “Fair enough.” She glanced at the clock hanging on the far wall and squinted. “I know it’s late here but it’s just about lunchtime back in National City. I should be able to throw together something simple and then we can settle in for the night… day,” she corrected and shook her head. “I just hope this doesn’t mess up your sleeping schedule too much, my treasure. Or mine,” she added and made soft snoring noises that made Fi grin against Kara’s shoulder.



They ate a hastily prepared lunch of spaghetti bolognese by candlelight squeezed in close together around the kitchen table while a silvery crescent moon rose higher into a cloudless sky, visible through a window over the kitchen sink.

For dessert, Lena sliced up an apple and dusted the segments with cinnamon and Fi generously offered up some of her leftover Halloween candy that she had brought along with her and the three ate that crowded together on the couch while Lena brought out a couple of photo albums that had been stashed in the same cabinet that the record player sat on. While Kara flipped through them with Lena sitting next to her and Fi in her lap, Kara paused now and again when she happened across a photo that caught her eye. There was almost always a story to accompany it, some recollections fuzzier than others that Lena was more than happy to share and sometimes Fi remembered better than Lena, taking over storytelling duties while Kara hung on her every word.

There had been a third photo album that Kara had spotted after thumbing through the second one in its entirety but before she had even been able to stand up off the couch to go grab it, Lena had waved her off, smiling.

“That one’s empty, I’m afraid.” Lena’s grin widened when she saw the look of surprise on Kara’s face. “But considering everything that’s happened lately… I think I’ll need to buy a few more albums.”

“To start,” Kara suggested and when Lena nodded shyly in agreement, Kara felt her stomach do a nervous backflip, wishing that Lena could hear just how fast she made her heart beat just as easily as she could hear Lena’s. 



About the time that Lena noticed the first streaks of dawn brightening the sky like exploratory brushstrokes of a painter, she saw that Fi had begun to droop. Not at all surprising considering how animatedly she had chatted while the three had spent the night watching TV, drawing, and playing chess with Fi and Kara playing together against Lena, strategizing in very loud whispers while Lena pretended not to hear.

“I resign, my treasure,” Lena said softly, offering Fi her hand and smiling when she saw Fi’s shoulders slump and then jump up again, startled awake.

“You resign?” Fi asked sleepily, eyes half-closed, head still resting against Kara’s shoulder.

“Yes,” Lena said. She took Fi’s hand and instead of shaking it planted a kiss on the back of her hand and stood up, scooping Fi up in her arms.

“I’m not sleepy,” Fi murmured against Lena’s shoulder but nestled her head more securely against her a second later. “Maybe I’m a little sleepy…”

“I bet you have some very sweet dreams waiting for you," Lena promised. "And tomorrow... lots of new adventures." She padded with Fi down the hall leading to her bedroom, a journey she had taken countless times. The only difference was that this time, she heard Kara rise from her spot on the couch and follow behind her soundlessly in her wake.

Once she had Fi tucked into bed, Lena pulled the comforter up around her and pulled the curtain on her window completely closed, hoping that Fi would be able to sleep soundly even if some faint sunlight filtered in. "Good night, my treasure," Lena whispered and brushed a hand gently over her forehead, leaning down to let Fi clumsily loop an arm around her neck and pull her into a sleepy hug. "See you in the morning."

"See you in the morning," Fi repeated sleepily. She seemed to find her second (or maybe her third) wind and unlooped her arm from around Lena and looked over at Kara who was standing beside Lena, holding Fi's cape draped over one of her arms. "Good night, Kara. I hope you have sweet dreams too."

"I know I will," Kara said softly and after the briefest of hesitations, she leaned over and hugged Fi very gently. "Tomorrow I'll read you two stories if you want."

"Yeah." Fi's face lit up brilliantly before her eyes fluttered closed and then open again, smiling at the both of them. "I can't wait..." Turning on her side, she gave her comforter a weak tug, pulling it up to her chin while Lena slipped out of the room, deftly avoiding banging her shin against Fi's dresser on the way out.

"You must be tired too," Kara said, once the two had returned to the living room.

"Oh, I think I'm good for another hour," Lena said and glanced out the window, the first rays of early morning sun starting to peek out over the horizon. She was sure that Fi would be up before either of them and she'd have to chug along on whatever sleep she was able to get before trying to force her body's clock to acclimate to the change before doing it all over again, part of her wondering if she still had it in her while another part knew that she would find a way, she always had before.

"Another game?" Kara asked, holding up one of the wooden pawns, rolling it in her palm. "Or did you want to do something else?"

"Something else," Lena said, tilting her head at an angle and looking at Kara, grinning when she saw her cheeks start to turn red. She crossed the living room to where the record player sat and lifted the cover soundlessly. The cabinet door was still slightly ajar and when she bent down to look through her burgeoning collection she found what she was looking for. Slipping the record from its sleeve, she flipped it over and onto the platter. She pressed the On button and heard the faint whirring sounds as the record began to spin, the needle skittering across the surface for just an instant before it settled into the groove.

"I'm not much of a slow dancer," Lena warned as the first notes of the Peggy Lee record began to play. "But I guess you don't have to worry if I step on your feet," she joked.

"No," Kara agreed and floated over to her, closing the distance between them before floating back down. "I'm not either, but I'm more than willing to practice."

"Normally," Lena said as she looped an arm around Kara's waist, a swarm of butterflies swirling and diving in her stomach as Kara did the same. "I'm a very fast learner, but dancing is an entirely different beast."

"Just means we have to practice a lot." Kara shrugged, clearly unbothered at the prospect. "I'm free for..." Her brow furrowed in mock concentration as she pulled Lena closer. "Oh, the rest of my life."

"Is that so?" Lena whispered, tears pricking at the corner of her eyes as Peggy Lee began to croon, her voice dripping like honey, the pleasant crackle making the music sound that much more real.

"Yeah," Kara murmured, swaying with Lena, her hands draped over her waist. "So, absolutely no rush..."

"Funny coincidence," Lena replied, pressing a kiss to the corner of Kara's mouth. "I am too... And I don't think Fi would ever forgive me if I let you go..."

"So, you're kind of stuck with me," Kara said, a shy, triumphant smile creeping across her face.

"And I wouldn't forgive myself either," Lena whispered against the shell of Kara's ear. "I'm kind of good at that..."

Kara let out a watery chuckle, resting her head against Lena's shoulder. "Yeah, you are."

For a time they continued dancing, sunlight streaming in through the window, chasing away some of the chill that had begun to seep in through the walls of the cottage. As the song neared its end, Lena pulled Kara into a tight embrace, no longer dancing, no longer swaying.

"Tighter," Kara whispered, nuzzling against Lena's shoulder.

Lena pulled her into a tighter embrace, more than happy to oblige.