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Bizarre Love Triangle

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Maybe we're a fault line
Maybe we're a phone line ready to break
Maybe you're a time bomb
I don't care what your boyfriends say

“Saturdays” - Twin Shadow ft. Haim

 

It first happens on a Wednesday.

Kara texts Lena. And it’s just a picture of a random dog on the street. Followed up by the message, “Doesn’t this dog look like Chewbacca?”

It’s the first time she’s texting about something other than coming over for sex, requiring some kind of response from Lena other than “okay, come over” or “can you do an hour later?” Lena’s left at a bit of a loss.

Which is somewhat ridiculous, because they’ve had full-on meals together and many hours of conversation, and Lena would have no problem coming up with a response if Kara had said it during one of those times. Somehow, this perfectly innocuous message feels somewhat threatening when it’s being texted at 1:25PM on a Tuesday afternoon instead of at a late-night post-coital dinner.

So Lena texts back a cry-laughing emoji and hates herself a little bit for it.

She locks her phone away in her desk and refuses to look at it for the rest of the day.

But when it’s time to go home, she finally takes her phone back out and sees that Kara hasn’t texted anything more, she has to admit that she feels a bit disappointed.

***

It’s Friday night, and Kara’s with Alex and Kelly at their favorite neighborhood bar, a dark, drabby dive with vaguely Irish origins that hipsters have yet to ruin. While Kelly’s at the bar getting them another round, Alex’s telling Kara about her crazy week at work, the endless stream of unlikely drama that gets inflicted on her hospital on a weekly basis.

“And I’m just like, ‘when the hell do you people even have time to hook up in the on call room?’ Like am I the only doctor here who works? Some dude’s coding in the hallway, but sure, take half an hour to talk about your relationship status with your best friend’s wife’s brother.”

Except that Kara’s not exactly listening. She’s staring down at the cellphone in her lap. Annoyed, Alex gives her a little kick under the table. “Hey. Earth to Kara.”

Kara looks up abashedly, but doesn’t put her phone away. “Sorry, just working out the time with Lena tomorrow.”

Alex tries not to look judgmental. She fails, but at least she tries. “You’re going to see her again?”

“It’s Saturday. That’s when we see each other.”

“Oh, good, a weekly standing date that you plan out. Fantastic.”

“Alex.”

Alex heaves a heavy sigh of resignation and tries to switch from Judgmental Big Sister to Supportive Big Sister. “Okay, so… tell me about it then. I mean, not it. Just generally. Like, I don’t know, where does she live?”

“She’s in Midtown.”

Alex looks confused. “You mean like Murray Hill?”

“No, I mean Midtown. Like Bryant Park.”

Alex looks even more confused. “Nobody lives in Midtown.”

“Lena does. She has a two-bedroom over the park.”

Alex stares at her. “Kara. Just how rich is this woman?”

“I don’t know.” Kara’s starting to feel a little defensive under this line of questioning. “I don’t exactly go over there to balance her checkbook.”

“Eww. Also, who balances checkbooks anymore?”

“You know what I mean. That stuff doesn’t matter.”

Kelly returns with their drinks then, and as she sets it down on the table, Alex tells her, “Kara’s dating a millionaire.”

“Oh? Did Mike win the lottery?”

“No, Lena,” Alex says. “Lena’s a millionaire.”

“Good for Lena.” Kelly slides into the booth beside Alex. “But Kara’s not dating Lena. They’re just having fun.”

“Thank you, Kelly,” Kara expresses with a mixture of gratitude and exasperation. She shimmies out of her side of the booth, making her way towards the bathroom. “Now, when I get back, can we please talk about something else?”

Once Kara’s out of earshot, Alex crossly says to her girlfriend, “You’re not helping.”

You’re not helping, dear.” Although her words are harsh, her tone is gentle. “Respect what Kara’s telling you. She’s dating Mike. She loves Mike. Lena’s just fun.”

“It’s going to end in disaster. You know it is.” With Kara out of the scene, Alex finally lets her distress rise to the surface, allowing the panic she feels to reflect in her voice. “She’s going to fall so hard for this Lena woman. I don’t want to see her get hurt.”

“Mm-hmm.” Kelly gives her best I hear you psychologist nod. “But it’s Kara’s disaster to make and Kara’s disaster to handle. Your job is to make sure she feels safe and supported enough with you to turn to you when she needs help picking up the pieces.”

“I can’t just do nothing.”

“You didn’t. You‘ve already shared your concerns with Kara. Several times. She hasn’t changed her mind. Do you think badgering her about it is going to make a difference?”

“So I’m not even supposed to try and resuscitate,” Alex replies sourly. “I’m just supposed to sit here and watch her crash?”

“It’s more like she’s coming in with a cut on her arm and you go straight to suggesting amputation and you won’t take no for an answer. She’s going to run away and not come back even when sepsis sets in.”

“I hate that analogy actually makes sense to me and that you somehow still sound really hot talking about sepsis.”

Kelly puts her arm around Alex, pulling her in tight. “Love you too.”

***

Lena Luthor (11:10): Hey.

Kara Danvers (11:10): Hi!

Kara Danvers (11:10): I’m getting us some bagels from my local place.

Kara Danvers (11:11): I should be there within the hour.

Lena Luthor (11:11): I’m sorry, I should’ve texted you earlier. I meant to catch you before you left.

Kara Danvers (11:11): ? What’s up?

Lena Luthor (11:11): I have to cancel our plans.

Kara Danvers (11:11): OK sure

Kara Danvers (11:12): Everything okay?

Lena Luthor (11:12): Everything’s fine.

Kara Danvers (11:13): OK

Kara Danvers (11:15): Are you sure?

Lena Luthor (11:15): Yes. I’m fine. But it’s not a good time.

Kara Danvers (11:15): I’m getting worried.

Kara Danvers (11:15): What’s wrong?

Lena Luthor (11:16): Nothing’s wrong.

Lena Luthor (11:16): I’m just feeling a bit under the weather.

Kara Danvers (11:16): Oh no! Are you sick?

Kara Danvers (11:16): Is it bad?

Kara Danvers (11:16): Could it be the flu? Did you get your flu shot??

Kara Danvers (11:16): Do you need soup?

Lena Luthor (11:17): No, no, no, yes, maybe.

Kara Danvers (11:17): I’m so confused.

Lena Luthor (11:19): I started my period.

Lena Luthor (11:19): I’m not up for a hookup right now.

Lena Luthor (11:20): I didn’t want you to waste your time coming over for nothing.

Kara Danvers (11:20): OMG you’re ridiculous.

Kara Danvers (11:20): I’ll see you soon.

Kara Danvers (11:21): And I’m bringing soup.

***

Kara shows up at her door with two quarts of soup (one matzoh ball, one tomato basil), bagels, cream cheese, dark chocolates, cookies, three pints of ice cream, and a scowl. She breezes past Lena, making her way toward the kitchen. Lena watches her, feeling inadequate. She’s dressed in black sweats for comfort, her hair pulled back in a loose, messy bun. She was too crampy and tired to bother with makeup, and now, looking upon Kara with her perfect skin and rosy cheeks, regrets that choice.

The first thing Kara says is, “I can’t believe you thought that I wouldn’t come over just because we’re not going to have sex.”

Lena trails Kara into the kitchen just as the blonde shrugs off her coat. Wordlessly, Lena takes the coat from her and deposits it on a nearby dining chair. Kara’s sporting a blue fitted cashmere sweater and dark blue slacks, the combination of which work together to accentuate taut muscles and curves. Again, Lena regrets her choices that morning. Self-consciously, she pulls at the hem of her loosely-fitted sweatshirt. Why did she think it would be a good idea for Kara to see her like this?

“Isn’t that the point of our arrangement?”

“I thought we agreed that we could hang out?” Kara sticks the ice cream in the freezer and shuts the door, leaning against its frame. “Unless you don’t want to? Did you want to be alone?”

“No,” Lena says hastily. “I’m, I’m really glad you’re here. I just didn’t want you to be disappointed.”

“Like I said, you’re ridiculous. I like hanging out with you.”

“You do?”

That look of skepticism and disbelief hits Kara harder than she thought it would. “Yes,” she spits out emphatically. “How is this a question? You’re fun and funny and warm and smart and just, like, really awesome to be around.”

Lena tugs at and twirls an errant stand of hair, feeling overwhelmed by the compliments. “One of the reasons that Veronica broke up with me is that she said that I was ‘joyless’ to be around. That kind of thing… stays with a person.”

A flash of anger crosses Kara’s face, but it disappears quickly. No need to let Lena dwell on this. “Veronica’s an idiot. Now, come on, get your butt to the couch. We’re going to Netflix and really just chill.”

That’s how they spend their afternoon. They watch TV, they eat snacks, and after some feeble protests, Lena lets Kara fawn and fuss over her. Kara jumps up to fetch her aspirin and ice cream. Kara takes her bowl away when she’s done. Kara keeps one arm loosely draped about her shoulders, gently and non-sexually caressing her arm.

When night falls, Kara orders pizza for them. She lets Lena pick the toppings and orders side salads without Lena needing to ask.

“You’re spoiling me,” Lena tells her. She almost makes a joke about how if Kara keeps it up, she’ll never want Kara to leave. Wisely, she thinks better of it before she says it. “I’ll have to return the favor soon.”

“You’ll be waiting a while. I skip mine. Birth control.”

“Right. Because of the boyfriend. Yes.” It’s unnervingly easy to forget that detail.

“Yes and no? It’s just nice not having to deal with having a period every month. Anyway, you’re reaping the benefits now. What if our cycles never sync up? The six months we have together would be more like three.”

“Five now,” Lena reminds her. “Mike comes back in five months.”

“Oh.” Kara’s tone suggests that she hadn’t considered that. But it’s true. “I didn’t realize it was already… um, yes. You’re right. We have five months left.”

Kara turns her attention back to the TV, but she’s too distracted to know what’s going on with the movie they’re watching, some ridiculous holiday romcom.

After a moment, with her eyes still glued to the TV, Kara asks, “Hey, what if… I mean, I was wondering-” This isn’t working, so Kara tries again, this time turning away from the screen to face Lena. “So, I mean, I work downtown and I pass through this area everyday. What if… what if I stopped by after work some time?”

“You want to see each other on weekdays?”

“If you want.”

“I… well, I usually work pretty late.”

And Kara says, “Oh.”

Before awkwardness can claim the moment, Lena quickly adds, “But I can make it work if you give me a heads up.”

Kara grins. “I can do that.”

Their food comes and they eat their dinner at the dining table, because Lena’s the sort of person who has a dining table in her Manhattan apartment instead of eating off the living room coffee table like a common peasant.

Kara tells Lena about her childhood growing up in Krypton. She tries to explain ice-fishing. Lena tells Kara about boarding school. She tries to explain dressage. Neither of them really “gets it” but it doesn’t matter. They understand each other even if they don’t understand the subject matter. They listen to one another, truly listen, instead of thinking of the next thing to say.

“Hey,” Kara says at one point, holding up her folded-up slice of pizza.

Lena looks at her quizzically. “Yes?”

“Pizza in the streets, pizzazz between the sheets?”

When Lena groans, Kara lets out a loud, pleased cackle.

After dinner, they watch another movie and cuddle up close next to each other on the couch. It’s well past midnight when Lena yawns and Kara takes that as her cue to go.

From the couch, Lena watches Kara gather up her things. And before she can stop herself, she says, “You could stay.” Kara’s movements falter. She looks up at Lena, who already knows the answer. “All right. Goodnight then, Kara.”

“It’s just that-”

“Brunch with Alex. I know.”

Except that Lena knows that’s an excuse. And Kara does too. But it’s easier not to pry. So Lena walks her to the door and kisses her goodnight.

She doesn’t get it. Not one bit. Kara will come over, fawn over her, ask to spend more time with her, and then balk at the idea of spending the night when they’ve both already agreed that it would be fine if she did. It doesn’t make sense.

Then again, very little about this arrangement makes sense.

***

On Tuesday, Kara texts Lena with a picture of a cat that looks like Salvadore Dali.

Lena texts back, “That’s adorable.” Then, after a moment’s hesitation, “Not as adorable as you, obviously.

Kara sends back ten heart-eyes emojis. Then she asks how Lena’s day is going.

When Lena finally puts her phone back down, it’s forty-five minutes later, she now has dinner plans, and there are thirty new emails in her inbox screaming for her attention.

Brainy side-eyes her when she leaves the office at 6PM.

“Get well soon!” he calls after her. Lena realizes that she never leaves the office this early unless she’s sick.

She meets Kara downtown at a Japanese-Peruvian restaurant that Andrea had once mentioned. It’s the kind of place that prints out its short daily menu on elegantly flimsy paper, only lists a string of ingredients in lieu of a dish name, and there’s nothing for sale that’s even close to a single-digit price. The waiter comes by to explain the menu, along with the tidbit that it’s a “family-style, à la carte tapas-inspired” restaurant and the helpful suggestion that each person order at least three to four dishes.

Kara hums in acknowledgement. She thanks the waiter and turns her attention back to the menu, studying it carefully, a slight crease between her eyebrows where there wasn’t one before. Lena could guess at what caused it.

“By the way,” she says casually. “This one’s on me.”

Predictably, Kara sets down her menu with a frown. “No, we’ll split it.”

“Nonsense. You paid for everything last time.”

“Last time?” It takes Kara a moment to remember. “You mean the snacks and the pizza? That was nothing. This place is way more expensive.”

“You bought a ton of chocolates and ice cream.”

“Which I brought over without asking, and most of which I ate.”

“And I’m the one who suggested this place. You paid last time, I’ll pay this time, and you’ll get the next one. That’s fair, isn’t it?” Before Kara can offer a rebuttal, the waiter comes back. Lena takes both menus and passes them over. “We’ll have one of everything.”

After the waiter leaves, Lena is left with Kara gaping at her from across the table. “Lena…”

“It’s a small menu anyway.”

Despite her protests, it’s evident that Kara is positively thrilled. With each dish they bring, her eyes light up. She savors every bite she takes, sometimes even moaning in deep appreciation.

“That duck nigiri was so good. And that lobster with beef heart with aji panca? Uhhh.” Despite having demolished twelve (albeit small) plates of food, Kara somehow still manages to look mournful that the food is gone.

“We can order more.”

“I can’t have another bite. I’ll die.”

“But what about dessert?”

“...okay, maybe just one to share.”

After they split a black sesame ice cream, Lena pays the bill, and the two of them head back into the cold night. Without hesitation, Kara loops her arm through Lena’s as they walk, huddled up close together to fight off the chilly wind.

“That was such an amazing meal. Thank you so much for that. That was really generous of you.”

“It’s nothing,” Lena replies. And it’s true, very true. To her, the sum is a pittance. But she’s aware that for Kara, with her junior reporter’s salary, the meal is a treat. It’s with that in mind that she says, “You know, we should do things like this more often. I like having dinner with you.”

“I like it too.” Kara tightens her hold on Lena in affection.

“So it’s settled then. We‘ll take turns taking each other out to dinner. When it’s my turn, I’ll pick the place and foot the bill. You can do the same when it’s your turn. And now we don’t need to have another conversation about it.”

Kara tilts her head to the side, regarding the other woman with suspicion. “Why do I feel like you’re up to something?”

“I want to take you to places that my friends and I would normally go. And I’d like you to take me to places that you and your friends would normally go. I think we can acknowledge that there’s going to be a difference in monetary cost and that’s okay. It doesn’t matter. What matters is us enjoying each other’s company and sharing our experiences.”

“Wow,” Kara says softly.

“What?”

“Nothing, it’s just, I just never thought that I’d have a sugar mama.”

Lena makes a face, then lightly thumps Kara on the arm. “Oh, stop. I like hanging out with you too, Kara. If you want to stay in and order pizza every time, then that’s what we’ll do. But if you’re amenable, I’d like to take you to, say, Eleven Madison Park. Purely out of selfish reasons. I like you, I like fancy food, and it would give me great pleasure to combine the two.”

There’s no use in pretending that Kara isn’t immensely excited by the prospect of going to dinner at a fancy restaurant that costs more than a thousand dollars for two people. “I mean, I’d have to be crazy to say no to that. I just want to make sure that you don’t feel… taken advantage of?”

“Oh, Kara,” Lena replies with a feigned dramatic sigh. “I like you, but you should know that you’re not likely to get me to do anything that wasn’t my idea in the first place. I’m stubborn and immune to influence.”

Kara stops walking, so suddenly that Lena nearly trips in the process. Lena takes a step back so that they’re aligned next to one another again. They’re in the middle of the sidewalk, but they’ve wandered off onto a residential street currently void of pedestrians.

There’s a challenging, almost predatory, glint in Kara’s eyes. “Yeah?”

Feeling a thrilling shiver pass over her, Lena takes a step closer, and with a defiant jut of her chin, responds coolly, “Yeah.”

Kara’s hands slip to Lena’s waist, gloved hands gripping firmly. With a rough tug, she pulls the brunette close until their bodies are flush together. For a moment, they study one another. Slowly, Kara leans in, brushes her lips gently against Lena’s. Kara’s lips are cold and slightly chapped, but Lena finds herself surging forward, eager for a taste. Kara parts her lips, tongue meeting Lena’s in gentle, lazy strokes. They make out on the empty street, unheeding of the world.

When they stop, neither moves away. Foreheads pressed together, they keep huddled close, warmed in the cold night by the proximity and charged energy between them.

“Joke’s on you,” Lena remarks hoarsely. “I wanted you to do that.”

“Good joke,” Kara whispers back. “Excellent joke.”

They make their way to the subway, where they take the train uptown toward Lena’s stop. As the train approaches her station, she looks over to Kara and thinks about asking whether she should ask, again, if Kara wants to come spend the night. She knows what the answer will be, but the impulse to ask anyway is there and stronger than she would have expected. But before she can make up her mind, the train slows to a stop and the doors are opening. With a rushed hug, she says goodnight and hurries out of the train. On the platform, she stops and turns to wave at Kara just as the doors slide close.

They watch one another until the train pulls away.

***

The rest of Kara’s friends find out at their Thursday night game night.

Kara’s not sure why they don’t know already, and if you asked her, she would just say that it hasn’t come up. There’s just not very many opportunities to organically work in, “By the way, I’ve been casually banging this rich woman I met on the New York City subway” in a normal conversation.

They’re gathered in the living room of Alex and Kelly’s apartment, surrounding the coffee table, where a game of Pandemic is stalled while Winn reviews the rules again. While he does, Nia’s telling everyone about how Brainy finally, finally asked her to make it official and be his girlfriend.

She’s sharing a funny story: “I was so nervous that he wasn’t really into me. As it turned out, he was just super nervous that I wasn’t into him! He told me that after our second date, he actually ordered like a year’s worth of the magazine’s old issues just so he could learn more about my work.”

As everyone coos and awws over the story, Kara says, “I’m so glad he finally told you! I was wondering if he would.”

Which naturally led to a perplexed Nia asking, “Wait, how do you know that story?”

Kara feels everyone’s eyes on her. Nia, James and Winn looking on curiously. Alex, clearly trying not to look judgmental. Kelly, thankfully neutral.

“So, um, funny story. I actually met someone a few weeks ago who knows Brainy.”

“You did?!” Nia squeals. “Why didn’t you tell me?!”

“Well, she wasn’t really supposed to tell me the story. It just slipped out. We didn’t want to meddle. It’s better if he told you.”

“I was wondering why you’ve been encouraging me to be patient with him. I get why you didn’t, but I kind of wish I knew earlier. It would’ve been a relief to know he felt the same way.” Nia looks a little annoyed, but grudgingly understanding. “What else did she say about Brainy?”

“Nothing, really. It hasn’t come up again.”

“Again?” Nia raises her eyebrows. “So you’ve met her more than once? Who is this person?”

“Yeah, um…” Kara starts peeling at the label of her beer bottle as a distraction. “So we’ve… kind of been, um… meeting up regularly, to um, well- so, like, the thing is, we’re sort of… um, well, we’re like… uh-”

“They’re sleeping together,” Alex breaks in.

“Alex!”

“You were taking forever!”

Kara crosses her arms, trying to seem miffed, although truthfully, she’s glad that Alex jumped in. She really didn’t have a plan for how she was going to finish that sentence.

By now, the entire room’s attention is intensely focused on her. Even Winn has stopped reading the rules. The questions come tumbling in all at once:

“Who is she?!” Nia squeaks.

“What?!” Winn cries out.

“Wait, how long has this been going on?” James asks.

Nia demands, “Why didn’t we know about this?”

James comes in with, “How did you two meet?”

“How did this happen?” Nia again.

“Whaaaaat?!” Winn repeats.

Kara waits for the questions to die down before she calmly answers, “It’s been a little over a month. I don’t know why we haven’t talked about this. It just hasn’t come up? And um, we met… um… well, we met on the subway.”

So helpfully, Alex adds, “They actually slept together that first day within like, an hour of meeting each other.”

The ensuing chorus of stunned gasps and squeals is deafening.

Thank you, Alex,” Kara says stiffly. “And it was… more than an hour.”

“More than five hours?”

Kara decides that it’s best not to answer her sister’s question.

“I did not know you had it in you,” Winn remarks, sounding awed.

“And she’s loaded,” Alex says. “I think she might be a millionaire. She has a two-bedroom over Bryant Park.”

James lets out a low, impressed whistle.

“Okay, now I really need to know who it is. How does she know Brainy?” Nia narrows her eyes. “It’s not an ex, is it?”

“No, a coworker. Um, Lena.”

“Lena?” Nia repeats, confusion evident on her face . “Who is- wait, you mean Lena Luthor?”

Kara nods. “Yeah, that’s her.”

“Um, Kara,” Nia says slowly. “Lena’s not Brainy’s coworker. She’s his boss.”

“Oh, okay.” That clearly signifies nothing to Kara, not even with the meaningful way Nia’s staring at her.

So Nia tries to explain it. “No, Kara, Brainy works for L-Corp. Lena Luthor’s the ‘L’ in L-Corp. She owns the company. She’s not a millionaire, she’s a billionaire.”

This time, there’s just silence.

It’s Kelly who reacts first. “I’m sorry, did you say ‘billionaire’ with a ‘B’?”

“Holy shit,” James says.

Again, Winn: “Whaaaaaaat?”

“Wow,” Alex mutters. “Suddenly that two-bedroom in Midtown seems… quaint?”

“Lena’s not a billionaire,” Kara says, starting to feel a little lightheaded. “She takes the subway. Billionaires don’t take the subway.”

Nia looks flabbergasted. “How did you not know this? Do you not google the person you’re sleeping with?”

Clearly, the answer is no. Kara can only give a helpless shrug.

Nia pulls out her phone. She searches for Lena Luthor, pulls up a New York Times profile on L-Corp, and shows it to her friends. There’s a photo of Lena at the top, with the caption Lena Luthor, the founder of L-Corp, is one of the world’s youngest billionaires.

“See? Billionaire with a B.”

“Oh my god,” Kara moans softly as reality slowly starts to sink in.

That’s Lena?” Alex jabs a finger at the photo. Kara nods weakly. “Wow. Okay. Um. All right then.”

Kelly says to Alex, “It suddenly makes a lot more sense that Kara went home with her after like an hour, huh?” Much to Kara’s chagrin, Alex nods along in agreement.

“It was more than an hour,” comes Kara’s feeble protest, not that anyone’s paying attention.

“Uh,” Winn pipes up. “Can she pay off my student loans?”

“Can she pay off all our student loans?” Nia adds.

“Oh my god,” Alex groans as a horrifying thought pops into her mind. “Is she Fifty Shades-ing you? Did she make you sign a contract? Kara, you have to tell me if she did.”

Looking revolted, Kara vehemently denies, “What?! No! It’s nothing like that!”

James says, “So you randomly met a hot billionaire on the subway and you just… start sleeping together? Stuff like that just happens to you while the rest of us are futilely swiping away on Tinder?”

“Does she have a sister?” Winn asks. “Or brother. Cousin. Uncle. Grandmother. I’m not picky.”

“Or if you two are done when Mike comes back,” James says with a teasing lilt. “Can I have her number?”

Bursting, Kara forcefully and sharply cries out, “STOP IT!”

They instantly quiet, shocked by Kara’s sudden intensity.

Glaring at her friends, Kara jumps to her feet. “Lena is this absolutely incredible woman and it’s so dismissive that you’re all focusing on her money and her looks when that stuff doesn’t even make the top ten or twenty list of amazing things about her. It’s just, it’s not nice to talk about her like her wealth’s the most important thing. She’s so much more than that, but none of you have any idea.”

Her friends exchange awkward, slightly frightened looks, all making this mental note to themselves: Do not joke about Lena. Kara does not have a sense of humor about Lena Luthor.

“We’re sorry,” Alex is the first to say. “We’re just joking around because the whole billionaire thing threw us.”

“Yeah, I’m sure she’s really lovely.” Kelly takes Kara’s hand, pulling her back down to a seated position.

James, Winn, and Nia all follow up with their own murmured, overlapping apologies. Now mollified (and more than a little embarrassed at the eruption which even surprised herself), Kara mumbles something about getting back to the game. They do, and no one brings up Lena again for the rest of the evening.

Later, after everyone’s gone, Kelly and Alex are at the kitchen sink, Kelly rinsing off soapy dishes and passing them over to Alex for drying. Staring off into space, Alex takes a plate and cursorily runs a tea towel over it.

“Kara’s seeing a hot billionaire,” she says.

“Sleeping with, not seeing,” Kelly corrects gently.

Alex snorts derisively. “You saw her reaction tonight. Clearly, it’s not just that.” Alex puts the plate away in the cupboard next to the sink. Kelly holds out a rinsed mug and Alex takes it, but does nothing. “Kelly. I’m scared.” Sensing the importance of the moment, Kelly stops what she’s doing, turning off the water and shifting her body toward Alex to give her full attention.

“For Kara?”

“Yeah. Look, Kara’s incredible and nobody on this earth knows that better than me, but… I can’t help but think…”

“‘What is this hot billionaire doing running around with my sister?’”

Alex gives an acknowledging shrug. “They’re just from such different worlds. I just don’t trust the situation.”

“Trust Lena, you mean. Because she’s rich.”

“Because she’s unimaginably rich. What does a woman like that have in common with a staff writer for some magazine?”

“Then I suppose it’s a good thing that it’s not going anywhere. It’ll be done in a few months.”

Alex rolls her eyes, scoffing at the thought. “Kara will be head over heels by then. I’m just so afraid that this Lena Luthor’s going to crush her. Kara, she’s… she has such a big heart. She doesn’t know how to protect herself.”

“So she’s better off with Mike?”

“At least Mike Matthews is predictable. I know Mike. I can predict the kind of bullshit he’d pull.” Absent-mindedly, Alex starts drying the mug she’s still holding in her hands. “I wonder if Mike even knows that Kara’s sleeping with a hot billionaire. I wonder if he feels threatened. I mean, he should. If I was him, I’d be on the first flight back.”

Taking the cue from Alex, Kelly resumes her chore as well. “Probably not. He and Kara don’t talk specifics, right? Are you going to tell him?”

Alex looks deeply tempted by the thought. But then she shakes her head. “No. Play stupid games, win stupid prizes. Mike’s just going to have to deal with the consequences. Kara too. You’re right, it’s her disaster to deal with. I can’t interfere. I just have to be here for her when it falls apart.”

If it falls apart,” Kelly rebuts optimistically.

“No,” Alex replies, equal parts sad and confident. “When.”