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I’d meet you where the spirit meets the bones

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Charles breaks things off with Cat in October. She doesn’t think she even knows the exact date. It’s all a blur—one fall day after another, broken up by the long weekends she cherishes with Carter, and apparently no longer punctuated with dinner dates and breakfasts in bed and a guaranteed date on her arm at DC functions too numerous to count.

By Halloween, the press has figured out she is no longer attached. It’s not National City with throngs of paparazzi swarming her and shoving flashing cameras in her face, but news gets around just the same.

Kara shows up one evening in early November, a bottle of wine tucked under her arm and a resolved expression on her face—as if there exists a world in which Cat turns her away.

“I suppose you want to come in?” Cat opens the door wider and gestures at the hallway. She wishes she’d turned the light on before opening the door. It looks emptier than usual, desolate and dreary in ways she’d prefer Kara not see.

The living room is comfortable enough, traces of her work and Carter’s presence scattered here and there, and Kara brightens the space, adds signs of life to a half-occupied room in a rented house that feels much too large for one woman.

“Is Carter here?” Kara asks, glancing at some sci-fi novel he’d left on the coffee table.

“Next weekend,” Cat manages.

“Oh?”

She takes a deep breath, figures there’s only one way to stop this line of questioning. At least only one way that keeps Kara on her couch. “He wasn’t settling in here. He’s…shy, but this was more than that.” She swallows heavily. “He’s staying with his father for the rest of the school year.”

“Shoot, I’m sorry, Ms. Grant.” Kara inches closer to Cat, raises a hand toward her before dropping it back to her own lap and picking at the worn denim of her jeans.

Cat lifts her shoulders in a shrug and manages a tight smile. “Yes, well. He’s happy—or, happier. That’s what matters. And I think when you’re in my home you can manage to call me Cat.”

“Right.” Kara ducks her head down and gives Cat a soft smile when she glances up again. “And you?”

Arching an eyebrow, Cat gazes back at Kara.

“How are you? I, um, heard the news.”

“Mm,” Cat hums. “Charles wanted something else from a relationship. More, perhaps, than I gave.”

“Charlie’s an idiot.”

It nearly pulls a smile from Cat.

“I brought wine. I wasn’t sure if this was an ice cream and romcoms kind of breakup, but I figured a drink might still be welcome.”

“And here I was, so craving a good Nancy Meyers film.”

“Really? I can just run to—” Kara cuts herself off at the smirk pulling up the corners of Cat’s mouth. “It’s rude to take the name of Nancy in vain, Cat.”

She just shakes her head and reaches out for the bottle of wine, nodding approvingly at the label. She vaguely remembers CatCo Magazine’s glowing review of the then up-and-coming vineyard years ago.

Once the wine has been left to breathe, Cat wanders back into the living room, leaning against the doorway. “Have you eaten?”

“Yeah, but I could eat again if you haven’t.”

Cat rolls her eyes. “I’m fine.”

“Fine sounds like you ate a salad.”

It pulls an actual laugh from her. “Believe it or not, some of us require vitamins to live.”

“Hey! I’ll have you know I take my gummy bear vitamins every morning.”

“Oh my, I didn’t know I was in the presence of a nutritionist.”

Kara quirks a smile. “Mhmm. And as the resident expert, I’m telling you we require dessert.”

Turning on her heels, Cat heads to the kitchen. “I think there’s lemon sorbet still in the freezer,” she calls over her shoulder.

A gust of wind ruffles her hair, then Kara is standing in front of her looking affronted. “Sorbet is a snack, Cat. Not a proper dessert.”

“Sorry to disappoint, but—”

“No need for apologies,” Kara says, pulling out a crumpled post-it note from her back pocket that appears to have a large fudgy fingerprint smeared across it. “I have the very best breakup brownie recipe in the galaxy right here.” Kara starts rattling off a list of the ingredients she’ll need, and it takes Cat a moment to even process that she’s supposed to be listening. “So,” Kara finishes, “sound good?”

Cat blinks off the stupor. “I don’t know that I have cocoa powder. The rest is probably here somewhere.” She hasn’t baked in ages, and there’s enough time left until Christmas that she hasn’t even started thinking about what she’ll need to buy for Carter’s long visit. “I’ll check, hold on.”

“I got it.” Kara lowers her glasses and scans the cabinets, grinning and letting out a triumphant sound. “Found it!”

Cat’s cheeks are tinged with a light pink when Kara turns back to her.

“Oh, sorry, was that okay? I should have asked first. I figured now that you know it wasn’t—”

Cat waves her off. “It’s fine. Just…keep the snooping to this room.”

Kara nods quickly—too quickly—and her cheeks flush at the implications. “Yep, of course! Flour!” she practically shouts.

Cat figures she could help, but Kara makes quick work of locating the various ingredients, floating up to grab the stray cocoa powder that would certainly have required Cat to get out the stepstool otherwise.

“When did you learn to bake?” Cat asks, propping one hip against the counter as Kara quickly whisks together her dry ingredients.

“I, um, had a brief period of unemployment.”

“Oh?” Cat knows, but she’s yet to hear Kara talk about it.

By the time the brownies are done—barely, though Kara insists that’s the only way to eat them—Cat’s heard all about Kara’s last year right up until the Daxamite invasion that she’d witnessed firsthand.

Kara is animated enough when she’s talking about her work or cooking or focusing on Cat, but in those still, quiet moments, Cat notices the way her shoulders sag and the corners of her mouth turn down.

It isn’t until they’re seated at opposite ends of the couch eating gooey, half-cooked brownies—well, Kara’s doing most of the eating, but Cat manages one or two once they’re cool enough for human consumption—that Cat starts to piece things together.

Deflecting away from questions she’s not quite ready to answer, Cat asks, “And you? Is there a new Mr. Supergirl in the cards these days?”

Kara’s eyes flash with pain before she shakes her head, a grim smile on her face. “No.”

“Oh. So the boyfriend and the breakup from the summer are—”

“I’d really rather not. Um, not tonight. If that’s okay.”

There’s something familiar enough in the hurt that Cat doesn’t poke and prod for a change, simply nods and leans her head against the cushion.

Kara leaves not much later, pausing in the doorway to turn back to Cat. “This was, um, this was nice. We should do it again. If you want, I mean.”

After a moment, Cat nods. “I’ll cook next time. Real food.”

She gets a soft smile in return, and then Kara’s walking away again.

---

Kara shows up Sunday night, a few hours after Carter’s flight back to National City took off. She doesn’t ask about the distinct lack of eye makeup, nor does she point out that it’s the first time she’s ever seen Cat in something so casual as a hoodie—one of Carter’s old school sweatshirts that quickly grew too small for his lanky frame.

Instead, she takes the lead in making conversation, chattering on about her day, about Snapper’s latest grievances with everyone working with him, about Supergirl’s recent fights. She hangs around Cat in the kitchen, peppering in questions and compliments about the food as it finishes cooking. And by the time they’re perched side-by-side at the island—Kara doesn’t bat an eye when Cat steers them away from the too big dining room table—Cat almost feels like she’s reestablished her post-Carter equilibrium.

It’s enough for her, between bites of food, to admit, “I miss him.”

Kara reaches out, and this week she lets her hand find Cat’s, giving it a quick, reassuring squeeze before she pulls back. “I’m sure he misses you, too.”

Cat nods. “I’m sure.” He’s a good boy, sweet and sensitive enough to tell her that he’s missed her. After a long few minutes of silence, Cat adds, “Two years. Two years, and he’ll be off at college.”

“Wow.” Kara lets out a little laugh. “When I started working for you he was so little.”

A wistful smile tugs up the corners of Cat’s mouth. “He hit his growth spurt late. You’d barely recognize him now.”

“Yeah?”

“He brought a razor back with him for the first time a few weeks ago. I guess Mitch…” She trails off, and they leave the missed moments unspoken. She forces herself to laugh. “At this point I think tweezers would have been just as efficient, but it’s the principle of the thing, I imagine.”

Kara laughs—full and loud—and Cat’s kitchen seems to shrink down to just the right size once more.

After dinner, Kara offers to do the dishes, then insists on putting on an actual Nancy Meyers movie as “penance” for Cat’s blasphemy the week before.

Half of the dialogue is lost to Cat’s commentary, but honestly, Meryl could have done better, and Alec really could have used that razor—should have, even. She counts it as a minor victory that the sad, haunted look never has time to return to Kara’s eyes, and a major victory when she manages to scandalize Kara with a few offhand comments about getting high with the president.

While Kara packs up her DVD, Cat says, “I have an event that’ll run late next Sunday.”

“Oh.” Kara’s shoulders sag even as she forces the same cheerfully bland smile onto her face she gave Cat during the early weeks as her assistant.

“Would Friday work, or is that…date night?”

“Nope! I mean, I guess it could be. For people who are dating. Which isn’t me. So I’m free, I mean.”

“Friday, then.”

---

Friday is pizza flown down from Philly.

“Introducing Mon-El to Earth food was one of the best parts of our relationship,” Kara says, sounding overly casual.

“Oh. Did you know him before?” Cat asks, her tone studiously light as she keeps her eyes on the pizza in front of her.

“No.” Kara lets out a noise that almost sounds like laughter, but it’s too harsh. “Even if we had it wouldn’t have been…he was from Daxam.”

“Oh.”

“Yep. Rhea’s son, actually.”

Oh.” Cat can’t help but look up then, catches sight of Kara pinching her nose and shaking her head.

“I didn’t know. At first, I mean. I did by the end.”

“Sounds like the kind of thing he might have mentioned.”

“Cat.” There’s a hint of a warning in it that Cat chooses not to heed.

“What? Was he not a tiny dictator in the making like mommy dearest?”

“He said he wanted to be different, okay?”

Cat doesn’t know why the compulsion to push back still prickles at her skin, but she can’t help the scoff. “Don’t they all say that?”

“Oh what? And Charlie was a saint?”

Charles was fine. Certainly never did anything on par with Daxamite royalty. Or did you think we weren’t briefed on the cultural norms, hmm? Didn’t know what was considered acceptable? Tell me, did he—”

“Stop,” Kara gasps, voice shaking. The tinny noise is the only notice Cat has of Kara’s silverware snapping beneath clenched fists. “You and Alex and Maggie and everyone—you don’t get it. You don’t know what it’s like to—to find a little sliver of something like home when everyone else is dead.” Her voice cracks over the word, and Cat feels the knot of anger inside of her crumble in the face of so much pain. “He wasn’t everything, but he knew, Cat. He—he knew what it meant not to have a home. He knew the places I’d been and the tastes I’d loved and the planets I’d studied as a kid.”

“Kara,” Cat whispers, reaching a hand across the table.

“Don’t.” Kara’s throat bobs as she swallows. “I’ve gotta go.”

Cat watches as Kara leaves and swears she feels what’s left of her heart shatter.

---

The following weekend, Cat surprises Carter with a visit to National City, and after he’s gone to bed Saturday night, she shows up at Kara’s door with a box of cupcakes in hand and Secret Service agents in tow.

Kara answers in a sleep-rumpled shirt and ratty flannel pajama bottoms. “What’d you forget Al—Cat.”

“I was in town.”

“Okay.”

After a moment of awkward silence, Cat arches an eyebrow. “Perhaps before Jimmy and Kyle here have an aneurism about the threats that hallways pose, you could invite me in?”

“Right. Um, come in. Excuse the—no, I mean, you showed up here unannounced. It’s a little messy. Alex was over. It’s fine.”

Cat nods and says nothing about the takeout containers still littering the coffee table. Even with the slight mess, it’s homey, and she feels some of the stress of the trip over fall away from her. “I brought these.”

Kara eyes the cupcakes warily, glancing between Cat and the box. “You’re not going to slap my hand away this time?”

“They’re being offered to you this time, are they not?”

“Alright.” Kara takes the box and carefully sets it on the kitchen counter. “Is this…an apology?”

“I thought the cupcakes might do that for me,” Cat admits.

Kara huffs and gives Cat a glare, the likes of which she hasn’t seen since the night she was thrown off her balcony.

Cat can’t bring herself to apologize for not supporting whatever man-child had dropped down to Earth and lied to Kara for months, but she’d prepared for the possibility that cupcakes alone wouldn’t cut it, recognizing that vulnerability should be met with grace and, lacking that, at least shared vulnerability. “You were my assistant for years, yes?”

“Um, yes.”

“So perhaps you will have noticed that I haven’t dated—nothing serious—for quite some time.”

“There were a lot of offers. And, you know, some speculation.”

Cat waves it off. “The idle gossip of inferior papers.” She perches on the arm of the couch and meets Kara’s gaze head on. “Since the divorce from Carter’s father. That’s how long it’s been.”

“I…”

Cat swears she can see Kara doing the math. She doesn’t particularly want to hear the dozen years counted out in front of her. “I had a young son who I refused to fail and a company making a meteoric rise on the international market. There was no time.” She tilts her head to the side, considering. “And then there was time, but… Even I can understand the lure of stability.”

“That was the whole diving thing, right? To break out of that?”

“Part of it.” She’d been unhappy, stuck, too tethered to a place seeped in memories and a past that seemed more confining than invigorating at the time. The inkling of a crush on a certain newly promoted reporter was merely another push as she forced her own way out of the city.

“And Charles was…new?”

“New and predictable all at once. He was…there. He was there when I wanted him and when I needed him, and for a while, he was happy to do it.”

“You could have said the same about me all those years at CatCo.”

“I was paying you to stand next to me. Charles wanted to be there.” It was more than that, of course. It was the way he had wooed her—almost old fashioned. The way he’d looked at her with admiration, yes, but desire, too. Something that promised her she was still worth being wanted for more than a night, no matter the baggage that trailed behind her. Her skin prickles with an inkling of how much she might have revealed in those two sentences. “I should go. I’ve promised to make Carter breakfast tomorrow before I have to fly back.”

“Right, of course.”

Before Cat can open door, there’s a warm hand curling around her wrist.

“Next weekend?”

Cat swallows and nods. “Sunday.”

“I’ll be there.”

---

They are cautious around one another on Sunday, the conversation stilted as it hasn’t been in years. Cat has never shied away from conflict, but she cannot bear the idea of Kara’s leaving and never returning.

Once they’re seated at that too big table, Cat ventures from what feels like an ocean’s distance away, “I was revisiting some of the files our intergalactic intelligence agencies prepared—cultural awareness training and all that.”

Kara glances up at her, fork frozen between her plate and her mouth.

“Obviously I don’t know everything. And I’ve never traveled there, but perhaps…” She leaves the invitation unspoken.

“You’ve been reading up on these things?”

“Starhaven sounded lovely.”

The gasp—nearly a sob, really—catches Cat by surprise, but Kara waves her off. “Just—just give me a second.” She takes a deep breath and lets her eyelids flutter closed, wiping away a stray tear. “No one…not since the Danvers…” She shakes her head again. “Starhaven was beautiful.”

“Did the air really smell like cinnamon?”

Kara smiles and nods. “Just like it. I cried the first time Eliza made snickerdoodles.”

“Well, if they’re the good kind of tears, perhaps you’ll have to come by when Carter and I make our Christmas cookies in a few weeks. We’ll be sure to add them to our list.”

The lingering awkwardness between them dissipates over dinner as Cat asks question after question, and Kara shifts from simply answering them to spinning elaborate stories of planetary life galaxies away, of trips as a child, of tales recounted by her aunt, a great general, apparently, who always returned with some small gift for her favorite niece (“technically I was the only one, but still, I definitely would have been the favorite if there were others”).

A call from Kara’s sister has her quite literally taking off early, but she takes a moment to pause and whisper a quiet, “Thank you,” to Cat before she flies away.

---

An international incident the following week means all hands on deck at the White House, and Cat is forced to cancel their dinner. She chooses not to interrogate why she’s as frustrated and snappish as she is with the change in plans.

The next weekend Carter arrives to spend all two weeks of his winter break with her, and Kara shrugs off her offers, insisting that she and Carter take the time to catch up first. Still, Kara has never been immune to offers of baked goods, so she agrees to join them for their Christmas cookie baking extravaganza.

For the longest time, Cat assumed Kara was one of those people who woke up smiling—a morning person of the very worst variety. Seeing Kara show up at 10am, which she recognizes belatedly is 7am in California, quickly disabuses her of that notion.

Blinking blearily, Kara rubs her eyes and yawns her way through seeing Carter again for the first time in a while—which is fine, mostly because her teenage son is doing the same.

“Coffee is in the kitchen,” Cat whispers, a hand resting on Kara’s shoulder just long enough for her to feel the subtle flex of muscles beneath Kara’s skin.

“For me?” Carter’s head pops up, his eyes wide and pleading.

“Not a chance. It’ll stunt your growth.”

He grumbles about already being plenty tall, but he still thanks her when a plate of eggs is pushed in front of him.

Kara is just as grateful when she receives an even larger plate of eggs to go with her coffee, and she comes back to herself over the course of breakfast.

While Kara and Carter eat, Cat busies herself with lining up the ingredients as well as the carefully laminated recipes she pulls out each year. These days the lamination isn’t quite so important—Carter is no longer an uncoordinated toddler more liable to spill the ingredients than to get them in the bowl—but they have become a part of their holiday traditions just as much as the ornaments for the tree and the stockings embroidered with “Cat” and “Carter” (and, for two memorable years, a “Goldeen” for the family fish, too).

“Need any help?” Kara asks, unsubtly lowering her glasses.

“I see your attempts at snooping,” Cat says, pushing Kara’s glasses back up her nose with a purse of her lips.

“It’s called being helpful,” Kara huffs under her breath before turning back around to Carter and asking much more loudly, “Does she ever let anyone help?”

“She told me she let you cook brownies here. That’s more than I’m allowed to do.”

Cat turns on her heels and fixes Carter with a stern look. “A direct result of the fire you set in the oven last year, young man. You have always been allowed to cook with supervision,” she adds.

“What’d you set on fire?” Kara asks.

“You know those cookies where you put a Reese’s Cup in the middle?”

Kara nods. “Super delicious.”

“Right! Well, I though, you know, maybe I could make them with caramels.”

“I like where this is heading.”

“It’s heading to a fire,” Cat mutters.

“I didn’t know you put the candy in after you baked them. And I guess caramel shouldn’t really go in the oven that long.” He shrugs, glancing out of the corner of his eyes at Cat.

“And also you forgot to hit start on the timer and then went back to your video games until the entire kitchen was full of black smoke?”

He gives her a small, sheepish smile. “Maybe that, too.”

“Consider today a chance to redeem yourself.” She ruffles his hair and presses a kiss to his forehead—she has to take the opportunities when he’s seated and at the right height when she can these days.

The cooking goes about as well as can be hoped. Carter and Kara make minor messes when she’s otherwise occupied. When she bends over to retrieve the cookie sheets, she hears a sudden commotion and looks up to find Carter throwing sprinkles at a red-faced Kara, and later she turns back from her own cookie station to find Kara smearing a line of flour across Carter’s cheek. They both blush at her raised eyebrow, and she hears the quiet bickering of, “You started it,” and, “I called truce,” from across the room.

Still, by late afternoon, they have trays of sugar cookies, shortbread, snickerdoodles, and gingerbread people. Well, some are people. Some are vaguely object-shaped. A few are intricate designs. And then there is the large, lumpy “fuck it we’re done here” cookie that they split and share while it’s still warm from the oven.

Kara sticks around for dinner and, after the amount of sugar they’ve all consumed, doesn’t even put up a token protest about the large salad served alongside a lighter meal than what Cat usually makes for Kara’s visits. They chat easily, and the room is bright, filled with laughter and life, and Cat hates herself for how much of the evening she spends bracing for the inevitable letdown that will come when she is left alone once more in this too-big house.

After dinner, Cat packs up several containers of cookies for Kara to take with her, and she and Carter both offer long hugs and wishes for a safe trip and happy holidays.

As soon as Kara is out the door, Carter turns and gives Cat an appraising look. “I’m glad you’ve been hanging out with someone who makes you happy,” he says after a moment’s silence. “I hate that you’re here all alone.”

Reading the traces of guilt on his features, Cat wishes she could kneel down in front of her little boy and reassure him that everything is okay, but these days he’s too tall for her to kneel and too wise to accept those easy assurances. She contents herself with standing on her tiptoes and putting her hands on his shoulders. “I hate that this city and your new school made you miserable. And I am so proud that you have grown into someone who can tell me when things aren’t working and advocate for yourself.”

Shrugging off the attention, Carter ducks his head. “I just don’t want you to be lonely. Charles was boring and all, but at least he seemed to really like you.” Cat fights to keep from laughing at the description of her first real relationship since the last divorce. “I’m glad you have Kara now, that’s all.”

“Carter.” Cat works to keep her tone even and her words careful. “I very much enjoy the time I have gotten to spend with Kara. But it’s not—I’m not replacing Charles with her. We’re friends.”

“Okay, well, that’s fine, too. You don’t have as many friends in DC either. So I’m happy you have that.”

Cat lets herself smile, squeezing Carter’s upper arm. “Me, too.”

---

January is cold and windy, and Cat finds herself longing for National City more often than not. It snows more in DC than it had the year before, and Cat curses under her breath about all the awful things that the salt does to her shoes every time she has to go outside.

She’d rung in the new year with Carter, but he’d had to fly back to National City mere days later. When he had asked her about her resolutions, she’d said something about wanting more happiness in her life, and the stricken look he’d given her in return had made her wish she had come up with something less honest. Maybe being sarcastic and witty enough that they made more SNL skits about her, for instance.

Kara cannot make the weekend after Carter leaves, so it has been over a week by the time Kara arrives on a blustery, gray Wednesday evening. She is ranting about Snapper before she’s even through the doorway, and Cat realizes she must have flown in straight from work. She’s already eaten dinner herself, but she heads straight for the kitchen, pulling out the takeout menus Carter collected during his two-week stay.

“Pizza or Chinese?” Cat cuts in when Kara pauses to breathe.

“Really?”

Cat finds herself smiling easily for the first time since Carter left as she watches Kara try to figure out if there is a trick here. “Really.”

“Do you have a preference?”

“I ate, but I imagine if you’re coming from CatCo, you’re probably hungry.” She recalls watching Kara mainline sugar around the 4 o’clock hour. A rather innocent version of happy hour.

“How appalled will you be if I say both?”

“Appalled, jealous—we’ll split the difference and call it fine.” She hands the menus over to Kara and watches as she skims through both before calling in two separate orders.

“How are you?” Kara asks while they wait. “Sorry, I didn’t ask earlier. We just had our—”

“Wednesday afternoon editorial meeting?” Kara’s eyebrows raise briefly as she nods. “Snapper may be even more set in his ways than I was.”

“You were always a little unpredictable. Kept me on my toes, at least.”

Cat’s mouth twitches into a smile she quickly masks, remembering the early days of testing Kara, trying to figure out why this woman had strolled into her office and known how to handle her moods better than any of her former assistants—hell, even her ex-husbands—ever had. “You handled it well enough. Chipotle incident aside.”

Kara chuckles at that. “Yeah…I was so mad when you threw out the burrito. I would have eaten it!”

That pulls a real laugh from Cat. “It’s for the best you didn’t.”

“One day, when it’s my turn to take care of food, I’m gonna show up with burritos and nothing else.”

“I never said I wouldn’t eat a burrito. I just don’t need E.coli from a certain overly popular fast casual chain.” She shudders at the memories of the spate of outbreaks. She’d forbidden Carter from going there anymore and had stocked their fridge with all the ingredients he needed to make his own disease-free meal at home.

“I bet you eat them with a fork, though.”

“Obviously. Why would I choose to make a mess?”

“They’re designed to be mess-free! They come in their own spill-catching tortilla container!”

“No one can fit something that big in their mouth,” Cat scoffs.

“Didn’t take you for a quitter,” Kara taunts.

Cat fixes her with an unimpressed look. “You’ll have to try much harder than that.”

“I’ll work on it,” Kara says. “Anyway, I was asking how you were.”

Cat shrugs. “Fine.”

Brow furrowing, Kara leans forward some. “Hey, it’s me. I…you can be honest. If you want.”

With a sigh, Cat lets her shoulders fall forward a little. “It’s…hard. Adjusting to Carter’s absence. Again. Last time Charles was around. This time I have no distractions. It’s just me, starting another new year alone.”

“Yeah…” To her credit, Kara doesn’t try to tell Cat it’s okay. Doesn’t make fake promises. Doesn’t say anything asinine like, “Cheer up! It’s only for a little while longer.”

“And you?” Cat asks.

Kara pauses, seems ready to offer a similarly bland, “I’m fine,” before reconsidering. “I’m…annoyed.”

“Snapper?”

“Him, sure. But not just him. My friends, they all want me to be happy. And they think if I can just act happy, I’ll be happy or better or something. And they don’t get why I’m not happy, why I can’t be the person I’ve always been for them.”

Cat reaches out, lays a hand on Kara’s arm. “You don’t owe anyone your happiness—not even as Supergirl.”

“They just—they don’t get it. They don’t get why I’m still upset about a breakup. But that’s not…” Kara trails off and shakes her head.

“It’s not just about that breakup or that mediocre boyfriend.”

“Hey!”

“It’s about what he represented.”

Kara pulls her lower lip between her teeth and nods. “You get it. Why is it so easy for you to get it?”

Cat snorts. “You’ll recall you’re talking to a woman who’s been married—and divorced—four times, yes?”

“Do you feel this way about Charles?”

Cat considers it. “Not exactly. He wasn’t a tether to my past or home or anything so grand. But he was…a promise that I wouldn’t be alone. And it’s hard to see something like that disappear, no matter how underwhelming the sex or the feelings had been.”

“Cat!” Kara squawks, her cheeks turning a light shade of pink as she giggles.

“What? Was your alien perfect in every way?”

Kara’s nose scrunches up, and she shakes her head. “No, but he was safe.”

“He lied to you.”

“Cat.” There’s a warning to it that time.

“I just mean that I don’t associate an enemy planet and lying with safety,” Cat huffs, already frustrated at having to explain herself but unwilling to risk another falling out. Not in this gray, gray January.

The doorbell rings then, and Kara stands to go get her takeout. As she leaves, she calls over her shoulder. “He’s nearly as unbreakable as I am. Think about it that way.”

The flush has nearly disappeared from Cat’s face by the time Kara reappears, a large bag of Chinese food tucked under her arm.

---

January turns to February without much notice. The days are still too short and the air too cold. Cat’s life warms when Carter and Kara are there, but they are both fleeting presences whose absence is felt all too keenly.

Cat doesn’t realize that Kara’s weekly visit—now mostly Saturdays, their nights running long enough these days that Cat can no longer justify having them on a work night—coincides with Valentine’s Day until the morning news is taken over by fluffy human interest pieces that she couldn’t care less about. She wonders if she should cancel, or if cancelling would end up drawing more attention to the day and what it stands for. The feelings for Kara that had never quite disappeared have returned with a vengeance at some point over the past few months—only now they’re even worse because now she knows Kara, is friends with her, trusts her with things she’s never told anyone else.

Any ideas about cancelling disappear when Kara sends her a midday text: “It’s been an awful week – can’t wait to see you this afternoon!” It’s accompanied by a smiling emoji that Cat has grudgingly come to accept as a regular part of texting with Kara.

Cat keeps herself busy with tidying the house and finally replying to emails she’s been ignoring for a few too many days. And then Kara is at her door—two hours early—in gray sweatpants and a white v-neck that she’s somehow managing to make look very attractive.

“Sorry I’m early,” Kara says as she toes off her shoes and makes herself comfortable—and oh, it’s quite a change from the first night she’d shown up and practically perched at the edge of the furniture, ready to get up again at a moment’s notice. “Everyone’s all coupled up, and they were doing that thing where they try to be nice and include me and just end up drawing attention to the fact that I’m the only person that doesn’t have anyone.” She lets out a loud huff, shakes her head, and starts to unpack to lumpy bag she’d had slung over her shoulder when she arrived. “I brought shitty movies and overpriced heart-shaped chocolates and stuff to make margaritas.”

Cat lets out a bark of laughter. “I’m not getting drunk like some 20-something on spring break while you sit there sober.”

Another bottle joins the tequila on the table. The label is written in a language Cat doesn’t recognize. “You forget that there are alien bars, too. And ones that get to operate legally and everything these days.”

“I am still not getting drunk like a sorority girl in Cancun.” The last time Cat had margaritas had been with ex-husband #2 a year after the divorce and two months after his post-divorce fling left him for a younger man. They’d decided that a whole evening spent with Catharine speaking too loudly about them at a black-tie charity affair they’d all been obligated to attend meant they deserved to have fun, and they’d reminisced just a bit too fondly about the early years of their marriage. She’d slipped out of the house they used to share the next morning missing both her bra and her dignity with only a splitting headache to show for it.

“Tipsy. C’mon, Alex swears it makes these movies, like, a billion times better.”

“Fine,” Cat huffs. “But we’re eating a real dinner first.”

After dinner, Kara busies herself with the drinks while Cat sets up the DVD player again. She’s fairly certain it’s gotten more use since Kara has started visiting than it has since 2009.

They start with some ensemble movie that its somehow titled “Valentine’s Day,” as if the audience might not get what it’s about if it’s not labeled as such.

Thinking she’ll probably need a fair amount of booze to get through it, Cat takes a large sip of her margarita and promptly chokes, coughing for air as Kara looks on in concern. “Kara,” she finally manages. “What the hell is in here?”

“Um, the normal stuff?”

How much of the normal stuff, Kara? Jesus, this could knock out an elephant.”

“I just followed my sister’s old college recipe.” A beat. “Oh…yeah, that could explain it.

“Mm, you don’t say.” Cat sips much more slowly after that, though she can still feel its effects slowly softening the edges of everything. The movie is a little funnier, or at least it’s easier to let herself laugh at jokes that aren’t particularly witty. And it’s pleasant enough that she’s happy to accept Kara’s refills.

After watching couple after couple get their happy endings, Kara declares, “Enough romance. We need some action,” before promptly flushing the shade of a tomato and taking a too-large gulp of her own drink.

Cat laughs loudly as the DVD home screen loads and suddenly Cameron and Lucy and Drew are all posing on screen. She waves off Kara’s questioning look, but by the time Kara admits, “I had such a crush on them,” Cat can’t help but whisper back, “I made out with Alex, you know?”

Kara’s eyes are wide as saucers as she spins to face Cat, fumbling with the remote in her hurry to pause the movie. “What?”

“The actress, Kara. Obviously.” Her words slip through her grasp, the sharp edges of their sarcasm blunted somewhat with the tequila.

“I know what you meant! I’m just…I’m processing.”

Kara’s eyes seem to glaze over, and Cat muffles her laugh in another sip of her drink. She should really find them some kind of food… What goes with lime, anyway?

“You’re gay?” Is what Kara finally lands on.

Cat’s eyes narrow. “That’s what you find laughable?”

“No! No, I just…I didn’t know you were…”

“Bi? Yes. For longer than you’ve been on this planet.”

Kara blinks at her a few times, then ducks her head, her cheeks coloring again. “That’s, um, that’s cool. It’s not in the personal section of your Wikipedia page. Not that I’m, like, checking regularly or anything! I just, you know, sometimes people make rude edits, and it’s important to stay on top of that. Especially for other women. Feminism, you know?”

Cat just smirks and reaches over to hit play. “Watch the pretty women on screen, Kara.”

Which she does—they both do—even though every so often Cat catches Kara looking at her instead, which she may or may not notice only because she’s also looking at Kara.

By the time the movie ends, it’s about the time she’d normally be sending Kara on her way, but she’s now watched a tipsy Kara trip over the corner of her rug on the way to the bathroom, and she’s not about to be responsible for Supergirl’s biggest PR scandal since the red kryptonite incident. Instead, she insists that Kara eat something and switch to water, and she doesn’t protest when Kara starts flipping through her bag for another movie.

The mood seems to shift to something melancholy as they realize the hours left to their carefree night are rapidly dwindling. The sentimental score and overwrought romance playing out on screen help things not at all.

“I miss being held,” Kara whispers, her voice barely loud enough to be heard over the music. Still, Cat hears it and feels the words land somewhere deep inside of her. “I miss being touched. For good reasons, you know? Not because I’m wrestling some alien to keep people safe.”

They watch quietly as holding turns to kissing turns to more on screen.

“Hell, I miss sex,” Cat admits. She’s not close to drunk, though she still thinks she may regret the words the next morning with the slightly shocked look Kara’s giving her. “What?” she asks, her tone turning snappish once more.

“I just—I mean—you’re really pretty. I didn’t think…you know, it’d have to be something you miss.”

Cat hums in understanding. It’s certainly not the longest she’s ever gone without, but it feels worse this time. Perhaps it’s the long hours spent with someone who leaves her hovering on the edge of frustrated and soothed. Perhaps it’s knowing that she can’t afford to make bad decisions—not when she’s the face of something that isn’t just hers, when her actions would be held to a rather different—rather puritanical, she thinks—standard.

When Cat looks up again, Kara is still gazing at her. She’s closer, and she no longer looks shocked.

Kara telegraphs enough that Cat isn’t surprised when a warm hand finds its way to her own, thumb stroking circles across her skin. “We could always be there for each other. It doesn’t have to mean—it’s comfort, you know?”

Cat could scoff and laugh it off. Tell Kara she’s drunk and wouldn’t want this if Cat hadn’t said what she did. But Kara’s eyes are clear, the edges of her words crisp, and she’s looking at Cat like she might want this even more than Cat does.

Cat trails the nails of her free hand up and down Kara’s arm, watches her shiver slightly under the touch. “I can just hold you, Kara.”

“I…”

“Shh.” Cat strokes her fingers up and down Kara’s arm. “We’ll watch through to the end of the movie. See what you think then.”

So Cat stares in the direction of the screen as her hands map out Kara’s fingers and palms and wrists, massaging gentle circles that have Kara practically melting into the couch beside her. After a long while, Kara reaches out and rests a hand on Cat’s thigh. It’s close enough to her knee to be almost innocent, but the touch is searing, and Cat’s whole body feels like it’s on fire. It only gets worse from there as Kara traces meandering shapes and letters Cat can’t even begin to fathom processing across the thin denim of her jeans. The movements bring her touch higher and higher up Cat’s thigh, and she feels more tightly wound than ever.

When Kara leans forward for a drink of water, Cat quickly excuses herself to the restroom and takes a few extra minutes to herself to run cold water across her wrists and settle her breathing into something more manageable.

At least until she comes back and finds that Kara has set up pillows and blankets on the ground between her feet. “I thought—what you were doing felt so nice, maybe I could repay the favor?”

Cat doesn’t point out that what Kara was doing also felt very nice—more than nice. Instead, she lets herself be led to a little throne of pillows and tries not to whimper as Kara gently tips Cat’s head back and runs her fingers through Cat’s hair. She hasn’t been touched like this in ages. Well, maybe by her hairdresser, she supposes. But this is just…someone wanting to touch her to make her feel good, to make her feel warm and cared for. Her whole body is awash in pleasurable sensations as Kara’s fingers rub at her temples before returning to her hair. Her breath catches in her throat as Kara’s fingertips graze the back of her neck, and then Kara’s touches are branching out, finding all the little spots that make Cat shiver with want.

Eventually Kara migrates from Cat’s neck to her shoulders, then gentle hands are moving ever so slightly down from her shoulders towards her chest, and Cat doesn’t even think before arching up into the touch.

Kara doesn’t give her a chance to freeze or regret her actions before she’s sliding down to the ground, wedging herself between Cat and the sofa.

“Is this okay?” she whispers, breath hot against the shell of Cat’s ear as her hands curl around to cup Cat’s breasts.

“Yes,” Cat practically hisses. She doesn’t know if this is still meant to be touching merely for the sake of giving touch and being touched in turn, or if that’s what they’re meant to be telling themselves. But one of Kara’s hands is sliding lower, and Cat doesn’t think she can keep up pretenses much longer. It’s pleasure, not just comfort, Kara is giving to her, and every inch of her skin sings with it.

As Kara’s fingers skirt along the strip of skin between the hem of her shirt and her jeans, Cat feels Kara’s free arm wrapping around her, pulling her in closer to Kara’s chest. It’s warm and safe, and when Kara makes a small noise of question, fingers toying with the button to Cat’s jeans, Cat’s voice breaks over the please.

Kara’s fingers are firm and sure in their movements, and it isn’t long before she’s figured out what makes Cat squirm and pant and plead.

Kara holds Cat close as she shudders through one orgasm, then another, Kara’s fingers gentling after, letting Cat catch her breath. They move lower then, gliding through wet heat. “Do you want…?”

Cat shakes her head. “Not tonight.” She freezes, realizing what she’s implied, but Kara says nothing, just hums in understanding. “Can I…” she trails off, turning slightly—as best she can in Kara’s arms.

“I’d, um, worry.” As if sensing Cat’s concern, she goes on. “I’d want to be totally sober. In case. I just—I’d feel so guilty if I hurt you.”

“Of course,” Cat whispers. She massages Kara’s hand—the one that’s not still pressed against her—not moving now, but there, and Cat trembles slightly at the realization.

“But maybe you could hold me while I…”

Cat’s heart skips a beat, and she nods.

Kara is gentle as she shifts them down to the ground. Cat thinks, belatedly, she should have suggested the couch, if not her bed, but she figures if all that personal training is good for anything, perhaps her body will forgive her this indiscretion tomorrow morning.

She curls around Kara, who has thoughtfully moved the pillows enough to give their upper bodies something soft to rest on. It isn’t until she’s looking at Kara’s face that she realizes they haven’t even kissed. What they’ve done feels no less intimate for the lack, but she wonders if the gesture would be welcome. Ducking her head down, she tests the water and presses a gentle kiss to Kara’s neck.

Oh.” Kara arches her head back, giving Cat more space to work. With Cat’s lips and tongue and teeth moving along her neck, Kara shifts, pressing her own fingers between her legs.

It feels like no time at all has elapsed before Kara’s hips are rolling against her hand, then she’s biting down on her lip to stifle a cry that Cat wishes she’d been able to hear fully.

Breathing heavily, Kara slips her hand out from beneath her waistband. Her fingers glisten with signs of her arousal, and Kara holds her arm gingerly away from the pillows and blankets and area rug that cover the floor.

Wrapping her hand around Kara’s wrist, Cat draws it closer, then sucks the two fingers into her mouth, letting the tip of her tongue dip down then trail up, flicking across the pads of Kara’s fingertips. Kara stares dazedly down at Cat, blue eyes dark with want, and her voice is husky as she manages little more than, “Cat.”

“Are you sure there’s nothing else I can do for you?”

After a moment, Kara seems to shake herself out of whatever trance she was in. “Um, yeah. This was—this was good. Nice. I had fun.”

“I did, too,” Cat whispers before leaning in and pressing a soft kiss to Kara’s lips, lingering just long enough for Kara to taste herself. “There’s a guest room if you don’t want to fly back.”

Kara nods. “Okay.”

The next morning, Cat wakes up—just a little hungover, just a little sore—and finds a hastily made bed in the guest room with a scrawled out note: “SG emergency early. Didn’t want to wake you. See you next week?”

She pulls out her phone, ignoring the way her nerves calm slightly at the sight of headlines about Supergirl’s latest fight—not a lie, not an excuse, her subconscious exults—and sends Kara a quick message: “Glad to see things seem to be handled in National City. Carter gets in Saturday morning. Dinner on Thursday or the following Monday?”

“Thursday!” It’s accompanied by yet another emoji, but Cat finds herself smiling back at it instead of rolling her eyes this time.

---

Things change. More slowly than might have been expected, but change they do.

Kara is a tactile person, and now that the door has been opened, Cat learns what it means to be on the receiving end of that particular kind of attention.

Some nights, it’s nothing more than touches doled out without hesitation. A hand on the lower back or the upper arm while navigating the kitchen. A squeeze of the hand over the dinner table. A hug that lingers. A kiss to the cheek.

The first time they put on a movie again, Cat’s body buzzes with anticipation. As the opening credits play, Kara drops her head to Cat’s lap and draw’s Cat’s hands to her hair, humming contentedly as Cat finds a rhythm with her fingers. Kara’s hair is soft as silk, and she practically purrs when Cat massages her scalp. Cat clenches her thighs and thinks of budget reports until Kara falls asleep in her lap. (Cat doesn’t have the heart to move and risk waking Kara, so she sits and waits for sleep to take her, resigning herself to the inevitable crick in her neck.)

It’s on a slightly warmer March evening that Cat breaks and kisses Kara again. Kara had arrived riled up from a bad meeting with Snapper and a fight with a friend and some kind of ethical conflict with whatever black ops group likes to pretend they control Supergirl.

Kara had paced and ranted, a thousand and one frustrations flying through the air. “I just can’t—I’m not wrong, and I’m so damn tired of always having to be the one to step back and say sorry!” Kara finally yells. Her chest is heaving, her hands curled into fists and clenched tightly by her side, and Cat can see the effort that every day spent holding back so much of herself is taking on her.

Cat steps forward slowly, giving Kara plenty of time to see her, notice her, stop her if she wants. (Kara doesn’t.) Cat reaches out and places a hand on Kara’s chest, looking up into stormy blue eyes. “You don’t have to hide half of yourself here,” she whispers. She feels Kara exhale a shuddering breath. Cat’s fingers travel up and around Kara’s throat and tangle in the hairs at the nape of her neck. “Let me make you feel good.”

The kiss is achingly gentle, and Kara practically melts into Cat’s arms.

“Come upstairs.” It’s little more than a breath against Kara’s lips, but she nods anyway, lets Cat take her by the hand and lead her up the stairs, past the guest room and Carter’s room and down to Cat’s bedroom.

Cat draws Kara to the bed and kisses her again and again and again until the tension of the day seeps from her frame, leaving her pliant beneath Cat’s hands. When Kara’s hips begin to roll into Cat’s, her body seeking more pleasure, friction, anything, Cat is only too happy to oblige. Soon, the room fills with a chorus of can I and let me and please.

Somehow, even though they’ve been eating dinner together for months, have seen each other come, have even fallen asleep on top of one another and spent an uncomfortable night curled on the couch, they have yet to undress in front of each other. So Cat spends long minutes luxuriating in the touch and taste of Kara’s skin, answering questions that have haunted her dreams for years, before finally settling in between Kara’s thighs.

Kara is dripping, and it is the work of mere minutes to have her gasping beneath Cat.

When Cat drops her mouth down lower, though, Kara shifts back. “I, um, you know, came. You don’t have to keep going.”

Cat presses a wet kiss to the thatch of neatly trimmed hair, then another trailing closer to her hip bone. “Do you want me to be done?”

“I… I don’t know?”

“See, I think we took the edge off, but I don’t know that I’ve made you feel good yet. Not as good as I want you to feel.” Kara’s whole body twitches at that. “What would get you there?” Cat asks, her voice rough and low as she drops her mouth back down and slowly drags her tongue up the length of Kara.

A whimper catches in the back of Kara’s throat. “Inside me,” she pants, hips bucking up into Cat’s mouth.

But when one of Cat’s fingers teases at her entrance, Kara freezes.

“What’s wrong?”

“Just…” Kara takes a deep breath, rubs at her face. “I, um, haven’t been with a, uh, human for a while. I’m scared—what if I…”

Cat pauses, considers her words carefully. “I trust you.” She can see the moment when Kara seems to panic. “But,” she interjects, “I won’t do anything you’re not ready for.” Kara relaxes against the pillows. After a moment, Cat pulls herself up to her knees. “What if it wasn’t my fingers inside you?”

Kara’s mouth opens, then closes. She blinks up at Cat.

Something like embarrassment prickles at Cat’s skin, and she crosses her arms over her chest. “Forget it.”

“No!” Kara reaches out, her hands wrapping around Cat’s and dragging her forward again. “I wasn’t expecting—that doesn’t mean I don’t want it. Please.”

Cat lets herself be drawn into a kiss, shivers as Kara’s hands slip under her blouse and curl around her. Slowly but surely each button comes undone, and then Kara slips it from her shoulders, letting it flutter to the ground beside the bed. Her bra follows soon after, and Kara’s hands map out every sensitive spot on newly bared skin.

Kara cries out when Cat’s thigh pushes up against her, and it’s enough to have Cat pulling back. Ignoring Kara’s whimper of protest, Cat stands and pulls one of her drawers open. She grabs a harness, then gestures to the contents of the drawer. “Pick what you want. I’ll be back.”

Only, Kara slides a hand around her waist—somehow already out of bed and beside her, damn superpowers—and draws Cat in close. “Let me help you,” Kara whispers, fingers undoing the clasp of work pants Cat still hadn’t changed out of when Kara arrived—and oh, she’s going to need to find a discreet dry cleaner to deal with that stain.

Cat likes to be ready for things. She leaves the house in her own version of battle armor, schedules meetings on her time, strips down to a body she has worked on, toned, and cared for. There is nothing polished or ready about the moment of stepping into a harness, straps hanging uselessly, liable to tangle before they’ve been wrangled into their proper places. She never feels less seductive than she does pushing a silicone toy through an o-ring in those awkward moments before it becomes part of her—part of the pleasure she can give.

But then Kara drops to her knees, helping Cat step out of her clothing and guiding her into the harness, strong hands running up her legs as she pushes leather straps up to Cat’s waiting hands. Her mouth is all over Cat as she hands her the toy she’s picked for herself. Kara’s nails dig into Cat’s ass as she tightens everything to her liking. Her breath hitches and her body shivers, and every second of it feels like sex.

The lube is as nice as it is unnecessary, and Cat easily slips inside Kara once they’re back on the bed, Kara’s legs wrapped around Cat’s waist, heels dragging her in deeper and deeper with every thrust. Cat keeps a teasingly slow, steady rhythm until Kara’s begging for it, one hand clutching at Cat’s back and the other rubbing fast circles against her own clit.

This time, there is nothing small about Kara’s orgasm. Her voice breaks over Cat’s name as she falls over the edge, her face frozen in pleasure as aftershocks shudder through her.

Kara collapses back to the pillows after, one arm angled over her eyes as she tries to catch her breath once more.

Not wanting to disturb her, Cat carefully slides off the mattress and slips the harness from her hips before crawling back into bed and curling around Kara. She presses a soft kiss to Kara’s cheek as she whispers, “Why don’t you spend the night?”

---

March bleeds into April in a flurry of rainstorms that bring a drenched Supergirl to her balcony windows more often than not—a potential conflict of interest she’d had to bring to Olivia’s notice when the trips became too frequent to be brushed aside any longer, though she’d had to brazen her way through a description of a relationship she doesn’t yet have words to label.

Kara no longer skips her visits when Carter is in town, and they find activities for everyone to enjoy together. One weekend it’s making homemade ravioli. The following visit, a trip to the zoo is skipped in favor of a long conversation after Carter asks, his tone studiously casual, if the animals on Krypton were the same as those on Earth. Cat worries about the consequences of yet another revelation until two weekends later when Kara shows up right on time, bringing with her a telescope far better than even Carter’s prestigious schools and summer camps have given him access to, and regales them with stories of planets and galaxies they can only imagine.

Cat and Kara often continue to content themselves with their old standbys—dinner, dessert, the occasional movie. Some nights they find comfort in each other’s words, and long conversations spill out beyond the kitchen counter into the early hours of the morning. Other times it is touch they provide, their bodies filling in all the gaps left behind by words and food. Messy desires that erupt into clean, clear bursts of pleasure.

The six-month anniversary of Cat’s breakup with Charles passes by nearly unremarked. It is only an offhand comment from a very naked Kara that reminds Cat of how exactly it is that this…thing between them started all those months ago. Of course, the fact of a very naked presence in close proximity means there is no time to waste in dwelling on old relationships, no matter how much security they seemed to promise to provide.

It is during the second week of May, as Cat tries to comfort Carter through the phone while he spirals into anxiety over an essay she would have known to make sure he was working on well in advance of the deadline, that Cat wonders if maybe she has done enough diving. When Kara sends her an apology text the next night, explaining that credible threats have been called in and she needs to stay to protect her city, that amorphous idea solidifies into a suspicion. And by the following morning, when she hears through the rumor mill about a possible new executive “shaking things up” at CatCo, starting with a major overhaul of The Tribune, Cat has decided a conversation with Olivia about her tenure at the White House is long overdue.

The conversations turn out to be relatively straightforward, and Cat is making her plans for a summer return to National City by the end of the week, though her resignation has yet to be announced. She might be done diving in DC, but she’s not quite done exploring new avenues. And as much as she wants to—and will—reassert her claim to a certain guiding role at CatCo once more, she cannot yet stomach the idea of returning as if nothing has changed, as if she hasn’t changed. So there are meetings with investors, possible partners, trusted sources who know better than to leak a word of what she’s planning.

When Kara arrives that Saturday, the nerves and complications that have been all but absent from her planning meetings surprise her with their sudden reappearance. She realizes she has no idea if what they have been doing, what they have been able to offer to one another, will sustain a change. Has no idea what it would mean to take their private nights and quiet weekends and move them back to a city where their history is longer and more complicated, where they each have their own ghosts that roam the streets and more pressures closing in on them.

Kara greets her with a kiss that promises more later, and Cat, filter apparently having disappeared for the evening, blurts out, “What do your friends think you’re doing on weekends?”

After a moment’s hesitation, Kara rolls her shoulders back and says, “Seeing someone new.”

Cat considers Kara’s words, then nods at her. “Is that…just something you tell them?”

“Why don’t we move out of the foyer for this conversation,” Kara suggests, her voice gentle enough that it makes Cat cringe. Still, Kara doesn’t try to force new distance between them, wedging herself between Cat and the arm of the sofa and letting her fingertips trail along Cat’s thigh. “What’s going on, Cat? Are you”—Cat watches as Kara’s throat bobs with a hard swallow—“um, not happy anymore?”

“No,” Cat rushes to reassure Kara. “It’s more that I think I could be happier.”

“Oh.” Kara’s voice is small, and she pulls her hand back into her own lap.

“Not like that,” Cat insists, rubbing at her temples. Words come so easily to her in anger and frustration, words meant to wound flowing out of her and always hitting their mark. This tentative, careful speech seems to require editing, and she is left feeling off balance. “I’ll be moving back to National City this summer.” Kara’s eyebrows shoot up. “It’s time. I did what I needed to do here. It’s time to come back home.”

“Yeah?”

Cat nods.

“Can I ask, um, why now?”

“Many reasons. My son needs me. CatCo’s board requires a reminder of who founded this company and what it stands for.” She takes a deep breath and reaches out, letting her fingers graze across the back of Kara’s hand. “And I’d like to see if this is something that could be more. If that’s something you’d like to try.”

“My sister already knows,” Kara blurts out. She rubs at the back of her neck and ducks her head. “She works for, um…she can see my flight patterns. And she could tell that I’ve been happier recently. And then I told her I was seeing someone new. And, well, she put two and two together.”

“Oh?” Kara talks about Alex enough that Cat knows she matters, is not the kind of family whose opinion could be written off in an instant. “How did that go?”

“We, um, fought about it. At first. She thought with the whole, you know, nighttime, once a week visits that maybe it was something…” Kara trails off, pulls her lower lip between her teeth. “Untoward.”

Cat decides not to mention that some of what they do may well fit that descriptor. At least to an outside observer. “And now?”

“She loves me. She wants me to be happy.” Kara shrugs her shoulders. “She can see that I am. And, you know, once she found out that it was actually a lot of dinners and movies and hanging out with Carter, she stopped worrying that you were just using me or something.”

“I can’t promise to make you happy all the time.” A little voice in Cat’s head screams at her to stop ruining this before it can even really begin. “I am…difficult. Even outside of work. Just ask my ex-husbands.”

To her credit, Kara neither runs away nor attempts to tell Cat that everything will be fine. “I’ve been told I’m headstrong. I run towards danger, and I won’t stop doing that—not when it’s something I can give back to my city. Also, I always finish the ice cream and only sometimes remember to put it on the grocery list after.”

Cat smiles at that. “You and Carter both.”

Kara nudges Cat with her knee. “So…you’re moving back?”

“I am.”

“And we’re gonna try this?”

“I’d like to.”

The smile Kara flashes in Cat’s direction is almost blinding. “I was gonna suggest takeout, but I think this calls for a celebration.”

Cat nearly suggests going out to eat—her name carries enough weight to bump someone off the reservation lists at enough restaurants she deems celebration-worthy—but then Kara is lifting her from the couch and carrying her up the stairs.

“Mm, that kind of celebration,” Cat murmurs, running her hand down Kara’s chest, feeling Kara’s heart beat faster beneath her touch.

Kara drops Cat down to the bed and moves to straddle Cat’s waist, pressing a trail of teasing kisses down her throat. “One last untoward night before you make an honest woman of me.”