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worth waiting for

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“David,” Lena interjects gently, interrupting her assistant’s monologue as he summarizes the intricacies of her calendar the next day.

He stops on a dime, managing a “Yes, Ms. Luthor?” as if he hadn’t just been speaking at high speed.

“It’s almost nine. Go home.”

“But we haven-”

“Go,” she insists. “I can read my own calendar,” she continues through a smile.

“Yes, of course, but-”

She laughs softly before interrupting him again. “Go. Home. Now.”

He smirks, getting the point. “If you’re sure.”

“See you tomorrow,” she says finally.

He moves away from the desk, scurrying for the door. “Good night, Ms. Luthor.”

“Good night,” she echoes, spinning her chair back to fully face her laptop.

Curious to see what she’d cut out of David’s monologue, she opens her calendar and regrets it almost immediately, scoffing as she closes her laptop just a little too aggressively. She was going to have to remind him that eight hours of back-to-back meetings and conference calls without a lunch break was likely not good for the health of either of them.

She pinches the bridge of her nose, contemplating calling it a night as the audible growling of her stomach seems to punctuate her last train of thought.

“I’m gonna go out on a limb and assume that means you haven’t eaten yet.”

Lena is so startled by the sudden sound of Kara’s voice in her office that she nearly topples over in her chair. She manages to turn her disarray into a wobbly spin instead with a quick grip on the edge of her desk. “Jesus, Kara!” she exclaims, clutching her free hand over her chest as she takes a deep breath.

“Sorry!” Kara rushes to say, looking sheepish as she closes the balcony door behind her. “I’m sorry, I tried to land, like, super loud outside so you’d hear me!”

Lena takes another deep, steadying breath and releases her death grip on the desk. “Please don’t tell me you heard my stomach growling across town and flew over here just to lecture me on the importance of regular meals.”

“Well, no, but now that you mention it…” she trails off, looking playfully pensive.

“In my defense, I was just about to leave.”

Kara grins. “Sure you were,” she comments, nodding slowly in fake agreement.

Lena rolls her eyes but smiles. “And what does bring you over my balcony and into my office so late? And flying across town wearing your CatCo clothes, no less,” she notes, gesturing to Kara’s outfit. “Not sure I’ll ever get used to that without the suit.”

Kara’s eyes widen. “Oh my god.”

Lena quirks a brow. “Don’t tell me you didn’t notice.”

“I didn’t notice.”

Lena snorts. “Now I’m just worried.”

Kara waves a hand dismissively. “Pfft. Just a crazy day,” she mutters, making her way over to plop down at one of the chairs in front of Lena’s desk. “Let’s just say life was easier when dropping into one of these chairs meant sitting in front of my very reasonable, nice boss.”

“Ahh,” Lena realizes. “Andrea got you back on the puff pieces?”

“Something like that,” Kara grumbles, eyes rolling way back. “But I maintain that it’s incredibly unfair that I’m being punished for ‘galavanting around with Cat Grant without so much as an e-mail.’ Like they have e-mail in the Phantom Zone,” Kara groans petulantly.

“Hmm,” Lena hums in acknowledgment, spinning her chair the rest of the way to face Kara fully. “And I’m going to go out on a limb and didn’t tell her the Phantom Zone part to explain yourself.”

Kara snorts. “No!”

“I’m kidding, Kara. Are you okay? You seem...on edge.”

“I’m okay,” Kara sighs. “Just feels like I’ve been back just as long as I was gone, but I never feel like I really catch up, you know?”

“Tell me about it,” Lena mumbles, eyes taking a quick inventory of her office. “Never thought I’d see the inside of this place again, that’s for sure.”

Kara seizes the opportunity, eager for a change of subject. “How is it to be back at the helm of LuthorCorp again?”

“Strange,” Lena responds simply, shoulders sagging a little. “Mostly just contemplating when I can change the name back to LCorp again, honestly. Not that anyone else would know about the ‘again’ part.”

Kara offers a soft smile. “I would.”

Lena returns the smile. “Hopefully, one day, it won’t matter, and I can get this company back to where it belongs.

“I’m sure of that.”

“There’s that hope and optimism we all love,” Lena teases. “Don’t think I didn’t notice how eager you were to change the subject. Not that I don’t appreciate the house call, but why are you really here?”

“Can’t I just want to see you?”

“Always,” Lena replies immediately, voice certain. “But something tells me that wasn’t the only thing that had you zipping over here at this hour. How did you even know I was still here?”

Kara scoffs behind the smile tugging at her lips. “Please. When are you not here at this hour?”

“Fair point. Plus, I suppose you could just listen for my voice or my heartbeat or about a million other things and find me,” Lena agrees contemplatively.

They sit quietly for a moment, Lena looking at Kara and Kara looking at her own fidgeting hands until Lena’s stomach calls another audible and breaks into the silence.

“Give me five minutes,” Kara comments suddenly, springing out of the chair.

“Kara, don’t,” Lena begins as the telltale gust of air blows her hair across her face, “run off to Big Belly Burger,” she finishes to no one but herself, Kara already long gone.

She slumps back in her chair, stretching her left arm out to open her laptop again, determined to use the next few minutes to close off her mind from a long day at work and mentally prepare for the next inevitably long day. She clicks through the various appointments before shooting off an e-mail to David, asking him to reschedule the two calls around lunchtime for Monday instead. She closes the laptop again just as she hears Kara land softly on the balcony.

“Don’t think I didn’t hear that comment about Big Belly Burger,” Kara says instead of a greeting, proudly holding up a huge Chipotle bag. “It’s a burrito bowl, which is basically a salad.”

“Kara Danvers ordering a salad? Did you wear a disguise to do that? Think of the damage to your reputation.”

“I know, right? Anything for you, though,” she comments easily, dropping onto the couch and setting the bag of food down on the coffee table. “Now get over here and eat. Your stomach is hurting my ears.”

Lena kicks her heels off under the desk and pads over to the couch. “You didn’t have to do this, you know.”

“I wanted to. Besides, it’s the middle of the night in Europe. Croissants from Paris weren’t an option.”

“Thank you,” Lena says sincerely, looking intently at Kara, who’s busying herself with removing an awful lot of food containers from the bag.

Kara hands over a bowl and set of cutlery. “This one’s yours.”

“Double chicken with cauliflower rice and half a portion of guac? I’m impressed you remembered that.”

“Um, excuse you,” Kara complains. “Knowing someone’s food order is as important as knowing their birthday!”

“Good thing your food order is ‘one of everything,’ then. Makes my job easy.”

“Lucky you,” Kara manages to say, half a taco already in her mouth.

Lena, thankful to switch her mind off and eat for the first time in over nine hours, allows the comfortable silence to take over again for a few minutes as they each eat. Once Kara has finished three tacos and peeled the lid off her own (lettuce-free) burrito bowl, Lena speaks up. “So are you going to tell me what’s going on, or are you planning on using infinite eating as a tactic to avoid talking?”

Kara gazes into the bowl forlornly before gently setting it back on the table. “Well, what I said was true. I did want to see you. But that wasn’t the only reason.” She stops, focusing on her hands again.

Lena continues observing Kara quietly, carefully eating her food after nearly dropping guacamole on her dress.

“I saw so many strange things when I was in the Phantom Zone,” Kara says, stopping again and squirming on the couch.

“This time or...um, before you came here?” Lena coaxes, setting her half-finished food on the table and focusing all her attention on Kara.

“I meant this time. Gosh, it was strange. Just...the balance of seeing my father alive after so long while also feeling like I was never going to see the other people I loved ever again. And the visions…” Kara shivers, mindlessly reaching for her bowl again and taking a forkful of food before returning the dish to the table once more. “You had them, too, right? When you all came?”

“Oh yes. All of us. Reliving the experience of watching my mother drown in the form of a water monster drowning all of my friends right in front of me wasn’t exactly a contender for an item on my bucket list.”

“Yeah. So...you know.”

“I do,” Lena says, nodding encouragingly as she sees Kara chance a look up at her for the first time in a while.

“It felt so real. I lost...everyone.” Kara lets out a shuddery breath and digs her nails into her knees before continuing. “Including you.” Kara’s eyes are glistening.

“Hey,” Lena says, reaching out to grab one of Kara’s hands. “I’m right here.”

“I know,” Kara manages, hastening to wipe at her face with her free hand as a tear spills over. “And that’s why I came.”

“To make sure I was here?” Lena says as gently as she can, careful not to make Kara think she’s making fun of her.

“Something like that.”

Lena doesn’t say anything, mindful that Kara seems to be trying to continue, and gives her hand a soft squeeze instead, which Kara returns.

“I lost you so many times, Lena.” Kara’s grip on Lena’s hand tightens.

Lena thinks back to what Kara told her a few weeks earlier, all about her attempts with Mr. Mxyzptlk to write her secret-keeping wrongs and save their friendship, and pieces it together with what she imagines Kara could have seen in the Phantom Zone. “Not in this reality, Kara.”

“But I did,” Kara chokes out, another wave of tears sneaking past her eyelids. “And that wasn’t just a nightmare, it was real, and it was my fault. I’m so sorry, Lena.” She extracts her hand from Lena’s and brushes hastily at both eyes, reaching for a napkin to dry her hands.

“Hey,” Lena interjects, reaching out to place her index finger under Kara’s chin to raise her head. “I can’t imagine what you saw and what you went through there. I want to hear as much about it as you want to share with me...but it wasn’t real. What’s real is that I’m here, we’re here, and we worked past what we both did to hurt each other. I love you, Kara, just like I did before...maybe more, now that I know the real you...and I’m not going anywhere.”

“I love you, too,” Kara says meekly, “so much,” she finishes as she averts her gaze. “Tonight was so weird. I was...I was sitting at my desk at CatCo, trying to finish this stupid article about Tiktok fashion, and I sort of...dozed off,” she admits with a little grin. “Anyway, I don’t think I was asleep for very long, but I had a nightmare, and it was just like one I had in the Phantom Zone. You...you said, ‘how would I ever love you, Supergirl?’ and blasted me with Kryptonite. Anyway, I...I flew over here right away, which was why I was kinda...jittery.”

“Oh, Kara,” Lena responds sympathetically, sliding over to pull Kara into a sideways hug.

“Lena?” Kara mutters into her shoulder. “Do you think we could...um, could I fly us to my place? I know the timing is terrible, but I hear the cleaning crew outside, and I don’t really want Javier and Sally to see me blubbering.”

A laugh escapes Lena’s lips before she can stop it. “We’re going to come back to how you know the names of the tower’s cleaning crew...but sure. Let me just recheck my calendar; I just rescheduled some things and need to double-check what time I have to be back here in the morning.”

Kara packs up the food again as Lena moves over to the desk and drops into the chair in front of her laptop. When she finishes, she walks over to the desk behind Lena, draping her arm around Lena’s back to rest a hand on her opposite shoulder. “Eesh. That’s a lot of meetings.”

“Tell me about it,” Lena mutters, typing a few notes into the calendar block set up for first thing in the morning. “Almost done.”

“Take your time,” Kara says, giving Lena’s shoulder a gentle squeeze.

Lena reaches out and takes Kara’s right free hand in her own. “You’re too nice,” she comments.

Kara leans down a little, pulling Lena into something like a sideways hug. “You’re just worth waiting for.”

Lena looks up at Kara, then at their joined hands. Without thinking, she places a kiss on Kara’s knuckles. She feels like she’s moving in slow motion as she inches away from Kara’s hand. Without moving her head, she reaches over to close the laptop. “Come on,” she says, keeping her grip on Kara’s hand as she stands up. “Let’s go.” She pushes her chair under the desk and grabs the food, then leads Kara towards the door. “I suppose we’re using this one,” she says, gesturing at the balcony with a nod of her head.

Kara stares back at her, an unreadable look on her face.

Lena scrunches her brow. “Kara? Are you okay? You look like you’ve seen a...well, I suppose I shouldn’t say ghost considering our conversation, but there’s no taking it ba-”

She’s cut off by the surprise of Kara gently tugging on their still-joined hands to bring them together and kept quiet by Kara closing her lips over Lena’s own. The unexpected kiss startles her almost as much as Kara’s initial arrival at her office earlier that night. When Lena can process what just happened and relax her stiffened form, Kara has taken a step back, eyes searching Lena’s face frantically.

“Kara, I’m sorry, I-”

“Wait. Don’t say anything yet,” Kara interrupts, and again, before Lena can even recognize that’s happening, Kara has grabbed Lena up in her arms and taken off into the night sky.

Just as Lena begins to feel the evening chill settle onto her skin, they’ve already arrived at her own apartment. “This isn’t your place,” she states obviously.

“No, I know, I just...uh...well, after...that...I thought maybe I should...go,” Kara rambles, shuffling backward towards the railing of the balcony.

“After...that?” Lena presses.

That. The kiss. I’m sorry, I shouldn’t have just, like, sprung that on you...after the crying and everything...god, worst timing ever. I’ll go.”

Lena smiles at her fondly. “Kara, shut up.”

“Yeah, sorry, I’m going.”

“Kara! Stop! I don’t want you to go. I want you to stop apologizing.”

“Oh.”

“Yeah. Oh,” Lena mimics, setting the bag down and closing the distance between them again. “It wasn’t the worst timing ever. I can think of at least eleven times I wanted to kiss you when the timing would have been worse.”

“Oh,” Kara squeaks again. Then, more calmly, “Oh. This is real, right? I didn’t like, pass out on your couch and start dreaming again, and you’re about to reveal that your balcony is laced with kryptonite or something?”

Lena cups Kara’s face in her hands. “Real.”

“Good,” Kara breathes out. “And...um, is this one of the times? I mean, the eleven?”

Lena moves closer, their hips almost touching. “I don’t know. Do you think the timing is bad?”

“I don’t think I’m an expert on that.”

“Then I suppose we’ll have to just try it and find out.”