When Kara Danvers sees Lena for the first time, she’s incognito and isn’t entirely sure whether the bookshop owner recognizes her. Her cover is for sure blown when someone asks for her signature, but nothing in Lena’s demeanor changes. She’s still affable and self-deprecating in her rumpled button down, and there’s something that curls in Kara’s belly each time the woman reaches up to tuck long black hair behind her ear.
“So, you travel then?”
The question pops out of Kara without thought. She keeps her voice low, but it’s only the two of them in the shop now, so there’s no way Lena didn’t hear.
“Oh, no,” comes the quick reply. Lena shoots Kara a broad grin that sends sparks all the way to the tips of Kara’s toes. “I just sell the books of those that do.”
Something changes in Lena’s expression then. Something a little sad, something wistful, that deepens her gaze to something fathomless.
“Because I’d never come back.” Lena smiles. “And I love it here.”
Before Kara can even begin to make sense of it, Lena continues. “Besides, that’s how you can tell a good travel book from a bad one.”
“The good ones will make you feel like you’ve been there all along, despite never having been there at all.”
Kara stares at Lena, utterly bewitched save for the anxious ticking of seconds as they pass, each one a risk that another customer to come in and recognize her.
“I’ll take the Istanbul book too,” Kara says, nodding towards the book that had started their conversation in the first place, a recommendation from Lena when she’d seen Kara browsing through a book of reportedly lesser quality.
She shouldn’t be lingering, Kara knows that. The longer she’s in one place, the greater the chance she’ll be caught in a media frenzy or mob of fans. But she watches as long, deft fingers wraps the book in paper and slips it into the bag as well, wishing she could think of something better to say.
“Have a wonderful day,” Lena says cheerfully. “And feel free to come back if you decide you want to go anywhere else.”
When Kara leaves, she ducks her head to hide her face and the flush that spreads up her neck when Lena gives her a playful wink.
Lena picks up a scone for herself and an orange juice for Winn. The coffeeshop is literally a hundred feet from the bookshop, so she doesn’t expect anything to go wrong. Until she collides with someone walking on the wrong side of the sidewalk coming in the opposite direction.
“Oh, god! I’m so sorry,” Lena exclaims as orange juice surges up and out of the cup and onto the pedestrians shirt. “Here, let me…” panicked, she starts to paw at the woman’s chest with the stack of napkins in her hand.
“Get your hands off me!”
The familiar voice pulls Lena’s gaze up, and her blood chills and heats in the same moment as she registers furious blue eyes staring down at her.
In the split second that follows, THE Kara Danvers recognizes her as well, and the fury in her eyes disappears. In its place Lena sees pure panic as Kara Danvers looks down at her ruined shirt and then scans the street around them as though waiting for someone to pop out of the crowd and starting pointing.
“Look, I know this is going to sound real pervy, but my apartment is nearby, and I have a clean shirt you can use– I can even throw yours in the wash for you if you want– or pay for the cleaning– or you can just–”
“Please just– stop talking.” Kara Danvers’ voice is sharp, edged with irritation and wariness. But she doesn’t leave. “How far are we talking?”
Lena blinks, then jabs a thumb over her shoulder. “Blue door.”
Kara Danvers’ flickers towards Lena’s flat in surprise. A myriad of emotions flickers across her gaze in the second that follows, before a quick “fine” prompts Lena into action.
“Okay, let’s do this.”
Kara isn’t sure what she expects when she’s ushered through the blue door into Lena’s flat. What she finds is a sense of organized clutter: stacks of books along the hall, walls crowded with images of famous art pieces, and– most charmingly– dirty dishes on the kitchen table.
Those dishes mysteriously vanish by the time Kara comes back downstairs, dressed in a fresh shirt. She’s long since learned to keep one in her purse, along with assorted tide pens and makeup items and hair clips. And if she does touch up her make up while she’s in the bathroom, well– there’s no one here to judge her, is there?
No one is there but Lena, running a hand anxiously through her hair as she waits for Kara to re-emerge.
“I truly am sorry,” Lena exudes in a sigh of worry. “I wasn’t expecting anyone on that side of the sidewalk, and– not that it’s your fault, I should have been looking where I was going–”
“It’s okay,” Kara offers in a quiet voice. And it is. Safe in a clean shirt, her annoyance has evaporated, leaving nothing but a desire to edge closer to the woman adjusting her glasses higher on her nose.
Lena doesn’t look convinced. “Can I get you anything? Tea, or… tea?”
Against the unexpected desire to accept, Kara shakes her head. “I should get going.”
“Right, of course.” Lena edges towards the front door, and Kara follows, until they’re standing awkwardly in front of it. “Well… this has been nice. Surreal, but nice.”
So Lena has recognized her then. The fact doesn’t surprise Kara, and yet it does, because she doesn’t feel like she’s on display like she usually does when someone recognizes her. She doesn’t feel distant… she feels all too present.
“Thank you for the place to change,” Kara says.
Lena nods. “Any time.”
But she doesn’t move until Kara turns towards the door, and only then does Lena scramble to open it for her. Kara steps out onto the sunny street and forces herself to keep walking without looking back. She hears the door close behind her, and something akin to disappointment coils in her chest. She feels as though she’s missing something… and she is. Her bag from Lena’s bookshop.
With her heart in her throat, Kara walks back to the blue door and knocks. Almost instantly it opens, revealing wide, hopeful green eyes.
“I forgot my other bag.”
Somehow, Lena’s eyes get even bigger. “Oh, of course! Here–”
She disappears, and Kara steps through the open door to wait. Lena reappears a moment later, handing her the bag in question.
“That should do it. If there’s anything else you’ve forgotten, come back any time, or else I could give you my number–”
Before Kara knows what she’s doing, she leans in and snares Lena’s pink lips in a kiss. She almost pulls back the moment they make contact, but then Lena is kissing her back, and those sparks from before come rushing back to fire across every one of Kara’s nerve endings. What’s feels like hours is only moments before they come up for air, and Kara rocks back on her heels to watch Lena’s gaze warm, with a dopey grin on her face.
“Well, that was–” Whatever Lena is about to say is interrupted by the sound of a key in the door. In an instant, alarm replaces the dopey grin, and Lena rushes to explain. “Oh my god my flatmate, I’m so sorry, there’s no excuse for him other than–”
The door opens, admitting an intense-looking man with pale hair and green lipstick. He is so intent on his entrance, he doesn’t even seem to notice Kara.
“The dean has once again refused my grant application to further explore the application of q-wave technology,” he announces, already well past them. “I shall order pizza and then regale you with the plethora of many ineptitudes.”
He disappears up the stairs without waiting for a response, leaving Kara and Lena to stare after him, then at each other. Kara doesn’t know what to say, except…
“We probably shouldn’t mention this…”
A flash of hurt darts across Lena’s face before it’s covered by another smile. “Right, of course. Of course.”
“I should go.”
Lena’s mouth opens like she wants to protest, but then shuts without a sound. She opens the door, and Kara once again escapes onto the public street. There, at least, there’s no risk she might throw herself at a stranger again.
“I–” Lena starts to say something behind her, but Kara doesn’t wait to hear it. She simply puts her head down and walks away, every step a fight against the urge to stay.
The next day and a half passes in a blur. Lena gets a call from a Miss Poppins and nearly crumples the message note to throw it away before a treacherous thought wonders what if.
When she calls the number Brainy scrawled down, she connects with the Ritz. When asked for a room number, she can only respond with “Miss Poppins?”
To her surprise, the clerk patches her through, and an increasingly familiar quiet voice answers. “Hello?”
“Um… hi.” Lena nearly smacks herself on the forehead. “It’s me. I mean, Lena. I mean. Is this?”
“Hi,” Kara responds, and its said in such recognition that Lena releases the breath she’d been holding.
“You called. I’m sorry I wasn’t here.”
“It’s okay. I just… about the other day–”
Realization hits. “Oh, you’re calling for payment on the cleaning. Here, let me get my card–” Lena begins to rummage for her wallet, and almost misses Kara’s next words.
“No, no, nothing like that. Please, the orange juice is not a big deal.”
Lena pauses. “Oh.”
“Yeah. No, I called because I wanted to apologize. For how I left.”
“Oh.” Lena’s heart falls. “You mean the…”
“No!” Kara says quickly. Too quickly. Lena’s heart lifts again. “I mean, unless you didn’t…”
“No! No, I did. I absolutely did.”
God. It’s like she’s never held a conversation before. Lena runs a hand through her hair in frustration. Then–
“Can I see you again?” Kara asks.
Lena almost forgets to answer, she’s already nodding. “Yes. When–”
“Tomorrow? Three oclock, here at the hotel?”
“Of course. I’ll be there.”
Lena arrives early, and feels out of place the second she steps into the hotel lobby. She’d thrown on another button down and an open vest for good measure, but she started doing up the buttons as she strode towards the elevator, conscious of the attire and ambience around her.
Catching sight of her reflection in the shine of the elevator doors, she quickly combed through the messy braid she’d thrown her hair into, until it lay tousled and wavy around her shoulders. Better.
Still, her feeling of displacement only grew when the person who opened the door to the room wasn’t Kara Danvers.
“Here you go,” the stranger said, thrusting a folder of press material towards both Lena and the man approaching from behind. He at least, seemed to know where he needed to be.
“Um, I think–”
But the woman who handed her the packet was already talking again. “Please come on in, make yourselves comfortable, we’ve got refreshments on the far side of the room.” She ushered Lena and the man inside, and guided them towards a free table. “So, how did you enjoy the film?”
Lena freezes, caught in the headlights, but her companion answers swiftly. “Quite enjoyable, and oddly less derivative than I expected. Sort of a… Alien meets Gilmore Girls.”
Relief overcomes Lena’s confusion, however briefly. She nods. “Totally agree.”
“And your names?”
“William Dey, CatCo Worldwide.”
Both their gazes turn to Lena. Heart racing, she casts her gaze around the room for anything that could help her. Finally, her gaze settled on a stack of magazines on a nearby table.
“Um. Lena Luthor, with…” She read the magazine sitting prominently on the top of the pile. “Horse & Hound.” She nods. “For Miss Danvers, specifically. She may be expecting me.”
The woman, who Lena now realizes is Kara Danvers’ publicist, nods. “All right. Stay right here and I’ll check with her shortly.”
Abandoning Lena to her plight, the woman disappears, and Lena can only stand and wait. What are you doing—?
“Miss Luthor?” The woman returns, her eyebrows lifting as Lena turns towards her. “Right this way.”
Oh thank god.
Lena’s led to a suite further inside the room, and when the door opens she sees Kara Danvers seated on a loveseat, shoulders back and legs elegantly crossed. For the first time, Lena’s struck speechless at the sight of her, until she’s introduced as a rep from Horse and Hound.
“Oh?” Kara Danvers’ brows lift skyward as she renders Lena a quizzical yet amused expression.
Conscious of the publicist who remains in the room with them, Lena settles in for the duration.
“Yes, well, you see our readers are very interested in how the film utilizes its… horses.”
“I’d have to say that our options were fairly limited,” Kara responds diplomatically, “considering it takes place in a spaceship.”
Lena blinks. “Right. Very… humanitarian?”
The publicist dips out again, and Lena almost collapses in relief. “I’m sorry, they asked, and I just answered and I have no idea what I’m doing, I just wanted to see you–”
“No, no,” Kara waves away. “It’s my fault, I thought all this would be finished by now.”
“Listen, are you doing anything tonight?” Lena asks, desperate to see Kara when she isn’t bumbling like an idiot.
Kara smiles. “Yes.”
Lena closes her eyes. “Right, yes. Of course you are–”
“Make this your last question, please.” The publicist chooses that moment to return, pouring herself a glass of water as Lena snaps to attention and back to business.
“And would you consider starring in a film that does include horses, here on terra firma?” she asks. Kara stares at her, an incredulous smile on her lips. “Or hounds, for that matter? Our patronage have a fondness for both. Obviously.”
Kara seems on the verge of breaking into laughter, until she realizes that both Lena and the publicist are both waiting on her answer.
“Yes,” she coughs out, then covers it by smoothing her skirt across her laugh. “Yes, I would… consider starring in a film with horses or dogs. Perhaps even both.”
The publicist clears her throat pointedly. Lena shoots to her feet. “Our readers will be thrilled to hear that, Miss Danvers, thank you for your time.”
“Right this way, Miss Luthor, and we’ll rush you through the others as well.” As the publicist leads her to the door, Lena shoots Kara a plaintive look over her shoulder and mouths a silent help. Kara only grins, covering her giggle with a hand to her lips.
Over an hour later, Lena leaves her final interview absolutely drained. She hasn’t had to fib so much since she left school. Unbuttoning her vest to breathe, she almost makes it to freedom.
“Miss Luthor!” The publicist is back. Lena plasters on a smile and turns to face her. “Miss Danvers would like a word.”
Suddenly, Lena’s smile isn’t so forced. She follows the publicist back, and this time the Kara Danvers she sees isn’t the pristine, impeccable representative of a film, but someone exhausted and half-undressed, with her heels kicked off and hair loose from its french twist. Lena nearly chokes on her tongue.
“Your offer,” Kara says. “About tonight. I’m free after all.”
“Really? But you said–”
“I told them I had to spend the night with Britain’s premier equestrian journalist, so…”
Lena’s grin widens, then comes crashing down as she remembers. “Shit! I can’t!”
“What? Oh…” Kara’s bout of nervous confidence fades to just nerves.
“I’m sorry. It’s my brother’s birthday, I totally forgot. Fuck.”
“No, wait! I’m sure I can get out of it. It’s totally fine–”
“No, I mean,” Kara swallows audibly, but continues, “if it’s all right with you, I’ll go as your date.”
“My… date?” Lena’s head starts to spin. “All right. Yes, of course. Right! I’ll just pick you up here then? Seven thirty?”
Kara nods, smiling bashfully. “Okay.”
“Okay, great!” Lena shoves her hands in her pockets to keep from shaking. “I’ll see you then, then.”
She doesn’t notice the way Kara’s gaze of anticipation follows her out the door.
Lena’s waiting for her by the time Kara comes down to the lobby. Her vest has been traded for a velour coat in maroon, nearly matching the color of her lips. Her hair, last seen flattened by the horror of facing an impromptu press junket, is revitalized and styled into 1940s waves. Kara smiles at the sight of her, and the way Lena’s entire countenance seems to warm at the sight of her.
Unsure of the dresscode for the night, Kara had settled for a satin paisley button down, made more casual by braiding her hair across her head in a crown. She’d debated taking it down as soon as she’d finished, but when Lena doesn’t make a crack about her looking like a swiss miss, Kara’s glad she left it.
They take a cab from the hotel, and though the conversation is stilted, Kara can tell that Lena’s nervous. When they finally arrive, Lena pauses them at the doorway, and levels a solemn look at Kara.
“There’s just one thing you need to know before we go in,” she says.
Kara stares at her. “Which is?”
“I am so, so sorry.”
With that, the door bursts open and a large form comes barreling out to swallow Lena in a giant bear hug.
“There you are!” the figure growls playfully, resolving into a bald, broad-shouldered man in a button down with the sleeves rolled up and a frilly pink apron.
“Yeah, yeah, likely story.” Kara presumes the man is Lena’s brother, confirmed when he releases Lena only to trap her in a headlock and give her a knuckle rub. “And who’s the poor hapless prey you’re impressing this time, huh?”
The man stops short at the sight of Kara.
“Holy shitting fuck.”
Kara braces, but then the man blinks and the moment passes, his attention returning to his prisoner, who extricates herself with a sigh and a shove against his shoulder, smoothing her ruffled hair.
“Kara, this is my prat of an older brother, Lex. Lex, this Kara. My date.”
“Pleased to meet you, Miss Date. Come in, come in, you’re letting all the wonderful smells out!”
He ushers them all inside, and while he’s right the house is filled with smells, not all of them are wonderful. There’s mish mash of aromatic spices that Kara detects, but there’s an undercurrent of something just slightly burnt wafting beneath it all that makes Kara concerned for the unattended stove.
Before she can worry further, a woman comes bustling in, tall and gorgeous. “Lena, darling, it’s so lovely to see you.”
Kara watches Lena melt into a smile that makes Kara’s heart skip a beat. “Hello, Drea. Glad to see my brother hasn’t poisoned you yet.”
“Oh, hush,” the woman, Drea, responds giving Lena a kiss on both cheeks. “Of all the vices he could have, his passion for bad cooking is one I can live with.”
Drea’s gaze then turns to Kara, and while Kara can see the moment recognition hits, the woman covers it graciously with a smile and an outstretched hand. “Hi, I’m Andrea. Andrea Rojas.”
“Kara,” she responds, well noting the way the woman rolls her Rs and speaks like words are honey. No wonder Lena melted. “Thank you so much for having me. Your home is lovely.”
And it is. Where Lena’s flat is cluttered and marked with signs of both age and use, Lex’s rowhouse is clean and modern, full of smooth lines and cool colors. She suspects Andrea Rojas had something to do with that, judging from her silk blouse and pencil skirt, accented with classy jewelry.
“Thank you so much,” Andrea returns, “you’re too kind. Here, can I get you something to drink before my husband’s cooking ruins your sense of taste completely?”
“I’m telling you,” Lex cuts in, offended, “this one is the winner winner chicken dinner!”
Kara laughs, and just like that, the ice is broken. She relaxes, but sticks close to Lena, reveling in the easy comfort that fills the home. It feels… nice. Real. Unlike anything she’s had in the past ten years.
She has a sister. But her sister is also her manager, and Kara can’t remember the last time she and Alex just sat and talked like this, trading jokes and playful barbs around the dinner table. Even when Lena’s roommate Querl and his girlfriend Nia arrive, the atmosphere remains easy and warm.
Kara’s defenses relax, until it comes time to fight over the last brownie for dessert.
“And the last one goes as a prize to the poorest sod here.”
“Ooh!” Nia chirps. “Hand it over!”
“Oh please!” the table choruses. Someone throws a wadded up paper napkin at Nia, who bats it away.
“Come on!” she exclaims. “Just look at me! I’m fresh out of art school with zero prospects, zero job, and I’m dating this guy.” She jabs a thumb at Querl, prompting a round of laughter even as Querl doesn’t seem to register the playful insult.
“Well,” he says, “I’ve been making a fool of myself asking for grants from an institution with no imagination and no desire to seek the answers of the universe!”
“Weak!” Lena boasts. “I’ve got a shop so deep in the red I’m practically swimming in it, and my last girlfriend of five years left me for her male yoga instructor saying her experimentation phase was done.”
That shocks Kara. Her gaze flickers to Lena, and despite the veneer of good humor, she can see the hurt underneath. Five years isn’t an experimentation by any stretch of the mind. To be told that’s all it was… Lena’s entire world must have been turned upside down.
Still, Andrea Rojas isn’t a woman to be beat.
“Well, how about being told in no unequivocable terms by your boss that there’s no way to make partner unless you fuck him?” There’s a bitterness in her voice that makes the table go quiet. “And on top of wondering what you’ve been doing with the last ten years of your life, you find out you’ve given those assholes your best egg laying years because now, suddenly, your doctor says you’re too old to have children?”
Kara shoots a look around the table, as does Lena. Their eyes meet in the middle, before Lex wordlessly hands over the plate.
“Hey!” Kara blurts. “What about me?”
“What about you?” Nia retorts irreverently. “You think YOU deserve the brownie to saddest sod?”
“Well, I’d at least like a shot at it.”
“Okay,” Lena returns blithely. “But you’re going to have to work for it. It’s a very good brownie.”
Kara nods. “Sure. My earliest memory is being spanked by my mother for ruining a take by crying. I’ve slept with a director for a role I didn’t get anyway, and I’ve been on a diet for my entire acting career, meaning that this is my first time eating a brownie. Ever.”
A beat of silence follows.
“Well, shit,” Nia quips. “Give the woman all the brownies, then.”
Just like that, the suddenly somber atmosphere lifts back to its previous humor, as Querl adds his own two cents. “I life without brownies is a life not worth living.”
“Cheers to that, bro,” Lex concurs, lifting his glass before chugging it.
Kara savors her brownie in small bites, trying not to blush under Lena’s gentle gaze.
When they finally leave her brother’s house, Lena is simultaneously exhausted and wired. Exhausted, because even a good time takes it out of her, and yet wired because the world’s most famous woman is right next to her on the sidewalk, nudging shoulders as they walk down the block. It makes for a heady combination, which is the only reason at all that Lena finds herself rising to Kara’s challenge of climbing over a wrought iron gate to the garden beyond.
“For the record,” she huffs, struggling to find purchase with her bare hands, “I am not dressed for this– whoopsie daisy!”
What the FUCK did she just say?
“What did you just say?” Kara echoes, her smile audible in the dark.
“Nothing,” Lena brushes off as she resets. “Just, trying to get a decent foothold– whoops!”
She slips again, and this time Kara laughs, the sound loud and musical. “You said whoopsy daisy. Like some mid-century housewife–”
“You keep distracting me!”
“From what? Another whoopsy daisy?” Kara nudges her aside, dusting off her hands. “Step aside, miss priss. Watch the professional work.”
Lena obeys, turning her head aside to avoid her nose brushing a very toned, very firm ass as Kara shimmied her way up and over the fence in one try. Lena’s mouth goes dry at the smoothness of the motion, and the way Kara’s arms strain against the slim cut of her blouse.
Kara may be an actress, but she’s clearly no waif.
The woman in question grins at her from the other side of the fence. “You know, you say you’re not intimidated by a silly rule, but I think there may be some subliminal hangups…”
Lena scowls. “Oh, like hell.”
Boots scrabbling against the fenceposts, Lena hauls herself up through sheer willpower alone. By the time she lands on her feet on the far side, Kara has disappeared further into the garden. With a quiet curse, Lena brushes herself off and straightens her hair before trotting after her.
“Wow…” Kara breathes when Lena catches up. “It’s like it’s own little world in here.”
Lena watches her observe the garden, noting the way her eyes sparkle in the faint light trickling in around them. The field they stand in is lush beneath their feet, and even in the dark the scent of fragrant flowers fills the air.
Kara makes her way over to a bench, and reads the inscription on. “To June, who sat on this bench every day. From John, who always sat beside her.”
Lena smiles at the sentiment, and the way Kara’s voice softens as she reads it. It’s beautiful, and she says so.
“I guess some love does last forever,” Kara remarks, half to herself. She sits on the bench, smoothing her hands across the wood as if to ask its owners for the privilege. After a moment, she notices Lena watching. “Come sit with me.”
Lena does, and they spend the night with Kara’s head on Lena’s shoulders, looking at the stars.
The next night, they go on a proper date. Or at least they try to, except Lena can’t find her glasses and Querl is absolutely no help in finding them, so she watches the entire movie through the prescription lenses of her snorkel mask.
Luckily, it only makes Kara laugh, even if it earns Lena a couple handfuls of popcorn in her hair from being pelted. Afterwards, Lena takes them to her favorite sushi restaurant, and makes a show of ordering in Japanese.
“Arigato gozaimasu,” she finishes, handing over her menu. When she looks across the table at Kara, she’s pleased to see she’s impressed.
“Now how did you learn Japanese if you’ve never traveled?”
Lena shrugs. “I may have dated a few travelers in my day.”
“Uh huh,” Kara deadpans. “What else did they show you?”
Looking up, Lena lets a lascivious grin curl her lips. “Maybe I’ll get to show you.”
Lena revels in the fluster that marks Kara’s acceptance of the sake that comes a moment later, and marks the red blush that heats under tan skin. The conversation shifts away, but continues, and Lena lets it, content with the impact she’s made.
As the meal winds down, they linger a little bit, trading information they haven’t shared yet.
“What’s the one place you want to go, above all others?” Kara asks.
Lena sighs. “I don’t know.” Kara looks at her suspiciously, and Lena lifts her hands. “I could give you the same tripe I give any customer in my shop, but the truth is, the idea of travel has never really been the destination for me.”
Kara looks surprised at that. “Oh?”
With a hum, Lena nods. “For me, it’s always been more about who you’re traveling with. And for a while there, I thought I had someone, but she never wanted to go anywhere. In the end, it turned out she just never wanted to go anywhere with me.”
It still aches. Her split with Veronica had been so sudden, it split Lena’s entire entire world apart. It had been bad enough to learn that Veronica had well and truly checked out of their relationship long before she ended it. To hear that Veronica had never really been in it in the first place had–
“Then she’s an idiot,” Kara says, bringing Lena out of her thoughts back to the present day. She reaches across the table, and links their fingers together. “And it’s her loss.”
Lena forces a grin. “Funnily, that’s exactly what my therapist said…”
A round of raucous table from the table behind them drowns out whatever else she might have said. Glancing over, Lena registers a group of young to middle aged men in suits– likely stock brokers, in this part of town. They were rowdy even when they came in, but now–a round of sake later– they’re downright obnoxious.
The next one who speaks doesn’t bother to mind his words or his volume.
“Give me Kara Danvers any day.”
Kara meets Lena’s eye across the table, rolling her eyes as his buddy chimed in.
“Didn’t like her last film. Fell asleep as soon as the lights went down.”
“Don’t care what the films like– if it’s got Kara Danvers, it’s fine by me. I mean, have you seen that ass.”
Lena’s jaw clenches. Kara’s hand slips away, as does her gaze.
“Oh hell yeah,” another one continues. “And you know she’s just begging for it. Never wonder how she got that gig in Dirty Dancing, did you?”
“It sure as hell wasn’t because she could dance!” They all laughed. Lena shifts in her seat, blood boiling, but Kara catches her eye, shaking her head no. Too late.
Lena rises to her feet and marches to the offending table. “Excuse me, boys, but every single person in this restaurant can hear you. And while I’m perfectly happy to watch you reveal yourselves to be the absolute cunts you are, I take exception to the fact that you’re talking about a very real person in the process.”
The table stares at her, shocked.
“You.” Lena glares at the worst offender. “Does your mother know you debase women with the same mouth you use to kiss her on the cheek? How about your girlfriend, though I find it incredibly doubtful you’ve managed to shag anyone with that kind of charm.”
Kara tugs on Lena’s arm, trying to pull her away. Lena almost goes, but turns back at the last minute, nearly colliding with the server hurrying in with the table’s paid check.
“Actually, I’m not finished. Until each and every one of you learns a woman’s favorite song, color and five year goal, you sure as hell don’t get to wonder what flavor condom she prefers, you got it?” Her gaze lands on the platinum credit card in the ticket tray, and smirks in triumph when she sees it’s a corporate card.
“And I’m sure that Lord Holdings will be thrilled to hear all about how their employees behave while they’re out eating on the company’s dime.”
At that, the man she’d skewered a moment ago finally recovers enough to scoff. “Hah, and what do you care? What are you, her sister?”
“Actually,” Kara speaks up, coming to stand beside Lena. “She’s my date.”
Dead silence follows as every single one of them registers who exactly is speaking. Finally, one of them tries to sputter an apology, but Kara waves it off.
“Oh, no, don’t worry about it. I’m sure it was just joking between friends, just as I’m sure your dicks are the size of peanuts. Enjoy your dinner!”
With that, Kara turns away, snagging Lena’s hand as she does. Allowing herself to be towed away, Lena flips them the vee and grins, then joins Kara in trotting out of the restaurant.
As soon as they hit the street they both start to cackle, drawing stares as they laugh maniacally. Lena’s heart is pounding, as is Kara’s, judging from the way she holds a hand against her chest.
“Oh, my god… I– I’ve never done that before!” Kara laughs. “I don’t know what came over me!”
“What, standing up for yourself? You’re a natural!”
“No, you were amazing! I dunno, I just heard you and I saw you facing off against them all alone, and I just– did that! I just did that!”
Kara laughs again, and Lena tugs her closer by the hips. Pressing a kiss to her lips, Lena smiles at her. “It looks good on you,” she purrs. “You should do it more often.”
Kara smiles back at her, rubbing her thumbs on the ridges of Lena’s hips. “Maybe I will.”
Lena could kiss her again, but Kara steps back, tugging them back in the direction of the hotel. “Walk me home?”
The walk back is spent in comfortable silence, but as they near the marquee of the Ritz, Lena’s heart starts to pound for a whole new reason when Kara turns to her. “Wanna come up?”
Lena nods. “Yeah. I’d like that.”
Kara gives a small of relief, and smiles. “Good. Give me five minutes.”
The next five minutes are the longest of Lena’s life. But she waits them, hands jammed into her pockets, and counts every second before finally allowing herself to head up to the room.
When she knocks, she isn’t entirely sure what to expect. A robe, maybe, left open to reveal tantalzyingly firm abs. Matching lingerie, even, to match Kara’s eyes.
What she doesn’t expect is Kara fully clothed with panic in her eyes.
“You’ve got to go,” Kara whispers.
Lena freezes, but keeps her smile in place. “Why?” she whispers back.
“Because my boyfriend, who was in America, is in fact here in the next room.”
Kara sees the moment her words register. Lena’s features seem to gape without shifting, exposing every emotion flooding her senses before Lena blinks and clenches her jaw, hiding it all behind a veneer of good humor.
“Who’s at the door babe?” Mike asks, coming into view. Jesus. His shirt is already off, and he uses it to scrub the sweat from under his arms like a neanderthal.
Kara freezes, caught in the headlights. Before she can think of an answer that isn’t the truth, Lena comes to her rescue.
“Room service,” she fibs smoothly, straightening away from Kara. Kara misses the proximity immediately, as cold air fills the vacuum of Lena’s presence.
“I thought you guys all wore the little penguin coats,” Mike observes loudly. He sniffs his shirt and then tosses it aside.
Lena watches it all without reaction. “We do. I was already changed to go home when I was asked to take this final call. Downstairs is a little backed up.”
“So long as it’s not the plumbing! Hah!” Mike cracks a grin, completely oblivious to the fact that neither of them join in. “Hey, while you’re here, can I get you to bring up some ice cold water? Still not sparkling?”
Lena shoots a look to Kara, then nods. “Cold water, still not sparkling. And you, ma'am?”
“What?” Kara blinks, her mind desperately trying to catch up. Her thoughts are too slow; the world feels as though it’s closing in, pressing against her so tightly she can’t move.
“Your order, babe,” Mike supplies helpfully. “What did you want?”
“Oh! Right, um. I haven’t actually… decided, yet.”
Mike laughs. “That’s my girl, never knows what she wants. Well, in the meantime, can I get you to clear out these plates, sweetheart, and take the trash out while you’re at it?”
Kara sees Lena swallow. Only when Lena steps forward to oblige does Kara’s brain restart. “Oh, no. No, no, no, don’t do that. Mike– I don’t think it’s her job to… clear.”
“Oh!” Mike exclaims, his features creasing into affected concern. “Well, here.” He takes a couple of bills from his wallet, and– seeing Lena’s hands already full of plates– decides to tuck it under the neckline of Lena’s blouse, into the strap of her bra.
Kara sees Lena’s entire body stiffen, and she waits for the outrage to come. But the brazen side of Lena who jumped to Kara’s defense at the restaurant is nowhere to be found, tucked carefully away.
“Thank you for your service,” Mike says, as solemnly as if he were making the rounds on a USO tour.
“It’s my pleasure, sir,” Lena grinds out.
Satisfied, Mike shoots Lena a wink, then turns and heads for the bathroom. “Oh, babe, when you do figure out what you want, make sure you don’t overdo it. Don’t wanna be that guy with the big fat girlfriend!”
The silence he leaves them in is deafening. Kara’s entire body trembles, and her face is scorching with embarassment. She waits for Lena to take her to task, for the treatment, for Kara’s treatment, anything. But Lena merely shifts the plates to one hand and lifts the trash in question with the other.
Moving towards the door, her movements are stilted and odd, as though Lena is being crushed by the same weight Kara battles as she rushes to meet Lena at the door.
“I am so, so sorry,” Kara says.
Lena looks at her with hollow eyes.
“That was… surreal,” she says softly. “Not so nice, this time.”
She pauses for a beat, and Kara knows what she’s waiting for. For Kara to explain, to declare her love, to tell her Mike overstepped or that he means nothing. But Kara says nothing.
In the next moment, Lena nods.
“Good bye, Kara.”
Then, with plates and trash in hand, she turns and walks away.
“It happened. Feel it, and let it go.”
Her therapist’s words are easier said than done. Lena does her best, she really does, but every time she almost feels over Kara Danvers, she sees a film trailer or a tabloid headline and her world spirals again.
It’s silly. Lena knows she shouldn’t be so affected. She only knew Kara Danvers for a few days across a few weeks, but then again… as her therapist likes to say: Lena never learned how to love half way.
When news of a nude photo scandal breaks, Lena finds out about it with the rest of the world, but instead of watching in sick fascination, Lena feels only horror for the woman behind it all. Her heart, broken though it is, goes out to Kara, and the devastation she must be going through. Because Lena more than anyone else knows how carefully crafted Kara’s image is, how carefully precise every word and movement is lest she lose the love of the audience and the industry itself.
But as much as Lena might want to, she doesn’t call. She doesn’t write. She doesn’t even know if Kara is in Britain at all, until one morning there’s a knock on her front door.
There, with an overnight bag, is Kara.
Her eyes are hidden behind large sunglasses, and her arms are crossed over her chest, tight with anxiety. Before Lena can think to do anything otherwise, she wordlessly steps aside to invite Kara into her flat.
“Thank you,” Kara murmurs. Her voice quivers, her jaw clenched against brimming tears. Lena briefly scans the street outside before closing the door, relieved to find it empty of press.
They slowly migrate to the kitchen, where Kara pauses, uncertain of what to do next.
“Tea?” Lena offers.
Kara nods faintly. Over tea, the situation Lena had avoided reading about about in the tabloids comes spilling out as Kara vents, finally able to explain to someone– anyone– who would listen.
“I was young, and I was angry, and… and you want to know the saddest part? I enjoyed that shoot! It was one of the healthiest, most open working environments I’d ever been in. The level of trust, and respect… god– they talked to me like a person, and I just– for the first time, it felt like I had complete agency. Except I didn’t, because they also filmed it, which they didn’t tell me, and now… now my entire career, the only thing I’ve ever done in my entire life, might be over.”
Lena listens to it all. She can’t offer anything more than that. She doesn’t know what to say, even if she could speak under the weight of being in Kara’s presence again. Kara fills the entire room, even dressed down in jeans and a trim sweater.
The hurt of their last parting feels a million miles away for the first time since it happened, and all Lena wants to do is kiss her.
“What does your boyfriend think?” Lena blurts softly.
Kara blinks, staring at her. “I don’t know,” she confesses silently. “I haven’t heard from him since before… I don’t even know if I have a boyfriend anymore. I didn’t even really know I had one then, until he showed up in my hotel room.”
She pauses, finally meeting Lena’s. “I am so sorry for what happened. I wanted to call so many times, I just– I just didn’t know what to say. And now– now I’m invading your home like–”
“It’s okay,” Lena assures her, heading her off at the pass. She rises, taking Kara’s hands in hers and offering a reassuring squeeze. “I’m glad you’re here, and that you’re safe.”
Blinking away tears, Kara nods, sniffling.
“What do you need?” Lena asks. “Food, nap, bath…?”
“A bath sounds… really nice right now. And food. And a nap. Maybe in that order?”
Lena smiles. “Okay. We can do that.”
After Kara’s bath, they chat quietly over Notting Hill’s finest fish and chips. It feels like no time has passed at all, like they didn’t ever part that night at the hotel. Lena revels in it, and in the fact that Kara’s nap is taken resting against her shoulder as Lena reads on the couch.
Her therapist would be so disappointed in her.
There’s no boundary Lena could throw between them that Kara isn’t already well past, and Lena finds she simply doesn’t want to. As dangerous as she knows it is, she enjoys their time together. She’s addicted to it, like a moth to flame.
The first night, Lena gives Kara her bed, and sleeps on the couch. The second night, after a day filled with running lines for Kara’s next project, Lena’s awoken from a light doze by a creak on the stair. Despite having a flatmate, Lena instinctively knows it’s not Querl, and meets Kara at the foot of the stair.
“Is everything all right?” she asks.
In the dark, Kara nods, a dark shape bobbing in the shadows. “Yes, I– I just wanted to say thank you. For everything you’ve done for me. I know you have no reason to help–”
Lena leans in and kisses her. Before her brain can catch up, Kara is kissing her back, burying her hands in Lena’s tangled hair before slipping down to brush the edge of Lena’s breast through the fabric of her tank top.
Lena covers the exploring hand, pressing it in place against her chest before it could go any further.
“Do you want this?” is all she asks.
Kara nods again, this time their noses brushing at the tips. “Yes,” she breathes. “I want you.”
Waking up in the morning, Lena feels as though she’s still dreaming. Her body aches pleasantly, and today the sunlight streaming through her windows falls softly on the figure fast asleep beside her.
Kara Danvers’ features are soft in sleep, unschooled for the first time Lena’s ever seen. She looks younger, and impossibly more beautiful– until Kara shifts, and wakes with a smile that puts Lena’s previous observations to shame.
“Hi,” Kara whispers.
“Hi,” Lena whispers back. “Sweet dreams?”
“Mmmmmm,” Kara hums, rolling to face her. “Remind me.”
Lena obliges with a kiss, ignoring the sour taste of morning breath. Her hand cups Kara’s jaw, her thumb brushing lightly against a soft cheek.
Before long, they’re interrupted by a low growl in Kara’s belly, prompting Lena to laugh against Kara’s lips.
“Message received. Stay here,” she urges, slipping out of bed.
She pulls on a pair of boxers and her tank top from the night before, wrinkled from being tossed unceremoniously across the room, before heading downstairs to make breakfast.
Lena barely has the bread in the toaster before warm arms encircle her waist from behind. Soft lips press against the join of Lena’s neck, blonde hair tickling her skin. She hums low in her throat.
“I like that,” she says. She leans her head against Kara’s. “Butter and jam’s in the fridge.”
Kara grins against her and parts with another kiss, finding her way around Lena’s kitchen as though she’s always been there. Lena takes in the sight of Kara in one of her old oversized sweaters, barely enough to keep her decent. It’s a pleasant sight, Kara’s ease. Lena wants it to stick around forever.
Their peace is interrupted a moment later when the doorbell rings.
“I’ve got it,” Lena says. “You stay here and butter the toast.”
She hops down the narrow steps to the front hall, and opens the door without a second thought as to who could be behind it.
A barrage of camera shutters clicking and the bright flash of dozens of cameras going off at once stuns her. Blinded, she can barely make out the sea of paparazzi, and the questions she barely hears through the buzz of utter noise.
In the next moment, Lena regains her senses and slams the door shut. The heavy old door does well to muffle the sound, so that when Kara comes traipsing down the steps behind her she doesn’t notice the hubbub.
“What is it?”
Before Lena can stop her, a shout on her lips, Kara opens the door and faces the sea of cameras with nothing but a piece of toast in her hand and an old sweater between them.
Kara reacts faster than Lena did, instantly whirling and shutting the door behind her. In that moment, Kara’s ease disappears. Her body stiffens and her skin heats with flush of shame.
“They… you…” Kara stammers. She looks at Lena, then glares at her. “You told them I was here?!”
“What? Why would I do that?”
“Well, if it wasn’t you, it was that weirdo of a roommate!” Kara exclaims, voice climbing in pitch and volume. “Finally decided to make a quick buck by giving a tip to the tabloids!”
“That’s uncalled for,” Lena counters. Querl is odd, but he’d only ever been kind to Kara, in his own strange way. “Let’s just… let’s just breathe for a second–”
“You breathe. I’m leaving.”
Without another word, Kara disappears back into the kitchen. After an urgent call to whom Lena can only guess is her publicist, Kara disappears towards the bedroom. Lena gives her space, lingering in the living room long enough for Kara to catch her breath. By the time she finally pokes her head into the bedroom, Kara is already dressed and throwing her items into her overnight bag.
“Don’t. Don’t say my name like you know how I feel.”
Lena swallows thickly. “I don’t… I don’t know what to say. I’m sorry they’re here, but I’m not sorry you are.”
“Well, I am,” Kara snaps, snatching her top from the night before and slamming it into her bag. “I never should have come here. I have a boyfriend for Christ’s sake!”
Lena freezes, her blood running cold. “You do?”
“As far as they’re concerned I do! And now pictures of us are going to be on every paper from here to Star City!!”
Kara lugs her bag over her shoulder and storms out of the room. “And your friend, your friend owes you a nice dinner. Lobster at least, if he’s smart enough to get the going rate on betrayal.”
“You leave Querl out of this!” Lena snaps, her temper fraying as she chases after Kara. “Okay? I understand that you’re upset, and I am too, but we don’t know that he has anything to do with this!”
Kara rounds on her with fury in her eyes. “All I know is that they didn’t follow me here, and we didn’t go anywhere. So if wasn’t me, and it wasn’t him, who was it? Hm?”
Angry tears burn at the backs of Lena’s eyes. She blinks them away, and struggles breathe past the lump in her throat.
“It’s okay, Lena,” Kara continues firing, “I get it. Okay? It’s natural to want your name out there, to drum up business. Come, get a boring book about Egypt from the chick who fucked Kara Danvers!”
The accusation drives all the breath from Lena’s body. She stares, and sees the moment Kara realizes she’s crossed a line. She softens then, but not enough.
“You may only get fifteen minutes of this, Lena, but I have had this my entire life. These pictures will last forever. They will follow me FOREVER, and I will regret this forever!”
The doorbell rings, cleaving through the moment of Lena’s heartbreak. Surprisingly, Kara doesn’t immediately leave, her shock at her own words evident in the gape of her mouth and the tears in her eyes.
Finally, Lena looks away, clearing her throat.
“You don’t want to keep your team waiting,” she grinds out, her voice full of gravel. It hurts to speak, to breathe, to even look at Kara. But watch she does as Kara’s mouth closes to a resolute line before she turns and leaves without looking back.
To Kara’s equal relief and horror, the news of her tryst with Lena is short-lived and without consequence. She doesn’t lose her next role, the studios still take Alex’s calls, and aside from a few snide but easily dodged interview questions over the next few weeks, the world keeps turning as though nothing has happened.
As though she didn’t say the most hurtful things she could and then run away.
And run she does. Back to America, back to LA. She goes as far as she can get from Lena, but when she dives into her former life of parties and industry soirees, the lack of Lena only makes her absence more keenly felt.
So Kara stops going to parties, stops having dinner with false friends and empty contacts. All she allows herself to do is work. She finishes one film, then another. She throws herself into each project in the hopes it will be enough to distract her from the memory of Lena’s stricken features before Kara walked out her door.
It never is.
Alex notices. She notices Kara’s distraction and her fervor in equal measure. For the first time in over a decade, Alex takes a pause. She stops and sits next to where Kara is studying lines in her too-big LA mansion.
Taking the script from Kara’s hands, Alex looks at her in concern. “Hey.”
“What’s going on?” Alex asks.
Kara glares at her. “You grabbed the script from my hands, that’s what’s going on!”
“Talk to me,” Alex urges softly. “We talk. Right?”
Uncurling from her place on the couch, Kara marches to the bar cart, pouring herself a drink.
“I guess not lately, we haven’t,” Alex answers her own question. She looks at Kara with an open gaze. “You’re still my sister though.”
“Am I? Or am I just the reason you get paid?”
“Don’t attack me, okay? I only took this job to help you, you know that. To protect you. Mom never did, so I have. Always. Remember?”
Kara closes her eyes. They used to be sisters. But not for a long time. Now, Kara doesn’t know what they are.
She doesn’t even know who she is.
“You haven’t been the same since London,” Alex observes, not noticing or not caring about Kara’s spiralling crisis of self. “Who was she?”
Kara shakes her head, not turning around. “Just a friend.”
“Don’t give me the same runaround you gave the late night hosts, Kara. Okay? Don’t bullshit me.”
This time, Kara finally turns to look at her sister. Alex stands at a safe distance with her arms crossed over her chest. Her stance is stern but her eyes are soft.
“Who was she?”
“I–” Kara’s voice cracks as her resolve crumbles. The tears come hot and fast, pouring down her cheeks before she can stop them. Her breath hiccups in her chest, and she gasps. “I think I loved her!”
For the first time in years, her sister holds her as she cries.
“You got the offer,” Alex tells her, months later. There’s a warmth in her voice now, a gentleness that had once been eclipsed by professionalism. Kara is glad for it– they’ve long proven to themselves and others that they’re good at their jobs. Now they’re sisters again as well.
Kara smiles. “Where are we off to then?”
The world trips around Kara, slowing and then jolting back up to speed. “What? For how long?”
“Two months.” Alex eyes her carefully. “Are you okay with that?”
“I’m not going to see her.”
In repairing their relationship, Kara has shared details of her time with Lena, and more than once Alex has suggested she reach out. She almost has, nearly a dozen times, but she hasn’t yet managed to pick up the phone.
Now, it feels far too late.
“Didn’t think you would,” comes the blithe response. It’s the kind of irreverence that’s come with their healing friendship, and helps ground Kara in reality. It’s almost the same way she felt with Lena, in a way. Almost.
“Still,” Alex continues, “you know where she is.”
Yes, she does. And Kara plans to stay very, very far away.
Kara doesn’t call.
Lena doesn’t know if she wants her to, of if she just aches for a new kind of hurt, after the sting fades to a throb fades to a bonedeep sense of loss. When her therapist asks, she tells the truth: she doesn’t know what she expected by inviting Kara Danvers into her home a second time. It had simply felt… right.
Weeks bleed together, time losing its meaning as Lena trudges through attempts from her friends to distract her. She sees Lex more than ever. He and Nia set her up on more than one date, but not one scratches Lena’s surface.
“I could kill her for what she’s done,” Lena overhears Andrea telling Lex one night. “Look at her: it’s as bad as Veronica.”
“Worse, even.” Lex’s voice is low and concerned. He’s always good for a laugh, but is at a loss when every single joke lands like a sack of bricks. Lena doesn’t hear anymore. She slips out and texts an apology the next morning.
One day, Nia visits the bookshop with Querl in tow. She’s radiant with excitement, enough so that even Lena nearly catches it.
“You are going to love me forever,” Nia says, offering Lena a slip of paper. On it is written a phone number.
“What is this?” Lena asks.
“The number of Kara’s agent in America.”
The news hits Lena like a kick to the stomach. Her chest locks, and suddenly it feels like she can’t breathe.
“I thought,” Nia continues, suddenly nervous when Lena doesn’t respond, “now you can finally call her. Now that things have calmed down. Get some closure, if nothing else…”
Lena still can’t respond. Finally, Nia curls her hand around the slip of paper for her.
“Just, promise me you’ll think about it, okay?”
It lives in Lena’s pocket for a week, heavy and foreboding. Twice, she almost reaches for the phone. In the end, she throws it in the waste paper bin outside the shop and walks away.
One night, Lena finds herself sitting on her brother’s couch. With Lex sitting next to her reading the paper and Andrea working on her laptop in the nearby armchair, the room is quiet. Normally, Lena prefers the silence, but tonight it weighs on her like a lead blanket.
“I should have known better, shouldn’t I?”
The question slips from her without thought, marking the first time she’s spoken of the great Kara Danvers debacle since it happened. Both Lex and Andrea look at her, and suddenly Lena’s eyes fill with tears.
“Maybe– maybe I’m just not meant for you two have. I should have taken the hint when my first crush fell in love with my brother instead. Spare myself the trouble.”
“No,” Andrea says, snapping her laptop shut and setting it aside to focus her entire attention on Lena. “No, just because I didn’t love you the same way doesn’t mean you aren’t meant for happiness.”
“Yeah,” Lex chimes in. “And it’s not been all sunshine and roses for us either. But the not so great moments are the entry fee you pay to get to the good stuff.”
Lena wipes her eyes. She wonders if this was how the american colonies felt– taxation without representation. Well, consider this her declaration. She’s done.
“No,” Andrea says again, recognizing the look on Lena’s face. “You don’t get to give up, Lena. We won’t let you.”
“Mmhmm,” Lex agrees with his wife. “No one deserves to be happy more than you do. You’ll get there… and maybe sooner rather than later.”
“What does that mean?”
“It means,” Lex says, folding his newspaper and handing it over, “that someone’s back in London.”
“Lex…” Andrea warns.
Their conversation fades out as Lena stares at the headline. Kara Danvers Returns. It features a picture of Kara in a ballgown, grasping her academy award with a beaming smile, and a second image of a filming location filled with actors in period costume. The caption identifies the location as Hampstead Heath.
Though the image of Kara brings fresh tears to her eyes, Lena feels a strange sense of calm. Kara is okay. In that moment, she realizes that so much of her anguish was the not knowing whether Kara had recovered from the media blitz that had ended their tryst so spectacularly.
Now she does, and Lena feels… okay.
She coughs a laugh, wiping her eyes again as she stands. “I should go.”
“No, Drea, I’m okay. Thank you.” Lena sniffles. “For caring.”
Andrea rises, enveloping Lena in a hug. “I do love you, you know. That’s never not been true.”
Lena nods. “I believe you.”
For a few days, Lena thinks the peace of knowing Kara is okay will be enough. But three days after Lex hands her the newspaper, Lena finds herself in Hampstead Heath, walking past horse drawn carriages and crewhands working diligently, eyes peeled for a flash of blonde hair.
She runs into a production assistant first. “Can I help you?” he asks, subtly shifting to stand in her path and keep her from going any further.
“Um, yes, hopefully. I’m here to see Kara Danvers, if she’s not busy. I’m a friend.”
“A friend,” the guy says, clearly unconvinced.
“Yes, as far-fetched as that seems. I–”
She stops abruptly when the sound of a familiar laugh drifts through the air. In an instant, Lena zeroes in on the source, and sees Kara stepping out of her trailer with her agent in tow, her face alight with mirth.
Her agent grins back, clearly pleased with herself as she peels off to head in a different direction. Kara joins up with a trio of other actors heading towards the south lawn of the hampstead manor. They pause briefly, and in that moment Kara turns, and their eyes meet.
Electricity fills Lena from head to toe, rooting her to the spot even as her hand lifts in a hesitant wave.
Kara stares for a moment more, until Lena carefully retracts her hand. Only then does she say a word to her costars and take her leave, closing the distance to where Lena stands with her new friend.
Said friend notices Kara’s reaction and stands aside, allowing Lena to approach the picket line marking the boundary of the set. They meet on either side, neither speaking for a long moment.
“What’re you doing here?”
Kara’s question cuts like a knife, and Lena has to swallow against the sudden lump that rises to her throat.
“I heard you were in town,” she says softly, “and I…”
Again, she doesn’t know why she’s here. She doesn’t know what she wants to say or how she hopes this conversation will end. She’s just… here.
For now, even with all things unsaid between them, it feels like enough.
“Excuse me, Kara?”
Another production assistant calls for Kara, and the moment shatters. Kara holds up one finger, earning them a few more seconds.
“Um, things aren’t going very well, and it’s our last day, so…”
“Right, you’re clearly very busy, I shouldn’t have–”
“But if you could wait?” Kara asks, cutting Lena off before she can bolt. Lena looks at her, and in Kara’s gaze she sees nothing but a wary earnestness. “There are… things to say.”
Lena feels herself nod. “Of course.”
“Okay,” Kara breathes. “Great. I’ll come find you when I can?”
Lena nods again. Kara leaves, taking all the air in Lena’s lungs with her. Lena flexes her trembling hands, then hides them in her pockets when someone approaches and offers to take her behind the cameras.
The walk through the cultivated garden filled with costumed actors is thrilling in its own way, allowing Lena a glimpse into Kara’s life as an actor rather than just a celebrity.
“Here,” her guide says, passing Lena off to the sound technician. “Bill here can hook you up with some headphones to listen in. The actors are already mic’d.”
Lena offers Bill a smile of thanks when he hands her a headset. There’s also a small monitor, allowing Lena to see what the cameras currently see– Kara Danvers running lines with another woman.
“So I ask you when you’re telling everyone, and you say…”
“Tomorrow will be soon enough.”
“Right, and then I…” On the monitor, Kara nods under her lace parasol. “Got it. Thanks, Siobhan.”
Her costar, Siobhan, nods, then leans back against the fence behind her. “So. Who was the hottie you were talking to on the way to set?”
With a jolt, Lena realizes that she’s suddenly the topic of conversation. She shifts uncomfortably in her seat, fidgeting with her headset– but not removing it. Not yet.
“Oh. No one.”
Lena swallows, her cheeks heating with a mortified flush. She was so stupid for coming here– but Kara’s not done.
“Just a friend from the past. It’s actually kind of an awkward situation– I don’t know what she’s doing here, actually.”
The ground falls out from under Lena’s feet, making her stomach swoop sickeningly. She tears the headset from her head, and shoves it back into Bill’s hands.
“Sorry, I’ve got to–”
She doesn’t bother finding an excuse. She simply bolts, and doesn’t look back.
Kara hesitates outside the Travel Book Shop, noting in distraction that the outside is just about the same color as Lena’s blue door. She wonders if it was a deliberate choice, or something Lena simply inherited. It would be simple to ask– Lena is just there beyond the window, shifting between the front desk and back office completely oblivious to the crisis of faith happening on the sidewalk outside.
She doesn’t know what to say. ‘You left’ is too accusatory, and too much of an echo of what Kara had done six months ago. No, she can’t say that.
'I missed you’ would be honest, perhaps to a fault. No, too tender.
In the end, Kara can only gather her courage and enter the shop without a game plan. It just so happens that she chooses a moment when Lena is in the back, meaning the person who comes to greet her is a short man in a bowtie.
He nearly swallows his tongue at the sight of her.
“Could I speak to Lena, please?” she asks, heading him off.
To her surprise, the man– Winn, his nametag reads– assumes a skeptical expression. “And who’s asking?”
Kara doesn’t have patience to play games. “Please, just tell her I’m here.”
Thankfully, Winn obliges with only a judgemental glance that scrapes her from head to toe. He disappears into the back, and Kara can just make out what he says to Lena.
“Delivery for you up front.”
“Can’t you just take it?” Lena asks, distracted.
“Nope! Asked for you directly.”
Kara hears Lena sigh. “Honestly I don’t know why I pay you–”
Lena comes into the front room and freezes. Their eyes meet, and Kara feels something click into place inside her, just as it had on set the day before. But this time, Lena doesn’t smile, not even the hesitant one she’d given at Hampstead Heath. Instead, Kara sees her jaw tighten before she walks woodenly behind the front desk.
“You disappeared yesterday,” Kara says, desperate to break the unnerving silence. When Lena doesn’t respond, Kara covers with a smile. “I guess something came up–”
“Actually, I heard you talking to Siobhan,” Lena cuts in, finally. She lifts her gaze to meet Kara’s again, and Kara is startled to see the steely glint of resentment in her eyes. “I wonder why you’re even here, considering I’m nobody.”
Kara’s mind races to retrace her steps, to rewind to whatever she might have said. In the next instant, she remembers Siobhan asking about Lena out of hand, and dismissing her interest in a wash of jealousy.
“Oh, no, Lena, that’s not–”
“It doesn’t matter,” Lena interrupts again. She drops Kara’s gaze, even as she swallows thickly. “You know, I thought you’d be different.”
Different? “From what? The rest of Hollywood?”
If that was Lena’s misgiving, then Kara had no hope. Kara had it in her blood now, been bred to it. She had no hope of divesting herself of it now.
A record scratches in Kara’s brain. She struggles to catch up, remember who Veronica is. Had they met? No… Veronica was– the bad break-up.
Kara’s cheeks heat in a devastated flush.
“I don’t doubt that you’re two very different people,” Lena continues. “You’re kind, in a way Veronica never was. And trusting. But even so– I’m still the dirty little secret, aren’t I?”
When Kara inhales, it feels like shards of glass in her chest. “Lena, I know there’s no way I could ever make up for the things I said to you. I behaved so, so badly, and I– I hate that I hurt such a loving, caring person.”
Lena turns her chin away, hiding the shimmer of tears in her eyes. Kara forces herself to continue.
“I can’t make it up to you, but I want to try. If you… if you can find it in yourself, to maybe… like me again.”
A long moment follows, and Kara clenches her jaw against the urge to fill it with more. More words, more pleas. Anything but the unbearable weight as Lena gathers herself and her thoughts.
“What happens,” Lena says finally, “if I say no?”
“Then… I leave. I’ll go back to America, and I won’t call you, or visit you. You won’t have to see me again.”
It’s the only thing she can do. As much as it would devastate her, as much as it would rend her in two a second time, she would do it. She would let Lena go. For good.
“Then,” Lena says slowly, her voice low, “I think I have to say… no.”
Kara swallows a sob, ducking her head to hide it. She nods. “Right. Okay. Of course.”
“We’re from two different worlds, Kara. I can’t spend my life waiting to be cast aside, Kara. And with you I know I would be. As I already have. Twice.” Lena sniffles, clearing her throat. “I deserve more than that.”
Kara lifts her head, nodding. “You do. You absolutely do.”
She knows she should leave, but her feet refuse to move. She stands riveted to the spot, wringing every last moment from this last meeting with Lena.
“The fame thing isn’t really real, please know that. Those few weeks with you were more tangible to me than a lifetime in the industry. Under all the lights and the make-up, I’m also just a girl, standing in front of a girl, asking you to love me.”
Kara holds Lena’s gaze, and in her eyes she sees nothing but fear and sadness. No forgiveness, no change of heart. When Lena finally lowers her gaze, Kara knows her battle is lost.
Swallowing thickly, Kara risks moving closer, and when Lena doesn’t pull away Kara leans in to press a kiss against her cheek.
Kara walks back to the hotel in a daze. She makes her way back up to the suite she shares with Alex, and when she closes the door behind her, her sister is on her feet, eagerly awaiting the news.
“So? How’d it go?”
Kara reveals the truth with a barely contained gasp. “She said no.”
For the rest of the night, Alex holds her as she sobs.
Lena doesn’t mean to tell Lex everything. But when he notices her shellshock when she visits the next afternoon, he asks in front of everyone what happened. And so, in front of everyone, Lena tells him. Everything. From Hampstead Heath to what Kara said in the bookshop to Lena’s own answer, it all comes tumbling out.
Now, she stares as everyone stares back at her dumbfounded and carefully without judgement. Andrea wordlessly hands her a drink, and Lena sits with it in her hand, without the strength to drink it. Her body feels like rubber, exhausted and empty.
No one is willing to break the silence, and in the dearth of other voices, Lena’s mind races. She’d made the right decision, hadn’t she? She’d spoken the truth– put herself first. It may not be what she wanted, but it was what she needed. To move on.
Move on to what, exactly? More hollow dates set up by Andrea and Lex and Nia? More tedious days spent alone in the bookshop with Winn, and nights spent alone in her flat with Querl?
She’d made herself available for a new relationship– but would any relationship make her nearly as happy as she was with Kara?
“I’ve made the absolute wrong decision, haven’t I?” she asks.
As one, her friends agree.
Andrea meets Lena’s eye. “Go,” she says. “Before it’s too late.”
“Here.” Lex tosses his car keys, which Lena catches in one hand. “Take the car. Go get her, tiger.”
The drive is torturously circuitous, and by the time Lena parks illegally outside the atrium of the Ritz her heart is pounding in anxious anticipation.
“Is a Miss Poppins checked in?” she asks the front desk clerk. “I need to see her.”
The clerk stares at her strangely. “No…”
“A Miss McPhee? Or Miss Banks?”
Lena’s heart falls, but then the clerk leans forward conspiratorially. “But a Miss Bedelia just checked out, and is on her way to a press conference at the Savoy.”
Lena stares at him, then leans across the desk to kiss him on the cheek. “Thank you. Thank you so much!”
She races out and guns the engine. She has a press conference to catch.
Lena enters the Savoy and heads straight for the ballrooms. Her confidence and determination is enough so that no one questions her presence as she slips in a side door to join the conference mid-question.
A sea of reporters sits in front of a small stage, which hosts a narrow table with Kara, her agent, and her publicist sitting all in a row. Lena’s ears roar as she catches her breath, only just managing to catch the next question asked.
“Last year photos were taken of you in Notting Hill with a young english lady. What happened there?”
Lena freezes, her gaze darting to stage. Kara is quiet, reserved. Still, Lena doesn’t see any panic as she responds.
“She was just a friend,” Kara says, her voice gentle even through the microphone. “Still a friend, I hope.”
Lena pushes through to the front of the standing crowd, and raises her hand. Whether it’s her timely lift or her intense gaze towards the publicist, he catches her eye and nods. “You there, in the embroidered vest.”
In the moment of quiet that follows, Kara looks up and falls completely and utterly still.
Lena clears her throat. “Yes. Miss Danvers, would there be any possible circumstances in which the two of you might be more than just friends?”
Kara holds Lena’s gaze, as though shes afraid Lena might disappear if she looks away.
“I’d hoped there would be, but no… I’m assured there aren’t.”
“But what if–”
“I’m sorry, just the one question–” the publicist attempts to move on, only for Kara to overrule him.
“No, it’s all right.” She turns back to Lena. “You were saying?”
Lena struggles to keep her voice firm, even as all eyes in the room turn to look at her. “What if, this woman–”
“Luthor,” a nearby reporter supplies. “Her name is Luthor.”
“Thanks,” Lena deadpans, drawing a chuckle from the crowd. She turns back to Kara.
“If it turned out,” she continues, “that this Luthor lady were afraid. If she… realized she had let her fear speak for her, and possibly deny her the greatest happiness she’d ever find…”
Kara’s eyes shine with building tears, and Lena feels her own tears rise in turn. She clears her throat, and tries again.
“If this girl, stood in front you, and asked you to love her… would you perhaps, then, reconsider?”
Behind the microphone, Kara’s lips lift in a watery smile.
“Yes,” she exhales. “Yes, I think I would.”
Bubbling with sudden elation, Lena beams. She almost laughs, before she remembers herself.
“Thank you. The readers of Horse and Hound will be delighted to hear it.”
Another laugh pulls from the crowd, and in the distraction Lena sees Kara lean in to speak low in her publicist’s ear. When she leans back in her seat, finished, Kara shoots Lena a small smile.
“All right, Dominique, if you’d like to ask your question again.”
“How long do you intend to stay in Britain, Miss Danvers?”
Still holding Lena’s gaze, Kara lifts the very edge of her eyebrow in question. Lena nods. Only then does Kara’s small smile grow into a beaming grin.
“Are you ready?” Kara asks, as she does every time they do this.
Lena, radiant in a shimmering black gown, smiles back, pressing a kiss to their joined hands.
“Let’s do this.”
Kara exits the limousine first, accepting the hand of the attendant as she steps onto the red carpet. For Lena, though, Kara turns back and offers her own hand, assisting her fiancee from the back seat.
With the smallest pause to twitch their skirts into obedience, they link hands and begin the long walk to the theater doors.
It’s wonderful in a way it never was, before Lena came into her life. They pose together and independently for the cameras, but never separate for long, always coming back together for their next few steps down the aisle.
Interspersed among the photographers are fans, waving and calling as much to Lena as they do to Kara. Lena approaches first, and Kara takes a moment to observe the gentle way Lena greets them, waiting for them to ask for autographs before reaching out to take the offered pen and paper. Ever gracious, Lena even poses with a few for selfies, quick and rushed yet flawless.
If Kara didn’t know better, she’d have said Lena was the old hand at this, not her.
Finally, Kara comes alongside Lena, meeting the fans as well. Mostly budding and young women, the energy here amongst the fans is a little less chaotic than the clicking cameras. There’s little chance for true conversation, as loud as it is, but no one shouts for a pose.
“You’re a natural,” Kara says in Lena’s ear.
Lena cocks a grin. “You say that every time, and every time I still don’t believe you.”
“She’s right!” One of the teenaged fans speaks up. “You look so comfortable out there. Like you belong there.”
Lena shoots the girl a playful glare, but the girl shrugs unapologetically. In the end, Lena kisses Kara’s cheek, interrupted by an excited squeal from their little pocket of calm. Kara looks over to see a dozen phones out, snapping away.
Instead of feeling intruded upon, Kara smiles. “Tag me in that. I want a copy of it.”
“Okay!” comes a dozen agreeable calls.
As they move on, Kara lingers by Lena’s side. There’s better places to have a conversation, but Kara finds herself leaning in again.
“Let’s go early.”
Lena gives her a strange look. “Tonight? But you were so excited–”
Kara shakes her head. “Greece.”
Her next film was an epic of godly proportions, filming on location around Greece and Rome. Filming starts in two weeks, and Lena always comes with her, now, but Kara suddenly feels like she might burst if she doesn’t have a photo of Lena in front of the Parthenon as soon as possible.
As if on cue, Lena’s entire face lights up. “Yeah?”
Kara nods. Maybe she can convince Alex to come later, giving them some time to themselves before filming started and Lena is left to her own devices.
“Okay. Let’s do it.”
Once upon a time, Lena told Kara she never had the urge to travel, citing that it was never about the destination, but the person you travel with. Kara feels amazement still that she is the somehow the one Lena travels with.
Now, Lena doesn’t just sell travel books: she writes them. Every time filming takes them somewhere new, she somehow finds the best places to find local food and culture, able to make friends across the language barrier. Now, she puts her discoveries in travel books of her own to sell and share.
“I can’t wait to marry you,” Kara says, sneaking another kiss.
Lena lifts her hand to Kara’s cheek, keeping her in place to press a kiss of her own to Kara’s lips.
“I love you too.”