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It's only me who wants to wrap around your dreams

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She’s rude. She’s snippy, and bossy, and rude.

That's Kara's impression of the woman she’s talking to on the phone, the one who’s trying to book her hotel for a corporate event three weeks from now. It should have been impossible to be having this conversation, given the season, but business has been slow, and frankly, the kind of money they could make off this gig is worth the aggravation.

“Yes, I’m sure we can accommodate everyone, Miss Luthor.” she says in her calm, customer-appeasing voice. “I will make the arrangements and I will see you on the thirteenth.”

“Very well.”

The line goes dead, and Kara breathes a long-suffering sigh.

It’s looking like a rough Christmas.

 

-

 

Two weeks later

 

Pale sunlight filters in through the curtains, illuminating a bunch of dust motes floating lazily by the window. 

She dreamed it again, dreamed of them again.

They say that when the time comes, you start to have dreams about your soulmate. And the closer you get to meeting them, the more vivid those dreams become.

Well, Kara Danvers has been having them, and golly, are they pleasant.

They would start with the sound of the ocean, of waves gently crashing onto the shore, then a voice like warm honey, saying something she can’t quite yet understand. She would look down and see their hands, long delicate fingers that fit snugly through her own. She would find herself looking into their eyes. Eyes like sea glass. They gaze at her with such warmth, such affection, and Kara feels her heart swell with it. 

And then she wakes up.

Is it possible to long for someone you haven’t even met?

Energized by these thoughts, she gets up and gets ready. The lady from two weeks ago is coming over for a visual inspection of the venue and to look over some other details for the function, so she takes a little extra time in the shower, puts on her uniform a little less haphazardly, and begins her routine morning rounds.

The hotel is small: a three-star, 50-bed located right on the waterfront. Her parents managed it before she did, the business falling to her after they died. Having been taken in when she was very young, she quite literally grew up in it, and she knows every creak and groan, every nook and cranny by heart. She passes by their picture near the main entrance, the wooden frame worn at the edge from running her fingers over it at the start of every workday, missing them, remembering them, hoping to make them proud. 

“Morning, Arabella.” She nods towards the lady tending to the gardens. 

“Buenas, senorita,” she smiles back.

In the kitchens, Alex, her head chef and adoptive sister, is already busy with the day’s spread. 

“Bacon!” she yells, stealing a couple of strips.

“Get out of my kitchen, Kara!” 

She does so with a cackle.

Kara greets J'onn, her head of security, in the lobby. “What’s the ETA on our VIP, Mister HoS?”

“An hour, give or take. Hopefully she doesn’t have too many bags.” 

“Bah, I’m sure James would love to do some real work,” Kara grunts comically, flexing her arms.

She’s discussing some ideas for their social media presence with her concierge Nia when the shuttle with the hotel insignia pulls up into the driveway. Barney the valet opens the door, and all of The Aurora holds its breath.

The woman looks… expensive. Tight navy dress, silky dark hair, full red lip. Certainly not their usual clientele. Her heels clack authoritatively across the marble floor, a tablet in hand and a scowl on her face.

Behind the front desk, Kara straightens up. She places a reassuring hand on Nia’s shoulder, puts on her best service smile, and prepares for a storm.

“Good morning, Miss Luthor,” the young woman says brightly. “We hope your trip was—”

“It was uneventful. I'm here for the Luthorcorp holiday celebration, I'm sure you know. I need to speak with the manager.”

That voice. Kara's heard that voice before. 

“That would be me, Miss Luthor.” She extends a hand towards the client, drawing the woman’s attention away from a mildly terrified Nia. “Kara Danvers. We spoke on the phone.”

“You?”

The brunette removes her sunglasses and pins Kara with what can only be described as a death glare. 

Well, joke’s on her, Kara thinks. She knows how to deal with death glares. Except— 

Her eyes. Striking eyes the color of…

Of sea glass.

Shit.

Today, it seems, is the day that Kara finally meets her soulmate.

And her name is Lena Luthor.

 

-

 

“This is insane, Alex. If I hear one more thing about the dang drapes out of her, I’m gonna mcfreakin’ lose it.” Kara shoves practically half of the Spam sandwich into her mouth (it’s all she has the energy for) as she leans exhausted on the four-door fridge.

In the three hours since her arrival, Miss Luthor has managed to complain about everything. The beds are too hard, the food is too herby, the space is too cluttered, the windows are too small.

“I mean, she should’ve figured that out before she came here, right?” she says around the other half of her sandwich, tiny bits of bread flying out. “We’re not the Ritz freakin’ Carlton!”

“You could just ask her to leave.” her sister says reasonably from her perch on the prep table. “Take her business elsewhere.”

All of Kara’s bluster leaves her body in a single miserable groan. She rakes a hand through her hair as she crosses to where Alex is seated, plopping down on the chair next to her. “We need the money, Alex. You know that. Besides, everyone else is packed. I checked.” 

“Well then saddle up, Buttercup.” 

“Sometimes you are just NOT very helpful.”

“I don’t mean to be an ass,” Alex chuckles, pulling her into a one-armed half hug.

“You sure about that?” Kara narrows her eyes at her, but snuggles into her side anyway.

“But this is exactly why I’m the cook and you’re the boss. You were always better at these sorts of things. You know, people. You always manage to figure out what makes them tick. This one is no different.”

She drops a kiss onto the crown of Kara’s head. The boop that follows doesn’t get rid of the pout on her face, but at least she feels a little better now. 

“Trust your gut Kara. It’s never let you down before.”

Miss Luthor stays the night. Kara is relieved to know that she would be leaving the next morning, but that relief evaporates when she announces that she would be staying until the guests arrive. There’s much to be done and not enough time to do it  she’d said, her voice dripping with disdain.

The guests won’t be here for an entire week.

 

-

 

It’s not even noon on the very next day, and Lena's somehow managed to pick a fight with practically everyone. Kara walks in on her and Alex in a discussion that grew more and more heated with each passing moment, and Kara has to intervene.

“Okay. Time out, time out.” She gives Alex a look that says we’ll talk later, alright?, then turns to Lena. Miss Luthor, if you would follow me please.”

Kara leads her past one corner and then another. Once sure that no one could hear them, she turns around and levels a harassed look at Lena.

“Miss Luthor, would you mind telling me what that was about?”

“I simply suggested that all the chairs be upholstered and the lighting fixtures in the restaurant be replaced with something less… tacky. What’s to misunderstand?”

The cold detachment, the lack of feeling, not to mention the ludicrousness of her suggestions, it appalls Kara. She thinks she might have some choice words for this snobby little rich kid and her “cosmopolitan” upbringing, but decides that that’s not what the moment needs. So instead of meeting her head on, Kara asks plainly, “You're not very good at asking for help, are you?”

Lena glares at her, but says nothing.

Ah.

“Look,” Kara breathes through her nose, fingers pinching at the bridge. ”Obviously, the situation isn’t ideal, but the way I see it, we need your money, and we’re your only option for literal miles, heck, the whole dang island. Yes, it’s all so un-flipping-fortunate, but we're stuck with each other now, and there’s no way you’re doing this without our help, so please, can you just... be kind?“

Lena looks like she’s about to launch a vehement protest, but Kara cuts her off.

“It’s one week, alright? One week and you’ll never have to see us again. We’ll be out of your hair and you can maybe leave us a decent review and then you can just forget that any of this ever happened.”

Arms crossed, jaw tense, lips pursed, Lena looks every bit the defiant teenager, but her eyes have lost their hard edge, so Kara pushes on.

“Please.”

“Fine.”

“Thank you. Dinner starts at 6.”

-

 

Kara’s disgruntled muttering sets a counterpoint to Arabella’s cheerful, if tuneless, humming.

“There must be some kind of mistake,” Kara gripes as she trims the stray leaves growing out of the hedges. “You’re supposed to get along with your soulmate, not argue about literally everything with them.”

“So sure are you of this prophecy, hmm?”

“I dreamed of her, Arabella.” She whines, as though that should justify everything.

“Dreams are funny, chiquilla. They are not all they seem to be.”

Kara waits for her to follow that up with something, but the older woman doesn’t, only continues to break up the soil at the base of the shrub she’s working on. Kara gathers the leaves into a neat pile, ready for disposal later.

“The señorita was nice to me today, helped me with the baskets.”

“She did?” The report confuses Kara. Miss Luthor has been nothing but unpleasant from the moment she set foot in her establishment. What’s this about her being nice to Arabella, then? Why can’t she be nice to everyone?

“Don’t you think it’s extraño? She is here by herself. She has no friends, not even colegos with her?”

“Well, no. I assumed she wanted to do these things herself. Y’know, strong independent woman and all that.”

Arabella smiles and shakes her head, and Kara feels like she misunderstood the assignment. The woman puts down her spade and dusts the dirt off her hands. 

“Mira, niña.” She gently grabs Kara by the shoulders and has her stand directly in front of her. “Look closer.”  

Kara’s eyes dart around in every direction, wondering what her garden lady is on about, until they land on her. 

Lena is alone on the beach, looking out onto the ocean. Nothing about her is haughty or efficient or peremptory. In the fading light of the late afternoon, sitting with her knees up to her chest, black hair loose and flowing, she looks small and tired and lost. And Kara feels her heart ache for this woman she doesn’t even know, doesn’t even like, feels the need to protect her, hide her away from whatever cruelty or pain is causing her to put up such an unyielding facade, such impenetrable armor.

Now that really is very extraño.

Arabella snips off a tiny white flower and puts it in Kara's hand. “Go.” She nods in Lena’s direction. 

“Is this really necessary?”

“Ay niña! Go!”

“Okay, okay.”

 

-

 

“He likes you,” Kara says quietly as she approaches Lena on the beach chair, where Streaky, the hotel’s resident black cat, is curled up and purring contentedly next to her.

“Hm. At least someone here does,” Lena replies forlornly, reaching out to scratch under her seatmate’s chin.

“Listen, I’m sorry about Alex, she can get a little hot-headed sometimes.”

“Appreciate you trying to smooth things over, but it really isn’t anything I’m not used to.”

“And what are you used to?” Kara asks before she can stop herself. She ducks her head when Lena cocks an eyebrow at her. 

“Sorry. Um, here.” Kara holds the flower out to her, graceless and maybe a little bit embarrassed. Lena only questioningly looks at it, then at her.

“We got off to a bad start, and I’d hate to keep this… work relationship going on such a faulty foundation. On behalf of the staff, I apologize for the inconvenience we’ve caused. Welcome to The Aurora, Miss Luthor. I hope you enjoy your stay with us.” She means it, and hopes the woman in front of her senses that.

A beat passes, and Kara thinks that coming here (and this whole ridiculous thing with the flower) was a really bad idea, but Lena plucks the bloom from her hand and gives her a small smile.

“Lena, please. Since we are, as you say, stuck with each other now.”

 

-

 

Given the limited resources, it's decided that instead of trying to emulate a five-star experience, they would play up what was already there and bring the local culture to the guests. With Kara’s soft guidance (and some furtive winking at her staff), Lena succeeds in taking a more cooperative approach as she plans the menu, the short programme, and the hired entertainment. She even helps put together some of the decorations herself. It's not long before Kara’s crew warms to her. Alex gains a grudging respect for her work ethic. Nia refers to her as Lena now, instead of 209.

They’re at the bustling holiday bazaar, each toting a large market bag brimming with goods (and goodies), when Lena strikes up a… curious conversation.

"That’s a... “ Lena clears her throat. “That’s an interesting tattoo.”

“What, this?” Kara replies, indicating the spot just above where her heart would be. She’s wearing a dark denim jacket over a low-cut top, and realizes that this is the first time Lena is seeing her out of her uniform. “No, it's a soul mark.” It’s a few shades darker than the rest of her skin, a perfect half-crescent with elaborate rays radiating from it.

“A… soul mark?”

“Mhm,” Kara answers enthusiastically, only too happy to have broached the topic. “When you’ve been marked, it means that you have a soulmate. I’ve had this one for as long as I can remember, so I guess there’s always been someone out there for me. They’ll have this exact same mark on them, too. That’s how we’ll know we've found each other.” 

“Uh-huh.”

“Yeah. Check it out.” Kara draws Lena’s attention to James’ mark, a sprawling vine creeping down from the base of his skull and across his shoulders. “Same as his wife, Lucy.”

Lena nods, absorbing the information.

“Alex has one too,” Kara whispers, “but it’s in a place where the sun don’t shine,” she adds with a barely-suppressed snort.

“And has she…”

“Oh, yeah. Kelly.”

“Oh. That’s nice.”

 

-

 

Three days in and it feels like Lena is a completely different person. Gone is the cold and callous supervisor, replaced by a sharp-witted, flipflop-wearing giggle box.  

They’re taking a break after setting up the outdoor bonfire area when she stops and looks out onto the waves.

“That one’s a little unusual,” Lena observes, pointing to one of the tall rock formations along the cove.

“Ah, that one.” Kara replies, handing her a bottle of water and sitting down next to her. “She is rather unique.”

“She?”

“Right before sunset, it casts a shadow on the water, and if you look at it from a certain angle, it’s shaped like a lady looking towards something, or someone, beyond the horizon. Local legend says that she’s this island’s spirit, waiting to reunite with her beloved, her soulmate.”

“And she’s been waiting for centuries...” Lena prompts, her tone playful.

“And she’s been waiting for centuries, but she has faith that they’ll return, so still she waits.”

“That’s a long time to wait for someone you’re not sure is even coming back. Isn’t that a little impractical?” 

“I think it’s rather romantic.”

Lena studies her for a moment, the sudden attention making her cheeks heat up. “You really believe in that stuff, huh?”

“You don’t?”

Lena’s gaze falls to her hands, a wry smile following the motion. “Nah.” 

“I didn’t know you were such a cynic,” Kara prods lightly.

That draws a chuckle out of her. “I grew up in a pit of vipers, Kara. If anything, my cynicism has kept me alive. It’s kept me from putting my fate in hands that aren't mine, from blindly trusting people when they tell me they—”

“When they tell you they love you.” 

“Something like that.” 

There’s that pained smile again. 

“But enough about me, what about you? I’m sure people are lining up for such a catch.” She makes a sweeping gesture at Kara and—

Did Lena just— Did Lena actually find her— Kara’s stomach does a double flip as she entertains the idea of a woman this beautiful thinking that she’s even remotely attractive, but the high lasts all of three seconds, as she becomes acutely aware of her outfit (a Thor tank top and old joggers) and sweaty forehead and messy ponytail, and she comes to the conclusion that—

“You’re making fun of me.”  

“I’m not!” Lena says with that laugh, the one that crinkles her eyes, and Kara thinks that she would gladly be the butt of any joke if it meant making Lena laugh like that.

“I’m not,” she says again, a little more serious this time.

“Okay, um. No, no one is ‘lining up’ for this, and I’ve met mine. My soulmate.” 

“Have you?” Lena quirks an eyebrow, intrigued. There's something else there too, in her gaze, but it’s gone before Kara can think about it any further.

“Uh, I mean, I think so? I could be wrong. I’ve had the dreams, but I’m not sure. Besides, they weren't exactly happy to see me.”

“Well, I'm sure they'll come around,” Lena reassures her with a smile, the warmest, softest Kara’s ever received.

The sun is inching towards the horizon now, the mellow December rays highlighting the planes of Lena’s face, catching on the fine hairs all across her nose, her cheeks. Her eyes are changing color again, from an ocean green to a burnished gold, and Kara is caught in the riptide. Some distant voice in the back of her mind tells her that she has absolutely no business staring at a client like that, let alone thinking about how her thumb might gently brush over those dark lashes, but Kara can’t find it in her to look away.

“I certainly hope so,” she breathes. And oh, does Kara hope.

 

-

 

Kara didn’t mean to look. 

It was an accident. Really. It’s not like she went out of her way to walk through the lobby, where Lena was, hanging a hemp twine reindeer ornament on the tree, for no other reason than just to see her or anything. 

“Hi,” Kara greeted her with a small wave.

Lena smiled back at her, eyes twinkling in time with the lights, and— well, she missed the branch, for some reason, and the poor thing fell to the floor, its red nose popping off and rolling a small distance away. Kara chuckled in fond amusement as she bent down to pick it up, just as Lena bent down to pick up the reindeer. 

The motion caused Lena’s shirt to shift, exposing the skin just above where her heart would be. 

And really, Kara didn’t mean to look, but she was looking now, and— 

Oh. 

Lena is walking up to her now, and Kara shakes it off, schooling her face into an impish smirk.

“Drop something?” 

“Yes, well, flimsy little Rudolph here forgot to screw his nose on properly today.”

“Uh-huh.”

Lena deftly snatches the red appendage from her hand. “Don’t you need to go check on the fire alarms or something?” Her tone is dismissive, but the twitch at the corner of her lips and the deep blush taking over her face completely give her away.

Kara keeps her smirk on as she walks backwards from Lena. “Right. Of course. Fire alarms.”



-



“She doesn’t have a mark, Alex.”

“Oh. What does that mean?”

“I don’t know.”

 

-

 

They’re making good time, what with everyone on board with the plan, but things on Lena’s end seem to have stalled. She’s sitting alone at her table, her plates having long ago been cleared away. Her attention has been flitting between her laptop and her phone for the past two hours, her face in a distressed frown the whole time. 

“I think she needs a break,” Barney says, looking up from his jiggers.

“Yeah, looks like it.” Kara agrees, noting down the latest iteration of their experimental cocktail, one they created with Lena’s guests in mind.

“Go, I’ll finish up here,” he winks unconvincingly.

Kara nods, removing her apron, and takes her leave with a clap of his shoulder. She maybe ignores the fact that she was dismissed without preamble. She approaches Lena’s table, gently knocking twice on the surface.

“Need a breather?” she asks, pulling up a chair and gingerly sitting in it.

Lena gives her a tired smile. Leaning back in her chair, she removes her reading glasses and rubs her eyes with the heels of her palms. 

“What did you have in mind?”

Kara takes her paddleboarding. It takes a surprisingly small amount of playful badgering and a bit of a tutorial, but Lena is a quick learner, and soon they’re out on the water, just skirting the safety line. They lie on their boards, Kara on her back, Lena on her stomach, and let the waves wash their troubles away. 

Back on the beach, boards stuck in the sand, Lena talks. 

“I know I’ve been a bitch.”

“Have you?” Kara jabs.

Lena laughs, then turns somber. “I have. I’m sorry.”

Kara nods in acknowledgement and waits. Lena's gazing into the horizon now, and Kara knows there’s a story coming.

“Luthorcorp’s been trying to get more outside funding for the biotech department, and most of these guests are potential investors. Only the corporate events budget was cut this year, steeply. The Aurora was the only place on this island that wasn’t booked out, and that’s how I ended up calling you from a whole continent away at 4AM.” 

Kara remembers that call, remembers rushing to the unmanned front desk because Nia had to show up for one of her MA classes that morning.

Lena fidgets with a piece of coral as she goes on. “My stepmother Lillian, she took me aside, and told me she would put me in charge of R&D if I could make it work. I’ve wanted that spot for so long, you don’t even know,” she chuckles. “The discoveries we’ve made in this year alone are immensely promising, especially for the future of pediatric oncology.” 

Her eyes light up at that, and Kara thinks this is the real Lena peering out from behind her walls. 

“And anyway, it’s a chance to earn my place in this family, prove I’m not any less capable just because I’m a bastard.”

“Is that why you’re all the way out here by yourself?”

“It’s just easier that way.”

“Easier for whom?”

“For everyone,” Lena sighs. “It’s just how the world works, Kara. Relationships are transactional. People only ever require something from you, and once they get that, they leave.”

“Well, maybe not everybody.”

“Everybody wants something, Kara. Even you.” Lena breathes, her words heavy with the tired resignation she must feel down to her bones. “What?”

“I'm sorry. It's just... that sounds pretty lonely.”

Lena falls quiet then. “It is.”

“Listen, I don’t know what happened to make you believe that, and I won’t pretend to, but for this gig at least, you’re not alone.” Kara says sincerely. “You have us.” 

A small smile blooms over Lena’s lips. “A ragtag bunch of hooligans.”

“Oh yes, the absolute worst. We've all spectacularly failed society at some point.”

“Guess I'm in good company then.” 

“They’re all a little batshit,” Kara declares, “but they’ve got it where it counts.” 

Kara loves the sound of the ocean more than anything, but Lena's laughs are steadily creeping up to a close second. She’s looking lighter than she did on the first day, and Kara is glad for lifting her burdens somewhat, is warmed by the fact that here, at least, Lena can be a side of herself that she's probably spent her whole life trying to suppress.

James is calling out to her, and Kara has an idea.

“You know what I want? I want you to join us in the kitchens tonight. It’s Nia's birthday and we’re celebrating. Some alcohol may or may not be had… “

“No, I— I couldn't.” 

“Come on, you've earned a spot in the Karaoke Loser’s Circle audience at least.” Kara holds out her hand politely, giving Lena a chance to decline. 

“Have fun.”

“Okay, but you don’t know what you’re missing,” Kara teases as she walks away.

Alex and Nia are in the middle of a very slightly tipsy rendition of Madonna’s Vogue when Kara spots Lena shyly peeking through the windows of the kitchen doors. 

“Hi,” Kara greets her with a cheeky grin.

Lena holds out two bottles of the wine she’d bought at the market. “I didn’t know what to bring so uh— ”

“These will do very nicely.” Kara ushers her in and holds up both bottles like racing trophies. 

Everybody cheers.

 

-

 

Lena is on the beach watching the waves, probably done with her morning yoga if her outfit is anything to go by. Streaky is lounging next to her, clearly enjoying the scritches.

“So are you ever gonna talk to her?” Alex startles her.

“Talk to wh— Could you not sneak up on me like that?”

“Your whale of a client.” She nods towards Lena.

“Wha? Okay, first of all, that’s inappropriate. Second of all— ” 

“Second of all, what?”

“It’s… she’ll be leaving in three days anyway, so what would the point be in ‘talking to her’?”

“Exactly. She’ll be leaving in three days, so why not get ahead of that curve?” Alex winks.

“Wish it were that simple. She's already been hurt by everyone in her life, Alex. I’m not telling her ‘hey, I think you and I are destined to be together’ or some crap and then what, get into a long distance relationship, assuming she even speaks to me at all, “try” to make it work, until we just fall out of touch and forget about each other? I'm not gonna do that to her. She deserves better than that.” 

Meanwhile, Lena seems to have befriended a small crab and is now taking pictures of it perched atop Streaky's head. Kara doesn't know how her heart can grow fonder still of this woman, but here she is, stumbling further into devastation. 

Alex gives her a cryptic smile. “I see where you’re coming from, kid, but you may also want to consider that this— she gestures vaguely at Kara’s face then at her entire self — might not be so one-sided after all.”

“Wait. What?”

“Ooh, my salmon is here!”

“Alex, what is that supposed t— Alex!

Kara’s head whips around at what sounds like shit! coming from the ocean's general direction.

“Oh good, you're here,” Lena says, a bit breathless as she approaches.

“Hey, yeah, what's going on?”

“The timetable's been moved up. They're gonna be here tomorrow.”

 

 

“Wow. Lena you look— “

“Like a nervous wreck?”

“Well, you look terribly pretty for a nervous wreck, so you’ve got that going for you.”

Lena laughs at that, some of her jitters visibly melting away. She holds on to Kara as she puts on her heels.

 “It’s just…” 

“Hey, relax.” Kara says reassuringly. “You worked really hard on this thing. It’s gonna be great.”

“We,” Lena grunts.

“Hm?”

Lena straightens up. “We worked on this thing.” 

Kara beams at her, and nods in assent. “We.”

 

-

 

The lights in the hotel’s business center are notorious for their intermittent flickering at the worst possible hours. It stopped being funny after a few "haunting" complaints from guests over the last quarter, so Kara checks on them every now and then until she can get them fixed. She’s already through the glass door to conduct one such check when she realizes the office isn’t empty. 

Lena appears to be having an argument with an older woman, and it’s getting a little intense. Kara watches it unfold from her spot in the corner, unsure if she should intervene.

“Points for creativity, mother, but this was low, even for you.”

So this is her stepmom. Kara can’t say she’s surprised, the woman has all the indicators: regal bearing, condescending countenance, pin-straight hair, all-white pantsuit. She looks like the kind of woman who gets what she wants at any cost, who will not tolerate deviance from a prescribed narrative, who will never be caught dead in a public scandal. 

“I gave you an opportunity, dear.” Lillian replies evenly.

“Oh, an opportunity ?” Lena retorts. “You set me up. It was you who signed off on that budget. You deliberately planned for me to fail, and on the holidays, no less.” The sheer spite in her mirthless laugh is enough to send a shiver down Kara’s back. “And what did Lex get for his partners, huh? A week in the ski resort? The hot springs in Japan?”

“Lex worked hard for what he has."

"Oh, and I didn't?"

Lillian tuts. "You ungrateful girl. You should be thankful we even bothered. Did you think you deserved something more? We made you what you are.”

“You made me feel unworthy and alone!” She swipes at her eyes before her tears even get the chance to fall, angry at Lillian, angry at herself for this unrestrained display of raw emotion. 

“Oh, don’t delude yourself with illusions of affection, Lena. If your father were here—” 

“But he isn’t now, is he? And maybe that’s a good thing, because if he could see how you’ve tarnished his name, how you’ve ruined his legacy, he’d cut you off. He’d cut you off, and you wouldn’t survive.”

That seems to turn the tables. Lillian’s impassive mask cracks, and she begins to look more and more furious by the second. 

“And if you think your precious son will save you, you are wrong. Lex will wash his hands of you and leave you out to dry. Then you will know that his “love” is a lie, and that you have only deluded yourself.” 

Lillian makes to strike her, and this time Kara doesn’t hesitate. She dashes across the room to put herself in between the two of them, catches the backhand just before it lands.

“I think that’s quite enough, Mrs. Luthor.” 

“How dare—” 

Lillian is taller, by a few inches at least, obviously powerful, and absolutely livid, but Kara stands her ground. 

“If you’ve read the terms and conditions of your stay, which I'm sure someone of your dignified standing would have, you would be reminded that The Aurora sticks by an inclusive, maximum tolerance policy. Now I suggest you abide by these rules and conduct yourself properly, or I will have you escorted from the premises.”

With as much contempt as she can muster, Lillian dislodges her wrist from Kara’s grip and storms off.

“Enjoy the rest of your evening!” Kara calls after her.

Once Lillian is a fair distance away, Kara turns around to see Lena, still rooted to the spot, eyes downcast, her breathing ragged. She approaches her carefully, carefully, hands reaching out to ghost over her knuckles, then around to gently unclench her fists. A single tear falls, then another, and another, until finally, she collapses into Kara’s arms and sobs into her chest. Lena’s knees buckle at some point, and Kara has to carefully sit the both of them down on the floor. She forms a loose cocoon around her, and finds herself wondering how many times this probably could have happened as Lena was growing up. Did she have anyone then? Did anyone even know? Kara holds her as she cries, her own eyes growing damp. 

They stay there for a while until Lena calms down, until her hands stop shaking. It’s then that Kara notices it. 

There under her watch, peeking past the rose gold band, appears to be some sort of scar on the inside of her wrist. It’s white and irregularly-shaped, and Kara thinks it might be from some kitchen accident, hopes, given what had just transpired, it’s not anything more sinister than that. 

Any further pondering is interrupted by Lena clearing her throat and rising to her feet. 

“I’m missing my own party.”

She exits the office without a backward glance. The lights flicker just as the door closes, and then they go out, bathing Kara in darkness.

“Oh. Right.”

 

-

 

Between making sure the guests are satisfied and her crew is working like a well-oiled machine, Kara doesn’t see Lena again until well after the party. It’s nearing midnight and they’re almost done winding down when she spots Lena sitting by herself on the beach. 

“Hey.”

“Hey.” Lena echoes. 

Kara sits with her on the sand and offers her a (clean) piece of chocolate from the ruins of the dessert table. Lena's face lights up then, and she receives her parcel with a small ooh. She unravels the napkin, and the confection disappears into her mouth in an instant. 

“Wha? Ih waf ahredy mehwty.” 

She’s probably worth billions, set to inherit a prominent tech empire, and the kind of gorgeous that borders on ridiculous, to boot, but here she is, sitting barefoot in the sand, eating chocolate like a kid, and talking with her mouth full. 

Kara has never been so charmed by a human being in her entire life. 

“Thank you for what you did back there. No one’s ever stood up for me like that.”

“Company policy,” Kara replies, removing her blazer and draping it over Lena’s shoulders. “I kinda had to.” She shrugs as she says it, trying to keep the mood light. It’s the truth, and she doesn’t really need to stretch it. Besides, Kara thinks, Lena’s had enough of a shitty day to brood over it any more than she already has, so sue her for trying to make a pretty girl smile.

Lena breathes out a chuckle. “Still.”

“You know, for all intents and purposes, the event was a success.” 

“Yet another thing I need to thank you for, it seems.”

“Well… Yeah.”

Lena laughs and bumps her shoulder into Kara’s. 

The moon is almost full tonight, its pale orange glow reflecting on the calm waters beyond. A million tiny waves purl softly on the shore, the rhythm they beat is soothing. 

It gets chilly soon enough, and Kara feels like Cinderella. 

“Come on,” she says as she rises to her feet. “I’ll walk you back.” 

She bends down to give Lena a hand, but as sand is known to be unstable, and probably because one of her legs fell asleep, Lena falters on her way up. Kara catches her just in time, and now their bodies are close, really close, their noses almost touching.

“Okay there?” Kara whispers, one hand stuck in between their torsos, her other hand at the small of Lena’s back.

“Yeah.” Lena nods vigorously, her breath ghosting over flushed cheeks. Kara doesn’t miss the way Lena’s hand is clutching her bicep, or the way Lena’s eyes flit over her lips.

The moment passes, and Lena, having regained her balance, puts some distance between them. “I’m good,” she says with an uncertain smile.

Lena’s stilettos dangling from Kara's hand, they trek up to the rooms in silence, neither addressing the elephant that is whatever the hell that was on the beach. They reach their destination sooner than Kara would like, and she reluctantly accepts the fact that this night, Lena’s last night, has come to its end. 

Lena taps her keycard and the mechanism beeps, followed by the sound of the lock disengaging. Kara hands over her shoes, fingers connecting with Lena’s as she does, and Kara swears she felt a jolt travel down her spine. And how did they end up being this close to each other? Surely the corridor is wide enough to accommodate the both of them and a small car? Lena’s eyes are on her lips again, and this time they linger. Maybe she should do something about that, put them both out of their misery? There’s literally only two inches between them now, it would be so easy, so… simple, to bridge that gap. 

One week.

Her own words echo back at her.

One week and you’ll never have to see us again. 

Kara slowly pulls away, her hand drifting from where it touched Lena’s.

We’ll be out of your hair, and you can maybe leave us a decent review, and then you can just forget that any of this ever happened.

She offers a small smile and a gentle nod instead. They’ve come too far for her to do something stupid now. 

Lena seems to have read the situation the same way.

“So,” she exhales, stepping an entire arm’s length back. “Um. Great party. I’ll see you tomorrow. Good night.”

“Good night.”

Lena closes the door, and Kara's heart shatters into a thousand pieces, underscored by the sound of the lock clicking into place. She stands there for a moment, lamenting her misfortune. Because of course she would find herself in a situation like this, and then fall for someone like that. She heaves a rueful sigh, then turns and walks away. 

It takes her eight steps before she’s jogging back and knocking at Lena’s room. Soon, the lock is clicking again, and Lena appears a moment later. 

“Your co—”

“My bla—” 

They laugh at the same time, and Kara’s chest swells with relief, all awkwardness forgotten. She reaches out to take the garment back, and their eyes meet as their fingers touch again. 

This time, neither of them looks away. 

It takes two steps to crash their lips together, and three to get past the door and slam it shut. 

 

-

 

It's still dark when Kara wakes up to Lena lying next to her, her dark hair in glorious disarray. A tiny crinkle has formed on her brow, her finger tracing over the mark on Kara's chest. 

Kara drops a gentle kiss onto her forehead. “What are you thinking about?”

“You.” 

Kara's heart plummets to her gut, swirls into the whirlpool of fear and anticipation there. She’s scared of what that one word could mean for her, for them. Is Lena scared, too?  

Lena's hand moves up to caress Kara’s jaw, forest green eyes following the motion. 

She gives Lena space to talk, but she says nothing else, only burrows deeper under her chin. Whatever it is that's weighing on her mind, she seems unwilling to unpack tonight, so Kara lets it go.

They’re quiet for the rest of the night, tangled up in each other’s arms, trading soft touches, both knowing what the daylight brings. 

Kara leaves just before dawn. Lena retrieves her shirt from somewhere across the room. She tarries as she helps Kara button it up with the exact amount of care she didn't have when she took it off mere hours ago. 

Kara holds her close one last time. The kiss they share is bittersweet. 

 

-

 

The party prepares to leave (Lena even says goodbye to the crew), and they avoid each other until the last moment. When finally they’re in the driveway, Kara makes it clear that Lena can always come back if she so wished. 

"Thank you. For everything. Truly. I won't forget it."

Lena kisses her cheek, her lips lingering just long enough for Kara to know, and then she’s gone, taking Kara’s heart with her.

 

-

 

A few weeks later

 

“A glowing review? In this economy?”

Nia’s voice echoes across the empty lobby, her eyebrows near level with her bun, now messy as her shift nears its end. 

“Calm down, Nia. It’s been known to happen,” Kara chuckles as she approaches the younger woman to peer at her monitor and see the offending review for herself. 

“No, Kara. This has never…”

It was written by a karenwalsh209, unremarkable as usernames go, but from the elegant language, the attention to proper punctuation, the thoughtfully-crafted praise, she could tell.

Kara’s eyes are blurry with tears by the time she reaches the end.

Nia sighs wistfully. “God, I love her.” 

It’s not enough, though. They still struggle. They barely make it through another lean season, the threat of bankruptcy ever looming over their heads. Kara was always transparent about the situation, had talked to her staff about having backup plans and savings and opportunities elsewhere, even as they closed up section after section of the hotel. She talks to her parents’ photo, tells them she might not have really been cut out for this. Alex tries to reassure her that she did her best and that they’re going to get through this, they always have, but as the bills pile up and the rooms stay empty, Kara finds it harder and harder to believe her. She spends her time on the water, sitting on her board in the shallows, waiting for something, or someone, beyond the horizon. 

“I miss you,” she whispers into the wind, hoping like a fool that it might reach her. 

Maybe Arabella was right. Maybe she was putting too much into those dreams. 

Maybe Kara was wrong. Maybe she shouldn’t have pinned those hopes on Lena.

But if she was wrong, why does she feel like her chest is empty and her very soul has been ripped in half? 

 

-

 

It starts the same way it always does, with the sound of the ocean. But it ends with something else this time: that voice like warm honey, quiet at first, then growing louder and louder.

...I dreamed of you—

Kara wakes up with a jolt. Her alarm is blaring like a damn siren. Just as she turns it off, a message comes in: another creditor come to collect. She screams into her pillow to keep from throwing her phone against the wall. 

 

-

 

Kara passes by her parents’ photo, runs her fingers along that same edge. She puts on her bravest smile as she does her rounds, greets her staff, walks into the lobby that’s been empty for the last few weeks, the same twenty keyrings that have been hanging there untouched. This is it, she thinks. The slow march into the gaping maw of death. 

A black Mercedes rental pulls into the driveway, and who should step out of it, but Lena Luthor.

“Lena? What're you doing here?” Kara stutters ineloquently. 

“You said I could come back anytime, right? Or was I mistaken?”

“No. No. God, no.” As pleasant as it is to see her again, Kara doesn’t think she has the emotional bandwidth to deal with another round of elaborate theatrics and Kardashian-level drama. And okay, maybe there is something to be said about Lena being here just as her dreams have started again, but she’s got a lot on her mind right now, and it really is not a good time for fate to be screwing with her. “Uh, Nia? Could you get a room for—”

“Oh, there's no need, love.” Lena says, reassuring the concierge with a smile. She takes off her sunglasses and looks Kara dead in the eye. “I own the place now.”

What?

She hands Kara a stack of important-looking papers, all ink stamps and signatures and bold capital letters. A cursory glance at the first few pages tells her everything: Lena had bought the hotel out of bankruptcy. She notices that Lena did it under her own name, leaving Kara to wonder about Luthorcorp, but that’s quickly forgotten when she reads the next few lines.

“Lena. This is way more than the asking price. Way more.”

“Well, I like to think it's the sentimental value.” Lena quips, attempting to lighten the conversation.

“Why?” 

Lena turns suddenly shy, a faint blush rising over her cheeks. She lifts the sleeve of her leather jacket to reveal the inside of her wrist.

And Kara— Kara can’t believe her eyes. There, where what she once thought was a scar, is a mark. Clear and unmistakable, a few shades darker than the rest of Lena’s skin, a perfect half crescent with elaborate rays radiating from it.

“I dreamed of you, too.”