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journeys end in lovers meeting

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Trip no further, pretty sweeting
Journeys end in lovers meeting,
Every wise man's son doth know.

-William Shakespeare, Twelfth Night (or What You Will)

 

Lena hates the theatre.

Okay, maybe hate is a strong word, but honestly, it’s accurate. She’s hated theatre for nearly as long as she can remember, her distaste lasting from childhood and through her adolescence and sticking stubbornly all the way to adulthood. She hates plays and opera and symphonies and musical theatre, and she hates having to sit in one place for hours at a time, and she hates how unproductive the whole ordeal is, how it means she has to waste precious time she could be spending in the lab watching people play public make-believe.

Theatre is annoying. A waste of time. Everyone who knows anything about her knows how much she hates it.

Which is why she would currently rather be anywhere in the world than here, at the Royal National City Theatre’s latest production of whatever the fuck.

To be clear, it was not her choice to be here. Lillian called her sometime late last night asking Lena to come to the theatre with her—or more specifically, telling Lena that she was coming to the theatre with her, whether she wanted to or not. Lena doesn’t even know what they’re seeing. Lillian might have told her, but she thinks she blacked it out of her memory. It might be Shakespeare this time. Or maybe it’s a musical—she vaguely remembers Sam talking about taking Ruby to see Billy Elliot, though it’s possible that was months ago. She’s not sure.

You’d think that now, at almost twenty-five, she’d be better at refusing her own mother when ordered to accompany her to theatre productions. And yet somehow, here she is, spending a Friday night she could have spent developing her latest project in the lab or going out for drinks with Sam at a play she doesn’t want to see.

Lillian, she finds, is very difficult to refuse.

“I still don’t understand why you needed me to come,” Lena says, as she settles down in her plush red seat, adjusting her skirt. They’re in box, as always, perched to be able to see the stage from above.

Lillian filters a small portion of the Luthor fortune into the performing arts every year, though Lena has never been able to decide whether it’s because she’s genuinely interested in them or if she likes being seen as philanthropic. Or if she just likes the VIP treatment and seeing her name at the top of the donors list.

“It’s about appearances, Lena,” says Lillian, straight-backed in her seat and flipping through her program. “The Luthors are well known patrons of the arts. What do you think it says if the youngest Luthor, who I might add is on the cusp of taking over the family company as CEO, seems completely indifferent? You want people to like you, don’t you, darling? Especially after Lex’s… little stunt with Superman. That hasn’t been the best for PR for any of us, now has it?”

“I think Lex’s little stunt, if that’s what we’re calling it now, has already done a pretty good job of making certain that people don’t like me,” Lena grumbles, slumping back in her chair and crossing her arms in a way that she knows will annoy Lillian. Then a thought occurs to her, and she sits up straight. “Wait, Lex was meant to come with you to this, wasn’t he? You only made me come with you because you realized at the last moment that you didn’t have anyone to go with.”

Lillian presses her lips together, not looking up from her program. “It’s good for appearances, dear,” she repeats, which Lena takes as an unequivocal yes.

She rolls her eyes. Is she ever going to stop getting punished for Lex’s crimes?

The house lights are up over the theatre, illuminating red seats and ornate high ceilings and the heads of thousands of people as they filter into the rows. Excited chatter fills ever corner of the room, blending together into undistinguishable static. Lena sighs, flipping over her program to actually look for the first time at what show she is going to be torturously sitting through for the next several hours is. The program reads, William Shakespeare’s Twelfth Night.

Lena has nothing against Shakespeare, per se. In fact, she enjoyed studying his plays in her high school English class, although she’s not sure how much of them she actually remembers. She stuffed her college schedules too full of STEM classes to get more than a few required credit hours of English in. But despite this, she still isn’t looking forwards to spending the next three hours sitting in this small folding chair watching people act their way through a four-hundred-year-old play.

Right as she’s about to flip through the program to look at the cast, the lights start to dim, and a hush falls over the crowd. Lena sinks back to into her seat, closing the program in her lap. Maybe she’ll fall asleep, and then it’ll all be over faster. It’s been a long week, and she is pretty tired.

There are some introductory announcements and a reminder to turn off cellphones, and then everyone applauds as curtain rises. A small band begins off a lilting tune. A few men dressed in period appropriate clothing enter from one of the wings.

The music pauses for a moment, and one of the men onstage gestures for it to continue, beginning, “If music be the food of love, play on…”

Lena starts to tune it out after the first few sentences. Her mind drifts to a project that she was working on earlier, one that she was actually hoping to stay late in the lab tonight to work on after everyone was gone, maybe with some quiet music playing in the background. She likes staying late on weekend nights—it’s one of the only times when no one comes by to disturb her or to encourage her to go home, and no one in the building has any expectations of her. It’s one of the only times she can just be, trying and failing at experiments and trying not to singe off her eyebrows again. (It happened once, but Sam has never let her live it down.)

By the end of the first scene, she’s well on her way to falling asleep, and thinking that if she can’t be using this time to work, at least she might get a good nap out of it.

The lights go down and back up again, and a new scene begins. Lena closes her eyes.

A voice says, “What country, friends, is this?”

Something about the voice—earnest and sweet, a tremble trapped in its vibrations—compels Lena to open her eyes again.

“This is Illyria, lady,” says the other actor onstage.

“And what should I do in Illyria?” asks the owner of the first voice, a young woman who looks about Lena’s age. “My brother he is in Elysium. Perchance he is not drown’d. What think you, sailor?”

Her clothes are ragged, and she’s clutching a blanket around her shoulders. Tangled golden hair tumbles down her back, illuminated by the stormy blue-green stage lights in a halo around her face. She’s shivering slightly, and she looks so lost and desolate that the urge to comfort her prods insistently at Lena until she remembers that this woman is an actor, and this is play, and she probably looks like that intentionally. Lena shakes her head, rubbing her neck.

She has a very nice face, Lena can tell even from this far away, pretty and handsome all at once. The kind of face that Lena wants to keep looking at and memorize all the intricacies of. She speaks again, and Lena finds herself listening, wanting to hear more of the language roll off her talented tongue. For the rest of the scene, Lena listens attentively, her eyes barely leaving the woman—Viola, she remembers the character is named after a few minutes. When the scene finally ends, and Viola exits with I thank thee. Lead me on, Lena blinks, her mouth a little dry.

Maybe this play will be more interesting than she thought.

~

By intermission, Lena is a little dazed.

She’s not totally sure she’s registered a whole lot of the plot of the play; every time Viola was onstage, she kept getting distracted just watching her move and not paying attention to what she was saying. In every scene since the first one, she’s been wearing a very convincing wig in a messy boyish sort of cut, and it irks Lena that she manages to pull it off just as well as her long hair. She’s dynamic and captivating onstage, and irritatingly attractive—the movement of her lean, strong figure, her easy, eye-crinkling smile, the lilt of her voice. Lena zoned out of most of the scenes she was not in, watching the wings and wondering when she was going to come back.

Lillian has several other donor friends attending the play tonight, and she drags Lena over to talk to them during the twenty-minute break. Lena stands to the side, toying with the stem of a champagne class someone’s handed her, paying no attention to the conversation until one of Lillian’s associates drags her into it.

“And how are you enjoying the play, Lexa?” he asks, leering at her, wrinkled cheeks bright red.

“Lena,” she corrects. “Um, it’s fine. I mean, it’s a very—the acting is quite—I really appreciate some of the… Viola. Viola is very good.” She nods, as though she has not just uttered the worst constructed sentence in the history of mankind. Her cheeks are starting to get hot, despite the fact that she’s had maybe three sips of champagne.

“What, no scathing commentary?” Lillian asks accusingly, raising an eyebrow. “Are you actually enjoying the play, for once?”

“It—it could be worse, I suppose,” Lena manages in an imitation of her usual disdainful tone, her ears burning now too. She avoids Lillian’s suspicious gaze, watching bubbles rise to the surface of her champagne.

“Hm. Maybe miracles do happen,” Lillian says, turning back to her conversation. Lena chews at the inside of her cheek and tries to figure out how one actor who she’s never met in a play she didn’t want to go to has managed to get her blushing like a middle-school girl.

A five-minute warning is called for the end of intermission, and Lillian bids her acquaintances farewell. As Lena settles back into her seat for the second half, she resolves to actually pay attention to the play this time. She’s being weird, immediately crushing on someone she’s literally never met who is playing a character. Better yet, maybe she’ll fall asleep for this act. Yeah, she’ll do that. It’s the perfect idea.

When she wakes up, the whole play will be over, and she can forget about it.

~

Lena does not fall asleep.

In fact, the second half is worse than the first, in so much that Viola spends several scenes being outrageously flirted with by the pretty brunette noble lady—Olivia, Lena thinks she’s called—and it’s all so gay that Lena can’t help but be utterly captivated. Especially when Olivia manages to sneak a quick peck to Viola’s lips at the end of one of their scenes and looks enormously pleased with herself as Viola sprints off. And it’s obnoxious, really, how even that manages to make something inside Lena’s chest flutter.

Viola persists in being annoyingly attractive throughout the whole play, and Lena fails miserably at not crushing on her for the rest of the show. She has impeccable comedic timing, and it makes Lena cackle enough times that Lillian looks at her sidewards. She can sing too, which they somehow manage to squeeze in her doing, and Lena thinks that voice could sing her to sleep for the rest of her life and she’d be happy. Somewhere along the way, she finds herself actually invested in the show, and watches the last few scenes with rapt attention, even tearing up a bit at the twins’ emotional reunion. When the show is finally over, and the actors take their bows, Lena stands to applaud with the rest of the theatre, cheering extra loudly when Viola, her hair long and tangled gold once more, steps up for her turn. Viola grins at the cheers, laughing as she bows, and when she bounces back to the line of the rest of her cast, Olivia throws her arms around her. The sheer joy on her face makes Lena beam too, giggling, because fuck she’s adorable.

Lillian stares at her, eyebrows halfway up her forehead.

Lena leaves the theatre with the whole play echoing back in her head. It’s like being half stuck in a dream, with bits of the show repeating themselves in her mind as she bids farewell to Lillian and calls her driver, walking around the outside of the theatre in the cool night air.

Slipping her phone back in her pocket, Lena inhales a deep breath of the night air, and thinks that, right now, she could do anything. Maybe this is why people like theatre. There’s an almost high that comes after it, after being thoroughly entranced by the magic of the show. By the chance to fall in love with someone on a stage, however briefly.

Because by all logical reasoning, she’ll probably never see the girl who played Viola again, never know if her smile is as sweet up close or if her golden hair really looks that colour in real light, whether it really sits that wild of its own accord.

Her fingers brush something in the deep pocket of her coat. The program—of course, she’d forgotten all about it, she’d been too dazed at intermission. It’ll have Viola’s real name in it, probably a small blurb about her history, and Lena flips through it, eager to have one more snippet about the girl onstage to take with her.

As she searches for the page with the cast pictures, a door swings opens behind her, bringing a swell of chatter with it. The group of people brushes past her, shouting at each other and laughing at some joke between them. The last person of the group is laughing so hard that she stumbles directly into Lena, knocking their shoulders together and bumping the program out of her hands.

“Oh, gosh, sorry,” the person says, immediately leaning down, and any indignation dies on Lena’s tongue when the girl straightens, beaming and holding the program out to her.

It’s her. Viola. Her makeup is more obvious out of the stage lights, thick eyeliner and bright blush and caked on foundation with a small square missing where her mic tape sat, but it still manages to be very flattering on her. She’s wearing glasses over her makeup, and she bounces on the balls of her toes, so buoyant that Lena thinks she might float away. Somehow, she’s prettier in person. More real.

“Oh. You,” Lena says eloquently.

“Me!” says Viola. “Hi! Have we met?”

Lena shakes her head, her brain lagging. “No, I just—I mean I just saw you in the show. Just now. Um, acting.”

“Oh! Duh, of course.” Viola laughs. Her friends have stopped a few feet away, continuing their raucous conversation as they wait for her and throwing looks in their direction. “Yeah, obviously. Sorry, I’m just a bit brain fried right now. Um, sorry for walking into you, have a great night!”

She stuffs the dirty program into Lena hands and starts to turn away, and before Lena’s brain can catch up, she’s calling, “Wait!”

The girl turns back to her, and fuck, Lena probably has to say something now. She doesn’t have a plan where this is going, but Viola is staring at her, politely expectant. Lena starts, “I really—”

Behind them, Viola’s friends whoop loudly, drowning out Lena’s poor attempt at speaking. Viola takes a step closer to hear her better, her hand coming to rest just above Lena’s elbow. Her palm is a shock of heat against Lena’s night-air cooled skin, and she smells of makeup and sweat and hairspray, her whole body radiating warmth. Her golden hair is a plainer blonde in the pale streetlight, slightly crunchy with spray. She’s taller than Lena expected, and so close, and strangely human after being only a character on stage all evening. Lena swallows, overly aware of the way her heart is pounding.

There’s something familiar about her face that Lena can’t quite place. Like she’s someone Lena met in a dream.

“Um. I just wanted to say that I thought you were really good. In the show, I mean. Like, really incredible.” She tries to think of more to say, like maybe would I maybe be able to get your number, but it seems rude to proposition this poor actor, and for all Lena knows she’s probably straight anyways, so all she manages is, “Um. Yeah. That’s it.”

“Aw, thank you so much!” Viola says, her voice loud over her friends’ yells. She squeezes Lena’s elbow, slightly rough fingers pressing into Lena’s skin. “That’s really nice of you to say!”

“Kara, are you coming?” someone yells. Lena looks over Viola’s shoulder to see her group of friends starting to leave, the girl who called out hanging back and waiting for her to follow. Olivia, Lena remembers.

“Yeah, sorry,” Viola—Kara, apparently—calls back. “Sorry, got to run,” she says to Lena, giving her elbow one last apologetic squeeze before letting go. “It was nice meeting you!”

And then the warmth of her hand is gone, and she’s darting off after Olivia. Before Lena can truly mourn her absence, she turns around, and, running backwards, yells, “Sorry, what’s your name?”

“Lena!” Lena yells back.

Kara grins again. Lena wonders if she’s ever not grinning. “It was nice to meet you, Lena!”

Olivia grabs Kara’s hand and tugs her away after the rest of the group, leaving Lena staring after them. She’s still staring after them when her driver finally pulls up, the skin above her elbow buzzing with the aftertaste of Kara’s touch.

In the back of the car, she flips open the program and finally finds Viola in the program. There’s a small black and white headshot of her, wearing glasses with her hair half pulled back, and smiling the same smile that Lena’s pretty sure she’s never going to be able to erase from her memory. Under her photo reads the name Kara Danvers.

Lena traces the letters with her finger, feeling their raised forms against the paper. Kara.

It suits her.

~

Lena intends to forget about Kara Danvers. She really does.

She doesn’t think about her as she brushes her teeth before bed and doesn’t think about her over breakfast the next morning and definitely doesn’t spend half an hour trying to stalk her on various social media platforms. (She can’t seem to find Kara on any of them, not that she’s looking.) Lena is acting perfectly normal and is not at all plagued by visions of blonde hair and bright smiles and lilting voices. Kara doesn’t even cross her mind once.

(Kara. It’s a pretty name. Rolls right off the tongue. Lena definitely doesn’t find herself mouthing it as she responds to emails.)

She blames what she does next on the fact that she has no plans for the evening. Normally, she’s content to have evenings where she stays at home and does nothing of great importance, maybe pours herself a nice glass of her most expensive scotch and buries herself in a guilty pleasure book, but for some reason on Saturday she’s feeling restless. And really, it’s only because she has nothing else to do that she books herself a ticket to see Twelfth Night.

The first time, she didn’t really get the whole experience, she reasons. There were definitely some scenes that she zoned out of. She should really go see it again, because Shakespeare is such a huge influence on modern culture and language even today, so it’s important that she experience it fully. Yes, she still hates going to the theatre, but it’ll be like exposure therapy.

It is one hundred percent not even slightly because she wants to spend another two hours staring at an extremely attractive girl who has persisted in sticking in her mind all day. Because that would be a crazy reason to buy tickets to a play. She just like, really cares about Shakespeare. And has no other plans.

Which is how she ends up back at the Royal National City Theatre on Saturday night, alone this time. She feels oddly jumpy in her seat, like she’s somewhere she isn’t supposed to be and someone is going to call her out on it any moment. She doesn’t relax until the lights start to go down and the crowd hushes. The music begins.

She’s probably exaggerating this, she thinks as the first scene plays out on the stage. Probably remembering Kara Danvers as more attractive than she actually is. She’s been thinking about it all day, after all, so she’s probably built it up in her head. Created an idea of a person different from the reality. Viola will enter stage left, and Lena will be disappointed for a split second, and then this insanity will end.

But then the first scene ends and the second begins, and Viola appears onstage with the blanket pulled around her shivering form, her face earnest and distraught and oh so captivating, and fuck, Lena wasn’t building it up in her memory.

She may actually be more attractive than Lena remembered.

There’s just something about her that makes Lena want to keep watching her, something beyond looks. Something that draws her in and holds on tight, makes her want to keep staring and staring, makes her want to catch every little detail in Kara’s acting, each twitch of her mouth and raise of her eyebrows. Like every tiny movement leaves her wondering what Viola will do next.

This was a bad idea.

She shouldn’t have come to this show. If she’d stayed home, she would have probably forgotten about it in a day or two. But now…

Now she has the sinking feeling that she’s digging herself into a hole she’s not going to be able to climb back out of.

~

There’s a cold wind tonight, and it cuts through the thin material of Lena’s jacket as she waits for her driver to arrive to take her home, shuffling her feet to keep warm. She’s waiting in the same spot she did yesterday, mainly because it seemed most convenient to ask her driver to pick her up in the same spot, and definitely not because this was where she had her brief encounter with Kara Danvers. She doesn’t spend the whole ten minutes she’s waiting glancing over her shoulder at the backstage door to see if anyone appears.

And she’s not at all disappointed when her driver arrives without that door ever opening.

~

Listen.

Lena’s not going to go see the show a third time. She doesn’t even like theatre. She’s not that much of Shakespeare buff. And she is not controlled by the charms of pretty actors who she has spoken to all of once. Going a second time was ridiculous enough as it is, and Lena is anything but ridiculous. Lena doesn’t let herself be driven by emotion. Emotions are to be pushed down to the base of her gut and shoved behind her ribs and stuffed into little boxes in her brain and be held there and not be let out. She’s a scientist. She’s a businesswoman. She is still in the process of acquiring a Fortune 500 Company from her crazy murderous xenophobic brother, in a city full of Superheroes. She does not have the time to develop pointless, insane crushes.

So, she’s not going to see the show again. End of story.

Except…

Except somehow, she ends up with a ticket for it. She barely remembers buying it, honestly. She must have blacked out momentarily. Gone into a temporary state of delirium during her lunch break on Monday and purchased the ticket without even realizing what she was doing. And really, she thinks, as she looks at the email confirming her purchase, it would be waste of a ticket not to go see the show now that she’s bought it, wouldn’t it?

So, it’s out of a sheer sense of duty that she goes to see the show a third time. She doesn’t want to, really. She doesn’t even like theatre, or Shakespeare, or golden-haired actresses with mega-watt smiles. It’s something of an obligation. Like paying taxes. Or going to the dentist.

She’s not at all hoping that she’ll run into Viola/Kara again, because to hope that would mean that she is probably developing a problem here—which she is not—so she is again not at all disappointed when the show ends for the third time, and she goes home without any new encounters with Kara to speak of.

It was a good thing that she went to see the show again, Lena convinces herself. Educational. She definitely picked up more things the second and third time. And she hasn’t run into Kara again, which probably means the first time was a fluke, and therefore it isn’t worth going again, which Lena is adamant that she will not. Her temporary lapse in judgement is over. Tomorrow, she will go back to being normal and sane.

She can tuck the memory of the pretty blonde actress with the strangely familiar face in a pocket and leave it there for safe keeping.

~

“I’m sorry, you went to see this show three times?”

Every Tuesday morning, between ten and eleven, Lena gets coffee with Sam.

There’s a cozy little high-end café near L-Corp that she discovered a few weeks after moving here that’s become their default, full of squishy chairs and hanging plants and light-coloured wood. It’s always buzzing with conversation and the gentle clinking of dishes, and the warm aroma of coffee hits you as soon as you walk through the door. Sam and Lena have a table in the corner that they claim almost every week, and this week is no exception. Sunlight pours in through the window today, illuminating swirling dust mites and the honey highlights of Sam’s hair and the utterly bemused expression on her face.

Lena takes a prim sip of her coffee. “Maybe I’m just developing an appreciation for Shakespeare.”

Sam snorts, nearly choking on the cookie she’s just taken a bite of. She spends a good half-minute cough-laughing before she recovers enough to speak. “Oh please, that’s a joke. Wasn’t it you who sent me sixteen texts on Friday complaining about how much you didn’t want to go see that show with Lillian? And how awful it was going to be? And you’re telling me you went to see it three times?

“It was… compelling, is all,” Lena says with a shrug.

“Mmhm, compelling, sure,” Sam says, drumming her fingers on the table and staring at Lena with barely contained amusement. “So, tell me Lena, what compelled you to go see this show two additional times?”

“Would you believe me if I told you the acting was really good?”

“Absolutely not.”

“Ugh, fine, okay.” Lena lifts her mug to take another long sip of coffee—she’ll need the caffeine to survive the ridicule that she’s about to undergo. She sets the mug back on the table with a click and takes a deep breath. “There was this… girl in the show—”

“Hah!” Sam yells, before she can even finish the sentence. “Knew it!”

“I haven’t even finished yet!” says Lena indignantly.

Sam ignores her. “I knew the only thing that could outrank your ridiculously adamant hatred of theatre would just be sheer gay horniness and I was right.”

“Oh my god,” Lena says, burying her face in her hands. “Sam, we are in public.”

“Tell me about the girl,” Sam says, leaning her elbows on the table and propping her chin up on her knuckles. “She must have been something else to have you going to see a play three different times.”

And so Lena explains the entire thing—Kara and her golden hair, captivating her from the moment she walked onstage, all the small details that had kept Lena’s gaze firmly fixed on her for every scene she was in, the timbre of her laugh and her impeccable comedic timing and her effortless chemistry with all her castmates. She tells Sam about their brief encounter after the first show too, and the way that she hadn’t been able to stop thinking about Kara’s hand on her arm for the rest of the night. Sam listens with wide, twinkling eyes, and nods periodically in a way says she thinks Lena is both ridiculous and somewhat adorable.

“Okay, well now I’m going to have to go see this show just to see this girl,” Sam says, when Lena finally finishes talking. “Is it playing again tonight? How much are tickets? Also, what time does it start? We could get dinner first.”

“What—I’m not going to see it again, Sam. I’ve already seen it three times, I can’t go a fourth time.”

“Why not?” Sam says. “You’ve already gone to see it three times, what’s a fourth?”

And Lena really can’t argue with this logic.

Which is how she ends up seeing Twelfth Night a fourth time, this time with Sam in tow, teasing her mercilessly along every step of the way. She keeps saying stuff like, “This place must feel like a second home by now!” and “Why don’t you give me the tour, introduce me to some people?” Lena has to restrain herself from hitting her.

She’s almost relieved when they finally make it to their seats, and the lights dim. They’re in a different spot than Lena’s sat the last few times, because Sam insisted on getting seats closer to the front. Even so, Lena has to admit it is all starting to feel very familiar, as she watches the curtain rise for the fourth time. When Kara comes onstage with her blanket in scene two, Sam pokes her so hard in the side that Lena gasps, and wiggles her eyebrows when Lena shoots her a glare.

Kara, of course, is as charming as Viola/Cesario as ever, so at least Lena’s point is adequately proven. She radiates pure tension with everyone, and Lena watches her interact with the Duke Orsino and imagines that intense stare fixed on her instead of the duke. This close, she can see the way that Viola/Cesario/Kara’s eyes flit to his lips and back, nervous and eager all at once, and it sends a shiver up the length of her spine.

“So?” she says to Sam at the end of the show, as they push through the crowd and out the door into the hazy evening. The sky is almost purple tonight, and as Lena watches, a fat raindrop lands on the shoulder of Sam’s jacket and soaks a dark circle into the wool.

“Yeah, okay, I get it,” Sam says. “She’s hot, I can see the appeal. She looks like she’s ripped under all that costume. And she’s a damn good actor, too. The whole show was really good, actually, I could justify going to see it a few times even without being obsessed with one of the lead actors. But yeah, I’m on board, you should get her number.”

“Okay, but how?” says Lena. “I’ve been to four shows, and I’ve run into her all of once. And how do you know she’d even want my number? She probably doesn’t want random people hitting on her when she’s just trying to do a job.”

“But you’re not some random person,” says Sam, grabbing her hand to swing it between them, and Lena laughs as Sam yanks her arm. “You’re a super hot, extremely intelligent semi-famous billionaire. People are tripping over themselves to get your number.”

“A super hot, extremely intelligent, semi-famous billionaire with a widely-hated last name,” Lena reminds her.

“Pfft. A tiny flaw. Anyone with any sense would be able to look past that. Besides, I feel like you’ve put in too much time in at this point to not try and get this girl’s number. I don’t know, find her on Instagram or something. Or make one of your interns find her. Shouldn’t be that hard.”

“I’m not going to make one of my interns find her. That is not even close to their job.”

“Don’t be such a stickler,” says Sam. “They’re like your little servants, you should take advantage of them.” The rain is really starting to come down now, darkening the gray shoulders of Sam’s coat to almost black, and she raises a hand to keep it out of her face. “I don’t think we’re going to run into your crush tonight, though, not in this. Let’s get out of here.”

The theatre looks quite lovely in the rain, Lena thinks as they drive away, warm lights smudged and flashing letters more vibrant. Before the car can round the corner, she catches a glimpse of familiar figure running down the street, soaked blonde hair streaming out behind her, her laughing face turned to the open sky and water running in rivulets down pink cheeks. For a moment, she almost thinks Kara notices her through the car window and raises a hand to wave before she disappears out of sight.

~

Lena doesn’t really have an excuse for why she goes to see the show a fifth time.

She blames it on Sam encouraging her to get Kara’s number. Or perhaps the maddeningly brief glimpse she caught of Kara leaving the theatre the last time, a tiny clip she played on repeat in her mind until she barely remembers how it really happened anymore. Until she remembers only the way that Kara’s smile had lit up her whole face like she was standing under the glow of a spotlight when she noticed Lena through the car window.

She tells herself that this will be the time that she runs into Kara again. This will be the finale of the saga of Lena going to the detested theatre. With any luck, by the end of tonight it should be over either way. She will run into Kara, and either she’ll get her number, or she’ll get rejected and that will be the end of it. If she wills it hard enough, it will happen.

The show ends as it always does, though Lena keeps amusing herself by imagining that maybe this time, Viola and Olivia will end up together. It would be a nice plot twist to the monotony of going to see the show for a fifth time. Though, possibly, the show is not designed for people to go see it five times consecutive times, so there’s probably a point to keeping it consistent to the text.

As she has every other time, Lena stands to clap when Kara comes forwards to take her bow, radiant under the stage lights, her hair wild and the edges of her forehead shiny with sweat. She’s the embodiment of joy, bouncing as she waves to the crowd, slinging her arm around the actor who plays Olivia and knocking their temples together affectionately. Olivia whispers something in her ear that makes Kara laugh and elbow her in the ribs, and Lena giggles along at the joy on her face, pressing a hand over her mouth.

Almost as if she hears the laugh, Kara’s eyes flit to hers.

Lena stops clapping, her breath catching in her throat. The cheers and applause of the rest of the theatre fades into muted buzz.

For a suspended moment, they stare at each other. Lena can hear the pulse of her heartbeat in her ears, quick and harsh. As if in slow motion, she sees the smile on Kara’s face widen, sees the hand she’s been waving at the whole audience turn to Lena, her fingers twitching like she’s saying hello. Then she raises her hand to her mouth and, in a motion so small it would be unnoticeable if you weren’t looking right at her, blows a kiss in Lena’s direction.

Without thinking about it, Lena reaches out to grab it, like it’s a tangible thing she could cradle in her palms or tuck into her pocket, and presses her empty fist to her chest. Kara’s eyes crinkle in a delighted laugh.

Then the cast is filtering off, waving goodbye, and Olivia grabs Kara’s hand and yanks her towards the wings, severing the line of their eye contact like a cord being snapped.

All at once, the rest of the theatre rushes back to full volume, time returning to a normal pace. Lena blinks. The house lights are coming back up, and people are starting to gather their things and shuffle out of the theatre. She shakes her head.

Lena pushes her way through the crowd, her head swimming. Logically, there is no possible way that Kara was looking at her. She was one small face in a crowd of thousands, high up in the box, lost in the dark of the theatre. To have heard her laugh like she seemed to, Kara would need to have some sort of… super hearing, or some sort of super vision to be able to make out Lena’s face in the crowd. But despite the impossibly of it all, Lena has the lingering feeling that Kara was looking right at her, and it pokes at her as she collects her coat from the coat check and wanders out into the evening air. Kara was so far away, and yet it was like she was staring right into Lena’s soul.

It continues to haunt her as she waits at the side of the theatre that’s become her regular spot, staring mindless at the sign of a different theatre across the street. One of the letters on the sign is going out, and Lena watches as it flickers periodically on and off without really seeing it, still thinking of the quirk of Kara’s lips when she’d noticed—seemed to have noticed—Lena staring. There’s someone behind her calling hey out to a friend, the sound of shoes against concrete and the rise and fall of conversation as people pass behind her.

Someone taps her lightly on the shoulder, and a voice behind her says, “Excuse me.”

For a brief, heart-stopping second, Lena’s certain it’s Kara, that she’s manifested her into existence through sheer willpower. That the sheer memory of the burn of her eyes has conjured her here, finally. She turns, barely breathing.

It’s not Kara Danvers.

It’s the cute, dark-haired girl who plays Olivia, the one that, from the way they interact during the curtain call, is close friends with Kara. She’s changed into normal clothes, though she’s still wearing stage make-up like Kara had been that first night they met. There’s a man hovering behind her who Lena doesn’t recognize, probably a friend or something. She gives Lena a nervous smile. “Hi. Sorry, are you Lena Luthor?”

“Yes?” Lena says.

“Oh, awesome, hi.” She pauses, and then gives a soft oh and holds out her hand like she’s just remembered it’s something she’s supposed to do. “I’m, um, I’m Nia. Nia Nal. I play Olivia in the—the show.”

“I recognize you,” Lena says, taking her hand to shake it and grinning because Olivia—no, Nia’s nervous stuttering is kind of adorable.

“Right, of course you do, you just saw the show, um.” She shoots the man behind her a look like help me, and he shrugs at her. She huffs and looks back at Lena. “Sorry, I just saw you out here, and we’ve noticed you come to the show a few times, and I wanted to come over and say hi because I’m a really big fan, and so is Brainy. Um, that’s Brainy,” she adds, pointing over her shoulder at the man. “He’s my boyfriend. He’s not in the show. You probably knew that, though. Not that he’s my boyfriend, I mean, that he wasn’t in the show. Because you just saw it. Anyways. Hi.”

“Nice to meet you, Nia,” Lena says, a bit overwhelmed by the whole speech but already charmed by Nia’s cheerful demeanor. She picks out the first detail of the Nia’s ramble that comes to her to respond to. “Uh, when you say we noticed…”

“Oh yeah, me and Kara mostly, I mean. Kara plays Viola in the show. She’s the one who always notices that kind of stuff, she’s very… observant. She likes trying to figure out if there’s anyone cool in the audience. One time Zari Tarazi came to one of our shows.”

Lena nods, taking this in. “Huh.” So maybe Kara did notice her in the audience, somehow, even though it should have been impossible. At the very least she’s aware that Lena’s been to see the show multiple times at this point, but doesn’t seem to find it creepy—or least Nia doesn’t, going off how excited she seems. Lena wonders if Kara knows just how many times she’s been in that audience. She shakes her head, focusing back in on Nia. “Wait, I’m sorry, you said you were a fan? Of mine?”

“Yeah, absolutely! When the whole Lex Luthor trial was on the news, we were following it like, religiously, you were so cool… though, I’m sorry, you probably don’t want to hear about that, I didn’t mean we were like, consuming your family drama for entertainment or anything.”

“It’s fine,” Lena assures her, squeezing Nia’s hand before dropping it. “I’m used to it. And I can’t say I wouldn’t do the same if I were you.”

“It’s not just that, though!” Nia says hurriedly. “I read that interview you did with the Daily Planet before you moved to National City and you’re just… the things you’ve done? I mean, that nanotech project that you contributed on with Jack Spheer? So cool. Um, and Brainy’s a really big fan of anything technology, so he’s really interested in L-Corp…”

“It’s an honour to meet you,” Brainy butts in, speaking for the first time. “Your contributions to technology are incredibly instrumental to the future. They change the trajectory of the world.”

He says this as though this is something that has already happened, something he’s experienced firsthand, and not an extremely loaded sentence to drop on someone. Lena raises her eyebrows, glancing over at Nia, who shrugs.

“Thank—thank you?” Lena says. “Um, you mean, will be?”

Brainy stares at her, his forehead wrinkled in confusion, for a solid ten seconds. He blinks once, slowly, in a way that reminds Lena of a cat. Then he seems to realize what she means. “Oh, right. Yes. Will be. In the future.”

Lena ducks her head, a little flustered. “Well, thank you, that’s very kind of you to say.”

“It’s fact,” Brainy says, rocking forwards slightly on his heels, his hands clasped behind his back. “Not kindness. But I do admire you and your innovations greatly.”

“That’s—thank you. Again.” Unfamiliar and almost uncomfortable with the amount of praise in her direction that this conversation seems to contain, Lena turns back to Nia. “You’re excellent in the show, by the way, I should have said that earlier. Your scenes with Viola are my favourite part. Though I have to admit, sometimes I think the show would be better if Viola and Olivia ended up together.”

“Thank you so much!” Nia says. “And yeah, oh my god, right? Kara and I talk about that all time. One of our favourite games to play during the show is how much sexual tension can we make these characters have before we get told to tone it down? And like, no one has told us we need to tone it down yet, which makes me think it’s really just the way it’s meant to be performed.”

Lena laughs, the kind of full belly laugh that makes her throw her head back. “Oh, I like you,” she says when she recovers. Nia flushes, looking pleased.

“We also tried to get James in on the discussion,” Nia continues. “He plays the duke. But Kara decided we should try and convince him that the show would be better if Viola ended up with like, both of them. You know, the ideal solution to a love triangle. And I mean, the way we like to play it she has a ton of chemistry with either, you know?”

“It sounds like you guys have a lot of fun,” Lena says.

The way that Nia talks about Kara does nothing to lessen the hopeless crush that Lena has developed on her. In fact, it sounds like as well as being very easy on the eyes, she’s lighthearted and fun and invested in making the characters she plays as gay as possible—which of course, is always a bonus. It makes Lena want to meet her even more desperately, to witness some of the contagious energy that Nia describes for herself, to absorb some of that sunlight into her skin.

“Tons of fun,” Nia beams. “It gets a little monotonous sometimes, doing the same show night after night, so we have to find some way to make it interesting. Um, anyways, we should probably get going, but it was really cool to meet you! Hopefully we run into each other again? I get the impression that you’re something of a Shakespeare fanatic, so…”

Lena has to bite her lip to stop herself from laughing. “Something like that,” she agrees. “It was lovely to meet you, Nia.”

“You too! Have a nice evening! Bye!”

Lena watches as the two of them walk away—Nia slipping her hand into Brainy’s and bumping their shoulders together, then laughing loudly when it makes him stumble to the side—and smiles fondly. This, apparently, is a thing that she didn’t anticipate would also be irresistibly attractive about Kara Danvers: just how likeable her friends are. And now Lena’s all but committed to go see the show again—Nia more or less asked her to. Not to mention the fact that it’s been ages since someone was that enthusiastic to talk to her. How could Lena disappoint her?

In the car on the way home, Lena looks up Nia Nal on Instagram. Unlike with Kara, where a good half hour of searching had provided no results, Lena finds Nia almost immediately, and hits the Follow Back button.

~

After that, Lena starts to lose track.

Going to see Twelfth Night becomes a part of her daily routine. A regularly scheduled portion of her evening, one that means that there’s barely been a single night in the past two weeks that she’s stayed in the office until midnight. And as much as Sam’s teasing irked her, it’s starting to become scarily accurate—the theatre is becoming something like a second home. She’s walked around the entire place during intermissions. She makes an effort to try everything on the drink menu. She becomes intimately familiar with the giant crystal chandeliers in the atrium, gets distracted watching the way the rainbow of sparkles shift through them depending on the way that she tilts her head. On one occasion, she gets so bored during intermission that she buys merch.

She does, admittedly, fall asleep during a few shows. After a particularly intense day of board meetings and conference calls and people trying to back out on deals at L-Corp, she conks out the second the house lights go off and sleeps through the entire show, intermission and all. That day she doesn’t even linger trying to run into Kara Danvers—she doesn’t want to meet her looking like a zombie who just stepped out of a board meeting, still wearing her work clothes with her hair falling out of its bun and plastered to the side of her face. Instead, she gets her car as quickly as possible, and promptly falls asleep again for the entire drive home.

It’s one of the best sleeps she’s had in a while.

On the days when she isn’t falling asleep though, Lena is starting to become something of an expert on Twelfth Night. A few times at work, she gets distracted reading analysis essays and the SparkNotes about the show. She could probably write an essay on it. Or teach it to a high school English class. By the ninth time she sees it, she’s pretty sure she has the whole thing memorized, and finds herself mouthing along to her favourite lines when they happen. At this point she’s starting to think she should volunteer herself as a spare understudy—despite the fact that she has no acting experience, zero desire to be onstage, and still (definitely still) hates theatre.

The show gets so engrained into all the crevices of her brain that she finds herself mindlessly repeating lines from it back to people. When an investor she’s having a heated discussion with on the phone calls her a fool, she immediately claps back with, “Better a witty fool than a foolish wit,” and then stares blankly at the wall for several minutes re-evaluating every life decision she’s ever made to get her to this point.

(Though it’s actually a pretty good comeback. The investor splutters through his response, clearly taken aback, and Lena closes the deal with better results than she was hoping for five minutes later.)

She starts to become accustomed to the intricate, living patchwork that is the show, the combination of every choice of each actor, of every set change, of every shift of the lighting. The small ways the performances change from day to day. She notices when an actor choose to deliver a line differently than normal, when someone misses a cue, and the others have to improvise until the show is back on track. She notices when someone’s singing voice sounds tired, or when Kara and Nia push particularly hard on their giving Olivia and Viola as much sexual tension as possible agenda. Noticing all these little quirks and flaws doesn’t diminish the quality of the show, in her opinion—in fact, she likes it better the more of them she sees. The flaws make it register in her mind more than anything else has that this is art, woven together by every actor and musician and stage manager and lighting director, threads tugged in different directions to create a picture that transforms each night.

It’s a craft. It’s a performance. It is art. And it’s fascinating in a way that she never imagined theatre could be.

She probably should give up on trying to meet Kara Danvers, though, because something—be it fate, or Kara herself, or maybe some very aggravating god—seems determined make sure it never happens. She runs into Nia twice more and stands at the corner for so long talking to her the second time that the crowd leaving the theatre has completely dissipated and Lena’s feet are starting to go numb by the time they part. Lena thinks they’re friends now. She learns that Nia’s a few years out of college, and works as a freelance journalist in between shows, and that she’s been dating her boyfriend for a whole year and a half now, and isn’t that exciting?

She hears more stories about Kara, too, about pranks she’s played with Nia on various cast members, about how nervous she still gets around Cat Grant, their director, about that time that she found Nia crying on a bathroom floor and sat with her for two hours past when she was supposed to go home. And Lena knows she’s barely met Kara, but she can’t help falling a little deeper with every story Nia tells. Because from what she can tell, Kara is kind and thoughtful and funny and shiny-happy-bright.

The idea of having that kind of brightness in her life is oddly irresistible to Lena. A moth to a flame.

The universe seems determined to have her meet anyone and everyone but Kara. Nia introduces her to James and Winn, who play Duke Orsino and Feste respectively, and she gets along irritatingly well with both of them. James even tries to ask her out, mentioning casually that maybe they should try and grab dinner some time, which Lena manages to pretend she doesn’t hear by responding to something that Nia asks her instead. She makes friends with several of the ushers, who greet her like an old friend on the nights that she shows up, and talks to one of them so much during intermissions that she learns the names of all of his cats. By the end of the week, she follows half the cast of the show on Instagram.

On one occasion she even meets Cat Grant, critically acclaimed director of the show, who looks her up and down with pinched cheeks and remarks dryly that she must be a very big Shakespeare fan to be such a frequenter of the show. Then she tells Lena she looks remarkably sane for a Luthor, and that she hopes everything works out for her. When she walks away, chin held high and five-inch heels clicking, the crowd parts for her tiny frame like she’s royalty.

Lena thinks she understands why Kara Danvers gets nervous around her.

Lillian calls her one evening to praise her for the interest she’s started taking in the arts, and for getting over that frankly ridiculous phase of refusing to go to the theatre. She fits so many barbs into her praise that Lena briefly considers giving up the whole thing and never going back to a theatre ever again. 

“After all, you are a fully grown adult now,” Lillian says. “I’ve been saying this for some years, and it’s good to see you finally catching on. I’m delighted you’re not throwing temper tantrums like a toddler over having to go see a play anymore. Honestly, I thought it would never end. It was terrible for the family image, disgraceful, really.”

“More disgraceful than laundering money through the family company and trying to kill Superman?” Lena shoots back, but Lillian manages to avoid answering that.

And flitting between it all is Kara Danvers, winding through Lena’s life like a ghost, always just out of reach. On several occasions, Lena makes eye contact with her during curtain calls, or scenes even—during one show, Lena is convinced that Kara delivers all her asides directly at her. Kara sends her little smirks, or blows her little kisses, or looks her way when Lena cheers, and it’s maddening. Because there’s no way that she’s doing any of those things, but Lena is convinced that she is, that Kara is somehow capable of picking her out in the audience during every single show even though it should be impossible.

Maybe she’s just going insane.

On top of that, she keeps almost running into Kara—seeing her walking down the sidewalk when she’s driving away, catching a glimpse of blonde hair disappearing through a door that she’s walking towards, even seeing her across the street one morning when she’s walking to get coffee during her break. She rushes across the street, dodging cars and narrowly avoiding being flattened and without any idea of what she might say when she reaches the other side, only to find that Kara is nowhere in sight, like she’s disappeared down an alley and flown away.

Yeah, the possibility that Lena is genuinely losing her mind increases with every passing day.

Though maybe the most horrifying thing about the whole situation is that Lena is actually starting to enjoy going to the theatre. To be fair, she is getting a little sick of this particular show—the prank that Maria, Sir Toby and Sir Andrew play on Malvolio gets less funny every time she sees it—but one awful occasion at work, she finds herself wondering what show she’s going to see next. Another Shakespeare, or maybe even that musical that Sam really likes that’s supposed to be playing here next month? Not even because she thinks she’s going to find another hot girl or several new friends at the next new show, no, just because she thinks it might be fun. Because, in a terrible turn of events, going to the theatre is no longer something that haunts her worst nightmares, but instead a neutral or possibly even enjoyable way to spend the evening.

She might actually be turning into a theatre fan.

It’s terrifying.

~

It’s only so long before someone clocks Lena on her crush.

During the intermission of an otherwise innocuous show, when Lena is leaning against the rails of the balcony of the atrium and scrolling through her emails, she’s approached by an angry looking woman with short, flippy hair dyed dark red. There’s a second woman hovering behind her, possibly her date, who looks like she’s been dragged along and would rather be anywhere else. The red-haired woman stands in front of her, arms crossed, her glare fixed silently on Lena.

Used to charged silences, Lena lets this one stew for several long moments, finishing the email she was working on and sending it, before she looks up.

“Can I help you?” she asks, quirking an eyebrow.

“Are you Lena Luthor?” the woman asks, her voice sharp and hostile. Behind her, the other woman buries her face in her hands.

“Yes? Who’s asking?” says Lena.

The woman ignores her question. “Lena Luthor?

The emphasis she puts on Luthor—suspicious, accusatory—immediately raises Lena’s hackles. It’s a tone she’s come to know like an old friend over the years, though not a friend that she’s on good terms with. Usually, people who pronounce her name like that, like it leaves a bad taste on their tongue, follow it with things like you should be ashamed, you know, or, I will never touch anything that company of yours produces or shoot her disgusted looks and guide their kids in another direction. It’s the tone in which she read every hate message and death threat she got on social media after Lex’s crimes were revealed to the world.

Lena’s spine straightens, the mask that she’s learned to flawlessly switch on as soon as she feels threatened shifting her features into something haughty, cold, intimidating.

“Yes?” she says again, her voice taking on a very different quality, enunciating each word crisply. “Who’s asking?”

“My name is Alex Danvers,” the woman says. At the abrupt change in Lena’s demeanor, she straightens too, though Lena isn’t sure if the action is conscious or not. “Kara Danvers is my sister. She plays Viola in the show.”

“Oh,” Lena says. Kara’s sister. Maybe this is the first turn-off of the whole thing. A sister who dislikes Lena without ever having met her, who looks at her like one of the people who throw coffee at her in the café. “Nice of you to come out and support her.”

“Yeah.” Alex taps her fingers against her bicep. “Nice of you, too. Seems like you’ve been to see the show a lot of times.”

“I’m a fan of the theatre,” Lena says.

“Hm, so it would seem,” Alex says. She takes a step closer, and Lena presses herself to the railing of the balcony, eyes darting to the side in search of an escape route. Alex’s date puts a hand on her shoulder, whispering a cautionary Alex, but Alex shakes her off. “I work for the FBI, just so you know.” She over-articulates the letters of FBI, as though it’s a euphemism for something else, although Lena has no idea what that may be.

“Okay?” says Lena. She’s starting to think that Kara’s sister might not be entirely sane.

Alex takes a step back, raising her hands. “Just thought you should know that. That if for some reason a Luthor keeps coming to see my sister’s show, they should know that I work for the FBI. And that we’re keeping very close tabs on anything you might be planning.”

She says FBI in the same weird way as she did the first time, raising her eyebrows for emphasis, and Lena considers the possibility that she’s having a minor stroke every time she says those three letters.

“Uh, right,” Lena says, staring at her. “I’ll… keep that in mind.”

Is it possible that Alex has figured out that Lena has a huge, hopeless crush on her sister, and that’s why she keeps coming to see the show? Does she think that Lena’s a stalker or something? Is this some extreme version of the overprotective sister act? Lena has the distinct feeling that she’s being threatened, which she’s not unused to as a Luthor, but right now she genuinely no idea what for. It’s like Alex thinks that Lena is planning something nefarious, that for some reason her being a Luthor plays into why she would keep coming to see Twelfth Night.

“Babe, can we please go?” Alex’s date asks, tugging on the sleeve of her leather jacket. “Intermission is ending in a minute anyways.”

“Yeah, okay, fine,” Alex says, ushering her girlfriend away with a hand on her lower back and sending one last glare in Lena’s direction. “I’ve got my eye on you, Luthor.”

“Have a nice night,” Lena says. She aims her tone for cold dismissal, but it lands somewhere in weak and confused instead. Alex’s girlfriend looks back over her shoulder and shoots her an apologetic grimace as the two of them walk away.

 Has Lena read all of this wrong? It’s true she’s barely spoken to Kara, but it feels like they have some sort of connection anyways, a line of buzzing electricity that runs between them, caught in eye contact made across crowded theatres and waves through car windows and stories told by people that Lena now considers her friends. A form of communication all on its own, at once captivating and maddening. But maybe that’s all in Lena’s head—maybe Kara thinks it’s creepy that she’s been to see the show so many times, and sicced her fed older sister on Lena to send her a warning. Maybe she’s another one of the many people who hate Lena for her last name and what it represents and wants Lena to know this in no uncertain terms.

Is Kara actively avoiding her? Is that why she’s only ever managed to run into her once?

The uncomfortable churning of her stomach at these thoughts lingers through the rest of the show, and Lena barely manages to pay attention to anything onstage. Even the scenes that have become her favourites over her frankly obscene number of times seeing this show fail to capture her attention. At the curtain call, Lena’s applause is distracted, less enthusiastic than usual, and she finds herself avoiding looking at Kara for once, her eyes fixed on the on the floor of the stage instead. From the corner of her eyes, she think she sees Kara grin in her direction, raising her hand to wave, but Lena just wraps her cardigan more tightly around herself and looks away. When she risks a glance back, Kara is still staring in her direction, face confused and a little concerned.

For the last few of the shows she’s been too, Lena’s gotten into the habit of lingering afterwards, often running into Nia or James or one of the other cast members she’s made friends with, but today she decides to leave as quickly as possible. She wants to get back to her apartment and bury herself in work for the next six hours until she forgets the burn of humiliation that she feels thinking back on that conversation with Alex.

Unfortunately, luck does not seem to be on her side today.

When she pushes her way outside, there are people crowding the sidewalks, shoving each as they try to get through. Distantly, she can hear sirens wailing. The cars on the road are moving at a crawl, and the lines to get back onto the main road are massive.

Great. Just great.

With a bit of poking around and a few texts to her driver, Lena figures out the cause: apparently, there’s been some sort of huge accident on a major road nearby that’s delaying all the traffic. Lena’s car won’t be here for at least another half hour.

For a while, she waits in the slowly thinning crowd, losing herself in the churning of her thoughts again. She’s just starting to seriously consider taking Alex’s words as a threat and never coming back here again when she receives a notification from her driver asking if she could cross the other side of the street so she’ll be in an easier spot to get to.

Shutting off her phone, Lena pushes through the crowd, not really bothering to look where she’s going. She spares a quick glance to the right to check for oncoming traffic and steps out into the road.

Blinding light fills her vision, paralyzing her in its field, the wail of a car horn plummeting down to the pit of her stomach, and Lena barely has time to see her life flash before her eyes before something barrels into her from the front and knocks her to the ground.

Lena’s first thought is, fuck, am I dead?

There’s a heavy weight on top of her, half pinning her to the ground. She can’t understand how her head isn’t smashed on the concrete right night with the force that barrelled her over. That wasn’t the truck that hit her, was it?

Slowly, she starts to regain her senses. First sound, the low murmur of excited dismay of observers. Then feeling—the weight on top of her is another person, she realizes, solid and warm, a hand cradling the back of her head. That must be why her brains aren’t on the concrete right now. This person has wrapped her in their arms to protect her and somehow, it worked.

As soon as she becomes aware of it, the weight leaves her as the person gets to their feet. Lena sits up, pressing a hand to her forehead, trying to stop the spinning of her head. “Holy fuck.”

“Are you okay?”

Lena looks up. The person is holding out a hand, and Lena takes it, letting them pull her to feet. Her legs are jello, and when they wobble beneath her, the person grabs both her shoulders to steady her with a soft, oh, hey.

Lena blinks until a familiar face comes into focus, windswept golden blonde hair and pinched concerned expression, and she reaches up to touch a rosy cheek. “Oh, you,” she says dreamily.

Kara Danvers has come to save her, of course. Straight off the stage to be a hero in Lena’s real life.

“Er, me. Hi. You trying to get run over?”

Lena blinks again, her hand still cupping the woman’s cheek. No, she’s wrong. It’s not Kara after all. It’s a different familiar face.

One that goes with a shiny blue suit and a red cape.

“Oh, you,” she says.

“Um, yeah, still me,” Supergirl says. “Oh jeez, you don’t have a concussion, do you? I was trying not to let your head hit the ground but sometimes I underestimate my own strength a bit…”

She trails off as Lena shakes her head, stepping away from her. Everything is coming back into focus now as the haze of adrenaline starts to fade, and there’s no real pain anywhere in her body, except maybe a few twinges where Supergirl’s fingers dug too hard into her side. She glances around her, self-conscious of the way that everyone is staring, eyes wide in shock and alarm.

“No, sorry, I’m fine,” Lena says. She presses her hand to her chest, feels her heart still pounding. “I just… thought you were someone else for a second. I’m a bit, um, shaken, I guess.”

“I’m not surprised,” Supergirl says, hands falling to her hips in her trademark pose. “You almost got flattened there. Did no one ever teach you to look both ways before you cross the street?”

Lena laughs weakly, wiping her sweating palms on her pants. Supergirl has always made her nervous, ever since the first time she saved Lena from death by helicopter crash, and now is no exception, as she stands there in the tight blue supersuit that curves to the shape of her muscles. “Of course, I was just a bit… I was a little distracted, I guess I didn’t…” She looks back to the road, but the truck that had almost made her a pancake is long gone. “Yeah. I’ll remember to be more careful next time.”

 “You should,” says Supergirl says, looking her up and down, recognition flashing in her eyes. “The Luthors have had enough bad press as it is. Probably wouldn’t be great for your reputation.”

Ah. So Supergirl remembers her. It makes sense—they’ve met several times, and she’s saved Lena from near death more than once, but it sends a slight shiver down her spine. The most powerful person in National City, who really should have it out for her after everything Lex has done to her cousin, knows her face.

Supergirl smiles to some of the people around them, waving at the people who are still gaping. “I mean, it’d be a little underwhelming to have you taken out by a car after everything.”

“Mm, probably true,” says Lena. “I’ll try for something more dramatic next time. Um. Thank you. For saving me.”

She’s expecting a quick you’re welcome, maybe a bit more of a lecture on traffic safety and not dying, especially not trying to die, and then for Supergirl to speed off as she always does. Instead, Supergirl purses her lips, considering Lena, then says, “There’s a café I really like a few blocks away that serves really good hot chocolate. Usually open pretty late, too. Good to calm your nerves a bit after a shock like that.”

“Are you suggesting or offering?” asks Lena.

The traffic is starting to clear up now, and the crowd in front of the theatre in thinning. The people who were standing around and gawking seem to decide that Lena’s alright, in safe hands, and start to move away.

“I mean, you’re still pretty pale,” Supergirl says, taking a step forward, her hand twitching like she wants to reach and touch Lena’s arm. “I don’t think it would be right to let you go alone.”

If Lex saw what she was doing right now, Lena thinks there’s a good chance he might kill her on the spot. But Supergirl bounces hopefully on the balls of her toes in a way that stirs some memory in the back of Lena’s mind that she can’t quite place, and it’s a very different gesture from her usual sturdy Supergirl power pose. It’s cute. It makes her look more human.

“I guess maybe I could use some hot chocolate,” Lena says. She brushes the dirt from her pants, then opens her purse to find her phone and reschedule her car. “Lead the way, Supergirl.”

Supergirl’s café is only a few blocks away, and they walk side by side along downtown sidewalks, lit by the light pouring out of storefronts and emanating from the streetlamps above. Cars rumble past, and there are people across the street getting kicked out of a club and yelling at the bouncer. Walking around this kind of street alone at this time of night would usually make Lena nervous, but with Supergirl’s steady presence by her side, she feels perfectly safe. Supergirl sticks close to Lena’s side as they walk—Lena thinks that this is unconscious on her part, and somehow that makes it more endearing—and the back of her hand keeps brushing Lena’s.

At the café, Supergirl orders them two hot chocolates with the works, whatever that means. The barista seems to understand, though, and she and Supergirl talk to each other old friends, which makes Lena think this place is a familiar haunt of Supergirl’s. When Lena pulls out her credit card to pay, Supergirl looks flustered and says, “Oh no, you don’t have to, I’m the one who invited you here—”

“Yes, and I’m the one who you saved from almost being turned into roadkill. Let me get it.”

“I’m… okay, fine.”

They get a little booth in a corner near the window, and Lena has to admit it’s a very cozy little place. At this time of night, it’s virtually empty, no one else in the store except the barista and an old man tucked into the back reading a newspaper. Every inch of the walls is decorated with eclectic artwork, everything from colourful abstracts to paintings of cats playing with yarn or hiding in boots. The whole place is lit with an orangey sort of glow, and soft Christmas music coming from somewhere, and the air is rich with the scent of coffee and fresh pastry.

“You know, I was lucky you were there to stop me from becoming roadkill,” says Lena. “If you’d gotten there any slower, I don’t think I’d be here to get hot chocolate right now.”

Supergirl twitches, like she’s trying to suppress a shiver. “Don’t say that. Yeah, it’s a good thing I was nearby. I was helping with the accident over on Main Street. No one was too badly hurt, luckily, but a few people had to go to the hospital… but yeah, I was just on my way back to the theatre.”

Lena wonders if she’s heard correctly. “Back to the theatre?”

Supergirl’s eyes go wide. “Uh, yeah—yeah,” she stutters. She leans an elbow on the table, and it lands directly on top of a fork that was sitting there, sending it flying across the room. “Oh, gosh, whoops. Shit.” She hops up to retrieve it and comes back a minute later with a very bent fork that she gingerly sets back down on the table. “Um, yeah I was… seeing the show today. Twelfth Night.

“You were? I didn’t know Supergirl was a fan of theatre.”

“Yep, totally am,” says Supergirl, nodding intensely. “That’s me. Supergirl. Big—big theatre fan.”

“Why were you going back there, though?” asks Lena.

“Uh…” Supergirl scratches her head. “I’m friends… really good friends with one of the cast members.”

“Oh really?” Lena says, leaning forwards across the table. “Who? I’ve met a few of them, I might know them.”

Supergirl swallows. “Kara… Kara Danvers?” she says weakly. “She plays Viola. Um, I know some of the others, too. I wanted to go see them in the show before it was over. Because Friday’s the last show, right? And the rest of my week is pretty… busy.”

Lena sits back in her seat, nodding slowly. Kara Danvers. She seems to be everywhere tonight, and every time she comes up Lena learns something new and increasingly insane about her. She has a sister who is a federal agent (Lena’s still not sure she believes that) and also extremely intimidating, for a brief moment Lena thought it had been her who saved her from being hit by a truck, and now, apparently, she knows Supergirl. Well enough for Supergirl to come to her theatre shows.

Then the other part of Supergirl’s sentence hits her. Friday. The show closes on Friday. And then Lena’s chance to meet Kara Danvers will be gone forever.

In Lena’s silence, the barista calls out that their order is ready, and Supergirl stands up so fast to go get their drinks that she almost knocks her chair over. She comes back with a big plate of pastries balanced on her elbow and smacks it down in the middle of the table.

“Hot chocolate for you,” she says, sliding a mug across to Lena.

The mug is enormous—if it was an inch or two wider, it could probably be considered a soup bowl—and there’s a veritable mountain of whipped cream on top, complete with chocolate shavings and cinnamon. “Wow,” says Lena.

“Isn’t it great?” says Supergirl, grinning like a child. “I swear, they make the best hot chocolate I’ve ever tasted here… although you’re not allowed to tell Eliza I said that. And the mugs are so big. I love it.”

“Who’s Eliza?” Lena asks, cradling the mug between her hands and lifting it to her mouth. A friend maybe? Or lover?

“Oh,” Supergirl blinks a few times. “No one. Forget I said that. Try your hot chocolate!”

Lena takes a careful sip—the mug is still almost hot enough to burn her palms, and she has no doubt the liquid inside is even hotter—and wow.

It’s rich, and sweet without being overwhelming. There’s a hint of the bitterness of dark chocolate, deliciously thick and silky smooth, and cut with the coldness of the whipped cream on top. Normally, Lena’s more of a black coffee sort of person, but this could convert her. She can’t resist going in for another sip, then another.

“Good?” asks Supergirl eagerly.

“Oh my god,” says Lena.

Supergirl laughs and reaches across the table to wipe a bit of whipped cream off the tip of Lena’s nose. When Lena stares, cup frozen halfway to her mouth, she seems to realize what she’s done and clears her throat, stuffing her hands into her lap and muttering something like sorry. Slowly, Lena reaches up and touches the tip of her nose, still watching Supergirl with wide eyes.

She’s never spent this much time this close to Supergirl before, never noticed how bright ocean blue her eyes are, or how pretty the flush of her pink cheeks is. She has a slight whipped cream mustache on her upper lip. There’s the tiny divot of a scar beside her left eyebrow, and Lena kind of wants to press her thumb into it.

“So, um.” Supergirl clears her throat again. “You’re a big theatre fan? Or at least a big Shakespeare fan?”

Lena sighs, taking another sip of her hot chocolate. “I mean, not really, to be honest. Or I didn’t used to be, anyways. I used to hate theatre. Now… I’m not so sure. I think it’s growing on me. It’s kind of scary, actually.”

“Really?” Supergirl asks. She takes a pastry from the plate in the middle and hands it to Lena, then grabs a second one for herself. “Why didn’t you like it?”

Lena chews at her lip, peeling a layer off her pain au chocolat. She pops it into her mouth, and the buttery pasty melts on her tongue. “It’s… complicated, I guess. Hard to explain.”

“I’m a good listener,” Supergirl says, “if you want to share.”

Lena looks up at her. Truth is, she kind of does want to share. She’s not sure she’s actually fully explained to anyone why she hates theatre, but it’s not like it’s a secret she wants to take to her grave. And for some reason she trusts Supergirl, beyond her superhero persona. They don’t really know each other, it’s true—she doesn’t even know what Supergirl’s real name is—but there’s something about the person who’s been sitting across from her for the past half hour that makes her want to spill her secrets. Something that makes her feel like they’ve known each other for a long time. That this person will take her secrets and hold them gently and keep them safe.

But maybe that’s all part of the Supergirl charm.

“I was adopted when I was five,” Lena says. “And pretty early after I came to the Luthors, Lilian started taking me to the theatre with the family. She thought I needed to be properly exposed to the arts while I was still young and impressionable, I guess. But it was never anything fun or child friendly, it was always the symphony, or the opera, or Shakespeare, or other some dark play where everyone died, and I just… well it had the opposite effect of what Lillian wanted, in any case. I hated it. I decided I would always hate it. And that stuck around.”

 Lena still remembers being six years old, being stuffed into frilly, itchy dresses and being prodded when she started to fall asleep and having to sit through hours of shows that she didn’t understand, tragedies where all the characters she got attached to ended up dead or operas that hurt her ears. She complained about it enough that Lionel and Lillian had a long discussion about whether she should be made to keep going, and Lena remembers overhearing the conversation sitting at the top of the stairs with her cheek pressed between the railings, small hands wrapped tight around the cool wood.

“If we’re going to take the child in,” Lillian had been saying, standing tall beside Lionel’s hunched form on the couch, “she will at least have a proper education. I won’t have an idiot for a daughter. It’s the least you can do after everything with that mother of hers.”

After that, Lena was told not to complain anymore.

“So, what changed?” Supergirl asks softly. She’s leaning on the table, head resting on her hands, watching Lena with an intensity that burns like the rays of her heat vision.

Lena considers, ripping another piece of her pastry. “If… if I tell you something, will you promise never to tell Kara Danvers?”

“Kara Danvers?” Supergirl sits up straighter. “I can’t… yeah, I mean of course. I won’t… tell her. Your secret is… is safe with me.”

“Okay. Um, okay.” Lena nods. “To be honest, I didn’t actually want to go see Twelfth Night. My mother forced me to go, because apparently nothing has changed in that respect. But I kind of… kept going back to see it again because I thought Kara Danvers was hot?” She says the last part all in a rush, ripping it off like a Band-Aid.

There’s a long pause. Over the sound system, a new Christmas carol starts playing—an acoustic version of All I Want for Christmas Is You. The man in the corner folds up his newspaper and thanks the barista as he walks out the door.

“You… what?” Supergirl asks, like she’s having a hard time processing. A slow flush has spread over her face, and her cheeks are a bright beet red that radiates down her neck. Fleetingly, Lena wonders how far down it goes.

Lena laughs nervously. “It’s pretty absurd, I know. But I thought she was cute in the first show I went to see and then I met her very briefly afterwards and she was… well.” Lena clears her throat, scratching her nose. “And originally that was kind of all it was, but then I became friends with some of the other cast members, and one of my friends got involved, and I kept trying to run into Kara Danvers but it just would not happen, and it just kind of snowballed from there. And the weirdest part is, I think I might actually like theatre now? Like, Twelfth Night is such a good show, and they do it so well, and...” She buries her face in her hands. “You must think I’m crazy.”

“No, no, not at all,” Supergirl says, tugging at her wrist. “I think that it’s nice that you’re discovering passion for something. Even if it stems from a… a crush on… Kara. I think that you’re pretty cute, actually.”

“Careful,” Lena says, taking a bite of her pastry to hide her blush. “Wouldn’t want anyone to hear Supergirl saying that about a Luthor.”

Supergirl crosses her arms, frowning, and it’s the most Lena’s seen her looking like the girl of steel since they got here. “I don’t buy that. You’re nothing like your brother. And I know I’m not all that much like my cousin. I don’t think we have to let their relationship define ours. I trust you, Lena.”

“So, what, are you saying you want to be friends?” Lena says, trying to keep the hope out of her voice. Supergirl was half the reason she came to National City, the idea that maybe she could start fresh and go down a different path than her brother, but she never imagined that their relationship would be more than business. But now, she’s drinking hot chocolate with Supergirl, and telling her things like she’s an old friend, and it’s all a little surreal.

“I thought we already were.”

“Okay,” says Lena. “Yeah. Friends. I’d like that.”

Supergirl grins, holding her hand out across the table for Lena to shake. “Imagine what we could do together. A Super and a Luthor, working together as team.”

Lena takes her hand—the skin of her palm is warm and a little chapped—and smiles. “If we were partners, we could change the world.”

“And for the record,” says Supergirl, still a little flushed—probably from the full, enormous mug of hot chocolate she drank, “I think you’ll manage to run into Kara Danvers at some point, if you keep trying. I’m sure she’d love to meet you.”

Lena leaves the café that night knowing two things:

One, she now has a crush on not one but two of the most unattainable people she could possibly have chosen to have a crush on. Ill-advised, she knows, but what can she do? Granted, her crush on Supergirl is so unattainable that it’s barely worth mentioning, but still, how could she not develop one after seeing the girl of steel with a whipped cream mustache? She’s always thought Supergirl was attractive in a distant figurehead sort of way, but it turns out she’s also cute and a little clumsy and blushes at half the things Lena says. And she wants to be friends with Lena. Despite her status as a Luthor, setting aside everything between Lex and Superman. She wants to work with Lena. She wants to be partners.

Two, she only has until Friday to run into Kara Danvers. After Friday, the whole shebang is over and done, and she’ll probably never catch another glimpse of that glowy blonde hair and radiant smile and quick-witted humor. Despite Supergirl’s words, she’s losing hope that she ever will manage to meet Kara again. The more days that pass, the more likely it seems that their two-minute encounter on the day this all began will be the one and only time that she talks directly to Kara Danvers.

Either way, Friday will be the end of it. After Friday, she can go back to her life, for better or for worse.

~

“I have a problem.”

Sam looks up from the papers she’s rifling through. She’s leaning over Lena’s desk, palms planted on either side of the stack of paper, sleeves rolled up to her elbows. “I mean, I wasn’t going to say anything, but yes, you do.”

They’ve been in the middle of a small crisis all day, and this is the first time that Lena’s been out of conference calls and board meetings long enough to do a check in and go over some things with Sam. Which is really what she should be focused on right now, but it’s been several days since she’s seen Sam—they had to skip their weekly coffee this Tuesday, much to Lena’s chagrin—and she sort of wants to forget about all that for a moment and talk to Sam her best friend instead of Sam her COO.

Lena pushes her chair from her desk with her foot, and lets it spin lazily around. “Twelfth Night closes in like two days, and I still haven’t managed to meet Kara Danvers.”

“What?” Sam says, pressing her fingers into her temples and squinting down at the report she’s trying to read. “Oh, fuck this.” She straightens, plucks the top sheet from the pile, crumples it into a ball, and throws it across the room. “No, Lena, I think your problem is that you’ve been to see this show like, twelve times just because you think one of the actors is hot.”

“It’s not just that anymore,” Lena insists, still spinning around in her chair. “I’m friends with some of the other cast members now. I’m friends with fucking Supergirl, who apparently is friends with Kara Danvers. And I’ve almost met her so many times, and we keep making eye contact, and I just… it’s a problem.”

“Can’t you just like, follow her on Instagram or something?” Sam asks, crossing the room to pour herself a glass of water. She walks back to Lena’s desk with two glasses in hand and sets own down in front of Lena. “Slide into her DMs or something? Stop going to see this stupid Shakespeare play so much?”

“I’ve tried,” Lena says. “I follow like, half her castmates on Instagram now. She doesn’t seem to exist.”

“Maybe you should just give up at this point. Maybe it’s a sign from the universe.”

“I can’t give up now. The show ends in two days. And I am anything but a quitter. Besides”—she stops spinning and scootches her chair forward to lean on her desk—“have you ever met someone who you just know that you could fall in love with, given the right circumstances? Not like, love at first sight, per se. But just the knowledge that, given time, it has the potential to turn into something great?”

Sam takes a long drink of water, staring Lena down the entire time. She swallows, sets her glass on the table, and says, “That is the most disgusting thing I have ever heard you say.”

Lena groans. “Sam.

“I’m sorry, who are you and what have you done with Lena Luthor? Last time we talked you were like, the most cynical person I had ever met, and in the past two weeks you have somehow turned into a romcom character.” She shakes her head. “Dude, you really need to get laid.”

“Shut up,” says Lena, dropping her head down onto her desk.

“Well, if you ever end up marrying this girl,” Sam sighs, settling back down over her stack of papers, “at least you’ll have a great story to tell at your wedding.”

~

There’s something melancholic about the second to last show.

Lena tries to enjoy it, she really does. But the knowledge that tomorrow is the last show, and then this thing that has become a weirdly huge part of her life over the past few weeks will be gone, hovers over her like a dark, heavy cloud. After tomorrow, she has to go back to the way that her evenings were before, staying at the office as late as possible and then going home and eating something so quickly she doesn’t taste it and then working more until her eyeballs start to ache in her head. 

She’s going to miss this. She’s going to miss the vibrancy that it’s brought into her life.

Even Kara and Nia’s antics during the show fail to cheer her up completely, though they do lift her spirits—in one of their scenes, Nia almost falls off the stage, and teeters dangerously for a moment before Kara grabs her hand and yanks her back so hard that she loses her balance and goes crashing down to the stage, Nia falling on top of her. Nia manages to save the scene quite effectively by pushing herself up on her elbows and smirking down at Kara/Viola/Cesario and saying “Well, hello there,” in a low, suggestive voice, lying almost completely on top of Kara.

 It’s the kind of improv that would be a great addition to the show if they could make it look natural more than once. The entire audience loses their minds.

Watching them makes something in Lena’s chest ache. She leaves the theatre with a drag in her step.

Lena waits on the corner that’s become her usual spot, hands tucked deep into her pockets to protect them from the cold wind that swirls around her, whipping her hair into her face. She shivers, looking up at the dark sky. Today, she’s not trying to run into anybody. There doesn’t seem to be much point anymore. Today, she’s just going to go home and go straight to sleep, and tomorrow she’ll come see the closing show, and then she’ll move on with her life.

“Lena! Hey, Lena!

The voice is half drowned by the wind, but Lena turns at the sound of her name. It’s Nia, running towards her and waving frantically. She’s wearing nothing but a tank top and sweatpants, her hair and makeup still done for the show. As soon as she stops moving, she’s shivering violently, arms wrapping tight around herself. Lena can see the goosebumps on her shoulders.

“Nia! What are you doing? You’re going catch pneumonia running around like that.”

“Had to… catch you… before you left,” Nia pants, her teeth chattering. “Didn’t… have time… to find… a jacket. Fuck, it’s cold.”

“You were—why were you trying to find me?”

Nia takes a minute to steady her breathing, and then she straightens, still holding herself against the cold. Her hair is falling out of its intricate style, wisps flapping around her face, and her makeup is running at the corners where her eyes have started watering. It makes her look a bit wild. “Are you coming to see the last show tomorrow?”

“Yes,” Lena says, baffled by Nia’s dishevelled state and the fact that she sprinted all this way to find her. “It’s your last show. I wouldn’t miss it for the world.”

“Great. Excellent.” Nia grins widely. “I have a message for you from Kara.”

Lena’s heart trips. “Kara?”

“Can you come to the show early tomorrow? Like, half an hour?”

“I—I think so.”

“Okay, great. Come around to the backstage door. It’s on the south side of the theatre, we’ll have someone there to let you in. They can tell you where to go from there.”

Nia starts to turn away, and Lena calls after her, “Backstage? Am I allowed to go backstage?”

“Who cares? We can sneak you back there no problem,” Nia says, waving a dismissive hand. “Besides, you’re a Luthor. Your family pays for like, half the building. If anyone tried to kick you out, you could probably get them fired within the hour.”

Lena winces. “You’re not wrong.”

“I have to go,” Nia says, backing away. “It is fucking freezing out here, my tits are going to freeze off if I stand out here any longer. But I’ll see you tomorrow, Luthor?”

“Yeah,” says Lena, a little baffled, a little breathless. “See you tomorrow.”

“Six-thirty!” Nia yells, as she sprints away. “Don’t forget!”

Lena doesn’t think she could if she tried.

~

The backstage door is tucked into the back wall of the theatre, innocuous enough that Lena doesn’t think she would have noticed it if she wasn’t looking. There’s a security guard standing beside it, the kind of man who looks like he could easily throw her across a parking lot, and he eyes her suspiciously as she approaches, heels clicking against the cement.

“You’re Lena Luthor?” he asks.

Lena nods, her voice lost somewhere in her throat. She’s nervous—she has been all day, really, the nerves wriggling in her stomach slowly increasing as the hours ticked steadily closer to 6:30. After three entire weeks of trying to run into Kara Danvers, she’s going to meet her for real, and not from running into her unexpectedly. No, this time, it’s because Kara specifically requested her presence.

She can’t quite shake the fear that Kara only asked her because she wants to tell Lena to fuck off once and for all in person—though that seems like a somewhat illogical reason to ask someone to come backstage before a show. Whatever the reason, Lena will know in a minute.

“Come this way,” says the security guard, holding the door open for her.

He leads her down a long hallway. The backstage of the theatre is very different from the part that Lena has grown familiar with; there’s no expensive carpets or chandeliers or high arching ceilings. The walls are plain, brick painted white, and the lights are bright, fluorescent and functional. There are bulletin boards so full of paper that Lena can no longer see the cork underneath on the walls, and closed doors on either side of the hallway. It’s like being in the bowels of the theatre, the place without all the frills, the simple, functional place behind the scenes where all of the magic really happens.  

 The security guard stops before one of the doors and knocks three times. “Miss Danvers?”

“One second!” calls a voice from inside. Then the door swings open, and there’s Kara, her hair up and her face clean of makeup, leaning out into the hall with one hand on the doorframe. She gives the security guard a little smile in greeting, and then her eyes flick to Lena, standing nervously beside him with her hands wringing, and the grin takes over her entire face. “Hi. You’re here.”

“I am,” says Lena softly. At the sight of Kara’s smile, her nerves start to melt away.

“I wasn’t sure you were going to come.”

Lena isn’t entirely sure what to respond to that. She considers how could I not, and I was just curious as to why you wanted me to, and Nia is very persuasive, but in the end, she settles with, “Well, I did.”

“Um, here, do you want to come in?” Kara asks, stepping back against the door. “I’m just getting ready right now, but I thought we could talk while I do my makeup?”

“I’d like that,” Lena says.

Kara thanks the security guard as she shuts the door behind them, and then they’re alone in her dressing room. Lena glances around, taking it all in. It’s small, and full of mirrors lined with bright, round lights, though only one of the mirrors has the lights turned on. A costume rack is tucked into the corner beside the sink, several of the outfits that Lena recognizes as Kara’s from the show dangling haphazardly from their hangers. There are a few makeup bags in front of the mirrors, mascara and lipsticks and eyeshadow palates scattered across the counter tops, a half-eaten sandwich on a plastic bag sitting in the middle of it all.

“Sorry it’s a bit of a mess in here,” says Kara, rushing to stand in front of the sandwich so she can surreptitiously stuff it back into its bag. She shuffles a few feet over and drops it into an open backpack sitting on the floor. “Nia’s usually in here too, but I, uh, bribed her to go somewhere else today.”

“I like it,” says Lena, as she slips her coat off. “It’s cheerful.”

“Oh, yeah, you can put that down wherever,” Kara says, gesturing to the coat. Lena drapes it over the back of a chair, and then stands awkwardly in the middle of the room, her hands clasped together. She feels overdressed here, in her dark turtle-necked dress and knee-high boots. Appropriate for a trip to the theatre, yes, but right now Kara is just wearing a plain tank-top, face bare and hair swinging in a high ponytail, casual and not trying too hard. Lena knows she’s going to be changing into costume in a minute, but still.

“So,” says Kara, sitting down in front of the mirror and reaching for a tube of mascara. “You’re the woman whose been to see the show like, twelve times, are you?”

Lena perches cautiously on the edge of the counter, crossing her ankles and looking over at Kara in the mirror. “Something like that,” she admits.

“Nia won’t shut up about you, you know,” Kara says, reaching up to tug out her ponytail. She digs her fingers into the soft masses of her golden hair and shakes, and Lena follows the smooth motion, mesmerized. “If she wasn’t insanely in love with her boyfriend, I would be afraid that she had a crush on you.”

“She really is a sweetheart, isn’t she?”

“She’s probably my favourite person here.” Kara turns to look at her, blonde hair cascading down her shoulders. Up close, she’s even prettier than Lena thought from afar, the curves of her face gentler without makeup. Her eyelashes are fairer without liner and mascara, and her eyes are the colour of the deepest part of the sky, and there’s a tiny divot of a scar beside her left eyebrow…

Lena frowns, blinking. No, now she’s getting Kara’s face mixed up with someone else, she’s…

Without really thinking about it, Lena reaches over and cups the side of Kara’s face.

“What—what are you doing?” Kara stutters, her voice petering out when Lena presses her thumb into the dip of the scar. She can feel it under her finger, the slight difference in the texture of the skin. It’s real. Her thumb brushes over the length of Kara’s eyebrow.

“Lena?” Kara whispers.

“You’re Supergirl,” breathes Lena.

“I’m—what?” Kara laughs nervously, and yes, the curve of her smile, it’s the same.

“I don’t know how I didn’t see it before… when you rescued me, I thought… but then I thought I was just delirious after almost being run over, but no. You are Supergirl.”

Kara looks like she’s afraid that Lena’s going to bite her head off at any moment. “You can’t tell anyone.”

Lena sits back, dropping her hand from Kara’s face. A sense of cold washes over her like a bucket of ice dumped on her head. “Oh god. You probably don’t want a Luthor knowing your true identity, do you? Not after what my brother did to Superman, not with—”

“Hey, hey,” Kara says, grabbing for her hand. “It’s okay. I told you already, I trust you. I think we could make a good team. I just… thought you might be angry. Finding out that Supergirl is… me.”

“Why would I be—” Lena starts, and then, in one abrupt motion, everything clicks into place, and her jaw goes slack. “Oh my god, that was you. At the café, after you saved me! That was you who took me out for hot chocolate! And… and I told you about… oh my god. I told you about how I kept going to see the show and how it was because… holy fuck.” Lena buries her face in her hands. “That is the most embarrassing thing that has ever happened in my life. I told you to your face that I kept going to see Twelfth Night because I thought you were hot!”

“Don’t be embarrassed!” Kara says, her voice brimming with barely contained laughter. “I thought it was cute.”

Lena looks up at her again. “You’re Supergirl,” she whispers. “Holy fuck.”

“Yeah.” Kara nods, eyes sparkling. “Sorry?”

“But then…” Another puzzle piece falls into place. “So, I wasn’t imagining it when I thought we kept making eye contact! You have super vision and… and super hearing, you really could pick me out in that crowd of thousands. You really were waving at me during curtain calls! I thought I was going insane.”

“You caught my kiss that one time,” grins Kara.

“Do you know how much time I spent trying to find you on literally any social media?” Lena asks. “I follow half the cast of the show, but I couldn’t find you, and all this time you were Supergirl.

“All my accounts are private,” Kara says. “Keeps it safer. Though actually, I’m pretty sure I’ve followed you on Instagram for years. What can I say, I’m a fan.”

“You are fucking kidding me.”

“Not even slightly. But Nia was delighted when you followed her on Instagram. She called me to scream about it for like half an hour.”

“Oh my god,” Lena says again. “All this time… we’ve even worked together before and…” Another revelation hits before she’s even finished reeling from the last one. “Oh. And that’s why your sister was threatening me. She must have thought that I’d figured that you were Supergirl, and because I’m a Luthor—” She groans. “Of course. Because I’m a Luthor, and we’ve worked together before, she must have thought I was planning something. But I had no idea, I was just… oh my god.”

“Wait, what?” says Kara. “Alex?”

“She cornered me during one of the intermissions. That same night we went out for hot chocolate, actually. That was part of the reason I almost walked into traffic by accident, I was still thinking about it, and I got distracted. She introduced herself as your sister, and asked if I was a Luthor, and kept telling me she worked for the FBI but saying it like it meant something else… oh that makes so much more sense.”

It’s such a relief to finally have all the all the pieces that Lena slumps back in her seat on the counter, her head hitting the mirror behind her as she laughs.

“Wait, Alex is the reason you almost got hit by a truck?” says Kara, disbelieving and a little angry.

“Not really. I think she was just being protective. I should have remembered my traffic safety either way. But holy shit, I was so confused, I thought she might be a little crazy. No, but I get it now.”

“Still. I’m going to have to have a talk with her about that.”

“Well,” says Lena, smiling over at Kara, who still looks a little sheepish. “I guess we’ve already met then.”

“We could do it again?” Kara offers. She holds out a hand. “Hi, I’m Kara Danvers. I play Viola in Twelfth Night. I’m also Supergirl.”

Lena takes her hand. Her palm is warm, a little rough, the same as always. “Lena Luthor. I’m the CEO of L-Corp and the sister of your cousin’s worst enemy, and I hated everything about theatre until about three weeks ago.”

Kara laughs. “What changed?”

“Take a guess.”

At that moment, someone knocks on the door and calls, “Ten minutes.”

Fuck,” hisses Kara, then calls back, “Thank you, ten!” She turns back to Lena, taking both her hands. “I have to finish my makeup and get into costume. And you should probably get to your seat. But um. We’re going out to celebrate the end of the run after the show, and I would really like it if you could come. And maybe after that we could do something just the two of us? Like a date?”

“I would like that,” Lena says, grinning at the eagerness in Kara’s face. “I would really like that.”

“Perfect,” says Kara, bouncing. “I can’t wait. Just come around back here after the show, someone will let you in.”

“I’ll let you get ready,” Lena says, picking up her coat up from the chair. “Wouldn’t want you be unprepared for your last show. Twelfth Night would not be the same without Viola, after all.”

She’s at the door, reaching for the handle, when Kara says, “Wait!”

Lena turns, and then Kara is kissing her.

It’s a simple kiss. Warm and firm, just the press of Kara’s closed lips against hers, her fingertips grazing the side of Lena’s face. The kind of kiss that doesn’t intend to go anywhere, but instead acts more like a promise. Later, there will be more. Later, there will be this.

 Kara pulls away. Lena’s eyelashes flutter open.

“For luck,” Kara whispers, touching her forehead to Lena’s.

“Good luck,” Lena says, a little dazed.

“You’re supposed to say break a leg, actually.”

“Why?”

“It’s a theatre thing.”

“Okay,” Lena whispers. “Break a leg, then.”

“Thank you. Now you should get out there before you make me miss my entrance.”

“Yes. Right,” says Lena, stepping back and clearing her throat. “I’ll see you after?”

Kara smirks. “You’ll see me onstage.”

~

Of all the times she’s gone to see Twelfth Night, Lena thinks that the final show might be her favourite.

She can’t quite explain what it is. It may just be that there’s nothing quite like good Shakespeare. There’s an energy in the performance, a sort of joy to every action. The jokes seem funnier, the emotional moments more touching, the songs sweeter. It’s Kara, shining so bright that she barely needs the stage lights on her, so bright that Lena’s not sure how any of the rest of the audience is looking anywhere else. When the curtain finally falls, and the cast comes back onstage for their last curtain call, Kara waves at everyone in the audience and hugs Nia and slings her arms over James and Winn’s shoulders. Then she catches sight of Lena in her booth, and her grin widens, and she lifts her hand to blow Lena the biggest, most dramatic kiss she can manage.

Lena would be lying if she said she didn’t reach out to catch it.

And she would be lying if she said she didn’t love theatre.