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we're all equal (in the face of what we're most afraid of)

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Lena wakes up the next morning just minutes before her alarm to find herself pinned under Kara’s warm, heavy arm. Kara always sleeps on her stomach, Lena’s noticed, her face half-smooshed in the pillow, and at some point in her sleep, Lena must have turned toward her, scooching their bodies close enough on the massive bed that Kara could drape an arm over Lena’s waist.

It doesn’t bother her, except for the fact that it doesn’t bother her.

They are both extremely naked, and Kara’s thrown the blankets off one of her legs all the way up her ass cheek, a sight which Lena does take a moment to admire before trying to extract herself from under Kara without rousing her. Obviously, it doesn’t work.

“Morning,” Kara murmurs, pulling her closer. “Mm. Is it time to wake up?”

“Almost, yes,” Lena sighs, her voice scratchy with sex and sleep. “I have a long day ahead of me.”

Kara hums sleepily, rolling onto her side and propping herself up on her non-Lena-holding elbow. “You have the Diversity in STEM panel at The Center tonight, right?”

“Mm,” Lena confirms, taking advantage of Kara’s new position to burrow her face in her neck. “Preceded by lots of meetings with lawyers and financial advisors and PR folks.”

“How long till the deal is in writing?”

“That depends on how much Cat Grant pushes back on the details.”

“How long till Andrea finds out?”

Lena works her jaw. “That depends on how much Cat Grant wants to spark drama.”

“So she might already know,” Kara snorts. “Miss Grant loves drama. She’ll pretend like she doesn’t, but. She practically lives for it.”

“Terrific.”

“Mhmm,” she responds. “Do you wanna have shower sex about it?”

Lena moans. “Oh God, I really do.”

----

Whatever role the shower sex played in how well her day ended up, Lena doesn’t know. But she manages to get through everything calm and mostly unscathed, save the inevitable interaction with Sam, who strolls into her office unannounced around lunch time.

Lena sighs. “I’m going to tell Jess to stop letting you in.”

“Don’t blame her; I waited till she went to go get your lunch, because I’m a genius,” Sam smirks. “How did it go last night?”

“Better than expected,” Lena replies. “She doesn’t hate me, or distrust me. At least not for now. She didn’t immediately storm out or yell at me. We had a mature conversation about it.”

Sam’s eyebrows hit her hairline. “You had a mature conversation?”

“I’m as shocked as you,” Lena remarks wryly. “We even discussed my emotions at length.”

“Did you finally design a convincing enough android to replace you and deal with all the bullshit you don’t want to deal with yourself?”

Lena tilts her head. “Are you implying that a robot would be better equipped to process human emotions than I am?”

“Yeah, I am,” Sam doubles down. “Jeez, getting fucked mindless really looks good on you.”

“Kara is the kindest person in the universe,” Lena relents. “It’s hard not to find myself feeling…safe, I guess.”

Speaking of which,” Sam cackles, plucking her phone from her blazer pocket. “Have you searched yourself on Twitter lately?”

Lena blinks. “Why the hell would I do that?”

“Because the thirst is real as hell on sapphic Twitter,” Sam informs her, shit-eating grin on full display. “I screenshotted a few gems, allow me to just—here. ‘Hey Lena Luthor, I ruined my sheets thinking of you and your new girl, can I borrow her abs to wash them?’”

“Dear God,” she grumbles, suddenly wishing she’d gone to retrieve her own lunch.

“This one features a picture of the two of you and reads: ‘ugh fine I guess you can both fist me at the same time.’”

Lena buries her face in her hands.

“Or, ‘Barbie and Ken had a child who grew up to fuck Lena Luthor, who knew.’”

“How do I get you to stop?”

“This one says, ‘meet my mommy and daddy, they can do anything they want to me,’” Sam hums. "And if you’d like some ideas of what to do to that user, look no further than this tweet, which simply reads: ‘Lena Luthor, run me over with a truck please and thank you.’”

“Is this entertaining for you?”

“Highly,” Sam smirks. “Some of these are explicit. ‘What an incredible Pride Month gift to me and my imagination.’ ‘My vibrator wasn’t prepared for Lena Luthor and her shirtless suitor.’ ‘I invite Lena Luthor to step on my neck and then let her girlfriend kiss it better.’ Babe, you and daddy broke the Internet.”

“That is deeply confusing to me,” Lena murmurs, then is thankfully saved from having to react further by a knock at the door. “Come in, Jess.”

Jess enters and doesn’t seem the least bit thrown to find Sam in there, merely walking up to Lena’s desk and depositing the standard salad and iced coffee lunch order there.

“Your next meeting is in fifteen minutes, I’ll email you the briefing,” she informs her. “Is there anything else I can get for you?”

“A new best friend would be lovely.”

Jess nods, going along with it. “I’ll see what I can do. Sam, do you need anything?”

“Please remove the stick from our boss’s ass, when you get a chance.”

“I’ll see what I can do about that, as well,” she replies, stifling a smile. “Let me know if you need anything, Miss Luthor.”

When the door closes behind her, Sam shakes her head. “I can’t believe you still make her call you that.”

“It’s her choice; I’ve told her she’s welcome to call me by my first name.”

“You have to be more demanding. She’s too polite, she won’t accept an invitation unless you insist.”

“Unlike you I do not find joy in making other people uncomfortable,” Lena says, then amends, dryly, “Unless that person is a straight cis white man, and then it brings me immense joy.”

Defying expectations, Lena proceeds to open her salad and actually eat it. Sam gapes at her.

“Oh my God. How much hot sex does it take to get you to need to eat lunch?”

“It takes enough,” Lena shrugs.

“You owe me details. Invasive details,” Sam reminds her. “How toppy is she?”

“That’s your first question?”

“Just wanna make sure you’re doing your fair share,” Sam jokes. “Can’t let you get selfish. Not on my watch.”

Lena raises an eyebrow and replies coolly, “I do plenty for her. Don’t you worry.”

Sam grins lasciviously. "Is she more of a 'yes, ma'am, whatever you want' kinda top or a pins-you-down-and-makes-you-take-it top? Oh, is she into anything kinky? Has there been butt stuff? You have to tell me if there's been butt stuff. It's in my contract.”

“I think that's enough for today,” Lena grumbles. “I have to prepare for my next meeting.”

“No you don’t, fuck off."

Eventually, she does successfully shoo Sam from her office. Then she proceeds through the rest of her day unscathed.

----

Around ten that evening, Lena arrives home; the second she walks in the door, she slips out of her heels and removes the six most obviously painful pins from her hair, not bothering to remove the countless others that she undoubtedly won’t even find until her morning shower.

She’s just preparing to wash off her makeup when the text comes through.

So I just experienced a new wave of reaction to you being my Final Boss.

Lena rolls her eyes, types back to Kara, Final Boss? Is that what we’re calling it?

Yes, Kara replies instantly, and then in a separate text: It occurred to me that everyone I work with has seen the pics of us so the second it's announced you're the Final Boss, all my coworkers will connect the dots that I already touched the Final Boss’s butt.

Third text:

And so they'll all look at me like someone who has touched the Final Boss's butt.

Lena bites her lip, responds back with a simple, mature, Does that bother you?

She gets back a simple, immature Nothing that involves me getting to touch your butt will ever bother me.

Feeling suddenly inspired, Lena abandons her plans to wash up and collapse, instead crafting an effortless tease.

Then it’s probably good you’re not here to see the garter belt I’m wearing. I’m not sure you could handle it.

Before her screen even times out, a text comes in from Kara.

I can be there in twenty minutes?

Half an hour later, Lena is bent over the back of her couch, cool leather pressed against her front as Kara trails heated kisses up and down the backs of her thighs.

“You were right,” she pants, her warm breath washing over Lena’s skin. “This is almost too much for me to handle. God, you’re beautiful. So beautiful. You were wearing these all night?”

“Mm,” Lena hums in confirmation. “There’s something oddly powerful about dressing as high femme as I can while representing queer women in tech.”

“Powerful,” Kara repeats, tonguing the straps holding up Lena’s stockings. “That’s the word. You look powerful. And beautiful. Did I mention beautiful?”

“Ten or twelve times,” Lena gasps out as Kara manages to undo the first clasp with her teeth. “Kara…”

“Ssh,” Kara breathes. “Just relax and let me take care of you. I’m gonna take such good care of you.”

And, well. Lena would have to be certifiable to turn down that offer. She happily gives herself over to her fate of multiple orgasms, until the point when she’s had so many that she’s not only lost count, but lost the ability to even pretend to try to keep count, and she rolls over in Kara’s arms—they’d made it to the bed, at some point—and dances her fingertips down the ladder of abdominal muscles until they reach a thatch of dark blonde curls.

“Can I make you feel good now?” she asks coyly. “Or are you not ready yet?”

“No, I’m ready, it’s just—”

Kara cuts herself off with a strangled moan when Lena’s fingers find her clit, but her hand shoots down to wrap around Lena’s wrist.

“Wait,” Kara murmurs. “I want—can I ask for something?”

“Of course,” Lena coos sincerely, delighted that Kara is speaking up for her own pleasure. “Anything you want, sweet girl. Don’t be shy.”

“It’s just—” Kara repeats, swiftly turning bright red. “Can you put it back on first?”

Lena quirks an eyebrow, allowing the slow, sultry smile to spread across her face uninhibited. “You want me to fuck you while wearing the fancy lingerie you peeled off me with your teeth?”

A shiver goes down Kara’s spine as she nods, and Lena kisses her soundly.

“Oh, that can definitely be arranged.”

Inevitably, her favorite Agent Provocateur set sacrifices its life for the cause, but Lena doesn’t mind; she merely makes a mental note to order a replacement in the morning. Perhaps multiple.

----

The next morning they get a relatively early start, considering. It could be attributed to the fact that Lena turns down shower sex for once, insistent upon making sure Kara has breakfast.

Which, of course, leads to Kara pouting.

“I can get Noonan's on my way into work,” she grumbles. “Right now I just wanna eat you.”

Lena rolls her eyes. “I beckoned you for sex on a school night and didn’t even provide snacks. Let me feed you.”

“Lena, I’m not a goldfish. I can feed myself,” Kara states. “Besides, you’re the only snack I wanted last night.”

Again ignoring the wordplay and briefly wondering why she keeps setting herself up for these things, Lena remains firm. “I’m taking you to breakfast. No more discussion.”

Kara grins goofily. “Whatever you say, boss.”

Lena raises an eyebrow at her, and she counters by flopping back onto the bed, the sheets pulled up only to her hips, leaving her gloriously topless, her breasts fanning out as she stretches her arms.

“You’re determined to make this impossible for me, aren’t you?”

“Me? Never.”

Lena bites her lip, her resolve thinning with every second of eye contact she holds with Kara’s nipples.

“Fine,” she acquiesces. “One round in the shower, but then I’m calling Cooper and taking you to breakfast.”

----

She’s sitting in Noonan’s, watching Kara eat her weight in sticky buns when Jess’s text comes through.

I was greeted this morning by two voicemails from Miss Rojas’s assistant.

Lena holds in a sigh, types quickly.

Tell her I’m in Prague.

Jess replies with a simple thumbs-up emoji, and Lena puts her phone down, confident in her assistant’s ability to handle that situation, at least in the interim.

“You can go to work,” Kara tells her. “I know you’re important. You can go to work if you need to.”

Lena shakes her head, returning to her coffee. “I guarantee you that isn’t important.”

And then, looking at Kara, at her earnest, heartfelt, icing-covered face, Lena feels suddenly compelled to add:

You are important.”

Even with her mouth full, she manages a small, genuine smile, then she pushes her glasses up her nose with the butt of her palm (as it’s the only thing not covered in gooey sugar) and persists.

“I know you want to be here with me,” Kara rephrases. “But all I’m saying is, I understand if you have to be somewhere else. My sister is an ER doctor—I know sometimes a person has to run off and save a life or put out a fire, or whatever. I won’t be offended.”

Lena just shakes her head again. “My fires can wait until you finish your breakfast.”

Kara shrugs, relenting. She rips off another piece of her sticky bun and furrows her brows. “So are you gonna be Noonan’s landlord now?”

“I suppose so,” Lena murmurs, glancing over to the milk station where she ran into Andrea two weeks ago.

They’d made this choice deliberately. Kara gave her multiple outs, multiple opportunities to change her mind about going to breakfast in a place where the likelihood of her running into Andrea again is high, but Lena refused. She refuses to be scared anymore; she’s about to own this place, after all. She’s doing well, she’s taking her power back. She’s not afraid of Andrea.

More importantly, she’s not afraid of herself. She’s not afraid of what she’ll do in reaction to Andrea; she’s not afraid she’ll let the other woman get to her. Not this time. This time she has to stay strong, will stay strong.

And yes, doing so would be easier with Kara by her side, or at least on her side, but Lena knows she might have ruined that. She knows not to count on that, but she knows she’ll manage anyway.

The server comes over, resurfacing Lena from her thoughts by staring directly at Kara, all batting eyelashes and toothy smiles, and asking her:

“Can I get you anything else?”

Kara looks mournfully at her one remaining sticky bun, then lifts her gaze to Lena’s face, clearly putting real work into resisting a pout.

“Yeah, just a couple more sticky buns to go, please,” Kara responds, but Lena raises an eyebrow and downright glares at her, so she pales a bit and hastily amends, “I mean. For here. Sorry.”

“And more coffee, please?”

The server shoots Lena a glare as she snatches up her empty cup before walking away, and Lena reaches across the table to place her hand on Kara’s (thankfully clean of icing) wrist.

“I’m in no hurry,” she says softly. “I like spending time with you, and I want to continue to. Is that okay?”

Kara smiles, nodding eagerly. “Yeah. Yeah, I like spending time with you, too.”

When the server returns to find them gazing fondly at each other, Lena’s hand still on Kara’s arm, she sets down the plate of sticky buns and cup of coffee a little harder than necessary. Kara, for her part, notices the reaction.

“I think we upset Crystal,” she says. “She flirts with me a lot.”

“Really? Imagine that,” Lena replies dryly.

“At least she didn’t ask for a threesome,” Kara murmurs. “Or any of the other things people on Twitter have been asking for.”

Lena’s stomach drops. “I’m sorry, what?”

“Didn’t Sam send you any of the screenshots?”

Repressing a groan, Lena takes her hand off of Kara in favor of massaging her own temples against the impending tension headache.

“Why is Sam texting you?”

Kara tilts her head, clearly confused. “She asked to follow me on Instagram at Youth Pride the other day. She said she’d already asked you if it was okay.”

A beat.

“…And I’m now realizing I should have checked with you myself. Shoot. I’m sorry.”

“It’s not your fault,” Lena sighs. “She’s a mom at heart—although with the dirtiest mind around. She’s just looking out for me, in her own deranged way.”

Kara snorts. “Sounds like something Alex would do. Her ex-fiancée is a cop, and back when they were together, Alex used to ask her to run background checks on anyone I dated.”

Lena raises an eyebrow. “Your sister fascinates me.”

In an almost unprecedented move, Kara stops eating. “Huh?”

“Most the time, she seems like she would consider punching someone just because they converted oxygen to carbon dioxide,” Lena deadpans. “And yet she makes you get three physicals a year, runs illegal background checks on your dates, and turns into a completely different person when she so much as looks at Kelly.”

Despite Lena’s bluntness, Kara laughs. “Yeah, that’s Alex.”

She pops another bite of sticky bun in her mouth, smiles contentedly at the taste.

“She’s had a rough time,” she shrugs. “She was an only child until she was a teenager, technically, but Eliza and Jeremiah were always so involved in their work. Like, my cousin Clark?”

Lena tenses at the name, and Kara frowns briefly.

“No, just. The reason he looks up to the Danvers so much is that when his parents died, he was at the college Eliza teaches at. He was her student, and the school—well, they were not exactly helpful. His parents were helping pay for his tuition and his housing and stuff, then they died in a car crash and there was this whole investigation that kept the money from immediately going to him—anyway, the school kicked him out of student housing, briefly, because he didn’t pay. And as soon as Eliza found out, she took him in. He slept in their guest bedroom until he sorted it out, and it took like, two months, and she never made him feel anything but welcome.”

Lena blinks. “And…Alex?”

Kara shrugs again. “I don’t know. All I know is Eliza and Jeremiah depended on her a lot to take care of me. To help me feel welcome, and settled, and—I mean, I slept in her room because I was too afraid to be alone. Until she went to college, she had to share her room with me, because I was too afraid to sleep alone, in case…in case. It only got worse after Jeremiah died. Eliza was a mess, understandably, and Alex stepped up and became everything everyone else needed. It’s like she never even took care of herself, until Jonn made her. Some habits are hard to kick, you know?”

Frowning, sipping her coffee, Lena considers this. “So what was it like for you, then? The first night after Alex went to college, and wasn’t sleeping in the same room as you?”

Kara looks up, perplexed. “I mean. She went to a lot of sleepovers. She had this friend—well, you know, quote-unquote friend who was actually her first big gay crush—named Vicki, and Alex would sleep over at hers a lot in high school.”

“That wasn’t my question,” Lena retorts coolly. “The first night after Alex went to college, and you realized you had to sleep alone until you could go to college yourself, how did that feel?”

There’s a weighty pause, but Lena doesn’t back down. Kara reaches for a napkin, starts restlessly rubbing icing off her fingers.

“She called me,” she murmurs. “We dropped her off at Stanford, and then Eliza and I didn’t go immediately back to Midvale. We stayed in a hotel that night. And Alex called me. She called me from the lounge on her floor, and I went out into the hallway outside my and Eliza’s room, and we talked like we normally would. We would usually talk before bed. We’d be in bed, lights turned out, and we’d talk. Not all the time, but. When she called me, it felt like the times we would. She gossiped about her new roommates, complained about closet space. It felt like normal. And then she asked me to take care of Eliza, and she told me she’d always pick up the phone. If I called her, it didn’t matter if she was driving or in class or asleep, she’d pick up the phone. When we hung up, I went back into the hotel room, and Eliza was already asleep in the other bed, so I didn’t have to sleep alone that night, but I knew that when I did…it wouldn’t be so bad. Because I wasn’t alone. I’ll never be alone, as long as I have Alex. Even when we fight, I can always call her, and she’ll always pick up. That’s true for anyone she loves. If you matter to her, she's always there when you need her.”

Lena smiles tightly. “That’s sweet.”

Kara’s eyebrows furrow, crinkling above her nose. “You don’t have that.”

“Sam is there for me, when I let her be,” Lena defends her best friend. “I make it a point not to bother her. She has a child. Ruby is more important, and I refuse to distract from her with my own endless drama. Ruby is more important.”

“What about when you and Andrea were together?” Kara asks. “If you called her during your good periods, would she always answer?”

A glance down at her coffee apparently tells Kara all she needs to know in this situation.

“That’s crap,” Kara declares. “If someone matters to you, you answer when they call.”

“I believe we have once again encroached on familiar territory,” Lena remarks. “You’ve had healthy relationships. I haven’t.”

Kara pauses, bites her lip. “Am I allowed to ask about him?”

“No,” Lena snaps. “You absolutely are not.”

“Okay,” Kara nods, but offers, meekly, “But it might make you feel better.”

Lena glares around their table, ensuring nobody is within earshot before leaning forward and lowering her voice to a dangerous whisper.

“I do not want to feel better,” she hisses. “I want to miss him, and I want to love him, and I want to hate him, and I want to hate myself, and drown in guilt and anger and grief over everything that happened, because otherwise, what was the point of it even happening?”

She leans back in her seat, draining her coffee and blinking back her tears.

“I do not wish to feel better,” she iterates quietly.

Kara nods again, repeats, “Okay,” but this time, does not attempt to push further. In fact, she changes the subject breezily, inquiring, “Am I gonna get to see you tonight?”

“Probably not,” Lena sighs. “I have a lot of work to catch up on, and I need to get ahead of things so I can fully enjoy our weekend without interruption.”

The beam that spreads across Kara’s face could bring a ship safely to shore from two oceans away. “So I’ll see you at Priday, then?”

“I wouldn’t miss it,” Lena assures her.

----

Sam is already headed upstate to Ruby’s soccer tournament, so Lena can’t mimic the other woman’s signature move of entering someone’s office just to menace them, and thus she settles for a text message.

You harass me for months to find someone and when I finally do, you slide into her DMs?

Sam’s reply is smart-ass as ever: How else am I supposed to get dick pics????

Lena scowls. It serves you right to be stuck on a bus full of thirteen-year-olds all day.

Sam: I have noise-cancelling headphones 😘

Rolling her eyes at her friend’s antics, Lena settles for a loving: If karma is on my side they will break soon.

🖕🖕 Direct your karma elsewhere bitch 🖕🖕

----

When Lena slips into the back of Cooper’s car at six o’clock sharp Friday evening, she can’t help but feel suspicious.

According to Jess, Andrea’s assistant called consistently throughout the day on Thursday, only for all calls to abruptly cease today. There have been no unexpected visits, no “surprise” run-ins. No calls to her work phone from blocked numbers. Andrea has made it clear that she knows, and yet has not overtly acted upon the knowledge, and Lena’s try not to be nervous about it but she’s nervous about it.

Still, she tries to push those feelings aside. They aren’t worth lingering on—Andrea isn’t worth lingering on. So she spends her shower packing all those thoughts and feelings into her tiny little boxes as she’s so adept at doing, and she focuses on trying to have a good night.

She chooses not to wear a skirt, rather opts for a pair of tight black jeans which she suspects Kara will appreciate all the same, trying to achieve a more casual vibe than she’s managed before—she even literally wears her hair down, embracing the subtle waves it’s developed after a day in a tight, involved updo. She keeps her makeup simple, finds a shirt that accentuates her cleavage without being too obvious about it, and by the time she leaves her apartment to meet her Uber, she actually feels good about herself. Maybe even a little bit confident, or at least more so than is typical of her, because she’s anxiously awaiting That Look from Kara.

There’s this specific way that Kara looks at her that makes Lena feel like maybe this incredible woman maybe does, maybe could actually like her back, and Lena is hyperaware of it, has paid acute attention to every time Kara has given her That Look, to what aspect of her That Look is directed at—although the last part is difficult, because it’s not always as simple as Kara likes her ass, Kara likes her neck, Kara likes her hair. Sometimes Kara gives her That Look based on a thing Lena does, or says. As if Kara could be attracted to Lena’s personality, or something, which is something that frankly baffles Lena, so she focuses on what she can do to make sure Kara gives her That Look based on her appearance. That she can more easily believe, and control, and replicate. She focuses on that.

She knows it’s shallow, but. She can’t help it. She loves That Look, lives off That Look, and if there’s a way she can manage to manipulate it into existence, then she can’t even be ashamed of whatever actions she takes to do so.

She just wants Kara to give her That Look.

----

Kara gives her That Look. She’s actually waiting outside The Tower for her to arrive, leaning against the brick wall next to the door, wearing ripped jeans and a loose muscle tee, eager as a puppy to greet her, and as soon as Lena opens her car door, she hurries ahead to help her out, and she closes the door after her and takes Lena’s hands, looking her over and giving her That Look.

“Hi,” Kara grins.

“Hello,” Lena replies, kissing her briefly on the mouth. When she pulls back, Kara’s grin has gotten even dopier, and she repeats:

“Hi.”

Then she rushes ahead to open the door for her, and Lena rolls her eyes but heads through anyway.

“Thank you,” she says demonstrably, and Kara nods, still grinning.

“Yeah. Hi.”

“What is wrong with you?” Lena laughs as Kara catches up with her and puts out her hand to help Lena up the stairs. “I mean, you’re always a gentleman, but why the extreme measures?”

“I’m just really happy you’re here,” Kara admits, a blush crawling up her neck. “I’m happy to see you.”

“You saw me less than thirty-six hours ago,” Lena reminds her dryly. “You fucked me less than thirty-six hours ago.”

“Nuh uh,” Kara pouts. “When we got out of the shower, it was just before seven in the morning, and now it’s just past eight at night.”

Lena rolls her eyes once again. “My apologies. No wonder you’re so antsy. Thirty-seven whole hours without seeing me naked? How have you survived?”

“It’s been rough,” Kara plays along. “I’m barely hanging on here.”

Before they even reach the top of the stairs, Lena stops them in their tracks, pushing Kara’s body against the dimly-lit staircase railing, inserting her hands into the low armholes of her muscle tee to run her hands up and down the firm oblique muscles there.

“Hmm,” she sighs merrily at the feeling, slips her fingers under the bottom of Kara’s sports bra. “I suppose it does make sense.”

Lena,” she whispers scandalously.

“I’m too sober to let you fuck me in the bathroom right now,” Lena teases. “But three or four drinks from now, I won’t be able to rule it out.”

Kara looks around, ensuring they’re alone in the dark stairway before sneaking her hands low on Lena’s hips, tucking one of her hands into Lena’s back pocket and giving an indulgent squeeze.

“We don’t have to,” she murmurs. “I can wait. I just like being around you, no matter what we’re doing.”

“Did you know I’m not wearing underwear?”

Kara’s eyes go wide, and she gives another quick, almost unconscious squeeze to Lena’s butt. “You’re—what?”

“I’d never take that risk in a skirt—we all know how that can end up—but in jeans, I can be much more daring.”

“You’re trying to give me a heart attack,” Kara accuses, gulping. “Oh my God. Do you know CPR?”

“You don’t administer CPR for a heart attack, darling, only for cardiac arrest,” Lena clarifies, pressing two fingers just below the hinge of Kara’s jaw and clicking her tongue. “You definitely still have a pulse. Although it is racing.”

“Well, gee whiz, I wonder why.”

Lena can’t help but bark out a laugh. “Gee whiz?”

“Don’t make fun of me after you’ve broken my brain,” Kara pouts. “Speaking of which, we should get inside. If we’re gone too long, Nia will be ruthless.”

“Nia’s already here? Am I that late?”

“Oh, no, Nia is always early to Priday.”

“Does Jonn not charge her for drinks?”

Kara smirks. “Megon usually gives her half-price.”

“She knows I’m buying, right?”

“Come on,” Kara groans. “This isn’t sustainable, you always buying everyone’s everything. When will it end?”

Lena shrugs. “Consider it a Pride Month special.”

Kara perks up at that. “Wait. As in, like, come July 1st, you’ll stop paying for everything, but you might still hang out with us? Like, more specifically, you might still date me?”

Lena is viscerally transported back to when Alex declared her sister as having “no chill,” and can’t help but agree with that assessment more than ever.

“Did you think, when I acknowledged we were dating, that I was still applying your arbitrary deadline?”

Kara merely shrugs.

“Yes, silly girl,” Lena tuts. “Come July, we will still be dating. If that’s okay with you.”

Kara beams brightly once again, nods enthusiastically. “I’m very okay with still dating you come July 1st. It’s Canada Day, did you know that?”

“What a lovely occasion to still be dating,” Lena deadpans.

“We can go on a poutine date, and maybe you’ll let me pay.”

“Maybe,” Lena replies cynically. “No promises.”

“About you letting me pay, or about you eating poutine?”

“Both.”

“Fair enough.”

For a moment after that, they just look at each other. Take each other in.

Until they hear giggles from the street, and Kara reacts quickly, breaking up their embrace before the large, loud group of queers floods into the vestibule. Kara and Lena hurry up the stairs and around the corner into the bar more urgently than necessary, just for the fun of it—Kara even exaggeratedly puts her finger to her lips to shush Lena when the latter lets out a reactive little giggle to being pulled along for the ride—and they don’t end the act until they are “safely” at the crowd waiting in front of the bar.

“That was close,” Kara jokes, and Lena laughs, swinging their joined hands between their bodies.

“You’re ridiculous,” she murmurs, and Kara grins.

“You like it.”

Lena declines to comment.

----

Armed with a double scotch, Lena approaches the table of Kara’s friends with a little less trepidation than expected.

They greet her jovially enough—though Nia does whisper something suggestive into Lena’s ear when they hug—and they engage in familiar enough small talk and banter as they settle into their seats at their seemingly-always-reserved table in the quietest, closest-to-secluded corner of the bar. Winn loudly and immediately decides they “need” shots, so he disappears with James to fulfill that task shortly after Lena and Kara sit down.

“Are you going to Dyke March with us tomorrow, Lena?” Nia pipes quickly, and Lena watches the rapid blush color Kara’s cheeks.

“Nia, she just got here, give h—”

Lena silences her by replying, “Of course I'm going. Why wouldn’t I?”

And even if she hadn’t already planned on going, Kara’s smile alone would have convinced her.

----

The night goes well until it doesn’t.

It starts when Kara, still apparently having not learned, asks her to dance, and Lena inevitably declines while still insisting that Kara go off with her friends and enjoy herself without a shred of guilt.

So Lena is left at the table. Alone. Or, rather, she’s alone until she isn’t.

“Funny how you can be on a last-minute business trip while simultaneously being in a bar with cardboard coasters advertising domestic beer.”

Andrea’s voice, dripping with judgement, makes Lena’s entire body clench.

“It’s a charming little hole in the wall, isn’t it?” she continues to snark, sliding into a seat across from Lena, dressed to kill without a hair out of place, her eyes dark and cold.

“If you hate it that much, there’s this really convenient solution for that,” she retorts. “It’s called leaving.”

“I suppose that’s one option,” Andrea hums, as artificially saccharine as a tank truck of Splenda. “Alternatively, I could swoop in and buy the place behind the back of one of my oldest, closest friends. Isn’t that what people do nowadays?”

Lena doesn’t take the bait, just sips her drink, beyond exasperated. “Why are you here, Andrea?”

“A very helpful Twitter user photographed you and the vanilla protein shake entering this bar earlier tonight,” she tsks, folding her hands on the table before lifting them quickly, frowning. She takes a nearby cocktail napkin and wipes the surface down a few times before she puts her hands back down, all the while elaborating, “Did you know many people on the Internet are fascinated with the two of you? Attracted to, even. There are even some poor, misguided individuals who are under the impression you might top them and explicitly request you do things to them which I know for a fact you’d much rather have done to you.”

Lena ignores this, too, merely repeats: “Why are you here?”

“Lenita,” Andrea tuts. “Let’s not play this game.”

“I’m not playing a game,” she stresses. “Blocking your number, changing my personal number, having my assistant duck your calls and lie to you about my whereabouts—that is not a game. I am not engaging in some elaborate hide-and-seek with you, hoping you’ll…what? Search the depths of social media for blurry photos of me taken without my knowledge to track me down? I am not playing a game with you; I don’t want to see you.”

“Then explain it to me,” Andrea snarls. “Explain to me how you could do this to me. How. After all we have—”

“Don’t you start talking to me about ‘all we have been through,’” Lena scoffs. “Half of ‘what we have been through’ is what you have put us through, so don’t even start.”

"You owe me an explanation."

"I owe you nothing," Lena retorts coolly.

“This was an ugly, vicious move, even for you,” Andrea returns. “Who told you, hm? Who told you about my offer?”

“It certainly wasn’t you,” Lena breathes. “You’ve been trying to buy CatCo for almost a year. We only broke up four months ago. We were together when you decided to make a bid, and you didn’t even—”

“Well maybe I knew you’d do something fucked up like this,” Andrea bites back. “Just to spite me, just to—no, that isn’t true. I never thought you’d do something like this, nena. You know the position I’m in. You know what’s going on with my father, with his—”

“Do not bring your father into this. He has nothing to do with this, he’s just an excuse for your self-serving—”

“Self-serving? I’m self-serving after you undercut me for no reason but to betray me, and hurt me, and fuck me over?”

“My reasons are valid,” Lena emphasizes, staring firmly and with equanimity into the depths of Andrea’s soul. “You know exactly what they are, and so I needn’t outline them for you. My reasons are good, and that is why I managed in one unplanned phone call with Cat Grant what you couldn’t achieve in over a year of formal negotiations.”

Andrea shakes her head. “Lillian would be so proud of you.”

Lena lets those words sink in. Not so much the words, but the fact that Andrea said them. The fact that Andrea chose them, likely with no other intent but to hurt her.

It’s far from the first time Andrea has evoked Lillian’s name in their arguments. Far from the first time Andrea has used her family as an insult. Hell, Andrea, historically, hasn’t even been above mentioning Lena’s birth mother in hopes of causing her pain. And while this particular quip is far from the worst thing Andrea has ever said to her, it’s somehow more poignant to Lena.

Perhaps because it doesn’t hurt her at all.

She knows she’s right. She knows Andrea is wrong. She knows Andrea is hurtful, harmful. She knows their patterns, knows what’s supposed to happen next: she’s supposed to back down. She’s supposed to defend herself, supposed to scramble to prove that Andrea’s words are false and in doing so, yield to Andrea’s demands and somehow end up begging for Andrea’s forgiveness.

Then Andrea, only after having won, would apologize. Say she didn’t mean the things she said, she was just hurt and lashing out, and Lena would say she forgives her even though she wouldn’t, and Lena would still feel the pain Andrea caused, would still feel small and worthless and evil and hated, would still feel like she was the wrong one, like she was the bad one.

She’s tired of it. She’s tired of it, and in any case, it’s impossible for her to capitulate here. There’s no going back from what she’s done, even if she wanted to, which she doesn’t. She stands by her actions.

So, she stands from the table.

“I’m not going to sit here and let you make me feel like I’m the villain here,” Lena tells Andrea. “I’m walking away, now.”

She only makes it a few steps before there’s a hand on her arm.

“I don’t want to see you fail, nena,” Andrea states, cool and level. “It’s a mess over there without Cat Grant. I don’t want to see you fail, and we both know you don’t have it in you to run two companies, and you certainly don’t have it in you to fix one. Not without Jack.”

Despite all her armor, that barb cuts her to the bone. Still, she tries to stay calm. She takes a deep breath, turns around, and doesn’t react. She doesn’t react, doesn’t speak, doesn’t flinch or quiver. She doesn’t even revel in the visible ire that her lack of reaction provokes in Andrea—she just stands, and stares at her, and waits for her lack of reaction to cause Andrea to up her game, to say something vicious and horrible and unforgivable, like always.

“Do you think he’d be proud of you, too?”

Lena opens her mouth, but doesn’t have time to speak before a warm, strong arm loops around her shoulders.

“Come on, Lena,” Kara says simply, a bright smile on her face. “Let’s go.”

“We’re talking here, Twinker Bell,” Andrea barks.

“No, you’re not,” Kara retorts harshly, still wearing a paradoxically kind smile. “Because I’m guessing the only reason you know Lena is here is because you’ve seen pictures of her here. Which means you know there might be people here taking pictures, and so you’re not gonna do this to her. You’ve done enough, so whatever big, blowout confrontation you want? It’s not gonna happen here. Lena and I are walking away, and you’re going to leave. Otherwise you’re gonna have a huge problem.”

Kara takes Lena’s hand and starts to lead her away, but Andrea storms after them, grabbing the back of Lena’s upper arm.

“Lenita—”

“Do not touch her,” Kara growls, instantly darkening as she rounds on Andrea, stepping in front of Lena to physically block Andrea from coming near her. “I’m serious, Miss Rojas. You need to leave, now, before the many, many friends Lena and I have in this bar make you leave. And I don’t think you want that to happen.”

“You don’t scare me,” Andrea snaps. “Who the fuck even are you?”

At that moment, as if on cue, Alex and James flank Kara, with Winn, Brainy, Kelly, and Nia hanging back, but making their presence known.

“Everything good?” Alex asks pointedly, and Andrea scowls at Kara.

“Well now who’s making a scene?”

Andrea starts to walk off, and Alex grabs Kara’s arm.

“Make sure she leaves.”

Kara looks to Lena, immediately starts to protest. “But—”

“You’re the face she knows,” Alex argues. “Jonn is keeping an eye. If she gives you any trouble he’ll be there before you can even think to call for him. Make sure she gets to the street and leaves.”

Kara looks again to Lena, who nods, giving her permission to carry out the assigned task. As soon as Kara is out of earshot, however, Alex pulls Lena aside.

“Are you okay?” she asks curtly, and Lena nods.

“Yes. I think so.”

“I want to like you,” Alex continues, sounding exasperated. “But you make it really hard sometimes. What the fuck was that?”

Lena grinds her back teeth. “That was my ex.”

“I know that,” Alex snaps. “Kelly told me about the picture she has on her desk of the two of you. And now she’s here, all scorned woman raising hell? If you are fucking over my sister and I just defended you, I swear to God—”

“I’m not fucking her over,” Lena insists. “It’s just…complicated.”

“I understand that, but my sister looks at you like you invented donuts,” Alex scoffs. “So tell me you aren’t using her as—I don’t know what. Just tell me what’s going on.”

“I’m not using her,” Lena asserts. “Kara hasn’t told you any of this?”

“Any of what?” Alex asks.

Lena bites her lip. “Andrea and I are very, very over. This has nothing to do with our former romantic relationship. She hunted me down and cornered me tonight because…she was trying to buy CatCo, and I swooped in and snatched it out from under her. I have personal assurance from Cat Grant that I will own her company within a matter of weeks.”

Alex steps back.

“What the fuck?”

Lena gestures vaguely. “Andrea was trying to buy it. And I didn’t do it purely out of spite, I promise. She was buying it for all the wrong reasons, and I didn’t want to see a good media outlet become a clickbait machine shamelessly promoting corporate interests. Spite may have spurred me, but I maintain that my intentions are good.”

“Does Kara know?”

“Yes.”

Alex scrubs her face. “Jesus Christ. My sister really has a thing for fucking the boss, doesn’t she? Jesus.”

“I’m doing everything I can to keep her out of it,” Lena promises. Alex doesn’t get a chance to respond before Kara shows back up, immediately placing her hands on Lena’s shoulders and squaring their bodies toward each other.

“Are you okay?”

“I’m fine, darling, I—”

Lena stops, resets.

“Actually, I don’t know,” she admits, feeling tears burn behind her eyes. “I don’t know if I’m okay, but—I didn’t back down. I didn’t succumb to it, I didn’t take her bait. Didn’t stoop to her level. Not even when she—”

Lena blows out long breath, then wraps her arms around Kara’s waist, burying her face in her neck.

“Thank you,” she murmurs into Kara’s skin. “You came just in time.”

“M’sorry I didn’t see her sooner,” Kara mumbles back. “And m’sorry I didn’t punch her. I really wanted to punch her, but Alex told me not to.”

“Your sister is a wise woman,” Lena laughs.

They separate, and Lena takes both of Kara’s hands.

“Can we just pretend this didn’t happen, for a little while?” she asks. “Can we go back to trying to have a fun night without this…fucking Andrea-shaped pall over the room?”

Kara nods. “Anything you want.”

They walk back over to the table, where Nia hands them both a shot with a knowing nod, and Lena takes it gratefully, clinking her glass with Nia’s before they both down the liquor inside. James is next to greet her, handing her a fresh scotch.

“You bought CatCo,” he rumbles. “Didn’t you?”

Lena exhales. “Yes. I did.”

James shakes his head. “Fuck yeah. That’s amazing.”

“It’s badass,” Winn agrees.

“I thought I saw the wheels turning in your head after I told you about Andrea Rojas’s offer,” James chuckles, sipping his own drink. “Jesus. Well, hey. Welcome to the company, boss.”

He and Winn hold up their drinks, and Lena raises hers in acknowledgement.

“Welcome, boss,” Nia echoes with a wink. “Is this a good time to talk to you about how my internship is almost over and I’m really hoping it’ll turn into a job offer?”

Lena smirks. “Let’s save that discussion for business hours. For now, let’s just forget all this Andrea nonsense and enjoy Pride while we have a chance.”

“From what I’ve observed, a member of a friend group having a dramatic encounter with their ex is in fact an integral Pride experience,” Brainy offers.

“That is true,” Kelly tuts. “Last year Alex ran into someone she’d once had a one-night stand with, and it definitely is a top contender for the most awkward I’ve ever seen her.”

“Okay, she doesn’t even live in this city!” Alex attempts to defend herself. “I was caught off guard.”

“You were extremely awkward,” Kara cackles.

“At least you didn’t have to talk me down from punching anyone,” Alex snorts, and Kara laughs again.

“Okay, yeah, fair.”

“Thank you all, by the way,” Lena says suddenly, trying not to choke on the words and only mostly succeeding. “I mean, you didn’t have to do that. You didn’t have to stand by me like that, and I just want you to know I appreciate it.”

“We absolutely did have to,” Alex counters, like Lena just said the dumbest thing a person could say.

“You’re our people, Lena,” Kelly explains much less judgmentally than her girlfriend could ever manage. “This is our space, and we won’t tolerate anyone coming in here and treating our people poorly.”

“We have house rules for a reason,” Nia continues. “I keep trying to get Jonn to post them more prominently, perhaps in a cute rainbow font in the hall outside, but. He’s a minimalist like that.”

“Still,” Lena murmurs. “I appreciate it.”

Kara snakes her arm around Lena’s waist. “Any time, babe. Even come July."