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Cuddle Cure

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It’s 11am on a Monday, Lena is crying, and there’s a massive teddy bear wiggling at her from across the park.

She wipes her eyes, and looks again.

Yup, for sure, definitively, this sentient, human sized teddy bear, was waving so exuberantly its entire body was shaking, directly at Lena’s lonely little bench. She looks around, but the rest of the park is deserted. 

What the hell,  she thinks, rising and making her way to the mass of fluff. It wasn’t as if this bear could reverse the fact that her brother had thrown her under the bus for a failed business venture she’d had absolutely no part of, but saying hi couldn’t hurt. Probably. Anyways, it looked unstable just standing there so if anything, she could push it over and run.

“Hello”, she says quietly, studying its face for the person inside. The mesh is too thick to discern any features, and the bear is moving too much in what seems like an introductory starfish jump. It straightens, bringing both stubby arms up to its face and miming wiping something away.

“Oh, yes”, Lena confirms. “I was crying. Just one of those days, you know?”

The permanently grinning face bobs as the bear nods seriously. It gestures at the bench behind it and Lena takes a seat, shifting aside to make room for the bear. After a moment, it turns to her and circles its arms in a “go-on” gesture. Briefly, Lena considers that it’s a ploy to get her to confess trade secrets about L-Corp, but the mental image of her competitors deploying a sentient bear is so ridiculous it actually brings a smile to her face.

“Family issues”, she settles on, because stranger danger and all that. “They call it unconditional right up until you disagree, and then it’s like you’ve singlehandedly torn the family apart. I just-” She falters, mentally coming to terms with the fact that 1. She’s about to bare (haha) her soul to a bear, and 2. She’s fine with it. 

“I just want to be good enough.”

And goddammit, she’s crying again. At a bear. She supposes it’s better than crying alone. The bear raises an arm, pokes her in the cheek to catch a tear, and then rests the arm atop her head. It’s so awkwardly comforting that she can’t help but lean into it a little bit.

 “Sorry, I think I’m just overly sensitive”, she sniffles, trying to regain her composure. “I’ll-hmpfh!”

In lieu of verbally protesting, the bear physically stops Lena’s self-deprecation with a paw to the face. Misjudging the distance, Lena receives a solid thump to the face, and the arm immediately retracts, the bear lifting both arms to its face and bowing its head in apology. 

Smirking, Lena takes advantage of the covered mesh to shove at one fluffy shoulder. The bear tips over the end of the bench, unbalanced, and hits the ground with a thump of its own.

“Shit, sorry!”, she says, rushing over and attempting to roll them over. “Are you okay?”

The bear shudders, arms waving. Laughing, Lena realizes. They’re laughing at her.

“Watch it”, she grumbles. “There’s a perfectly good ditch over there that I would happily roll you into.”

The arms go up in surrender. Lena stands, and watches the bear’s middle crease as they try to get up. The head wobbles mid-air a few times, but ultimately thumps back to the ground. Finally, they smack frustrated arms against the puffy stomach, and look up at Lena expectantly.

She rolls her eyes, hauls the shoulders up and braces them against her leg, and sticks an arm out for support as they struggle to their feet. Lena’s phone rings as the bear rights itself, and her blissful little moment shatters. 

“Duty calls”, she says apologetically. “Will you, uh, be okay here? Do you want a drink or something?”

A wobbly head shake.

“Okay...will you be here tomorrow?”

A vigorous nod.

“I’ll see you then. Thank you for listening...goodbye.”

Chubby little arms wave until they can no longer see the businesswoman.

---

To Jess’s surprise, Lena takes an early lunch the next day and beelines to the park. She enters the park just as a group of children come running up, throwing themselves against the bear’s legs and trying to climb on. 

The head swivels, but there’s too many of them and not enough space to balance. Arms windmilling, it falls over almost in slow-motion, children laughing and shrieking as they run out of the collision course. Alarmed, Lena jogs over and arrives at the same time as a few other adults, who herd the children away with scolds.

“I’m very sorry”, Lena overhears one of them saying, “I don’t know what’s gotten into them. Too much cake, probably. Are you alright?”

The bear claps in an affirmative, still lying on the ground, and waves them away. They go off, and Lena leans over the mesh part of the bear’s face, grinning. 

“Need some help?”

Truly, she knows there’s someone in there, but she still startles when a soft female voice replies, “My ankle really hurts.”

The shock quickly becomes concern. She braces the bear’s back as she had yesterday, albeit with much gentler hands. 

“Do you think it’s broken? Should I call an ambulance?”

She’s searching for the zipper to free this woman from her fluffy confines, but the woman quickly protests.

“No, no, the kids are still watching. I don’t want to ruin the magic by having them see some strange lady climb out of a bear. Could you just walk me to the sidewalk? I’ll call a taxi to get it checked out.”

“No, absolutely not. I’ll take you myself.”

“How do I know you’re not trying to kidnap me? I’m very cute, you know.”

“Oh, please. Believe me, any crimes I commit would be national news in minutes. Ones I don’t commit, too.”

“So you are Lena Luthor!”, but she sounds fascinated, not accusatory. “I thought so, but I can’t see much through here”

Before Lena can decide what to make of that, muffled NSYNC starts blaring from the bear's stomach. "Shoot, that's my sister. Could you-" The bear's arm wiggles, then goes limp. Lena listens as the ringtone shifts up the bear's chest before a phone pokes out from the back of its neck. "Would you mind putting that on speaker?"

Lena does so, and the woman opens with a too casual, "Hey Alex! What's up?"

"Hey Kara, where are you?"

Kara (that's such a pretty name!) forces out a laugh and says, "Just relaxing at home, why?" Lena can't see Kara's face through the mesh, but she can feel the just go with it, please radiating off her.

"Really? Because I've been knocking for five minutes and you very clearly aren't."

"Oh! Well- I, I was, and then I went very quickly to run an errand, and I thought-" Kara presumable shifts the wrong way, putting pressure on her ankle, and lets out a pained grunt. Lena absent mindedly mumbles, "Careful", and then slaps a hand over her mouth.

"Kara? Is someone there?" Alex's voice increases intensity by tenfold, and Lena finds herself mildly intimidated. She shoots Kara an apologetic look. "I can't tell if you've been kidnapped or are having sex, so if you don't want me showing up-"

"None of the above!" Kara blurts out. Her bear form slouches, defeated. "Could you pick me up from the park we were at yesterday? Don't speed, I just twisted my ankle."

"10 minutes", Alex says, and hangs up. 

"Sorry about that", Kara says sheepishly, "She's a little intense. Could you help me up?"

Very slowly, and with a few pained hisses, Lena manages to lift Kara enough to get her good foot underneath the bulk of the bear. They make their way towards the parking lot, with Lena learning a litany of new not-swear words.

"You know, this would be a lot easier out of the bear costume."

The bear's head shakes. "I'm really okay, the feet actually have extra padding-"

"The kids went behind that hill a couple minutes ago."

"Then yes I would like to get out please."

Lena finds the zipper where the phone had come out of earlier, and pulls it down to create an opening. After a few seconds of shimmying, Lena is face to face with a grinning, slightly sweaty, blonde. With the bear's top half around her waist, she sticks an un-pawed hand out. "Hi there, I'm Kara."

Lena returns the grin and takes her hand. "Hello, I'm Lena."

Kara only needs an arm to get her bad leg out of the costume, but Lena takes the brunt of her weight for her fully wiggle the bear off. Good thing I've been keeping up with pilates. Pressed up against Lena with an arm around her neck, Kara mumbles a cheeky, "My hero."

Lena is still blushing when a sleek black vehicle rolls up beside them, the window rolling down to reveal a brunette with short hair. She quietly takes in the bear on the ground and Kara's flamingo leg.

"The dare was only for Monday, Kara. Why'd you come back?" She takes a closer look at Lena, then brightens. “Oh hey, you’re the sad lady from yesterday!”

Lena winces. “Please call me Lena.”

Kara rapidly reddens. "I- well- forgot? Misheard, probably, and so I came back again even though no one else came with me...I'm gonna stop talking now."

"Would this have anything to do with the fact I asked you yesterday if you'd be here today?", Lena pipes up, unable to control her smirk.

"What- I, I did it for the kids! Yes, for the kids. The joyful youth. Not because you asked and I said yes and I wasn't gonna leave you hanging or anything, definitely not." Kara hobbles into the car and Lena rolls up the bear suit to push in after her.

Oh, she is cute.

"What was that?", Kara asks, tilting her head. Ah, that was less in my head than I thought it would be.

"What was what?", she responds lightly.

Alex clears her throat from the driver's seat. "Well, Lena, can I drop you anywhere as a thank you for putting up with this one?" 

"I'm alright, thank you. I'm headed back to work just down the street."

"Wait!" Kara pulls a pen out of the center console and reaches for Lena's arm. She offers it, and pointedly avoids Alex's laser-like stare as Kara scrawls writing across her arm. She puts the pen down afterwards, but doesn't let go of Lena's hand.

"You'll call me, right? So I can properly thank you for rescuing me."

"Scout's honour", Lena reassures. "But if not, you know where to find me."

Kara gives her a thumbs up, and Lena turns away as Alex asks, "You do?"

Lena looks down at her arm as she starts back towards L-Corp, already memorizing the number and the bear doodle that follows it.

Just before they pull away from the curb, she hears Kara respond.

"Yeah, her name's on the building."