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Equations for a Body Falling

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Cat Grant screamed.

To be fair, she wasn’t normally a screamer. She could be sharp to be sure, and increased volume was a command tool she used as needed, but screaming? Not generally, no. If nothing else, she preferred to at least appear to be in control at all times.

And the bloody, raw scream that erupted from her throat? Not a symptom of control.

Then again, given that she was, at that exact moment, plummeting toward a very bloody death several dozen stories below, she decided it was forgivable. After all, everyone has their limit, even the queen of all media. And as it turned out, the likelihood going splat on the sidewalk in front of the CatCo offices was hers, especially since it wasn’t even the first time this year she’d found herself in this position.

Unfortunately, this time there was no Supergirl, Red Kryptonite or not, to catch her, no one who knew what had happened, which led to the very brief, stray thought that she’d never entirely believed the other woman would let her die the last time she’d been in this position. She thought she had, but as she experienced an all new level of panic, she realized, no, she’d never lost hope during that brief plummet.

Now? No. No hope at all.

She tumbled and caught a glimpse of a starry sky that would have been a beautiful sight for her last night on earth if she could have paused long enough to get a better look, but then glass and steel whipped by and she tumbled again and all she could see was the ground, still at least ten stories below, but coming up fast.

In that instant, sheer terror sucked the air from her lungs, stealing away the ability to let out even the faintest whimper. Green eyes snapped shut. She might be well on her way to becoming a grease spot on the sidewalk, but that didn’t mean she had to watch it happen.

It struck her that the sound of the wind rushing in her ears faded to nothingness and she had a sense of floating rather than falling. Maybe terminal velocity really was a thing. Maybe she’d be dead before she hit. The idea of a closed casket funeral was depressing as hell after all the effort she’d put into maintaining the makings of a good looking corpse, but still, better that than the pure agony of impact.

Then suddenly something slammed into her back and impossibly strong arms clamped around her from behind. “Gotcha,” a harsh gasp rasped in a Cat’s ear as  she was yanked to a halt with enough force to leave her wondering how many ribs were now in pieces, or at least she’d wonder when she could think again.  “Made it.”

Cat tipped her chin down, unable to do more than stare—her feet were dangling mere feet above the sidewalk. She’d been less than a second from death. She blinked, struggling to process, some part of her still uncertain this was real and not some brief, post impact hallucination during the final moments of her life.

“I thought...” The voice in her ear quavered and trailed into hard shudders that shook the body wrapped around her.

Still struggling to catch up, Cat twisted to peer over her shoulder in search of her savior and found herself staring into familiar blue eyes. Supergirl? Then she registered thick rimmed glasses. “Kara?” she exhaled uncertainly.

“I got you,” the younger woman repeated, her eyes wild, breathing ragged. “When I saw you fall past the window, I didn’t think I could...” Blue eyes snapped shut and she tilted her head forward, forehead just barely brushing Cat’s hair. “Tell me you’re all right,” she begged, her voice trembling almost as hard as her body.

Heart still hammering in her chest, Cat managed a shaky nod. “I think so,” she whispered, concentrating in an effort to spot any agonizing pains. Her ribs ached, actually everything ached, but not in a way that stood out. “I don’t...nothing...” She peered up at Kara again, then down at the ground several feet below them. “You’re Supergirl.” Of course Cat had known very well that Kara was Supergirl—the attempt to convince her otherwise hadn’t worked for more than a few hours—but she hadn’t expected the undeniable reveal to come quite like this. “And you saved me,” she whispered as that part of the equation caught up with her thought processes.

Kara just nodded, the movement unsteady, as though she couldn’t quite make her muscles work right. Then she ducked her head, nosing into gold silk hair and resting her forehead against Cat’s temple. “I thought...I thought I’d lost you,” she whispered raggedly.

“You didn’t. I’m okay,” Cat exhaled. “You made it,” she added, feeling like she was trying to convince herself as much as Kara.

“Thank Rao.” Kara grabbed a breath and there was something in her eyes, something hungry and more than a little desperate that Cat thought she’d glimpsed before, most notably when Leslie was trying to kill her. “I thought...” Her voice faded into the rough sounds of the night that included distant city noises, their harsh breathing and the unsteady thud of Cat’s heart.

And then Kara was leaning farther over Cat’s shoulder and Cat was turning more toward her, and Kara’s mouth was coming down on hers. Cat didn’t fight it at all. Instead, she parted her lips, pressing closer in spite of the awkward position, tasting the softness of her former assistant’s lips, the flavor of her lip gloss—something berry sweet—even as she sank into the warmth and protection of her body.

Kara floated them to the ground to touch down lightly.

Cat barely felt their landing, but as her feet hit the sidewalk, she automatically spun toward her savior, hands sliding up her chest and curling into her lapels to haul her close.

As kisses went, it was strangely unromantic, more about stress and desperation and the need for reassurance than any softer emotions, but it was strong, demanding, solid and so very, very real.

Kara growled low in her throat, the sound soft and possessive, while her hands found the smooth curve of Cat’s hips and clamped down, her touch powerful, yet still gentle enough that she didn’t leave even a trace of a bruise. Raw and needy, what followed was equal parts reassurance and comfort, until finally, lips parted and Kara caught slim shoulders and gently pressed Cat back. “What the hell happened?” she demanded, still breathless in the aftermath of the rescue effort and accompanying terror. “How did you...I mean...” She looked up, eyeballing the distance to Cat’s balcony. “How?” she whispered after a beat.

“Mike Ross,” Cat answered, head tipping back as she followed the line of Kara’s gaze. “He threw me off the balcony.”

Kara’s hands tightened into fists and muscle rippled along the line of her jaw. “Why?”

“Melanie Richards...from legal came in to see me...said he was going crazy,” the blonde panted. “I was trying to calm her down, get her to tell me what was going on, when he stormed in demanding to know what she’d told me and saying she was crazy. He tried to drag her out and I told him to leave, said I’d call security,  and he just...he went crazy. The next thing I knew he’d grabbed me. When I ordered him to let go, he shoved me...right through the window.” Her hand floated up, fingers lightly massaging her temple, then floated down to brush a tear in her collar and rub at a bleeding scratch over her collarbone. “I was just getting up again when he was on me...screaming.... He grabbed me and...” A hard shudder rattled through her and her voice choked off on the final syllable. She wrapped her arms tightly around her torso. “You know the rest.”

Rage glittered in blue eyes as Kara scanned the building for signs of Ross. She knew him from meetings, tall and bulky with old muscle turning to fat with age. He could be charming, but also full of bluster and meanness when defied, particularly when it came to women. Carefully attuned hearing plucked his voice out of thin air, snarling and threatening, and surrounded by elevator sounds. “He’s escaping,” she hissed. “Stay here.” The she was moving at superspeed, peeling off her outer clothes to reveal the red and blue uniform as she flew.

She reached the front of the building in moments and landed with a solid thud.

Ross stepped out of the elevator nearest the front entrance and was dragging a stiff, frozen-faced woman along with him as he hurried along— Melanie Richards, pretty but blandly so, at least ten years younger than he was, with long dark hair and too much makeup. Kara wondered how often the thick pancake covered bruises. They’d gone maybe fifteen feet when he looked up and saw Kara in the doorway. She read the intention to bully his way through and shook her head ever so slightly, though there was a part of her that wanted him to resist. Anything to give her an excuse.

“Let her go,” Kara ordered, her voice low and hard.

“Look, there’s been a misunderstanding,” he said, his voice smooth, his tone reasonable. “Melanie and I had a fight, but we’re good now and she knows I didn’t mean anything I said.” He tugged sharply on the hand caught in his own and turned a smile on the woman that might have seemed  affectionate to anyone who didn’t know otherwise.

Kara ignored the effort at charm. “I said, let her go,” she repeated, her voice taut with barely contained rage.

Ross pivoted back, still playing at being the reasonable one. “Sometimes when she gets mad, she says some pretty outrageous stuff...accuses me of crazy things,” he continued, still using that smooth, calm tone. “And I admit, sometimes I yell back, but we love each other...and I’d never hurt her—”

“And Cat Grant?” Kara snarled.

He tensed and backed up a half step. “Miss Grant?” He tried to sound like he had no idea what she was talking about. “She...uh...” He backed up another step, visibly hunting for a response likely to win over the growing crowd. “I mighta yelled at her sometime, but you know what she’s like,” he began after a beat. “She never lets up...always finding fault, picking at a person.”

The were nods and a few grumbles from their audience. They’d all caught the wrong edge of their boss’ temper at least once.

Kara didn’t say anything, just stalked forward.

“She just...she pushes people’s buttons,” Ross continued, well aware he had a receptive audience for any complaints about CatCo’s CEO. “And god does she know just how to get under your skin—” As he spoke, he kept backing away from Kara, moving toward the elevators, his grip on the young woman at his side growing steadily tighter with each step even as she subtly tried to twist free.

“Please,” a tiny voice begged almost inaudibly and the girl glanced up, briefly meeting Kara’s eyes with a pleading look before she looked down again.

“Shut up,” Ross hissed and his fingers clawed into her hand until his nails left scratches.

“Let her go,” Kara repeated even as the crowd sounds trailed into silence. People might have issues with Cat, but this was looking like a whole lot more than an overdone bawling out from the boss and not many were looking for that level of trouble.

Sensing the crowd turning against him, Ross’ eyes flashed around, seeking out any faces he knew might be sympathetic. “C’mon, Jase,” he directed at one young reporter he knew had recently suffered a particularly nasty dressing down. “You know how she is.”

The man nodded, but was hesitant and uncomfortable. “Yeah,” he exhaled, side-eyeing Supergirl with an uneasy look. “But maybe now’s not the time, y’know...” He peered at the young woman with Ross, noting the way she kept trying to pull away. “Maybe you oughta let Mel go. She...uh—”

“No,” Ross snapped, a snarl briefly curling his lip before he caught himself and his expression smoothed out. “I mean, she gets stressed in situations like this and it helps...helps her to hold my hand.” He jerked on the hand bound to his own. “Tell ‘em, honey,” he ordered. “Tell her how well I take care of you and how you need me.” Another jerk. “Tell them,” he repeated, his tone taking on a faint pleading note this time. When Melanie didn’t respond, he turned a look toward Supergirl, trying to appear calm and in control. “Tell them how crazy you can get and how I look after you,” he said, but Melanie stood mute, her eyes glazed, body frozen. “She does,” Ross told Kara, the words coming shakily now. “She gets a little nuts sometimes.”

“Like when you throw someone off a balcony forty stories up?” Kara ground out.

A spasm rippled through the big man as though she’d actually hit him and he jumped back a step, yanking Melanie with him.  He threw a panicked look at the young woman, momentarily seeming to hyperventilate until he suddenly calmed, expression smoothing out, the panic suddenly gone. “I’m sorry, honey,” he said, staring at Melanie with a seemingly sympathetic look. “I tried.” He looked back to Kara. “I tried to stop her, but she got it into her head that Cat and I were having an affair.” He sounded so reasonable that if Kara didn’t know for a fact what had happened, she might have believed him, particularly with Melanie so frozen.

Melanie whimpered and Kara could see the hopelessness like a live thing in her.

Ross, meanwhile, had become eerily calm, his manner steady and confident again. “When I realized what she meant to do, I tried to get between them, but she shoved Cat over the side before I could do a thing.” He shook his head and wiped at a stray tear. “I know I should have called the police, shouldn’t have tried to lie for her...but I love her.” More stray tears appeared. “I just thought I could protect her and I couldn’t help Cat by then.”

“Right,” Kara exhaled. “Lucky for Miss Grant, I could,” she said, her voice low, but loud enough to be heard by everyone in the crowd. She gave it a moment to sink in, mouth twisting into a feral smile as the panic visibly hit Ross. “That’s right,” she assured him. “She’s still alive.”

The transformation was almost instant as Ross’ mouth twisted into an enraged sneer. “Too bad. Woulda loved to see that nosy bitch splattered all over the street—”

Kara didn’t think, just surged forward, moving so fast no one  saw more than a blur. Her right hand clawed around Ross’ neck and she slammed him into the wall at his back with enough force to drive the air from his lungs, though she still had enough self control not to kill.

“No!” Melanie suddenly screeched. “Don’t hurt him. He didn’t mean it. He just...he’s—”

“A raving psychopath?” Kara snarled, every muscle in her arm spring steel taut as she fought the urge to clamp down even harder.

“No, he’s...he’s just...I shouldn’t have lied to Ms. Grant. He’s-he’s really good to me and I shouldn’t have made him mad,” Melanie insisted in the face of the astonished look Kara threw her way.

“She loves me,” Ross jeered through a choking gag. “‘N’ that stupid bitch had no right interfering.” His mouth twisted into a pained grimace, but there was triumph in his eyes. “Be my word versus Grant’s, ‘n’ everybody knows what she’s like.” He snorted, disgust in his eyes. “By the time my lawyer’s called in half the city to talk about Queen Bitch Grant, the jury’ll wanna give me a medal for—”

Kara didn’t think, just reacted, pulling Ross back and slamming him into the wall again even as her hand tightened, fingers pressing hard into his neck. He’d nearly murdered Cat and there was no regret, not even much fear in him and she couldn’t—

“Supergirl. Let. Him. Go.” Cat’s voice was firm, not angry, but hard enough to break through the haze of fury.

Kara loosened her hold enough to let him breathe again, but couldn’t make herself let go completely, not when he flashed a triumphant sneer at her.

“Call the police,” Cat ordered someone in the background, and then she was laying a hand on Kara’s forearm. “Supergirl,” she said very softly, and her other hand landed on Kara’s back, rubbing slow circles over her spine. “You’re killing him...and you can’t do that.” She massaged her forearm lightly and spread her hands along taut muscle. “You need to let him go.”

“He tried to kill you,” Kara ground out, barely contained rage and terror still burning a hole in her gut.

“And he failed,” Cat reminded her, still rubbing Kara’s back gently. “But if you don’t let go, he’s going to look like the victim here.” She slid the hand on Kara’s forearm down, brushing her knuckles lightly. “You need to let go.”

“But—” Kara ground out.

“He’s not going to get away with anything,” Cat assured her. “Roger?” she said as she glanced at the lobby guard.

“We’ll make sure he doesn’t go anywhere,” he assured her and nodded to his backups. “And the police should be here any minute.”

Cat continued brushing Kara’s knuckles and massaging her back. “It’s okay. They’ll take care of it now.”

Kara looked over at the older woman, some of the tension easing as she saw the reassuring look in green eyes. She felt Cat start pulling lightly on her grip. It would have been nothing for her to resist, but she allowed the blonde to pry her fingers loose, finally opening them and letting Ross fall.

He collapsed, hitting the ground on his ass and dragging in great, desperate lungsful of air through gasped obscenities. The CatCo guards grabbed for him before he could even start to catch his breath.

“Send the police up when they arrive,” Cat instructed the guards even as she pressured Kara toward her private elevator.

The younger woman resisted, staring back at the man on the ground with clear enmity. “I should stay, make sure he doesn’t—”

“He won’t,” Cat cut her off. “But right now I need...” She paused momentarily, glancing around herself with skittish eyes. “I need to get off display.”

Kara suddenly noticed that the hand on her arm had gone from light and soothing to gripping tightly and that Cat was noticeably leaning against her. She also knew that despite the image she presented to the world and the emotional walls that seemed at least a thousand feet thick,  the other woman had a fragile streak when pushed too far. “Got it,” she whispered and pushed the button to request the private elevator.

They were still waiting when Melanie broke from the guards who were, if not precisely holding her in place, then at least trying to keep her contained. “I’m sorry,” she choked as she grabbed hold of Cat’s arm, dragging her to a halt. “I didn’t mean for any of this to happen, but Mike, you’ve gotta understand, he—”

“Not really, no,” Cat disagreed, her tone cool.

Melanie did a brief doubletake, then tried again. “He didn’t mean to hurt you. He just—”

“Threw me off the fortieth story of my own building,” Cat cut her off.

“He gets mad sometimes, but he’d never hurt anyone,” Melanie insisted, still gripping Cat’s arm tightly. “He’s not a bad guy. He just has a bad temper.”

Kara would have reached past her employer to free her from the death grip on her arm, but Cat waved her off as she turned a hard look on the young woman. “What he did was no accident,” she said sharply. “It was attempted murder...and you know that.” She drew in a sharp breath, then continued, “You also know that he would have blamed you for my death if I hadn’t survived—”

“He wouldn’t have gone through with—”

“Yes, he would have, and you know that too.” Cat refused to let the lie stand. “The man is a menace and I’d wager he’s left more bruises on you than you can count—”

“He didn’t mean to. He was always sorry.”

“Untrue,” Cat said simply. “He used violence as a means to control you and get his way and I intend to do my best to see him in prison for as long as possible. If you need counseling or other help, CatCo has an excellent medical plan to provide them. If you need a lawyer to protect your interests, I know more than one who would take the case pro bono.” Her gaze sharpened. “But if you want me to help an abuser get away with attempted murder...” She shook her head. “That won’t happen.”

The elevator dinged its arrival and the door slid open.

“Please,” the young woman begged and this time Kara did reach over and peel her hands off Cat’s arm, though she also nodded to a secretary she recognized who was already stepping forward and wrapping an arm across Melanie’s shoulders. Older and very stable, the woman nodded her understanding, and was already giving her new charge a gentle speech about what she needed to do when the doors closed again.

The moment they were alone Cat sagged against her, and turned into the protection of her body, heaving a relieved sigh when Kara wrapped strong arms around her and nuzzled her temple tenderly. “It’s okay. You’re safe now,” she breathed into pale silk hair.

Cat mumbled something incoherent and draped her arms around Kara’s shoulders, suddenly so exhausted she could barely remain on her feet. The adrenaline rush from the fall had kept her going, but now it was running out and she was fading fast. It was a testament to how drained she was that she didn’t even argue when Kara slung a hand behind her knees and the other around her back and simply scooped her up.

When the doors opened again, Kara was unsurprised to find the offices empty. It was a Friday and the staff had been eager to be on their way. Carrying Cat into her office, she flinched when she saw the shattered window onto the balcony. Suddenly her own knees were feeling a little shaky and she sank down on the couch, Cat draped across her lap. “We’re okay,” she whispered as much to reassure herself as the woman in her arms.

Cat lifted her head from the solid support of Kara’s shoulder to peer into pale blue eyes. After a long moment, she reached out to smooth dark gold hair back from Kara’s cheek. She wanted to ask why the kiss, but held back, unaccustomed to the wave of uncertainty that swept through her. After all, it might have been nothing more than nerves and relief with no more meaning than that.

Or maybe...

Cat didn’t finish that thought, distracted by the hand that curved to her cheek, then the blue eyes that met her gaze. “Kara,” she whispered very softly. She knew she should use a firm tone, take control of the situation, and be her normal self. Instead she leaned into the soft touch, rolling her cheek into Kara’s palm and feeling her heart rate settle in response to the gentle reassurance.

“I’m here,” Kara exhaled, more than a little gratified to hear her real name on Cat’s lips, even though she should have been horrified by the notion that the queen of all media now knew for sure who she was. She silently searched green eyes as if they contained the secrets of the universe. “You’re okay.”

“We both are,” Cat whispered, then settled against Kara, tucking her head into the hollow where her neck curved into her shoulder. Normally, Cat was all strength and sarcasm and rigid control. Normally, she would have left anyone who tried to offer comfort bleeding in the dirt at her feet, emotionally, if not physically. At that precise moment, however, she desperately needed the warmth and solace offered. “You saved my life” She sighed as she felt strong arms tighten around her, then the warmth of a small kiss pressed to her temple. “Thank you.” She blinked several times, fighting off the sudden threat of tears.

“No,” Kara said, clinging to the slender frame held firmly in her arms. She dropped another kiss onto silky hair. “Thank you...for surviving. I...” she stumbled to a halt, unable to finish the sentence because she simply didn’t know what she’d do. It was too unthinkable.

“Not like it’s anything I did,” Cat muttered into the heavy silence, hating that sense of powerlessness that went with her near doom. “That was all you.”

“Yay me.” Kara nosed in close, pressing a soft kiss to the side of Cat’s neck. She heard a low sound almost like a purr and felt Cat lean more firmly into her touch. That led to more soft kisses pressed along the sharp cut of Cat’s jaw, then the soft curve of her cheek.

Without thinking, Cat turned toward the caress and lips brushed without planning, parted, brushed again. It was all softness. “Kara,” Cat breathed almost inaudibly, tipping her head forward until their foreheads touched. “Thank you.”

Kara didn’t say a word, just leaned farther into the space between them, her mouth warm and inviting as she found soft lips with her own. This kiss was more confident, less tentative and so achingly gentle Cat couldn’t quite contain a tiny moan. She pushed into the contact, and felt strong hands tighten possessively even as something wild and fierce slid through her. Her hands curled into the front of Kara’s uniform and she clung in a way she’d never held onto anyone.

It was the soft sound of someone clearing their voice that broke things up.

Kara snapped her head up, brows creasing into a frown as she noted the police officer standing in the doorway to Cat’s office. The woman’s mouth was twisted by a hint of a smirk, though she didn’t say a word, just tipped her head to one side.

Rising, Kara carefully settled Cat back on her feet, but remained a solid presence guarding her back, her hands resting lightly on the smaller woman’s shoulders.

“May I help you?” Cat questioned, her voice as shaky as Kara had ever heard it, though she doubted the police officer heard the faint quaver. Cat was nothing if not expert at hiding her fears from most people.

“I’m Officer Saunders. We’ve got a man downstairs, says he was attacked by Supergirl...” The officer’s eyes flicked back and forth between the two women. “Said she’s in love with you, Ms. Grant...” Again, dark eyes darted back and forth between the two women. “And she found out you’re in love with him and attacked him...said his girlfriend would confirm the story?”

Cat couldn’t help it. Despite all the fear and stress, or maybe because of it, she laughed, the sound high pitched and slightly hysterical. “God, no.”

“Not exactly,” Kara drawled, her tone wry.

The police officer’s gaze swung back to Kara, one eyebrow tipping up assessingly before she looked back to Cat. “You feel up to giving a statement?” she questioned, apparently in no hurry to make any arrests.

“I’d love to,” Cat said instantly, thoroughly enjoying the idea of eviscerating Ross and sending him to prison for as long as possible. She felt a fresh surge of adrenalin flood her veins and stiffen her spine.

Saunders produced a small notebook and digital recorder from a pocket. “Supergirl, if you wouldn’t mind, I need to interview you two separately...given the accusations.”

Kara considered pointing out that unless she left the city, she could easily track the conversation only to decide against it. Squeezing Cat’s shoulder lightly, she leaned close enough to murmur near her ear, “You okay to do this?”

Cat reached up and squeezed the hand on her shoulder and nodded. “I’ll be fine.” Their gazes met and she nodded. “Thank you.”

“I’m just glad I was there in time,” Kara exhaled, then afraid of saying more in front of the officer, ducked her head in acknowledgment and stepped out. Making her way to Winn’s desk, she sat, her pose seemingly relaxed, though there was an underlying tension to her as she eavesdropped on the interview, listening in while Cat explained what had happened, deflecting any questions about how Supergirl had known to rescue her in mid-air by simply insisting she didn’t know. When Kara’s time to answer questions came, they traded places and Kara gave a factual account with the exception of explaining that she’d heard Miss Grant scream while she was patrolling. She denied knowing anything about Michael Ross beyond the various wild claims he’d made about Miss Grant.

The officer’s mouth twisted into what might have been a smirk. “According to witnesses, you nearly strangled the guy,” she said, a question implicit in the comment.

Kara shrugged. “I admit I was mad. Miss Grant is a friend, and he threw her off a building, then—when caught—insulted her, implied it was her own fault, and tried to blame his girlfriend.” Another shrug. “So when he tried to leave, I made sure he couldn’t. Was I gentle? No. But I didn’t do any real damage...and I could have,” Kara said pointedly, then added, “And he didn’t get a chance to hurt anyone else.”

Saunders didn’t immediately respond, and her cell phone dinged for attention before she could. She held up a hand for silence as she answered.

Kara could hear both sides of the conversation, but it was cryptic enough—all police codes and slang—that she didn’t learn much until the woman hung up and peered at her. “Apparently Mr. Ross made several competing claims when my partner called him on his story.” She tucked her phone back into a pocket. “Plus we’ve had a couple of witnesses come forward claiming they’ve seen signs of abuse.” She peered at Kara. “The DA may want more complete statements, and Miss Grant has promised her IT department will gather any security footage and turn it over ASAP, but for now, you’re free to go.”

Kara nodded, remaining perfectly still as the officer moved to leave.

The woman was half out of Cat’s office when she pivoted back, mouth twisted into a wry lift. “For what it’s worth, if it had been my girlfriend, Ida killed the sonofabitch...super powers or no.” She shrugged. “Just sayin’.” Then she slipped out.

Tracking the officer by sound, Kara turned her head toward Cat, noting the way the blonde shut her phone down even as the cop disappeared into the elevator.

Cat was on her feet the moment they were alone. “I called the IT Hobbit and let him know we need any security footage that won’t compromise you,” she informed Kara as she stepped into her office. “He promised to have that ready as soon as possible.”

Kara’s phone rang right on cue. She answered to find a panicked Winn on the other end quizzing her about what Miss Grant knew and what had happened. She assured him all was fine and asked him to do as their boss had asked while Cat paced the confines of her office much like one of the larger species of her namesake. Cat made another pass as Kara hung up and she reached out, hooking an arm around the other woman’s hips and tugging sharply enough to bring her to a halt. Her other hand found a purchase on Cat’s other hip and she brought her close, tipping her head back to peer up into jade green eyes.

“Talk to me,” Kara requested quietly.

Cat froze, suddenly weak in the knees as she stared down at Kara and the enormity of everything that had happened washed over her. Her hands landed on strong shoulders and she steadied herself. It would be so much safer to just pull back, put up her usual walls and—

“Please,” Kara broke in.

Cat let out a soft whoof of air and whatever she’d been about to say died unspoken. A shiver slid through her as the hands shaped to her hips shifted and massaged lightly. “Why?” she whispered almost inaudibly. “Why that” she didn’t finish, just stood shaking her head slowly.

Kara licked her lips nervously, heart suddenly thundering in her chest. “I was impulse. I was so scared, and then so grateful you were alive, and in my arms and I...I...God, Cat...” She shook her head a little dazedly, then exhaled, “I just. I...I couldn’t not...kiss you,” she said haltingly.

Cat just stared at her for a long moment, then tipped her chin down, eyeing the hand at her hip, stroking very gently, then looked back up again, noting the way her own hand was absently toying with the silky hair that spilled onto Kara’s shoulder. She hadn’t really even known that she was doing it. It was so automatic thought wasn’t required. She didn’t know why Kara had kissed her—though she had some suspicions—but she suddenly knew why she’d kissed Kara back. It had been building for awhile now, forming inside her, crystallizing, warming her from the inside out as she watched the truly selfless way the girl fought so hard to help others.

She’d been halfway gone for ages now and as she felt her heart give a solid thump, she was comfortably certain that halfway had expanded to fill every bit of space in her chest.

Suddenly Kara tipped forward, just barely resting her forehead against Cat’s stomach. She heard the way Cat’s pulse picked up, felt the faint ripple of each beat moving through her body.

“Kara,” Cat exhaled, wanting the answer and terrified of it at the same time. “Please.”

Kara tipped her head back, peering up at the other woman. Cat’s pupils dilated as their eyes made contact while her pulse continued to race and her breathing was fast and a little shallow. It struck her suddenly that she knew all of those details intimately. She’d been tracking Cat for ages by those vital signs. “You know why,” she said very softly. She shook her head dazedly as a wave of something akin to vertigo made the world spin, frighteningly aware of what they meant even if she hadn’t quite had the courage to put a name to what she was feeling. “I’m in love with you,” she whispered  and as the words tumbled out, she knew in her heart they were true. Then the sense of being naked and vulnerable washed over her and she barely resisted the urge to shrink in on herself and hide away.

Cat tensed, a part of her wanting to deny the other woman’s claim.  It all felt so inconceivable when even her own mother had never shown any such inclination. She had long since accepted she simply wasn’t lovable. “Oh, Kara,” she exhaled very softly.

“You don’t owe me anything,” Kara said quickly. “That’s not why I—”

“I know that,” Cat cut her off, her tone firm. “If I know anything about you, it’s that there’s no price for your help. It’s free to anyone who needs it.”

Some of the tension drained from Kara’s muscles.

Reaching down, Cat curled the tips of her fingers under Kara’s elbows, applying just enough pressure to bring the younger woman to her feet. “You are so young,” she marveled. She tenderly stroked dark gold hair back from Kara’s cheek. “And I’m....” She shook her head, worrying her lower lip between sharp teeth. “I’m not. I’m twice your age and three times your experience. For me encourage you would be...” She trailed to a halt and turned away, a part of her breaking at the thought of saying it out loud.

“What?” Kara pressed, brows drawing into a frown as suspicion slid through her as to what it meant.

“Wrong,” Cat hissed without turning back.

And Kara knew. It was all there in Cat Grant’s voice, in her refusal to turn and look, and in the way she was poised on the balls of her feet as if to flee at any second. Kara wasn’t the only one in deep. She stepped forward, smoothing her hands along narrow shoulders, feeling the jump and shift of lean muscle. “On Krypton,” she began carefully, her voice low and sad, “we had so many rules. Every rule imaginable for who we could love...and not we could love them...when. Relationships stopped being about feelings and became about politics...consolidating power by uniting this house and that one....” She stepped a pace closer, leaning forward until spun gold hair tickled the tip of her nose. “We lost the ability to form care for each love each other freely. It was so bad that Kal El—Superman—was the first child conceived by natural means in generations.”

“I don’t see what—”

“We were so worried about the rules that we gave up love,” Kara admitted. “We just lt go. That isn’t a mistake I care to repeat.” Using her light hold on narrow shoulders, she guided Cat around until they were face to face. “I have these feelings and I want to explore them with you, but I’m not interested in pushing something you don’t want. Tell me it’s not mutual and I’ll never mention it again.”

“Kara, I...” Cat trailed off and looked away. Her voice totally lacking its usual sharpness as she admitted, “Of course I love you. How could I not? You’re the kindest, most decent human...” Cat remembered Kara wasn’t precisely human and corrected herself, “...person...” Reaching up, she smoothed a hand along Kara’s shoulder. “Everyone who meets you is a little in love with you. Plus you’re Supergirl. You’ve literally saved my life more times than I can count... You’re amazing...and I’m...” She snorted softly and didn’t finish, just looked away, a hint of moisture in her eyes. Finally, she shook her head. “It wouldn’t be fair to you.”

“Let me decide what’s fair to me,” Kara requested, her tone serious. “Besides, you’re forgetting, you saved me once too.”

Cat looked up then, brows drawn into a confused frown.

“Livewire,” Kara reminded her. “You protected me. Sent me away while you faced her alone.”

Cat responded with an eye roll. “Wonderful, I saved Supergirl,” she sniffed dismissively.

“You didn’t know that,” Kara pointed out. “You were just trying to protect your assistant. And without being invulnerable.” She smiled tenderly and cupped a hand along Cat’s cheek. “That’s a hero.”

The second eye roll was at least twice as dramatic as the first. “Hardly,” Cat disdained. She started to turn away, but Kara ducked her head and the kiss that fell on her lips was so achingly soft she couldn’t move.

Green eyes slid closed. “Kara,” she exhaled when the kiss broke.

Super hearing suddenly picked up the arrival of heavy trucks and words of the people in them. “The media’s arriving,” she warned Cat. She looked around. “And the police will want to process your office...get pictures of the broken glass, maybe prints to prove Ross was in here.” Her gaze swung back to Cat, taking in how pale she’d suddenly become.

“I-I need to figure out what I’m going to say to the—”

“I’m taking you home—” She paused a moment. “You okay to fly, or do we need to—”

“I’m fine, but I don’t need anyone to take me home.” Cat threw a fierce glare her way and started to snarl, “I can—”

“CatCo has a press rep. You can call her and have her deal with it,” Kara said stiffly, then added more gently, “You’re all but out on your feet, and you’d be the first one to tell anyone who works for you to only talk to the press when at their best.”


Kara scooped the other woman up. It wasn’t her normal philosophy, but sometimes it really was easier to beg forgiveness than ask permission. “Hold on,” she instructed over the beginning of another objection.

Cat swung an arm around Kara’s neck and clamped on with what would have been a genuine death grip on anyone who wasn’t Kryptonian. “That’s cheating,” she complained through the whoosh of becoming airborne.

Kara just grinned and redoubled her grip. “Hold on tight.”

Cat drew a breath to complain only to glance down as they took off. Police, news trucks, reporters milling and techs setting up large banks of TV lights were gathering below.

Kara felt the tension that rippled through the other woman. “I didn’t think you wanted to deal with that.”

“No,” Cat admitted breathlessly, then swept her gaze up, resolutely refusing to look down again as they took off. Kara’s hold was strong and steady and she felt as safe as she ever had, which didn’t negate the fact that they were a long way up. Clinging tightly, she burrowed into the hollow where Kara’s shoulder curved into her neck. “Oh, stop smiling,” she grumbled as she felt the younger woman grin.

“Hard to do when I could have lost you and instead I get to hold you like this,” Kara admitted, firming her hold ever so slightly. She blinked at the threat of tears. “And that means everything.”

Cat tried to respond, but her throat was too tight to let her speak and she finally just settled into strong arms, feeling a much needed sense of security. She was half asleep when Kara slowed sometime later.        

“We’re there,” Kara said as she come in for a landing on a broad porch that hung out over a steep cliff high above a shallow stretch of beach. “I thought maybe the beach house would be a better choice than the penthouse, since I’m guessing the press will gather there like they are at corporate. I can go get Carter if you want me to,” she added, well aware that mother and son had a knack for calming one another.

Cat shook her head. “He’s with his dad tonight...and while he wasn’t a great husband, he’s good with Carter. I should probably call and let them know what happened. Also warn them the media might show up.”

“While you do that, I’ll check the gate on the drive...make sure everything’s locked...keep the press out if they do show up.”

Kara tracked Cat’s side of the conversation as she moved off to check on things and make certain no one could easily get through the front gate, purposely staying away until she heard Cat hang up. Suddenly a bit hesitant, she loafed a bit as she made her way back. She found the house empty and after a brief moment of irrational panic, located Cat on the porch overlooking the ocean. She’d stripped off her blazer and shoes and rolled up the sleeves on her blouse, leaving loose silk to flutter gently at her elbows. She was nursing a drink and staring out at rolling seas while the beam cast by a distant lighthouse did slow sweeps across the water.

As Kara stepped onto the porch, Cat did a slow turn, leaning back, arms splayed away from her body, hands braced on the top of the porch railing.

Command Position, Kara thought with some irony. Somebody had gotten their defenses back on line.

Cat eyed the younger woman with a serious look. “Carter’s okay. He hadn’t seen the news yet. He said to thank you. I also let the press rep know what’s going on. She’ll take care of things for now.”

Despite the lazily relaxed pose and the attempt to appear in control, Kara could hear the jackhammer beat of Cat’s heart so clearly she was mildly tempted to call her on it. Bad plan, she reminded herself. Try and push and Cat Grant would plant her feet and turn bullheaded for the sheer joy of it.

So, she waited, simply standing there silently, feeling slightly foolish in her cape and boots. Superhero costumes were great for whooshing in and making a dramatic impression when all hell was breaking loose, less so when it came to the quiet, personal moments in life.

She was amazed when it was Cat who broke their staring contest first by abruptly pivoting back around and retrieving her drink. She took a sip, elbows braced on the railing as she stared out at the ocean, leaving Kara to wonder what had just happened.

When nothing was said for a long moment, Kara took a cautious step forward, her voice low and echoing with a bit of fear. “Cat?” she exhaled uncertainly.

Cat took another sip from her glass. “What do you want?” she asked after a long moment, then clarified, “A roll in the hay, a date to the prom, marriage? What?”

Given the tone, Kara couldn’t help but feel the question was meant to send her running, making it her turn for an eyeroll. If that tactic worked on her, she never would have survived three years as Cat’s assistant. “I am a little old for the prom,” she pointed out, not angry, but impatient. “A roll in the hay? Yeah, sure, but I want a helluva lot more than that. And marriage?  I don’t know, maybe.”

The tension that rolled through Cat’s shoulders was a clear indicator that wasn’t the expected response. The blonde spun back as abruptly as she’d turned away, another tactic coming into play.

“Kara, I’m forty-eight years old. I come with a son with serious issues, a company with a hostile board that’s always plotting, and god help me, a mother who glories in trying to make sure I know my place is at the bottom of the heap, not to mention gossip columnists who will glory in taking chunks out of anyone I care for.” She shook her head, her tone sad and more than a little frustrated as she asked, “Is that really what you want? Because it isn’t some fantasy. It’s hard and it’s gritty, and some days it hurts.” She closed her eyes against the younger woman, blocking out the caring and tenderness directed her way. This had been so much easier when it was just a safe, little fantasy with zero chance of actually happening.  “Can’t you see I’m trying to protect you?” She stiffened a moment later, eyes snapping open when she heard Kara laugh very softly.

“Do you really think I don’t know all of that?” Kara asked, her tone practical. “I’ve been running your life for the last three years.” She snorted softly and shook her head. “I probably know your issues better than you do.” She rolled her eyes again. “In fact, when it comes to your board and your mother, if you’ll recall, I’m the one who runs interference and arranges the therapist visits. I’m very aware of the crazy.” She paused long enough to grab a breath. “As for Carter, he’s a great kid, and if you’d both be okay with it and things work out right, I’d like nothing more than to be a part of his life.”

Cat dashed a few tears from her eyes and tried to cover by taking another sip from her glass. Dammit, that one was supposed to make the girl run like hell the way it did everyone else she’d even vaguely thought of dating in years.

Kara took a step closer. “I can’t tell you tonight what the future holds, but I do know I’d like a chance to find out...” She trailed to a halt, drawing another step closer as her mind raced in the hunt for a way to lay out her argument.

Cat shook her head, genuine confusion in her eyes. Her feelings for Kara made total sense, but Kara having feelings for her? It just didn’t compute. “Kara, you’re young, beautiful, smart, kind...everything...and you can have anyone...literally. Why would you want...” She couldn’t finish. It hurt too much.

“You?” Kara finished, her tone gentle, though still not enough to stop the flinch that rattled through the older woman.

Cat spun away and drained her drink in one long swallow. “Ex-actly,” she said as she set the empty glass aside, enunciating each syllable with military precision.

Kara eyed the stiff cast of narrow shoulders with a wry smile, so attuned to the other woman’s emotions that she easily read the hurt lying just below what most people would have thought was anger. “Wanna know something funny?” she asked as she paced around to Cat’s side and leaned back against the rail, arms loosely crossed over her chest. She got a grunt that could have meant almost anything and chose to accept it as an affirmative. “On Krypton, everyone would have wondered exactly the opposite...what anyone as beautiful, experienced, and successful as you are could possibly see in someone like me.” A hint of a smile touched her mouth as she saw the way Cat’s ears visibly perked, but then another wave of tension slid through the blonde and Kara knew she’d had a thought, a notion that was confirmed a brief moment later.

“I thought Kryptonians forgot how to love,” she muttered bitterly. “So why would you want to emulate—”

“Because it’s not that simple,” Kara snapped, finally a bit impatient.

Cat’s mouth snapped shut and she cringed back almost imperceptibly.

Kara sighed very softly as a wave of guilt washed over her. After everything Cat had been through, the last thing she needed was to be pressured and yelled at. “I’m sorry,” she whispered. “I shouldn’t have—”

“Don’t,” Cat muttered and held up a hand for silence. “I’m not at my best...but even my best probably wouldn’t handle this conversation well.” She shook her head, struggling with her own temper. “I’m not good at...this—” Which was another reason she didn’t understand.

“Which is why I shouldn’t have pushed,” Kara insisted, her voice thick with regret. “Not now...not after the day you’ve had. I didn’t mean to make things harder for you.”

Cat let out a soft snort of laughter. “Oh, Kara, the last thing you’ve ever done is make my life harder.”

Kara drew a breath to argue only to remain silent when Cat flashed her a stern look.

“Let me finish,” Cat requested. “Because if I don’t say this now, I’m not sure I’ll have the courage.” She took a deep breath and let it out slowly, head falling forward. “I’m in love with you,” she admitted quietly. “Have been for awhile, I think, but I have no faith I can be what you need...and you, deserve so much and you could break me so badly.” She did a slow pivot, peering at the other woman, letting all of her fears for both of them show. “I’m older, set in my ways, come with two sons, a lot of issues. I’m bitter, and angry, and irascible, and I honestly cannot see why that would appeal to you, and even though there’s a part of me that thinks I could best prove my love by making you go away, I’m not that strong.”

“Cat,” Kara exhaled almost inaudibly, amazed by what she was hearing. She wanted to pull the other woman into a hug, but wasn’t sure how it would be received at that precise moment. “I know all those things...but I also know the woman who stayed and helped me fight Non, the woman who wouldn’t let Max just sacrifice huge numbers of people, who stood up to Livewire and Banshee to protect her employees, and who could forgive me when I threw you—”

“You didn’t mean that,” Cat waved it off.

“Yes, I did...or at least a part of me did,” Kara said, over-riding Cat when she would have argued. “Understand something, you aren’t the only one who’s angry. Sometimes I just...” Afraid of pushing past the barriers Cat needed, she wrapped her arms tightly around her midsection as her stomach knotted and rolled. “I hated what the Red K did...what it made me do...what I did to you...God, what I did to you—”

“Kara—” Cat said, but Kara interrupted.

“Don’t,” Kara snapped, purposely letting a little of the darker emotions she normally hid show. “I let you talk,” she added, her voice leveling out again.

Cat fell silent.

“I know what everyone thinks of me...what they expect from me.” Her lip curled ever so slightly. “Sunny Danvers...and mostly that’s who I am...who I choose to be,” she added seriously. “But anger? Yeah, I have issues. Sometimes I feel like my parents threw me away...and like the Danvers don’t quite accept me, and this world isn’t really mine.” She turned toward the ocean, mimicking Cat’s earlier stance as she stared out at the seascape, seeing it with eyes that took in far more than any human could imagine. “Sometimes it seems like there is no place in this entire universe where I can truly belong,” she confessed, voice threatening to choke off at the end. She heard Cat’s tiny gasp, felt her desire to argue, but for once the older woman remained silent, simply listening. “And much as I love this world and so many people in it...” Kara said after a long moment of silence. “...I have to wake up with the knowledge that if I lose control, I could destroy it.”

“Bit self impressed there, don’t you think?” Cat commented dryly.

Kara spun, eyes wide. “You saw what I did when I lost control,” she reminded Cat. “I—”    

“Destroyed a really big screen TV, trashed a cheesy bar, apparently told James a few home truths he didn’t feel like hearing—”

“Threw you off a damn building!” Kara snarled, surprised by the wave of anger that Cat didn’t seem to be taking her own near-demise very seriously.

“And caught me again,” Cat said almost gently. She took a step closer, reaching up to brush loose hair back from Kara’s cheek as she held her gaze. “You were angry...with some reason,” Cat allowed. “But I don’t think you were really trying to hurt me. I certainly don’t think you wanted me dead,” she added in that same low, soothing tone.

“I didn’t,” Kara exhaled on a ragged sob, eyes suddenly full of tears. “I swear, I never...never wanted that. I was angry, but I always intended to catch you—”

“I know,” Cat said, then offered a lopsided smile. “Sunny D may be a choice, but she’s also an integral part of who you are.” She stepped closer, tucking a finger under Kara’s chin and drawing her attention up until their eyes met. “And who you are, all of the rest of this aside, is one of the most decent, kindest people I’ve ever known, someone who has taught me so much and changed me so much.” She caught one of Kara’s hands between her own, massaging long runs of bone and muscle with slow strokes. “Do you have issues?” she asked conversationally. “Of course you do. Anyone would in your shoes...” She was silent for a moment and when she spoke, her voice was thicker than normal. “But I want you to consider that who you were at the very worst moment of your life was still not a killer.”

Blue eyes slid closed and Kara wavered gently on her feet.

“She was something of a brat and acted like a pouty teenager,” Cat sing-songed, her voice lightly teasing before dropping low and serious again, “but she was not a killer.”

Kara looked up then. “How can you forgive me? I treated you the worst of anyone. And you...” She was silent for a moment. “You’ve been the most understanding of everyone.” She stared deeply into green eyes, willing Cat to see how important she was. “Sometimes it feels like you’re the only person in this whole world who completely accepts me...good, bad, everything in between.”

Cat dropped her chin and was silent for a long moment, while her hands stilled on Kara’s. “I’ve made a few mistakes in my life, said things...done things I shouldn’t have.” She looked up again, finding Kara’s eyes. “You’ve certainly forgiven me plenty of times. How could I not do the same?” She rolled her eyes. “And I didn’t even have the excuse of being poisoned. I was usually just in a bitchy mood.”

“Actually, I hate to admit this, but...” Kara trailed off and a tiny grin touched her lips. “I kind of like your bitchy moods. You say things the rest of us wish we could. I admire the way you don’t take shit from anyone.”

“Did you just curse?” Cat asked, not quite believing what she’d heard. Blasting holes through crazed uncles by marriage, yes, but curse words were simply not a part of Kara’s behavior to such a degree she’d strongly suspected she hadn’t actually learned that portion of the English language yet.

“Yup, and I really wanted to drop kick Siobhan to the moon.” Kara rolled her eyes. “I told you, I have rage issues, particularly when it comes to you hiring beautiful women. I just hide them better than you do.”

“Rumor has it I don’t hide them at all,” Cat deadpanned. “For instance, I seriously considered firing the IT hobbit until I realized you didn’t return his feelings, and I may have been looking at art director resumes when James let slip that it’s actually SuperMAN he wants to make out with.” She shrugged. “After that I decided to let him live.”

Kara couldn’t contain a tiny giggle, Cat’s deadpan admission of jealousy ridiculously pleasing. “I really wanted to punch Max Lord in the face when I found out he gave you earrings...and you wore them,” she accused.

Cat offered another shrug. “Max doesn’t have a chance in hell, but he does have good taste in jewelry, and they did let me help you against Non,” she reminded Kara.

“Fine.” Kara pouted. “He can live...this time. But maybe you shouldn’t accept gifts from him, y’know, in the future?”

“I don’t take presents from strange men when in a relationship...and they don’t come much stranger than Max.”

Kara couldn’t hold back a grin. “So you...uh—”

“Yes, Kara,” Cat confirmed the question Kara was stammering her way toward asking. “I’m in a relationship now...if you’ll have me.” Despite her efforts to appear cool and collected, the fear was easy to see in the skittish flick of her eyes and hear in the soft quaver of her voice.

Kara’s huge grin was all the answer needed. “Could I hold you?” she asked after a long moment.

Nodding, Cat simply stepped into Kara’s arms, looping her arms around her waist and settling her cheek on her shoulder. Every touch careful, Kara folded her arms around Cat and snuggled her close. For the first time since Cat had declared their relationship simply professional, she felt all the pressure drain out of her chest. She felt the blonde sag against her, become softer and heavier as though her muscles had just let go.

“Soft,” Cat murmured and nosed deeper into Kara’s shoulder, feeling safe and protected, her emotional walls not so much dropping as shattering completely. “Warm,” she mumbled. “Feels nice.”

Kara pressed a soft kiss to the smaller woman’s temple, fascinated by this all new, monosyllabic version of the woman in her arms. “Very nice,” she agreed, then ducked her head, stealing a kiss from soft lips.

“Mhm,” Cat hmmed, leaning more heavily against Kara as she draped her arms around her neck. A few more lazy kisses followed, but mostly they just held one another.

Finally, they slipped inside together, bodies tumbling into Cat’s sinfully huge bed with its even more sinfully soft Egyptian cotton sheets.

Outside the moon made its way across the sky and the tides ebbed and flowed.

Inside, the two women slept twined together, limbs tangled, heads resting close, hair blending in the faint space between them. Soon enough there would be more kisses and soft caresses and all the things that lovers share, but for now, it was enough.