It’s not like Kara deliberately sets out to make her life harder than it should be. It’s not her fault that she’s excitable, okay, and she forgets things sometimes and maybe those things should not be forgotten under any circumstances. Maybe those things include, well, housing forms, which as it turns out are super important to submit on time if she wants to not be homeless on her sophomore year of college.
Her sister’s going to give her so much crap about this.
See, Kara spent like her entire break overseas to visit the country she’ll come to rule after she graduates. It’s necessary, and she missed her lands, okay, it’s her parents’ legacy, and it might be little known and it might be not that big of a deal to others but for Kara, it’s everything. So in-between the requisite boring meetings with the guilds and the High Council and making nice with the ministers, she basked in Krypton’s little towns and gorgeous rice paddies and spent her days rubbing elbows with her villagers and had the most fun she had in ages, and all thoughts of college and academics and housing forms and red tapes fell out of her mind.
Which is kind of understandable, really, if Alex didn’t send her reminders literally every other day.
But Alex did, because she takes her role as Kara’s adoptive sister seriously, so Kara has no excuse, and now she’s faced with the whole force of Alex’s disappointed-and-also-frustrated glare.
“Really, Kara?” Alex asks, because the first few dozens of times apparently aren’t enough. “I told you to sort that out ages ago! And I reminded you repeatedly ever since!”
“I know, okay, I know,” Kara says, placating, though she’s jet-lagged and exhausted, and all she really wants to do is to curl up and maybe sleep for the whole semester.
Something that she cannot do because of the very thing for which Alex is admonishing her right now.
“What did the residency manager have to say?” Alex continues her questioning.
Kara groans, dropping two duffel bags on the lawn before sitting down herself. “I don’t know yet. I’m actually on the way to the admin building before you texted that you’re here.”
Alex sets another two duffel bags beside Kara then puts her hands on her hips, looming over her sister. Kara looks up at her, pouting. “Well, go on, then. I’ll watch your stuff.”
“But I’m tired,” Kara whines, wiggling her legs to drive her point home.
Alex rolls her eyes. “You know it’s gonna be worse when night comes and you have nowhere to sleep.”
“Why do you always have to make sense?”
“Why do you keep forgetting important stuff?”
“Okay, low blow, all right, this is the first time.”
“Right.” Alex sighs, exasperated. “Just stand up and sort your mess out.”
“I literally just sat down.”
“I’m going, I’m going,” Kara grumbles, reluctantly getting on her feet. “Dictator,” she adds under her breath, though she knows Alex hears her.
She does. “Hey, tone down the sass, kid, or I might make you run drills,” she says in her best Agent-Danvers-with-the-FBI voice, and Kara glares at her, but Alex just raises an eyebrow. “Today, soldier.”
She shakes her head with a smirk as Kara stalks off without another word.
“Yes, Miss Danvers.”
“There are no other available dorm rooms? I could settle for a double, honest! Just, please, can you check again?”
The counselor in charge of sophomore housing just sighs, looking at her with an apathetic expression over a pair of wire-rimmed glasses. “I’m sorry, Miss Danvers, but we checked this thrice already. No other housing will be available until mid-semester, so it’s either you take the one in Pendragon House or you settle out of campus.” She shoves a brown envelope at Kara, containing instructions and other documents for booking Pendragon House, because she knows that Kara won’t take the latter option at all since out-of-campus apartments are way too far and are notorious for their less-than-sound structural integrity.
Kara winces. She’s not really selective when it comes to living arrangements, and she even managed to survive last year’s Hipster Roomies Fiasco (as Alex still calls it), but this is kind of pushing it a little bit.
After all, Pendragon House is known to be the most exclusive student apartment in National City University, normally reserved for the elite of the elite.
And it’s not like Kara can’t afford it, no. Between her inheritance from her family’s aristocracy and from said family’s conglomerate, she’s actually well off enough to have booked the apartment from the start of her university life.
Kara is the last of the Zor-Els, heiress to Krypton and the House of El, and she knows that as far as her bank accounts and her net worth are concerned, she’s an ideal candidate for Pendragon House.
But the thing is that kind of thing isn’t really Kara’s, well, thing.
And it kind of defeats the purpose of her being in National City, which is the opportunity to grow away from all the things Krypton and the House of El have been grooming her for. Sure, she’s claiming her birthright when the time comes, but for now, she’s a Danvers, and she’s supposed to be a regular kid with a regular life. And though it’s not like she’s in witness protection, since she’s allowed to visit her home and her people are aware that she exists and are actively waiting for her, the whole affair is still a bit of a complicated legal mess.
It is what it is, and fine, it is kind of Kara’s fault, she admits that, and it sucks.
She has to move forward though, because as much as she dislikes all the frill and extravagance, she dislikes being bed-less more.
So she fills out her forms and hands over her credit card and the counselor’s eyes bulge out of their sockets when she sees Kara’s record, and well.
Kara just takes the packet and the keys and leaves the stuttering, apologetic girl behind.
“You do know I’m gonna have to call this in.”
Kara sighs, but she nods at her sister, adjusting her hold on her bags. “I know.”
Alex shoots her a sympathetic glance. “More paperwork, huh?”
“You too,” Kara says, because part of the reason Alex pursued a career in law enforcement is to make sure Kara will always be safe, and now Kara is also part of her adoptive sister’s professional responsibility.
(See: a complicated legal mess. Kara still rues the day her uncle Non decided to wreak havoc on the House of El.)
“And Mom. I’m gonna have to call Mom.” Alex pauses. “And I’m pretty sure she’s gonna rip me a new one when she hears about this.”
“Come on, you’re exaggerating,” Kara tries, but they both know that is not the case at all.
(Eliza Danvers is kind of intense, and she’s going to be pretty upset that Kara’s moving to a conspicuous and thus less safe place.)
(Now Kara is ruing the day she thought she could just leave matters of student housing for last-minute arrangements. She’s never been more wrong in her short life.)
Alex looks resigned. “Then can you please call her instead?”
At that Kara snorts. “Yeah, no, I don’t think so. I do like my life, thank you very much.”
“I hate you so much right now.”
The room assigned to Kara is 4A. According to the packet, she has a roommate, who is not in when Kara finally opens the door.
Alex whistles as they make their way in, and Kara can get behind the sentiment. The place is spotless, the carpet is lush, and the view from the floor-to-ceiling window is amazing. “I can get used to this.”
“I have to get used to this,” Kara says.
“Yeah, what a tragedy.”
“Shut up and help me unpack.”
“Ooh, bossy. You think your new roomie’s gonna mind that attitude?”
“Help me unpack with minimal mockery, please, and I’ll be the one to tell Eliza.”
Alex’s answer is instantaneous. “Deal.”
“Do you think they deliver pot stickers here?”
Alex laughs, throwing a shirt at Kara’s face. Kara splutters indignantly from where she’s sprawled on the floor. “You basically pay them a student’s entire tuition to live here, Kara. I’m pretty sure they’ll deliver whatever you want.”
“So you sure you have everything?”
“And you’ve called the moving company to direct your other stuff here?”
“Documents signed and delivered properly?”
“Yes, Al—okay, now you’re just messing with me.”
“Glad to see you catching up at last, sis.”
“Don’t hesitate to call, all right? And if your roommate’s a douche, let me take care of it.”
Kara giggles. “That sounds so badass.”
Alex looks at her amusedly. “I’m a federal agent, Kara. A little respect here,” she drawls.
“Yes, sorry, Federal Agent Danvers, ma’am.”
Kara has been living in 4A for almost three weeks, but she still hasn’t caught a glimpse of her roommate.
It’s not that they’re avoiding each other, though (and to be fair, for them to avoid each other, at least some sort of meeting would have to happen so they can say that the avoidance is justified). It’s just that their schedules do not match up at all; Kara leaves in the morning for her classes and campus paper duties and other extracurriculars that normally run late into the night, and when she gets home, her roommate is already out and would return after Kara is gone again.
And so the roommate remains elusive, and thus faceless, and Kara is getting kind of suspicious.
So she sends her sister a quick text.
huff-le-puff danvers: so what do i do if my roommate is a vampire
Alex replies after five slow minutes.
alexpecto patronum: kara it’s 3:30 in the mORNING OK GO TO SLEEP also vampires aren’t real we’ve been through this when you were like 7
huff-le-puff danvers: that was years ago okay
huff-le-puff danvers: and how do i explain why she’s never home at night
alexpecto patronum: maybe she’s nocturnal.
alexpecto patronum: night classes in ncu are a thing
alexpecto patronum: also what
alexpecto patronum: you mean you still haven’t met your roomie??
alexpecto patronum: it’s been like three weeks
huff-le-puff danvers: exactly my point
alexpecto patronum: can you just
alexpecto patronum: leave garlic or silver or something
alexpecto patronum: if someone yells then she’s a vampire
huff-le-puff danvers: that’s not how it works, you’re supposed to be the smart one
alexpecto patronum: YOU LITERALLY JUST WOKE ME UP YOU LIL PUNK SO YOU DON’T GET TO COMPLAIN
alexpecto patronum: also i hope she sucks you dry if she’s an actual vampire
alexpecto patronum: kbye have a crisis without me
Well, that’s incredibly unhelpful.
Kara sighs and frowns thoughtfully at the ceiling.
Maybe she’ll just hide a clove of garlic in the fridge.
The next day, when Kara goes to retrieve a bottle of water from the fridge, she sees a note stuck on it with a magnetic button in the shape of a screw.
I’m not sure what the garlic is for, but it got mixed up with my vegetables, so I just put it in a separate Tupperware. It’s in the bottom shelf. I hope you don’t mind.
“Not a vampire, then,” Kara says.
Hi! Sorry about that. And yes, it’s okay.
I hope you have a good night/day.
For good measure, she also puts a doodle of a caped superhero giving a thumbs-up beside her name.
That’s an adorable drawing! Are you an artist? Art major?
I dabble. I’m taking art classes, though I’m majoring in journalism.
Ah, out to fight for truth, justice, and the American way, then?
I’m in engineering, by the way.
Well, that explains the late hours. Most engineering majors in NCU opt to use the facilities at night to avoid the bustle of the general student populace.
They finally meet on a Wednesday afternoon.
Kara’s Women Studies professor lets the class go earlier than usual because of a research presentation out of town.
And so Kara gathers her stuff, picks up doughnuts from the cafeteria, and trundles over to her apartment without thinking much of it and just assuming that yet again, she’ll be going home to an empty apartment.
Almost on autopilot, she fishes the key from her pocket, unlocks the door, and pushes it open. She drags her feet on the carpet, wanting nothing but to plop down on the nearest horizontal surface and nearly settling for the floor, but a perfectly fine sofa is just there, so she throws her entire weight on it, moaning with relief and just absolute bliss when the soft cushion welcomes her in its tender embrace.
She’s so out of it that it takes her like ten seconds to register someone quietly laughing. Then she does, and so she hurriedly pushes herself on her elbows, blowing her hair out of her face, and she practically falls down the sofa when she sees a woman comfortably nestled on the adjacent couch.
A seriously, stunningly, strikingly beautiful woman.
Her green eyes are twinkling with amusement, and her lips are curved in a disarming smile, and her black hair is pulled up in a messy bun that just makes her even prettier, and her skin looks so soft and like it’s made of pure moonlight, and Kara wants to cut herself on that otherworldly jaw.
(Whoa. Okay, Kara, down, girl, is the only thing that her subconscious tells her, and Kara finds it rather bothersome that her subconscious sounds a lot like Alex.)
She’s just . . . wow. Kara’s pretty sure she’s gaping, and she struggles to close her mouth with an audible click.
“I apologise, I didn’t mean to laugh,” the woman says, and oh, Kara’s really screwed now because her voice. “It’s just, you’re really quite adorable.”
“Uh,” Kara says. Yes, that’s a new type of stupid, right there.
(Alex would probably be rolling in her grave, and that is truly saying something, because she’s still very much alive.)
The woman grins at her crookedly, as if she finds Kara fascinating. “I assume you’re Kara?”
“Hello,” Kara tells her.
“Uhm.” And Kara cringes inwardly.
Or maybe she only thinks it is inwardly. Maybe she actually does that outwardly, because the woman laughs again, and wow, really, it is fast becoming Kara’s favourite sound in the world. “Hi,” the woman greets her again. “I’m Lena, just in case you’re wondering still.” Her smile widens. “It’s nice to finally meet you, Kara.”
Kara thinks that Lena is absolutely gorgeous and that her name on Lena’s lips is the best thing to grace the earth since the Chinese invented pot stickers. “It’s nice to finally meet you too, Lena,” she finally manages to wrangle words into a coherent sentence. She sits up properly, adjusting the collar of her shirt and straightening her glasses. “I didn’t expect you to be here.” She blinks. “Not that I don’t want you here. You have every right to be here. Just, well, you’re always gone at night, and I briefly considered that maybe you’re a vampire, and that’s also actually the reason why I left garlic in the fridge that one time, and thanks for the tacos you left last night, by the way, I love tacos.”
Lena’s smile just grows even wider, and she chuckles again. Kara can probably drown in the sound and she’d die a happy woman. “You’re welcome. Though by the ever-growing pile of takeout menus here, I think you love a lot of food.” And it is said teasingly, but there’s an undercurrent of warmth that makes something bubble within Kara’s chest.
“Yeah, well,” Kara says, shrugging sheepishly, “I just love food in general.”
“You don’t look it.”
“Extremely fast metabolism.”
Lena hums in acknowledgment, tilting her head just so that Kara’s breath catches. Her green eyes are so vivid in the afternoon sunlight streaming through their windows.
Kara clears her throat, tears herself away from the intense verdant gaze. She then notices, belatedly, that the television is on. “Oh, Star Wars!” She squints, before recognizing which film in particular it is. “I love The Empire Strikes Back the most. Can I watch with you?” She turns to Lena then, who is looking at her with something like awe. “What?”
“You . . .” Lena breathes, before trailing off. She shakes her head, huffing an incredulous laugh. “Yes, sure, Kara.”
“Cool!” Then she holds up a hand. “Wait, can we pause and rewind? I need popcorn for this. Do you like pizza?”
“Sure, of course, silly me, everyone likes pizza.” Kara’s already hopping to the kitchen counter, looking through the menus. “Pepperoni okay?” she calls out.
“Yes,” she hears Lena answer.
Kara places the order quickly, and she saunters back to the living room. “I made us cocoa too,” she says, setting down the mugs on the table. She catches Lena’s awed look. “What? I take Star Wars seriously, okay?”
“Yeah, no, I do too,” Lena assures her, giving her that life-destroying crooked grin again. “It’s . . . rather nice to know that I get to have a roommate that appreciates it almost as much as I do, actually.”
Kara’s heart skips like a hundred beats, and yep, she’s really screwed. She ignores it for now, in favour of gasping in mock offense. “Okay, wow, ‘almost as much’? I hear a challenge in there, and I’ll have you know I don’t back down from challenges.”
The gaze Lena sends her now is positively thrilled, and extremely lethal to Kara’s mental health. “And I’ll have you know, Kara, that neither do I,” she says.
And really, how is Kara supposed to survive this?
huff-le-puff danvers: alex
huff-le-puff danvers: i’ll tell you this ok don’t freak out
huff-le-puff danvers: she can suck me dry anytime she wants
When in doubt . . . start another time-consuming, soul-eating project because who needs sleep, anyway?
also shout-out to my countrymen whaddup coldplay tickets are fooking expensive where can i sell a kidney to afford one
Chapter 2: ii: a week in the life of a smitten kryptonian
have i mentioned the tropes
(See the end of the chapter for more notes.)
To say that Kara is smitten would be a severe understatement.
To say that she’s having a hard time hiding it is even more so.
After all, nobody has ever accused Kara of being subtle.
It’s not like Lena is making Things™ easy for Kara either.
And by Things™, Kara means stuff that she barely has the ability to articulate, because Lena is so beautiful, okay, and Kara’s apparently very weak when it comes to beautiful girls, and her already hyperactive brain just kind of gives up trying to fulfill even its most basic functions whenever Lena’s in the vicinity.
And Lena, Rao, she’s almost always in the vicinity, nowadays.
Her schedule lets up after those first few weeks, and she tells Kara that the only reason she’s gone during those nights is because she’s working on a special project with other engineering majors—something that involves scientific concepts Kara has encountered only in Krypton but isn’t completely familiar with by virtue of choosing other fields on which to focus. But she still nods along because Lena’s eyes get this sparkle whenever she talks of something she’s passionate about (like there’s a light that just refuses to stay within her and stubbornly fights its way out, and it makes those eyes brighter, brighter, brighter), and Kara kind of just wants to stare at them forever.
The project finally got traction with the board of directors, and they just have to wait for the approval to take it to the next level, which apparently can take months. So Lena’s free during nights now, and though her workload is still heavy, it’s more manageable, and it allows them to work out a routine, of sorts.
Movie Mondays: One of them chooses a genre, and the other decides on the film itself. It’s kind of tricky, because they have generally different tastes, and Kara has resorted to reading Wiki articles of Top 10 (insert genre) Movies just so she can have an idea of what to choose and stuff. Lena always looks at her warmly whenever Kara manages to name a film she actually likes, though, and she knows that the extra effort is so worth it.
(It’s especially worth it when Lena snuggles closer to her on the sofa, a blanket strewn on their legs, and it makes Kara want to set herself on fire, because really, this is so unfair, what has she done to deserve this? Lena likes resting her head on Kara’s shoulder and her breath gusts over Kara’s neck when she laughs at something ridiculous happening on the screen and Kara smells lavender and Lena Lena Lena.)
Tambourine Tuesdays: This one is essentially karaoke/sing-along night, and it started as a joke, when Lena asked Kara if she played any instruments and Kara asked if tambourines count. Lena laughed that low, husky laugh that’s just a detriment to Kara’s sanity, and said, “Yes, sure,” and then from there the discussion moved to music and favourite singers and bands and stuff. And then one of them had this brilliant idea (and Lena will later insist that it’s her, because “Kara, if one idea is brilliant, then it’s mine, because all my ideas are brilliant.”) of pulling up those YouTube karaoke videos and singing along, and yeah. Tuesdays are fantastic.
(And Kara will never forget the first time she sang in Lena’s presence. She chose “La Vie en Rose”—because why not?—and she was having fun because it’s been weeks since she last went to that karaoke bar she frequented with Alex. And she sort of forgot that Lena’s new to her life—because it feels like she’s always been in Kara’s life, and it might sound weird if it didn’t feel so freaking right—and thus she wasn’t informed that, well, not to brag, okay, Kara’s got the vocal chops.
And so she sang with all she got because “La Vie en Rose” always made her feel Things™ and stuff that she’s now coming to associate with the woman beside her, and she looked, okay, because how could she not when Lena’s warm and there, and the gaze that greeted her almost made her stumble over the French words that she learned to heart when she was like five.
Lena’s eyes had a Look in them, the capital L intentional, and it’s a Look that Kara couldn’t decipher but made her feel stuff that she absolutely had no business feeling about her roommate who’s fast becoming her closest friend.)
(And for all the time she spends trying, Kara still can’t quite figure out just what the exact shade of Lena’s eyes are—they’re green, at first, but then that word seems kind of lacking. It’s too plain a word, to describe what Lena’s eyes do to Kara. It’s restricting too, because it’s just not green, no, Lena’s eyes are grey when she’s sleepy and the moon bathes their apartment in its soft light, and they’re blue during early mornings when she hauls herself out of bed to make Kara pancakes for breakfast.)
Burrito Wednesdays: Lena’s got Wednesday afternoons off, and she spends her free time mostly reading, sleeping, and—to Kara’s eternal delight—cooking. Lena, apparently, is like, a knife away from being a five-star chef with all the meals under her repertoire, the cuisines ranging from Italian to Chinese to Indian to French.
(“You cook,” Kara breathed in palpable wonder when she first stumbled home with the air smelling like that restaurant in Cordova Street that never failed to make her mouth water.
And oh boy, if that’s not enough to make her like, legit drool, then the sight of Lena capably handling skillets and spatulas should do it. Lena looked so at home in their kitchen, her hair neatly tied in a ponytail, her shirtsleeves rolled up to the elbows, and a black apron with a white cartoon cat wrapped around her waist.)
(And Kara shoved away thoughts of how the word home kept popping in her mind when she’s thinking about Lena.)
(Burrito Wednesdays are basically a gift from Rao, is what she chooses to think of.)
(“I do,” Lena answered with a little grin. “It’s perfect, really, that I get to be paired up with someone who can inhale an entire meal with a single breath, no?” And, by the name of all that Kara held holy in this world, she winked.
Winked, okay, and Kara’s doomed.
And what else was she to do but to mumble unintelligible sounds and hide in her room?
But, of course, Lena successfully coaxed her back out with promises of burritos and how she’s going to cook for Kara from then on.)
So when Kara comes home on Wednesdays, the coffee table is laden with their usual Burrito Wednesday fare. Obviously, Kara is happy with the presence of just an irresponsible amount of burritos, but Lena won’t leave it at that. She prepares Greek salads too because “I don’t care if your metabolism is ridiculously inhuman, Kara, you still need to eat something healthy at least once in a while.” And sometimes there’s lasagna, which Lena cooks to perfection, and Kara doesn’t know how Lena knew her ideal pasta-to-cheese ratio, but she’s grateful for it, and when Lena drinks the cocoa Kara especially made for her, with just a dash of cinnamon and plenty of milk, she gets this pleased little smile that Kara really likes the most, and Kara knows that Lena understands her anyway.
Trivia Thursdays: This, Kara admits, is not one of her greatest ideas. Trivia Thursdays are game nights, usually board games, and normally she’s all for it, but then.
Lena utterly wrecks her at game nights.
Lena’s a competitive soul, and it’s obvious with the way her eyes zero in on the board at the beginning of the game, as if she can somehow size up the possible gains with just a glance. She has no qualms in bankrupting Kara, barely bats an eyelash when she claims all Kara’s properties on Boardwalk, and just gives this little smug smirk when she inevitably turns out the victor. She does this little wiggle while seated on the floor’s carpet, eyes dancing with glee and self-satisfaction, and Kara has never seen anything more endearing.
(Okay, fine. Maybe Kara does like Trivia Thursdays. Still, she’ll never admit this under oath in a court of law, even though she’s pretty sure Lena already knows. It’s the principle of the thing.)
“You’d make a wonderful capitalist overlord,” Kara would tease.
Lena would just chuckle, her smile inscrutable. “Yes, I know.”
Freaky Fridays: With the way Lena looks—so beautiful, and until Kara discovers another word that can describe Lena, then this simple but no-less-true one would have to do—Kara assumes that she’s invited to lots and lots of parties and stuff.
Which is a correct assumption, by the way.
(“I am,” Lena told her, when Kara brought it up. Her eyes, as always, were warm—so, so warm—and she looked amused.
Kara frowned though, puzzled, taking in Lena’s outfit—loose grey sweatpants and a black V-neck shirt, and her hair was piled up in that messy bun Kara liked best on her. It looked great, because honestly Lena could wear a garbage bag and still pull off the whole beautiful Thing™, but it’s not, well, party attire. “You’re . . . not going?”
“No,” Lena said, and she curled up on her couch, hugging her legs close. “Parties aren’t really my scene.”
“Why do you sound so surprised?”
“I just—” Kara stammered, because that’s what Lena did to her, apparently, “You’re like”—and she just gestured to Lena’s entire being—“you know?” she said, a little lost, a little helpless.
“I’m afraid I don’t follow, Kara.” Kara’s like 98 percent sure Lena was teasing her again.
Kara groaned. “I thought you party on Fridays and do, like, I don’t know, freaky stuff?”
Lena blinked at her, and Kara blinked back, before a blush bloomed on her cheeks, and her brain—at last—caught up with her words, and she stuttered out an explanation with flailing hands. “Not that kind of freaky! Though if it was, I won’t judge, because people should be free to decide what they do and don’t do in those kinds of things as long as there’s consent because consent is very important. And, like, I’m sure you won’t have a hard time finding consenting people, anyway, because wow, you’re like, really beautiful, but that’s not my point!”
By then Kara’s pretty sure she closely resembled a tomato, and when she chanced a glance at Lena, she found that she’s got a hand over her eyes, and she’s shaking with suppressed laughter.
“Oh, darling,” Lena said, her words ringing with mirth, “you’re entirely too precious.”)
(When her laughter finally subsided and Kara could finally breathe without embarrassing herself, Lena took Kara’s hands in hers and told her to change into comfortable clothes.
She leaned closer, and Kara nearly died. “We’ll do something freaky,” and she chuckled when Kara blushed again, opening her mouth to say something, anything. “I’m kidding, Kara. Just trust me, would you?”
That night, Lena’s eyes were liquid jades, and all Kara could say was, “Okay.”)
Anyway, that something freaky turns out to be the point of no return for Kara.
(Lena took her to the animal shelter just a little way outside of campus.
“Being here offers me time to think,” she told Kara. “I’ve found that animals are often far more human than many other actual, biological humans, and sadly, many humans are far more animal than the beasts over which they claim to have dominion.”
She got a faraway look in her eyes when she said this, and Kara couldn’t find it in her to ask her about it.)
Lena has a way with the animals. She’s so gentle with them, and Kara’s heart grows a little bit more with every coo Lena gives to a puppy and every tender stroke of her hand over a kitten’s fur. She looks far younger here, surrounded by these furry faces, and Kara realises that she really has no hope of recovering after this.
Not after seeing how Lena glows, how innocent and pure she is.
(See: Lena’s really beautiful. Kara cannot emphasise that enough, okay, because she’s not just talking about Lena’s physical beauty—to which, honestly, Kara can like dedicate an entire thesis plus a dozen sonnets—but her heart too. Her heart, which she wears on her sleeves, and which Kara wants to protect.)
So it is there that they spend their Fridays—which Lena insists on calling Freaky Fridays for posterity’s sake, as if Kara can ever forget the mortification.
(But Kara doesn’t mind, not at all, not when Lena looks so happy.)
It takes her far longer than necessary to finally admit to Alex that she may be in trouble here.
huff-le-puff danvers: i think i’m doomed
She expects some serious response, because it’s Alex, and Alex normally takes trouble seriously, but well, it seems that it’s not the case this time.
alexpecto patronum: no shit sherlock
huff-le-puff danvers: language, alex
huff-le-puff danvers: ALSO what’s that supposed to mean
alexpecto patronum: see this is why i’m the smart one
alexpecto patronum: i don’t ask the obvious questions
huff-le-puff danvers: i’m lost
alexpecto patronum: i know
alexpecto patronum: don’t worry
alexpecto patronum: it will get better
Kara doesn’t know if she believes that.
(But when Lena drops by her room to say good night, well.
Maybe Kara can find it in her to believe.
have u guys ever seen a thirstier kryptonian
a filler chapter, kinda. also geez guys don’t expect a deep, riveting Plot™ because i’m just here for the fluff, all right, i don’t wanna disappoint you
(edit: Melissa Benoist singing “La Vie en Rose.” You’re welcome.)
shout-out to the thirsty™ ones who want lena to suck them dry too. the line is long, fam.
Chapter 3: iii: logistics of living with a goddess
here we go
(See the end of the chapter for more notes.)
Sometimes, when Kara gets back to the apartment later than usual (either due to her classes running late or her newspaper articles needing like, ten different sources), she finds Lena napping on that sofa that Kara has already declared as her own.
The first time that happens, Kara stops dead in her tracks, because her entire nervous system short-circuits and the neurons firing in her brain cannot make her muscles move, and she is frozen with her heart beating like a hundred drums that could probably be heard from outer space.
A conscious Lena naturally exudes sensuality and charisma and an irresistible magnetism without even trying, but a sleeping Lena? Well, a sleeping Lena will be the cause of Kara’s premature death, because a sleeping Lena is all things adorable and soft and delicate, and Kara cannot help but stare.
She’s pretty sure staring is the only acceptable thing to do, anyway, because Lena is a masterpiece created by the divine.
Her pale cheeks are washed with moonlight, which falls on her face almost gently, like the moon itself cherishes this woman and holds her dear. She looks ethereal, with an unearthly quality about her that reminds Kara of Artemis, and this—the steady rise and fall of her chest, the ebony of her hair splayed across the cushion like an inky waterfall, the little puffs of breath that escape her soft, pink lips—yes, this is how Kara has always imagined the moon goddess would look whilst resting from her hunt.
Kara herself feels like she is Actaeon from the myths, a hunter who unwittingly finds something not meant for mortal eyes—this goddess who holds so much power within, this goddess who can render her weak with a simple glance.
She feels something clench in her chest almost painfully, and the force of it surprises her, so much so that she jolts and, as a result, knocks herself against the coffee table.
The resulting crash is what rouses Lena awake, and Kara’s heart stutters to a sudden stop before resuming an even wilder rhythm upon the realisation that she has ambled too close and is now standing right next to Lena.
Lena rubs an eye with her knuckles, the movement so charming on her that Kara wants to squeal, and then she stares up at her, green-grey-blue gaze hazy with sleep. She blinks, sluggish, as if she’s not sure she’s awake yet, before her lips tug up into that smile that Kara will fight anyone to defend.
“Hey, Kara,” she greets, her voice low and gravelly, and it shoots a spark straight into Kara’s soul, and she chokes in a breath.
“Hello, sleeping beauty,” Kara says, swallowing past the moon-sized lump in her throat. “Why are you sleeping on my sofa?”
Lena chuckles, the sound some sort of holy ambrosia to Kara’s ears. She tucks her baby-blue knitted blanket tighter under her chin, and it seems so cosy and inviting.
Kara has to bite the inside of her cheeks to refrain from saying something stupid, like, Hey, can I be your blanket instead?
“I didn’t realise this sofa’s yours,” Lena answers, closing her eyes again. “I thought anything outside our respective rooms is communal property.”
“Not that one,” Kara refutes, and she grins at Lena’s huff. “Come on, Lena, let’s get you to bed.”
“I didn’t know you had it in you, Kara.” How Lena manages to tease her despite being half-asleep, Kara will never understand, but Kara is thankful that her eyes are still closed because the blush that finds itself on her face is strong enough to be seen even with the lack of proper lighting.
“That’s not what I meant,” Kara mumbles.
“Lena,” Kara tries again, resting her hand on Lena’s shoulder and nearly searing herself in the process, “up you get. Your back’s going to hate you so much in the morning if you don’t move.”
“No, you have to move now.”
“I don’t want to. ’s comfy.”
I know, Kara thinks, and she’s trying really hard to not curl up herself with her roommate on the freaking sofa, which she admits is soft and sort of wonderful, but only for naps and not for sleeping the whole night away.
Still, it appears that there’s no waking Lena up at this point, and though Kara knows she can probably carry her to bed instead, she won’t, because Lena hasn’t given her permission to enter her bedroom (yet), and Kara won’t ever do anything that will violate anyone’s privacy, unknowingly or otherwise.
So she decides to let Lena sleep here and just try to make things easier for her come morning. She retrieves a couple of her extra blankets and drapes them over Lena’s body, and she shifts the pillows so that Lena can lie down more comfortably. She leaves a pitcher of water and a glass on the table.
Kara reaches up to run a hand through black silken strands, and she murmurs, “Good night, Lena.”
Then she stands and leaves for her room, and she falls asleep to dreams of hunters and moons.
lena sleuthor: what do you call a hardened criminal?
hungry puppy: lena honestly you’re supposed to be in class
lena sleuthor: you’re not following the script, kara
lena sleuthor: work with me here
hungry puppy: go tinker with your induction coils or something i’m busy
lena sleuthor: k a r a
hungry puppy: ugh fine
lena sleuthor: thank you
lena sleuthor: i’ll ask again okay
lena sleuthor: what do you call a hardened criminal?
hungry puppy: what
lena sleuthor: han solo
(hungry puppy is typing . . .)
(hungry puppy logged out)
Lena’s a nerd.
This does not come as a surprise, not after that first meeting. (Because, of course, one film evolved into a marathon. It’s Star Wars.) What is decidedly a surprise is just how huge of a nerd she turns out to be.
(She has a toy Millennium Falcon in her room. Well, had, because Kara insisted they put it in the living room, saying, “Lena, come on, you can’t hide the Falcon, okay, it’s the Falcon. We have to put it somewhere it can be seen easily.”
“Kara, no, it doesn’t go with the décor.”
Kara snorted. “Who cares about the décor?” she asked, and she grinned triumphantly when Lena just chuckled and obliged in the end.)
She also loves terrible puns, and she has this habit of sending them to Kara just because she can. So Kara often finds herself trying not to laugh while she’s alone somewhere, because she doesn’t want to look crazier than she probably does with the grin almost perpetually plastered on her face whenever she thinks of Lena . . . which, well, is all the time, now.
lena sleuthor: what would prince doran name his ’80s band
hungry puppy: what
lena sleuthor: dorne doran
lena sleuthor: :)
Kara claps a hand over her mouth, preventing a giggle from escaping, but the silly feeling at the pit of her stomach remains.
Sophomore year in university is shaping up to be the best year of her life, and she relishes in it.
With how happy she’s been these past few months, she really should have known that the other shoe will drop, sooner or later.
When Kara strolls into the living room, she expects to see Lena in her usual place on the couch, reading one of her ridiculously thick math books as the TV drones on in the background. There would typically be a couple of boxes of pizza on the table, and a bag of potato chips next to Lena’s usual mug of tea.
What Kara doesn’t expect to see is Lena standing stiffly in the room, her lips set in a stern line that Kara has learned to associate with irritated confusion, though her face is otherwise devoid of expression. She has her arms crossed, a defensive gesture, and all Kara wants to do is go over and hug her because if there’s one thing that Kara is sure of, it’s that Lena deserves all the hugs Kara could ever give her.
Kara, however, cannot do much of anything, because seated on her sofa is her cousin.
Her cousin, who is supposed to be in Metropolis.
“Clark,” she says, that one syllable imbued with both surprise and agitation, because Clark Kent—Lord Kal El, from the cadet branch of the House of El—is not supposed to be here. He is not supposed to be here.
(Not with Lena.)
Kal starts at the sound of her voice, quickly turning to look at her, and so does Lena. There are a million questions in her eyes, Kara can see that, but she doesn’t know if she can offer her any answer that will make sense.
She doesn’t know if she’s even allowed to.
So for now, she just offers her a small reassuring smile and turns back to Kal.
He stands up, stiff and formal, and tips his head. “I am sorry for the intrusion,” he says, his tone calm and genuinely apologetic. He knows he has trespassed, coming here in his liege’s territory without notice, but there’s a shadow in his eyes too, telling Kara that he’s only done so because he had no other choice.
For that Kara forgives him. A little.
“What are you doing here?”
Kal opens his mouth to answer, but he hesitates, glancing at their audience with suspicion. Lena merely raises an eyebrow at him, daring him to comment, and Kara hides a smile when he swallows. “A . . . development has been brought to my attention,” he says tactfully, purposely not giving the details. “It concerns you directly, and I thought it would be prudent to tell you in person.”
His expression is grim, and Kara knows.
Non has made another move.
Kara nods, indicating she understands the implication. She turns to Lena then, who has a deeply worried look on her face.
“Kara, what’s happening?” she asks, moving to stand next to her, her hand coming to rest on Kara’s arm.
“It doesn’t concern you,” Kal replies, condescending, and Kara shoots him a glare.
A certain kind of aura—borne from nobility, from the blood that runs through Kara’s veins—awakens at that, and she can almost pinpoint the exact moment she sheds Kara Danvers and becomes Kara Zor-El.
No one—no one—shall disrespect Lena, especially not in front of her. She won’t stand for it.
“Silence, Clark.” Her tone is forceful now; despite not being loud, it manages to be commanding. (It is the same tone she remembers her mother using, when she passed judgment on the Kryptonian court.) It surprises her a little bit, honestly, but she hides it well. “I can speak for myself, thank you.”
Kal’s jaw flexes, but he does shut up.
(He knows his place and knows better than to defy the heiress to Krypton.)
Kara sighs, staring back at Lena, who looks baffled. She couldn’t blame her, no.
After all, Kara Danvers has never before shown such blatant authority.
“It’s a personal matter,” she tells her distraught friend, shrugging and trying to play it all off. “It’ll be fine.”
Lena doesn’t seem to believe her in the slightest though. “You might want to try that again,” she says, arching her perfect eyebrows. “You’re an awful liar, darling.”
Kara huffs a laugh, fiddles with her glasses, and doesn’t counter the statement. Lena’s right, anyway. “Yeah, well, uhm.” She looks at Kal, sees he has turned his back to give them privacy. At least he still has that good grace. She meets Lena’s eyes again. “I promise I’ll tell you when I can, okay? It’s a little, uh, complicated now, I guess, so, uh.” She points a thumb at Kal. “I have to talk to him.”
Lena stares right at her, as if she’s looking straight to Kara’s heart, and it shouldn’t feel so exhilarating, but it does. Kara refuses to back down, but she feels herself melting a little inside. There’s a flicker in those eyes, after a while, and Kara wonders what she sees. “If you’re sure,” Lena finally says.
“Yeah.” Kara nods and offers her a grin. “I’ll call you if I need help or something.”
That seems enough to placate Lena, at least for the moment. Kara knows her well enough by now to expect some sort of interrogation later.
“All right, then.” She returns the smile, squeezing Kara’s arm. “I’ll just go for a walk. Be back in an hour?” Kara nods again, and Lena turns to leave, but not before aiming another glare at Kal.
As soon as the door closes, Kara releases a relieved sigh and then levels a grave look at her cousin.
“Talk,” she orders, and he does.
alexpecto patronum: so how’s the crush going
(huff-le-puff danvers is typing . . .)
huff-le-puff danvers: kal el dropped by
huff-le-puff danvers: non made another move
(alexpecto patronum is typing . . .)
alexpecto patronum: shit
alexpecto patronum: are you okay?
Kara can almost see her sister’s determined expression, her mouth setting harshly in that way that has always made lesser agents tremble on their feet.
alexpecto patronum: never mind. stay put. i’m on my way.
Clark Kent visits.
That’s not good.
Clarification: Kal-El is Kal El because of reasons.
I wrote this while drunk on cocoa and rum and I want to write other things but I keep coming back to this, goddamn.
Chapter 4: iv: royals and federals
me: so what do we got
my brain: a whole host of trite ideas
me: what a treat. sign me tf up
(See the end of the chapter for more notes.)
Kara has just read Alex’s response when she hears the apartment door open. She turns to see Lena walking in, still wearing that red coat she looks ridiculously good on that every time she dons it, Kara feels the urge to paint how the crimson of the fabric contrasts delightfully with the soft paleness of her skin.
Lena’s cheeks have a faint flush in them from the brisk air outside, and her lips—shaded with that distracting hue that really should be illegal for the severe palpitations it causes Kara’s heart—are turned in a concerned smile, and she is looking at Kara half curiously, half worriedly, and she cocks an eyebrow in question.
Kara clears her throat as she pockets her phone, and she tries her best to look like she’s not just been staring; she doesn’t know if it’s working—because to be honest, staring is all she can seem to do around Lena these days—but that’s not really her main problem here.
(And it’s not like looking at Lena is a problem per se, because, hello.
Okay, Kara, focus now.)
“Hey, you,” Kara says, and she winces at how inane she sounds. “I was just going to call that you can come back now. I’m sorry for sort of kicking you out earlier, by the way, it wasn’t my intention, and I swear I won’t do that ever again. It’s just, well, Clark’s a bit of a prat on the worst of days, and it really would be easier for all of us if I deal with him alone.”
“I understand, Kara,” Lena tells her, and Kara isn’t sure but she detects a sort of subtle guardedness in her voice—and that, she’s sure she doesn’t like. Her eyes lack their usual vibrancy too, instead having a muted sort of grey that is worlds apart from their usual morning shade. “It’s a personal issue. I won’t hold it against you.”
“Thank you.” Kara tries for a smile, but some apprehension might still be etched on her face, for Lena again reaches out to rest a hand on her arm, and the weight of her touch even through layers of clothing offers better comfort than Kara could ever hope to explain.
“Are you . . . I mean”—Lena falters, her guardedness becoming more obvious with the way she averts her gaze, and it is such a rare sight that Kara can only look on in puzzlement because Lena is never unsure (that’s sort of Kara’s specialty, after all)—“that is to say, are you two okay?”
Now Kara is thoroughly confused. “Us . . . who now?” she asks, brows furrowing.
“Uh”—and Lena looks . . . flustered? And she retracts her hand to wrap her arms around herself, and Kara silently bemoans the loss of her touch—“you and your boyfriend, I mean.”
“Wha—?” It takes a few seconds for that to sink in—because, no, no, Lena can’t have just said that—and when it does, Kara cannot help but bark out an incredulous, and maybe slightly delirious, laugh. “Me and Clark? Psh, no, no, you got it wrong,” she says, waving a hand in the air emphatically and shaking her head so vigorously that she’s giving herself slight vertigo, but she doesn’t really care about that because Rao, Lena thought she’s with Kal El, of all people. “I am single. He’s single. We’re not together, and Rao, Lena, we’re not—it’s not like that.” She gestures to the space Clark occupied earlier (her sofa, and she’s still annoyed about that because no one just sits on her sofa, okay, unless it’s someone called Lena). “He’s my cousin, Lena.”
At that Lena meets Kara’s eyes, and she seems a bit taken aback. “Oh.” She blinks owlishly, as if she’s still sorting out that tiny bit of information (and Kara is kind of stumped here because she has seen Lena solve a whole lot of advanced calculus and physics problems in under a minute, okay, so for her to need a moment to process the relationship Kara has with Kal El doesn’t really make sense). “Oh,” she repeats. “I see.”
Kara smiles, still a bit bemused. “All right?” she asks.
“All right.” Lena shakes her head and clears her throat, and she lets her arms fall to the side, the tension slowly seeping out of her stance.
Kara doesn’t understand what’s happening, not really, and she doesn’t get why Lena looks almost comforted and why her shoulders slump as she releases a kind of (Why?) relieved breath. So no, it doesn’t make sense for Kara at all, but Lena’s eyes regain their former vivacity, and her guardedness is finally replaced with her usual warmth (which Kara has sorely missed in the hour and a half it’s been gone, okay, she’s grown addicted to it, apparently), and so she doesn’t question it.
Instead she nods to their sofa—her sofa, nope, not their, because referring to things as theirs is really problematic at the moment and Kara can’t deal with it yet, not on top of her family issues (but sharing things with Lena is about as easy as breathing—no, Kara, stop right there)—a silent invitation in her eyes.
“Are you sure I’m allowed here?” Lena asks, teasingly tentative, though she does sit down beside Kara.
Well. Okay, then. Apparently, that Kara invited her to sit on the Rao-forsaken furniture will not escape scrutiny. Kara merely chuckles. “Yes, go on, what’s mine is yours,” she says unthinkingly.
“Oh, isn’t that right? I’ve only just ascertained that you’re single, Kara. Aren’t we moving a bit too fast?”
Kara groaned, throwing her head back on the cushion and putting an arm over her face to cover some of her blushing. (Not that she thinks it’ll help; it’s pure instinct at this point. Lena’s seen her blush far too many times for her to regain even a small piece of her scrapped dignity. Still, points for trying, right?) “Come on.”
“Fine, fine, I’ll let you off easy this time,” Lena allows. “You just had some family drama, after all.”
Kara grunts. “Understatement of the century,” she grumbles against her arm before dropping it. “I hate this.”
“Family almost always finds a way of making one feel awful, despite having one’s best interest in mind,” Lena says, and there’s something like regret in her voice, a certain kind of sadness with which Kara is intimately familiar.
It makes her heart ache, hearing Lena speak words that Kara knows to be true.
“It wasn’t always like this,” Kara says, before she realises that she’s indeed speaking out loud, and she almost retracts the statement, but it’s too late. Lena’s already looking at her inquisitively, the silent questions again swimming in her eyes, and this time, Kara finds that allowed or not, she’d want to tell her the truth.
About who she is, really, and about where she’s from.
And so, on a burst of careless inspiration, Kara does.
“I—” Kara gulps, before squaring her shoulders and facing Lena. “Lena, there’s something you need to know.”
Lena frowns, but she meets Kara’s gaze in quiet support. “Sure, okay.”
“It’s, well, it’s about me.” Kara sighs, and she clenches her hands tightly into fists, not really registering it until Lena takes them in her own grip. Her thumbs draw calming patterns on Kara’s skin, and Kara watches the movement in fascination, because wow, Lena really has pretty hands and her touch is so gentle and warm and Kara wants them to hold hands like, all the time, and okay, she’s getting distracted again.
(Not her fault, all right. Lena kills focus. She’s a focus-slayer. It’s like her superpower.
Lena must have sensed Kara’s inner turmoil, because she tips her head down to catch Kara’s gaze again, and she says, “Darling, whatever it is, I doubt it will have an immense effect on how I see you, okay? You’ll always be my Kara, no matter what it is you’re having trouble with. I’ll always be here.”
And maybe it’s the fact that Lena sounds so earnest and genuine and caring that strikes a chord in Kara’s heartstrings, combined with her soft touch and her sincere gaze and the affectionate way her voice coated the words “my Kara,” but Kara’s final defenses, which have been steadily chipped away since that first Wednesday afternoon, crumble into dust, and all that is left is an unwavering faith that Lena—Lena is worth everything.
And for her, well, Kara will risk everything.
So she takes a deep breath and exhales it along with her fears, and she tells Lena the truth.
“My name was . . . is Kara Zor-El,” she begins, her voice again getting that same authority it held earlier when she talked to her cousin. “When I was a child, my country, Krypton, was plunged into a civil war that resulted into the death of my family, leaving only me, my cousin Kal El—or Clark, as he came to be known—and my uncle Non. It also left Krypton without its queen, which, well, was my mother.” She sighs again, looking at Lena, and, of course, because Lena is the smartest person Kara knows, Alex notwithstanding, it doesn’t take her long to connect the dots.
“Yes.” Kara laughs a defeated laugh. “Krypton follows a matriarchy, and no man can ever hold the throne. This tradition goes way back to our ancient religion, the worship of Rao. And as it is, I am heiress to the throne and am the House of El’s future matriarch.” She scrunches her nose. “Which sounds really old-school and everything, but it’s better than like, future chief. Because that sounds badass and all, but I don’t see myself as a chief kind of person. That’s like, up there with warlord and stuff.”
At that Lena covers her mouth with a hand, and Kara freaks out inside because what if she ruined this friendship?—but Lena’s eyes still have that warm look in them that Kara lov-likes, and so she keeps herself from overreacting. Barely.
“Oh, Kara,” Lena says, and there’s a sort of adoration in her tone that Kara cannot deal with right now without her brain frizzling out, “here you are, telling me you’re an actual princess, and yet—” She sighs, smiles that half smile, and her tone is full of fondness directed at Kara, holy Rao. “Did you honestly think this is going to change anything?”
“I, uhm”—Kara shrugs—“I was so used to keeping this part of me hidden that it’s become second nature, and when I do tell anyone, it’s sort of always followed with change on how they treat me, so.”
Lena’s eyes soften even more, their colour now like Kryptonian spring, and Kara wants to spend her life in their depths. “Then you’re very brave, to willingly tell me, and I feel honoured that you trust me enough to share this part of you with me.”
“Yes, well”—Kara grins, and it’s like a weight has been lifted off her shoulders because Lena’s being Lena, and so she’s confident enough to be able to tease—“I told you, didn’t I? What’s mine is yours.”
And then, well, Lena looks flustered again? It’s twice in a single conversation, and Kara is really perplexed.
Lena clears her throat once more and nods, like maybe she’s looking for inner strength, before managing to smile back. “Yes, yes, so you said,” she agrees, though it sounds a bit strangled. “So Clark—Kal El, I mean, he’s your cousin and what, like a lord?”
“That’ll be correct.”
“Why did you change your names?”
“I can’t be left unprotected,” is Kara’s reply. “That’s . . . That’s the last thing I remember my mother saying. I couldn’t be a ward of Krypton, you see, because that’d be—well. The Council felt that if the heiress were raised by a noble house, she might grow to hold biases still prevalent in some of Krypton’s aristocracy. She must—I must be fair and impartial, so an outside family that holds no clout within Krypton seems to be the best option.
“That’s where the Danverses come in. They’re a family friend, and they kinda took me in so that they’d have a say in decisions concerning my welfare. It’s this whole legal mess, since I wasn’t officially adopted nor fostered, but we made do.” Kara gives Lena a small smile. “So, legally, I still have my birth name, but some arrangements were put into place so that I won’t be, like, exploited and stuff, politically.”
Lena frowns, obviously not just a little bit confused. “But if . . . if you’re the only heiress left, shouldn’t you be already crowned? Like, ages ago?”
“Krypton doesn’t believe in child rulers,” Kara explains. “The heiress”—she points to herself drolly, smiling when Lena rolls her eyes good-naturedly because of course it’s you, Kara—“should be at least 21 and not a day younger before she can lawfully claim the throne. That helps ensure that she’s already equipped with enough knowledge and skills to navigate the court and actually reign over her subjects justly and righteously. So that, you know, the monarch would be well-adjusted and mentally and emotionally mature.”
Lena smirks. “They’re going to have wait a long time then.”
It takes a second to land. “Wow, rude,” Kara says, gasping in mock offense, but she can’t help laughing when Lena does too.
“Krypton’s monarchy vastly differs from other world monarchies, all things considered.” Lena hums, contemplative. “Yours is the only strictly matriarchal one I’ve heard of.”
“If other world governments had at least half the women in their ministries and cabinets as Krypton does, we’d all have lesser problems in society.”
“No arguments there. It must have been tough,” Lena says carefully, “assimilating to a nation with innately patriarchal values, then.”
“Yeah, no kidding.” Kara shrugs. “But it’s not that bad, since Alex is the best sister ever and she helped me out a lot in adjusting. And well, I did have Kal.”
Lena doesn’t offer some banal statement, doesn’t apologise for Kara’s lot, and Kara’s heart grows even fonder of her because of that.
What Lena offers is her presence, quiet and steady, and her hand is solid in Kara’s, a tether of sorts in this world, and that is enough.
And for once, Kara thinks, thoughts of her past and her parents don’t hurt as much.
“Where are you?” Kara asks as soon as the call goes through.
“Hello to you too,” Alex grumbles. “Twenty minutes tops, okay, I was on a mission when you texted. I’m on my bike now.”
“What?” Kara shrills. “Alex, using phones while driving, especially a motorbike, is not safe!”
“Chill the fu-reak out. Honestly, what do you even take me for?”
“Oh, right. Right.” Kara sighs. “FBI gadget thingies. Sorry. I just worry.”
“I know, and it’s sort of unwarranted because duh.” There’s someone yelling something vaguely threatening in the background, and Kara just wisely chooses not to comment on how Alex has a habit of putting herself in situations that contradict everything she says. “So what happened, exactly?”
“Well, Kal El told me he heard that Non did something shady—”
“‘Shady’?” Alex snorts. “Does he even know how to use that word?”
“Well, no, I’m paraphrasing.”
“I’m focusing, I’m focusing.”
“All right, so he checked with Lucy, okay, and Lucy has some connections with Krypton’s Judicial Council, and so she managed to sneak a peek at some documents, and”—Kara takes a deep breath, and she mutter’s darkly, “Non’s brewing some nefarious plans.”
Alex startles out a laugh. “Okay, shady I can overlook, but did you really just use nefarious in a sentence?”
“Alex,” Kara groans, because “Seriously? That’s what you’re commenting on?”
“Okay, okay.” Alex huffs. “It’ll just be easier for me to think if you try and avoid sounding like you’re describing a shitty comic supervillain.”
“And, to be fair, Non is behaving like a villain,” Kara gripes. “It’s not my fault he’s acting like an utter tool, okay.”
“He’s not acting like a tool, all right, because let’s be honest here, your uncle is an actual tool.” She can hear Alex mumbling a stream of words that Kara really doesn’t want to interpret in lieu of preserving her hard-kept morality. “Makes me think it’s a real miracle you and Clark managed to turn out sort of okay.”
“Fine, carry on with what you’re saying about Non’s nefarious schemes.”
“Well, right, about that, that’s why Kal El chose to personally deliver the message actually.”
“Why.” The sound of revving engines intensifies, and Kara’s pretty sure Alex just made a sharp turn that is illegal, Alexandra, can you be more careful with your life, and Kara’s fairly certain that’s Eliza’s voice in her mind. “What is it that your villain uncle’s got brewing?”
“Uhm.” Kara sighs, fiddling with her glasses. “Something about marrying me off for the throne.”
“Apparently”—and Kara cringes, bracing herself to say the words that are sure to leave a bad taste in her mouth—“Non managed to track down a match for me.”
“AlsoImaybetoldLenaaboutmeandKrypton,” Kara rushes out in a single breath.
There’s a sound of tires squealing to a sudden stop, and Kara grimaces, squeaks out a “Bye!” and ends the call before her sister manages to talk her ear off about the consequences of her actions.
She’s pretty sure she’s going to get an actual, personal scolding when Alex arrives, anyway.
No need to suffer through the same thing twice, right?
alexpecto patronum: called clark in a secure line
alexpecto patronum: must work on one between the two of you soon, why have we not done that yet
alexpecto patronum: also i retract my previous statement about you two being sort of okay
alexpecto patronum: i wanna bump your heads together and lock you up in my basement until you learn your goddamn lesson about being MORE BLOODY CAREFUL WHAT IS WRONG WITH YOU
alexpecto patronum: ALSO before you berate me (which you are in NO position to do right now, god, kara), no, i am not driving right now. i stopped for a latte because it’s either that OR I GO TO YOUR PLACE WITH INTENT TO KILL AND WE NEED YOU ALIVE TO FIGURE THIS OUT
(huff-le-puff danvers is typing . . .)
huff-le-puff danvers: i have doughnuts
alexpecto patronum: THERE BETTER BE SOME LEFT WHEN I GET THERE
once-and-future queen: WHAT DID YOU TELL HER
ex-kal-ibur: i am so sorry
ex-kal-ibur: just the basics, i swear
ex-kal-ibur: it’s alex
ex-kal-ibur: i can’t exactly lie my way out of her rage
ex-kal-ibur: even if it is on the phone
ex-kal-ibur: your sister is scary, your highness
once-and-future queen: oh Rao i’m gonna die aren’t i
ex-kal-ibur: there’s like less than 20 percent chance of that happening at the moment, i believe
once-and-future queen: that’s not enough, kal el
ex-kal-ibur: i’m truly sorry
once-and-future queen: ugh
once-and-future queen: whatever
once-and-future queen: by the way, if alex does end up murdering me
once-and-future queen: the fall of krypton and the house of el will be solely your burden to bear
ex-kal-ibur: please don’t make me feel guiltier than i already do, your highness
once-and-future queen: yeah well
once-and-future queen: sucks to be you
once-and-future queen: but sucks to be me more
yeah, i know that canonically, krypton’s goddamn patriarchal. do i care? of course not.
it’s nice to hear from you guys, as always ( ͡° ͜ʖ ͡°)
Chapter 5: v: kryptonians are a serious people
warning: jumpin’ verb tenses because of flashback. you’d know.
(See the end of the chapter for more notes.)
Kara desperately wishes to rewind her afternoon and get back to an existence of blissful ignorance, where the worst thing she has to sort out involves fixing her articles and not mixing up the rules of CMS, APA, and MLA. She’s pretty sure mastering style guides and tracking down leads will be a better hell than the one she’s staring at right now—the smaller of two evils, as they say.
But Kara does have this ridiculous habit of ending up with the shorter straw, so.
She really has no other choice but to woman up and deal with it like a—
Like a queen.
“And when he said that there’s a development . . .” Lena trailed off, and Kara laughed, because of course Lena caught that.
“You’re too smart for your own good, you know that, right?”
“Yes,” Lena agreed, easily. She persisted, “So? What is happening?”
Kara laughed again at her inquisitiveness. “Well, my uncle Non, who’s been, like, a major pain in the butt ever since I can remember, decides to stick his nose into my business again. He’s from a family that had always wanted the throne, you know. It was one of the reasons why he and my parents didn’t really mingle a lot. Bad blood, or something like that. I remember my mother questioning more than once my aunt’s decision to marry him.”
Her smile turned wistful. “I also remember asking her why she didn’t simply command my aunt to sever their marriage, and she just laughed and explained that it would be an abuse of power, and she told me that even if she chose to do so, she didn’t have enough authority to dissolve the bond between two people.”
“How so?” Lena asked, curious. “Doesn’t the monarchy have, like, absolute control?”
“No.” Kara shook her head. “Our monarchy’s power is broad and far-reaching, but there are still limits. That’s why we have councils and guilds, to help with the laws and other affairs of state. And, besides, well, uhm”—Kara gulped, and she could feel the familiar rush of blood to her cheeks—“Kryptonians don’t believe in divorce.”
“You don’t?” Lena sounded dubious. “Isn’t that a bit archaic?”
“It is,” Kara acknowledged, fiddling with her glasses now. “But, uh, as with everything else, it’s tied to Rao. Anyone bound beneath Rao’s light shan’t be torn apart. The only times separation between spouses were recorded were if they died or, you know, had been untrue to their vows. Cheating is condemned, and those who break their promises are branded as pariahs.” Kara shrugged at Lena’s raised eyebrows. “We take marriage vows seriously.”
“It appears so,” Lena said, meeting her gaze, and there was something in her eyes that made Kara’s skin thrum—like the very air surrounding them was charged with an energy that was both new and ancient, both exciting and soothing.
It should alarm Kara, this power Lena had over her, exercised through a mere glance, yet instead she felt exhilarated.
“Also,” Kara hurried to say, before she could blurt something out that would surely cause her own mind’s ruin, “my mother is not like, a full queen, so her authority is even more limited. She’s a queen in name, whilst my father was the king regent, since he’s the one directly descended from the House of El.”
“So you take your matriarchy seriously too, huh?” Lena said, teasing, but there was no malice in her tone.
“We take a lot of things seriously,” Kara played along, lips turning up. “My grandfather used to tell me that he’d be going to Rao’s light happy, assured that his legacy is secured—that legacy being me, seeing that for seven decades, the House of El had sired sons and no daughters. He was getting worried.”
“You’re the first daughter in seven decades?”
“Yes.” She chuckled mirthlessly, shaking her head. “The lack of heiresses is one of the points of contention in the war, to be honest. The throne is vulnerable, left to a regency that has grown weak from the time a proper queen has been absent in the realm. My grandfather had three sons, two of whom had sons of their own. My father was his last hope.” She sighed, tired, but there was a hint of fondness, a tinge of melancholy in her voice. “He said that when I was born, he was so ecstatic, and he swore he never felt as powerful as he did when he saw me swaddled in a blanket stitched with our family’s crest.”
And she remembered him well—remembered them well. Kara had fallen asleep to Jor El I’s deep rumbling laughter many a time, along with Grandmother Nimda’s lovingly sung lullabies, and they had always been the first ones she had run to when she made a new artwork, and even her sloppiest crayon doodles found their way to her grandparents’ office walls, proudly overseeing meetings with chancellors and diplomats.
She remembered how she sat atop her father’s shoulder whilst wearing a crimson blanket as her cape, pretending to be a hero defeating the armies threatening Krypton’s gates. Zor El had been her second-in-command, and they had slain many monsters and saved countless lives.
She remembered how she toddled around, following her mother’s steps, watching with wonder as she sat on the throne and ensured that justice was served swiftly and honorably. She had been her mother’s second-in-command, and she jotted down the difficult words Alura used during the day so that Kara could ask about them later, learn the ways of the law, learn about their heritage.
She remembered Aunt Astra, how she taught her the language of the stars. She had been Kara’s shield, and she told her that when the time came, Kara herself would be sitting on the throne with the crimson cloak of the House of El around her shoulders, ready to bring glory to the family and to Krypton. She promised that she’d be with Kara every step of the way, making sure she won’t fall, making sure she’s safe.
Kara didn’t realise she’d been crying, not until she felt a hand cupping her cheek, a thumb swiping away the tears. She looked at Lena, who was staring at her with compassion and understanding, and when Lena offered her a smile—a little bit sad around the edges, but still warm (always warm)—Kara finally crumbled, falling into Lena’s embrace.
(Yes, she crumbled. Yes, she fell.)
(But Lena was there to catch her, and falling felt like flying.)
Alex storms into the apartment, her expression one of righteous fury, and Kara doesn’t even have the time to ask how she got in because she can’t remember giving her keys when Alex asks, in an almost-screech if not for the fact that Kara knows Alex never screeches, “You told her?”
“Hello,” says Lena, looking up from her couch, impassive but for the slight quirk in her brow. “You must be the sister. I heard so much about you.”
“Yeah, same,” Alex grumbles. “Agent Alex Danvers, FBI. Nice to meet you.” She sighs, rubbing her hands over her face. “Shit, sorry, I’m not usually this rude.”
“Right,” Kara says, because she’s obviously wishing for a slow and painful death at her sister’s extremely, frighteningly capable hands.
To be sure, Alex’s head snaps up to level a glare at her, and Kara sort of feels bad for the agents Alex trains, because, whoa, that is a terrifying glare. If she weren’t Alex’s sister, she’s pretty sure she’d be a puddle on the floor melted through her sheer force of will. As it is, Kara thinks that even their filial bonds would not be enough to save her from Alex’s wrath. “You do not get to sass me right now, Kara,” she grits out, pointing a threatening finger at her, and Kara’s survival instincts are kicking up at last, it seems, for she currently feels very much threatened.
“Sorry,” Kara says in a small voice, and she wants to sink right into her pillows and only surface when Alex is like, not here.
Preferably thousands of miles away. Back in their base in Quantico. On the other side of the country.
Rao, save me.
Alex snatched up a doughnut from the box on the coffee table, quickly eating and finishing it just as she retrieves a bottle of beer from the fridge—Kara keeps some in her stash for when her sister visits, though that hasn’t happened until now.
Honestly, Kara could have done without this particular visit at all.
When she’s done, Alex sits on Kara’s sofa, pushing Kara’s legs off, and Kara doesn’t have enough courage to summon any kind of indignation. Alex is looking at her the same way she has always done when Kara finds herself in exceptionally stupid situations, which, she’s ashamed to admit, happens far more often than she’d like.
Alex crosses her arms. She glares at Lena, who meets her eyes calmly. “My sister trusts you enough to tell you about her family, and though she’s got this annoying tendency to get into trouble without even trying, I trust her judgment.” She sighs again, and though she’s still glaring, it’s less sharp now. “So I figure whatever we talk about now won’t make it out?”
Lena nods, serious as can be. “I hold your sister at high merit, Agent Danvers. I won’t do anything that will put her in harm’s way.”
Alex scrutinises Lena, and Lena allows her to, and Kara’s heart is apparently in a marathon by the way it’s beating in her chest, for Lena’s words are full of conviction and sincerity and Rao, how do people actually deal with these feelings?
Kara doesn’t have the chance to get an answer to that, because just then, in the same tone Kara used at Kal, Alex commanded the heiress to Krypton, “Talk.”
And seeing as there’s no way to get out of this alive unless she follows her sister, Kara talks.
“Talk,” Kara told Kal El, in a tone brooking no argument.
Kal El complied. “Your claim is being threatened, Your Highness,” he told her in that matter-of-fact way he had.
Kara’s eyebrows shot up at his statement—of all the things she’d been expecting to hear, that didn’t even place anywhere near the top 10 because of the sheer absurdity of the very notion. “My claim?” she repeated, a combination of incredulity and disdain dripping from her tone, and under all of it, she could feel a familiar rage rising like a tide that was threatening to wash ashore everything she’d been fighting to bury deep within. “How can it even be put into question? Last time I checked, I’m the last heiress of Krypton, and we’re the only ones left in the family because of the stupid war he supported!”
Kal flinched, obviously ill at ease for being the one to bring her the news, but Kara couldn’t find it in herself to feel particularly bad for his discomfort. “Non is urging the Council to review the situation, citing an article in our constitution,” he explained. “It appears that in the old laws, penned during the time of the Kryptoniad, the princess must be married before ascending the throne. Now, I know it seems a bit backwards, especially in light of the recent developments in our society, so I asked Lucy to reach out to her friends within our Judicial Council to assess the validity of his argument.”
He sighed. “In all of Krypton’s history, there is no record of an unmarried princess being crowned a queen. Tyra El came close, but even she succumbed to tradition and took a Daxam prince as her husband, if only to quiet the capitol’s dissent.”
Kara scoffed. “He’s asking the Council to discredit my ability to rule because I am unmarried?”
“Something like that.” Kal rubbed his temple, and Kara could see his weariness at the subtle slope of his shoulders. “He’s saying that you can’t be allowed to claim the throne because you’re, and I quote, ‘an unmarried girl who barely knows our realm’s history, being a ward of a lowly outside family that is undeserving of Krypton and all it has to offer.’”
Kara’s anger flared, and she said through gritted teeth, “He dares dishonor me after driving my family to ruins.” Kal took a step back, seeing the intensity of the emotions roiling in her eyes. “This is the last time he’s ever going to try to take anything that is mine, Kal.”
“I’m afraid the damage has already been done, Your Highness,” Kal told her, putting up his hands as if to ward off her temper. It was a futile gesture. “The seed has been sown, and tendrils of discord have already begun to take root. As we speak, the Supreme Council is making motions for the regent to bring you back. Regent Ze will probably be asking you to make an appearance at the World Capitol Building in a month.”
“In a month—” Kara looked aghast. “Kal, I have school.”
“I know, but perhaps you can ask them to wait until winter break,” Kal suggested. “It’s only a couple of weeks later, so it won’t make much of a difference.”
“Will I be allowed to go back for the rest of the term if I showed up?”
Kal winced. “That depends entirely on you—or more specifically, how you’re going to handle Non’s pawn.”
“What pawn?” Kara asked, distracted by the idea that her winter break would probably have no Lena, oh Rao, no. Then there would be all the campus paper meetings she’d be missing, and Snapper would surely be going for her neck, and fudge her life would be over.
(But mostly it’s the no Lena thing that she’s worried about. That’s just . . . no. It’s incomprehensible. She could barely last a day without Lena. How was she going to stay sane through the whole break?)
“Non’s found a prince with El blood in Daxam. He’s asked the Council to consider him as your betrothed, and the Council had all but agreed.”
That shook Kara out of her thoughts. “What?”
Kal bowed his head. “I’m sorry, Your Highness,” he said, in the most defeated voice Kara had heard from him yet, “but should you fail to find a way to escape it, you are to be betroth to Prince Lar Gand of Daxam.”
ex-kal-ibur: are you alive?
once-and-future queen: trust me, kal
once-and-future queen: you’d know if i weren’t
once-and-future queen: you’d be the first one i’d haunt
ex-kal-ibur: i feel honoured, i guess
ex-kal-ibur: or as much as a dead man walking can feel honoured
(once-and-future queen is typing . . .)
once-and-future queen: send an official missive to the regent
ex-kal-ibur: what shall i say, your highness?
once-and-future queen: that the future queen of krypton will be back for the holidays and that she won’t stand for any more disgrace
ex-kal-ibur: you have a plan?
(once-and-future queen is typing . . .)
once-and-future queen: i don’t
once-and-future queen: but i will
ex-kal-ibur: i understand.
ex-kal-ibur: may rao’s light bless you.
once-and-future queen: we’ll know soon enough.
some of you might have noticed that this update took a while. sorry for the wait. this chapter’s not my best, but i figure i should probably put something up so you won’t get the feeling that i’m abandoning the story because i’m not. i just had a rough couple of weeks and haven’t been able to write a lick for like, a month. the utter despair for being unable to do the thing you love the most (no dirty pun intended) is a feeling unlike any other.
anyway. yeah. cheers, fam. late greetings, but may happiness find you this 2017.
also listen to this “Perfect Strangers” cover and let the supercorp feelings wash over you.
Chapter 6: vi: honour and subversion
me: why do people even expect coherence in this narrative i already warned them
ergo here have some more nonsense
PS there is a final fantasy xv spoiler somewhere in the second division. it has been a year or something but some people still are getting spoiled i am so sorry
(See the end of the chapter for more notes.)
“I am not marrying anyone, Alex, especially not a Daxamite.” Kara says the word as if it were a curse—and as far as she is concerned, it is one. Krypton and Daxam have never gotten along well, despite the marriages between the realms, and she has no plan of ever being bonded with anyone from there regardless of Tyra El’s historic example.
“No, you’re not,” Alex agrees. She has had time to calm down—at least regarding Kara’s most recent reckless decision. However, a different kind of anger is now radiating off her—a lot less like annoyance, more concentrated and potent, a lot more dangerous.
It is the same kind of anger Kara has seen in her sister a lot of times before, in all those instances when Alex defended her against bullies and anyone else she even so much as suspected of meaning to cause Kara harm.
It soothes Kara, how Alex is still protective of her—a constant through all these years—and she is thankful for her steadfast support. No matter how many times Kara stumbles, she is secure with the knowledge that her sister will always be there to help her up.
(Kara once told her that she need not worry too much about her since “I’m a grown-up now, Alex. I’ll be okay.”
Alex sighed. “Yeah, well, it might be news for you, Kara,” she said, a wry smile on her lips, “but you don’t get a say on whether or not I worry about you and how much I if do.”)
That fact is especially appreciated in times as aggravating as this.
“But we do have to come up with something,” Alex adds, a pensive look on her face. “Lucy already said that there’s some ground for Non’s argument, which means he definitely knows what he’s doing and isn’t going in blind. We have to match what he’s putting forward and find a way to offset it without violating your people’s laws.” She pauses. “And whatever we do, it’s gotta be airtight. He’s already got a guy lined up for you—which is totally creepy, by the way—so we need an equally solid countermeasure.”
“Yes, but that’s easier said than done,” Kara says. “It’s obvious he’s planned this through.”
“But he’s also working on the assumption that you’re not going to know about it until you’re summoned back to Krypton,” Alex points out helpfully. “That should count for something. At least we’ve got the element of surprise as of now.”
That is . . . a good point.
Non would be assuming that Kara hasn’t heard of his plans yet. In fact, Kara is certain her uncle is counting on that—if Kara were to learn of the betrothal plans when she’s called back to Krypton, it would be too late by then to get out of it without diplomatic complications, and Kara would be trapped.
But fortunately for them, no official arrangements have been made yet, and until the actual Kryptonian betrothal ceremony takes place, Kara is a free woman.
“You should also probably inform Lady Diana that you’re going home for the holidays,” Alex suggests.
Kara frowns, and she notices the slight stiffening in Lena’s posture. She has maintained silence throughout Kara’s narration, and Kara can’t tell what she’s thinking. “Why?” she asks, actually wanting to ask why Lena’s being sullen, but Alex interprets that differently.
“For one, preemptive measure,” Alex answers. “It will look like you’re being devoted to your realm—which I know you are,” she hastily amends when Kara makes to protest, “and you can avoid the fanfare of being summoned like a child. For another, it’ll be easier to deal with Non when you’re in your home territory. You gotta put your foot down, and nothing says that better than your very presence.”
Kara sighs glumly, knowing Alex is right. She pulls out her phone from her pocket. “Fine, but I’m making Kal do it.”
“I expected nothing less,” Alex says, patting her on the back.
“Ugh.” Kara drops her head on her hand. Her brain feels like it has been frozen then dried then minced into little pieces. It’s worse than the time Snapper barked at her for fifteen minutes straight because she used run-on sentences on her articles again. “I just don’t understand why Non’s doing this. Was the damage he caused not enough?”
“He’s a dick,” Alex says simply, and Kara chuckles dryly, not even reprimanding her for her language because, after everything, she can’t refute that.
“If I may,” Lena finally speaks up, and Kara and Alex both turn to look at her, “why does the heiress even have to be married for the throne? Doesn’t that defeat the whole point of matriarchy—to do things without relying on a man?”
Aside from the thoughtful frown she has on, she looks as unruffled as she ever is—at least to people who don’t know her.
But Kara knows Lena, so she knows that beneath that calm veneer, something is bothering her. Kara just doesn’t know what it is exactly. There’s a tightness in her voice that worries Kara, and the guardedness from earlier is back in full force but like, it’s . . . colder, this time, more distressed, and Kara doesn’t like it—it makes Lena’s eyes look sad, which is bad in Kara’s book, okay, because for Kara, making Lena sad is practically a criminal offense.
Lena deserves all the happiness in the universe and Kara would gladly give it all to her, with no hesitation at all, and Kara’s only wish is the chance to be the one to make Lena happy and the one to make her smile that adorable little half-smile that sets Kara’s heart aflame every time it appears and the one to make her cheeks blush so prettily like that which oh no Kara has been staring crap she’s being creepy Lena asked a question that Kara still hasn’t answered and she’s still looking at Lena’s beautiful face and Lena’s licking her lips now and Kara’s eyes are drawn to the movement—and Lena’s lips are so pink and looks so soft and Kara idly wonders how they feel like against hers and oh Rao no this is bad bad bad—
Kara all but jumps out of her skin when Alex pointedly clears her throat—which, yes, right, Alex is here, she almost forgot.
(That’s a lie: she totally forgot her sister’s presence because she’s distracted by Lena’s lips which, to be fair, is totally not Kara’s fault. Lena’s lips could probably be used as a super-weapon because they can make anyone do anything, okay—she only has to say the word and Kara certainly will do what she asks, that’s for sure, and stop now, Kara).
She squeaks out an apology, and Alex’s gaze is knowing, which is also bad—because there’s nothing to know, Alex, she tries to convey the message through her eyes though she probably just looks like a deer caught in headlights, at best, and at worst, well, probably like a . . . dying Kara Danvers.
(She’s pretty sure if life really had theme music in the background, hers would be the one that plays when the kart goes over the rainbow road in Mario Kart. Or if she were a tad more melodramatic, the one that played when Prince Noctis died in Final Fantasy . . . or when anyone died in Final Fantasy, really.
But dead fictional characters to get foolishly invested in despite the fact that they’re both fictional and dead aren’t the point here.
It’s pretty discouraging, is the point.)
Alex smirks at her, raising an eyebrow, and Kara opens her mouth—either to answer Lena’s question or to try and threaten Alex with anything, she hasn’t decided yet—but Alex beats her to it.
“Not exactly, no,” Alex tells Lena with a smile that Kara knows can’t be anything but bad news. But Lena doesn’t know that and she just looks intrigued, and so Alex explains, shrugging, “The heiress must be married, yeah, but it doesn’t necessarily have to be a man.”
Lena tilts her head (and she looks so cute, and it’s not helping Kara’s mental predicament in the least). A glimmer of something passes in her eyes, something Kara can’t name but likes. “I see,” she says, and that something is also in her voice, though there’s also a calculating lilt to it, like when she’s negotiating with Kara on Monopoly. “Won’t that be counterproductive, though? The House of El needs its bloodline to carry on, which can’t happen in same-sex marriages.”
At that Alex meets Kara’s gaze, and Kara just shrugs, and Alex sighs, running a hand through her hair before adopting a defeated and hopelessly resigned expression. “That’s . . . really not a problem,” she answers, carefully, as if she can’t quite believe she’s doing this. She sighs again, and then asks, “What do you know of Krypton, Miss Luthor?”
“Call me Lena, Agent Danvers,” Lena says lightly, though Kara sees she’s a bit confused at the turn of conversation. “And all I know of Krypton is what Kara herself told me—it’s a small country rich in gold and other natural resources, and its science is way more sophisticated than the rest of the world’s.”
“That’s right.” Alex nods. “But what Kara failed to mention, I presume, is just how much more sophisticated the science is. Speaking as a biochemical engineer who has worked with top-level tech, I have to say, it’s pretty damn advanced.” Alex’s eyes have that shine in them that Lena’s also often get when talking about science-y stuff, and oh, Kara notes that it’s there now.
Lena is biting her lip in that way she often does when analysing a situation and Kara should really douse herself with holy water from the temple of Rao because now is clearly not the time to think about wanting to be the one to bite that, Kara, this is a serious matter. “Are you saying what I think you’re saying?”
Alex smiles. “What are you thinking?”
Lena squints at her, noting the challenge, and because she’s Lena, she meets it head on. “That Kryptonians have a found a way to create life from same-sex genetic donors.”
Alex nods in confirmation, but Lena crosses her arms. “If that were true, why haven’t they announced it yet? They would be helping a lot of people with that kind of tech.”
She sounds confused, but also helpless—Lena believes in using science as a force for good, and Kara has lost count of the times Lena has made an impassioned speech about developing technology that will make people’s lives easier, safer, better. She can’t wrap her mind around the idea that something this huge would be kept from the public—not when there are a lot out there who would benefit from it and would have gladly sold their souls for the mere chance of having something that that technology can so easily provide.
Kara’s heart aches; not for the first time in her life, she feels a twinge of guilt for the way her people do things.
“Tradition,” she says, feebly, and Lena looks at her, a plaintive sort of uncertainty on her face. “Many Kryptonian inventions have been kept within our realm because of tradition. We’re a self-sufficient people, for the most part, and we only ever really concern ourselves with international relations when severe repercussions on our own lives are imminent. It’s . . .” she hesitates, but ploughs on, “it’s an undeniably selfish way to live, I know, which is why I’ve been thinking of ways to subvert that when I’m on the throne.” She clears her throat. “Tio El—one of my ancestors—he was a naturalist, and he too believed that our scientific advancements must be announced to the world. I want to finish what he started.”
Lena’s gaze has the intensity of a storm and the warmth of the sun, and Kara can almost feel her insides bubbling with the force of the words brewing on her tongue, words she wants to say but can’t because she doesn’t want to destroy what they have. So instead of continuing to meet Lena’s gaze, Kara glances at Alex, and the fierce pride in her sister’s eyes is more bearable for her, if only a little.
“So,” Kara says, after what felt like a lifetime, “I really have to get out of this snag because I won’t be able to subvert anything of value if I can’t even escape an arranged marriage.”
Lena is still looking at her, and Kara doesn’t know how Lena always manages to make her feel warm (home) without even saying a word, but Kara really shouldn’t get distracted by her eyes again lest she does something terrible—like kiss her, which is tempting, and which Kara absolutely shouldn’t do because they’re FRIENDS.
What even is her life now?
“Uh, I . . . I think I got something,” Alex offers. She grimaces and amends, “Sort of.”
She’s sitting on the floor, arms on the coffee table, while Kara and Lena are on the sofa and the couch, respectively. The three of them (mostly Kara) have eaten all the doughnuts and the pizzas they had delivered when it became clear that it’s going to be a long brainstorming session.
“What?” Kara asks.
“Well,” Alex begins, hesitates, “you might not like it.”
“Will it avoid Non’s latest desperate bid to control the throne through marrying me off?”
“I, uhm. Hopefully?”
“It’s yes or no, Alex.”
“Okay, yeah.” She nods, as if convincing herself. “Yes, it will.”
“Then I will like it,” Kara declares, “whatever it is.”
“So what is it?”
“Oh. Yeah. Uhm.” Alex opens her mouth, fails to speak. She purses her lips, thinking how best to phrase her idea, and apparently decides that simply stating it is the way to go. “You gotta find yourself a fiancée.”
Kara registers Lena gasping sharply, but she doesn’t have time to ask what that’s about. Her head is pounding and she sits up so quickly she almost throws up everything she ingested for the last four hours—which is a lot—and though it’s a bit of a struggle, she manages to pin Alex with an incredulous look. “What now?”
“Think about it,” Alex insists. “If you’re already with a fiancée, no one, not even the Supreme Council, can force you into another arrangement. It will be going against the virtues Krypton stands for—the virtues they are tasked of protecting.”
“Just to be clear,” Kara says, looking at her sister as if she had grown another head, “you want me to get engaged so I can escape being engaged.”
“When you put it that way, it sounds silly, but yeah, basically.”
“Sounds silly? Alex, it’s beyond silly!” Kara exclaims. “This is literally the most insane plan you’ve ever had, and I saw you help Maggie plan her date with Kate while you’re in love with her your senior year!”
“Hey!” Alex gasps, offended. “I thought we’re never talking about that again!”
“That’s before you thought of this crazy thing!”
“I don’t see you coming up with anything useful!”
“I—Alex, it’s not like it’ll be so easy!” Kara protests, arms waving frantically. “I haven’t even been on a date in ages—how do you think am I going to find a fiancée in a month?”
“I didn’t say it has to be real,” Alex says. “Just find someone to pretend. Then when you do meet someone, break it off, get engaged again, and live happily ever after. Easy as pie.”
Alex says it as if it really were that easy, but Kara looks even more horrified. “You want me to lie to the council and to my people?” she says, scandalised.
“Well, your council is being a bunch of dicks, and your people will be better off with any hypothetical consort than with a Daxam prince.”
“Kara, unless you can find a way to reject your constitution, or rewrite it, while still an heiress, then I don’t really see other options.”
Kara buries her face in her hands, groaning in defeat. “Rao.”
“You can ask Jimmy, or maybe Winn. You can even ask Lucy—I’m pretty sure she’s gonna jump at the chance to be in Krypton as anything other than the lawyer.”
“It’s not that easy,” Kara points out again.
“Jimmy’s busy with his job, Winn’s got his own stuff, and Lucy’s already known in there,” Kara says. “It’s going to be pretty suspicious if we suddenly act in love.”
“Okay, those are good points,” Alex admits. “But I’m sure you can find someone. I can ask Barry to—”
“I can do it.”
Both Kara and Alex look at Lena, then, the former almost falling off her seat in surprise. Alex’s lips are tugged into a smirk that Kara doesn’t notice at all because she’s staring at Lena as if seeing her for the first time.
Lena’s cheeks have that rosy hue again, and she’s staring at the carpeted floor. Her hands are clenched into tight fists, and she’s chewing her lower lip.
Kara wants to gather her into her arms and never let her go.
But that’s out of the question, right at this moment, so she settles for the ever eloquent, “What?”
Lena clears her throat, swallows, and then blows a harsh exhale. She straightens her spine before finally meeting Kara’s eyes, and Kara nearly chokes on how intense that look is. “I can do it,” Lena repeats. At their continued silence, she states, “I don’t have plans for the break, anyway, and I’ve always been interested in learning different cultures. Besides, if Krypton’s technology is anything like you’re saying it is, then I suppose it will be a much more fun way of spending my time than reading through next term’s syllabus.”
“I—Lena, I don’t want to impose,” Kara says, voice breaking a little, because bringing Lena home is too pure an idea for her neurons to process.
And to be her betrothed?
Well. That is something Kara does not have the cognitive function to sort out.
“It’s okay, Kara,” Lena tells her, staring at her with those warm green eyes. “You’re not imposing. I’m offering—insisting, in fact. I want to help.”
“Lena,” Kara says, kind of pathetically, because there’s nothing else she can say when Lena looks so earnest.
“Besides,” Lena adds, grinning now, and the twinkle in her eyes warns Kara that what’s coming next will be dangerous to her overall health, “a whole break of trying—and no doubt succeeding—to make you blush in public? That’s too good an opportunity to pass up.”
Predictably, Kara’s cheeks betray her as she feels them burning with the aforementioned blush, and Alex howls in amusement.
“Whoa, Kara,” Alex gasps out through her laughter, “I really should have met your roommate way before this shitstorm. I like her.”
Kara is too busy burying herself in her pillows to say that she really likes Lena too.
“How are we going to swing this?”
“Easy,” Alex says, whipping out her phone and typing quickly.
Kara’s phone chimes with a new notification, making Kara jump, and then she winces when that is followed by a rapid ding-ding-ding. She looks at her sister in confusion. Alex merely smirks, shrugging, and Kara opens up the app to see what she’s done now.
And when she does, she really wishes she could just fly up to Rao’s sweet embrace and not deal with this.
(She has to schedule a conversation with her sister about her definition of easy, one of these days, because it sure is bound to get her in even more trouble than she already is.)
big danvers made a new thread
Kara’s Betrothal ♥☼ ∞
little lane: YOU’RE GETTING MARRIED?????!!!! TO WHO
big lane: *to whom
little lane: WHATEVER LOIS
little lane: DON’T BE A NERD
little lane: WHO CARES ABOOT GRAMMAR
little lane: BABY DANVERS IS GETTING MARRIED
little lane: IM SHOOKT ™
big lane: Congratulations, Kara!
big lane: When’s the betrothal ceremony?
little lane: WHO’S THE UNFORTUNATE SOUL
little danvers: HEY
little danvers: THAT’S RUDE
little danvers: ASDFGHJKL ALEX WHY
little danvers: ALSO HEY DON’T LEAVE ME TO THE WOLVES HERE
little danvers: THIS IS YOUR CALL
big danvers: oh, sorry, i was talking to your fiancée
big danvers: ALSO don’t ya think they deserve to know
little lane: AAAAHHHHHHHHHHHHHH S H O O K T
big danvers: @lois, not sure when, her royal highness hasn’t made the calls yet
little danvers: A L E X
clark can’t: I just saw you HOURS ago and now you’re GETTING MARRIED?
winnsome lose some: OMG
winnsome lose some: I GET TO BE BRIDESMAID RIGHT
winnsome lose some: or like, whatever the male version is or something
winnsome lose some: !!!!
james godsend: dibs on photographing the ceremony!
winnsome lose some: jimmy, my man, there’s no other photographer here
james godsend: I gotta cover my bases, dude, it’s not often I get to photograph the Palace of Marriage
little lane: WAIT
little lane: IS THIS ABOUT NON’S APPEAL? @clark @kara
clark can’t: perhaps
little danvers: @james, @winn hold your horses
little danvers: @lucy maybe
big lane: so . . . you’re not betrothed?
big danvers: she is
little danvers: i’m not
big lane: . . . ????
winnsome lose some: im confused
james godsend: me too
big danvers: don’t listen to kara, she’s freaking out
big danvers: she’s not betrothed YET by kryptonian standards because ceremony
big danvers: but she will be
little danvers: ☺ that is me
little danvers: screaming with my lips closed
little danvers: goodbye
little danvers: i’ll see you all in rao’s light
big danvers: don’t be dramatic
big danvers: and don’t think i can’t see you sneaking glances at lena
big danvers: you’re not as subtle as you think you are
big danvers: actually you’re not subtle AT ALL
big lane: the future Queen Consort’s name is lena?
big danvers: yup
big lane: as in the roomie?
big danvers: yup
big lane: oh my god well done, kara
clark can’t: how do you know the roommate, lois?
clark can’t: even i only met her earlier
big lane: alex told me
big lane: i can’t trust you with bringing me the juiciest gossip, babe
big lane: for a journalist, you’re kind of a monotonous storyteller
clark can’t: hEY
clark can’t: that’s rude, you’re very lucky i like you
little lane: SAVE YOUR BORING-ASS FOREPLAY FOR LATER
little lane: because 1, EWWW THAT’S MY SISTER, CLARKIE
little lane: and 2, WE’RE TALKING ABOUT KARA’S WEDDING
little danvers: . . . i hate alex very much right now but i also hate lucy i didn’t realise i have so much room in my heart for hate
big danvers: yeah yeah sure, baby sister
big danvers: and kara?
little danvers: what now, sister mine whom i hate
big danvers: down, girl
little lane: LOL
little lane: @alex PM ME THE PLAY BY PLAY
little lane: also tell me when you’re flying to krypton
little lane: imma go with you
little lane: THIS IS GOING TO BE SO MUCH FUN
little danvers: i said it before but i will say it again
little danvers: I HATE YOU BOTH
i just wanna share with you an inspiring anecdote
cousin: let’s buy pot stickers
me: there are pot stickers here???
cousin: uh. yuh? dumplings-ish . . . gyoza?
me: oh. wait. why’re they calling it pot stickers then?
cousin: idk. they’re americans. maybe they call it that because it sticks to the pot?
hi to Americans out there. peace out
okay carry on
Chapter 7: vii: the big bang was a biased creator
i am so sorry for those who got spoiled by that FFXV thing. i truly am oh my god especially if you’re one of those who waited for like a decade for the game, that was really an asshole move from me, i’m sorry.
the following is mostly just snippets. real deep-ish convo to come. hopefully.
(See the end of the chapter for more notes.)
Cc: Alexandra Danvers (email@example.com)
From: Kal El (firstname.lastname@example.org)
Subject: Winter Visit of Her Royal Highness
Dear Regent Ze:
A pleasant day. I would like to give you and the ministry notice regarding the impending visit of Her Royal Highness. She had expressed her wish to spend the holidays with her people, as is her right and duty.
She would be leaving from National City University on the first day of winter break. I have enclosed details of her schedule. Kindly look them over and make the necessary preparations for the journey.
Lord Kal El, Duke of Kandor
P.S. I hope the council will be wise enough to know their place, this time.
“Stars, Alex, I can’t believe you just did that!” Kara groans. Her cheek is squished on a pillow, and there’s hair caught on the side of her mouth, but she’s too miserable to care. She just wants to, like, have a peaceful night—is that really too much to ask?—but the arrival of her cousin and the subsequent revelation of her uncle’s plans have obviously derailed that oh-so-simple dream and so Kara is stuck in this situation that she’d rather really not deal with.
Alex just shrugs, indifferent to Kara’s misery. “Yeah, well, there’s really no point in delaying the thing, is there? We don’t have the time to beat around the bush. Besides, they’re totally supportive! I don’t see the problem.”
“‘Don’t see the—’” Kara splutters as she glares at her sister from her roost on the couch. “A warning would have been nice, for one!”
“You gotta learn to roll with the punches, kid. Besides, there’s something more important we gotta take care of, don’t you think?”
“You’re basically engaged now, Kara.”
“Yes, I get that, thanks.” Kara finally sits up straight—ha! And isn’t that a trick?—though she’s still hugging a pillow close. “And it’s your fault, if I recall. Which I totally do, since it just happened.”
“Your sass is appreciated. Now put it back where it came from.” Alex rolls her eyes. “Anyway, as I was saying, there are more important stuff to talk about.”
“Yes, of course, stuff more important than the fact that I am to make a public appearance as a betrothed woman in my realm—though, ha, it’s going to be a lie!”
“And you won’t be convincing anyone of it if you don’t stop with that mindset,” Alex says, “which brings me to my point: you have to hash out the details, Kara.” She looks pointedly at Lena, who has been watching them argue with an amused smirk, which is totally inappropriate for the situation and which Kara does not see as attractive at all, no. “And you too, Lena.”
Lena hums, and the smirk is still in place, and yep, all right, it really is insanely attractive, who was Kara trying to fool? Not even blind people would have believed that Lena Luthor is not ridiculously pretty. “Your sister is right, Your Highness,” she says, eyes fixed on Kara, and whoa, this is no fair at all.
Kara has been prepared for a great many things in her life. She’s been prepared to undergo the rigorous screening process to be accepted in the campus newspaper. She’s been prepared for Snapper Carr’s biting remarks and harsh criticisms and general jerk-guy-ness. She’s been prepared to defend her stance on narratives in media and changing one’s subjective narrative to the objective reality.
She’s been prepared to take the throne—has been preparing for it since she was old enough to understand her duty and the demands of her blood.
What she is decidedly not prepared for, however, is hearing Lena address her in that way and in that voice, and okay, Kara is legitimately dying right now, goodbye, tell her people she loved them.
And so, given that Kara of the proud House of El is wholly unprepared to hear a pretty girl saying the formal style of address, she lets out this pathetic, strangled sort of whimper, and she’d really like to fling herself to Mars right now, please.
But Alex is again shooting her that knowing look, and Kara has to remind herself to breathe normally because that is one unpleasant conversation she’d want to avoid for as long as possible.
(She’d just reached her quota for unpleasant conversations for the day, thank you very much. She deserves a break.)
So Kara powers through the sub-Saharan dryness in her throat, tries to make some sense of the chaos that is her mind. “What are we supposed to do now?” she asks.
“As she said”—Lena gestures to Alex—“we have to come up with the details. If we want your people to actually buy that we’re together, then some nice realistic storytelling is in order.”
“Right, right, a good story,” Kara agrees, because yes, that makes sense, doesn’t it? Appearing on Krypton as betrotheds would not normally cause much of a stir, but Kara is royalty, and she’s under too much scrutiny. If she and Lena were to somehow mess up and their little lie surfaced, then . . .
Kara’s going to be in so much more trouble than if she didn’t agree with this arrangement in the first place.
ex-kal-ibur: i didn’t know the roommate’s your girlfriend
ex-kal-ibur: i apologise for pissing her off
once-and-future queen: it’s not me you should apologise to
ex-kal-ibur: i will forward a formal apology once her status as your betrothed is made official
once-and-future queen: or you know
once-and-future queen: you could say “i’m sorry” like a normal person
ex-kal-ibur: of course that’s an option too but
ex-kal-ibur: where’s the fun in that?
once-and-future queen: suit yourself
once-and-future queen: but girlfriend or no, kal el
once-and-future queen: lena must always be respected
once-and-future queen: it will do you well to remember that
ex-kal-ibur: i understand, your highness
once-and-future queen: good
“What the fuck.”
They are currently huddled around Kara’s laptop, in the process of showing Lena Kara’s family, the Kryptonian council, and people of note that Lena would have to meet when the time comes. The screen is currently displaying a younger Kara and Kal El, perched on a settee in the royal ballroom, surrounded by some of their grandfather’s trusted advisors.
The words escape Lena in a sort of tortured whisper, and Kara—whose subconscious has apparently made it her life’s mission to make, and keep, Lena happy (not that Kara’s conscious self would ever complain)—is instantly on high alert. She ignores the warmth that floods through her entire body upon hearing Lena swear, because now is obviously not the time, Kara, honestly. “What? Why? Is something wrong?” she asks instead, eyes worriedly looking Lena over, searching for a source of distress, but Lena just heaves an aggrieved sigh.
“Yes—I mean, no. I just—” Lena huffs, waving helplessly towards the screen, and how does she manage to make it look so elegant, oh, Rao. “What the actual fuck is in your people’s genes?”
Kara blinks at her, confusion clear on her face, but Alex just snorts, looking at Lena with amused understanding. “I know, right? It’s totally unfair. I don’t think I’ve ever seen a Kryptonian with acne—not a single one. It’s fucking ridiculous.”
“Guys, please focus.”
“I am focusing,” Lena defends, and crap, she’s frowning in affected annoyance, and it is quite possibly the cutest thing Kara has ever seen in her life, may Rao’s light please claim her now lest she combust. “I’m focusing on how totally unfair it is that Kryptonians have, like, perfect skin, while the rest of us in this planet are constantly struggling to achieve even the bare minimum healthy glow.”
And she looks so offended at the unfairness of it all, and her lips are set in an exaggerated pout that Kara just really wants to kiss away, and oh Rao, she has never wanted anything more than she wants to kiss Lena goddamn Luthor.
(No, you focus now, Kara. Also, language!)
Kara shakes her head to try to redirect her traitorous mind from, well, extremely distracting thoughts, and with effort worthy of praise and song, she tears her gaze away from those (pretty) lips and whoa, okay, her sister is nodding at Lena’s statement?
Alex even has this serious “can you believe it” expression and this is just the worst, wow, Alex, why are you forsaking your sister this way. “And don’t even get me started on how she doesn’t get fat! No matter how much Kara eats, there’s like, totally”—she makes an emphatic gesture through the air—“no flab. Same with Clark! It’s like all the good bits from the big bang assembled to form Krypton and all its inhabitants, leaving the rest of the world with no chance to catch up with their perfection at all.”
“What? It is frustrating, okay? I’m allowed to be frustrated with frustrating things.”
“Agreed,” Lena says, exchanging a commiserating look with Alex—and wow, okay, does this mean they’re friends now? That is a frightening concept. “It’s going to be so hard to keep up and try to look this great.”
And Kara, because apparently she has no filter now, just says, with a dash of awe and a pinch of wonder in her tone, “But you’re already so great and amazing and perfect the way you are.”
A cloying silence descends in the room at the heel of Kara’s softly murmured declaration, with Lena’s eyes widening just a bit in shock and Kara’s body freezing and locking in on itself (with her spirit probably leaving her body in haste and her brain going on an unplanned sabbatical).
Kara’s also maybe gaping now, trying to bring oxygen to the blood which is all rushing to her face, and she can probably light up an entire city with the force of her blush.
And she’s just counting the seconds before it all falls apart, before Lena sees how much Kara means the statement and how much she herself means to Kara, before she runs away, before she leaves because Kara is incapable of controlling her feelings.
“Oh, wow, sister mine,” Alex says with clear laughter in her voice, reaching up to mess with Kara’s hair, “already getting into character, aren’t you? Be sure to save some lines for the actual performance, yeah?”
Alex is the actual best.
ex-kal-ibur: i take it your visit during the winter break will also be the time you’ll present her to the council and to the people?
once-and-future queen: yes
ex-kal-ibur: well then
ex-kal-ibur: i will tell Regent Ze to make adjustments for the trip
once-and-future queen: please and thank you
once-and-future queen: though perhaps leave out the part about the betrothal
once-and-future queen: i want to personally deliver that information
ex-kal-ibur: as you say
once-and-future queen: also i want you there, kal el
ex-kal-ibur: of course
ex-kal-ibur: it’s not every day the heir to krypton gets betrothed now, is it
(once-and-future queen is typing . . .)
once-and-future queen: i freaking hate you
(ex-kal-ibur is typing . . .)
ex-kal-ibur: i love you too, kara
To: Kal El (email@example.com)
Cc: Alexandra Danvers (firstname.lastname@example.org)
Subject: Re: Winter Visit of Her Royal Highness
I will oversee the preparations myself. Will there be any particular conditions she wishes fulfilled?
Regent to the throne of Krypton
[As for your concerns regarding the council: I am doing what I can to calm their unrest, but there is only so much I can do.
I do hope my cousin’s daughter has a plan in place. If she doesn’t, I truly fear for the realm’s future.]
Cc: Alexandra Danvers (email@example.com)
From: Kal El (firstname.lastname@example.org)
Subject: Re: Re: Winter Visit of Her Royal Highness
She will be traveling with one close friend, so the family jet would perhaps suffice. If you may, prepare the suite adjacent to the princess’s chamber. Her Royal Highness also bids you to arrange for a meeting with the High Council, which I too have been asked to attend.
Agent Danvers will follow two days after Her Royal Highness’s scheduled arrival. A meeting about adjustments for Her Royal Highness’s security could be held with her presence.
[You and me both, Regent.]
chapter’s admittedly on the short side, but in my defense— yeah, no, i have no defense. i’m a piece of crap. sorry about that.
PS shoutout to that one reader who explained just why pot stickers are called pot stickers: “In Chinese it's called 鍋貼(guōtiē) which literally translates to potsticker which is why it's called that in English. 鍋=pot and 貼=stick.” Thank you for this bit of info!
Kara would have tried to tell her heart to stop acting like it’s on a loop-the-loop, but at this point she’s sure it would have been a lost cause. It’s doing that stupid thing where it feels like it wants to jump out of her chest and right into Lena’s hand, but really, the only stupid part about that is it would have been too much like giving someone something they already own.
Doomed, she remembers telling Alex, when she’s only just begun realising the extent of what she’s feeling about Lena, and yep, that is still a very accurate assessment of what she is.
Lena is in the kitchen cooking dinner for the three of them, after vehemently refusing either Danvers sister’s help, saying, “I don’t want other people in my kitchen.”
“Wait, that’s my kitchen too,” Kara objected.
Lena just shot her a dangerously saccharine smile, raising a perfect eyebrow as well. “We’re not married yet, darling, so the kitchen, for now, is mine.” Then she turned and sauntered off in a trail of lavender and suggestive smirks, leaving Alex and Kara alone in the living room to fend for themselves, the former sniggering at the latter’s gob-smacked expression.
(Lena, it seems, has a habit of doing that to Kara.
Not that Kara minds.)
Alex is now doing something on her phone, probably making updates about her mission and/or Kara’s situation, and Kara herself is spiraling down a rather undignified hole of her own making.
Rao, she’s such a mess.
“Do try to get a grip of yourself.” Her sister barely even glances up from what she’s typing.
Kara’s opens her mouth, an indignant retort on her lips, but then she remembers Lena’s smile when Alex showed her a picture of a five-year-old Kara in the royal stables, and she feels her knees weakening—truly a feat seeing as she’s already on the floor—and yeah, okay, her sister does have a point, and Kara has no leg to stand on here. “It’s kind of a losing battle here already,” she admits instead, the statement punctuated with a sigh.
Alex snorts. “Then can you just please wait until I’m out of here because I for one really don’t need to see that look on my sister’s face.”
Kara stares at her, confused. “What? What look?”
“I’m pretty sure that’s the look that would have beaten a desert in a competition of which one needs water more.” Alex sets her phone down, looking at Kara unconvinced, and Kara scowls, petulant. “Control your damn thirst, Kara, seriously.”
“Shut up.” Kara slumps herself over the coffee table, her arms spread out on either side, her cheek squished on the surface. She probably looks like a ragdoll with the stuffing removed. She decides she doesn’t care. “I don’t know what to do,” she says.
“Yeah, and Nickelback sucks.”
Kara groans. “Your complete lack of empathy for my plight is duly noted, Agent Danvers.”
Her words are a bit garbled because of her position, but Alex has years of experience deciphering her sister. “Your complete lack of chill around pretty girls is noted, Princess Kara.”
“You’re so mean.”
“Ouch.” Alex holds a hand to her chest. “You hurt me, Kara, right here.”
Kara shifts so that she’s leaning on her elbows. She raises a critical eyebrow at her sister, though she’s pretty sure it’s nowhere near as elegant as when Lena does it. Still. “Maggie said you’re heartless anyway since you don’t let her win at pool ever and also her wallet is maybe crying.” She pauses, as if recalling something. “So maybe let her win at least once so she can afford her own beer.”
Alex, however, does not care about Maggie’s wallet and the cash it may or may not contain. “Why is Maggie talking shit about me?” Alex frowns, and adds, “to you?”
“I’m her favourite Danvers, duh.” Kara wrinkles her nose, sniffs in mock-disdain. “And you kiss your mother with that mouth?”
Alex sticks her tongue out at her. “You wanna kiss Lena with yours?”
“Shut up or I’ll tell Maggie about the Kate thing.”
“Do that and I’ll tell Lena you wanna smash your face with hers.” Alex makes a face. “Though, eww, I just grossed myself out.”
Kara smirks. “You mean that’s the first time that happened?”
Alex’s jaw drops, outraged. “Why you little—”
Kara snickers as Alex thumps her with a pillow. “Hey, quit that! You’re a federal agent, you’re not supposed to hurt people!”
“And you’re royalty, you’re not supposed to be such a brat.”
“Uh, actually, you’re wrong, because according to every American film made ever, that is exactly how royalty is supposed to act.”
“I’m going to have to side with Kara on this one,” comes Lena’s amused voice, “she’s acting exactly as royalty should, as per the American film industry’s trustworthy lenses.”
Lena’s carrying a tray of something that smells really freaking delicious, but Kara’s attention is decidedly not on the food.
Which is truly saying something, because nothing gets between Kara and food. Not even Alex can compete.
But Lena . . . she’s the exception to everything in Kara’s life, isn’t she, and Kara would happily let her derail every single thing she knows about herself if she’d keep on looking at Kara like that.
Lena’s hair has been pulled up in a high ponytail, accentuating the gorgeous planes of her face and calling (highly warranted) attention to the sculpted flawlessness of her jawline that would have made Michelangelo himself burst into tears (if Kara were a little more out of it, she would have cried, honestly).
But what caught Kara in her spell is the look in her eyes, twinkling green like a breathtaking aurora reflected across a frozen lake, and yet still managing to hold in them the kind of warmth that would have dispelled an eternity of coldness.
It is that same look that made Kara finally admit to herself that she is, utterly and without a doubt, in love with Lena Luthor.
She has to live through being her betrothed—has to act as her promised one.
And Kara is certain that the pretense of it all would be the thing that killed her, when all is said and done.
This is turning up to be a bigger crisis that she’s prepared to handle, and she’d really rather challenge Non—a rather accomplished combatant—to a duel than cope with whatever this thing’s fallout would be to her heart.
Lena has managed to cook up this mac-and-cheese-and-pizza pasta hybrid that Kara absolutely adores, and there’s even a side of bruschetta, and when they say that the best way to a person’s heart is through the stomach, this is what they mean. And Kara might be reeling because of a personal revelation, which frankly has a questionable timing, but she’s still Kara, and that means she has to eat.
(Hopefully, the act of consuming food would pacify, even for a bit, that monster coiling at the pit of Kara’s belly, making her feel as if her insides are being squeezed out and stretched at the same time.)
“Of course, you’re siding with her,” Alex grumbles, throwing her hands up. “You’re her fiancée.”
“Your sister hasn’t actually proposed yet, Agent Danvers, so technically, she’s my girlfriend.” She sends Kara this meaningful look that lingers, and Kara could almost feel those eyes caress her skin. She hides a shiver. “For now.”
Kara sends a quick thank you to the universe for not letting her choke on her mouthful. She rallies through her tumultuous thoughts and past the focal point in her mind that just keeps chanting how much she loves Lena Luthor. “Why do I have to be the one to propose?” she protests.
“Yeah, Kara,” Alex gibes glibly, and Kara wants to poke her with her fork, “why not? Don’t you wanna put a ring on that?”
“What are you, twelve?”
“So you don’t want to put a ring on it?” Lena prods, barely holding in a grin.
“Oh my god.” Kara slaps a hand to her eyes. “Let me just eat in peace.”
“All right, darling,” Lena laughingly says, “no need to be such a grouch.”
Kara feels a hand tugging on her own, pulling it down, and when she relents, she’s greeted by Lena’s affectionate smile that is just the worst because how can Kara keep her feelings under control when Lena’s being so . . . Lena? But Kara knows that she won’t want Lena to change ever, so she just sighs, and hides her agony in her usual pout.
“Food,” is all she says, and Lena nods solemnly, before piling another heap of pasta on her plate.
So yes, Kara is definitely doomed, but she can’t even manage to care.
Death by a pretty girl’s smile is not a bad destiny, if she does say so herself.
future wife: did you just change your name in my contacts
sluthorin my bed: we’re engaged now
sluthorin my bed: so time to update to something more appropriate ;)
future wife: not the word i’d use tbh
sluthorin my bed: ;)
future wife: stop that
The next days are, as it turns out, to be the greatest trials to Kara’s moral principles.
future wife: out of morbid curiosity
future wife: what’s my name in yours
sluthorin my bed: huffle-pup
future wife: oh okay
future wife: that’s actually not half bad
sluthorin my bed: wanna see something better ;)
future wife: no stop
sluthorin my bed: if i told you that you have a great body, would you hold it against me?
sluthorin my bed: ;)
future wife: STOP WINKING
After Kara got admitted to NCU, she and Alex looked for a nearby hotel that would serve as their base if ever either of them needed time away from the rest of the world. It had to be reputable but not overly well-known so as to avoid unnecessary attention (as per Alex’s specification), and it should be within a few blocks of a Chinese restaurant and a pizzeria (Kara’s, obviously).
They found the Lionheart, and they booked the penthouse under one of Alex’s aliases, for a time indefinite. It is there that Kara goes when she needs to reassess her feelings and disentangle her messy strands of thoughts.
Right now, though, the room alone is not enough.
Kara needs her sister too.
And perhaps she’s being needy, and perhaps she’s overreacting, but Lena’s constant presence and her smile and the feelings she inspires within Kara are all too great and all too much and Kara needs something stable and steady amidst her emotional turmoil.
And anyway, she’s always been known to feel first and think later.
So she picks up her phone and types.
huff-le-puff danvers: valiant is the one who admits defeat
alexpectro patronum: strong is the one who admits weakness
alexpectro patronum: ppp?
huff-le-puff danvers: ppp.
Alex shows up late at night, with several takeout boxes and pizzas. “Pot stickers plus pizzas, as promised,” she announces as she enters Kara’s room. She sets her precious cargo down on the desk.
“Thanks,” Kara mumbles from her nest on the bed.
“Don’t thank me ’cause they’re not all for you.”
Alex’s shoulders droop. “Fine, fine.” She chucks a pair of chopsticks at her sister, who releases a surprised yelp. “Come on, then, I’m starving and you need food.” Kara’s lips quirk up, because that sentence shouldn’t make sense at all, but it does. She sits up on the bed, her lower half still covered in blankets, while Alex drags the desk chair over and hands Kara her food. “Eat up.”
Kara turns up the volume on the TV as they both settle in, allowing the words to wash over her without actually hearing them. Alex just lets her be, sitting in silence and only breaking their pace when she gets uncomfortable on her seat and needs to lie down on the bed as well. Kara moves to accommodate her, and Alex stretches out her legs over the blankets, and then they don’t speak again as Alex watches a sitcom rerun and Kara chews on her epiphanies and ruminations flavoured with broccoli and garlic.
It’s nice, reminiscent of the nights they spent in their childhood and teenage years, because Alex always knows when Kara needs to be prompted to speak and when she’s going to talk out of her own volition.
(“How do you always know?” a thirteen-year-old Kara asked, wrapped in Alex’s sweatshirt and holding a mug of Eliza’s special cocoa mix.
“It’s kind of a sister superpower,” Alex replied, brushing Kara’s fringes to the side. “Something to help me do my job.”
Alex shrugged. “To protect you.”)
It’s near midnight when they finish up, and Kara feels full and warm and sleepy. Alex cleans up despite Kara’s protests, and afterwards, she returns to her place beside Kara.
Kara ponders which step Alex would take.
“So?” Alex asks, when Kara’s on the brink of sleep, her mind wandering back to her dorm and its sole occupant at the moment.
Ah. Tonight, apparently, is one where she’s going to have to talk.
Kara merely hums. “Hmm?”
“How’re you?” Alex insists, though her tone is still gentle, like she doesn’t at all want to disturb the tranquility that has enveloped the room.
“Hmm,” Alex returns, brows raising in skepticism, and it makes Kara huff.
“Really. I’m fantastic. Peachy. Great. Splendid.”
“Did you, by chance, swallow a thesaurus or something?” Alex sounds a little amused, now. “Because I know your stomach is probably made of iron and you could probably eat anything, but I think you kinda went a bit too far with that one.”
She has her best Big Sister™ look, and it’s just—kind of too much but also just enough, because of course Alex knows that Kara wouldn’t call her here, in their hideout, for nothing. And the understanding in her eyes makes Kara want to cry but also curl up on Alex’s side like she used to when they were younger and Kara’s having nightmares and wanted the reassurance only her big sister could provide.
And so she does, and Alex’s arms wrap around her, easy, as protective and as safe a presence as ever.
Alex just holds her like that, waiting, because she’s patient and she’s a queen amongst women and she’s Kara’s sister and she loves her. Alex never makes Kara feel like she needs to rush anything; she just silently waits until her little sister is ready.
“Any more of this torture and I’m gonna fling myself to the sun.”
“There, there,” and Alex adds, “baby doll.” And it may sound facetious and uncaring but Kara knows it’s the opposite; it’s Alex’s way of making her at ease, humour, because Agent Danvers is always serious and strict and severe but Alex the Sister is fun and relaxed and indulgent. Still Kara lifts her head only to drop it harder on Alex’s shoulder. “Ow!” Alex grouches, though Kara can hear the grin in her tone.
“I hate you,” she mutters, even as the beginning of a smile plays on her lips. Alex hums, and her fingers run through Kara’s hair gently, and Kara lets herself be comforted, listening to her sister’s even heartbeat, a soft thump-thump-thump.
She remembers the breathing exercises her physician taught her for when she’s having anxiety attacks, which used to happen quite a lot in the aftermath of the war. These days they are few and far in-between, but she finds that the exercises still help, calming her down when she’s having a particularly bad time.
“Take a deep breath, You Highness, slowly. Through the nose, yes, that’s good. Let it fill your lungs, just so. Hold it. Count to three.”
(Lena kissing her on the cheek, her smile as radiant as the rising sun.)
(Lena holding her hand, her thumb tracing patterns on Kara’s skin.)
(Lena hugging her, her arms encircling Kara as if she doesn’t want to let her go.)
“Exhale through your mouth. Relax your facial muscles, yes, just so, and your jaw, shoulders, and stomach.”
“Alex.” And then she says, out loud, for the first time, “I’m in love with her.”
fam i read each and every one of your comments and they make me feel fluffy inside so thanks for those
PS while writing this i was also writing a super fluffy exchange for a future chapter i love it so much i gave meself toothache so i got that going for me, i guess
PPS @universe more Sister Nights™ for the danvers sisters pls!!!
AND another thing, just so we’re clear, there’s a time jump between the future wife texts and the Sister Night scene™
Chapter 9: ix: a study on lying, liars, and lies by the future mmes. el
“how did this college!AU wrapped in a roommate/housemate!AU evolve and warp itself into a royalty!AU tied with a fake-dating!AU?” you might ask.
“i do not know,” i would reply, because i honestly do not know.
(See the end of the chapter for more notes.)
The words hold in them a certain kind of gravitas, because Kara has never before said them out loud, not like this, not like the seams of her spirit are bursting with all that she’s feeling inside—with everything she has been, everything she is, everything she will be. She’s never said them this way, as if failing to do so will be an offense to her very being, because it would be akin to denouncing herself—denouncing a fundamental truth that has seeped into every part of her, making her thrum with a consciousness that feels ancient and glorious and freeing all at the same time.
The declaration settles tenderly around her, like a soft, thick blanket on a wintry night, safe and comforting. Somehow she feels lighter, but not like she’s just unloaded a burden, because she can never see what she’s feeling for Lena as a burden of any sort, no; it’s more like she’s weightless because she’s soaring, and her wings are made of every moment that she’s known Lena, every second stitched into the fabric of forever.
She feels her sister’s smile against her temple, Alex’s arms tightening in support.
“I know you do, dumbass,” Alex says, her voice full of pride and approval.
Kara snorts, because yeah, Alex definitely does—probably has known for far longer than Kara herself, even. She thinks back to all those times she contacted Alex just because Lena did something with which her heart couldn’t deal without going into overdrive, and yep— “I’ve been kind of blind, haven’t I?” she muses.
“You kind of have, yeah. You’ve always been oblivious to things that directly concern you,” Alex says, but Kara detects a measure of reluctant affection, and she grins. “For all the good that you are at taking care of other people’s needs, Kara, your own self-awareness kind of sucks.”
“Maybe.” She sighs. “I just thought roommates were supposed to be off limits, you know? Kind of like the ‘no homo’ thing but specifically for roommates.”
“Is that a thing?”
“I don’t know.” Alex pauses. “Also the term ‘no homo’ is all sorts of problematic, isn’t it?”
“Yes, I know, it perpetuates a negative connotation of same-sex relationships, because it automatically perceives that gay people cannot form friendships with those of the same sex without wanting to, like, jump them and stuff.” Kara huffs. “But that’s beside my point, Alex.”
“I’m just saying.”
“My point is I’m not supposed to feel this way.”
“Whether or not you’re supposed to feel a certain way doesn’t matter, Kara. Feelings are feelings. They have no rules.”
“That’s the truth.”
“I like rules. They make things easy. Like, ‘Don’t jump without looking.’ Or ‘Don’t report mere speculations.’ Or ‘Don’t fall in love with your best friend.’”
“You do realise that almost all romantic comedies in existence are built on the premise that people fall in love with their best friends all the time. People eat that shit up.”
“Precisely. My life, however, is not a romantic comedy, and I doubt it’ll start being one any time soon.”
“You’re already halfway there. I’d say you’re doing well on that front.”
Kara groans, as if physically pained by the truth that is her life. “Let me wallow in the pit of my despair, please.”
“Why are you even in despair right now? You’re gonna be spending a whole holiday with her, you get to hold her hand in public, and you get to show her off to your people—which, honestly, I look forward to because do you know how many messages Clark sent me about Kryptonians asking for their princess’s romantic escapades? It’s ridiculous how invested they are in your love life.”
“That’s what makes it worse! I just—” She sighs again, runs a hand through her hair. “I feel like I’m lying my teeth off.”
“Well, you kind of are,” Alex points out, sensibly, “at least about your feelings.”
She scoots back to glare at her sister, though it’s more of a half-hearted attempt at one.
Alex shrugs. “I thought I was supposed to be the emotionally stunted Danvers sister,” she says, with a self-deprecating smile.
“You’re not emotionally stunted. You feel a lot, you just don’t articulate it well.”
“Ha!” Alex scoffs. “Pot, kettle, black.”
Okay, Kara has earned that, she admits. Still. “Alex, I’m dying.” She buries her head again in the crook of her sister’s neck.
“You’re not,” her sister refutes. “If you died on my watch, Lena would probably murder me. So wait until I’m out of here before dying, thanks. I need the alibi.”
“She could murder me and I’d say thank you.”
Alex shrugs beneath Kara’s cheek. “She could murder you and I’d say thank you too.”
Kara laughs into her sister’s shoulder. “Rude.”
“I’m kidding, I’m kidding. If she murdered you, I’d make sure she gets life imprisonment, okay, and I’d set her entire Star Wars collection on fire.”
“I don’t like the thought of Lena in prison. It makes me sad.”
“Of course it does. She murdered you and yet you feel sorry for her. Honestly, how have your own feelings been such a secret to yourself all this time?”
Kara hums, noncommittal. The answer to that question eludes her even now. “Don’t send her to prison.”
“I couldn’t abet a murderer, Kara, I’m a federal agent. Catching them is sort of my job. Also I thought you said you like rules, you giant hypocrite.”
“Yeah, but Lena,” Kara says in her defense, as if that’s all the reason she needs, which, all things considered, is probably true. “Just think of it as a last request from your dead sister.”
“I can’t believe you’d make me commit felony from the grave. That’s a new low.” Alex takes a deep breath. “But yeah, okay, I won’t send her to prison. Though if someone else caught her, I won’t be able to do anything, okay?” She tries for aggrieved, but she just sounds mildly amused.
That’s good enough for Kara, though. “Thanks, Alex.” She shifts in her position, though she’s still leaning against Alex and Alex has an arm around her shoulder. “Do you think that if a Last Will had something about releasing the person’s murderer, the law would be required to comply, or does the law take precedence?”
Alex laughs. “I think it’s the latter, though I’ll ask Lucy to be sure, if you want.”
“Thanks, Alex,” she repeats. Kara doesn’t know how long they stay like that, quiet and still, but before long her eyelids grow heavy, and her limbs turn loose. It is so cosy, here with her sister, and soon enough, sleep calls as sweetly as ever, but something in Kara resists.
Sometimes, it’s that sort of stupor that draws out her innermost fears. Kara feels like she’s getting removed from reality, while also suspended on it, and her lips form words she’s been too afraid to say, before. “I can’t do this.”
Alex startles a bit, probably thinking Kara has already fallen asleep. When she recovers, her voice is soft. “Pretend you love her while pretending you don’t?” she asks.
“Yeah.” Kara’s throat feels tight. “Pretending I don’t love her will be like pretending the moon doesn’t need the sun to shine.”
Her sister falls silent for a while, in light of how much serious Kara sounds, how much she means every word. “You know, you can actually tell her,” Alex offers, her voice barely above a whisper.
Kara shakes her head. “I can’t.”
It takes some time for Kara to answer, but when she does, her voice is smaller than ever. “I’m scared.”
“That she doesn’t feel the same way?” Alex kindly pries.
Kara swallows thickly, but remains quiet, and that’s all the answer Alex seems to need.
alexpecto patronum: what do you say to a crying sister
huff-le-puff danvers: alex wtf
alexpecto patronum: wrong
alexpecto patronum: you say “are you having a cri-sis?”
huff-le-puff danvers: i will murder you in cold blood
alexpecto patronum: i probably deserve that
alexpecto patronum: but anyway
alexpecto patronum: are you?
“Please don’t freak out.”
Kara is reading on her desk, but she snaps her head up when she hears those words, which, despite the gentle tone used to utter them, are not the best words with which to start a conversation if one would rather avoid inciting any sort of unease and overall anxiety.
Lena stands in her open doorway, the picture of grace and sophistication, and Kara would have thought she’s perfectly calm were it not for the way she’s twiddling her thumbs and the way her jaw clenches ever so slightly. It’s a different look on her, nervousness, but she still looks as gorgeous as ever.
Which is so not the point. Rao.
She waves Lena over with what she hopes is a reassuring smile. Lena walks in, and she nods, like maybe she’s trying to convince herself of whatever it is she’s doing.
Right. What is happening?
“What’s happening?” Kara asks, aloud.
“You look cute in that jumper,” Lena says as she begins pacing around the room, and her hands are performing some kind of interpretive dance in the air, stealing Kara’s attention, “the puppy design definitely suits you, I promise I’ll learn how to cook that special falafel for you, my brother asked me to come to this stupid gala hosted by our parents because he doesn’t want to be grilled alone about current relationships and such, but I might have accidentally-on-purpose sort of told him that I have a girlfriend right now, so will you be my date?”
Kara just blinks at her for what seems like a solid minute but is probably, realistically, less than that, and her mouth is closing and opening like some sort of overused trash can. “Explain that last thing,” she finally manages.
Lena groans, before sitting down on the edge of Kara’s bed. There are spots of pink high on her cheeks. “As you know, my family often hosts galas and stuff, and I usually can get away with not attending by telling them that I have things to do. But this time my brother checked with my college dean—which is totally illegal, god, he’s such an ass—and he knows I’ll be free from any sort of academic responsibility, so I can’t use that as an excuse anymore.”
“So you . . . told him you’ve got a girlfriend?”
“Yes. And I only said that because I thought it would deter him from any sort of insistence about my attendance, because then, even if I did come, he’s going to be alone anyway. But I really should not have underestimated my own brother because now he’s even being more of a jerk, and he said two shields are better than one, he could hide behind the both of us, and basically I really do need someone to come with me because he’s not letting it go and it’s giving me a massive headache.”
And Lena is looking at her with those big green eyes of hers, and Kara is helpless against that power, okay, Lena is not playing fair at all. “You want me to pretend to be your girlfriend? In front of your brother, who is also a genius, and your parents?”
“Please,” Lena says, and oh no, she’s biting her lower lip. This is Serious™; Lena’s pulling all the stops here. Kara can physically feel her protective barriers falling away. “We won’t even have to stay long, I swear. Just long enough to maybe mess with Mother’s precious connections and my brother’s hair. Besides, it’s a step down from the fiancée thing. It’ll be kind of a rehearsal for our performance!”
“Rehearsal?” Kara echoes, less hesitant that she’d like.
“Yes, rehearsal,” Lena confirms, nodding vigorously. “We’ll be like professional liars.”
“I think you mean actors,” Kara says dryly.
“That’s what I said.” Lena grins. “Anyway, it’s a dry run, if you will, for when we have to act in front of your whole kingdom. Think about it. The crowd will be considerably smaller, no princess-y behaviour is required, and we get to practice making fun of relatives behind their backs.” And she looks so pleased with herself, and at the same time so hopeful, and Kara knows that her answer would have been the same even if Lena hadn’t put such an effort into convincing her.
She repeats the word screwed to herself about a hundred times, just so she’s sure her mind will get the memo and have it stick.
Because she is so, so screwed.
“Well,” Kara says, with a half smile that she hopes is hiding the screams of the damned, “with terms as enticing as that, how can I ever say no?”
Lena’s bright smile is worth all the mess her heart’s going through right now, with the palpitations and what-not, though maybe her heart is not agreeing with that.
Kara shrugs inwardly.
She decides her heart just has to suck it up.
huff-le-puff danvers: alex there’s a development re: lena
alexpecto patronum: what do you need
huff-le-puff danvers: strength of will
alexpecto patronum: oh well in that case you’re screwed
huff-le-puff danvers: i know that already but thanks for the vote of confidence
alexpecto patronum: anytime
“When will the gala be?”
“Last Friday of the term,” Lena answers. “It’s in the National City Metropolitan Museum. We can go to the airport right after, for the flight to Krypton. It’ll take, like, half an hour by car, I think. Plenty of time.”
“Oh, right.” Kara nods, and then she quickly shakes her head. “I mean no.”
“Hmm?” Lena cocks her head to the side, and oh Rao, how is she this adorable?
Kara blinks and tries to gather her thoughts into some semblance of order. “We’re not going to NCIA for the flight,” she explains, kind of haltingly, and she shakes her head again before continuing. “There’s an airstrip about three miles out of the city. Our jet’s going to pick us up there.”
“‘Our’ jet?” Lena questions, an eyebrow raised, and she sounds amused.
“I-I mean, uhm.”
“You have a jet?”
“Well, no, I mean, the one we’re using is my family’s.”
“And as the sole heir,” Lena says, “does it not fall under your ownership?”
“I—uhm, it’s not really—”
“Yes or no, darling.”
Kara huffs. “Okay, okay. Yes, it does.”
“Rich kid,” Lena teases. “Owning jets, huh? Such a lavish lifestyle.”
“Hey, you’re one to talk,” Kara grumps. “You have luxury cars for every occasion which is totally ridiculous.”
“Cars have nothing on jets, Kara. How can you even put them in the same category?”
“Okay, first of all, the jets are for international travel, which is, you know, sort of really necessary when dealing with foreign affairs and diplomatic relations. Second of all, Lena, you bought a new car last week because you used one of yours as a bet, which, I repeat, is ridiculous because who honestly bets cars in college? And third of—wait, what, why are you laughing, stop that!”
Lena’s is leaning on her elbows, set atop her thighs, as she buries her face in her hands, but Kara can hear her breathless laughter. “What the hell,” she gasps out, “you just admitted that you do have jets, Kara, come on.”
“How many jets do you actually own?”
“Please, tell me.”
“Are you not stopping any time soon.”
“No,” Lena says. “Come on, I’m proving a point.”
“What point would that be?”
“That you are good at hiding what you truly are, which, in this case, is an excessively wealthy woman of royal blood trying to be a normal college student.”
“Why is this even necessary?”
“Because, Kara,” Lena answers, and her smile is much sharper than usual, and it gives Kara a certain kind of thrill that she’s never felt before, “for the first time in my life, I think I’ll get to be the one accused of being a gold-digger when I introduce you to the Luthor household, and I’m looking forward to it.”
“Oh my god.” Kara tries to keep from laughing, but Lena looks so eager about this prospective development that she sort of just. Gives in. “You get excited by the weirdest things.”
“I know,” Lena agrees, as if it’s just a fact of life, and Kara knows it is. “So?”
Kara rolls her eyes, but, as she often does, she gives Lena what she wants. “Five, okay. I have five jets in my name.”
Lena’s crow of victory is so worth the trouble.
look, all i’m saying this is essentially a thirteen-chapter (maybe fourteen) word vomit with no particular goal at all but to satisfy a superficial need for fluff™ so my standards for advancing the storyline™ are really freaking low.
PS the fluffy exchange is not in this chapter
PPS if you are having palpitation please seek medical assistance; don’t ignore it like kara is doing, okay? okay
Chapter 10: x: dating etiquette and engagement protocols pt. 1
One of the things Kara appreciates the most when she’s with Lena is that she doesn’t have to put up any sort of pretense. She doesn’t have to be the perfect friend, the perfect student, the perfect daughter; she can just be Kara, with no qualifier whatsoever and with no obligation saddling her except to simply . . . exist. It’s easy to lighten up when she’s with Lena, because there’s no expectations to be met; everything is familiar and effortless and natural, and Kara doesn’t have to try, because Lena will accept her no matter what.
And it is enthralling—the freedom being with Lena gives her—and so intoxicating, like the first sip of coffee in the morning and the first raindrop after a long drought and the first flower blooming in spring.
Kara treasures every moment she spends with Lena, tucking them into the pockets of her memory, slipping them into a cache engraved with Lena’s name, into that special place in Kara’s heart that Lena has claimed without her even knowing.
And she would have been content to spend the rest of her life in that sort of limbo, the midpoint between having Lena and not really having her, if that meant she’d at least be in Kara’s life. Kara would have settled on straddling that line, between what she has and what she wants, if that meant not risking losing Lena’s friendship.
But then comes that life-changing realisation, that truth wrapped around every word and every touch and every gaze, and Kara is suddenly subjected to a special brand of hell that she herself made.
And so, amidst everything within Kara screaming at her to not do this—to not give up the only net of truth in her life, apart from her sister—the pretense begins.
huff-le-puff danvers: hey what do you think of introducing lena to the gang
alexpecto patronum: cool
huff-le-puff danvers: really?
alexpecto patronum: yeah it makes sense
alexpecto patronum: you’re flying her to krypton as your fiancée and diana’s bound to ask her about your friends
huff-le-puff danvers: thought so too but i’m still nervous
huff-le-puff danvers: she’s like a different part of my life, you know?
huff-le-puff danvers: and i DO want her to meet the others because that’s like putting together two puzzle pieces
huff-le-puff danvers: but i’m just terrified something will mess stuff up
alexpecto patronum: risk is a part of living
alexpecto patronum: so go ahead if you think she’s worth it
huff-le-puff danvers: she is
alexpecto patronum: well then there’s your answer, kid
alexpecto patronum: good luck
Of course, first, she’s going to have to convince Lena to meet up with her friends. She’s not even sure why she’s so nervous to ask this when Lena’s already reached the Panic™ threshold Kara put for herself by wanting to introduce her to the Luthor family.
(She really should have thought this through. She’s blaming 45 percent of her current predicament to Alex’s rather quick action of telling their friends without even a warning, 45 percent to Non’s incessant need to meddle with Krypton’s affairs and ergo, with Kara’s life, and the remaining 10 percent to her own inability to say what she means when it matters the most.)
Still. The whole meet-the-friends thing is sort of a big deal—even more so when there’s an engagement involved, no matter that it is fake.
This is especially true for Kara, whose friends are family. She could just about hear the mild reprimand she would have received from them, not because of anything she’d done but because of the thing she hadn’t done, which would be to actually tell them that she’s dating someone.
Which, well, is not true at all, even though she’s so desperate that it is.
(And that’s a whole other can of worms she’d rather ruminate over when all parties involved are at least a thousand miles away, which—given how her breathing turns erratic when she doesn’t see Lena for even a day—is not likely to happen any time soon.)
At least Lucy already knows what’s really happening, courtesy of Alex, and her sister has also informed Lois and Clark of the truth—with the truth, of course, being that though Kara is really in love with Lena Luthor, Lena’s reciprocation is still a giant “unknown” (the quotation marks were her sister’s too, though Kara has no idea what she meant) variable as of the moment, and that the whole engagement is just a ruse to escape Non’s claws.
(Kara remembers Clark’s call, which was not something she’d want to repeat. Ever.
“Are you sure of what you’re doing? ” he asked.
“No, Kal, I’m not.” She sighed. “I’ve never been more unsure in my life. I hate lying, and our people deserve better than that. Rao knows how they’d act were they to catch the lie.”
“I’m not asking about how the plan will affect our people, Kara,” he said, so gently, and she bit back the beginning of a sob. “I’m asking about how this will affect you. Your heart is on the line, and you deserve better than a lie too.”
She found that she had no real answer to that.)
This leaves Winn and James, who are already nagging her about details, the former relentlessly blowing up her phone with questions and sad emojis and the latter sulking through passive-aggressive statements in their chat box.
(Kara already complained to Lucy why she didn’t tell James herself. “You, like, live in the same building, Luce.”
Lucy just laughed. “Are you kidding me? Imagine how much more fun it would be to introduce Lena—the person you fell in love with—to not one but two boys who tried to win your heart and spectacularly failed. I swear, the awkwardness of that conversation would add at least a decade to my lifespan. So no, this is all on you, Kara-babe. ”
“Rao, Lucy, I hate you so much.”
Lucy’s laughter merely grew louder, until Kara was forced to hang up.)
For the record, though, the nerves Kara feels aren’t due to apprehension that maybe Lena won’t fit in. It’s the opposite, actually; Kara is scared stiff that Lena would, in fact, slot herself into the space Kara has for her friends and family as easily as she did into Kara’s heart.
She’s scared because if that did happen, it would be so much harder for her to say goodbye when Lena inexorably decides to leave.
That, more than anything, is what made Kara hesitate, waiting and waiting and waiting for Lena to back out of their arrangement, to say that it would be better for Kara to just do what her council is telling her to do.
And every day that Lena doesn’t?
It just makes Kara feel like she’s careening towards the inevitable.
The opportunity to ask, however, presents itself with no warning.
“Hey, Kara?” Lena starts, from her place on the bed. She’s leaning against the headboard, and there are books and journals scattered about.
“Yeah?” Kara herself is lying on Lena’s carpeted floor, a bean bag beneath her head. She’s typing on her laptop, which is balanced precariously on her knees.
“Do you think we would have been friends if we met as children?”
At that Kara tilts her head, looking at Lena with amusement. “Of course.” She has no doubt about it.
Lena looks surprised. “Really?”
“Yes. Why not?” Kara goes back to typing. “Don’t you think the same?”
“I don’t know. I feel like younger you would have hated younger me. I was always moping, slinking about in the shadows like some sort of evil sorceress. And I was an insufferable know-it-all, according to most accounts.”
“Ah, so exactly the same, then,” Kara says in a deadpan tone, keeping her expression serious. “I fail to see what the fuss is about.”
“You—” Lena gasps in indignation, and Kara loses the fight with her own laughter. “That’s uncalled for!”
Kara only stops laughing when Lena throws a notebook right at her, making her yelp. “Hey!”
“Serves you right.” Lena sniffs, refusing to look at her. “And here I thought we were having a moment.”
Kara grins, and she sets her laptop down. She’s not going to accomplish anything now anyway. “Aww,” she sing-songs, “someone’s a sore loser.”
Lena opens a thick book almost vehemently, and she’s scowling at the pages. “Shut up.”
“Come on, I’m sorry, okay?” Kara crosses over until she’s kneeling beside the bed, and she leans on her elbows as she tries to catch Lena’s eyes. “I was joking. You don’t mope—you brood, which is an improvement because brooding adds panache to your overall ‘enigmatic heiress’ aesthetic. You’re not insufferable either. In fact, you’re very sufferable. So much. I swear, I could honestly suffer through you every hour of every day.” She can tell that Lena is trying not to smile; she catches the minute quirk in her lips. Ah. She adds, “Also I was totally serious about the part where we’d have been friends.”
“Go away,” Lena says.
“Lena,” Kara whines, and she sets her head atop her hands, trying for the best pout she has in her arsenal, “I’m sorry. I’m a jerk and I should confess all my sins. Have me suffer, O Sufferable One, but please don’t send me away.”
This time Lena cannot fight her amusement, and Kara’s heart flutters at her smile. “You’re such a dork,” she declares with familiar warmth, shaking her head.
“Yes, but I’m your dork,” Kara swiftly shoots back with a grin.
Lena looks genuinely taken aback by the quip, and hey, is she blushing? That can’t be right. “Geez, Kara, at this rate you’re going to ruin me for other fake girlfriends.”
“That’s the plan, because we’re going to be fake married.”
Lena tosses her head back and laughs, and Kara is helpless to follow the elegant line of her neck. “Okay, fine, I walked right into that one.” She grins fondly down at Kara. “You win this round, Kara Danvers.”
“Yes! This means I get a prize”—she pauses dramatically—“which is a nap.”
“I don’t remember us talking about any prizes.” Lena looks at something behind Kara—probably at her abandoned laptop. “And I thought you have a deadline tomorrow.”
Yes, that’s true, “But nap.”
“Fine.” Lena heaves a sigh. “But it’s not my fault if you end up cramming your article.”
“M’kay.” Kara slumps farther on the bed, half on it and half off. Her face is hidden on Lena’s blankets, now, and she likes that she’s surrounded by Lena’s scent. Still, though, it is not a very comfortable position.
Lena thinks so as well. She sighs again. “Hey, if you’re going to nap, better do it right. Up you get, Kara.”
Her phrasing makes Kara smile. “Now who’s trying to get me to bed?” she teases, though she’s pretty much half mumbling, really.
There are several thuds as Lena’s stuff fall off, and Kara turns her head just enough to catch sight of Lena looking out of her depth, blinking absently at whatever state of mess her floor is in now. “Are you all right?” Kara asks, when Lena remains quiet for several seconds more.
“Hmm?” She’s still staring at the floor, frozen in place.
Kara tries again. “Hey, Lena?”
“Hmm?” Okay, this is getting a bit disconcerting?
Kara squints, and she decides to use a different track. “Would you like to meet my friends?”
There’s a short pause as Lena finally snaps out of whatever trance caught her. She looks up, and her expression is one of astonishment. “You want me to meet your friends?” she says.
“Of course.” Kara frowns at the sheer incredulity in her tone. She shifts, so that she can look her right in the eye. “Don’t you?”
“No, I mean, yes!” Lena smiles at her. “I’d love to.”
“You . . . don’t sound so sure.”
“It’s okay if you don’t want to, Lena.”
“I want to, Kara.”
“Why am I sensing a but somewhere in there?”
“There’s no but,” Lena insists. “It’s just—”
“I knew it!”
“You don’t,” Lena argues, and she gives Kara a rather unimpressed look. “What I was going to say is that I just thought you don’t want your friends to meet me.”
“No!” It is such a preposterous concept that Kara scrambles to her knees on the bed, almost falling off herself in her haste. She edges over until she’s right in Lena’s face, her gaze resolute. “That’s not true at all!” Lena’s eyes widen at the intensity of Kara’s refutation, but Kara’s focus is in making her understand just how wrong that notion is. “I want you to meet them, I really do.”
“O-Okay,” Lena says softly.
“I’m sorry,” Kara apologises again. “I just”—she huffs—“whatever made you think that?”
Lena shrugs. “We’ve been friends for some time now, Kara,” she explains, still in soft tones, but now her eyes hold a bit of marvel, like Kara’s fervent denial doesn’t make sense. “And not once have you brought your friends over, despite your stories of how much you like spending time together. And when you do meet up with them, it’s always outside.” She smiles wryly. “I simply put two and two together.”
“And got five, apparently! That’s not even—ugh.” Kara puffs her cheeks then exhales, somewhat defeated. “I just thought you don’t like having visitors here,” she says.
That seems to confuse Lena. A lot. “Why won’t I?”
“You like the quiet. My friends and I together are the furthest thing away from quiet.”
“It’s true that I enjoy the quiet, but that doesn’t mean I’m, like, a hermit or something.”
“Yeah, well, I know that now.” She narrows her eyes. “Besides, you don’t bring people over either.”
Lena shrugs again. “I only have two types of friends—you and others. Those who fall on the other end of the spectrum are not in National City.”
That’s a sobering thought. “Oh.”
“People who invite me to parties and other such events are mere acquaintances, Kara. Don’t be fooled.” Lena offers her a dry smile. “You’re my only friend in National City.”
The sadness in Lena’s eyes is something Kara doesn’t want to see ever again.
future wife: hey about that meeting my friends
sluthorin my bed: yes?
future wife: is this friday ok
sluthorin my bed: it is
future wife: thanks, babe
sluthorin my bed: ah, so we’re moving on to pet names, are we? ;)
future wife: oh my god
She decides to contact Winn first. They haven’t hung out all that often lately, despite going to the same campus, what with their schedules clashing. (She resolves to rectify that next term, probably by finagling him to avoid night classes and to take some humanities units.) She knows he’s got Fridays off, though; she remembers him telling her about how he “negotiated” for a different class with his professor—which, to Kara, means he hacked the system and messed with the courses.
kara-oke queen: are you busy
schott to the heart: not really. why
kara-oke queen: may i call you
schott to the heart: sure
He picks up on the first ring.
“Speak and be heard, Your Highness.” His voice is muffled down the phone line, thanks to his heavy encryption to keep it secure (using a bit of code Alex says is better than her agency’s), but he still sounds every bit the boy she grew up with, the one with whom she hid behind while Alex dealt with the older kids bothering them.
“Hello to you too, Winn.”
He laughs. She hears something crinkling in the background, and she can imagine him sitting on his couch while eating potato chips and watching movies. “What’s up, Kara? Taking a break from your journalistic tasks? ”
“Something like that.” Kara inhales, holds her breath before saying, “So I have this thing,” in a rather serious tone.
His answer is immediate, and it is a reminder of how good a friend he is. “Yeah, okay, lay it on me.” He pauses. “Hit Schott with your best shot.”
Kara tries and fails to avoid giggling. “How long have you been sitting on that one?”
“Longer than I’d like to admit, honestly.” He doesn’t sound embarrassed about that at all, and her grin widens. “So, what can I help you with? ”
“Remember when Alex said I’m engaged?”
“Duh ”—she can almost see him rolling his eyes—“it’s only been like the topic of every conversation James and I had in the past few days. By the by, we’re still not forgiving you for not telling us Lena’s your girlfriend, much less your fiancée. We haven’t even met the girl yet! ”
“Yeah, about that—”
“You can make it up to me by cementing my position as your totally manly bridesmaid, even though it’s a very outdated tradition and heteronormative roles, in general, suck.”
“Winn, we made a pact in middle school that we’ll be each other’s ring bearer, I don’t know how much more ‘cemented’ anything could be. Also the thing is—”
“We should have made like, renewal vows about that so we’re sure that it’s solid. Also I want to make a clause regarding the attire because no way in hell am I wearing yellow. Pink I can manage, but seriously, Kara, no one can pull off yellow, not even someone as good-looking as moi.”
“You’re such a child.”
“Takes one to know one, baby.” He stops. “I meant that in a totally non-ironic way.”
“Okay, but you’re still not saying yes to my terms. Don’t think I won’t recognise diversion from you.”
“You’re the one who keeps interrupting me, actually.”
“Huh.” He exhales, and she can imagine his thoughtful frown. “Yeah, I guess that’s a fair assessment.”
“Now can we please get back to what I was saying?”
“Okay.” She takes a deep breath. “I want to introduce you to Lena. And by you I mean you and James.”
There’s a short pause. “So let me get this straight—”
Winn huffs, but she knows he is grinning. “Oh, wow, okay, and I’m the juvenile one.”
“Sorry, sorry. Carry on.”
“You want to introduce Lena—who is your girlfriend—to us—who have both tried and failed to woo you.” Winn chuckles. “That won’t end in disaster at all.”
“Lucy said something similar.” Kara chews on her lower lip, hesitating before deciding to tell him the truth now. “Also. The thing is. Uhm.”
“The thing is? ” he gently prods.
“Lena and I are not actually together.”
“No, yeah, I heard that. I mean. What.”
She sighs heavily and relays her current situation in as concise a way as she can.
“Wow,” he breathes afterwards.
“No, like, wow, your uncle is such a douche and you’re so, so screwed.”
She rolls her eyes. “I know that too, Winn.”
“Do you need a moment?”
“Sorry, sorry. I just. What the hell, Kara.”
“Exactly my sentiment.”
“I’m so glad I’m not in your shoes right now.”
“Thanks a lot.”
“And you love her. Oh my god.”
“Yes, Winn. I know.”
“James is so gonna freak.” She’s pretty sure she hears him squeal. “Oh, hey! We can form like, a club now. The ‘I Fell in Love with My Best Friend and I Don’t Know How to Deal with It’ Club. Activities include pining both close by and from afar, listening to Red Jumpsuit Apparatus, and writing bad poetry.”
She can’t help but chuckle at his absurdity. “So does this mean Friday is a go?”
“As long as there’s plenty of food, yes.”
“Come on, Winn, this is me we’re talking about.” She scoffs. “Of course there’s going to be food.”
schott to the heart: james says he’ll bring booze and to ask if lena has any preferences
kara-oke queen: i’d really like it if she prefers me
schott to the heart: oh my god kara no
i know there’s no development whatsoever and the pacing is crap but hey, this thing is here gratis so no hard feelings, yeah? yeah okay bye gtg
PSA betty cooper is a child conceived by supercorp. i will die for this headcanon.
Chapter 11: xi: dating etiquette and engagement protocols pt. 2
i honest-to-rao love you all, have fun
content warning: some drunken stuff plus fluffy things because of flailing gays
(See the end of the chapter for more notes.)
Winn and James arrive on Friday night with beer (for the three of them) and red wine (for Lena), and a box of Kara’s favourite bagels from a corner store in Metropolis.
“Nice digs,” Winn says, whistling appreciatively as Kara leads them through the door.
“Yeah,” James agrees, “I mean, we heard from Alex that it’s sort of really classy, but wow, this is better than the room I rent for like, half my monthly salary.”
“I can’t believe NCU has apartments like this while I’m suffering through a dorm littered with beer bottles, cigarette butts, and condom packets.”
Kara scrunches her nose. “Ugh, Winn, no.”
He shrugs. “I’m just saying that you should be really glad that your apartment doesn’t suck and your roommate doesn’t reek of sin and bad decisions.”
“I should hope not,” comes Lena’s voice, sounding far too amused, and the three of them turn to look as she walks into the living room. “I like to think that I have better taste than that.” She’s looking at Kara when she says that, and Kara can’t help but feel like she’s missing something, but, as is often the case where Lena’s concerned, Kara can’t really think clearly about things she might or might not be missing because she is yet again rendered distracted.
Lena’s hair falls down her shoulders in graceful waves, and she’s wearing comfy green yoga pants that has made Kara repeatedly mess up when she’s helping out in the kitchen with simple tasks (like chopping things and stuff because that’s about the only thing Kara can capably do when it comes to the culinary arts). Her Doctor Who shirt hangs loosely on her frame, and she’s smiling Kara’s favourite smile, and she’s the prettiest girl Kara has ever seen.
“Hello,” Lena greets the boys, extending her hand, “I’m Lena Luthor.”
Winn shakes it first, grinning. “Winslow Schott Jr.”
“James Olsen,” says James, reaching for Lena’s hand in turn. “Nice to meet you, Miss Luthor.”
“Please, it’s Lena, Mr. Olsen.”
“Then call me James.”
“Winn,” says Winn.
“Kara,” says Kara, and they all turn to stare at her. She shrugs. “What, I thought we’re saying names?”
Lena laughs. “Dork,” she says, rolling her eyes fondly, and Kara smiles at her goofily. “Well, come on, then, lasagna’s ready.”
Winn’s grin widens, and he’s vibrating with excited energy. “You cook lasagna?”
Lena laughs again, and Kara can drink that sound forever. “I cook a lot of things.”
“Nice! And oh my god that smells delicious,” Winn says on their way to the dining room. “And whoa, Kara, when you said there’s gonna be food I didn’t think you meant, like, for an army .”
His wonder is well-founded, Kara thinks, for even by her standards, there is a lot of food prepared. There’s the lasagna that yeah, smells heavenly—Lena still won’t tell her what secret spices she uses for the sauce thing, not that Kara would have made anything like it herself, but still—and Kara has ordered three boxes of pizza earlier, and there’s ice cream plus the bagels from James. There’s also mushroom soup and salad with ranch dressing, and yep, okay, maybe the food is too much, but Kara merely smiles.
“I’ll send a photo of all our food to Alex so she’ll feel awful for what’s she’s missing out on,” she says cheerfully. “It’s payback for when she just told you guys that I’m engaged without even, like, debriefing me or something.”
“That’s fair,” says James. “I’m in, but like, maybe don’t tell her I said that.”
“Yeah, Alex is scary.” Winn shudders. “I remember being terrified out of my mind when she caught me snooping around on the bureau’s internal server.” They look at him with expressions ranging from exasperated (James) to alarmed (Kara) to mildly intrigued (Lena). “What?” he says, defensively. “If the FBI wants to keep federal secrets secret, they should build better security systems.”
“I imagine that reasoning did not go so well with Agent Danvers?” Lena asks, with an amused smirk.
Winn sighs, deflating. “She threatened to disembowel me with a single finger, and the scariest part about that is I know she can totally do it.”
“She does give that impression.” She looks at Winn and James and gestures for them to sit down, which they do with a thankful nod.
“Alex is equal parts bark and bite, plus she’s smart, so really scary combination.” James exhales as he really takes in the feast before them. “Everything looks incredible. No wonder Kara hasn’t invited us before,” he remarks with a teasing smile, “she’s keeping you and your food to herself.”
“Hey!” Kara quickly protests, pocketing her phone after she’s done with the photos, “That’s not true.” She glares when Lena chuckles at her before hiding it behind a cough. “It’s not. ”
“Whatever you say, darling,” Lena appeases, but she’s still struggling with her laughter.
Kara scowls as she slides on the chair beside Lena’s, crossing her arms. “You’re mean.”
“And yet you’re marrying me,” says Lena, winking at the boys, whom she knows are aware of Kara’s . . . situation. They are watching them with amused grins.
“I’m reconsidering our engagement, Lena, this is no way to treat your fiancée.”
“Now, now, let’s not be hasty. Also”—Lena raises an eyebrow in mock challenge, though it still makes Kara swallow hard—“did you really just threaten to call off our engagement?”
“I said what I said.” Kara tilts her head, projecting courage she doesn’t really feel.
“Hmm.” Lena stares at her then with a dangerous glint in her eyes, and she leans forward before Kara can even think to move—away? closer? Kara can’t be sure, but then Lena’s face is right in front of hers, and Kara gets sidetracked again by Lena’s prettiness—like, seriously, her eyes are even more breathtaking up close, where Kara can see the individual flecks of blue and green and grey and the warmth is so near, it’s like her eyes are burning, and oh crap her lips are moving, Kara’s supposed to hear words, Rao, what’s Lena saying?
“—positive that our engagement stays secure.”
Kara blinks as she registers just the tail end of Lena’s statement, but she doesn’t comprehend the words at all, and she just watches as Lena’s lips curl in that sexy-smirk thing she always does.
Lena reaches a finger out to trace Kara’s jawline, and her touch is so soft and nice and perfect, but Kara doesn’t get a chance to really savour the sensation because Lena pulls away after a moment, turning to the food. “I rest my case,” she declares smugly, looking at Kara from the corner of her eyes.
“Wha—” Kara’s mouth drops open as she remembers where she is and who she’s with, and she turns to see Winn and James clamping their lips shut in a valiant attempt to keep from outright laughing. “Shut up ,” she tells them in an indignant groan, and then they’re actually laughing now, shoulders shaking.
“Your face,” Winn gasps, “oh my god, I can go to heaven right now, that’s hilarious, oh my god.”
“Yeah, well,” Kara says, frowning at him, “don’t be so sure heaven’s the one waiting for you, pal.”
“Totally worth a trip to hell, is what I’m saying.”
“Just quit it, Winn.”
“No, no,” Winn says, looking at her as if she just spoke an alien language. “This is prime blackmail material, I’m gonna hold on to this for the rest of my natural life.”
“It’s not going to be a long wait if you don’t stop, I swear.”
“This is just golden.”
“Golden, I say. Classic.”
huff-le-puff danvers: [sent an attachment: IMG_0421.jpg]
huff-le-puff danvers: wish you were here
huff-le-puff danvers: not
huff-le-puff danvers: >:)
alexpectro patronum: WHAT HAVE I DONE TO OFFEND YOU THIS TIME
alexpectro patronum: !!!
huff-le-puff danvers: nothing in particular
huff-le-puff danvers: have fun with g-grade coffee and crumbly cookies
huff-le-puff danvers: :)
Kara could honestly kiss Winn and James.
Well, no, not really kiss them, because that would be awkward and weird and kind of gross , so just—no. But she does consider pecking them on the cheeks and squishing them in a tight hug just to express her deep, profound gratitude that she has the honour of calling them her friends.
. . . Anyway.
The point is, Winn and James make conversation easy amongst the four of them; Kara feels like they’ve done this all their lives, and when she looks at Lena’s eyes, she can see that she’s also having fun, and really, that’s all Kara can ask for—for Lena to be happy, at ease, content.
After dinner—which was an expectedly delicious and totally enjoyable affair, especially coupled with the free-flowing banter—they moved to the living room, lounging around in various positions of gastronomic satisfaction. Winn’s leaning back on the couch with his socked feet propped up on the coffee table, while James is flopped down beside him on the carpet. Kara and Lena are on the sofa, with Kara’s legs stretched out; she’s leaning against Lena who has an arm lazily slung around her shoulder while the other is braced on the armrest.
The TV is turned on low, though they haven’t really been paying attention to it for some time, as they talk about nothing and everything. Winn and Lena share a love for science and technology; Lena and James share a healthy appreciation for post-modernism and talk of political ideologies.
Kara watches as Lena talks to her friends, engage them in intelligent discussions and clever debates, watches as her eyes spark when answering their questions and flash when asking her own.
She listens as Lena’s words tumble together in an excited surge when she talks of her projects and of recent scientific advances, and she listens when they tremble with rage and grief when she speaks of the horrors happening around the world.
She watches and listens and feels Lena’s hand warm on her skin, and Kara’s love for her grows and grows and grows.
Empty beer cans litter the floor, and there are shot glasses from when Winn thought it fun to make Jägerbombs, though Kara learns that that’s been a horrible mistake somewhere between the first shot and the seventh.
She’s so drunk, and she figures her friends are pretty much the same way. (Except maybe Lena, because Kara thinks she can drink her weight in alcohol and still be coherent enough to discuss the principles of quantum physics.)
She doesn’t even know what time it is, but she’s aware enough to realise that Winn and James aren’t in any shape to go home on their own.
“S’eep,” she mumbles, not really sure to whom she’s talking, but she knows they should really get to bed soon. Bed sounds good.
“Mhm,” comes a mumble beside her, and she turns her head only to be greeted by raven hair. Lena is curled up around her, her head on Kara’s shoulder, arm thrown over Kara’s stomach, wrapping her up in the best embrace in the world.
Kara takes a deep breath, and she inhales a lungful of expensive perfume and a scent that is so uniquely Lena that Kara finds herself even more intoxicated.
“Bed, Lena,” she says, though she can’t quite recognise her own voice. It sounds gravelly, like she’s spent hours speaking—which, yes, maybe she has.
She feels Lena stiffen at the sound of her voice, but she’s not given a chance to figure out what that’s about because Lena suddenly sits up, clearing her throat. “Yes, bed.”
“Wh—” Kara starts, but Lena’s already standing.
She goes over to where Winn and James are lying prone, tapping them both on the cheeks to wake them up. “Hey. Get up.”
“Come on, Winn, bed.”
“Are you tucking me in?”
Lena snorts. “No.”
“Ugh.” James groans, throwing an arm over his eyes. “Stop talking.”
“Get to bed, you two.” Lena sighs. “The floor’s not for sleeping.” When they don’t show any sign of moving, she sighs again. “Okay, you asked for it.”
Then she unceremoniously pokes Winn’s side with her foot, making him shriek loudly, which in turn makes James shoot up, scrambling in panic.
The whole thing makes Kara laugh for some reason, and she’s gasping for breath on the sofa as the boys glare at her and Lena smirks.
“Oh, shut up,” Winn and James say in unison, with the same intonation, and it makes Kara laugh harder.
Lena shakes her head at them, fondness written all over her features. She shushes Winn and James when they open their mouth for some indignant retort. “Go to sleep. You can torture Kara tomorrow.”
Winn huffs, but he takes his phone. “Fine. Lemme just call for a cab.”
“No need,” Lena tells him. “You can both take Kara’s room.”
“Yeah,” Kara says. “You can—wait. What?”
Lena raises an eyebrow. “You really want them to go home this time of night?”
“Of course not—”
“Then it’s settled.” She regards the boys again, pointing to Kara’s room. “Go on. Kara’s sleeping in mine.”
“Yes, Kara,” Lena says, tugging her up, “you are.”
Lena gently tucks Kara to bed, after making her brush her teeth and drink a glass of water. (“So you’ll feel a bit less miserable when you wake up,” she said, matter-of-fact, and Kara didn’t object because her mind is on how Lena could manage to make the act of cleaning her teeth so freaking elegant.) She then climbs beside her, making sure there’s a bit of space between them so Kara doesn’t feel suffocated or something.
Kara can just about make out her current surrounding with the gentle glow of Lena’s nightlight (which is shaped like the moon because Lena is a space nerd and Kara loves her), and Lena is looking at her so tenderly that Kara feels her chest so close to splitting open with everything she hasn’t the courage to say.
She doesn’t know when she moves but the next thing she knows, she has a hand cupping Lena’s face, her thumb swiping over her soft skin, and her breath catches in her throat when Lena leans into the contact.
“Kara?” Lena says her name with something that makes her heart hammer against her rib cage, and the look in her eyes makes Kara dizzier than any alcohol could make her. Lena’s hand comes up to hers, and at first Kara’s afraid she’s going to pull it away, but Lena just lightly grasps her wrist, holding her in place.
“You know,” Kara begins, watching their hands in fascination, “I’m like, super—super scared of you.” She frowns, thinking over her words, before amending, “Well, not you you. More like, I’m super scared of the way you make me feel? Because you make me feel a lot. A lot.” She meets Lena’s gaze, to find Lena looking at her with rapt attention. “So many feelings, and sometimes I feel like I’m drowning in them but that’s like the best part, because it reminds me that I’m here, you know? You remind me that I’m here, that I exist, that I’m more than my name and my birthright. You remind me that I—that I matter. Me.”
The grip in her wrist tightens. “You do matter, Kara.”
“See? From you, it’s easy to believe that.” Kara laughs, but it is a broken sound, like a scratched record skipping beats. “You’re so—Lena, Rao, you’re so amazing, do you know that? You’re amazing and kind and smart and fantastic and you’re so good . And I’m so scared that I’m going to screw up and you’re going to realise that you deserve so much better and that I’m just—that I’m just me and that your time is better spent on someone not me.”
“I’m scared that I’ll mess up somehow and you’ll stop talking to me and we’ll drift apart. I’m scared that I’ll ruin everything and that you’ll leave.” Her voice cracks, and she doesn’t understand why her vision is fuzzy. She can see Lena, but there are blurs on the edges, and she can’t make out her expression.
Her lips taste salty too, when she runs her tongue over them, and her cheeks feel kind of sticky? The pillow beneath her head is also kind of damp, and it’s weird, but Kara can’t process anything at the moment because the Lena-shaped blob suddenly moves, and then something warm is patting Kara’s back.
“Ssshh, darling, hey, I’m here, I’m here,” Lena says soothingly, and Kara realises that she’s in Lena’s arms now? Yes, Lena has pulled Kara into a tight hug, an arm sliding under her head and the other around her waist, and Kara feels so safe. Lena touches her like she’s, well, not something fragile, but like she’s precious and valued and adored, and it makes Kara ache, in the best way, if that makes sense.
She just wants to stay right here for the rest of her life, here in the safe bubble of only Lena and Kara and the two of them together. It’s maybe selfish, and maybe Kara won’t think like this when she’s sober, but for now all Kara can think about is how right it is to be in Lena’s arm, like the universe is saying that it’s where she’s always been meant to be.
She listens to Lena’s breathing and feels the faint thud of her heart, and lets herself be lulled into the threshold of sleep.
“Please don’t leave,” she whispers after some time, her words muffled against Lena’s shoulder as she burrows closer into her unchanging warmth.
“I won’t, darling, I promise,” Lena says, squeezing Kara reassuringly. The cadence of her voice reminds Kara of the sea at night, the rippling waves reflecting moonlight. “I’m not going anywhere. I’ll stay as long as you want me to.”
“Is forever too much to ask?”
“Kara,” says Lena, and her voice sounds far away, now, “forever sounds perfect to me.”
alexpectro patronum: hey
alexpectro patronum: are you alive
alexpectro patronum: do i need to murder W & J
alexpectro patronum: or do you just need help with their bodies
alexpectro patronum: say something you big baby
alexpectro patronum: kara????
alexpectro patronum: kara is2g if you died i’m gonna kill you
Kara receives a rather rude wake-up call from the sun. She does not appreciate it in the least.
There’s a space between the curtains that lets in a sliver of sunshine which, just as Kara’s luck would have it, falls directly across her eyes, and the brightness hurts .
“Augh,” she says, waving her hands against the sunlight in some misguided attempt of batting it away.
Sadly, it doesn’t work.
It does make someone laugh, though, and Kara squints to see Lena sitting on the edge of the bed. The faint stream of sunlight haloes her in such a way that makes her look like an angel, the tips of her black hair catching fire.
“Am I dead?” she asks—or croaks, more like, the words a rough rasp against her throat.
“No,” Lena says, smiling amusedly. “Won’t let that happen, darling.”
“I feel like Jabba the Hutt died in my mouth and his corpse is growing an ecosystem all the way down to my tummy.”
“That’s weirdly specific, and also terribly disgusting. But it would’ve been worse if you didn’t brush your teeth, so, you’re doing quite well.”
“I can actually feel my life force leaving my body.”
“Turn off the sun.”
“Afraid I can’t do that, though I can ease your pain.” Lena pats her arm. “Come on, get up. Drink water.”
Kara groans, but she does as she’s told, sitting up and accepting the glass of water Lena gets from the nightstand. She also takes the pills given to her without much fuss. “I will never drink alcohol again. Ever. It’s a menace. Why does the human race keep making stuff bad for the body?”
Lena snorts. “We’re one of those species with a severely questionable sense of self-preservation.”
Kara sighs and then looks at her accusingly. “You’re not hung over.”
Lena smirks. “You know I never am.”
“How unfair is that? Are you sure you even have a liver? Is it a human liver or did you actually find a way to make a non-organic one?”
“A lady never tells, Kara.” She stands up. “And speaking of livers, you might need a transplant soon. I don’t think you’re supposed to drink that many shots consecutively, and you didn’t stop when I told you to.”
“I handled it!”
“Clearly.” Lena sighs, exasperated. “And your friends are very supportive of your questionable life choices.”
“Oh, right!” Kara exclaims, just about vaguely remembering that Winn and James slept over. “Where are they?”
“Woke up, fed them breakfast, then sent them on their way.” Lena shrugs at the question in her eyes. “I asked them if they wanted to stay ’til you return from the dead, but they said they have stuff to do.”
“Oh.” She admits she’s a little bit disappointed that they already left, but she does understand. She’s just really thankful they even managed to make time for her on such short notice. “What time is it?”
“A little past ten.”
“I see.” Huh. Earlier than she expected, with the way her head is throbbing. Rao, just how much did she have to drink?
She faintly remembers something about beds? She squints—no, yeah, beds, because the boys took hers while . . . Oh. Right.
She looks at the blanket wrapped around her.
She slept with Lena.
Well, nope, no, no, not slept, because yeesh, girl, slow the heck down. But she’s in Lena’s bed, and the space beside her is rumpled, and she does have a hazy memory of arms around her and holy Rao she cuddled with Lena in Lena’s bed—presumably all night—and she can’t clearly remember it happening!
The frustration she feels on missing out on such a momentous occasion makes her groan, though it comes out more of a whine.
“Are you okay?”
“Hmm?” Kara looks up at her, sees the concern on Lena’s face. Right. “Yeah, yeah. It’s just”—she scrunches her nose, huffs—“there’s like a big blank after the Jägerbombs and I don’t particularly want to fill it in.” Which is technically true. She may want to remember the sleeping-in-Lena’s-bed part of the previous night, but before that?
Nope. Not particularly.
“Are you sure?” Lena asks, grinning now. “Because it was pretty fantastic, if I do say so myself.”
The impishness in her stare warns Kara that it was not fantastic—at least not for her own dignity. “No.”
Lena ignores that. “You apologised to Winn for lying about his hair back in fifth grade, which apparently was a huge deal?”
“Oh yes. Anyway, he felt sort of betrayed about that because he thought you genuinely liked his haircut. He kinda curled up on the floor after that revelation.” She pauses, smirking. “Then you told James that he’s got really nice muscles, and he blushed, then you apologised—again—though this time, it was to the both of them, because you were unable to return their feelings.”
“Oh no. ”
“It was an eye-opening night for me, Kara. I got confirmation for my long-held hypothesis.” Her smirk widens, and Kara wants to shrink and be one with the blankets. “I did have you pegged as a heartbreaker beneath those cardigans you so love to wear.”
“On the bright side, you didn’t throw up even once. I’m impressed.”
“Did I do anything else.” Kara doesn’t really want to know, but she’s got that gruesome curiosity that makes people stop and stare at an unfolding tragedy.
“Nah,” Lena answers, with a mysterious smile that sets her heart pounding. “Or, well, you kept touching my hair and telling me I’m pretty, but then again”—she shrugs, shooting Kara a wink—“what’s new, right?”
Kara tugs the blankets over her head and groans in mortification.
this is a love letter wrapped in fluff dedicated to all of you (tho still not the fluff i wrote weeks ago), there’s typos and shit, i’m gonna deal with those when i’m sober gdi i am nEVER fucken drinking again kids alcohol is a bitch i hate it so much why do i keep doing this to myself
Chapter 12: xii: dating etiquette and engagement protocols pt. 3
Kara notices subtle changes in Lena’s behaviour ever since that night, and she doesn’t really know what to make of those.
To be honest, she doesn’t know what to make of anything at all, at this point.
And it’s not like the changes are bad, no. They’re just . . . wildly confusing.
For instance, sometimes, Kara catches Lena watching her with a certain glint in her eyes that Kara can’t decipher, and Lena doesn’t look away even when Kara meets her gaze. Instead Lena just smiles, and Kara gets flustered (naturally) because it is Lena’s mysterious little smile that seems to hold a million secrets, and all Kara wants to do is discover each one and perhaps (definitely) yank Lena into a kiss.
For the most part, though, Lena stays the same, with all her playful winks and teasing laughter and constant adoration, and Kara stays in love with her because she’s Kara and loving Lena Luthor is the truest, purest thing in the universe for her.
And Kara will not change it for the world.
kara-oke queen: how do people actually tell other people they love them
schott to the heart: you came to wrong guy for the right reasons
kara-oke queen: winn i’m serious
schott to the heart: i know
schott to the heart: but god kara
schott to the heart: don’t you know how she looks at you?
kara-oke queen: what do you mean
schott to the heart: it’s like
schott to the heart: she’s a freaking compass and you’re her north pole
Lena drags her to a shopping trip two weeks before the Luthor gala.
Or, more accurately, Lena tries to drag her to those high-end shops uptown, saying that they should probably look for clothes that would keep them from being torn apart by the Luthor clan, because “They’re the most superficial people on the planet, Kara, and though I would like nothing more than to attend the stupid thing wearing gym clothes, no can do. I’m not risking their stupid judgment when I’m investing effort into making sure I avoid their scrutiny by bringing you there in the first place.”
Kara looks up from her phone. “Yeah, I get that.”
“So let’s go?”
“Nope.” She chuckles at Lena’s confused expression. “There’s a shop, in Fifth Street. I go there for formalwear because one, the craftsmanship is incredible, and two, the owner’s Kryptonian.”
“Oh?” Lena looks interested.
“Yeah.” Kara waves her phone. “I was just calling them, actually, to make an appointment for a fitting today. Are you good to go?”
“Grab your keys.”
“Aren’t you a dominant one.”
Kara pinches the bridge of her nose, knocking her glasses askew. “Please grab your keys and kindly drive us to where we’re supposed to be.”
“Well, okay, since you asked so nicely.” Lena looks at her, lovely and impish and divine. “And I’d have you know that the only place I’m supposed to be is with you, darling.”
Lena whistles when they arrive at the shop, located in one of the most upscale streets in National City. “Fancy.”
“Says the woman who drove us here in a Bentley,” Kara retorts, rolling her eyes.
“Says the woman who has five jets,” Lena shoots back.
Kara huffs, ushering her past the door. “Am I not living that down?”
Kara’s defeated grumble is cut off by an enthusiastic greeting, and she turns to see an older woman waiting for them with a large smile.
“Welcome, Your Highness!” the woman says, curtsying. “It’s so good to see you!”
“Hello, Tala,” Kara says warmly while pointedly ignoring Lena’s elated smirk, “Rao’s light be yours.”
Tala straightens up, her smile even wider. “Rao’s light be yours,” she returns. Then she looks at Lena, her smile knowing. “And you must be our princess’s girl.”
Kara’s cheeks predictably grow warm at the notion of Lena being her anything, and she can feel Lena staring at the side of her face. “Right. This is my girl . . . friend. My girlfriend. Lena.” She clears her throat, before finally meeting Lena’s eyes.
Lena is looking back at her with something Kara can’t name but desperately craves, and the smile that graces Lena’s lips then makes Kara grateful of every decision she’s ever made. Lena reaches between them to twine their fingers together, gently squeezing, and then she turns to Tala, offering her other hand for a handshake. “Hello, nice to meet you.”
“The honour is mine,” Tala enthuses, and she takes Lena’s hand. But instead of shaking it, like Lena expects her to do, she brings it to her forehead in a gesture of deference.
“I—uhm—” Lena flounders, her own cheeks reddening this time, clearly taken aback. She looks to Kara for help, but Kara simply smiles at her, shrugging. “Thank you?”
“Oh, no, Lady Lena,” Tala says as she releases Lena’s hand. “It is you that I should thank for bringing happiness to Her Highness’s life.” She looks at them both with grandmotherly affection, folding her hands together on her chest. “It is such a pleasure to see her eyes this bright again.”
Kara looks down at that, as she feels her cheeks reaching temperatures that couldn’t be healthy for a human being. She wonders how many prayers she should say before Rao let the ground devour her whole.
(A dozen doesn’t seem to be enough. It’s an on-going experiment.)
“Look at you two,” Tala continues to gush, “still getting flustered in each other’s presence.”
“Right.” Kara clears her throat again. She moves to fiddle with her glasses, but she brings up the hand entwined with Lena’s instead of her free one.
And in a fleeting decisive moment, she smoothly transitions to pressing a kiss on the back of Lena’s hand.
She hears Lena’s surprised intake of breath, and she just hopes that this is okay—because oh Rao they haven’t discussed the parameters of physical affection yet —and that Lena won’t feel violated or something.
(Kara inwardly screams at herself for not discussing consent. Stars, she’s such a mess, and this is totally unforgivable— consent is important and people can’t just go kissing other people’s hand!
They really need to talk about this.)
“Tala here is the best seamstress on Earth,” she says, eyes finding Lena’s, and to her immense relief, she finds fond amusement instead of censure. Kara’s lips quirk in a small smile that hopefully conveys her apology, nonetheless. “She makes clothes that feel like they’re an extension of you, your own skin.”
“Oh, you flatter me, Your Highness,” Tala says, but she looks thrilled with the compliment, preening ever so slightly.
“I only speak the truth,” Kara asserts with a lighthearted grin. “And well, I do apologise for the short notice.”
“It is no problem,” Tala assures her. She tilts her head, waiting for Kara’s nod, before turning away to lead them deeper into the shop. “Your patronage always comes first.”
“I appreciate it.”
Lena is looking around and she leans to whisper, “Are there no other shoppers?” when she notices that the place is indeed empty except for them and a couple other employees.
Despite the low tones Lena used, however, Tala still hears her—not a particularly hard feat in light of the aforementioned lack of people around them—and she answers before Kara can, “Of course, there aren’t. I am a self-respecting Kryptonian, and closing my shop is no big deal if it is to better serve the heiress to the throne.” She sounds proud of this fact, the same way soldiers are proud of serving their country.
Lena raises an eyebrow, impressed. “Ah.”
“Her Highness is most beloved by her people,” Tala carries on, grinning kindly at Kara despite the obvious bashfulness on Kara’s face, “and we wish only the best of Rao’s will for her.”
“Tala,” Kara mumbles, sort of helplessly.
“All right, as you wish.” Tala raises her hands, placating, but a teasing edge remains on her lips. “Shall we begin measuring instead?”
Lena laughs at how relieved Kara sounds, and laughs even louder when Kara shoulder-checks her in retaliation. “Very mature,” Lena says while Tala then enters a designated measuring room.
“Don’t be mean.” Kara huffs. She gently pushes her towards the door. “And don’t give her grief.”
“I am appalled that you think so lowly of me,” Lena says with mock-hurt, and she grins when Kara merely rolls her eyes. “Okay, darling. I shall think of you whilst we’re parted,” she laments, expression one of exaggerated anguish, a hand gripping the doorpost as if afraid to let go.
“You’re such a dramatic nerd.” When Lena just raises an eyebrow in expectation, Kara relents. “And yes, of course, I’ll think of you too.”
The door closes to Lena’s delighted laughter.
Kara peruses Tala’s extensive collection of scarves and hats while she waits, admiring the elegance suffusing every stitch and the care with which every piece was made. She has always liked how meticulous Kryptonians are about their craft, and she feels a fierce kind of pride about that facet of their culture.
She has selected quite an assortment of scarves (to be used during their winter break in Krypton, of course) by the time Lena and Tala exits the room, and she notes with interest the spots of pink high on the former’s cheeks while the latter sports a terribly pleased grin.
“All done?” she asks, carefully draping the scarves on one arm.
“Yes, Your Highness,” Tala answers, her eyes twinkling. “You know, you’ve done really well, choosing such a fine young lady to be your girl.”
Kara’s eyebrow quirks up, even as her blush returns and Lena’s intensifies. What is happening right now? “Thank you,” she manages, her syllables mercifully sounding as they should and not like strangled noise, as is often the case when she’s talking about Lena, “though honestly, my wonder lies on how I even got to have her choose me as well.”
Lena’s eyes find hers, then, hooking Kara in with the force of their magnetism, and a thousand unspoken words seem to swirl in their depths—tinted with the colour of spring now—and Kara would have quite happily stared at them for as long as Lena allows.
“Ah,” Tala coos, “how wonderful young love is!”
It is a good thing Tala then focuses her attention to scrutinising colour swatches and scribbling her notes, for at her words Lena visibly blanches, eyes widening in alarm, and Kara’s pretty sure she has that exact same expression.
She flails a little bit (a lot) inside, barely even managing to school her face into one of amused passiveness. She’s not really sure if she’s successful or not, for it feels like every facial muscle is openly staging a rebellion against her, but despite that, she has no choice but to carry on and act as if Tala did not just bring up the thing —the truth —that Kara so desperately guards with everything she is.
So Kara gathers her wits, no matter how scattered they seem to be at the moment, and huffs a laugh—a dishonest sound that grates brutally down her throat. She shrugs at Lena, the movement stiff and heavy with all the things she can’t say.
She watches as Lena’s throat bobs in a seemingly painful gulp, and she watches as Lena composes herself and again dons that confident, playful mask she always has when encountering a new problem with a particularly tricky and needlessly complicated solution. The smile she sends Kara now has a sharper edge that Kara shouldn’t find thrilling, and the spring in her eyes seems to turn itself into a wintry blue.
(Kara still hasn’t figured out if the changing colours in Lena’s eyes are more dependent on the lighting in their surroundings or on her own moods and thoughts.
She reckons it is a bit of both.)
Lena is staring at her with that inscrutable yet mesmeric glint in her eyes, and Kara can’t look away.
There’s also a challenge in there, buried somewhere between each breath, and Kara doesn’t understand how even without speaking, Lena gets her so captivated that she is left completely unable to parse her own thoughts.
“Now,” Tala then says, breaking whatever thrall has fallen upon the two, nearly making Kara jump out of her own skin, “shall we decide on the colours, or shall I finish with your measurements first, Your Highness?”
She shakes her head a bit, trying to grasp some left-over thread of sanity. “Red,” she says.
“Pardon?” says Tala.
In answer to the questioning quirk of Lena’s brows, Kara lifts one of the scarves she selected, even as she continues to address Tala, “She looks wonderful in red.” Lena’s lips curve up into a consenting smile, and Kara releases a breath she’s not even aware she’s been holding.
Tala makes a sound of comprehension, and Kara finally turns to her, handing her the scarf. Tala carefully takes it, beaming. “This is—oh, splendid. The colour of the House of El.” She glances at Lena, then back at the fabric, then at Lena again, approval apparent in her expression. “Yes, yes, this will do marvelously.”
“I’m glad you think so too.” Kara then looks at Lena. “Is that . . . Are you okay with that?” she asks, suddenly apprehensive that she overstepped, but Lena just gives her favourite half smile, and any worry Kara might have had soon evaporates.
“Sure, Kara,” she says, and she is Kara’s rise and ruin, “that’s okay with me.”
“You look at her like she hung the stars, Your Highness,” Tala murmurs while taking Kara’s measurements. Her knowing gaze is not unlike Alex’s before Kara admitted how she feels about Lena. “She is the one, isn’t she?”
Kara doesn’t know how to refute that, and she doesn’t particularly want to, anyway. “Yes.”
“Does the regent know?”
“Ah.” Tala hums, adjusting the tape. “What are you going to do about it?”
“I’m not sure yet.” Kara sighs. “But, please, I . . .” she trails off.
“I won’t say anything.” Tala smiles at her. “Your grandmother would not forgive me were I to ruin her darling girl’s plans.”
Kara grimaces. “My grandmother would have my hide were I to fail to come up with any plan at all.”
“What scares you so?” Tala asks, because she’s known Kara practically all her life, and she has an uncanny ability to read between the lines.
“I’m . . . I don’t know. How to tell her.” Kara chuckles, self-deprecating. “I wouldn’t know what to do when she tells me she doesn’t feel the same way.”
Tala then lays a hand on her shoulder, forcing her to meet her eyes. “Oh, Little Star,” she says, using the nickname her grandparents had given her, “You need not fear that. You might look at her as if she’s responsible for every constellation there is, but she looks at you like you’re the universe itself.”
Tala grants her silence to let Kara spend the remaining minutes thinking about that.
“I shall have the dresses delivered on Wednesday, so there’s enough allowance should adjustments be needed.”
“Thank you. I really am sorry it’s on such short notice.”
“Though more time would have been ideal to ensure perfection,” Tala allows with a grin, “I am confident enough to know that the dresses will still be magnificent. You need not worry, Your Highness.”
“Oh, I’m not worried,” Kara tells her. “I trust you.”
Lena pauses when Kara starts to lead her out. “Wait.”
“Oh.” Kara shrugs. “It’s taken care of.”
“What?” She crosses her arms.
“You paid for mine too?”
“Kara,” Lena sighs, “you know I was joking with the gold-digger thing, right? Because I can pay for my own dresses.”
“I know that. But it’s not about the money, Lena.”
“What do you mean?”
She shrugs again. “It’s a Kryptonian shop. The bill will be sent to the castle.”
Lena blinks at her. “Excuse me?”
Kara waves a hand vaguely behind her. “Kryptonian royalty don’t bring cash or cards to their transactions with Kryptonian shops. Payments are made through the Minister of Royal Finance.” She scrunches her nose. “It’s kind of like a royal tab, I guess.”
Lena looks at her for a long moment before shaking her head, chuckling, the sound low and sending a frisson of . . . something along Kara’s spine. “I keep learning new things about you every day.” Then she takes Kara’s hand, dragging her towards the door.
And Kara will follow her anywhere.
jimmyny cricket: winn’s right
karasmatic leader: are you two gossiping about me again
jimmyny cricket: that’s not relevant
jimmyny cricket: as i was saying, winn’s right
jimmyny cricket: we agree on this
jimmyny cricket: she’s awesome, kara, and she obviously loves you
jimmyny cricket: don’t let the chance slip past, okay?
karasmatic leader: thank you, james. that means a lot
karasmatic leader: wish me luck
jimmyny cricket: not that you need it but
jimmyny cricket: good luck
The conversation of what being in a fake relationship entails comes soon after.
It’s more for Kara than for anything else, because she doesn’t want a repeat of that mini-heart attack she had over whether it is appropriate to kiss your (girl)friend’s hand in public. (Granted, it’s in front of just one person, but that’s plenty public.)
“Right, so,” Kara begins, settling on the dining room table, opposite Lena, who is eating a peach.
And licking the juice on her fingers.
Kara has severely miscalculated.
Lena must have noticed the stupid look on her face as her eyes rove over Lena’s entire . . . Lena-ness. “Yeah?” Lena asks, when Kara doesn’t show any sign that she’s speaking any time soon.
Kara shakes her head. “PDA?” she blurts out, and Lena freezes.
Kara shakes her head again, and she realises she must look like a big dumb dog right now. “I mean, I assume PDA needs to happen in the gala if we’re to convince anyone we’re dating?”
Lena clears her throat, wiping her hands on a napkin. “Yes, but we won’t do anything you’re uncomfortable with.”
“Or you,” Kara hastily adds, because that’s an equally important thing.
“Or me,” Lena agrees, smiling. “The point is, if we’re in any way uncomfortable with what’s happening, or any line is crossed, we give the other a signal, and we stop. Okay?”
“Personally, I’m fine with holding your hand the entire time, if that’s the only thing you’re comfortable with.” She grins. “And, you know, touching your arm or back to stir you through the crowd, especially when we’re trying to avoid my idiot of a brother.”
“I thought we’re attending in the first place because of him?”
“Well, that’s true, but that doesn’t mean I won’t try.”
“Okay.” Kara nods to herself. “Right. Good.” She frowns. “I mean, not the avoiding part. Well, yes. But more the hand holding. Also the arm and back thing.”
“So we’re good?”
No, not peachy.
Don’t think of the peach.
Or the way the juice dripped down her fingers, and how—no, Kara, stop.
“Right, would you like one?” Lena offers her a peach, her expression endlessly amused, and Kara almost whimpers.
“Are you sure?”
“Are you really okay?”
Kara groans as Lena laughs, starting on another peach, her gaze perceptive and teasing in equal measure.
This is going to be a long day.
???? how do people even write multi-chap fics without getting distracted halfway through because i procrastinated way too long before managing to actually sit down for this instead of watching One Day at a Time for the nth time
PS someone gimme a fic where elena maria alvarez riera calderón leytividal inclan meets supercorp’s daughter (laurel? i like that name—laur(el) luthor danvers) in the Voices of Tomorrow™ writing program. like imagine laurel™ being there not because she’s a participant but because kara’s one of the mentors/speakers and she just tagged along, and then maybe she sees elena wandering alone in some hall and then they just. hit it off. discussing feminism and political theories and environmental policies. idek just give it to me asap kthnxbye
once-and-future queen: the package just arrived. thanks.
ex-kal-ibur: you’re most welcome
once-and-future queen: I’M SO NERVOUS, KAL
once-and-future queen: do you think she’ll like it
ex-kal-ibur: she will
once-and-future queen: rao i hope so
Kara makes a mental note to send Tala a special gift, for she has truly outdone herself. But that is not to say that it is a good thing for Kara’s general peace of mind.
On one hand, the dress is a work of art.
On the other, it makes it very difficult for Kara to focus.
She is so not prepared for this sort of thing.
Kara is pretty sure she must have choked a little when Lena comes out of her room wearing the dress, and to be fair to herself, it’s actually a remarkable feat that it is the only thing she does, because she’s pretty sure she’d be drooling if she were a little more of a doofus than she already is.
The dress looks both classic and chic, with long sleeves made of delicate lace and the skirt like a fiery waterfall, shimmering every time light touches it, and it makes Lena look like she’s on fire—much the same as Kara’s insides—whenever she moves, a flame god blazing on her own path.
The effect it has on Kara is amplified by the fact that Lena is now clad in the colour of the House of El—the red of Rao—for the simplest way of declaring one as a member of one’s house is to wear one’s house colour.
And it takes every ounce of self-control in Kara’s body to keep from throwing herself on and wrapping herself around Lena.
She must have been staring at her for quite a while, for then Lena clears her throat and Kara nearly screams off her head.
“I’m sorry, you look pretty, the dress suits you, it’s wonderful, you’re wonderful, I knew you’d look good in this shade of red but whoa, this is too much,” Kara babbles, before clapping a hand over her mouth, evidently mortified.
Lena just looks pleased, though, and she sends Kara another one of her playful grins that could totally end wars, honestly. “Pretty, you say?” She winks, and Kara almost whimpers. “I wouldn’t have thought.”
Kara mumbles some murdered form of shut up (though it wouldn’t surprise her too much if it came out more like an I love you but please stop being so pretty because it’s killing me), and Lena only laughs, as she is wont to do in the face of Kara’s suffering.
“So is it okay?” Kara asks, keen on changing the subject.
“You tell me.”
Kara glares at her, but seeing as her cheeks are probably as red as the dress, she can’t imagine it working to the effect she wants. “That’s not what I meant.”
“Yeah, I know.” Lena slowly twirls, and Kara watches the skirt flare and glimmer. “Tala did it perfectly, and unless I gain too much weight in two days, no adjustment will be needed.”
“Okay. I’ll tell her so.” Kara hesitates for a second, before picking up the small box lying on the sofa and offering it to Lena. “Here, I was actually supposed to give this to you before we tell anyone of our, uhm, engagement, but our whole situation’s a bit of an extenuating circumstance in itself, so. It’s only just arrived.”
“What is it?” Lena asks even as she takes the box. She squints at Kara. “It’s not some sort of jewelry, is it?”
“Well . . .”
“Kara!” Lena glares, and how is it so much more effective when she does it? Not fair. Not fair at all. “We said no unnecessary trinkets!”
“It’s not unnecessary!” Kara asserts, crossing her arms defensively. “Just—Just open it, okay, don’t resist me on this.”
Lena glares at her some more but does open the box, and she gasps when she sees what is inside. “Oh.”
Nestled on the velvet lining is a necklace, the metalwork exquisite and sublime. It is made of delicate interwoven threads—crimson through silver—while the pendant is a bird with its wings outstretched, the details painstakingly engraved with utmost precision, hues of red and yellow and orange creating a beautiful mix.
“What—” Lena shakes her head, fingers lightly touching the pendant, awed. “Kara, this is—”
“It’s a flamebird,” Kara says, “one of the species indigenous to Krypton, as well as one of the royal family’s representative beasts.” She waves a hand towards the necklace. “It appears on our coat of arms and on many a House of El heirloom.”
“It’s—This is an heirloom?”
“Yes.” Kara swallows a lump of nerves. “It is customary that the necklace be bequeathed to the heir’s intended before announcing the betrothal in Krypton’s court.”
“God, Kara”—Lena looks at her with suspiciously wet eyes, both disbelieving and overwhelmed, she thinks—“this is too much, I can’t possibly accept this!”
“You have to,” Kara tells her, finding a certain kind of calm with the thought that one of her family’s most precious artifacts will be at the hands of the one to whom she has given her heart. “You’re my betrothed.”
Lena looks conflicted. “You know that’s not—” she starts to argue, but Kara swiftly cuts her off.
“No, but it doesn’t change the fact that we’re to present ourselves as such soon, in front of my people.” She curls her hands over Lena’s, which have begun shaking. “This is part of our tradition, Lena, so please, wear it.” She smiles, trying for reassurance and unsure if she is successful. “You’ll be doing me a massive favour.”
Lena groans, but she does smile back. “Here you are, giving me a stupidly beautiful necklace, and yet I can’t even thank you. You must think me a proper fool.”
“Not really, no,” Kara denies, her smile growing. “As far as fake fiancées are concerned, I’m pretty sure I’ve hit the jackpot with you.”
On the day of the gala, Lena insists on taking care of travel arrangements herself.
(“You took care of the dresses and the bling, Kara, so let me do this,” she said with wide puppy eyes, and Kara begrudgingly acquiesced.)
“Fine, but if you could refrain from saying bling again, that would be great.”
“Your elitist side is showing.”
And so they enter the back of a limousine, driven by a Luthor family chauffeur, and settle in for the ride.
Lena’s shoulders are bare, giving more attention to the ivory column of her neck, now adorned with the El heirloom. Her hair falls in soft waves that Kara desperately wants to thread her fingers on. Instead of giving in to the urge, however, she reaches for Lena’s hand, and when Lena squeezes in silent support, Kara knows it’s the right thing to do.
They spend the ride in a warm sort of quiet, their entwined fingers the single point upon which the universe seems to exist.
The Luthor gala is a highly publicised affair that is attended by progeny from old-money families, celebrities, and public officials. As soon as Kara steps out of the limo, the blinding lights from the cameras assault her vision, and it is only Lena’s hand in hers that grounds her and steadies her grasp of reality.
It is not that Kara is unused to this type of events, though she admits it has been a while since she’s last been on one, and not to this scale. The sheer opulence surrounding them reminds Kara that for all the jokes Lena makes about gold-digging, she is herself filthy rich.
“I thought you said it’s a small crowd,” Kara whispers with a smile that feels plastered on her face.
“I said the crowd will be smaller,” Lena says. “And compared to what we’ll face in Krypton, I assume I’m right.”
“Oh, come now. Try not to look like you’d bolt at the slightest hint of danger.”
“. . . Will there be danger?”
Lena shoots her an amused look, lips curving up in a smirk that usually spells trouble. “The only one in danger in this place is my brother, because once I see him I’ll probably murder him for forcing me to attend this stupid thing.”
Lena is immediately accosted by a large group of people all eager to greet her, and Kara can only watch as she works on them a natural charm that makes her seem like a whole new person to Kara. Lena easily directs the conversation, controlling what is said and what is implied, and leaving people satisfied but not giving too much away. It is fascinating to see her like this, in an environment Kara knows Lena has been raised in—the embodiment of a businessman’s daughter whose actions are governed by a logical, cutthroat mind.
(“No wonder you kick ass at Monopoly,” Kara said, after Lena first opened up about her family, “you’re from a family of tycoons.”
“Okay, first of all, Monopoly merely requires a huge streak of luck when rolling the dice, and second of all”—Lena huffed—“it’s so not my fault that you keep selling me all your property.”
“You’re like a shark when playing!” Kara defended herself. “I can’t not accept the deals you make!”
“See, that right there is an excellent third point! You’re a bad negotiator!”
Kara just shrugged at her, smug smirk in place. “Which brings me to my original point—you’re a good negotiator!”
Lena threw her hands up. “I can’t win with you!”
“Actually,” Kara pointed out helpfully, still smirking, “I believe that we are having this conversation because you always win with me.”)
It leaves Kara all the more captivated—seeing Lena like this, when she knows just how far the real Lena is from the image she presents to the public—for she reckons that she is capable of loving each and every facet of Lena Luthor.
It doesn’t take long before they run into Lena’s mother, and it is as nerve-wracking as Kara imagined.
(And she has imagined this moment, countless of times, since Lena first suggested they set up this ruse.
And each and every scenario does not end well.)
Lillian Luthor stands tall and proud and where her daughter exudes warmth and friendliness, she, in stark contrast, exudes coldness and conceit. Except for the way she holds herself with inherent grace, she is everything else her stepdaughter is not, and the disparity between them is jarring to behold.
Lena’s grip tightens for a second before releasing Kara’s hand, and she walks forwards to kiss her mother on the cheek. “Hello, Mother.”
“Lena.” Rao, even her voice is cold. Kara can almost imagine icicles forming around each word. Lillian turns to look at her, jutting her chin with subtle authority. “Who might this be?”
Lena clears her throat before sidling next to Kara, wrapping an arm around her waist. Kara is not sure if the contact is for her or for Lena herself. “This is Kara, my girlfriend. Kara, this is my mother.”
Kara smiles and extends a hand. “It’s good to meet you, Mrs. Luthor.”
“Hmm.” Lillian takes her hand, shakes it once, before dropping it. “Good to meet you too,” she says, though her tone says a wholly different story. “You’re a student in NCU?”
“Yes, I am,” Kara confirms. “Journalism.”
“A journalist?” There’s a derisive glint in her eyes, now. “In this day and age, whatever would you hope to accomplish with that kind of degree?”
“With all due respect, I think journalism is even more important in this day and age. People are often fed false information, and it leads to a culture that supports harmful ideologies, leading to a society in which ignorance becomes normal and critical thinking both moot and stigmatised.”
Lillian studies her with narrowed eyes, and it feels like the entirety of herself is being weighed on some invisible scale. It makes Kara want to, like, step back and bury her head in the sand, maybe. But this woman is the source of many of Lena’s heartaches (as evidenced by countless late-night conversations wherein Lena pretends not to be affected by her stepmother’s constant disappointment while Kara convinces her that it is okay to show vulnerability sometimes—no matter that the Luthor family motto states otherwise), and Kara would not give her this victory too. So she doesn’t back away, instead meeting Lillian’s gaze with her own. Finally, Lillian says, “You should be warned that my daughter is known to be high maintenance.”
Lena’s fingers dig into Kara’s skin, unconsciously, perhaps preparing for a defense or an exit strategy, but Kara just shoots Lillian a serene smile. “So I’ve been told, Mrs. Luthor,” she says before turning to Lena, and her gaze doesn’t leave Lena’s worried one as she continues, her tone entirely too adoring to qualify as a mere act, “but I’m perfectly certain I can handle it.”
Lena exhales loudly as soon as her mother is out of earshot. “That could have gone worse,” she mutters, leaning against Kara more heavily.
Kara can actually believe that. “Yeah?”
“I’m like totally sure your mom hates me though.”
“She doesn’t . . . probably.”
“That’s not reassuring at all, just so you know.”
“At least the worst has passed. My father and brother are a lot more genial.”
Lex Luthor, just as Lena claimed, is affable and a thousand degrees more welcoming than their mother. His grin is infectious, like a poster boy for the dentist’s office, and his booming laughter echoes when he catches sight of his sister. He is tall, Kara thinks maybe six feet and two inches, broad-shouldered, and athletically built. He reminds her of Kal El, for some reason.
(Maybe it’s the general big-brother-y vibe.)
And he looks good too. Maybe it’s a Luthor thing, no matter that he and Lena share just their father’s blood. He has sharp cheekbones and a strong jaw, just like his sister. His blue eyes shine bright beneath the lights, all the more emphasised by the tailored navy suit that makes him look as urbane and well educated as his name implies. His red-gold hair is coiffed to the side, perfectly styled to that “just got out of bed” look that most could only dream of achieving.
(Kara can kind of get where Lena is coming from, with wanting to mess with that hair. Like, seriously, it’s so . . . luscious? Kara wonders if maybe each individual strand of Lex’s hair bounces when he’s angry or something. It’s probably worth seeing.)
He hugs Lena tightly, even lifting her feet off the ground, heedless of her indignant yelling.
“You’re such an oaf,” she tells him when he finally releases her.
“I missed you too, sister dearest,” he says, beaming, his voice like the rain. Then he notices Kara, standing to the side, and his smile grows impossibly wider. “And who is this lovely girl?”
“She’s my girlfriend,” Lena answers, and Kara hides a laugh at his astonished expression.
“You were actually telling the truth?” His eyes are wide.
Lena scowls at him. “The fuck does that mean?”
“I just—Whoa.” Lex regards Kara then, tilting his head to the side, like a puppy staring at a new human. “What kind of magic did Lena use to date someone like you?” he asks, much to her sister’s annoyance.
“You underestimate your sister,” Kara replies, not missing a beat. “She didn’t need any magic at all to put me under her spell.”
At that Lex barks out a laugh, and he offers her his hand. “I like you!” he declares. “I’m Lex, Lena’s brother.”
“So I gathered.” Kara shakes his hand. His grip is strong, sure, and she appreciates that. “I’m Kara, Lena’s girlfriend.”
“So I gathered,” Lex returns, his grin not faltering.
Lena sighs. “Please tell me you’re not actually becoming friends, because that’s the last thing I want,” she says.
Lex smirks at her. “Oh, shut it, this is going to be fun!” He puts his arms around each of them, stirring them through the crowd with practised ease. “Now come, let’s get Dad!”
Lionel Luthor is a couple of inches shorter than his son, but he still has a commanding presence. He is bald, now, though Lena told Kara that he once had hair as rich as her brother’s.
(“It’s why Lex is extra careful with his hair regimen these days,” she said with a slightly-evil-enchantress grin. “He’s deathly afraid he’s going to end up like Dad.”
“Shut up, Lena,” Lex told her grumpily, “I am going to beat this genetic anomaly.”
“Yeah, you keep telling yourself that.”)
He hugs his daughter perhaps as tightly as Lex did. “I can’t believe Lena actually brought a girl around to introduce to us,” he says, and the smile he gives Lena is approving and warm. “She always says no one’s good enough to meet me.”
“To be perfectly honest, Dad, I think it’s the other way around with this one,” Lex tells him with a laugh. “I think we’re the ones being measured here, if we’re good enough to be introduced to Kara.”
“You’re not wrong.” Lena shrugs, and the look she sends her makes Kara’s head spin. “And I guess I finally found the right one, huh?”
Kara stares at the floor when Lionel looks proudly at his daughter, and guilt settles heavily in her chest.
(Lies. Lies. Lies.
This is not supposed to happen.)
Quite some time later, Kara seeks out some fresh air—there are too many people, and Lena’s too close, and she needs to regroup—and she finds herself in the museum’s private garden, looking at the stars. There’s no snow, but it is cold enough that she can see each breath she takes, and she mentally berates herself for not getting her coat.
“You’re going to die of hypothermia if you stay there,” calls a voice from inside, and she turns around to see Lena by the glass doors.
Kara shrugs. “The cold never bothered me,” she tells her even as she can feel her limbs going numb.
Lena shakes her head, but she’s smiling. “Settle down, Elsa,” she says. “I can’t have my girlfriend dying of the cold.” Then she steps towards Kara, and Kara realises that she’s holding a bundle of something in her arms.
“What’re you doing?” A blanket. Lena’s settling a blanket over Kara’s shoulders, tugging the edges in front of her.
“Making you warm again,” she replies.
“It’s a blanket.”
“I’m aware.” Lena scrunches her nose. “Found it in a gallery while I was looking for you.”
Kara looks down at what Lena’s trying to accomplish. “Classy.”
“It’s a fashion statement, Kara.”
“What’s the statement?”
“Health is more important than aesthetics.”
“Hmm, never mind, I’m getting cold too.” Lena tugs again, moving the sheet so that they are both wrapped in it. Her face is so close to Kara’s, their noses almost touching, and her warmth permeates every inch of Kara’s skin. “They like you.”
“Dad and Lex, I mean. They like you.”
“That’s good, isn’t it?”
“Yeah.” Lena shuffles closer, and Kara’s arms band around her waist beneath the blanket. Kara’s pretty sure she hasn’t just imagined Lena’s gasp. “And my mom sort of tolerates you, I think.”
“That, I don’t know what to make of.”
“It’s good,” Lena says. “Most people she hates, so toleration is a pretty huge step-up.”
“How about you?” Kara asks, before her brain catches up to what her mouth is saying. Her focus is on some locks of Lena’s hair that are dancing in the breeze.
“Do you like me?”
Lena stills in her arms, before she relaxes again, bumping their foreheads together once. “Of course I do. I wouldn’t be here freezing my ass off if I didn’t.”
“Makes sense,” Kara says.
“I’m a pretty likable person.”
Lena huffs, her breath tickling Kara’s neck. “Yeah, yeah.”
“No, I’m serious, my likability is the stuff of legends.”
“I know, Kara.”
“Wait, you do?”
“Sure, it’s a part of my criteria for selecting the perfect girlfriend.”
Lena shrugs. “Potato, po-tah-to.” She edges back, tilting her head up a bit, eyes on the starlit sky. Kara’s arms loosen their hold, but she doesn’t break contact. She traces Lena’s face with something close to reverence, and she has never felt more at peace.
And she has never wanted to bridge the gap between them as much as she does in this moment suspended in tranquility, with only the moon, the stars, and the muted sounds of the earth bearing them witness.
Don’t! screams a voice in Kara’s mind—the one to which she listens to keep herself from doing something spectacularly bad.
This will probably end terribly, and you won’t forgive yourself if you did anything to jeopardise your friendship with her, another voice says, reasonably but no less urgently, sounding like the perfect combination of Alex’s and Eliza’s voices.
What do her lips taste like, and are they as soft as they look? asks a third voice, full of curious wonder, and in a moment of reckless stupidity, that is the one to whom Kara chooses to listen.
She takes a small step forwards, akin to a giant leap of faith, and she kisses Lena Luthor.
pretty sure it’s a bit shorter than the previous ones but ugh at last amirite
(late update because i was distracted hey i just turned 22 last friday i figured i could have a bit of fun just sleeping and vegging out all week soooo)
PS climate’s more s2 than s1
EDIT: shit i posted an earlier version, sorry about that. anyways, yeah. YES, LEX HAS HAIR. 1940s Lex has red hair #GoReds
Kara is aware of exactly three things in the moments that follow.
Instead of pounding away erratically like it always does where Lena’s concerned, her heart remains steady on its beat, as if this is how it’s supposed to be, this is what she’s supposed to do, and the calm is because this has always been something that the universe intended to happen, all this time—and now that this is happening, then there is no reason for worry, no reason for self-doubt, no reason to back out.
Oxygen is not something she needs, apparently, because she’s pretty sure she could just breathe in Lena and she’d somehow survive.
She kisses Lena Luthor in the fancy garden of a fancy museum, surrounded by winter-dead flowers and blinking fairy lights, and it’s like every decision she has ever made—right or wrong—finally makes sense, because every one of them has led her here, in this moment.
Kissing Lena Luthor makes her feel happy and content and whole, and she feels like she’s about to burst in a technicolor explosion of happiness and contentedness and wholeness. Kissing Lena Luthor is supernovas in her bloodstream and symphonies in her ears and all the clichés she’s heard about and has always hoped for. Kissing Lena Luthor is the cold December air melted away by warm breath and hot skin and the itchy weight of a knitted blanket. Kissing Lena Luthor is awkward first-time clumsiness and noses bumping and hair tickling her cheeks.
Kissing Lena Luthor is perfect, and it is absolutely world-shattering in its perfection. Kara would have happily died just for this—would have happily stayed in this moment forever.
But soon enough the human body’s need for air wins out, and Kara withdraws after one last peck on those soft, warm lips, so that her lungs may finally get on with doing their jobs without her possibly having a heart attack or something.
There’s a second or so of silence, with both Kara and Lena trying to catch on to what just happened, when Lena whispers a breathless “Oh.”
And that’s when the panic finally sets in.
Kara nearly stumbles in her haste to back away, forgetting that she’s still draped up in a blanket with Lena also in it and so she couldn’t really scurry off without making a disaster of everything. She only succeeds in pulling Lena closer to her, the momentum causing her to crash into Kara, whose first instinct, of course, is to tighten her arms which are still wrapped around Lena’s waist.
It is torture in the purest sense, and this time, Kara’s heart races like a bat out of hell.
And Kara isn’t even afforded the chance to escape Lena’s eyes, which are drilling right into her soul, serious and contemplative and mystifying. Kara’s own eyes are wide with shock that she has actually kissed Lena Luthor—has actually felt her lips pliant beneath hers, oh Rao—and she has never felt this unsure before.
“Kara—” Lena begins to say, tentative and careful, but Kara swiftly cuts in.
“I-I-I’m so, so, so sorry, Lena, I truly am, it’s just, well, you’re just there with the eyes and the lips and the smile and I just—I shouldn’t have done it without asking, or, well, I shouldn’t have done it at all, I’m like violating a million best friend codes right now—”
Now it’s Lena who saves Kara from her rambling, which otherwise would have gone on until she’s blue in the face. “Kara, please breathe,” she says in this calm, sure voice, eyes still warm and kind, and honestly it makes Kara even guiltier, the remorse sitting heavier in her chest because now she’s crossed the line—the line, the one line she swore to herself she wouldn’t cross, the one line that matters because it separates what she wants from what she couldn’t bear to lose.
“I’m really super sorry.”
Lena tilts her head to the side, and she looks so adorable and so gorgeous at the same time that Kara almost closes the distance—which is so not distant at all, really, they are practically breathing the same air now—between them again, but she manages to restrain herself. And then Lena simply says, “Why are you sorry?” She sounds genuinely curious but also a bit shy and not at all like mocking Kara, and to be honest, it surprises Kara more than she’d like to admit.
Lena shrugs, the movement pulling the blanket—which is still around them, thank you very much—tighter, right along with the twisting tangle of emotions in Kara’s chest. “Why are you sorry?” she repeats dutifully. “What are you apologising for?”
“Uhm”—Kara flounders for a little bit, only it’s actually a lot, and she honestly never thought she’s going to have to defend her apology to Lena Luthor for kissing Lena Luthor—“for kissing you?” The uncertainty in her voice is almost laughable, and Kara would like to take this time to wish she’s in a cabin on a mountain somewhere to ruminate over her idiocy and absurd inability to keep her chill.
Lena’s gaze turns sharper, though, more guarded. “Do you regret it?” she then asks in an even tone, and it’s such a ridiculous inquiry that Kara snorts out a laugh.
“Wha—No, Lena, that’s not it,” she replies, “that’s not even close, Rao.” She doesn’t really know where the courage is coming from, but if it’s gonna take away that minute apprehension shining in green eyes, then she’s not going to question it. “It’s, uh, actually, sorta the opposite.”
Because, yeah, ignoring this very awkward conversation and the guilt flowing like ice in her veins for assailing Lena with her lips without permission, Kara quite honestly enjoyed kissing her and would definitely enjoy doing so again. But the thought of not having Lena in her life, in any capacity, is enough to make words pour out again in a quick stream, every syllable thick with acute trepidation and hopeless plea and desperate entreaty.
“I kissed you because I wanted to—and it’s all I can think about for some time now—but I’m sorry I did it without asking for your consent. I didn’t mean to do it and put you on the spot, and I understand if you’d like to slap me now because honestly I wanna slap myself. Maybe throw in a punch or two for good measure, maybe three for luck, and a roundhouse kick just because it’s incredibly stupid and selfish of me and the last thing I want is to rob you of your choice. You don’t deserve that.” She gulps a breath, refusing to look away from Lena’s eyes despite every cell in her body shouting for her to disappear underground. “I-I’ll—I promise I won’t just—I’ll just—I’ll stay away, okay? From now on, I can like—I’ll stand no closer than three feet from you if you want me to, I don’t want to make you uncomfortable just because I can’t control my feelings, and honestly and—”
“I—” Lena then seems to choke on nothing, shaking her head, a blush steadily rising on the pale of her skin, “You have feelings for me?” And she looks so awed, like Kara’s winding speech couldn’t possibly be real, and honestly, how dense can one person be?
“Rao, Lena, I’ve had a crush on you pretty much since the moment we met and also I’m pretty sure I’ve been in love with you since the day you made me that ridiculously delicious burrito and holy Rao I totally just said that out loud didn’t I please don’t hate me I’m such a creep—” Kara clamps her mouth shut because Lena is suddenly very, very still in her arms, painfully so, almost like those Greek statues inside except Kara can feel her breathing. “You don’t have to say anything—you don’t even have to stay now if you don’t want to? I’ll just—I promise I’ll work this out, okay? I’ll work through this, we can go back to where we were before this, but like, maybe please just give me time to get over you, I guess? I don’t think I can just snap my feelings away after admitting them out loud because I’ve been repressing them really well until now.”
“Kara, darling,” Lena says in an almost sigh, her gaze both endeared and exasperated, “you seem to have forgotten that I kissed you back.”
That . . .
That is an excellent, completely valid point that Kara has forgotten due to panicking over her own helpless flailing, and now that she thinks about it . . .
Yeah, Lena did kiss her back, didn’t she?
Lena Luthor kissed her, Kara Danvers, back.
The realisation sinks in slowly, and she must look pretty dumbstruck because then Lena’s smirking at her—that darn life-ending smirk that should be harnessed as a special weapon of mass destruction—and Kara kind of really wants to jump Lena right then and there, but she’s a princess, an actual royalty, and geez, Kara, do try to keep a little dignity to yourself, okay, control yourself. So she settles for saying, with the fluency in romance that would have put Keats and Shelley and Burns to shame, “What now?”
Rather than giving her a verbal answer, Lena’s smirk just deepens, and before Kara can ramble for the rest of her life, something hot and insistent is pressing against her mouth, and—
Lena is kissing her, and Kara is kissing Lena again, but this time it’s better and hotter and grander because holy Rao Lena wants to kiss Kara and that is a fact that she can’t process right now past the way Lena is apparently laying siege against her lips. Lena’s hands beneath the blanket—which, miraculously, stays draped around them—are scorching against Kara’s skin, past the material of her dress.
And then those hands are gliding up and then there are fingers burning imprints on Kara’s neck and trailing heat on her jaw and tugging delicately on her hair, and how in Rao’s name did Kara survive without this for so long? She whines against Lena’s mouth and feels it form a teasing smile and Kara can’t breathe but who cares about breathing honestly breathing is so overrated, she’d rather do this forever and then some more and maybe travel back in time to yell at herself to do it sooner because whoa, she’s been missing this all this while and that just sucks big time, and speaking of sucking, she could think of a couple of things she could be sucking right now—
She needs to slow down, like, a minute ago.
Lena pulls back and rests her forehead on Kara’s temple. Her hands play with the small hairs on Kara’s nape, and Kara can’t help the full-body shudder it elicits, something unfurling deep in her belly, like . . . like a monster that’s begging to be fed, and Kara knows too well just what exactly will sate its hunger.
And before Kara’s brain dives a thousand leagues deep into the gutter, they really need to talk about . . . whatever this is.
“So, uhm,” she starts, “like, are we—are we dating now? Like it’s totally fine if you don’t want to but maybe please consider saying yes because kissing you was the best thing I’ve ever experienced and I’d really want to keep doing that all the time if you’d let me and I just really love you so, you know, dating you would be really pretty cool, like, the coolest thing—”
“Darling, we’re engaged,” Lena points out with a smile that dazzles Kara so much that she just sort of stares at her stupidly, and then Lena’s lips are on Kara’s again, gentle but also demanding, as if they’re just claiming what is already theirs, and oh.
Lena’s kisses are so addicting, and Kara isn’t lying at all about wanting to do this all the time, because, whoa boy, Lena’s mouth has got to be the eighth wonder of the world or something. Kara thinks Lena’s lips are specifically made for kisses; they’re so soft and warm and they make Kara feel as if there’s a billion tiny explosions in her body, like chain reactions bubbling and then bursting in her blood, but instead of shattering her, they just make her feel so, so alive.
(Maybe the addiction thing is less about the lips and more about the lips being Lena’s that is causing this intense effect in Kara, though Kara can’t be too sure because her mind is otherwise occupied, hi.)
Kara loses track of time, and to be fair, Lena totally does too because it takes two to tango and all that, and maybe Kara really shouldn’t think about tango and its figurative implications right now when Lena’s tongue is doing some sort of pirouette in Kara’s mouth, and stars, this conversation is so not going the way Kara’s planned it to because one, there are no words being spoken at all, and two, wow, top marks for Lena in the kissing department, truly, Kara’s ruined forever and she lives for it.
It would be practically a federal crime for Kara to even consider stopping, but she is nothing if not determined, and she does kind of need Lena’s answer right now seeing as it’s a Very Important Matter, and so in a move that makes her feel like the world’s biggest idiot, Kara pulls away from Lena’s Very Lovely Kissable Lips.
Though, in hindsight, it is probably not a very wise move at all, because then Lena’s lips are free to roam as they please, and apparently, that means turning their attention to just about every available skin within their reach. There’s teeth nipping along Kara’s jawline, and Lena’s mapping a fiery line on her neck like her mouth is producing lava or something equally red-hot scorching and cool down cool down cool down be strong—
“So, uhm, that’s a yes to the dating thing, right?” Kara manages to ask, and she sounds like she’s just run a marathon, not cute at all, but seriously, she is really freaking proud of herself for even managing to have some sort of coherency, okay, give her a break, it’s really freaking difficult to focus especially when Lena’s currently performing some kind of magic trick with her lips on Kara’s pulse point.
“Yes, Kara,” Lena says, pulling back and laughing against her cheek, and oh, Kara really loves her, “we’re dating now.”
“Oh.” Kara inhales, sharp and quick, and exhales in relief. “Oh. Cool.”
“We are,” Lena confirms.
“I love you.”
Lena grins. “And in case those kisses weren’t enough to get through that thick head of yours,” she says with a little doting sigh—“I love you too.”
They are both smiling too wide, and they probably look stupid—well, at least Kara does, because she doesn’t think Lena’s capable of looking anything in the vicinity of stupid—but Kara’s too happy to care.
“You heard my father, Kara,” Lena says, “I don’t just bring anyone to meet them.” She kisses Kara again, almost like she couldn’t help herself. “You’re the right one.”
“Yeah. And for the record,” Lena adds, leaning in and being the sole reason of the departure of Kara’s soul, “I would prefer it if you didn’t get over me at all.”
It takes a few seconds for Kara to catch up to what Lena is saying, because Lena is very pretty and very close for Kara to function normally. “Oh.” She gulps again. “Yeah. I promise.”
Lena nods, satisfied. “Good.”
“Great.” And Kara wants to proclaim for all the world to hear that she’s completely and irrevocably in love with Lena Luthor, wants every one to know that her heart belongs to this amazing and incredible and brilliant woman who looks at Kara like she’s a miracle, when really, it’s her that is a gift from the heavens. “We really are going about this in the wrong order, aren’t we?” she asks.
“We are,” Lena agrees, with this pleased smile and laughing eyes and Kara loves her, “but I’ll have it no other way.”
future wife: you remind me of pot stickers
sluthorin my bed: ????
sluthorin my bed: explain
future wife: i freaking love pot stickers
Kara watches as Lena reads her response from across the room where she’s talking with her brother and some investor or something, and she grins dopily when Lena’s cheeks redden, especially obvious on her pale skin. Kara waits for Lena to look up, and the smile being sent her way is worth all the pot stickers in the entire world.
Lena brings to life every colour in the universe and brings everything into sharper focus. She’s light and shadows and night and day and Kara?
Kara loves her, and it is like landing feet first on the path to forever.
have you any idea how long i’ve wanted to post the fluff here goddammit that shit has been in my drafts for months
Chapter 15: xv: tripping, falling, flying in love
Apologies for making some of you wait for this last one, which is pretty short too, but to be fair to meself, I have plenty of good excuses, first of which is that I’m practically working two jobs right now cuz it’s freaking hard to earn anything in a third-world country, so to those who offered me beer and food, thanks, I’m about this close to taking you up on the offer. …Anyway, that turned heavy real fast, whatever.
The second reason is because the cast members, except for my precious Irish potato (and Odette too, you wonderful human), are a bunch of dicks and writing has been p difficult already but then they went ahead and destroyed whatever motivation I had.
BUT YOU KNOW WHAT. WE DESERVE HAPPINESS AND I WON’T LET THEM TAKE THIS AWAY FROM US.
(See the end of the chapter for more notes.)
huff-le-puff danvers: heyyy aLEX I KISSED HER
alexpecto patronum: WHAT
alexpecto patronum: HOW DID IT GO
huff-le-puff danvers: ASDFGHJKL I LOVE HER
huff-le-puff danvers: SHE LOVES ME
huff-le-puff danvers: I’M DATING HER
huff-le-puff danvers: FOR REAL THIS TIME
huff-le-puff danvers: A L E X
huff-le-puff danvers: I’M GONNA DIE
alexpecto patronum: jfc kara you just got the girl
alexpecto patronum: at least wait for a bit before dying
alexpecto patronum: also CONGRATULATIONS, YOU BIG BABY
“That’s so gay ,” Alex says on the phone after Kara told her what happened—because of course Alex immediately called her, not satisfied by mere text updates. Kara was barely breathing the whole time lest she regress into a puddle of goo at the mere memory of kissing Lena beneath the winter sky.
“Stop bi erasure,” Kara protests, but she’s still grinning, and Alex knows it.
“Oh come on ”—Alex laughs, and Kara hears the clatter of glass, because it figures that Alex is drinking something again, and they really do need to talk about her sister’s propensity to drink alcoholic beverages at random times during the day, preferably soon—“you confessed your love surrounded by fairy lights in a garden during winter. That’s, like, the perfect gay scenario right there.”
“Yeah, well, is that how you and Maggie got together?”
Alex scoffs. “You know it’s not. We were cuddling beneath a tree surrounded by autumn leaves, both of us in our leather jackets. We drew each other matching Sharpie tattoos on our hands and I yanked her down by her stupid scarf while she —”
“Oh Rao, shut up,” Kara cuts her off, still smiling, “how are you the older one between us two?”
“Says the girl who tried to fit eight pot stickers in her mouth at once.”
“‘Tried’?” Kara repeats mock-incredulously. “I think you meant succeeded.”
“Yeah, hopelessly into my girlfriend .” Her grin stretches wider, still yet unable to believe that she gets to say it now and mean it for real.
Alex’s guffaw is loud in her ear. “Oh my god, that was terrible, Kara, what the hell,” she says, and Kara can imagine her twinkling eyes and her silent sisterly approval. “You’re such a cliché.”
She shrugs, even though Alex can’t see it. “Clichés aren’t so bad.”
“No, they’re not,” Alex agrees. She sighs warmly, this little sound that Kara knows comes with a special smile that Alex only ever shows her family. “I’m so happy for you, Kara.”
Kara’s eyes again wander over her sleeping girlfriend, who is currently wrapped up in a non-itchy blanket. They won’t arrive for another hour or so, and Kara figures she needs the extra rest. She smiles, remembers feeling Lena’s words ghosting over her skin. “I want to give her everything,” she says simply.
“Kara,” Alex says, half doting, half exasperated, “you already have.”
alexpecto patronum: what did the cell say when her sister stepped on her foot
alexpecto patronum: “ouch, my-toe-sis”
huff-le-puff danvers: aleX NO
alexpecto patronum: why do you not appreciate my puns
alexpecto patronum: some sister you are
huff-le-puff danvers: i would appreciate them if they’re not terrible
alexpecto patronum: excuse you, my pun game is strong
alexpecto patronum: they’re waaaaaaaay better than lena’s, at least
alexpecto patronum: but you still laugh at hers!
huff-le-puff danvers: yeah well it’s lena
alexpecto patronum: that’s cold, kara
alexpecto patronum: smh is sibling loyalty not a thing anymore
huff-le-puff danvers: ask yourself that the next time you delay movie night for a few more minutes with maggie
alexpecto patronum: …
alexpecto patronum: touch é
alexpecto patronum: anyway
alexpecto patronum: have fun in your vacation, you bi disaster
alexpecto patronum: but not too much fun because i can’t be an aunt i’m too young
alexpecto patronum: LOL
huff-le-puff danvers: ALEX!
Kara thinks she’ll never tire of ever kissing Lena Luthor.
No, scratch that.
Kara knows she’ll never tire of ever kissing Lena Luthor.
Seriously, she can’t get enough of Lena’s pretty mouth and her quiet whispers and her hitched breathing, and Kara should have probably tried to rein herself in at least a bit, out of propriety. But they’re in a private jet high above the world, on a proper bed with crimson silk sheets—most likely by Kal El’s design, though Kara thinks Alex had a hand in this particular teasing as well—and there’s really nothing stopping her from tracing Lena’s soft skin with her lips and nipping at that carved jawline and generally just soaking up the feeling of her girlfriend in her arms.
No, Kara doesn’t particularly care about whatever Kal and Alex might have set up as a way to fluster her, because she’s with her girlfriend.
She, Kara Zor-El, is currently dating Lena Luthor.
Yeah, that’s not going to get old any time soon.
And it makes Kara feel like she’s on cloud nine—which, well, technically, she is amongst the clouds, seeing as they’re in a flying jet, though that’s a different point altogether.
“You’re awfully excited, aren’t you?” Lena notes, when she catches Kara’s lovelorn sigh for the umpteenth time, her eyes gleaming with amusement, and Kara can clearly read the fondness in them too.
(And it takes her breath away, every time she sees it, every time she’s reminded that Lena wants to be with her, that Lena deemed her worthy of her love.
And Kara swears on everything she holds holy and true that she will do everything to be deserving of that love.
Lena deserves the universe and the best it can ever offer.)
“What’s there to not be excited about?” Kara asks, not even trying to tamp down her smile because there’s no reason to. She shifts on her arm so that she can look down on Lena, who reaches up to cup Kara’s cheeks, and Kara melts at the softness of her touch. “I’m with you. And I’m going home.”
And when Lena laughs, candid and carefree and divine, guiding her down to another kiss, Kara thinks she already is home, anyway.
And this, Kara thinks, is just the beginning.
Thank you so much to everyone who’s been patient enough to go on this crazy ride with me. You all remind me of Dwayne Johnson cuz y’all ROCK! Your kudos and your comments mean a lot to yours truly, can’t thank you enough tbh.
Chapter 16: forever begins today (an epilogue of sorts)
THOUGHT YOU’VE SEEN THE LAST OF ME, HUH
here it is—an epilogue, and it’s in Lena’s POV!!! i made like a bunch of edits in the previous chapters so stuff would at least have some semblance of sense and order re: krypton’s monarchy (most notably in chapter 4). ok let’s rock this unbeta’ed boat kids
(See the end of the chapter for more notes.)
They arrive at Krypton late in the afternoon.
Lena awakens from her nap to the feel of gentle fingers running through her hair, and she blearily looks up at Kara’s smiling face.
“Hey, sleepyhead,” comes Kara’s honey-sweet voice, “come on up.”
Sleep still covers Lena’s mind like a film, and thinking past Kara’s warmth against her feels like wading across a stream, but she does as she’s told. She sits up, rubs at her eyes as if to remove the traces of slumber. “Are we there yet?”
Kara’s smile grows even wider, and that alone is enough to shock Lena’s system into functioning condition—she’s sure that even if she were on the brink of death itself, Kara’s smile would have been more than enough to revive her. “Yes,” Kara answers, coating the word with so clear a cheerfulness that it bleeds right into Lena’s skin, settling softly like a love-worn blanket, “we’re here.”
And Kara need not say the unspoken words, for Lena can hear them as clear as day:
This is home.
It has been about a month, and Lena has yet to meet her roommate. They exchange notes here and there, and she gleans a certain cheerfulness in the girl’s personality, if her words and doodles are any indication. It will doubtless make things . . . interesting.
See, Lena is not someone people call friendly. She has been called emotionless, aloof, and icy—and those are the more polite words associated with her. It’s not really a surprise, nor is it something that bothers her, at least not anymore. It’s just something that she’s come to expect. She is a Luthor, after all, and that means presenting an unerring façade of indifference to the world. She’s learned not to flinch when she hears people whisper about her nor to display any sort of weakness under any circumstances.
She’s not someone with a lot of friends, either, and that’s okay. For the most part, people who seek her out want something the Luthor name has to offer, looking past her and her own merits. It used to sting a lot—the realisation that people in her life are more like business acquaintances than legitimate friends—until she’s taught herself how to block it out, and now it hardly registers as anything other than a minor annoyance.
“Everything is a business deal, Lena,” her mother told her —when she was a young girl with wide eyes and scraped knees, dirt smudged on her cheeks and her heart lodged in her throat. “It would do you well to start treating that silly thing you call friendship as such.”
And so Lena has.
“I should tell you before we alight,” Kara says, trying and failing to sound relaxed, “that the regent is most likely waiting for us.”
It is enough to stop Lena in her movements, wrapping around her neck the crimson scarf Kara got from Tala’s shop. “What?” She hopes she doesn’t sound too strangled, but that is honestly too big a wish right now. Her heart feels like a jackhammer, and her palms are most certainly sweating.
“I’m so sorry,” Kara apologises, grimacing, “I totally forgot to mention that, didn’t I? I was supposed to tell you after we settled in for the flight, but, uhm, I kind of sort of got distracted, because you’re very distracting—not that I’m blaming you though! Because it’s not your fault that you’re distracting! It’s that you’re really very pretty, and I felt like I was dying each second I wasn’t kissing you, because I like doing that a lot, and I should really stop speaking. Right now. This second.”
Kara does clamp her lips shut, then, looking like a reprimanded child, her cheeks flushing so visibly that it couldn’t be healthy. (Lena wonders if they are as warm as they look, with all that blood).
Despite the anxiety now flooding through her, Lena is helpless to smile, as endeared as she ever was with Kara’s rambling. “Darling,” she soothes, cupping Kara’s cheek (and yes, it is indeed as warm as it looks), “though some sort of earlier warning would have been nice, it’s okay. I’ll deal with it somehow.”
Or, well, she desperately wishes she can deal with it.
She needs a drink, or perhaps ten, just for courage.
Though . . . no. Being anything less than sober would most definitely not be in her best interest.
Mostly though, she just hopes she does all right, because she doesn’t want to ever disappoint Kara. This regent—Diana Prince, she recalls Alex telling her during that afternoon when she gave Lena a crash course on all things Kryptonian, goes by Diana Ze on official Kryptonian business, to differentiate from her post as an aristocrat from Themyscira—is the second most powerful person in Krypton. Her authority is next only to Kara herself, and she’s someone whose respect Kara deeply treasures.
And for Kara and Kara alone, Lena will rally her last remaining willpower to go through this in one piece.
Samantha Arias is like the tide that ebbs and crashes against the shore, tireless and perpetual. She’s Lena’s first real friend, Lex aside, and Lena’s pretty sure she would have lost her sanity long ago without her.
(They met in boarding school, when Lena’s mother sent her all the way to Ireland so that the spotlight would be turned solely on Lex. Not that Lena’s complaining about that; it would be nice not to be under constant scrutiny. It just sucked that she’d have to be away from her brother, the one person who could make her feel better when their mom’s being a prick.
But well. She supposed she was also going to be away from their mother, so there was no need to make her feel better in the first place.
She focused on her studies, then; she’s to be CTO, once Lex took the reins as CEO of L-Corp, so she figured she’d better get started on preparing for the job. Though, to be fair, she’d been groomed for it since she was adopted, and sharpened even more when she was told that she was indeed a Luthor by blood.
Besides, there was nothing else to focus on when she was so far removed from the rest of the world. There’s a certain kind of peace that came with that awareness, and soon she’d even found it in herself to have some fun for her own sake. But it’s not until Sam insinuated herself into Lena’s life that she understood what it meant to have a real, actual friend. Someone to lean on when the going gets tough, no strings attached.)
They’ve been through a lot; Sam’s the first person Lena came out to, and Sam was the one holding her hand and hugging her and whispering assurances that “It’s totally okay, Lena, you’re still you, this just means I’m gonna have a far easier time giving the shovel talk ’cause I don’t think my muscles are too intimidating for men just yet, no matter how scrawny they are, though on second thought, maybe not, ’cause those girls in the dragonboat team can probably benchpress me and you.”
Lena’s the one Sam called in a panic when she found out she’s pregnant. Lena saw Sam on her bathroom floor, surrounded by five pregnancy kits, near hysterical as tears run down her face, and it’s Lena who promised to be there no matter what decision Sam wanted to make, and it’s Lena whose heart Sam trusted enough to be her kid’s godmother, because “You’re the best person I’ve ever known, Lena, regardless of whether you believe it or not, so suck it up because you’re a godmother now and Ruby’s gonna be the most spoiled baby ever.”
And so it seems fitting that it is Sam she calls now, after facing what is shaping up to be Lena’s own undoing.
Lena meets Kara Danvers on an unassuming Wednesday afternoon, and Lena will never be the same again. She’s golden hair that Lena wants to run her fingers through with an almost burning curiosity and bright blue eyes that Lena wants to map out and chart and an enchanting smile that could possibly move mountains with the sheer force of its magnetism.
And Kara says, “I don’t back down from challenges” in that tone that manages to be both playful and honest, and Lena near swallows her own damn tongue, wonders what type of challenge she can issue for Kara to look at her with those bright blue eyes and smile at her with that enchanting smile from today until the end of her days. There’s something in Kara’s gaze that she longs to pick and pull apart and put back together but she doesn’t know what, she doesn’t know how. All she knows is that Kara’s looking at her like that, and Lena wants her to never, ever stop.
When they finish watching Star Wars, trading stories and jokes in-between as if they’ve been doing it all their lives, she calls Sam to recount her tale of woe. And as it turns out, her friend is actually a merciless ass, because she merely laughs at her misfortune. Lena has half a mind to throw her phone away.
“I can’t believe you willingly ate pizza on your first meeting,” Sam says in between giggles, and Lena, not for the first time, is overcome with the urge to throttle her.
“Yes, I know what I did, Sam, I was there,” Lena retorts, running a hand down her face. “I don’t know what came over me.”
“Oh please, you and I both know you’re just really susceptible to cute girls.” Sam hums, and Lena can almost imagine her smirking down the line. “What happened to, ‘Pizza isn’t a first-date food, Sam, it can’t be eaten in any attractive way’?”
“Shut up.” Lena can’t tell her she’s been proven wrong on that account, because Kara Danvers did indeed manage to make the act of eating pizza attractive.
Lena bites back a pitiful sigh. Her dignity is suffering enough as it is.
“Can’t say for sure I’ve seen you swept off your feet before, and definitely not so fast. Usually, you’re the one doing the sweeping.”
“I wasn’t ‘swept off’ my feet,” Lena protests, though it sounds weak even to her own ears.
“I don’t sweep people off theirs either.”
“Ah, you’ve never been a liar, Lena, so don’t start now.” Sam chuckles at her offended grumble. “I’ve seen you flirt with people in like, seven languages. Successfully, I might add, if the trail of broken hearts you left is any indication.”
Lena scowls, though it’s more because of stubbornness than any opposition. It’s true enough that she flirts as easily as she breathes, and Sam’s right too that she’s never been so off-balance before. She’s never been off-balance at all. She’s the one who does the off-balancing! She flirts because it’s fun and uncomplicated, without the threat of anything real attaching her to other people. She knows what makes them tick, what makes them interested, what hooks them in, and she knows how far she could go before she has to make a clean cut without causing any trouble—at least not for her.
But Kara . . . Kara makes her feel like she’s just walked down the stairs and missed the last step, or hit the brake too late whilst riding a bike, or spun one beat ahead during a waltz. Her laughter might as well be a nuclear warhead for all the ways it renders Lena defenseless, dropping right past her walls without a second of warning. Her smile makes Lena feel like gravity on earth is suspended, or like the laws of physics don’t apply anymore, which is just—terribly impractical, because Lena’s spent like all her life studying those stupid laws, and to see them rendered irrelevant right before her very eyes is really messing with her perception of reality.
The feeling is disconcerting, and thrilling, and completely new, and it’s like she’s standing on a precipice of something that will change her forever.
She can’t say all that out loud in any way that makes even the smallest amount of sense, and even if she could, she doubts Sam would get it. Or maybe she would, but she’d mock Lena to high heaven about it, and she can’t really give Sam any more ammunition against her. Ranting at her about her cute roommate is more than enough of that as it is.
So she just huffs and says nothing, and Sam takes her silence as reluctant concession. “How cute is she, again?”
“She’s so —” Lena makes a sound like she’s in pain. Probably because she is. She hears Sam laugh again at her expense, and she can’t even muster enough irritation because, “She’s so, so cute, Sam — I-I can’t. Very cute.”
“It hasn’t been a day and you’re already so whipped,” Sam says, and Lena would have denied that vehemently, but she finds that she can’t.
Because, well, it’s true, isn’t it?
(And yeah, okay. That should be telling.)
Kara stands up as soon as the captain safely lands them, and Lena can clearly see the excitement she’s not trying to hide. The jet’s hatch opens, and Kara turns to her, her hand outstretched.
“Let’s go,” Kara says, her voice warm and bright, and Lena doesn’t hesitate at all.
“If it’s with you,” Lena says, taking Kara’s hand and entwining their fingers, “I’ll go anywhere.”
Kara beams at her, and Lena’s heart feels like it’s catching fire.
Kara descends first, Lena following closely behind. A crowd of people are assembled waiting for them; less than what Lena expected for a returning royal, but then again, perhaps it’s been arranged that way. She notices armed guards, after all, and there are uniformed sentries lined up in a sort of ceremonial formation. An honour guard, Lena thinks; they are wearing scarlet tunics with dark-blue collars and cuffs, dark-blue trousers with a red stripe down the seam of each leg, and white leather belts. The hilts of their swords glimmer like brilliant red stones. Lena has a second of awe to recognise those stones as actual rubies.
A tall, elegantly striking woman leads a dozen of what appears to be high-ranking soldiers, each garbed in more elaborately styled uniforms than the previous guards.
Once they reach the bottom of the stairs, the woman goes forward to meet them.
“Welcome, Your Royal Highness,” the woman greets Kara, over whom she towers several inches. Though formal, her tone still manages to be light, her eyes warm and doting. She speaks with an accent Lena can’t place; it’s different from Kara’s when she is speaking Kryptonian, but still it’s pleasing to the ears. “Rao’s light be yours.”
“Aunt Diana!” Kara doesn’t care about propriety, it seems, for she merely throws her arms around the woman—Diana, the regent, oh (and Lena struggles to keep the panic off her face)—laughing when she’s then lifted a couple inches from the ground in a hearty embrace, as if she weighs nothing. “Rao’s light be yours!”
“I missed you, Little Star,” Diana says once she’s released Kara. She brushes away some wayward strands of Kara’s golden hair, and Lena cannot help but smile at the way Kara brightens at the contact, like a child so pleased with getting her guardian’s attention. (And Lena supposes that’s what Diana is, for all intents and purposes, at least on Krypton’s soil.) “How have you been?”
“Good. Wonderful.” Kara grins, wide and joyful and bright. “Never better, actually.” Then she turns to look at Lena, holding out her hand again, and Lena takes it without a second thought. “I want you to meet someone.”
Kara tugs her closer, and Lena doesn’t have it in her to even think about resisting the pull. Why would she, when Kara’s smiling at her like she’s the one who paints the dawn? “Lena, this is Diana Ze, my mother’s cousin. She stands as the regent, ruling over Krypton in my stead at the moment. Aunt Diana, this is Lena. She’s my beloved.” Lena cannot help but feel warm inside at the easy way Kara utters that last sentence, as if she’s saying that the sky is blue and that oceans are deep. And she fears she’s going to be a molten heap because of the way Kara is looking at her, awed and adoring and all-consuming.
No matter how besotted Lena is with Kara, however, she still notes that the words cause the regent’s eyebrows to quirk up in surprise.
“It’s nice to meet you, Regent,” Lena says, the words managing to tumble out her mouth by some kind of miracle, far more smoothly than she believed she’s capable of at that moment. She offers one hand to the regent, whose gaze is critical and calculating—far too cold, in dire contrast to how welcoming it was seconds before. Lena involuntarily gulps at the scrutiny, and she hopes no one notices.
But that hope is dashed, for the regent certainly notices her nerves, and she finally shakes Lena’s hand, an amused smile now playing on her lips. Lena cannot be sure whether that amusement is good for her own self or not. “The pleasure is mine, Lady Lena,” the regent says.
Lena has no time to correct her and say that she is not a noble in any way and thus she shan’t be called a lady because then the regent returns her attention to Kara.
“Your welcome banquet will be held on time for Yule. For now, Your Royal Highness”—she chuckles at Kara’s playful scoff—“and Lady Lena, please follow me.”
They do, passing between the honour guards who stood even straighter at attention as their liege finally returns. They are led to a silver sedan with heavily tinted windows and painted with what Lena assumes is the House of El coat of arms. Another guard opens the door before she has the chance to study it, and they get in. The regent goes to climb on the car in front of theirs, but not without a parting kiss to Kara’s forehead.
“I’ll see you in the castle for dinner later, yes?” Regent Ze says, to which Kara happily agrees.
As soon as they are settled in, Lena exhales a ragged breath.
“You all right?” Kara asks, an arm around Lena. There is a touch of concern in her voice.
Lena smiles. “Yes, darling.”
“Are you sure?”
“Yes, darling,” she repeats.
“Like, are you really sure?” Kara’s brows furrow. “You’re not just saying that to ease my mind or anything? ’Cause I get why you’d do that, but that isn’t necessary at all, because I car—”
Lena places a hand over Kara’s mouth to stop her rambling. “Kara.” She huffs, meeting Kara’s wide, questioning gaze. “I truly am okay. I think that meeting could have gone worse, my bar was set too low, so it’s actually an improvement. I’m okay.” She takes the hand off Kara’s mouth, taps Kara’s cheek playfully. “Is that enough?”
Kara nods, her eyes crinkling with her smile. “Yes. Cool.”
Lena grins. “Cool,” she echoes, before chuckling as Kara grips her closer, burrowing her nose against Lena’s hair, and Lena nuzzles further against her in contentment.
Lena gets distracted by the sights of Krypton out the window. The skies are getting darker now, but the dusk just lends Krypton more mystique. They are riding through the country, the car zipping past open fields. Snow glistens on tree branches. Lena is ever thankful that she’s worn her scarf.
They drive by a glittering fortress, and Lena cannot help but look on in awe, nearly pressing her face against the window like a child. She has grown up in Ireland, has gone backpacking through Europe to see glorious ancient castles, and yet this one is different from the rest. Far too different, really, and curious wonder blooms in her chest.
“That’s the Palace of Marriage,” comes Kara’s voice, soft and amused. “It’s where Kryptonian weddings have taken place for thousands of years.”
“Thousands?” Lena asks, not masking her doubt. The structure, Lena assumes from the far-too-quick glimpse afforded by their passing by, is made from glass or something like it. The architectural style might seem patterned after medieval castles—it has turrets, Lena has noticed, though no moats—but still, it seems too contemporary to have been standing for more than two decades, let alone for thousands of years.
“You think it’s too modern, don’t you?”
Lena looks at Kara in surprise, but she doesn’t deny it.
Kara chuckles. “Alex told you, didn’t she? Krypton is advanced—more advanced than you think. You believe metallic glass is a recent invention, but we’ve been using it for millennia.” Kara waves a hand. “The Palace of Marriage was constructed from kryptium-based glass, way stronger and more resistant than the palladium-based one that most companies use nowadays.”
Lena is a scientist, first and foremost, and so there’s a lot that she wants to ask—from just how advanced Kara’s civilisation is, to how they managed to sequester themselves away from the rest of the world with that kind of technology. But she guesses that those questions would just lead to more questions (as all worthy endeavors do), and Lena figures she isn’t quite prepared for that. So instead she settles for the simplest one.
“What’s kryptium?” she asks, and she relaxes more comfortably against Kara, leaning her head on Kara’s shoulder.
“It’s the strongest metal in Krypton,” Kara answers, “twice as hard as diamond. Most of our supply we mine from Mount Mundro, in the west.”
Lena hums. “Most of it? You mean that’s not the only place where kryptium is available?”
“Yes. We don’t want to exhaust our resources, you know, so we’ve set a limit to how much we mine. There’s a threshold, per year and per site.”
“Smart, and responsible.”
Kara preens, winking at her. “We try.” Her voice is filled with quiet pride, and despite not being here for long, Lena thinks that pride is well-placed.
In the distance are city lights and the silhouettes of skyscrapers. Lena is arrested by the play of colours, how lively Krypton seem to be and yet still tranquil, somehow.
“We’re on the outskirts of Argo City, our capital,” Kara tells her in a low murmur. “I’ll take you on a proper tour one of these days.”
A certain sensation settles around them, now, light and bright but intimate, and Lena matches Kara’s tone. “Yeah?”
“Yeah. First tour will be around the family’s castle, of course. The gardens too. Then the woods, if you’re up for it.” Kara’s grip around her tightens. “I want you to see,” she says, and Lena hears what she means between the syllables, beneath the letters.
“Sounds good,” Lena says, because it does, and then she presses a smile against Kara’s waiting lips.
Rokyn Castle is the official residence of Krypton’s royal family, and it is unlike anything Lena has ever seen before. For one, it is mostly made of a truly astounding mix of stone, red reinforced glass, and gold, and everywhere Lena looks there’s a glitter of jewels in gilded arches and pillars.
Everything, basically, screams riches and royalty, and Lena is vaguely alarmed. The only thing keeping her from outright panicking is Kara’s hand holding her own.
A footman—an actual footman, complete with the scarlet liveries that Lena assumes are a mark of the El family’s household—is waiting for them by the gigantic doors. Another one gives them a low bow before hurrying over to the car to retrieve their luggage.
Lena has been teasing Kara about her wealth and status, and it has now come back to bite her in the ass. She herself is no stranger to an affluent lifestyle, but this?
This is beyond what she’s prepared for, regardless of the lessons and pointers Alex has given.
Wanting to at least seem like she’s not internally freaking out, if only to not alarm Kara, she eyes the elaborate entryway and asks in a low whisper, “Are these for real?”
“The gold?” Kara asks, bemused, and at Lena’s nod, she shrugs. “Yeah.”
“Isn’t that a bit excessive?”
“Not really, it’s just gold,” Kara says simply.
“Just . . . gold.” Lena frowns; she herself doesn’t particularly care for gold, or other precious metals for that matter, but Kara seems to be in another league of her own. “Quite a way of referring to a precious metal.”
Kara looks at her oddly, before a look of understanding passes over her face. “Oh.” Kara shrugs again, expression sheepish. “I keep forgetting it isn’t so in other places, but gold is pretty commonplace here.”
“Commonplace?” Lena isn’t feeling very smart right now, settling for repeating what’s being told to her. It’s not good for her confidence in her intellect, but, well, the things Kara are saying are making her question what she knows about the world itself.
“Yeah, it’s practically worthless, all things considered. The mountain ranges and even the valleys of Krypton are all teeming with gold. It’s what we mostly export; it basically comes at no cost for us, but we could trade it for a plenty of other necessary raw materials and products.”
Lena nods, understanding the enormous economic outcomes of that type of arrangement. She opens her mouth, tries to look for something clever to say, but settles for, “That’s a sweet deal.”
Kara snorts. “I know.”
“I’m really marrying well, huh.”
Kara blushes, laughing all the same. “Shut up.”
Geometric shapes feature largely in the designs of the castle, every façade smooth and sleek and shining. Bejeweled ornaments with intricate intaglios adorn every surface. But what arrests Lena’s attention the most is the recurring symbol S enclosed in a distinctive pentagon—displayed in every possible way, from the drapes to the banners to the badges of Kara’s household. She’s pretty sure it’s a part of their coat of arms too.
She isn’t given a chance to ask about it, however, because then she registers the presence of someone following them. She glances back, stopping when she realises there are four guards a few paces behind. She’s not sure, but given the uniforms they are wearing, they could have been part of the welcoming committee back at the airport.
Kara turns to see what’s holding her up, registering the presence of the guards as well. “Ah.”
The guards bow. “Your Royal Highness.”
“Yes, hi.” Kara winces, looking uncomfortable at the address. “Who are you?”
One steps forward, a fist pressed upon her chest, and replies, “We’re sent to be your temporary security details, Your Royal Highness. We are to accompany you within and outside the castle until a more suitable officer arrives.”
“Right.” Kara clears her throat, and her eyes are wide. Lena would have laughed at her face were she not in a state of confusion herself. “And who will that officer be?”
“Forgive us, Your Royal Highness. That is information that we don’t have.”
“Okay.” She turns to Lena, looking out of her depth, and Lena just shrugs because between the two of them, Kara’s the one who’s grown up expecting this kind of thing, and thus should be better versed with it. Or something. “So you’ll just follow us, right?”
“We won’t invade your space, Your Royal Highness. That, we promise.”
Lena clamps her lips to keep herself from commenting about how that’s a bit too late now, though by the way Kara’s eyebrows raise at her when she meets her gaze, she knows what Lena wants to say anyway.
Kara just mutters some vague acquiesce before squaring her shoulders and adjusting her grip on Lena’s hand. Soon enough she is leading them along a hallway, where there are displays of weapons and armors and paintings. She doesn’t stop until they are in front of a set of massive gilded doors, flanked by two more guards in deep-blue military tunics. They give Kara a crisp salute before pulling the doors open.
“Give us a moment,” Kara tells their security details, who readily agree and take their post beside the other guards. A quiet thanks is barely out of her mouth before she’s pulling Lena through and sagging in obvious relief once the doors close with a soft click.
“You okay?” Lena asks, stepping closer.
“Yeah, I just—” She sighs, shaking her head. “I forgot how stupidly suffocating all this is. The pomp and pageantry, the expectations and traditions.” Her smile is tremulous at the edges, needing respite, and Lena aches for her. There is something melancholy in Kara’s bearing, and Lena wants to help dispel it, as much as she’s able, until Kara’s ready to talk about it.
She tries to joke, “Not so different from how the freshmen follow you around back on campus, huh?”
The distraction works, for the most part. Kara huffs a laugh, mock-glaring at her. “Hey, don’t say it like that,” she defends. “They’re not following me.”
“I once was almost late for my class because they were blocking the hallway across a room you’re supposedly in,” Lena retorts, smirking. “I can only imagine how heartbroken those adoring fans of yours would be once they realise you’re going to be extending your break for a week.”
“They are not my adori— You know what, who are they even, you’re the one with that— that face, what about your fans?”
“I’m a Luthor, darling. I don’t have fans, I have minions.” She taps Kara’s cheek, a patronising look on her face. “There’s a difference.”
Kara half-heartedly swats her fingers away, groaning, though the smile on her face appears more relaxed. Lena’s glad. “You’re talking like one of those comic book villains, oh my god.”
“Think I can pull it off?”
Kara lifts their joined hands, kissing Lena’s knuckles. “I think you can do whatever you put your mind to, babe.” Her tone is joking, but there is a quiet candor beneath that tells Lena she means every word, and Lena loves her all the more for it.
“You say the sweetest things.” Lena presses a playful kiss to her cheek, giggling at her faux exasperated scoff, before turning around and studying the room they are in. It is resplendently decorated, and Lena can bet her Bentley (the newest one, at least, because the one before that is already with Sam) that the other rooms in the entire castle are as well. Huge chandeliers hang above, their light vivid and steady upon the wide space, glinting off the gold and rubies and sapphires interspersed across the vaulted ceiling. “Now tell me about this place.”
“Your wish is my command,” Kara says, amused. She shifts so her chin rests on Lena’s shoulder, one arm loosely wrapped around Lena’s waist. “That’s where the House of El’s members sit,” she begins, referring to the dais up front. Her breath is a warm tickle against Lena’s neck. “The lesser lords of Krypton traditionally occupy those tables below.” The tables mentioned are carved of marble and wood, long enough to accommodate 12 people on each side.
“Feasts are typically held here, as well as state banquets thrown for foreign dignitaries,” Kara continues. “I suppose this is where we’re going to eat for the Yule celebrations.”
“And for your welcome banquet?” Lena teases.
Kara laughs, the sound so close to Lena’s ear, washing over her like a secret promise. Lena’s toes curl at the sound. “More like our welcome banquet,” she corrects easily, and Lena’s heart grows three times in size. Really, she can’t be held accountable for her actions faced with such adoration; she promptly turns and grasps Kara by the nape and pulls her in for a kiss, which Kara eagerly returns.
“Come on,” Kara says with a grin, once they break the kiss. She guides Lena to the dais; she sits on the middle chair, the largest and most ornate one, and she tugs Lena until she is seated on Kara’s lap. A strong arm bands around her waist, whilst Kara’s other hand falls on Lena’s knee. In this position Kara is almost cradling her, and she nestles closer, enjoying Kara’s solid warmth.
“My mother used to sit here,” Kara explains, “as Krypton’s queen in name. And it’s rightfully mine, and we’re going to kick my uncle’s butt so hard he’s not gonna even think to mess with me again.”
Lena laughs low in her throat. “I look forward to it, my love.”
She senses Kara’s reluctance to leave just yet and face the music once more, and Lena is more than happy to follow her lead. Anywhere with Kara is where she’d want to be, and whatever Kara needs—whether some sort of diversion or perhaps simply her presence—she’d willingly give.
So she allows Kara this reprieve, gives her the time to collect her thoughts. She understands how all the attention could get tiring; she may not be royalty, but she’s still a Luthor, after all, and that means growing up under a fair amount of scrutiny. There was a time when she could hardly get out to grab a drink without it being a hot news item come morning.
Kara is playing with her fingers, her expression solemn but calm. Lena lets herself the pleasure of just watching her, the way her brows furrow adorably, the way she bites her lip absently, the way her blue eyes shine with quiet intelligence.
The moment she met Kara and those blue eyes locked on her, Lena has been done for. Kara looked at her with amazement and a hint of wonder and something inexplicably earnest—like she’s found something she didn’t even know she’s looking for, and she’s not sure what to do—and Lena would gladly give anything and everything in her power so that Kara won’t ever stop looking.
She’s never stood a chance, really.
God, Lena loves her so much, she can almost feel her heart swelling with it.
Before she can even think about it, she’s already leaning forward, surprising Kara with a hard kiss.
The surprise doesn’t last long; the moment the contact registers, Lena feels Kara melt. The arms cradling her tighten their grip, and it makes her feel giddy, the way Kara seems to want to get closer—to get closer to her. She doesn’t think the knowledge that Kara chose her and is still choosing her is something that will ever stop making her feel lightheaded and strong in equal measure. Like she could move a mountain with a single finger. Like she could freeze entire oceans with a single breath.
It takes several minutes before their kisses taper off, and Lena rests her forehead against Kara’s. They settle in silence whilst Lena’s heartbeat slows down to an acceptable rhythm that doesn’t feel as if she’s going to spontaneously take flight.
Kara’s thumb is tracing patterns across the knuckles of Lena’s free hand. Soothing. “Lena,” she says.
“Hmm?” Her fingers play with the short hairs on Kara’s nape, and she smiles at Kara’s pleased hum.
“Nothing. I just really like saying your name.”
“That works out well for me, then.” Lena laughs, kissing Kara’s temple just because she can. “I really like hearing you say it.”
“You know,” Kara begins, “before I met you, back when I only knew your name, I did some research.”
This is new information. “On who I am?” Tension builds in her chest, but then Kara just smiles this soft smile that has Lena automatically relaxing.
“No,” Kara says. “More on like, what your name means.”
There’s something incredibly tender in the way Kara’s eyes shine. “Do tell.”
“Did you know that Lena appears in many languages?” Kara asks, rhetorical, and her fingers start a mindless dance along Lena’s spine. Lena swallows against the heat suddenly expanding in her throat. “In Latin, it means ‘she that allures.’ In Arabic, it means ‘generous’ and ‘kind.’” Her fingers skid to a halt, and her hand splays across Lena’s back. Her touch burns past Lena’s clothes. “In Greek, it means ‘sunlight’ and ‘moonlight.’ The Persian meanings are along those lines, too, ‘light,’ ‘sunlight,’ or ‘pretty girl.’” Her eyes are deep and dark in this vibrant hall. “There’s one thing these meanings have in common, though.”
“And that is?”
“They all perfectly suit you,” Kara tells her, sincere and open and endlessly fond, and Lena’s heart seizes with the depth of her love.
“Kara,” Lena says, powerless against the staggering surge of emotions cresting through her.
“You’re definitely a pretty girl, and you are alluring,” Kara continues, heedless of the blush Lena can feel growing on her own cheeks, “and sometimes I don’t think you even know how much irresistible you truly are. You are generous and kind, which sort of just makes you even more alluring, if that were possible.” She shoots her a grin. “And you are the light of my life.”
Lena can just roll her eyes at the line, though her blush intensifies with the frankness with which Kara delivered it. “Shut up.”
“I’m telling the truth though.” Lena has no doubt that she is, and that just makes it worse, because Lena’s sure she is about three seconds away from evaporating in Kara’s arms and dissipating into the ether, but with Kara still grinning at her like that, Lena thinks it’s just better.
“Where are you even getting this confidence?”
“Must be the home court advantage,” Kara answers with an easy shrug, and Lena can only lean in for another kiss that Kara happily accepts. They trade lazy kisses then, on the dais where Kara would rule over her nobles and aristocrats, and the only thing that matters to Lena is that they never stop.
As soon as she escapes another egotistical board member who looks to be three feet away from perishing of old age and too much cigar, Lena sets out to find where Kara has disappeared to. She is about to enter one of the galleries when someone catches her by the arm, and she is halfway through an irritated snarl when she realises it’s just Lex.
“Chill,” her brother says, amused at her frustration. “No need to be so hostile.”
“What do you want?” she asks, snatching her arm away.
“Why are you so cross?”
“Just answer the question, Lex.”
“You’re not answering the question either.”
“I’m going to look for my girlfriend,” she retorts.
“You lost her already?” Lex teases, but the words whip at Lena’s heart like barbed wires, making her breath hitch.
Because that’s the thing, isn’t it?
She can’t lose Kara, because Kara isn’t even hers to lose in the first place.
This . . . Them . . . It’s all just an elaborate ruse.
And what makes it all the more tragic is that Lena so desperately wants it to be real.
But she can’t ask that of Kara, of course. So she will settle for whatever Kara has to offer, be it friendship or a fake relationship that will save her from a worse reality.
“Hey,” Lex says, frowning at Lena’s silence, “are you okay?”
“Yes,” she answers, injecting as much false cheeriness into the answer as she could. It’s not enough, it seems, for Lex’s frown just deepens.
“Did something happen?”
“No, I just—” Lena shrugs, crossing her arms and barely holding herself together. “I just want to find Kara.”
Lena is not sure if Lex hears something else, some hidden meaning beneath those syllables, but he pats her shoulder. “Okay,” he says simply, “go find your girl.”
And so Lena does.
Dread begins to coil in the pit of Lena’s stomach the closer they get to the dining hall in one of Rokyn Castle’s many private apartments, which is where they are to eat with Regent Ze. It feels too much like a trial by fire, and the restricting presence of their guards isn’t helping, either. It is only her determination to not let Kara down that has her keeping her cool—or as much of it as she can gather.
Kara, for her part, never wavers in holding Lena’s hand, and she’s a tether of stability in this whole new territory. She distracts Lena by pointing out little details in the halls they pass by, offering anecdotes that deepen Lena’s understanding of where Kara came from.
“We’re going to eat in the Small Dining Room of the Hall of Venus,” Kara is telling her. “There’s like, eight grand halls that correspond to a planet each. Then there’s the principal throne room, called the Hall of Rao, after the sun.”
Wait. “Is this castle as old as the Palace of Marriage?”
Kara looks startled by the question. “Yes, or, well. Sort of older by a couple hundred of years, give or take. The foundations, at least. Subsequent rulers added their own thing so it’s not really the way it was when it was built.”
Lena frowns. Something’s not adding up. “How did your ancestors name the halls after the planets if the planets haven’t been discovered yet?”
“Oh.” Kara blinks. “Right.” She looks almost sheepish, and the dots connect almost mechanically in Lena’s mind. The implications are too great—They’re very advanced, Lena, she remembers Alex saying—and she just groans.
“It’s not my fault your people’s technology is too primitive!” Kara laughingly defends.
“Oh shut it,” she grouches. “It doesn’t even make any sense. Even if Kryptonians discovered the planets millennia before the rest of the world, the naming still wouldn’t have stuck.”
“Actually,” Kara says, in that tone Lena has learned portends something that will shake the foundations of her beliefs, “we did discover them way before the rest, thank you very much. And the naming’s not really that difficult to arrange. It’s just a matter of starting the trend with the Roman gods.” She shrugs. “That part’s easy too, because the scientists who publicly made the discoveries had Kryptonian blood, anyways.”
“But I thought you don’t concern yourselves with the rest of the world?”
“Sure,” Kara agrees, “but this happened like, super long ago. And we never really could help ourselves when it comes to astronomy.” A grin plays at her lips. “Did you know the guy who ‘discovered’ Uranus was an offshoot of the House of El itself?”
Lena wracks her mind for the name, and groans again. “Seriously?” she says. “Hersch-El?”
“I never said we’re brilliant with disguises,” Kara tells her cheerfully, just as they arrive in front of what could have been the dozenth set of gilded doors Lena has seen since arriving at Rokyn. The guards immediately salute and open the doors for them.
“Ready?” Kara asks, before they enter.
Lena takes a deep breath. “No,” she answers honestly, “but let’s go, anyway.”
Kara’s answering grin gives her enough strength to push through the fear, and Lena steels her nerves.
Diana Ze is even more intimidating up close, without the pack of guards and soldiers. She commands the room she’s in with ease Lena’s only ever found in her own mother, but Lillian’s authority lacks the warmth and geniality that the regent’s has in spades.
Still Lena finds herself worrying over her every action, for there are obviously a hundred questions lurking behind the regent’s affable smile.
She stands as soon as Kara enters, a show of respect for the crown princess. The servants waiting to attend to them also dip into low curtsies. Kara looks a bit wary, and Lena thinks about how overwhelming it would have to be, for everyone to observe strict decorum when interacting with her. No wonder she has chosen to escape to National City, she muses, where anonymity is so easily granted and earned.
Well. Not complete anonymity; Kara has much too bright a spirit, and divesting the trappings of royalty off her person isn’t enough to dampen that in the least. Lena is not really kidding when she brings up Kara’s fans, after all.
“Hey, Aunt Diana,” Kara greets, and she sits down at the head of the table with practiced ease. Regent Ze follows suit, and after a pointed look from Kara, so does Lena.
“Good evening, Little Star,” the regent says. She nods at Lena. “Lady Lena.”
“Good evening, Regent,” Lena says too, proud that she doesn’t sound awkward. Or at least not that much.
The staff start serving up the food when Kara gives them a nod, and delicious smells waft through the room soon enough. Kara and the regent engage in small talk, mostly about Kara’s studies in NCU.
“She’s my roommate!” Kara tells her when asked about how they met.
Regent Ze also attentively prods, aiming questions at Lena that seem innocuous on the surface, but Lena has been through enough meetings with her mother and their company’s board to see through them. Credit where credit is due, however, for the regent looks genuinely intrigued, humming thoughtfully as Lena talks about her latest engineering project.
“There are several books in the Royal Archives,” Regent Ze says, “discussing perceptual illusions. There are some concepts there that might prove useful when applied to your nano tech, especially since they are tied to cognitive function.”
“Oh, I can take you this week!” Kara says, wide grin in place. Lena feels her excitement wash over her, and she grins back.
“Sure, darling,” she agrees.
“You’re going to love it! The Archives are like, huge, and even I haven’t read through all of the books there yet. Oh— The Family Histories are there too, along with the science bits! You can totally nerd it out!”
“Hey, I’m not a nerd—”
“You are,” Kara says, and she reaches out to brush some imaginary lint off Lena’s cardigan. “But that’s okay, because I accept you anyways.”
Lena scoffs, playfully batting her hand away, and the movement shows off the flamebird necklace that Kara has repeatedly and quite adamantly refused to take back.
The regent’s eyes dip down, and Lena sees the moment she recognises the necklace—clearly an heirloom of the House of El—previously hidden in the folds of her cardigan. Her eyes widen in surprise, and Lena watches with bated breath as comprehension races across the regent’s face. She regards Lena with a new flicker in her gaze and says, completely serious, and with a tip of her head, “Tynth of El.”
To her alarm, Lena feels herself blushing despite not knowing what the words mean. Something not good for her heart, perhaps, for when she looks over to her girlfriend, she sees her cheeks reddening as well. But before she could ask about it, the regent is speaking again.
“Forgive me, Little Star,” she says, still taken aback, “I did not know.”
“It’s okay.” Kara takes a deep breath, shooting Lena a reassuring smile. She turns to the servants still waiting for them. “May we have some privacy, please,” she says, and they all bow to her before filing out of the room.
“I take it this is the reason for the High Council meeting Kal El asked me to arrange.”
“Yes,” Kara confirms. “I wish to officially present Lena as my betrothed.”
The regent regards them both critically. “You haven’t known each other for long,” she points out.
“We haven’t,” Kara agrees, “but there’s no one else I’d rather spend the rest of my life with.”
“And this has nothing to do with whatever you have heard about your uncle?”
At that Kara falters, wide-eyed, before shaking her head. “No, not at all. Well, maybe at first, but no.” She reaches over and grasps Lena’s hand, and Lena reflexively twines their fingers together. “Lena is my beloved, Aunt Diana,” she declares, soft but assured, and Lena’s heart soars, “and I will never lie about that.”
The regent remains silent, then, studying them. Lena can feel Kara’s anxiety as they wait for what comes next, and she tries her best to comfort her, given the circumstances. She traces random patterns on the back of Kara’s hand with her thumb, and exhales in relief when the tension starts to bleed out of Kara’s shoulders.
After what felt like hours, the regent finally says, “Very well.”
Kara stares blankly. Lena is sure her own expression is somewhat similar. “What?”
The regent lifts her cup and takes a sip of wine. “Very well,” she repeats simply.
“T-That’s it?” Kara sounds so incredulous, and Lena can understand that. It seems that they have both been gearing up for a fight that won’t come.
The regent merely looks amused. “Little Star,” she says, “I am in no position to question your decisions. If you are sure about her, then so be it.” She looks at Lena then, raising her eyebrows. “As long as I’m right to assume that you feel the same way?”
Something like a challenge tinges the regent’s question, and that is something that Lena responds to, like an instinct she can’t fight against. “Of course, Regent Ze,” Lena says, “I love her.” She can’t help but smile at Kara’s dopey grin, and she squeezes her hand.
The regent stares at her intently before nodding. “Then that is settled.” She turns to Kara. “This seems like a good time as any to come clean, then. I have ordered for a background check on the Tynth of El beforehand.”
It takes a moment for Lena to realise that the regent is referring to her, and another for her to figure out the rest of the sentence at all. By the time it does, Kara has leaned forward on her seat, glaring at the regent.
“You did what?” Kara looks a bit too insulted on her behalf, but Lena just sighs.
“Darling,” she tells Kara, “it’s okay.”
Kara turns to her, scowling with offense. “It’s no— How can that be okay? You’re not s—”
“Kara,” she cuts her off gently, “you are a princess. It’s hardly unexpected that your court would make sure that the people you interact with won’t bring you harm.”
“T-That’s—” Kara splutters, but Lena just looks at Regent Ze.
“Thank you for telling us, at least.”
There is silent approval in the regent’s gaze. “Thank you for understanding,” she says, and Lena expels a worried breath.
“That is a breach of privacy,” Kara states, still upset.
“A necessary one,” Lena says. “Don’t worry, darling. I’m used to it.”
“With people doing background checks on you?”
“Not that specifically, but my family has such public lives that it’s easy for strangers to learn more than a couple of things about us with a simple Google search.” She smiles at Kara’s surly grumble. “It’s really okay.” This time she raises an eyebrow at Regent Ze. “So long as you come to me yourself if you have any other questions.”
“Of course, Tynth of El.”
There’s that address again, and this time Lena cannot help but blurt out, “What does that mean?”
The regent smirks as Kara fumbles with her glasses. “Shall I answer that, Little Star, or shall I leave you the honour?” she teases, and she laughs at Kara’s groan. To Lena she says, “It is the official address for a lady betrothed to the heir to the Crown. When you’re married, it will be elevated to Ak Var, signifying that you are the flamebird to Kara’s Van Zee, the nightwing, which is the title traditionally held by the bythgar or queen of Krypton.” She tilts her head. “And you two are sure about the marriage, are you not? You’re aware of what that entails?”
“Yes,” comes their answer as one, and Lena and Kara share a tender smile.
“That’s good.” She asks Lena, “Is your family informed about your betrothal yet?”
Lena hides a grimace, and it is Kara who answers, “We wanted to inform you and the High Council first.”
“I see.” Regent Ze shoots them a small smile, before turning serious. Lena straightens in her seat, and so does Kara. “The Luthors are old money,” she begins, “and they are obviously powerful and influential. An alliance with them, through marriage no less, will certainly help in the integration of Krypton back into world politics, just as you’re planning. I see no reason for the High Council to disapprove of this match, unless there’s something they are hiding.”
“I’m not marrying her because of politics, Aunt Diana,” Kara protests, indignant.
“I know, Your Royal Highness,” Regent Ze says, speaking carefully, “but I’m speaking as the regent now, not as your aunt.”
Ah, there’s the fight—quite a different one from what they were expecting but a fight nonetheless.
Your Royal Highness. The use of Kara’s title is deliberate, meant to drive a point, and drive a point it does. There’s regret in the regent’s eyes, Lena can at least see that much, but still Kara stiffens, the muscles of her neck near jumping with how tightly she’s clenching her jaw. “I see,” she says, and Lena’s eyes widen at Kara’s voice. Kara is the personification of the sun, warm and kind and bright, and to hear her sound so cold is unnerving.
Regent Ze winces, her shoulders slumping a little, and it is the first sign of fracture in the regent’s stoic veneer that Lena catches. “I’m sorry, Lit—” She cuts herself off, pinching the bridge of her nose. There’s a weariness to her that Lena hasn’t seen before, limited though her interaction with the regent has been. “The throne of Krypton comes first.”
“I know that,” Kara says. “I’ve always known that.”
“For what it’s worth,” the regent says gently, “I’m glad that you have found someone to love, wholly and honestly.”
Some of the frost in Kara’s voice thaws. “I’m glad too.” She sighs. “I’m sorry, Aunt Diana, I just—” Her lips press in a thin line, and Lena aches to soothe her, somehow. “Lena is important to me, and I have no wish for our betrothal to be a political farce.”
“And it won’t be,” the regent assures. “I’m just thinking of how best to avoid meddling from the High Council. Presenting the advantages of your match would quiet them down, surely, especially as the bond you two share is plain for the eyes to see.” To the both of them she says, “A contract would have to be drawn, right after your announcement.”
“I hate contracts.”
“I know, but they are necessary evils.” The regent smiles wryly. “You are going to drown in them once you take the crown.”
“Thank you for the reminder,” Kara glumly says.
The regent just shakes her head at Kara, and then tells Lena, “A formal invitation would be extended to your family to discuss the terms of the betrothal. Since Kara is the head of the House of El, she will have to do so herself, asking your head of house for permission to begin a formal courtship.”
Lena just stares at her, and the regent heaves a sigh. “Did Her Royal Highness not tell you any of this beforehand?”
“We haven’t gotten that far,” Lena admits, and watches as the regent sends the princess an exasperated glance. Kara, bless her heart, just shrugs, a contrite look on her face.
“Well, then,” the regent says, “we have work to do, it seems,” and she laughs at Kara’s petulant pout.
“You’re so fucking in love,” Lex says when he catches Lena —yet again —watching Kara from across the room.
Lena merely shrugs, says “Yes, I am,” because she is, and after everything, there really is no reason for her to pretend otherwise.
“You’ve solved whatever the problem was?”
“I’m glad.” Her brother looks at her with a gentleness Lena’s always remembered him having ever since they first met, that first night, when Lionel brought her home to the Luthor Manor. It makes her want to cry, though of course she will not let Lex know that. “You deserve someone like that.”
Lex smiles, small and soft and genuine. “Someone who brightens up the skies,” he answers, truthfully, and he has the good grace to pretend he doesn’t notice the tears gather in Lena’s eyes.
They receive a report from Kal El midway through planning Kara’s announcement to the High Council, and his findings proved useful to how Kara is going to assert her authority without fearing backlash. There are a lot of new things to consider, for it appears her uncle has been working hard behind the scenes, with influence far deeper than they have anticipated.
“Not a political farce, huh,” Lena comments wryly.
Kara rolls her eyes. “The betrothal will not be one,” she points out. “It just so happens that the High Council are apparently forgetting their place and must be reminded of it at the same time that I announce you’re to be my bride.”
By the time they have finished discussions, it is well past midnight.
The regent promises to have the High Council ready for a session by the eleventh bell, as well as make slight adjustments to the welcome banquet scheduled for Yule.
When she departs, Kara and Lena go back to Kara’s private chambers. The servants have prepared the suite adjacent, they are told, and Lena is expected to settle there as is proper. Still, though, Kara lingers in her open doorway, biting her lip, and Lena merely lifts an eyebrow as she makes her decision.
Then with a dismissive wave of her hand, the guards turn around and stand with their backs to them, and Kara strides into Lena’s suite, the doors clicking shut behind her.
Her hands automatically find purchase on Lena’s waist, pulling their bodies flush together, and Lena is ready when Kara kisses her, soft and slow and sweet. Lena cradles Kara’s face, sighing at the feel of them together at last, after a pleasant though very draining dinner.
A lot is hinging on how Kara will play up her part later to the High Council, and Lena knows the pressure must be crushing her. So she gives her this, a place of solace from the onus that comes with her birthright, and Lena hopes it at least helps ease some of her burden.
“I’m so tired,” Kara mumbles against Lena’s shoulder.
“Let’s get to bed then.” Lena hums, runs her fingers through golden strands. “Take off your clothes.”
Kara snorts. “Lena, I know we’re getting married anyway, but I want our first time to be at least romantic.”
She stills, and lets out a groan when Kara begins shaking with laughter in her arms. “You’re such an ass.”
“That’s no way to talk to a princess in her kingdom.”
“You’re such an ass, Your Royal Highness.”
“Your ass,” Kara says quickly, before straightening up, stammering, “wait, no, t-that’s not what I meant—”
Lena just laughs, and Kara kisses her to shut her up.
She doesn’t complain at all.
When she wakes up, Lena feels a bit disoriented. Sunlight streams from large ornate windows and the bed she’s on smells different. It takes a few moments to place where she is, and when she does, she registers a warm body curled behind her. She blinks away the last remnants of sleep and carefully turns around.
Kara is still asleep, and she looks so beatific. The early rays of the sun cast her hair in a golden glow, and Lena can believe angels are real if they look like this. Her lips are curved in a slight smile, pink and delicate, and Lena wants nothing more than to spend her life waking up to this vision, to this miracle.
She doesn’t know how long she stays just watching her before Kara wakes up, and then she’s beaming at Lena, her eyes shining with a contentment Lena knows is mirrored in her own.
“Good morning,” Kara greets.
“I did. You?”
“Dreamt about you,” Kara murmurs, tracing Lena’s face with the softest touch, “but even that is nothing compared to waking up next to you.”
Lena’s chest constricts, equal parts delighted and embarrassed at Kara’s cheesiness. “Kara,” she says, “we’re already getting married. No need to woo me.”
Kara’s lips quirk up in a half-smile. “I’m going to marry you,” she says, almost absently. “That still hasn’t completely sunk, to be honest.”
Lena understands, for she’s in the same situation. And yes, it feels like it’s too soon, coming to this decision when they are not even out of college yet—and have been official girlfriends for less than two days but then it feels right. This is where Lena is supposed to be. This is what she is supposed to do. There’s something calming with that realisation, beyond the fear and worry. “Having second thoughts?”
“About spending the rest of my life with you?” Kara scoffs. “Never.”
And she smiles, heart-stopping in her radiance, and Lena wants to know how it tastes, and so she does.
The first time Lena hears Kara sing, she finally understands the stories of sailors who were lured to their deaths by sirens. She feels lighter than ever, as if her insides are replaced with feathers, and if the price for this feeling is to drown in the sea, Lena would only be too willing to pay.
Kara’s eyes are seas of their own, anyway, and it is an easy choice to make.
They have just finished getting dressed when a knock on the door resounds. Lena shoots Kara a questioning glance, and Kara just shrugs. Lena rolls her eyes and waves her off.
“Enter,” Kara says.
The door opens, and a soldier comes in. Given her attire, Lena assumes she is of higher rank than the four assigned to them yesterday; she is wearing a red military winter jacket with navy-blue piping details, with a dark-grey belt around her waist. Her army-green pants are neatly tucked into brushed-granite boots, and a crimson beret rests on her head.
“Rao’s light be yours, Your Royal Highness,” she greets Kara, a cheeky grin on her lips, in dire contrast to the rigidity of her stance.
Kara, for her part, merely grins back, her eyes shining brighter than ever. “Imra!” she says, before grabbing the woman’s—Imra’s—shoulders and yanking her into an embrace.
Imra can only gasp out a surprised “Hey!” before dissolving into hearty laughter, her arms immediately circling Kara with startling familiarity.
“I missed you so much!” Kara says once the embrace ends, though her hands are still on Imra’s shoulders. “Oh Rao, how are you? Did you get into more trouble since last summer? You went to Aunt Diana’s place, right? You met Aunt Antiope? She’s cool, isn’t she? Pretty sure I still have phantom bruises from when she trained me, I don’t want to repeat that but at the same time she’s so badass that I wanna learn even more from her but I haven’t the time and there’s too much happening an—”
“Yo, chill, Your Royal Highness,” Imra cuts her off, chuckling. “I understood like 30% of what you just said.”
“I’m sorry, it’s just been so long!”
“It has been,” Imra agrees, “but there’s time for catching up later. I’m just here to inform you that I am to be your security detail.”
“Oh, you’re the senior officer!” Kara’s grin widens. “Congratulations on the promotion.”
“Not sure if it’s really a promotion if I’m stuck on babysitting duty.”
“Kidding,” Imra says. “Ensuring your security as the heiress of Krypton is the highest honour, and as a dear friend, the greatest pleasure.”
There is sincerity in her statement, as well as the unassailable loyalty Lena has begun to associate with Kryptonians with regards to their royals. It is obvious that Kara is adored here—the guards and the staff smile at her even through their curtsies, and Lena has heard them fondly murmur about how the princess brings light with her—and not for the first time Lena wonders just how corrupted her uncle should have to be to even attempt his coup.
“Really glad to see you again, Imra,” Kara says.
“You as well, Your Royal Highness.” Imra turns to Lena then, who has remained silent throughout the exchange. She notices the flamebird necklace and immediately bows. “Tynth of El,” she greets.
“Hi,” Lena says, a bit unsure, and she glances at Kara.
Kara jumps back into action. “Right! Imra, I want you to meet my beloved!” She stirs Lena closer. “This is Lena, my girlfriend.”
“And betrothed,” Imra adds with a smile, gesturing to the necklace.
“Yes, of course,” Kara confirms easily with a grin. “Lena, this is Imra Ardeen, one of my oldest friends. She’s on the fast track to graduation in the Royal Military Academy the last time I heard, and now”—she looks at Imra’s uniform and the beret which has a badge of a black griffin—“a lieutenant of the Royal Guards and a member of the Harun El regiment, I see.”
Imra bows again. “It’s an honour to officially meet you, Tynth of El.”
“Likewise, Lieutenant Ardeen.”
“Oh Rao, that’s so cool, you have a proper rank now, maybe you can stop letting Kal El win during your jousts now,” says Kara.
“I do not let His Excellency win,” Imra dissents, though her smirk tells a different story, “he’s a very skilled jouster and accomplished warrior.”
“Yeah, sure, I’ll believe that when the sun turns red.”
“See,” Imra tells Lena conspiratorially, “this is why I managed to graduate early. It’s so much easier when there’s no royal who distracts the students and instructors alike.”
Kara yelps, indignant. “You know, one of these days, you’re gonna let me live that down.”
“Oh no, please, do share,” Lena says. “I figured she’s been causing trouble way before we met, but it’s always nice to be proven right with actual evidence.”
“Lena,” Kara whines, pouting, “you’re supposed to be on my side.”
Lena just laughs, winks at Imra. “I believe this is going to be the start of a beautiful friendship.”
“She’s nice,” Lena tells Kara whilst Imra is speaking to her earpiece. They have just eaten breakfast, and Lena is drinking the last of her coffee. Kara is picking on a blueberry muffin.
“I know,” Kara says. “She and Alex used to go to the shooting range together, and they made these ridiculous bets based on who cleared more challenges or drew a better pattern on the target sheets. Pretty sure Alex still owes her like 50 dollars or something.”
“She’s a better shot than Alex?” Lena doesn’t think Kara’s sister takes well to losing, regardless of the stakes.
“Can’t answer that,” Kara says, eyes twinkling with mischief, “but I do know Lucy’s better than them both.”
“Your Royal Highness, Tynth of El,” Imra says, approaching them before Lena can ask about how skilled with a firearm lawyers have to be, “the High Council will be convening in a few minutes.”
Lena knows it’s coming, but she still feels worry climbing up her throat. Kara notices and takes her hand, pressing a kiss on her palm. “Let’s do this,” she says.
Lena takes a deep breath and nods.
“That is like the most insane thing you’ve ever done,” Sam says, and even through the pixelated feed of Lena’s laptop, her judgment comes through loud and clear.
Lena just buries her face in her arms. “I know.”
“How the fuck are you even going to survive?”
“It’s going to go terribly.” Sam snickers. “No, wait, it’s already a disaster, and it’s just the beginning.”
Lena shifts to glare at her friend. “You’re supposed to be offering me advice, not making it worse,” she grouses.
“Oh right. Sorry.” Sam pauses. “But yeah, no, this is a mess, Lena. How are you going to fake not having a huge stupid crush on your roommate while faking being in a relationship?”
“Just shut up if you’re not gonna help.”
“Shit, you’re not even denying having the stupid crush!” Sam laughs, obviously thrilled, and Lena really wants to strangle her for what could have been the millionth time in the duration of their friendship. “And how do you think I could help you? I’ve never been in that kind of situation before!”
“Yeah, but like. I don’t know.” Lena huffs. “You’re supposed to be a functional human being.”
“Lena, I love you, and I love the faith you have in me, but even I can’t do anything about your big fat crush on your roommate if you continue to be a useless lesbian.” Sam hums thoughtfully. “Though, wait, you know what, we can spin this.”
“Just act super in love, maybe she’d get to reciprocate. Come on, it’s not that hard, you’re already in too deep anyways.”
“It’s like the, uh, what’s that psych concept? The one with the bell?”
Lena blinks, confused as to where Sam’s going with this. “Pavlov?”
“Yes!” Sam snaps her fingers. “Ten points to the gay genius. Anyway, as I was saying, just be super affectionate or something, maybe down the line she’d like, develop a Pavlovian response to how you’re giving her constant affection and then you can live happily ever after in a ranch somewhere.” And she sounds so proud of her idea that Lena chokes on a laugh.
“Oh my god.” Lena covers her face with both hands. “She’s not a dog.”
“I thought you said she’s like a puppy, that’s close enough.”
“You’re the absolute worst,” Lena says, and Sam just shrugs, stupid grin firmly on her face.
Lena doesn’t know what to expect as Kara leads her to the Hall of Jupiter, where the High Council has assembled. According to Kara, they typically convene in the World Capitol Building, but this is a special summons from the royal family (or, well, from Kara), which is why they are meeting within Rokyn Castle instead.
When they arrive in front of yet another set of mighty gilded doors, with gold and crimson etched on the surface, Lena is just about ready to vibrate out of her skin.
The sentries swing the massive doors open, and she nearly lets her jaw drop open.
The Hall of Jupiter is equal in splendor as the banquet hall, maybe even more so. It looks like an enormous courtroom, with marble pews and bejeweled décor. Banners of crimson and gold hang from the domed ceiling, which is painted like the sky at dawn; its central part is made of glass, so sunlight falls like golden rain.
Lena starts to feel out of place, but Kara’s grip is sure in hers, and she shoots Lena that charming smile she knows is just for her.
There are eleven seats in the high table, all occupied except for the middle one, which is more like a throne. Lena assumes it is reserved for the monarch herself, as Regent Ze sits in a much simpler version located directly below it. Kal El is in the room too, seated on the side. He gives Lena a small wave and a grin, which Lena returns in kind.
Everyone stands up as soon as Kara enters and then lowers their head in a bow. “Rao’s light be yours, Your Royal Highness,” they greet, their voices echoing in the chamber.
Kara squeezes Lena’s hand once before releasing it. Then she turns fully to the High Council. “Rao’s light be yours.” She sounds just like she did, that afternoon when she defended Lena against Kal El. She waves her hand, and they take their seats while she remains standing.
“We have missed your presence here, Your Royal Highness,” one of the councilors say. “Choosing such a far place to get your education— well, it might not have been the best course of action.”
“Indeed,” another one pipes up. “And distance aside, the quality of education in that country is far below what Krypton has to offer. Even now I do not understand why you chose such an institution.”
“And the technology!” says yet another one. “They are too far behind!”
“As amusing as your criticisms are of the choices I have made,” says Kara, and Lena bites back her grin at the innate authority in her tone, “I did not call for this convention to hear them.”
Silence descends within the room, taut and cloying, as the councilors shift uneasily in their seats. This is a side of Kara that Lena has only seen once, and it is as breathtaking as the first. There is a certain kind of gravity, it seems, that emanates right from Kara’s bones, pulling everyone in who happens within her orbit and refusing to let go.
“Shall we get to business, then, Your Royal Highness?” the regent asks, an amused smile playing on her lips, and Lena swears she sends her a wink.
“Yes, Regent,” Kara answers. She glances at Lena, offering her hand, and just like always, Lena takes it. Kara smiles and pulls her closer so that they are standing shoulder to shoulder. She then addresses the High Council again. “I’m here to present to you Lena Luthor.” Her gaze is steady and her voice is strong. “She is my betrothed.”
The proclamation is followed by another beat of silence as they all stare at the necklace Lena is wearing, before it all explodes into a cacophony of questions and disputes and outraged exclamations.
“Your Royal Highness, surely there are other more appro—”
“But what about the boy fr—”
“Lord Kal, what is the meaning of th—”
“Lady Diana, did you know abou—”
“Lord Non already had—”
“There’s a prince in Daxam that has more—”
“This is insane, she’s not even Krypto—”
The councilors talk over each other, their voices ringing with agitation and surprise and things Lena can’t decipher, and Kara lets them have at it for several moments, simply watching and calculating before deciding that enough is enough.
“Silence,” Kara commands, not raising her voice at all but it is filled with such power that they immediately shut up. “I am not asking for your permission, I am merely announcing it as fact. Lena is my intended bride, whether you approve of it or not.” She then turns to one of the dissenters, tilting her head in challenge. “And it would do you well, Lady Lar, to remember that Non has been stripped of all his titles years ago. To refer to him as if nothing has changed is a dishonour to the House of El, and if I ever hear it again, I shall make sure that your House and descendants too meet his fate.”
“I—” Lady Lar sputters, red in the face. “You are just a child, how dare you—”
“A child who still has more authority than you.” Kara’s eyes flash with such profound anger that Lena won’t be shocked if she blasts the woman to pieces where she sits with just her gaze. “And yes, I dare. Yes, I will defy you all if you continue to act as if the war did not happen at all and proceed to reap the benefits of not having a proper Kryptonian royal on the throne.”
“You think me a child,” Kara continues, her glare as sharp as glass, “not worthy of ruling, and yet you yourselves squabble like children upon the foundations that my family built. You sit there in your gilded chairs as if you earned it, but did you know what the farmers of Krypton were saying, when I visited them last summer? They had not seen rain in months and you refused to give them aid. You flaunt your authority as if it were absolute, but we all know the truth—it’s not, and you’re just desperate to cling to it all the same. I wasn’t expecting a lot from you, just a certain level of decency, but still you disappoint.”
She sneers, and Lena watches as they flinch at the magnitude of Kara’s fury. “Listening to the mad whispers of a man who has been found guilty of supporting the war that claimed the lives of your rulers,” Kara drawls. “Is that not enough ground for treason? What do you think, Regent Ze?”
The regent just tips her head, a clear show of subservience to the heiress. “To let the words of a traitor affect one’s judgment is enough sign that one foot has already stepped out of line.”
“I thought so too.” She turns to Kal El. “And, Cousin, do you not have news for me?”
“Yes, Your Royal Highness.” Kal El’s smile is grim, matching Kara’s, and it is the first time Lena truly sees the family resemblance. It is jarring, to say the least, to have done so in this context, surrounded by the pageantry of their heritage and rife with political turmoil. “I have uncovered evidence of a conspiracy. Several members of the High Council continued to exchange messages with the traitor Non after he sent an appeal regarding your claim to the throne. Some have vested interest in an alliance with Daxam, which is why they are adamant that a match be made.”
Kara scans the faces of the rapidly paling councilors. “These seats are meant to uphold the 11 Virtues of our girod. And yet I see no truth, for you listened to a peddler of lies. I see no justice, for you thought acknowledging a convicted criminal’s words is worth the time. And I see no altruism, for you are not even doing your jobs, taking care of Krypton’s people.” She exhales a harsh breath, her jaw clenching. Lena steps closer, pressing their bodies together as a way to ease, and she hides her relief when Kara loosens up, gathers her composure, and continues.
“So yes, I dare. I have no wish for my country to be ruled by hypocrites, especially ones who would sooner stab me in the back than let go of their control.”
She tells Imra, “Open the doors,” and then in comes a contingent of soldiers who all give Kara a salute. They spread out across the room and stand with a fist on their chest, waiting for orders.
“By the authority I am granted as the heiress of the House of El and princess of Krypton,” Kara begins, “I hereby sentence those who collaborated with the traitor Non to be stripped of their rights to sit in the High Council. Lady Vi Lar, Lord Mal Rom, Lady Kes Gor, Lady Hala Kin, Lord Keo Oz, you shall be tried before the Judicial Council for betraying the House of El. The rest of your punishments shall be decided then.” She nods at the soldiers. “Arrest them.”
“T-This shall not stand!” one of the councilors screams. “This is not our way!”
Kara coolly watches him. “Treason is not our way either, and yet here you are,” she says, and that shuts him up. The other councilors are too shell-shocked to offer resistance, and those left within their ranks are in no hurry to test Kara’s patience, it seems, for they don’t even think to oppose. Lena thinks one of them even hides a snicker behind a cough.
Kara turns to Regent Ze as the collaborators are led outside the Hall. “Regent, I move for the traitor Non to be transferred from the Tower of Juru to the maximum security prison Phantom Zone. He has done enough damage, and the Judicial Council has granted him mercy that he does not deserve.”
“I second the motion,” Kal El says. He catches the questioning glance from the councilors still with them and explains, “I do not have an official seat, but our constitution states than in cases when the High Council has missing ranks, the one who holds the duchy of Kandor can step up. So, those in favour of transferring the traitor Non to the Phantom Zone, say aye.”
Lena watches as the remaining councilors exchange glances, before shrugging. “Aye,” says one.
Kal El grins. “All in favour, Regent Ze.”
“Then let it be done,” the regent says, trying and failing to hide her amusement. “The traitor Non will be transferred to the Phantom Zone by the end of the day. I will personally report what happened here to the rest of the ministers in the World Capitol Building.”
One of the councilors laughs after the pronouncement, and she doesn’t shrink at the attention she gets. Her hair is nearly all silver, but Lena can see shrewdness in her gaze, not dulled one bit with age. She’s the first one who voted aye. “I always knew Your Royal Highness has the ability to undo the bindings that hold this Council together, but I never thought I’d see it in my lifetime. And with such flair!” She shakes her head. “King Jor El was right to call you his pride and joy.”
Kara’s lips quirk up in a smile. “Lady Dox,” she says, “thank you for your unerring loyalty to Krypton and your assistance to the House of El.”
“The House of El is Krypton, Your Royal Highness,” Lady Dox says, “and I’d rather end my line than have descendants who’d even think of betraying it.”
Kara tips her head in pleased acknowledgement.
“I knew there’s something going on when the traitor’s missive was brought to the Capitol,” says another councilor. “And to have it read in front of the entire parliament, well, he’s much too confident in his plan and it is his final downfall.”
“He’s had too much time in his hands, Lord Jaros,” one says. “He actually managed to dig up some obscure article in the constitution. That reeks of desperation too, some last-minute play.”
“Please, Lady Wilda”—Lady Dox snorts—“we all know the man’s a worm. Those fools in the Judicial Council should have sent him to the Phantom Zone the first time, but they’re too terrified of his connections to Zod.” She levels a gauging look at Kal El. “But then that threat has also been neutralised, so I suppose they’ll have the balls to do the right thing now, them useless lot.”
Lord Jaros nods. “Zod’s defeat at the Duke of Kandor’s hand put a damper on any plan the remaining conspirators may have had. Must be why they scrambled this half-cooked scheme, using the heiress herself as bait.”
“We apologise, Your Royal Highness,” says Lady Wilda. “We did not see the perversion that has tainted the High Council until it’s almost too late.”
“What’s done is done,” Kara says. “All I ask is that you remain steadfast in your oaths. Your loyalty to Krypton and her citizens is of the utmost importance to me. I know I am not a queen yet, but when I finally take my throne, I want the assurance that the High Council will serve the way it is meant to do.”
“We will do our best,” says another councilor. “But it’s important that these ranks be filled up too.”
“Lady Zavira is right,” says Lord Jaros. “The High Council cannot function with just the five of us. Even with support from the Duke of Kandor and the regent at the helm, the five pillars still will have to be replaced.”
“That may take a while. It’s half of the Council displaced at once,” says the regent.
“May I suggest something?”
“Yes, Lady Wilda?”
“Given that the High Council is currently in an unprecedented state of flux, I move to grant Her Royal Highness further authority as Grand Duchess of Lurvan and all municipalities within.”
“What?” Kara says, clearly not expecting that.
“Lurvan belongs to the House of El by rights in the first place,” Lady Wilda says, “and the estates dividing it up were granted to the House of Kin, the House of Rom, and the House of Gor by royal decree. With those heads of houses removed on charges of treason, their progenies wouldn’t think to accept their inheritances. So the titles will automatically return to Your Royal Highness anyway. By making you Grand Duchess it just becomes official, and in a much faster way.”
“True,” the final councilor says, “but that doesn’t solve the problem of the empty High Council seats.”
“No, Lady Fyhla,” says Lady Zavira, musingly, “but it does give Her Royal Highness free reign to grant the titles left behind as she sees fit. Meanwhile, we may focus on the High Council candidates without worrying about the estates.”
“Correct. Besides,” adds Lady Wilda, “Lurvan is large enough to create another duchy.” She sends Kara a motherly smile. “I reckon it will be needed so that the Tynth of El could have a title within Krypton’s court, when the time comes.”
The councilors ponder on Lady Wilda’s proposal, and it is Lady Fyhla who says, “That is as good an idea as any, I suppose. I thus second the motion, and those in favour of granting Her Royal Highness the grand duchy of Lurvan, say aye.”
“Fantastic.” The regent laughs and leans back in her seat. “Then let it be done. As regent of the throne of Krypton, acting on behalf of the Crown, I am pleased to return the grand duchy of Lurvan to the Royal House of El. As head of the House, Her Royal Highness the Princess Kara Zor-El shall be the Grand Duchess of Lurvan and thus is granted full authority over its municipalities and estates, as is stated in our laws.”
“I humbly accept,” Kara says.
The regent nods and looks at the councilors. “Are there any other pressing business we shall discuss, then?” Lady Dox raises her hand. “Yes, Lady Dox?”
The old councilor smiles at Kara and Lena. “I would just like to offer my sincerest congratulations on the betrothal of Your Royal Highness and to the Tynth of El, who seems to be a fine choice for a bride, keeping her head in such a delicate atmosphere.” She winks at Kara. “You chose well.”
And just like that the fully authoritative Kara Zor-El fumbles in a way Lena has seen a thousand times in Kara Danvers. “Oh, uhm, uh, thanks?” she squeaks. She clears her throat, throwing a dirty look at Kal El who chuckles behind a fist. “Thank you, Lady Dox,” she tries again.
“Right, we haven’t gotten the chance to greet you, Tynth of El,” says Lord Jaros. “Forgive our manners, arguing so unbecomingly.”
“It is quite all right,” Lena says, smiling, “it’s not so different from attending board meetings. Though I find this lot far more charming.”
The councilors laugh, and Lady Dox even chortles. “You’re a fine one, just as I said. I suppose the Tynth of El will accompany Her Royal Highness during Yule celebrations?”
“Yes,” Kara confirms, grinning at Lena. “We’ll take the opportunity to announce the betrothal to the rest of the country then.”
“Perfect timing too,” says Lady Fyhla. “It shall boost the people’s morale. By then news of what happened today would have already circulated.”
“Indeed,” adds Lady Zavira. “Something to look forward to.”
“I’m sure Her Royal Highness looks forward as well to discussing the terms of the betrothal with the Tynth of El’s head of house,” says Kal El, and his impish grin widens at Kara’s scowl and a mumbled shut up, Kal.
“Right,” the regent says, pressing a hand to her lips before collecting herself again. “Well, if that’s all?” They nod. “So be it. We shall work on the contract soon, but for now, this meeting of the High Council—or what’s remaining of it at least—is adjourned.”
“Well.” Lena releases a long breath. “That was dramatic.”
“Were you expecting anything else?”
“I learned to expect the unexpected from you, so no.” She shakes her head. “Did your council just agree to grant me a title in your country?”
“Well. Yeah.” Kara shrugs. “It’s probably gonna be given to you halfway through the official courtship period. That’s usually what happens when the intended consort is not from Krypton.”
“And that’s not happening anytime soon if you don’t talk with your future in-laws first,” comes Kal El’s voice from behind them. He matches their pace, smiling at Imra who has returned to her post as Kara’s security.
Kara groans. “Shut up, Kal.”
“I’m just saying, there’s a chronology here, and you can’t skip steps just because you’re a princess.”
“Don’t you have some other things to do aside from annoy me?”
Lena laughs. “Don’t mind her, Your Excellency,” she tells him, “Her Royal Highness is just grumpy because she’s hungry.”
“Ah, should have figured.” Kal El nods sagely. “That’s never a good thing.”
“Can you two please not,” Kara says, a whine in her voice now. “That meeting was brutal and I just want lunch.”
“All right, all right,” Kal El says, “I’ll leave you alone soon enough. I’m really just here to say Alex called.”
“What?” Kara perks up at the mention of her sister. “Why didn’t you lead with that and be done with it?”
“Wow, I feel so wanted.”
“Ugh.” Kara rolls her eyes. “Why didn’t she call me herself?”
Kal El hesitates. “I think something happened. Nothing dangerous though!” he adds hastily when Kara’s eyes widen in panic. “She just asked me to delay her flight, so she won’t be arriving tomorrow as planned. She assured me she’s going to be here in time for Yule, though, and to tell you not to worry.”
“You all realise the more you tell me not to worry the more I’m likely to do it, right?” Kara asks dryly.
“Darling,” Lena says, “I’m sure Agent Danvers has her reasons. She’ll tell you if there’s a problem, and in her own time.”
Kara pouts, but shrugs all the same. “I guess.”
“Also,” Kal El tells her, “you won’t have time to mope anyway.” He waves his phone. “There’s a lot of messages waiting.”
Lena watches curiously as Kara blanches, all colour draining in a frankly frightening speed. “Messages?” she asks.
“Yes!” Kal El cheerfully says. “We have a group chat where Her Royal Highness mostly just rambles on about how pretty you are.”
“Oh my god.” Kara hides her face with just one hand, because the other is still holding Lena’s, and neither of them really is inclined to let go. “Stop that.”
His blue eyes—and Lena really sees their shared blood now, with how they shine like living sapphires—are alight with teasing. “But I haven’t even gotten to the good part yet.”
“I will literally pay you to not say anything more.”
“I will pay you double to say more,” Lena counters.
“Lena,” Kara chides in a pained sigh, but her eyes gleam in that way they do that makes Lena feel like she’s cradled in the sea, “don’t be mean.”
“I thought you like it when I’m mean,” Lena says, and she delightedly laughs when Kara just blushes, no denial at hand.
Meeting Kara’s friends is nice. Winn is smart and can keep up with Lena’s science, and James has a mellow presence that welcomes them all with open arms. It is easy to trade jokes with them, and their anecdotes of the things Kara got up to in their youth are priceless treasures Lena diligently commits to memory.
They’re such warm people, really, that Lena is not surprised that they have gravitated towards Kara at all. Lena, who is generally anxious about socialising with strangers in a non-business setting, feels relaxed enough in their company to chew too large a bite of salad and laugh loudly when Kara tries to fit a whole slice of pizza folded in half into her mouth.
When they move to the living room, all full and on the right side of tipsy, Lena doesn’t second-guess any interaction. Her arm moves of its own accord when Kara leans against her, lifting it so Kara can fully tuck herself against her side. Winn and James barely bat an eyelash, merely smiling and launching into conversation that Lena finds herself totally immersed in.
It’s nice, and Lena is overcome with want: the want to stay like this with her for the rest of her life. For a moment she entertains the thought, of having friends over in an actual house she shares with Kara, sometime in the future. Sharing stories, joking, playing games, maybe.
Or. Well. If their engagement is something real, then she would be Kara’s consort, and Lena lets herself imagine what kind of life they would lead: Kara proudly wielding the queenly strength Lena knows is folded neatly at the edges of this college persona, Lena learning about her culture, about Krypton, without it being part of some convoluted ploy meant to put down detractors.
She’s not meant to be the one who stands beside Kara when she takes her throne, she knows. The honour falls on whoever would be lucky enough to have Kara’s heart for real, to have Kara’s love in all its genuine glory.
But the idea that it could be her is nice, and for a second, when Kara smiles with pride after she rebuts Winn’s argument about the viability of some tech or the other, Lena lets herself believe.
In the days that follow, Kara follows through with her promise to take her around Krypton, and Lena has just one thing to say: Krypton is . . .
Krypton is magnificent.
That is the only word Lena can think of, and even then, she knows that it doesn’t really do Krypton justice. It barely even covers the splendor of the country, the sheer beauty.
But come to think about it, it is not a surprise at all that this place is the one that has given birth to Kara—that these lands have borne her to existence, nurtured her, shaped her to be the woman with whom Lena has fallen in love.
It just makes so much sense, and is indeed very fitting, that Kara comes from a place as wonderful as she is.
The sun—Rao, Kryptonians call her, rather than the more known name Sol—seems to shine brighter here too, golden like Kara’s hair. The sky is bluer, just like Kara’s eyes. The air is more peaceful and calmer, and despite the winter cold, it seems infused with a warmth that makes Lena feel at home, just like Kara’s smile always does.
Really, everything about Krypton screams Kara, and now that Lena is here, she comes to notice just how much of Kara screams Krypton.
She sees the look in Kara’s eyes, gleaming with a sense of serenity that Lena’s never seen before—at least not like this—and Lena is struck with the reality that Kara and Krypton are one and the same, and for that reason alone, she knows without a doubt that she will come to love this country as well.
(And to be perfectly honest?
Lena knows that somehow, she already does.)
sluthorin my bed: roses are red
violets are blue
come to my bed
and let me do you
future wife: lena!
future wife: aKRYGSJHFFHRGEFDJHF
sluthorin my bed: so is that a no
(future wife is typing . . .)
future wife: not with that attitude, no
sluthorin in my bed: feisty
sluthorin in my bed: unexpected, but i like it
(future wife is typing . . .)
future wife: when i finally bed you, light you of my life
future wife: let’s see if you can keep your wits with you
Lena chokes on her wine, and she can feel all the blood rushing to her cheeks as she struggles not to spew it all on the pristine tablecloth and also not to die. She shoots Kara a glare across the table.
Kara merely grins.
Lena finds it difficult to fall asleep, with Kara’s voice echoing in her mind.
“I’m scared that I’ll ruin everything and that you’ll leave,” Kara said.
Lena thinks it’s such an impossible notion. Ridiculous, to be honest, because if anything, she’s the one scared to be left behind.
“Please don’t leave,” Kara implored her.
There is nowhere Lena would rather be than with Kara, so that’s not a problem either. When Lena promised her forever, she meant it.
She means it. Lena doesn’t know what it means for Kara, but she knows what it means for herself, and she stands by it.
Kara might get tired of her, but she won’t leave unless she’s asked to.
And even then, Lena suspects she still will stay.
She succeeds in getting some hours of sleep, and when she wakes up, she’s pleased to find that staying up too late hasn’t managed to make her susceptible to a hangover. Kara is still out like a light beside her, and Lena spends precious minutes just soaking her in, for the opportunity might not present itself again.
Kara looks untroubled and at peace, her hair a mess of gold on the pillow. Lena resists the urge to bury her face in the crook of her neck and steal some of her warmth for a rainy day.
For now, looking at her, so close to touch, their fingers a whisper away, would have to be enough.
The Royal Archives, without a doubt, is one Lena’s favourite rooms in Rokyn Castle so far. It is the perfect merging of old and new, with its high ceilings and chandeliers and tables with entirely touchscreen surfaces and tall mahogany bookshelves all piled with books and scrolls.
Imra stands guard by the door, along with Querl Dox, who has just been assigned as the security detail for the Tynth of El. Lena sits on one of the room’s comfortable couches with Kara beside her, looking over the table screen. Kara is explaining the House of El’s history today, in part because Lena wants her to and in part because she needs to, given that Lena will be its consort, though it will be years before that happens officially.
Kara pulls up an enlarged image of the House of El’s coat of arms. At the top is a navy-blue bird with silver feathers, perched on a royal crown. The blazon is a red shield mantled in gold and with the familiar pentagon that has the S symbol within. The right mantle has a crimson bird whilst the left mantle has a flower with white and yellow petals. For the supporters, there is a golden griffin and silver dragon, and the compartment has tulips and sunflowers.
Just like everything in this country, Lena thinks it is magnificent.
“I keep seeing this S.” Lena lets her finger trace over that ever-present symbol.
“It’s not an S,” Kara says. “It’s El. E-L. My family name. It stands for El mayarah. Our House words.”
“El mayarah,” Lena repeats, testing out the phrase slowly, the syllables sliding off her tongue smoothly, and she smiles when Kara nods in approval.
“It means ‘Stronger together,’” Kara explains. “A member of the House of El is expected to be strong on their own, but that strength is not all. There is no weakness in relying on family. Each of us has our own strengths, and together we can create a stronger whole.”
There is a quiet intensity in Kara’s voice as she explains her family’s heraldry, and Lena feels herself basking in the glory of such an old bloodline. “The plumeria stands for new beginnings,” she continues, pointing at the white-and-yellow flower. “The griffin for courage and boldness, the dragon for strength and dignity. Gold for divinity and silver for purity. The purple tulips for royalty, sunflowers for loyalty.” She traces the pentagon. “El itself though is an ancient Kryptonian word for ‘star.’ My ancestor Erok El took that name when her daughter was born. I was named after Erok’s daughter. It’s one of my father’s favourite stories—how the first Kara became the second bythgar of Urrika, where Kryptonian civilisation truly began.”
Kara taps through the screen and a map of Krypton pops out. She runs both hands across the map as if it’s a paper one, and with a flick, the image turns into a hologram.
“You have this tech in all these tables?” Lena can’t help but ask.
Kara nods. “Yep. It’s also a prerequisite in lots of establishments, and especially in Kryptonian classrooms.”
“Nice.” More than nice. Hologram tech is only available in the upper offices of L-Corp, and even then, it is not up to this level of sophistication. And to think that it is this quintessential in Krypton . . .
Her mother is going to freak. And then pretend she’s not impressed. But inside she’d be freaking out, and Lena would know, and she’d know that Lena would know.
It’s going to be fantastic.
Kara snorts, likely guessing what Lena’s thinking. She’s proven right when Kara says, “Should I include hologram blueprints in our betrothal contact?”
Lena just arches an eyebrow at her. “Are you saying I won’t be able to figure this tech out on my own?”
“Hey, wh— How did that even com— That’s not what I meant!” Kara splutters, and groans to the soundtrack of Lena’s laughter.
“I’m joking, darling,” she coos when Kara grumbles. “Do carry on.”
“Well now I don’t want to,” Kara says dryly, but still she does continue. “Urrika is an island in the north from which Krypton expanded.” She points to a huge mass of land and twists it until it expands. Lena sees the details of its topography—the valleys, the forests, the rivers. “It is where Erkol, Krypton’s oldest city, was founded. It had been destroyed twice but rebuilt each time, and exists to this day.” She gestures again, and the hologram zooms to a city landscape. “This is Stratu—Krypton’s first capital. Sindar Castle stands there, the first royal residence of the House of El. It’s used for large official functions and state occasions, and that’s where my coronation is going to be.”
“Your history is much more fascinating than what I learned in school, Kara Zor-El.”
“Kara El,” Kara says. “When I take the throne, I will be named Kara El, to signify that I am the queen by the absolute virtue of my bloodline and not through marriage.”
Lena hums. “The naming conventions are linked to your matriarchal system?”
“Yeah, but there’s also the primacy of the royal family to consider.” At the question in Lena’s eyes, Kara explains, “My father was Zor El, my mother was Alura Ze. By Krypton’s matriarchal laws alone, I should have been named Kara Ze. But my mother was just a countess, and House Ze was of the aristocracy only. No matter what, the royal House of El takes precedence. So, as a princess, I was given the name Kara Zor-El—it establishes my connection to the House through my father.”
“Kara El,” Lena tests how the name rolls off her tongue. “A bit short, but I like it.”
“I like how you say it,” Kara tells her, before blinking rapidly, as if she’s surprised at her own words. “I-I mean—”
“Is that so, darling?” Lena leans in, her lips dancing so close to Kara’s ear. “Kara El,” she repeats, giggling when Kara pulls her closer, capturing her lips in a kiss.
le(na)sbian luthor: where the fuck are you
alexistential crisis: i wanna go back to the time when you’re too scared to even dare talk to me
alexistential crisis: much more swear at me
alexistential crisis: just because you two are official now doesn’t make this right
le(na)sbian luthor: please, don’t flatter yourself
le(na)sbian luthor: i was never scared of you
alexistential crisis: it’s not flattery if it’s true also don’t lie
le(na)sbian luthor: you’re deflecting and now’s not the time for that
le(na)sbian luthor: your sister’s moping because you’re still not here
le(na)sbian luthor: did something happen
alexistential crisis: aww goth luthor r u worried
le(na)sbian luthor: no
le(na)sbian luthor: but kara is
le(na)sbian luthor: so you better hurry
le(na)sbian luthor: her puppy eyes are becoming too much to handle
le(na)sbian luthor: would u really want her to cry during yule
alexistential crisis: y u gotta play dirty like that does kara know u r evil
le(na)sbian luthor: oh that’s nothing
le(na)sbian luthor: kara knows all about how i play dirty ;)
alexistential crisis: oH MY GOD SHUT UP
alexistential crisis: THAT’S MY SISTER
alexistential crisis: BRB GOTTA BLEACH MY EEYS NOW
alexistential crisis: OR PROBBALY TRHOW MYFLES OFF THIS GODDAMN PLANE
le(na)sbian luthor: oh so you’re on the way
le(na)sbian luthor: good
alexistential crisis: yOU’RE SUCH AN ASS
le(na)sbian luthor: your sister knows that too ;)
alexistential crisis: SHUT UP
alexistential crisis: also kara’s right, your winky face is terrifying
le(na)sbian luthor: ;)
alexistential crisis: STOP THAT
Kara leads her out the back of the castle, onto a wide, intricately designed colonnade that overlooks the edge of what appears to be a fairly extensive forest. The Scarlet Jungle, Lena recalls from a map Kara has shown her earlier. Indeed, Lena can see the purple and red blooms of many of its trees, and Lena can only imagine how beautiful it must all be, up close, especially during springtime.
However, even from this far, it feels unnaturally tranquil—as if the gods above descended upon the earth to lend their divine peace—and Lena cannot help but tremble.
“I could get lost in those woods,” Lena murmurs, and she’s taken aback by the nostalgia infused in her own words. It is alarming, how she seems to be so wistful for something she does not know and has no hope of understanding.
Kara shrugs. “Many people have,” she says, matter-of-fact. “Some have even done it on purpose.”
That doesn’t make sense to Lena. Who in their right mind would ever purposely get lost? “Why?”
“To look for game, perhaps. Or just for the adventure.” Kara’s voice has a heavy quality to it. “Mostly, though, I think they just want to see for themselves if the legends were true. These woods are home to many of Krypton’s creatures. The flamebirds”—she gestures at the necklace Lena wears—“for instance. The nightwings too. But more than those, it is said that the woods also have creatures only heard of or read about in Krypton’s legends—flame beasts, flame dragons, the like.”
Kara smiles. “There’s also the rondor, which is sort of like a unicorn with its large horn, but instead of its blood, it is the horn itself that can cure any illness. Eons ago, when Krypton hasn’t evolved yet to its current status as a scientific powerhouse, many desperate people had gone into the woods in an attempt to look for the rondor and catch it—in some hope to ease their pains, or that of their loved ones.”
The smile fades as abruptly as it came. “Their attempts had all been in vain. The same goes for those who looked for the crystal birds—creatures whose crystalline skeletons were said to have been responsible for the Jewel Mountains.”
Lena doesn’t need much effort to match the solemnity of Kara’s tone. “How about you?” she asks, carefully. “Have you ever wandered into those woods?”
“Have you ever gotten lost, then?”
“Never.” There’s no hesitation at the answer, and at Lena’s curious look, Kara shrugs again. “I’m of the House of El,” she supplies as an explanation. The words have a weight in them that Lena cannot quite grasp—they are spoken not smugly but instead sensibly, a statement of fact, yet they ring with a history thousands of years old, a past so extensive that it makes Lena feel so small, in comparison, like when she is looking at the cosmos.
Lena stares into the woods, and it isn’t hard to imagine nightwings and flamebirds flying overhead, wolves and other beasts roaming the grounds, dragons and wyverns lurking in the corners. She represses a shudder.
“I know those woods as well as I know the castle itself,” Kara continues. “Even if I were gone for a day, as long as my father and mother knew I went in there, they were certain I would find my way back.” “Those people though . . .” She trails off, her eyes heavy with grief. “Sometimes . . . Sometimes, they were found too late.”
This time a chill does run down Lena’s spine, and she steps closer to Kara, huddling for warmth, looking for comfort from the cold that has nothing to do with the weather.
“You’re so screwed,” Sam says.
“Tell me something I don’t know.”
“I think you’re in love with her.”
Lena freezes, her inhale a bit too sharp for Sam not to notice. “You can’t just say that.”
Lena pauses, and Sam waits. Her voice is nearly a whisper. “It makes it real.”
“Oh honey,” Sam replies, “it’s been real this whole time. You just weren’t ready to see it.”
comet me bro: HEY YOU’RE ENGAGED????!!!
comet me bro: WHY AM I ONLY HEARING ABOUT THIS
comet me bro: AND FROM AN ACTUAL ROYAL MESSENGER
comet me bro: THEY CAME IN A HELICOPTER
comet me bro: DAD THOUGHT IT’S ABOUT A MERGER TBH BUT LIKE
comet me bro: THIS IS EVEN BIGGER
comet me bro: I THINK MOM’S GONNA MURDER SOMEONE IF SHE DOESN’T GET AN EXPLANATION SOON
comet me bro: P.S. I THINK THAT SOMEONE’S ME
comet me bro: ANSWER ME, YOU DIPSHIT
She thinks about it for a second before deciding that yeah, she probably should reply or something before Lex had a conniption.
(Or prematurely loses his hair, which is something that would have straight-up driven Lex into a state of extreme terror, more so than any illness.)
l-e-nar eclipse: ugh you’re worse than a teenager
“Fucking finally,” Lex says as soon as Lena picks up the call.
“Did you miss me that much, brother?” she says wryly, but Lex ignores her, launching right into a tirade.
“Imagine my surprise when I woke up to Dad being loud as fuck calling every fucking lawyer in our payroll and Mother pacing across my floor as if I stole her finest bourbon and brought shame she didn’t expect from me and fuck, Lena, you’re getting married to an actual princess? When were you even going to tell us? Were you going to tell us at all? Are you gonna get married soon? Am I invited? Because let me tell you, sister dearest, if you get married without me there, I’m gonna be real pissed, I swear to god.”
Lena snorts. “Are you done? Can I speak now or do you have something else to say?”
“Don’t get clever on me now.”
“I’ve always been clever. I’m a Luthor.”
“Ugh, you’re so annoying,” Lex says with a pained sigh, and Lena chuckles at his obvious exasperation. “You didn’t tell me I met an actual living breathing princess, and you’re fucking engaged to her!”
“See, brother dearest, this is why I don’t want to tell you. That kind of language won’t stand in the presence of a princess.”
“Bullshit, we both know you’re even crasser than I am.”
“How terrible of you to say that.”
“Why were you even so worried she didn’t feel the same way when she’d already gone and given you a family heirloom? Honestly, Lena.”
“How did you even know about the heirl— You know what, forget it.” Lena sighs. “It’s complicated.”
“Complicated is your middle name,” Lex says, “also how the fuck do you expect me to just forget that you’re engaged to a princess! A princess!”
“Yes, I am aware she’s a princess.”
“Why are you getting married so quickly, you’re still in college, I know you two are serious but like, we didn’t even know you’re in a relationship that long and then now there’s marriage —”
“Lex, I’m gonna hang up if you don’t shut up.”
“I will if you just shut up!”
She catches sight of Kara watching her across the room with a huge grin, finding her situation hilarious, and she swallows back a sigh.
sluthorin my bed: what do you call a snake that’s exactly 3.14 feet long
future wife: what
sluthorin my bed: a πthon
future wife: oh my god
future wife: are you and alex having a competition on bad jokes
future wife: because this is getting ridiculous
sluthorin my bed: first of all, they are perfectly good jokes
sluthorin my bed: shame on you for not appreciating their brilliance, kara el
sluthorin my bed: and second of all, no, we’re not
sluthorin my bed: though if we were
sluthorin my bed: i’m absolutely going to win it
“Huh.” Lena scrolls contemplatively through the screen, skimming the paintings of monarchs past and the texts that come with them. All of them were crowned when they were already adults, the sets of their shoulders sure and firm against the burden they were born to bear. “So much of our world history would have been different, were children not burdened with the responsibilities of entire nations.”
“That’s what Krypton wants to avoid.” Kara leans back on the couch. “Early in our own history, there was a tyrant, Vada El. She took the throne when she’s like, eight years old, which, as you know, was just the perfect age to rule over a kingdom itching for war and to assert their superiority over the surrounding clans.” She grins at Lena’s snort. “She was pretty bloodthirsty for a kid, always ordering beheadings when she didn’t get her way.”
“My mother should be grateful that I settled for just leaving strategically placed Lego pieces on the floor for her to trip over, then,” Lena says dryly.
Kara chuckles. “Stone cold. I like your style.”
“Give me a sword and maybe you’ll change your tune,” she says, smirking at Kara, an eyebrow raised. “So this Vada El, she’s the reason your people changed the laws?”
“Yep. Well”—she squints, thinking—“technically, it’s her sister who amended the Royal Decrees. Hyra El was the second daughter, two years younger than Vada. She’s first in line to the throne while Vada wasn’t old enough to sire her own heirs. But she fled when Vada had been ruling for about seven years. They had an argument about the constant wars, seriously depleting the kingdom’s coffers. But Vada won’t listen to reason, obviously, and she ordered for Hyra’s execution.”
“I’m guessing that execution didn’t come to be?”
“Correct,” Kara says. “With the help of some servants, Hyra managed to escape. She sought refuge in the ranges of Mount Mundro.”
“Where you get your kryptium?”
“Yeah.” Kara smiles, pleased that she remembers, and Lena tries not to preen. “Hyra’s actually the reason we discovered kryptium. She used it to gather funds and then to build a legion that could stand against Vada’s army. The war lasted for decades, and Krypton nearly tore itself asunder, dithering between two factions of the royal family.” She stares at the image of her ancestors, pensive. “It has always been our flaw, according to history—the hubris of the House of El.”
A curtain of darkness falls across Kara’s expression, and Lena thinks she looks like a statue here, all hard planes and sharp angles, a reflection of the gods in heaven.
She remembers once reading about how falling in love with gods always ends in tragedy, and Lena almost believes that, looking at the swirling storms in the depths of Kara’s eyes.
But then again.
Lena has never been one to believe in myths.
So she just takes Kara’s hand, grips it like a lifeline, and offers Kara her presence, plain and simple.
And when Kara smiles, quiet with her gratitude, Lena thinks she is the one god she’ll spend her whole life loving. Kara tugs her closer, guiding Lena’s head on the curve of her neck, and they stay like that, curled on the couch, no words spoken but the beats of their hearts. Lena closes her eyes, lets herself be surrounded by Kara’s warmth and her scent, and Lena feels her heart burn just a little brighter.
And the world might be ending outside these halls, and the stars might start falling from the skies, but Lena will stay here with Kara through it all.
There is only Kara, and Lena loves her.
parts of this chapter have been sitting in my drafts for like two years which felt more like two decades. figured now is as good a time as any to try and finish it up so i drank more coffee than is probably healthy then proceeded to wrangle words into a semi-coherent piece lol hopefully it’s ok. it doesn’t really answer all questions you might have had but like, i repeatedly said this is a plotless thing that’s really just an excuse for me to write gratuitous fluff so gratuitous fluff it is hehe :] n e ways stay safe and hydrated, folks