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i know that in darkness i have found my light

Chapter Text

Lena doesn’t know why she chose Midvale. It was a podunk town miles away from Metropolis, shrouded in trees with long stretches of highway. But it was quiet. And no one knew who she was. Which was good, considering she was using this place as a vacation spot and not a permanent residence. 

Quaint with rows upon rows of suburbs, it reminded Lena of the life she had always wanted, a life of coming home to a mother making dinner, to a home full of pictures and memories and smells.

Instead she grew up in a house that was full of people but somehow always felt empty. There were no pictures, not of her at least, and the memories and smells that she could remember, she’d rather not.

She supposes she’s inherited her family’s habit of living in big empty houses, because the place she buys is a spacious two story, with huge living room windows and enough room for a family with four kids. Four bedrooms, an enormous dining room, more kitchen space than she’ll ever need—she’s a take out kind of girl thanks to her late nights in the office—and a study, which was what sold her on the house. She’d probably never use it, considering it reminded her too much of her father, but the odd comfort of having such a familiar room somehow put her  at ease.

One thing that doesn’t exactly put her at ease though is the idea of neighbours—she’s never had any. The Luthors are a very private family, and their main mansion has always been closed off by tall iron gates and thick hedges. Vacations were always to private places too, so sharing a space with someone was...odd for Lena.

Even so, it thrilled her a bit, considering a neighbour was quite possibly the easiest way to make a friend. She’s skittish around new people though, and keeping in mind the things her family has been tied to, her caution is more than warranted. The Luthor name isn’t exactly a good name to be associated with right now. It’s part of the reason why she had made the spur of the moment decision to take a long vacation. 

But she couldn’t avoid people forever, and when she finally does meet her neighbour, it’s through the baking dish left on her front doorstep that she finds one day after a long shower. She realizes she must’ve spent more time in there than she thought. The baking dish is still warm, but the hands that were probably carrying it are long gone, just a hastily scrawled note that said ‘Welcome to the neighbourhood!’ with a lopsided smiley face that Lena couldn’t fathom being possibly drawn by an adult. Still, the gesture is cute though, and once she decides that once she’s dressed, she’s going to go over and say thank you. 

Lena places the dish on the counter and peels back the foil, revealing a steaming slab of brownies. Lena isn’t exactly one for brownies, but  the gesture had been so nice, she can’t sit there and not take a bite out of just one

So she pulls one of those fancy expensive stainless steel knives from the silverware drawer and sets down on a stool—still in her towel—the objective of getting dressed long forgotten the moment the ooey gooey chocolatey goodness hits her tongue. If this is what comes with having neighbours, Lena could get used to this.

The next morning sees her standing awkwardly in front of her neighbour’s door, her nervous grip on the baking dish making her hands sweaty. She raps on the door once, waits a millisecond, then raps again, stopping abruptly when the door swings open.

Lena looks up when wood is replaced with a broad chest. She hadn’t expected the being now occupying the space in front of her to be so tall. “Oh, em, hi.” she awkwardly greets. 

“This was left at my place yesterday?” she holds out the baking dish and swallows when hands bigger than hers take it from her. She takes a moment to really drink in the sight in front of her, and nearly faints doing so.

Tall, athletic, handsome, bespectacled and blonde; the Adonis before her scratches one of the toned abs of her six pack, and nods, looking at the now empty—and dishwasher cleaned—bakeware. She beams. “They were good, huh?” 

Lena nods. “Yeah em, did you make them yourself?”

The goddess in front of her blushes. “Uh, no, Eliza did. She’s my adoptive mom. I can't cook for shit,” she grins when Lena laughs at that. “I did help though. I’m Kara by the way,” she holds out her hand and Lena shakes it. “Did you get my little note?”

“Your little note?” Lena blinks, realizing. “You wrote that?”

The woman in front of her half shrugs. “Yeah, I’m not much of a baker so...I still wanted to contribute.” She yawns. “Hey, uh, would you like to come inside for some coffee?”

Lena realizes that she had probably woken up the other woman with her incessant knocking. “Em, did I wake you?” a sheepish grin spreads across the other woman’s face and Lena feels a ball of guilt roll around in her stomach. “God, I had no idea it was so early,” she babbles, running a hand through her hair. “I just—I just wanted to say thank you and—”

“Hey it’s no problem,” the blonde says, an easy grin on her face. God her teeth are white and pearly Lena half suspects they’re fake. “I was going to get up eventually.” she eyes Lena again. “....Which brings me back to my question. Coffee?” the glimmer of friendly hope in her bright blue eyes hooks Lena in, and next thing she knows she’s sitting at the island of her neighbour’s kitchen with a steaming hot cup of liquid gold in her hands.

“So when’d you move to town?” Kara says, picking out a donut from the plate between them. She bites into it, powder spreading all over her lips. Lena fights the urge to wipe it off.

“Em,” she starts, sort of distracted by it. “Yesterday, actually,” she tries to look everywhere else but at the woman in front of her, who wipes the remaining powder from her donut on her sleep shirt. “It’s more of a vacation residence than a permanent one.”

“Huh,” she doesn’t ruminate on it too long, just ponders for a moment and shrugs. She seems to shrug a lot, Lena notices. “Is it just you in that big house? The family that used to live there had like, seven kids. I think they were Mormon or somethin’.” she pulls another donut from the bunch and again begins her messy process of eating it.

Lena doesn’t quite know how to answer that, so she nods and takes a sip of her coffee, sighing as the hot liquid runs down her throat. “I’m used to big houses.”

The other woman nods, understanding. “Rich family?”

Lena gives her a wry smile. “You could say that.”

“Makes sense,” Kara concedes, then blinks. “Oh. Here I am asking you about your family and you barely know me. I’m sorry.”

Lena shakes her head. “Trust me, it’s the least invasive question I’ve been asked the first time I’ve met someone,” she smiles softly, thumbing at the rim of her mug. “Since you asked me though, I think it's only fair. Is it just you and Eliza?”

Kara shakes her head. “No, just Eliza. Well, mostly,” she seems to want to say more but doesn't, so Lena doesn’t pry. "Any siblings?"

Lena swallows, debating on answering the question. “Just one,” she answers carefully. “Older,” she adds and then clears her throat after a beat of silence. “And you?”

“Same,” she says, wiping even more powder on her sleep shirt. "Sister."

Lena nods. “Brother,” she winces behind her cup. “We didn’t...exactly get along.

Kara shrugs. “Isn’t that how it always is with siblings?”

Lena almost laughs at her naivete. “Yes, I suppose so.” she gives Kara a faint smile that she hopes signals a change in subject. She isn’t exactly keen on revealing who her brother was or what he had done to her and countless other people to someone she just met, let alone got along pretty well with.

“We don’t have to talk about families,” Kara says, picking up on her cue, matching her smile. “Don’t worry, I get it. So you said you’re in town for a vacation? Why’d you choose Midvale? It isn’t exactly Miami.”

Lena sips at her coffee thoughtfully. She hadn’t really thought about it other than the fact that it was far away from the madness of her family and the noise of the press. She just picked the first place she was shown by the sharky real estate agent who kept putting emphasis on how the town was “a perfect place to start a family.”

Lena had no intentions of such a thing, at least not now at this point in her life, but she could see why someone would pick Midvale for such an endeavor. “I guess...” she starts. “I guess...that kind of vacation isn’t for me. I’ve never been one to flaunt my money anyway...”

The blonde nods. “You don’t exactly seem like the flashy type.”

“Well, that depends on what your definition of ‘flashy is,” Lena quips with a small smile. “Everyone has a hobby they like to invest in. Some have boats, some have stocks, I have wine.”

Kara raises her eyebrows. “Wine? How could wine ever cost so much money?”

“Well—” Lena starts, and then she hears it. She doesn’t know where from; perhaps a TV left on in another room, but she hears it nonetheless.

“Police suspect that there are more victims than Lex Luthor admits. More bodies have been found at the scene of his torture chamber, where investigators say the Fortune 500 mogul mutilated dozens.”

Suddenly Lena’s palms are sweaty, and her vision begins to swim. “Em, actually, I just remembered I have to go,”

Kara looks perplexed. “Oh, really?” she stands up as Lena does, leading her to the door. “Are you sure? You okay? You look a little sick.”

Lena inhales and exhales through her nose, crossing the threshold to put some much needed distance between them. “Yeah. Yeah. I’m fine. I just, I forgot that I had something to do. I’ll see you around, yeah?”

Kara blinks. “Yeah sure.”

Lena parts without another word.

A few days later Lena’s sitting on her porch swing reading a book—a turn of the century romance novel she has stolen from her father’s study at home—when a sleek black motorcycle pulls up into the Danvers’ driveway. A woman not much taller than Kara slips off of it, and replaces her cherry red helmet with aviators. Kara bounds out of the house and runs to her, screaming like a banshee.

This must be the older sister Kara had been talking about, because the smile on the red headed woman’s face never leaves even when Kara pulls her into a crushing bear hug.

She lets her go when the older woman grunts, “Okay Kara, that’s enough.” though the smirk says the love was well appreciated. 

Sheepishly Kara obliges. “Sorry,” she says, bouncing on her feet like a little kid. “It’s been a while. You’re staying for the weekend?”

“Yeah,” the other woman responds. “Mom asked me to. I mean, I would have either way, but you know how she is.”

Kara nods. “Totally. Um, one sec,” She turns from her sister to peer over the hedges separating their yard from Lena's; her bright blue child-like eyes scaring Lena half to death.

“Hey!” she calls. 

Lena pretends to be engrossed in her book, hoping Kara didn’t notice her eavesdropping. Though she pays attention to Kara out the corner of her eye, smirking a bit when the other woman pouts.

“Hey! Pay attention to me!” Kara shouts, shaking the hedges. She grins when Lena snorts, finally putting her book down. “My sister’s home tonight so Eliza’s making kugel,” the excitement in her eyes is infectious.

“Kugel?” Lena blinks. “You’re Jewish?” she asks walking towards the hedge, her book long forgotten. 

Kara’s smile wanes as if the question physically pains her. “Converted,” she says softly. “It’s Alex’s favorite. I hope you don’t mind kosher.”

Lena folds her arms with a knowing smirk. “That depends. Are you inviting me to dinner?”

Kara shrugs, a slight blush washing over her features. “That depends,” she answers back. “Are you good at charades?”

It turns out Lena is indeed good at charades. She’s also good at drinking wine—and apparently so is Kara’s sister—because between her and Alex, two bottles of white are gone within a few hours. 

Lena learns that Alex is an FBI agent, so the times that she gets to come back to Midvale are few and far between. 

She finally meets Eliza, who she graciously thanks for the brownies. They had seen each other in passing, but had never talked due to Lena always staying inside. The woman has a kind and soft face. One with laugh lines and sparkling eyes. Complete opposite of her own mother's harsh and stoic features.

She reminds Lena of Kara in a way, how she truly cares for the people around her. She’d never met a group of people so close, so happy with each other. Even dinner itself had been such a cultural shock for her.

A family, laughing and talking, just being each other and listening to each other. It felt strange. Absolutely foreign. But she loved it.

“So, better than staying in that big empty house by yourself, right?” Kara nudges her as she sits back down on the couch with a beer—Kara wasn’t exactly a wine person.

Lena smiles softly at her, having given up her drink of choice for some hot tea. “It’s not empty. I have things in it.”

Kara raises a brow. “Things? Like what?”

“Books,” Lena insists. She doesn’t realize how silly it sounds until the sentence leaves her mouth. She rolls with it though. “They’re better than any romantic companion. Silent, strong, and there when I need them.”

 “If that’s what you want,” Alex chimes in, tipping her wine glass at her. “What you need is a dog.”

“Dogs cause messes,” Lena responds rolling her eyes. “Besides, I like being by myself."

She'd always been anyway. If it didn't have to do with her brother or being seen for the upkeep of appearances, Lena was rarely spoken to, and the only person that would check up on her, that she had thought was the only one who truly cared about her, was on trial right now for murder.

Lena suddenly felt sick to her stomach. "This was lovely, but em, I have to go," she gets up, placing her half empty cup on the glass coffee table.

Kara stands with her, and Lena is starting to feel like every time they meet is going to be some case of deja vu. "Hey, is everything okay?"

Lena flexes her hands, pulling the sleeves of her sweater over them- a nervous habit she developed as a child. "Yes, em, I just remembered I have some paperwork to do. Job and all that," she can feel the bile rising in her throat; the wine, the kugel, the homemade apple pie Eliza served after dinner—all threatening to come right back up. 

Kara seems to understand her panic, clearing her throat to get her mother and sister’s attention. “Lena’s gotta go.”

“Aw, really? So soon?” Alex whines. “We haven’t even gotten to charades yet.”

“I’m sorry,” Lena apologizes, tucking hair behind her ear. “Maybe next time, yeah?”

“Sure,” Alex points at her, grinning. “I’m holding you to it,”

Lena returns her smile, before following Kara to the door. “I’m sorry I keep leaving so abruptly like this it’s just—”

Kara holds up a hand. “You don’t have to explain it to me. Trust me, I know. Just take care of yourself, okay?” she lightly pats Lena on the shoulder, her firm, strong hand instantly soothing the storm rolling in her stomach.

Lena quickly says goodnight, stepping out into the mild darkness. She speed walks to her house and shuts the door behind her, feeling everything rise back up in her chest again. The hurt, the anger, the frustration, confusion, shame—all fighting for a place in her mind. 

Tears begin streaming down her cheeks. She tries to wipe them away with the sleeve of her cardigan, but they just keep coming. Soon she’s transported back to Metropolis, to the courtroom, to Lex’s sentencing. To the moment he looked at her with every ounce of disdain and disgust he had in his body as he was being led away to prison.

She’s brought back to the moment she returned to an empty house, to her mother sitting in the living room sipping on scotch, drunkenly blaming her for Lex’s demise. As if she was the one who held the knife to his throat, made him murder all those innocent people.

She’s brought back to the moment she decided that she couldn’t live in Metropolis anymore, under the Luthor name, the watchful eye of the public. She couldn’t do it anymore. The air in that house, in that city was oppressive, a consistent reminder of her brother.

Lena manages to calm her breathing. Manages to climb the stairs to her bedroom, and curl up under the covers, only managing to kick off her shoes. She lies there in the darkness, soaking it all in for hours on end it seems. She falls into fits of micro sleeps, blinking awake before her mind can fully rest.

And then, at three thirty on the dot, she’s awakened by a loud alarm. Not only is it loud, it’s incessant. Lena flings the covers off of herself and stalks over to her window to see that her room is apparently directly across from Kara’s, because Kara’s in the window, just staring. 

But she’s not staring at Lena. She’s staring past her.

It’s so bizarre, considering she’d never seen Kara’s face so blank before. It makes Lena uneasy, though she just chalks it up to sleepwalking. But then Kara’s moving. Out of the window across the room and outside the door. 

Lena doesn’t see her again until she appears on the front door step in a hoodie and a pair of running shorts. Who the hell runs at three am? And in such a peculiar mind set?

Kara disappears down the road. Lena tries to stay up to see if she’ll come back, but the sleep weighing on her body is too powerful now, and before she knows it, she’s curled back up in her bed, her thoughts of Kara and the window behind her.

Chapter Text

The next morning, Lena finds herself sitting at the kitchen island with a cup of tea and a bagel, reading a few news articles. She doesn’t know why she tortures herself like this; maybe it was a sense of familiarity, or morbid curiosity, but she always finds herself looking for anything and everything on Lex. 

And the videos. Whether it be some in depth analysis by a day time television doctor or some round table chat by C-list celebrities way past their prime, she watched every single one. And every time Lex’s picture popped up, her heart would always seize and her stomach would lurch.

She’s getting better though, at least now she can make it through without hyperventilating. 

Lena decides to distract herself by reading on the porch again. It was almost mid afternoon and the sun was beginning to climb to its highest peak. The weekend was finally here, and everyone on the block is out and about on their lawns doing various activities.

Including Kara, who, from what Lena can see, is trying to start a pull mower. 

“C’mon, baby!” she growls, pulling at the string again. “You’ve worked for twelve years! You can’t give up on me now!” she continues her ministrations, sweat building on her brow the more she works her arm in the hot sun.

Finally giving up after another five minutes of nothing, she stands to full height, her shoulders broad and eyes focused. If Lena didn’t know any better she’d think Kara was about to fight the damned thing.

“Perhaps it’s time for a new mower?” Lena teases from across the hedge. 

Kara whirls around to see Lena’s head peeking over. She's a few inches shorter than her, so she couldn’t exactly see over it the way the blonde could. 

“Hey neighbour,”  Kara grins walking over to the hedge. “Uh no, it is not time for a new mower. This was my dad’s and I intend to keep it running for as long as I can.”

Lena peers past her at the ancient mower. “I think it's been as long as you can, Kara.” She tells her solemnly like a doctor breaking bad news to a patient. “It’s certainly seen better days.”

“Nonsense,” Kara waves her hand as Lena snorts. “All it needs is someone to look at it. Alex is in town, but I can see if she can check it out later.”

Lena bites her lip, almost instantly regretting the words the moment they leave her mouth.“Em, I could take a look at it if you want.”

Kara’s face brightens. “Really? You know how to service mowers?” she puts her hands on her hips in astonishment and frankly Lena thinks she’s giving her absolutely way too much credit.

“No,” Lena responds, and Kara frowns a little. “But I do know how to take things apart and put them back together again, so I’m sure I can be of some assistance.”

They end up in Kara’s garage, the lawn mower disassembled; parts strewn about the floor. 

Lena’s inspecting every part in order to find the root cause of the problem when she happens upon a component covered in grease. “God, Kara did you or your father ever clean this thing?” The disgust in her voice is visible as she tosses the part with a dull clunk into another pile.

Kara blinks, obviously dumbfounded. “You’re supposed to clean it?”

Lena stops, turning to her as dumbfounded as she is. “Yes? Did you think lawn mowers cleaned themselves? Especially ones from a bygone era that is the nighties?”

Kara shrugs. “I guess not,” she grumbles. “But hey! Maybe if we hose everything off, it’ll work again!” and her sunny demeanor is right back. Lena finds it endearing, though not exactly helpful.

“Although your enthusiasm is infectious, the probability of this thing working again is not likely,” Lena softly pats her on the shoulder. “You might want to think about investing in a new mower.”

“Okay. Well then, let's go.”

Lena blinks. “Go where?”

“To get a new mower!” Kara says, like it's the most obvious thing in the world. “It’ll be fun!”

“Kara I don’t exactly know what you do for entertainment but I’m sure to many normal people shopping for a lawn mower isn’t ‘fun’.” Lena responds with air quotes. “Besides, we can’t just leave a greasy mess. There’s parts everywhere.” she gestures about herself with a raised brow.

Pulling a garbage can from a far side of the garage, Kara wordlessly—and effortlessly, Lena might add—picks up every part she could gather in her arms and dumps it into the can with a resounding clunk . “Now we can go,” she announces, her tone matter of fact.

Lena rolls her eyes, seeing that there was no way out of this. “Fine. I’ll accompany you.” She walks past Kara and out of the garage. “But you’re buying me lunch!”

Kara’s face doesn’t sour at all.


Lena thinks that they’d actually end up at some Mom and Pop hardware store, but ultimately is surprised when they pull into the parking lot of a giant Home Depot. 

“Lotta DIY people around here,” Kara explains, catching on to her confusion as she parks. “A little rinky dink store wouldn’t cut it.”

Truth be told, Lena had never really been inside a hardware store before. As a matter of fact, she’s never even held a tool before. But the smell of wood chips, dirt, and oil intrigues her, unlocking the memory of the woods behind her mother’s cottage back in Ireland. Kara makes a beeline for the lawn care department, Lena following behind her until she sees the familiar sight of greenery.

“I’ll be right back,” she says distractedly, waving her hand. She walks over to the greenhouse area where every single type of houseplant she could think of is stacked to the ceiling. Orchids, Jades, Chinese evergreens, Laceleafs—even cactuses, which Lena was really fascinated by, considering they were nowhere near the southwest.

She gravitates towards a particularly small one in a tiny brown pot. It didn’t have many leaves, but it did have signs of a flower beginning to bud. She inspects it, while admiring the similar ones beside it.

“Are you sure that’s her?” She hears someone whisper behind her. Her back stiffens as they continue. “She doesn’t look that much like her to me.”

“That is her,” Another person, perhaps the one beside the first commenter. “It’s the Luthor girl. Her family’s killed so many people. How is she just able to walk free?”

Lena’s mouth goes dry. Her palms start to sweat and her ears begin burning hot with embarrassment. I didn’t do anything. Why am I being sneered at for his crimes? She lets out a shuddering breath, pretending to still be looking at the plants.

“Maybe she paid the DA off,” someone else said in a hushed tone. “Powerful families are known to do that.”

“And let her brother rot in jail? That’s horrible,”

Tears well in Lena’s eyes. Being blamed for what her brother did was nothing new. But being out in public in a town no where near Metropolis, to hear people say she belonged in jail, right alongside him, broke her. Slowly Lena puts the cactus down, and walks away before picking up speed and running for the exit. She bumps into something solid and blinks, confused when strong hands stop her from hitting the ground. 

“Hey, hey, where’s the fire?” Kara’s deep familiar voice jokes, before taking on a more serious tone. “Are you okay?”

“No,” Lena sobs, blinking away tears. “Can I go sit in the car please?”

“The car? Wh—”

  Lena feels like she’s seconds away from making a scene. “Kara.”

 “Okay,” Kara immediately hands her the keys. Lena makes to leave but the taller woman doesn’t let go. “We don’t have to talk about it,” she says, “but I’m willing to listen when you’re ready,”

Lena doesn’t respond, just walks away from Kara as soon as she lets go. Even on the way out Lena can feel people staring at her, mocking her, whispering about her behind her back. But she keeps walking. Keeps her head forward until she sees Kara’s car, and when she’s close enough she uses the remote to open the driver’s side door. 

She enters to utterly complete silence, a silence so deafening it makes her ears hurt. The next thing she knows she’s screaming—sobbing, really—and hitting the steering wheel chanting “Fuck, fuck, fuck, fuck!”

She’s sure the family in the minivan that’s just parked beside Kara’s pick up can see and possibly hear her, but she doesn’t care. Let them see. She’s already a spectacle for the world anyway. What’s a few more people?

She balls her fists in her hair, gulping down deep breaths as she tries to calm herself. She hasn’t had a panic attack this bad since Lex had locked her in the hallway closet when they were children. He’d always said that it had been just a joke, but being shrouded in darkness, unable to see anything, Lena never felt so claustrophobic and alone. 

Kind of like how she feels right now.

Lena upturns the hood of her cardigan and buries herself in it, tears silently streaming down her face. This was a mistake. She should have known no matter where she went people were going to recognize her. She did testify at Lex’s trial after all. She’s never going to leave her house again. Lena knew that was a dramatic declaration, but completely necessary given the circumstances. Kara’s face flashes in her mind, the dimples of her cheeks and the way her laugh is loud and infectious. Kara would never let her wallow in her self pity. But Kara didn’t know that Lena’s brother was a sociopathic murder.

She spends the next half hour like that, ping ponging back and forth on whether she should tell Kara who she was or not. Kara was the only good thing that’s happened to her in a really long time. Losing someone like her would break Lena, and she honestly believed she couldn’t handle that kind of loss.

The sound of a finger tapping on the driver’s side window pulls Lena out of her thoughts. She looks up and sees Kara standing there with a brand new lawn mower in one hand and something in a small plastic bag in the other. 

With an almost inaudible “Hup,” she effortlessly tosses it into the back of the truck, grinning as Lena opens the door for her. “Hey,” her smile is soft and comforting, like a warm blanket during a thunderstorm. 

“Hey,” Lena croaks back, realizing that her voice must be hoarse from all her crying. She clears her throat to compensate. “Hey.” she tries again. “What’s in the bag?”

“Oh this?” Kara asks, holding up the plastic bag. “Nothin’.” She giggles when Lena raises a brow. “Okay, okay. I’ll tell you. But first, close your eyes.” 

Lena gives her an ‘Are you serious?’ look but does as she’s told.

“Alright, hands out,” Kara instructs, pulling whatever the mystery object was out of the bag. “And no peeking! I’ll know!”

Lena rolls her eyes despite them being closed. “Yes, yes. Just give me the damned thing already.” something small and cylindrical is placed into the palm of her hands, and she opens her eyes to see a small cactus in a bright brown clay pot. “What—What is this?” she’s immensely confused, especially since Kara hadn’t even been with her.

Kara shrugs. “A present. I mean, I don’t know. You were so spooked back there. I wanted to get you something nice. I saw you looking at those tiny plants so I thought you’d like one.” she rubs the back of her neck self consciously. “It seemed like those people really said something that hurt you bad. You don’t have to talk about it, like I said, but when you’re ready, I’m here.”

Lena blinks, still taking in all of it. “Em, yeah. It’s—I love it.” she settles. “Thank you, Kara. I really appreciate it.” 

Kara beams at her. “Yeah! I’m glad you like it! And um, if you’re still up for lunch I know this really good place.” her voice is suddenly sheepish and a reddish hue tints her cheeks.

Lena rolls her eyes playfully. “I mean, you did offer. You can’t exactly go back on your promise now.”

“I mean I could ,” Kara responds, starting the car. “I just wouldn’t be a good friend for it.”

They pull into a diner a few miles out of town. Lena had honestly never been to one before. She had always seen them in movies and old pictures but never up close and in real life. From the moment she stepped into the Luthor family it was always five star restaurants and personal chiefs. 

She missed what little of her mother’s cooking she could remember, and walking into a restaurant that didn’t have five stars attached to it for the first time in a long time really brought her back. The memories were fuzzy around the edges, but the warm feeling of closeness to her mother was one that she could never forget. 

Stepping into the diner, Lena’s senses are overwhelmed with the smell of all kinds of fried foods. Ones she’s only dreamed of. Ones that, if Lililan were here, would chastise her for even thinking of putting into her body. 

But as she and Kara slide into a booth in the far corner of the restaurant, she realizes that she’s taken moments like these—the few she’s had—for granted. She would kill for some semblance of normalcy like this in her life again.

“I know it’s not a five star restaurant,” Kara tells her sheepishly as the waitress walks off with their drink orders. “But I still owed you one.”

Lena rolls her eyes. “I’m not going to die if I don’t eat foie gras for once in my life. I haven’t had a burger in ages .” the semi-groan at the end of her sentence makes Kara blush. Lena isn’t exactly how to feel about that, but she files it away for later.

“Fwa graw?” Kara twists her face, causing Lena to snort. “Is that like, fancy grass?”

Foie gras,” Lena corrects her with a smirk. “It’s french for duck or goose liver fat. Very common in french cuisine.”

“Does french toast count as French cuisine?” 

Lena fights the urge to roll her eyes again. “Uh, no .”

Kara opens her mouth to say something else but Lena stops her, knowing exactly what she’s gonna say. “And no, french fries aren’t a French cuisine either.”

The blonde presses her lips into a thin line. “Okay, now I feel stupid. Sorry.”

“Don’t be,” Lena dismisses as the waitress comes back with their drinks—a Dr. Pepper and a lemonade. “They don’t exactly teach these things in public school.”

“What makes you think I went to public school?” Kara says, folding her arms over her chest indignantly as the waitress leaves once again to put their meal orders in. 

Lena shrugs. “Oh, I don’t know,” she responds with a sly smirk. “Maybe it could be the fact that you grew up in a small town, or maybe it could be the fact that the hoodie in the back of your truck says ‘Property of Midvale High’.”

Kara blushes, knowing she’s lost. “Hmm. Touche. What about you? I bet you went to a really fancy school.”

“I wouldn’t exactly say fancy ,” Lena frowns, fiddling with her silverware. It was a that the set had clearly seen of years of use. “But it was prestigious.”

“Did you go to school with your brother?”

Lena’s throat suddenly goes dry. “No,” she manages, resisting the urge to stab herself with her fork. “He was...older. There’s a seven year age gap. I’m adopted.”

“Oh well, hey! At least we have another thing in common!” Kara’s smile is bright and slightly giddy, like a child who found a new friend who liked the same color. “I was thirteen. What about you?”

Glad that they were no longer on the subject of her brother, Lena answers, “Four. Didn’t really have a choice.” she grins a bit, hoping it comes off as a joke. She sighs in relief when Kara’s expression mirrors hers, though with a tinge of sadness.

“Neither of us really did, unfortunately,” Kara’s tone is soft and distant; her mind undoubtedly somewhere else. Lena could almost see it, the pain brimming behind those baby blue eyes, almost like restless storm waves lapping at the shore. Waiting to breach the levees that hold it at bay.

They sit in silence for a while after that.

Lena tries to think of something to say, something that would lead their conversation into a different direction, but is ultimately saved when the waitress returns with their food. She had never been so happy to see a cobb salad in her entire life.

Kara seems to share the same sentiments, because her eyes are no longer distant and grey, but bright with excitement and hunger. “I haven’t had one of these in months!”

Chewing on a piece of lettuce, Lena eyes the gigantic burger in front of the woman across from her and says, “And what exactly is one of these” —she gestures vaguely at it with her fork in mild disgust—“anyway?”

This ,” Kara responds proudly, presenting the cholesterol nightmare to Lena like some kind of trophy, “Is a Midvale Mountain High Burger. Six patties of beef, ten strips of bacon, four pieces of lettuce, three of tomato, ranch, mustard, ketchup, mayo and seven slices of American cheese.” 

The satisfied look on Kara’s face actually makes Lena sick. “Good god, Kara,” she says, almost more interested now in watching Kara finish her burger than eating her own salad. “How can you even stomach such a thing?”

“Lots of running,” Kara answers her after taking a gigantic—and sloppy—bite. “Weights too. I have a fast metabolism anyway so it all just comes right off.”

Okay now Lena was skeptical. “Bullshit,” Lena laughs despite herself as Kara continues to dig in. “That thing is at least ten thousand calories. How are you not keeling over in cardiac arrest right now?”

Kara appears to think it over before shrugging. “I 'unno. Beats me.”

Gaping at how a quarter of the burger was gone already, Lena mumbles, “Your nonchalance about your eating habits infuriate me.”

Kara gives her a toothy—and surprisingly burger free—grin that sends a shiver down her spine. “Thanks, so I’ve heard.”

Rolling her eyes with a blush, Lena changes the subject. “So do you have a day job, or do you just enjoy meandering around your hometown?”

“Ouch,” Kara winces playfully, taking another bite. “No, I have a job, don’t worry. I’m just....On leave.” something about her tone changes, and Lena notices that she’s gone concerningly quiet.

“Leave? Did...did something happen?” Lena feels like it’s not her place to ask, but like many times before in her childhood, her curiosity got the best of her, and she isn’t surprised when the question brings a frown to Kara’s face.

“Yeah, sort of,” Kara sighs, staring off at the neon Budweiser sign blinking above the bar. “It’s hard to talk about it, sorry.” she says, turning back to her with a wane smile.

Lena nods, completely understanding. Trauma was like trying to swallow a pill that wouldn’t go down no matter how much water you drank. It was better to bury it into the deep recesses of your mind like an old t-shirt in your closet than deal with the emotions and hardships that came with it. Lena knew that better than anyone else.

Little boxes were her specialty. Compartmentalizing had been her way to cope with the cards she had been dealt even from a young age. Concealing emotions was the best way to keep them from interfering with daily life. But it also let them bubble and boil like a pot of water set on high. One wrong move, and the entire thing could come spilling out, burning everyone—including Kara.

“I think since you offered it to me, it’s only fair I do the same,” Lena asserts, taking Kara’s big hands into her smaller ones. “When you’re ready to talk about it, I’m ready to listen.” her smile is faint, but the way Kara’s eyes shift from stormy grey to clear blue lets her know that the blonde appreciates the gesture.

They sit like that for a while, in comfortable silence as they finish the meals. Sometimes they make small talk about the patrons around them, or about things they like to do. It makes Lena realize that there’s so much more she has to learn about Kara— wants to learn about Kara.

Soon they’re on the road again, and the rock that had been sitting in Lena’s stomach seems to have disappeared. Kara, with her big goofy grin, faint freckles and handsome face, had eased Lena’s nerves just a bit, enough for her to actually enjoy herself for the first time in a long time.

“Nuh uh,” Kara giggles as they turn onto their block. “You can’t just sit here and say JT was your favorite member and not give a reason why!”

Lena quirks her brow, laughing with her. “Yes I can! What other reason could I possibly give besides the fact that he’s the most successful member?”

“He’s so basic! He’s literally all everyone remembers about NSYNC!” 

This time Lena cant help the laugh that barks out of her. “Since when did you become an early two thousands pop connoisseur?”

“Since I became a Danvers!” Kara snorts as if it's the most obvious thing. “Did you think Alex would accept me into the family if I didn’t get subjected to listening to pop royalty?”

Lena blinks. “ Alex? Your motorcycle riding FBI agent sister listened to Millenial pop?” she scoffs. “I don’t believe you.”

“Of course you don’t,” Kara affirms, pulling into the Danvers’ driveway. “She’d kill me if anyone found out. She’s got this whole bad girl butch thing going on and it’d mess with that if people knew she used to squeal over The Backstreet Boys.”

Please tell me you have pictures of that,” Lena says, getting out, watching Kara effortlessly shoulder the new mower. 

“Of course I do,” Kara is giddy with excitement. “She thinks she destroyed them all before college but oh no, I have every single one. I’m just waiting for her wedding to strike.”

Lena gasps in faint horror. “Oh, that’s devious!” she giggles, following Kara into the now open garage. 

Kara puts down the mower and bows, clearly enjoying Lena’s praise.

A warm, comfortable silence falls over them, one with a clear undertone of fondness, and maybe a hit of something more. It made Lena anxious, but in the night before a school trip way.

The spell is broken when a voice clears its throat and both women jump apart as if they had been caught doing something. Lena looks up to see it’s Alex, who has a knowing smirk on her face. “Hey, not to interrupt, but Mom needs you to help her with the dishes.”

Kara rolls her eyes, clearly dreading the task. “Really? We have a dishwasher for a reason,” she grumbles, but makes her way into the house anyway.

It feels awkward now with Kara gone. They talked extensively during dinner last night, but besides what Kara told her, Lena barely knew anything about Alex. And the way Alex was looking at her, like she was a specimen under a microscope, didn’t help either.

“You know,” Alex starts, nearly startling Lena out of her thoughts. “I’ve been trying to convince Kara to get rid of that piece of crap since Dad died. Both me and Mom. And yet somehow, you convince her in one afternoon.” her smile is still present, and it was honestly starting to creep Lena out.

“I—Uh—” she begins, feeling like she has to explain herself for some reason. “She promised food if I went with her to get a new one.” 

Lena could feel in her soul that that had been the dumbest answer ever.

Alex is doubled over now, cackling, her laughter echoing off the concrete walls. “You’re a funny one, Lena. I hope she keeps you around,” she says, before stepping back into the house.

Lena stands there for a moment, wondering what the bloody hell just happened. “Right, okay.” she says, walking out of the garage and striding over to her house. She sends a quick text to Kara thanking her for the meal and that she had to leave to complete some work—which wasn’t a total cop out if it was true.

She works well into the wee hours of the morning, researching into the media frenzy surrounding her brother. Her heart skips a beat every time she sees his face, almost like he was taunting her through the screen. Even thousands of miles away locked up in a maximum security jail cell, Lex still had a hold on her.

When the eye strain becomes too great, Lena puts down her laptop and rubs her face with a groan. She knows she shouldn’t torture herself like this, but she can’t help her morbid curiosity. Lillian always said it’d be the death of her.

So she decides to call it a night, and goes through the motions of her night time routine. She’s in the middle of brushing her teeth when she hears the familiar sound of a screen door slamming shut. She peeks her head out of the bathroom and is rewarded with the sound of keys jingling before fading footsteps.

Again? Lena thinks, padding over to the window. She sees Kara’s retreating back. Glancing at the clock, Lena realizes that it’s three thirty on the dot. So Kara’s run wasn’t just a random abnormality yesterday. It seemed to be a routine. 

One that Lena really wanted to find out about.