"Guys, I can't believe this is the first day of senior year," Winn exhales.
"Might be our last too the way this truck's going," Nia mumbles under her breath.
"Hey!" Kara scolds, glancing at her rear view mirror. "You're all being overdramatic. Krypton's fine."
"Yeah, come on. Kara's worked so hard to bring this... thing," James clears his throat, dodging Kara's glare. "...back to life and we should be grateful Winn's mom isn't driving us to school anymore!"
"This thing is called Krypton," Kara corrects proudly.
"What? Like the little guy from Spongebob?" James snorts, earning a laugh from the two friends at the back, already in stitches.
Kara swats his arm hard enough to get him and the two at the back to finally shut up. She's a lot stronger than she looks.
"Ow, Danvers..." James feigns pain. "If I hadn't been working on these guns..." James flexes his bicep, much to everyone's disgust.
"...over the summer, you would've caused some real bruising."
Kara jabs at his rib, causing him to flinch in reflex. "Alright. You can put those sticks away, your stop's coming up."
Winn and Nia yell out appropriate "Boo!"s as the truck stalls to a halt by the school gates.
Kara understands. Really, she does. She understands that James, having unofficially made first string for the school's football team after spending his entire summer training with them, is determined to keep his “unofficial” spot by staying in their good books.
And staying in their good books means hanging out with the cool kids (the football team) before morning practice instead of... the lesser cool kids (...the ones left sitting in the rusty pickup truck).
"I'll see you guys later, okay?" James points at Winn and Nia.
He takes a few steps before turning around and adding, "And thank you for the ride, Kara. You did a great job on Krypton."
Kara beams. "Get outta here, Jimmy."
They watch him walk away, watch him receive high fives thrown at him by his new friends. And Kara swears it only stings like a tiny little bit. But she knows how much being on the starting team means to him (even more so his dad, who still holds the school record for most touchdowns scored in a season) so she brushes it off. Winn on the other hand...
"I hate those righteous dicks."
...clearly has a problem brushing it off as easily.
Once Kara finally gets the engine to start which takes a lot of willpower and sheer concentration to block out the panicked voices in her backseat, they begin to make their way into the school parking lot.
And all of a sudden, she's wishing they'd set off earlier because the growing crowds are suddenly making her feel self-conscious of the rundown vehicle she's driving.
"Ta-da," Kara half-heartedly exclaims after pulling into park as Nia reaches out to ruffle the top of her head in proud congratulations.
"You coming?" Winn swings the truck door open.
"Give me a second," Kara says, bringing her knees to her chest as she ties her tattered sneakers' shoelaces.
They're Alex's hand-me-downs which Kara inherited after the older Danvers left for college. Granted, they're worn down and half a size too big for Kara but they're lucky shoes. And honestly, Kara could use all the luck she can get this year.
Alex was visiting from college for a weekend and the two sisters had decided that they'd spend the afternoon riding their bikes to the lake.
"How exactly are they lucky?"
"Have you ever seen me lose a race in these?"
"When I won top prize at the science fair. What pair of shoes did I have on?"
"And when I got accepted into NCU-"
"Okay, I get it!"
"Well, they're yours now."
"Alex, you were just bragging about how they're magic and blah, blah, blah-"
"I don't think I need them anymore," Alex had said, uncharacteristically shy and to Kara's shock, she's blushing. "I met someone. Think I've lucked out with this one."
That was the first time Alex had ever told Kara about Maggie.
Kara scramble out of the truck, books and bags in tow, heading into the main building. She shoves her truck keys into the deep pockets of her oversized denim jacket as she struggles to keep her books tucked between her arms.
She's trailing slightly behind Nia and Winn who have already began to make their way to their lockers when a clumsy misstep on the very shoelace she's JUST tied sends her books flying from of her arms all over the floor.
Oh god. Oh no.
This is not happening. This is cannot happening.
She begins to hear the bubbling of laughter spreading down the hall and in lightning speed she's on her knees, desperately collecting her books one by one, when she realises another set of hands are helping her.
"Are you alright?"
Her eyes look up to meet soft green ones. She's stunned for a split second, like a line of electricity ran from her chest to the pit of her stomach.
Quickly shaking herself back into consciousness, she stands up, the girl in front of her - none other than the most popular girl in Midvale High, Lena Luthor herself, who seems just as flustered - following suit.
"Are you okay?" Lena asks.
"Yeah," Kara huffs. "Yeah, I'm fine."
Lena lets out a visible a sigh of relief which Kara would've noticed had she not been busy making sure none of her textbooks were damaged. They cost Eliza a lot of money.
"Organic Chemistry Edition 3," Lena reads out, a little breathless. "You're in Mr. Edge's AP class too?"
"Uh, yeah," Kara replies, grinning awkwardly.
"Me too. Here," Lena hands over the textbook.
"Thank you," Kara says, meeting the green eyes that haven't seem to have looked away from her yet.
As if reading her mind, Lena glances down at Kara's old sneakers and the blonde is filled with pure embarrassment that - Lena Luthor who is wearing black, runway-ready, leather boots - is looking at her please-throw-them-away-already-Kara sneakers.
"Your shoelaces are undone," Lena points out, smiling, before quickly returning her eyes to Kara's face.
"I think I gathered that with the whole tripping in front of the school and all," Kara giggles, quite uncomfortably now because why is Lena still staring at her?
Lena laughs before turning her head as she hears her name called.
"I... have to get going now," Lena says. "See you around."
"See you," Kara nods, still a little starstrucked.
And with that, Lena walks away, her lingering perfume the only proof the whole exchange even happened.
"You expect me to believe that Lena Luthor actually spoke to you? Like, Lena Luthor, Lena Luthor?"
"I'm not repeating myself again, James," Kara sighs.
"It was straight out of a movie is what it was," Nia snorts. "They were in the middle of the hallway just… gawking at each other for like five minutes."
"No, that's exactly what happened," Winn confirms.
Kara and her friends are sat at the back of their homeroom class, James on Kara's right while Nia and Winn sat on the row behind them, explaining what Nia had described as a "meet-cute" to James.
"Guys, it wasn't a big deal!"
"Why are your cheeks all red then?"
"Nia! I just tripped and fell in front of everyone on my first day of school!" Kara hisses.
"Right..." Nia squints suspiciously. "Or..."
"No. I fell, dropped my books, she helped me, she walked away. The end," Kara states. "And would you look at that, you made me repeat myself again."
"Kara," James begins excitedly. "You know who I've had the biggest thing for since freshman year, right?"
"Really?" Kara scoffs. "You're still into Lena?"
"Seriously?" James retorts. "Dude, it's Lena Luthor!"
Nia and Winn nod in agreement.
Kara thinks back to Lena's green eyes and how pretty she really was up close. Sure, her reputation precedes her but honestly she really thought Lena was just that girl all the guys were after but never really got. The elusive girl next door.
"You've never even spoken to her," Kara notes.
"No," James shrugs. "But you have. And you're going to be in her class too. Man, Alex was so right about those shoes!"
"Look," Kara says. "Just because I'm in the same AP class as Lena Luthor doesn't mean that I'm ever going to get to talk to her again, okay?"
"I don't know," Nia says, unconvinced. "That was a pretty solid meet-cute."
"Please stop calling it that," Kara blushes. "It was a really embarrassing moment for me."
"She does have really nice eyes, right?" James smiles. "I remember I passed by her a few times in between classes."
"I didn't really notice," Kara lies, glancing at Nia who raises a suspicious eyebrow.
Before Nia can make a smart-aleck comment, Kara quickly gathers her things to leave. "Well, I have to get to class. I'll catch you guys later."
"Put in a good word for me," James says. And Kara thinks he's being serious too.
"I'll have to do that telepathically because as I said," Kara shrugs comically. "It was a one-time encounter."
Nia blows a raspberry, dismissing the idea. "I'm calling it, she's gonna be her new lab partner or something."
Kara actually laughs genuinely at the thought of it. "Don't worry, James, if I end up being Lena's new lab partner, I'll be the best wingwoman ever."
They laugh at what seemed to Kara as such an outlandish idea before she makes her way to her first Chemistry class of senior year.
This had to be joke, Kara thinks to herself.
It had to be a joke. Because as she's staring up the pinned up sheet on the wall by the class door (titled: Lab Partner Allocation), she's wondering why her name was next to Lena Luthor's.
She reads the sheet.
Below, you will find your allocated lab partner for this year and the date of the final research deadline.
She reads it again.
Damn it, Nia.