Night Shift

a Supergirl fan fiction by

Douglas Neman

Cat walked out of her private elevator, put one hand on her hip and asked, "Why are you here, Mr. Schott?"

Winn looked around the office, as if mildly surprised to find that it was dark and that he and Cat were the only ones there. The light from his monitor illuminated his face.

"Oh, I just...decided to work the night shift for a few weeks," he said.

"Why?"

"Uh...it just fits my schedule better these days." Winn gave her a weak smile. "Why are you here?"

"Because when you own a multi-billion dollar corporation, sometimes sleep is not an option." As she strode into her office she called back, "Since you're here, make yourself useful and get me coffee."

Winn scowled for a bit, wondering where in the world he would find coffee at this time of night. He'd probably have to make it in the break room.

"Yes, ma'am," he muttered, and strolled off.

He returned ten minutes later with a hot cup of coffee. He brought it into her office.

Cat was rifling through the papers in an accordion file. Without looking up, she nodded towards a random spot on her desk. "Just set it there. No, not like that, put one of the coasters under it. Honestly."

"I know," he said with a weak smile as he set the coffee down. "Kara does this better than I do."

"Kira isn't here. She's on a date tonight with my son."

Winn's world tilted. "Your...your son?" he croaked. "That's...that's nice." He walked like a zombie back to his desk and sat down. He stared at the screen without seeing it. His mind was blank.

He blinked when a shadow moved across his vision. He looked up to find Cat standing next to him. She had just waved her hand in front of his face.

"Earth to Wit," she said.

"Oh...uh...hi. Yes."

"I called your name four times, but no one's home. Whatever you're taking, it's not worth losing your job over."

Winn just blinked at her. It took him a few seconds to understand what she meant.

"Oh, no...no, I don't...do drugs, Miss Grant. I'm...I've just got a lot on my mind right now."

"Hmm," she said noncommittally. She could have been expressing either sympathy or annoyance; it was difficult to tell with her. It might even have been both.

She dumped a stack of papers on his desk. "I need three copies of all of this as soon as possible. Front and back."

"What's the rush?"

"CatCo is facing a lawsuit tomorrow at 10 AM, and this documentation greatly increases our chances of winning."

"Lawsuits move at the speed of molasses. You should have had months to get this information together, but you put it off until the last minute?"

"No, the attorney I fired two hours ago put this off until the last minute! That's why I'm here! Get copying. And no, I don't expect you to do it as fast as Kira. Just get it done."

At the mention of Kara's name, Winn gazed at her desk, and his heart jumped into his throat again.

Cat clapped her hands impatiently. Winn snapped out of it.

"What?" Cat asked sharply. She glanced around to see what Winn had been looking at, turned back to him, saw the look in his eyes, and instantly knew what his problem was.

"Oh, for heaven's sake!" Cat groaned. "What is going on around here, lately? Is this the executive office of the most successful media company in the history of the human race or the set of All My Children? Is it something in the water? Don't I pay you Millenials enough not to fall in love with each other?"

"Uh...no...no, actually, you...you don't."

Cat gave him a sardonic look, both pleased and upset that he'd actually answered what had been a rhetorical question. Annoyed, she said, "Ask Kira out and get it over with."

"Kara doesn't feel the same way," Winn said softly.

Cat folded her arms. "So you started working nights so you don't have to see her. Well, good for you for moving on."

Winn sighed. "Until you told me she was on a date with someone else," he whispered, looking at Kara's desk. "I really wish you hadn't told me that. It's too soon."

"If she's not interested in you, then what does it matter whether she's out with someone else or not?"

Winn snapped. "When the one you love is being held by someone else, it's a special kind of dying inside! Okay? It's...it's not like anything else in the world!"

Cat's face softened. Winn glared at her. They were both silent for a moment.

She leaned on his desk. "Yes," she said softly. "Yes, that's true. And I'm sorry. I know it hurts. Even I have experienced...something like this. But here's the thing about romantic love, Wit: it's reciprocal. If it's not returned, then it's just an infatuation."

The expression on Winn's face slowly changed as he thought long and hard about that.

"And the more you pine after something you can't have, the more time you waste out of your mortal existence," she continued. "So you need to find the nearest mirror, give yourself a smile, and say, 'It's her loss.' But I know you won't do that because you don't believe it. You don't want to do it. Deep down, you never felt you deserved her anyway, did you?"

Winn just stared at her for a moment. "How do you know so much?" he finally asked softly.

"Wit, I was born at night, but I wasn't born last night."

Winn actually cracked a small smile at that.

"Somewhere deep inside yourself, you tell yourself that you're not worthy," Cat said. "Maybe you tell yourself that you're not as handsome as other men, or not as strong, or not as smooth, or not as rich. You tell yourself that you're less than others. You don't notice it consciously, but you do it. You probably say it to yourself at least a thousand times a day. And we believe what we tell ourselves. So you need to tell yourself that you're worth it, that you're a wonderful man, and that it's her loss."

"And I'll just magically feel something because I tell it to myself?"

"That's what you do already. That's what every single human being on the planet does, and most people don't realize it. I'm simply telling you to change the message so that it's closer to reality." She smiled at him warmly. "Now, I give you five minutes to go find a mirror and tell yourself something better than the garbage you've been telling yourself for years. Then make these copies. I need them by midnight."

"Yes, ma'am," Winn said, and stood up. "And...thanks."

"No problem," Cat said, striding back into her office. "I expect to see you back on the day shift before the end of next week."

Winn smiled. He looked at Kara's desk for a moment, and somehow, suddenly, it didn't hurt as much.

He picked up the stack of papers and went to find a mirror.

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