“Awed by her splendor
stars near the lovely
moon cover their own
is roundest and lights
earth with her silver.”
It would be a lie for Lena to say she’d been in love with Kara Danvers her entire life. Truthfully, she spent many years in blissful ignorance of the other girl’s existence - not to say that Kara was a blight on her life, but she acknowledged the fact that her brain was far less scattered back when it was free of blonde hair and sunshine smiles.
Life was simpler without Kara Danvers. That much was true. That much was also a ridiculous notion considering Lena could count the amount of times they had interacted on one hand. But still, simpler. Simpler to pretend the feelings Kara had for her were nothing more than normal platonic appreciation. Simpler to pretend she was happy playing into both society’s and her family’s expectations.
And yet far less colourful.
It wouldn’t be too far from the truth to say that Lena Luthor fell in love with Kara Danvers the second she set eyes on her. Sixteen years old and newly uprooted from the city she grew up in, it took Lena all of three seconds of staring at an impossibly bright smile for her heart to start chanting an unfamiliar rhythm. It seemed like nothing at first. Another thing to sweep under the carpet and ignore in favour of carving herself to fit into the mould created for her. A meaningless infatuation that would soon dissipate if Lena just avoided contact long enough.
And she did.
For two years Lena had avoided Kara Danvers like the plague. She never returned smiles or hallway hellos or the waves that she definitely didn’t feel worthy of. She conceded by giving her a pen once in Physics, slipped a little more by insisting Kara simply keep it at the end of the period, and then regretted it every day after when she caught sight of the ‘L’ engraved pen twirling through nimble fingers, because of course Kara Danvers was the kind of girl that couldn’t sit still - maybe that was why she spent so much time running through Lena’s mind.
But avoiding Kara didn’t stop the twitch in Lena’s fingers, the mumble of her lips in the shower, the words tumbling through her brain at all hours begging to be immortalised in cheap ink and far too expensive journals. And Lena, being as weak as she is, inevitably gave in. Page after page after page of sagacious stanzas and half finished thoughts and stuttering observations.
Lena spent half of her time writing poems about Kara Danvers. She dedicated entire books to her. Found some piece of her in every single thing she tried to create. Spent the other half trapped in a rabbit hole of her own hearts devising. She supposed it was only a matter of time before someone realised what she was always writing and she also supposed she should have been grateful that it was Mike Matthews considering he was one of few people that could have seen her poetry and not connect the dots back to National City High’s resident sweetheart.
Lena’s not really sure how she allows it to begin. It’s not like she needs the money. She really doesn’t need the money - she doesn’t even need the protection Mike promised in some kind of supposed added bonus alongside it all.
In truth, everything Lena was offered to write love poems to Kara Danvers and sign them Mike Matthews in an attempt to woo her for him was completely irrelevant to her (not that she doesn’t take the money) and yet, still, in some kind of moment of sheer stupidity and weakness she agreed. Not that it’s too much of a surprise. Lena hadn’t made a smart decision concerning Kara Danvers since she’d met her and there was no reason for this to be any different.
Truthfully the process is easy enough.
Lena spends her usual unearthly amount of time thinking about Kara, and then she spends an even more abnormal amount of time spilling every thought from her head to the pages of her worn journal, and then she spends even more time channelling those thoughts into a poem that sounds like anyone could have wrote it (even dumbass Mike Matthews), which essentially consists of Lena copying the style of whichever poet she was reading the works of that week and removing all the times she wrote about staring at her lovely head from behind during English.
Then comes the awkward part. The part where she and Mike meet in secret under the bleachers in order for him to copy the poem into his own handwriting and then slip into Kara’s locker. The locker that unfortunately rests right next to Lena’s.
Or unfortunately as she used to think. But when Kara opens her locker and picks up the piece of paper that flutters to the floor, reading it quickly with a blush that makes Lena’s whole body start to feel impossibly warm, she thinks she might just thank whoever sorted out the locker placement.
Or she does for a second.
Then she remembers that for all intents and purposes those aren’t her words.
And the bashful smile that Kara offers up isn’t hers either.
And everything sucks.
“I would sleep with the thought of you,
with the silhouette,
of a single memory, with the scent
left hours after you’ve touched
I would lose myself in the folds
of your dress, the fabric
of the shirt you wore when you
fell asleep leaned against
my shoulder. Paint me
in the soft focus fog of your
tenderness, pull me from
She keeps writing the poems. Lena convinces herself it’s because if she stopped after just one Mike would probably get suspicious or just continuously hound her until she gave in and wrote more. That’s a lie. The real reason is that the smile on Kara’s face when she got the poem outweighed the rock that settled in Lena’s stomach when she saw the way it was aimed at Mike because, if she stood at just the right angle, it could have been for her.
And Lena wishes she could say that continuing to write love poems to the girl she’d had a crush on for two years on the behalf of someone she mildly detested was the only bad decision she made on a fateful Friday in the middle of October but it wasn’t.
It most definitely was not because she also agreed to ride with Sam on the team bus to go watch her play soccer - an agreement that Sam wouldn’t let her back out on with the excuse that she wasn’t really listening to the question when she said yes (note to self: never agree to anything Sam suggests without making her verbally say the terms and conditions at least twice).
The thing was, if she was being honest, Lena liked going to watch Sam play, liked cheering her on knowing that when Lillian forced Lena to take part in yet another chess championship, Sam would be screaming for her at the side. What she didn’t like so much was Sam immediately ditching her with an apologetic smile to sit next to Alex Danvers, leaving Lena to walk to the only seat left on the bus.
The one directly next to Kara Danvers.
“Lena, hey, come sit with me!” She says it like it’s normal. Kara calls out the words like it won’t be a talking point for people who are too bored with their own lives for a week, or until something else more exciting happens. It isn’t normal. It will be talked about. But Kara puts the offer out there with a bright smile that speaks volumes as to how genuine she is and Lena finds she can’t stop herself from walking over in some kind of trance.
A trance that has her sitting next to Kara without any real second thought. Just one thought. The thought that the way Kara’s mouth wrapped around words reminded Lena of the piano she used to play when she was little. Not the grand piano at the Luthor’s but the tiny, worn down piano with multiple broken keys and chips in the wood that she used to play with her birth mother - back when all she knew was three blind mice and still thought it was the most amazing thing ever.
“You know my name,” Lena says stupidly when she sits down instead of doing the normal thing like saying hello or offering one of those thankful (and inherently awkward) white people smiles without saying anything at all like any other normal person would.
“Everybody knows your name.” And just like that Lena feels the warmth threatening to spread through her chest chill because of course. Knowing Lena’s name meant nothing in a school fuelled by idle gossip, gossip that she, as class president, often found herself at the forefront of – she didn’t even want to think about half the rumours she’d heard about herself, each one more ridiculous than the last, and yet, none of them wind Lena more than the next words that come out of Kara’s mouth. “And we have like four classes together. I liked your poem the other day by the way.”
Lena chokes, genuinely chokes, chokes like some uncoordinated idiot on an amalgamation of air and her own spit, somehow managing to sputter out words between gasps and coughs, “my what?”
“The poem you picked for the AP Lit assignment,” Kara clarifies, eyes turning wistful before she continues, “’her face it bloomed like a sweet flower and stole my heart away complete.’” Kara looks proud of herself for remembering the quote and Lena, well Lena can only imagine the bewitched look on her face as she tries to ignore the fuzzy feeling in her chest, the way her heart felt like it was tied to a hot air balloon, threatening to float from her chest.
(She won’t admit that she picked that poem with Kara on her mind.
She won’t admit that she does most things with Kara on her mind).
“You don’t talk much outside of class,” Kara says in the silence that Lena leaves behind. A simple observation and one that isn’t incorrect, she’s happier to sit back and watch things unfold, chime in when she’s tired of listening to people say stupid things. She’d be happier if she could fade into the background completely but then she wouldn’t be living up to the Luthor legacy (a fact that she bemoaned tirelessly, even if she was ultimately proud to bear the name).
“You talk a lot.” She doesn’t mean to sound like a bitch. The words are meant as a joke, and yet her nerves have them falling from her mouth in some kind of judgemental deadpan, but before she can even flinch and correct herself she finds Kara chuckling good-naturedly beside her.
“Silence leaves too much room for thought.”
“Don’t like thinking?”
“Not before a game, getting stuck in your own head makes for some very bad plays. So, I hate to be the one to tell you this, but you’re actually going to have to talk to me this whole ride, in the interest of school spirit and whatnot. I’m sure as the class president you wouldn’t want us to miss our last shot at the championships?” Honestly Lena generally couldn’t care less about sports, only ever attended games for Sam’s sake, but Kara was trying to make herself look severe and maybe two years of completely avoiding her was enough. She could allow herself this one indulgence.
“I’d hate to let the school down.”
“Great, then it’s decided - today is the day I finally get to peek behind the curtains of Lena Luthor.”
“Been waiting a long time have you?” It’s meant to be a joke really. Mostly. There was also possibly a slight lilt of completely honest curiosity in the mix. Maybe. But, regardless, Lena expects Kara to shrug it off, play it off as nothing, not level her with a look that made Lena feel like today was the day Kara Danvers was going to crack her open and have all her secrets pour out.
“You can’t be locker neighbours with someone for two years without getting a little curious. You’re somewhat of a mystery.”
“And here I thought I was an open book.” At least, Lena was an open book in the sense that she was a very public book, in the sense that people had been writing about her since she was a child.
Everyone knew she was adopted (everyone knew that adoption came off the back of the fact that she was actually Lionel’s illegitimate affair child - wasn’t a fun year when that scandal hit). Everyone knew of her academic achievements and about the tattoo she tried to get in secret when she was feeling rebellious before they moved from Metropolis (apparently her payoff to the artist quite as good as the one the Daily Planet gossip reporter gave him).
Lena’s life was a book in a public library.
And Kara seemed to be the only person who hadn’t checked it out.
“A book of puzzles, maybe,” Kara mumbles and Lena doesn’t think she could stop the fond smile spreading across her lips even if she tried, and for once, hidden on this horrid smelling bus between team chants and hushed conversations Lena doesn’t attempt to.
“What exactly do you want to know?” It strikes Lena in that moment that she wants to tell Kara something about herself. Wants to tell someone something that comes from her own mouth instead of from the internet or the rumours of others. Wants Kara to know something about her and maybe learn something about Kara in return that isn’t from moony-eyed observations across the class or hushed stories from the hallways.
“Did you really punch Jack Spheer in the balls last year for trying to kiss you?” Kara says without hesitation, blurts it out like someone shook her and then popped her lid off, and Lena can’t help the snort that she makes even if she tries to cover it because she could’ve taken a thousand guesses as to what the question might be and she never would’ve gone there.
“You really have been waiting a while to ask that haven’t you.” It’s not a question. Lena knows it’s true. She can see it in the way Kara gives intense, imploring eye contact and the tension in her shoulders like this has been on her mind for a while. Lena knows Kara has wanted to ask this question for longer than any normal person would. What she doesn’t know, what she can’t even begin to figure out, is why on earth Kara Danvers would even care what the answer was.
“It keeps me up at night,” Kara jokes sounding almost earnest. Almost. Her grin gives her away. That doesn’t stop Lena’s mind from moving a mile a minute thinking about Kara thinking about her... god she needed to get a grip.
“It’s just a rumour.”
“So he didn’t try to kiss you?”
“No, he did.” It was cute, really. Sweet, one might even call it, unless that person was Lena who ended up finding the experience ineffably awkward as she pushed him away before it became anything more than a slightly off-mark peck with an apologetic smile and a spilled secret. It actually became the first time she ever spilled that particular secret, the first person she felt safe enough with to admit it but one that wouldn’t hurt too much to lose (at least that was the excuse she used for why she hadn’t told her brother yet). “I didn’t punch him though.”
“So you let him kiss you?”
“You’re awfully curious about this,” Lena accuses and if she had more confidence in herself she might’ve noted the way Kara’s neck reddened at the words, or the way she avoided eye contact almost as much as Lena was before seemingly steeling herself to not look away. She might’ve spent more time wondering why this was what Kara wanted to know, of all things. But Lena’s confidence was confined to academics and socialite parties, not pretty girls with penetrating eyes.
“I’m just trying to separate the rumours from true-mours.”
“Well then, in the interest of setting the facts straight for the history books - he tried to kiss me, I pulled away, he apologised profusely, I apologised profusely and then we awkwardly avoided each other in the halls for a week before realising we were being incredibly stupid.”
“So you’re just friends?”
“He’s my best friend, besides Sam of course, when she’s not begging me to go places with her and then immediately ditching me alone on the bus.” Lena couldn’t really be mad. Not that she wasn’t going to fake being mad for a few hours just to watch her sweat. Maybe hold it over her for a couple weeks to get out of doing other things she didn’t want to do.
Then she would just completely get over it because at least Sam was trying to do something about her crush instead of sitting and pining from a distance, drowning in love poem (even if Sam was a total stammering mess sometimes when it really came down to it - it happened to the best of them).
“You mean it wasn’t your dream to sit next to me on the bus today?” Kara asks, feigning offence with an affronted tone and a hand pressed to her chest.
“Not everyone spends their time following you around like a lost puppy.” Some people just liked to imagine being able to openly do it whilst in private, within the comfort of their own home where they could be less obvious, like some kind of lost lesbian.
“Nobody follows me around.”
Lena scoffs, “half the student body is in love with you; even Leslie Willis has a slight crush on you.” In her own Leslie Willis way of course, which really just meant she didn’t glare at Kara in the hallways and even actually smiled sometimes when Kara complimented the way she read the morning announcements. A ridiculous compliment if you asked Lena but one that she knows would have her smiling idiotically too if it was aimed at her.
“Well you can talk. Jack Spheer isn’t the only person’s lips you’ve been dodging.”
“I wouldn’t call it dodging.”
“Glaring into submission?”
“Closer.” In reality, it was more Lena avoiding any and all suitors at all. If she even got a whiff that someone was going to ask her out she essentially ran in the other direction. It wasn’t a foolproof plan, she didn’t always escape, but at this point it had become more of a game for the male student body rather than actual interest - who could warm the Ice Queen’s heart. Unfortunately for them the actual answer was the human embodiment of sunshine sitting next to her.
“You don’t glare at me.” The quiet words almost don’t reach Lena’s ears; almost manage to hide themselves under Kara’s breath and disappear into the ruckus around them. Almost.
“I just mean... you don’t really wave or smile, and sometimes I swear you look right through me, but you’ve never glared, even the time I accidentally hit you in the face with a dodgeball.”
“You’re not as good with your hands as you are your feet.” That’s not entirely true - Lena had seen the way Kara’s fingers ran along a canvas, the way her hands knew the exact way to use a paintbrush to create something breathtaking. Kara was good with her hands. Just not when it came to certain sports, dodgeball included, which Lena had abruptly found out when she found herself being swarmed by an apologetic Kara offering to literally carry her to the nurse’s office, and an ice pack pressed against her face for the remainder of the period.
(It should’ve been a terrible day but Kara had looked so stupidly pretty, shrouded in harsh gym lighting as she bent over Lena’s face that she found she couldn’t hold a grudge).
“Do you want me to glare at you?”
“No! No, of course not. You just- it makes me feel-“
“DANVERS, STOP DAWDLING, WE’VE GOT A GAME TO WIN!” The coach shouts from the front of the bus, impatient but obviously amused for some reason or another and it’s only then that Lena takes a moment to realise that the entire bus is empty besides them. It’s in the next second that she realises she should probably get up and follow suit, and she’s halfway towards moving when she feels a gentle pressure surrounding her wrist, timid but sure.
She stares at Kara’s hand for a while as it settles against her skin, staring at where her pale wrist fades into tanned fingers, presumably for a beat too long as Kara quickly apologises and wipes her hands along her legs self consciously.
“We, uh, we should sit together after. If you want.”
“Win the game and sure.” It’s as much of a yes as the word would have been. They never lose.
“Deal.” Kara grins; she knows that fact just as well as Lena does.
And maybe Kara is a little extra cocky on the pitch that night but no one was going to call her up on it. And maybe Lena couldn’t take her eyes off the girl for the entire game but no one else seemed to really take any notice. And maybe, when Lena eventually finds herself sitting back beside Kara on the bus and the other girl falls asleep on her shoulder, she forgets she’s supposed to breathe because she won’t be the one to disturb her sleep, she would be the best shoulder pillow there ever was.
And maybe, just maybe, when she gently shakes Kara awake and watches her blindly burrow closer for a second as she forgets where she is, who she’s on, her heart forgets to beat a little, and then starts pumping double time as Kara sits up abruptly with a blush, tripping over herself both literally and figuratively with a sentence that seems to both be an apology and a thank you as she drags Alex away to their car in a hasty escape.
And maybe Lena spends a week with the shirt she wore that night sitting on the top of her laundry, refusing to wash away the lingering remnants of Kara but also refusing to actually smell it, or wear it to bed like some psychopath with an out of control crush.
Not that it was anyone’s business.
(She does it all).
“I could build cities on the earth in your eyes
if you let my hands draw the landscape
of your jawbone and trace the river
that runs down your cheeks
and splays into a delta
in the pools of your collarbones.
I didn’t go to school for this
but when I saw your face
I wondered if architecture
was sleeping latent in my bones.
I wondered if I was born to know
the blueprints of you.”
Lena loved the library.
When she was young and trying to get used to the new home she’d found herself in, the new family that had claimed her when she lost the only other family she’d ever know, she loved the library because it was a means of escape. Not an actual escape like climbing from her window and hiding on the roof until Lex came to find her, but an escape in the sense that Lena could put herself in the shoes of anyone she wanted, imagine herself in any place that wasn’t the one she’d found herself in, experience any emotion through someone else and their words.
(She first fell in love with poetry trying to feel anything other than grief).
When she was fifteen she loved the library because it was the only place Veronica Sinclair acknowledged the thing between them. An attraction. A mutual realisation that they weren’t going to fawn over the football team like so many of the girls in their class. Maybe even a first love.
When she was fifteen Lena loved the Metropolis High Library, and its always secluded stacks in the back left corner, because of the saccharine sweet kisses it had to offer – and the other kisses too, the ones that acted like gasoline on the flames licking their way into her stomach, and her chest, and... elsewhere.
When she was fifteen she loved the library because, even if Lena wasn’t ready to be open about who she was outside of those four walls, it was where she learned that all she really needed was to be open about who she was with herself, where she learned that it was okay, that her love was valid, that she was valid, and that kissing girls was really really great.
When Lena first moved to National City, entered a new school and tried to navigate the social landscape without causing too much of a stir, she liked the library because it was quiet. She liked that she could hide away from the whispers about the ‘new girl’ and the sudden reappearance of rumours about her and her family trickling through a fresh rumour mill. She liked to escape into someone else’s shoes on some days and on others fall headfirst into a textbook and have no one else in the room think anything of it, too absorbed in their own world.
Lena still liked the library because it was quiet, because she could hide in the science stacks and eat her lunch without question because the librarian had a soft spot for her, because no one ever asked what she was writing in the worn-down journal she never dared open anywhere else.
Because she could escape (it always came back to escape).
Specifically because she could escape the fact that she was still stuck in some unspoken contract with Mike to write Kara love poems, despite the fact that she really didn’t want Kara to fall in love with him, and because she was stuck in an impossible double-bind where she thought the healthiest thing to do would be to go back to ignoring Kara but also knew all she really wanted to do was to let herself be pulled in by Kara’s gravity.
But, in the end, like most things in Lena’s life, the choice was taken away from her (an optimist might have simply called it things ‘working themselves out’) when Kara Danvers walked straight into her line of vision (Lena tries not to think too much about the fact that Kara’s focused frown slips instantaneously into a bright smile the second she catches sight of Lena on the floor).
“So this is why you’re never in the cafeteria,” Kara says in lieu of a greeting, gesturing vaguely to the space next to Lena in what she recognises to be a question of consent. Lena nods gently before she can tell herself that it’s a bad idea, stifles a smile when Kara plonks down with a startling abruptness.
“Sometimes you need to escape the smell of the famous Tuesday meat surprise.” Lena had never tried it personally but, from what she gathered, that was no loss on her part. “What brings you to this neck of the woods anyway?” One day Lena would say something to Kara that didn’t make her immediately cringe. This was not that day.
“I came for a book,” Kara says simply and then shakes her head immediately with quiet exhale. “That’s a lie. I mean, no, I do actually need a book from here so it’s not a complete lie, more of an omission or like one of those two birds, one stone situations. I’m making this unnecessarily complicated, aren’t I? ... It’s quiet.”
“Sometimes everything is just a bit much. Overwhelming, I guess. Too many people all talking at the same time and no one is really talking about anything but if you’re not one of the people talking then you’re the odd one out and sometimes I just need to breathe,” and, as if planned, despite the rushed sentence which seemed like word vomit, Kara takes a deep breath, letting all the tension drop from her shoulders in a long exhale and then gathering it all back up again when she stops to find Lena staring at her. “Sorry, that was probably a lot to just unload on you, huh?”
It’s in the next moment, as Lena continues to silently take in what Kara said, that it occurs to her how little she actually knows about Kara, how little she knows about the way Kara views the world and her place within it. She knows that Kara’s the girl who sat with Winn Schott every day for a month in silence at lunch after his dad went off the rails, almost daring someone to make a crude joke so that she could show them the way out (through the window).
She knows she smiles like she didn’t lose both of her parents when she was seven and find herself uprooted to a whole new city, rooted into a whole new family built with people she’d never seen before in her life. She knows that Kara shows her face at every birthday party she gets invited too just to avoid being rude (knows that that’s exactly how she and Brian Dox became friends).
She knows that you could pick anyone at random from the hallway, hell, the whole town, and that person wouldn’t have a bad word to say about Kara Danvers but Lena still couldn’t tell you what went on inside of Kara’s head. She barely knew her favourite colour.
“No, don’t apologise, I’m sorry for staring. It’s just that I understand, completely, and I guess I just stupidly thought someone like you would probably thrive on that sort of thing.”
“Someone like me?” On a good day Lena could write a book describing Kara Danvers. A book filled with the perfect words to capture her essence. On a bad day she could probably still achieve a novella. On a day where Kara directly asks the question and stares at her with confused blue eyes, she can barely remember how words work at first, and then she suddenly has too many.
“Effervescent, I guess. Contagiously effervescent. You’re always making someone smile, you know? I mean, I didn’t even realise Miss Grant could smile until last year when you told some ridiculous joke at a pep rally and she laughed, like actually, genuinely laughed, even if she did try and hide it behind a cough. I almost thought the apocalypse was coming.”
“Hey that was a great joke!”
Why did the scarecrow win an award? He was outstanding in his field.
It was not a great joke. It was frankly terrible. And truthfully it had absolutely no relevance to the speech Kara gave that followed about perseverance and this being a whole new year, and a whole new set of chances to win trophies to sit and gather dust in a glass cabinet in some hallway or another. But Lena laughed and so did everyone else and that was the kind of person Kara was.
“It was so bad.”
“You just don’t understand the nuances of humour like I do and that’s okay, we all have our own set of strengths,” Kara says with false sympathies, placing a supposedly placating hand on Lena’s upper arm as her eyes shine with mirth, and Lena, well Lena doesn’t really know what comes over her as she rolls her eyes and shoves Kara, who actually fully falls over at the movement.
Lena panics at the sharp sound of Kara crashing onto the floor despite the small height her body actually drops from but as she leans over she finds Kara’s shoulders shaking with barely restrained laughter, taking in the events that occurred. Lena can’t help but chuckle too at the sight until she notices that the fabric beneath the hand holding her aloft is from the upper thigh of Kara’s jean and, in true gay panic, immediately chokes on the laughter instead, flinging herself back into her own space and waiting for Kara to lift herself back up into a seated position – still chuckling under her breath and seemingly enjoying the sudden redness of Lena’s cheeks.
“You want some cake?!” Lena chokes out, a little too loud, a lot too high, reaching into her bag to gather the treat she’d been saving until the end of lunch.
“Oh, you really know how to make a girl swoon, Lena Luthor.” As if it’s even possible, the words seem to fan the flames in Lena’s cheeks, dusting them red with renewed fervour and Lena forces herself to concentrate on splitting her cupcake into two like her life depends on it - considering the erratic constricting of her lungs, it just might.
To her credit, Lena actually almost manages to act cool about the whole thing until Kara bites into her half and makes a sound that she knows would seem like they were doing something vastly different within the hidden stacks if any passerby happened to be listening before practically moaning out, “I love you for facilitating the events that resulted in this cake in my mouth.”
(This could be the end of Lena.
Death by chocolate indeed).
“You’re a dork.” Kara Danvers was a dork, a huge dork, and Lena could feel herself edging ever closer to the edge of the cliff she’d been standing on since Kara first waved at her. Kara Danvers was a dork who immediately claps a hand over Lena’s mouth, swinging her head quickly around the stacks like she’s genuinely looking for eavesdroppers. A dork. A loveable dork.
“Shh, people can’t find out. I’ve almost cracked the perfect mindless jock persona.” Lena practically scoffs then, cocking a brow in a flawless manoeuvre before gently circling Kara’s wrist with her fingers and pulling the appendage away from her mouth without resistance, hand not quite severing the connection to Kara, both of their arms hanging in the air between them as neither make a move to break apart from the odd contact.
“I’ve seen the grades you get, Kara, there’s nothing mindless about you.”
Kara shrugs, “most people just believe what you tell them around here.”
“I’m not most people.”
“You most certainly aren’t,” Kara says with far more gravitas than Lena put into her words and suddenly everything feels so weighted - the words between them, her wrist still in Lena’s hand, the fabric of their jeans softly scratching against one another. Lena wonders how they got here, wonders what the almost-not-there smile on Kara’s face means, wonders how it is that Kara views her and how it’s somehow so different to everyone else in this place, in this city.
But all of Lena’s queries go unanswered, remaining a lingering weight in her chest, when whatever moment they might have been having is interrupted by a ringing bell and Kara abruptly jumping up at the sound and grabbing the first book her hand collides with on the way up without even looking at what it is until it’s in her hand, “would you look at that, the exact book I needed.”
Kara offers up a lively wink then and practically skips down the aisle with a parting goodbye, leaving Lena stewing with the thought that Kara Danvers might have just came into the library in the hopes of talking to her. But, then again, there was also a chance that the universe was simply so enamoured with her like everyone else that she really was simply lucky enough to find the exact book she needed with so little effort.
Lena wouldn’t put it past her.
(God she loved the library).
I was afraid
Not just love,
but to love her.
For she was a stunning mystery. She carried things
deep inside her that no one
has yet to understand,
I was afraid to fail,
like the others.
She was the ocean
and I was just a
who loved the waves
but was completely
Kara looks for her more after that, actively searches for Lena hidden between dusty books and behind her locker door. Smiles at her in class and looks for her in rooms to share some kind of unspoken thought through a locked gaze.
It’s startling, and confusing, and nice and Lena can do nothing but write, and write, and write some more about her because finally Kara becomes something human, something complex, something tangible and yet still so out of reach, instead of a girl shrouded in golden light on a far off pedestal and everything is suddenly so much harder than it was before.
This is what she had been avoiding. Almost as hard as she was currently avoiding Mike because she needed to find a way to unstick herself from this disastrous web she weaved herself into. An avoidance that had been pretty simple thus far seeing as she and Mike never really interacted unless he was hounding her to write another love poem to Kara (they were at six now, Lena was starting to feel a little gross about the whole thing).
The whole avoiding thing was less of a breeze however when Lena allows herself to be dragged to the senior class bonfire party on the beach that Mike is definitely attending - Lena knows because he spotted her over the flames fifteen minutes prior and called her name before he presumably blinked and suddenly found Lena had vanished. Vanished in the sense that she had ducked behind someone as fast as she could before heading towards the quieter pier – she might have even considered it empty if it weren’t for the silhouette of a person sitting on the edge.
Feet dangling through the barrier, shoes off and discarded beside them, Lena almost doesn’t notice who the mystery person is until they tilt their head towards their lunar spotlight enough to illuminate their features - Kara. She debates leaving for a second, turns her feet as if she’s going to walk back the way she came, even if that means she has to run into Mike.
Then she steels herself.
Usually, when Lena saw Kara at a party, she walked the other way. Ignored her waves and her smiles and occasionally hid in a bathroom until she stopped having a minor mental gay-feeling-induced meltdown. But, Lena had already ruined her plan to avoid Kara forever at this point, and she hadn’t seen Sam since they arrived together, so she might as well ruin it some more.
(She was going to ruin it all.
She thinks it might just be worth it).
“Not feeling the traditional drunken skinny dip this year?” She takes it back. It wasn’t worth it. She should stop doing this to herself and instead spend her time practicing some opening remarks to avoid any more awkward spontaneity, or maybe just learn how to manipulate the earth to open up and swallow her whole - whichever was easier.
“Not today,” Kara says with a smile that says she’s happy to humour Lena’s ridiculousness as always, even if the smile doesn’t quite reach her eyes.
“Do you want to go in?” Lena offers, sensing Kara’s apprehension the words are out of her mouth and reconsidering them before tagging on, “you can keep your clothes on,” with what she hopes is an easy grin. She presumes it comes off a little more awkward than she’d like but she keeps it steady, allows the silence to settle as she patiently waits for Kara to decide whether or not she’s going to share the words that seem to be sitting on the tip of her tongue, daring themselves to take the leap. Lena hopes they build the courage, thinks she couldn’t possibly ever get tired of hearing about what goes on inside of Kara’s mind.
“I can’t swim.” And just like that, the silence settles a little harsher than before, rests on the back of an admission that Lena never expected to hear in a million years.
“You can’t swim?” She repeats stupidly, noting the way Kara continues to stare out towards the waves rather than at her. She almost seems hypnotised by the gentle lapping of the waves. The constancy of the rhythm. The calming sounds as they settle against the shore.
“No, well I... technically I can swim. Kind of. I’m not great but it’s not like I’d get in and drown. I just...haven’t been in the water for a long time.”
“Are you scared?” Lena doesn’t think that’s the answer, doesn’t think it’s that simple. Kara doesn’t stare at the water with fear in her eyes. She watches it with a sense of resignation, or yearning, or an odd mix of the two that Lena doesn’t think she could explain with words.
“It’s not so much fear as—“ Kara stops herself, takes a deep breath as she continues to watch the waves lap, sitting with the silence she created for a few beats as she seemingly decides what the best words for this are, or if she even wants to put her thoughts into words at all.
She takes another deep breath in the next second, deeper than the last, and then another, still not turning to Lena, but letting her words fall freely out of her mouth alongside a steadying exhale. “My dad used to take me to the beach every Sunday. No matter how busy he got at work or how stressed he was, every Sunday, without fail, he would wake me up early and we’d come here to just... float. Sometimes he would point out shapes in the clouds or tell me about his work in words that made me feel like we were equal, made me feel like I was a part of it all somehow. It was my favourite day.
“One Saturday night he and my mom got called into the lab late. I remember crying because all I could think was that we wouldn’t get to go to the beach but he tucked me in and told me he’d be right by my side in the morning like he always was. He promised. I put on my swimsuit in the morning even when I woke up alone, told myself he’d be there eventually, that he wouldn’t break a promise he made me. He never had before.
“I spent the whole day in a police station, still wearing my stupid swimsuit under my clothes, as they told me my parents weren’t coming home. I haven’t been swimming since. I’ve tried. So hard. Sometimes I even get close enough that I can feel the wet sand between my toes and pretend I’ve let the water rush over my skin but I never actually have.”
Lena doesn’t miss the euphemism, the one that’s probably the exact thing a terrified young Kara was told by the police officers that day, the one that meant they didn’t have to look a child in the eye and actually say the words ‘your parents are dead’, the one that meant Kara didn’t have to say it either. Lena knew that particular brand of avoidance well.
She thinks of offering sympathies, muttering the same words Kara had probably heard from dozens of people when they learned of the news, the ones spoken in a church that Kara would remember nothing of but the coffins that sat stagnant at the front. She thinks of warm words and soft touches that might just manage to offer comfort and yet, in spite of all her thoughts, all she ultimately bluntly asks is, “why are you telling me this?”
“You’re easy to talk to.”
“Maybe it’s just easier to talk to someone you don’t really know,” Lena attempts to brush it off, finding herself startled when Kara turns to her for the first time, blue eyes slightly bluer shrouded in unshed tears and highlighted by the pale trickling lustre of the moon.
“That’s not it. It’s- you don’t beat around the bush but you never make me feel judged. At the risk of this sounding like the stupidest thing I’ve ever said - you get this look in your eye when I tell you things, like I could tell you I sometimes feel like I’m a pepperoni pizza trapped in a humans body and you’d still try and find a way to understand exactly where I’m coming from. It makes me feel safe.”
“Safe enough that you’d take a walk along the shoreline with me?” Kara looks apprehensive at first as Lena stands and reaches a hand out. “We don’t have to go close enough to touch the water if you don’t want to. I promise.” Kara takes the offered hand and pulls herself up, letting go to follow Lena’s lead and remove her shoes before nodding for Lena to continue to lead the way. Lena, on her part, takes the unspoken request to set the pace, leading them along the pier in an attempt to steer them towards a part of the beach untouched by discarded cups and half-dressed classmates.
“You don’t come to a lot of parties,” Kara says out of the blue when the silence becomes too much for her; it doesn’t escape Lena’s notice that it’s also coincidentally the exact moment their feet finally touch the sand. She doesn’t stop walking. Her heart finds its normal rhythm again when she notes that Kara doesn’t either.
“I don’t love crowds.” Understatement of the year (the runner up obviously being the time Sam asked her what she thought of Kara Danvers and she attempted a nonchalant shrug and a mumbled ‘she’s pretty I guess’).
“You regularly have to speak in front of them though. In fact, didn’t you actively campaign for the job of regularly speaking in front of crowds?”
“How?” Because it’s what was expected of her. Because if she didn’t match every academic milestone that Lex did and then proceed to exceed it then she was afraid her step-mother wouldn’t love her. Because earning that title, that ‘job’ earned her, her first smile from Lillian in a long time as she told her friends of her daughter who was continuing the Luthor legacy of power (even if only in a high school). Because it made her feel like less of an outsider in her own home.
“Because talking in front of a crowd is goal-orientated, I go up, I read a speech I’ve already prepared and then I leave. It’s simple. Stepping into a crowd and trying to find your place within varying cliques and conversations already at their peak is a whole different ball game. It’s unnerving.”
“You don’t strike me as the kind of person who gets unnerved too often.” Most people thought that but most people didn’t know that Lena was unnerved just about every time Kara said her name.
“I try not to be.”
“You’re so cryptic sometimes. I bet you tell people your favourite colour is black.”
“That’s your definition of cryptic?” Lena asks, laughing before she’s even managed to finish her sentence fully, laughing a little bit more when Kara shoves her - not enough to really push her off balance but enough so that she can feel Kara’s mild annoyance at the show, even if it’s mostly feigned. “For the record, my favourite colour is yellow.”
“I like sunflowers,” Lena states with a shrug.
“That simple?” Kara’s incredulity is evident.
“I was really expecting some secret back-story to come out of that.” Lena’s favourite colour used to be just that. She used to love pink because the last thing her mother ever bought her was a bright pink backpack, one that was big enough that she could bring all her books and her favourite bear (appropriately named Mr. Bear) to school. Pink made her think of her mother and one day that thought didn’t bring comfort anymore. One day she walked past a patch of sunflowers in a park and that was that, yellow had been her favourite colour since.
“Does your favourite colour come complete with its own flashback sequence?”
“Well, no, I like green because I—well, I just like green.”
“That simple?” Lena voices her own incredulity in that moment, mostly just to revel in the way Kara sighs at the mimicry of her earlier words, and a little bit because she suddenly won’t meet Lena’s eye straight-on and she feels like she’s missing something.
“That simple,” Kara repeats, rolling her eyes at Lena’s antics for good measure. “What else do you like Lena Luthor? Give me your best middle-aged single mom looking for love dating profile.”
“Okay, well... I like black coffee and the sound of rain when I’m tucked safely in my house and the smell of that first breath you take when you walk into an old bookshop. Also my four kids and the dog I guiltily adopted in an attempt to fill the void that their father left in our lives.” Kara laughs so abruptly that she snorts as Lena deadpans her words, finding herself immediately smiling proudly in kind at the sight of her shoulders shaking with laughter.
“Single mom raising four kids? That’s tough.”
“You do what you can.”
“I want to try.”
“Raising four kids on your own? I think that might take some time to set up but we can-“
“No, I mean, I want to try,” Kara cuts in, smiling, what Lena thinks is a fond smile her way, as she gestures towards the ocean. The one they had barely closed the distance on, instead following the edge of the beach as much as they could, wandering on sand never once touched by the waves.
Despite her words though, and the steel in her eyes that says she really means them, Kara doesn’t move a muscle to follow through on them. She simples stares at the waves drifting in and out. In and out. In and out. Stock still. A frozen picture of beauty like a timeless painting nailed to a museum wall and Lena breaks every rule by reaching out to touch it.
She’s not sure what compels her to do it. Not sure where the willpower comes from to step forward and takes Kara’s gently trembling hand into her own once again so that they can take this one step at a time. Together. Lena can feel the tension in Kara’s shoulders, can feel the panic in an iron grip, can feel the want intertwining with the guilt mashed together with a fearful curiosity. Lena squeezes back - not as tight, not as desperate, a simple squeeze of reassurance - but nothing changes and Kara barely takes note of the comfort Lena is trying to wordlessly offer and so she starts speaking.
“My mom, my real mom, used to take me grocery shopping. It sounds so mundane when I say it out loud now, the kind of thing most children would hate being dragged along to, but it was my favourite time of the week - riding around in the shopping cart and helping her pick the best apples. She had me convinced if I listened hard enough the apples would speak to me. We must’ve looked ridiculous standing in the produce aisle, holding apples to our ears and nodding solemnly but she always had the brightest smile on her face when we did it and that was all it took for me to join in.
I was young enough when I lost her that sometimes I would forget. I loved her more than anything in the world and I kept having to remember that she would never smile at me like that ever again.” Lena hopes that Kara understands what she’s trying to say, hopes she knows that if anyone were to understand what she was feeling it was the little raven haired girl who refused to eat apples for three years after her mother died, who still tended to avoid them even now.
“Maybe we could go sometime.”
“I think that would only be fair.” Lena smiles as it finally seems to dawn on Kara that they’ve been walking closer the entire time, that the gentle wave are beginning to crash up her toes.
“It’s colder than I remember,” Kara says, letting Lena lead her a few steps further in and watching her feet with a watery, but no less reverent, look of awe.
“You get used to it,” Lena replies, she doesn’t even have to look at Kara to know that the other girl knows those words don’t just pertain to the water, that they speak to a shared sense of loss that links them together just as surely as their tied hangs hanging between them.
“Just doing my duty as class president, it’s a pretty hands-on job. Next week I’m helping Siobhan overcome her fear of karaoke after that awful drunken performance at Sam’s birthday party.” It was one of the only parties Lena had ever convinced herself to go to (Sam would never have let her forget it) and Siobhan’s performance made her both incredibly thankful and, well, the complete opposite of thankful about that.
The joke doesn’t seem to settle right into the air between them though as Kara levels her with a serious look and Lena reaches for sincerity instead. “You’re welcome.” Kara smiles, linking their hands further, creating a mess of fingers that Lena doesn’t even want to attempt to untangle. But just as suddenly as the tension builds, it breaks again, much like the waves lapping against their skin.
“Kara? Oh my god, Kara!” Lena recognises the voice as Alex Danvers even before red-hair comes quickly crashing into view, effectively separating the figurative and literal ties between Lena and Kara, as Alex picks her sister up and spins her in a grip tight enough that it borders between a bear hug and a Heimlich. “You’re in the water!”
“Not anymore,” Kara jokes, wiggling her toes that are now suspended in the air and laughing joyously when Alex growls that signature annoyed sibling growl before she goes back to almost crushing Kara in her arms. Lena takes Kara’s own tight grip and closed eyes as her cue to disappear back into the night from which she came, hoping to finally find Sam again now that Alex could no longer prove as a distraction.
(On Monday Kara appears by her locker with hidden hands and a nervous smile, producing a red apple when Lena offers her own timid smile in return. “It told me that it absolutely needed to be eaten by someone named Lena and you’re the only one I know so you better abide by its wishes.”
Lena takes a bite.
It’s the best apple she’s had in a long time).
“i carry your heart with me (i carry it in
my heart) i am never without it (anywhere
i go you go, my dear; and whatever is done
by only me is your doing, my darling)
no fate (for you are my fate, my sweet) i want
no world (for beautiful you are my world, my true)
and it’s you are whatever a moon has always meant
and whatever a sun will always sing is you
here is the deepest secret nobody knows
(here is the root of the root and the bud of the bud
and the sky of the sky of a tree called life; which grows
higher than soul can hope or mind can hide)
and this is the wonder that’s keeping the stars apart
i carry your heart (i carry it in my heart)”
“You can’t leave me hanging like this.” Lena wished her legs were longer, wished that she could just take one huge stride and get away from this situation. She briefly wonders if she would be chased if she were to actually attempt to run away from this conversation - she has a feeling she probably doesn’t want to test it and honestly she really needed to put an end to this whole thing.
“I don’t owe you anything, Mike. I’ve already helped you more than I should.” She never should have started this. She should’ve told Mike to go to hell a long time ago, arguably the second he even asked her to get involved in this deception when she first realised this could never end well for her. For someone so intellectually smart, she seemed to make a lot of terrible decisions (most of which had Kara Danvers, and her stupidly pretty face, as the common denominator).
“Come on, I just need like, two more and then I’ll leave you alone.”
“Or you could leave me alone now.”
“Come on, Luthor, you promised. Don’t make me-“ For the most part Lena had been avoiding eye contact, not wanting Mike to think that this conversation was going to be anything other than one-sided, trying to seem as uninterested as possible. But now she stops dead. Spins on her feet and levels him with a look that forces him to take a step backwards, looking sheepish and a little bit apprehensive of what’s to come, in spite of her small stature.
“Don’t make you what, Matthews? Please enlighten me as to what exactly you’re going to do. Beat me up? Tell people not to sit with me at lunch? Some other stereotypical high school jock move?”
“I’ll tell people your secret.” He doesn’t elaborate any further than that. They both know he doesn’t need to, both know the truth that sits between them. Mike was stupid, pig-headed really, but he wasn’t completely blind when the truth was staring him straight (or not so straight) in the eye, especially when it was a truth already circling around the mill in the form of a rumour - boredom and curiosity never did mix very well. A truth that Lena never really hid but never really confirmed. Never had the courage. Never really knew how to find it.
(She certainly wasn’t going to chose now to search for it).
“And then I’ll tell people that you pay Brian to help you cheat on tests and I’m pretty sure you’ll be the only one in hot water when you’re not allowed to play on your little team anymore.” Lena tugs on the lapel of his letterman jacket with a smirk that oozes a level of confidence she doesn’t actually feel because Mike wasn’t the only one who knew more than he let on.
Lena goes to walk away, hopes that her words will be enough to put this all to bed. It’s doesn’t surprise her all too much when they aren’t, when Mike catches her arm before she escapes too far. She pulls free of his grip but doesn’t attempt to escape again just yet as Mike puts his hands up in obvious surrender, or half surrender because he still continues to run his mouth.
“I’m sorry, okay? I just, I need some help,” Mike pretty much begs and Lena sighs when she realises what she’s about to do. He doesn’t deserve it. Kara doesn’t deserve it. Lena doesn’t deserve it. But she would also really like to minimise the backlash from her original stupid decision as much as possible (she had a feeling it would be causing her problems for quite some time).
“One more. One. And we never have this conversation again.”
“Two and it’s a deal.” Lena sighs but nods, silently pleading for this to simply be over already. “For the record I wouldn’t have actually-“
“Don’t lie to my face, Mike. Just leave before I change my mind.” Lena doesn’t think she could sound more tired if she tried, more resigned to her fate. Her general demeanour and acquiescence is thankfully enough to have Mike nodding stupidly and darting off however, leaving Lena standing solemnly in the hallway, steeping in the knowledge that she’s going to have to continue this ridiculous charade for a little while longer.
Super fucking great.
(Maybe Lena should just spend the next pep rally chanting about how gay she was and how much of a ridiculously huge crush she had on Kara Danvers. She was almost sure that would be less soul-crushing than the current situation).
“I’m such an idiot,” Lena whispers under her breath, a little too stuck in her own mind to notice the commotion going on not ten feet from her round the corner until she hears a female voice ring out, all but overpowered by a male voice that Lena thinks probably stars in too many hallway disputes.
“Get your hands off me.”
“Come on, Danvers, don’t be like that.”
“Hands off!” Lena’s moving before she’s even fully rounded the corner, before she’s even really had a chance to take in the scene before her, before she really has a chance to think about the consequences of driving her fist into the face of some football player or another. She doesn’t think much at all after it’s happened either - other than her knuckles really hurt and holy shit she drew blood from said football player or another.
Oh and that the girl in question here was one Alex Danvers who looked like she was suddenly having the time of her life considering the new turn of events. Alex Danvers.
“Fucking hell, Luthor,” the boy says, who Lena now notes is Rudy Jones, clutching at his face and staring her down like he can’t quite believe what just happened.
“Words didn’t seem to be working with you.” Lena will admit to feeling a slight sense of pride when she hears Alex snort under her breath at her words and a little bit more when she watches him wipe the blood dripping towards his chin.“If you’ll excuse me I need to go ice my hand. You personally might want to get a tissue or something,” Lena continues, walking away before anything else can be said on the matter (before he can inevitably moan at her some more).
Honestly Lena feels pretty good about the whole thing, punching something had actually been really good for the tension simmering under her skin, even if it results in her spending a good twenty minutes having her bruising fingers iced by the nurse - her hands weren’t usually used as weapons.
Truthfully, even when she finds herself thrown into detention for her admittedly good deed, she’s still feeling pretty good about the whole thing. Staring at the clock is mind-numbing, and listening to the not very whispered whispers about how ‘goody-goody Luthor’ got thrown into detention being passed person-to-person is grating, and maybe there’s a voice in the back of her head that says this will spell trouble if her parents ever actually think to ask where she spent this stray hour on a Thursday afternoon, but overall, she’s kind of feeling herself.
She actually punched someone.
Sam was going to have a field day with that one.
“Hey, slugger.” Lena’s not really sure how she manages to be startled when the only thing occupying her brain is watching clock hands move at a seemingly sloth-like pace... but she is. And yet, she will argue until her dying breath that she certainly wasn’t caught off guard and she definitely did not, in her startled state, release a small squeak... but she did (if anyone asked she’d blame it on the fact that Kara was in detention. Kara. Literally the one person who was even less likely to have reason to be in here than Lena).
“Kara, what are you doing here?”
“I came to say thank you,” she says like it’s the most obvious thing in the world. The words settle upon Lena’s ears like a foreign language and the confusion must be evident on her face because Kara rushes to further her explanation. “For punching that dude in the face for Alex.”
“You didn’t need to get detention - a thank you could have waited.” It could have waited the thirty-two minutes and eighteen seconds that Lena had left. It could have waited until Lena inevitably stumbled on Kara by her locker in the morning, trying to sneakily eat some of the snacks she’d stored in there for a ‘rainy day’ (also known as - any day that Kara wanted snacks). It could have been avoided entirely. “Not that a thank you is needed anyway.”
“It was and it couldn’t. Thank you,” Kara says, warm and earnest and with enough pointed eye contact that Lena feels her face heating up.
“No problem. Honestly Alex seems like she could probably have handled it herself anyway.” Lena was fairly sure the rumours about Alex making Maxwell Lord cry using only her index finger weren’t exaggerated in the slightest. She knew for sure that the one time someone had dared to say anything bad about Kara had resulted in them turning up to school the next day with their arm in a cast - and, okay, maybe that was completely coincidental and speculative too but he never had a bad word to say about her again and that was enough proof for most of the student body.
“You’re really gonna brush this off?”
“Yes I am.”
“Well good luck with that because Eliza told me to invite you round for dinner tonight as a thank you.” Lena had learned a lot about Eliza Danvers in the past few weeks. Kara had been more forthcoming about her life ever since the night by the ocean, so long as the two of them were hidden between books in what Lena had now come to think of as ‘their stacks’.
She knew that Eliza was as smart as she was compassionate, if taking in an orphan without a second thought was anything to go by. She also knew that she’d never made Kara feel bad for not calling her mom, even if they both thought of their relationship as such. She knew Eliza was responsible for a lot of who Kara was today and Lena thinks it would almost be nice to see that likeness in person. But she also thinks it would be infinitely greater to not put herself in that situation.
“I appreciate the offer but I can’t.”
“See, that’s not going to work because I was explicitly told that ‘no’ wasn’t an acceptable answer.” Kara grins and it’s charming. It’s so stupidly charming, charming enough that Lena almost gives into it immediately, and truly she’s a little confused as to where she gets the willpower to say no from.
“Kara, I can’t.”
“I’m definitely hearing a yes there.”
“Kara,” Lena says, exasperated but with none of the heat she might have intended for the word, having already resigned herself to the fact that they both know where this is going to go.
“Lena,” Kara mockingly mimics, the smile on her face already slipping into something victorious.
Lena sighs, “fine,” and finds her the edges of her lips curving into a fond smile as Kara legitimately fist pumps, letting out a cheer which is quickly shushed but does nothing to curb her enthusiasm, even as she apologises. Lena expects to spend the next twenty-six minutes and thirteen seconds sitting next to an almost buzzing Kara, wondering how she got herself into this. Instead she finds herself confused as Kara stands from her seat without hesitation, gathering up her bag with a level confidence that’s curious considering she’s attempting to escape detention. “Where are you going?”
“Oh I’m not actually in detention,” Kara answers simply, like it’s obvious, before turning to the front with a wide smile. “Thanks, Mr Carr.” Lena half expects her words to be met with another shush but instead Kara receives some kind of responding grunt paired with a smile that is undoubtedly there even if Mr Carr never quite looks up, even as he seems to try to fight it from appearing.
A piece of paper drops on Lena’s desk, bringing her attention away from Mr Carr and back to the girl beside her, “be there at 6.”
Lena stares at it for a moment. A simple piece of paper, torn from a notebook and decorated with Kara’s penmanship detailing her address and her phone number - a smiley face drawn beneath it all for good measure and Lena would expect nothing less. She continues to stare at it even as Kara disappears from the room with a look that tells Lena she better show.
She still debates not showing.
She could not go. She could just not show up and tell Kara something important came up. She could make up an excuse. A family event, or a broken down car, or a monkey escaped from the National City Zoo. She could totally lie and get out of what was sure to be the most awkward dinner ever.
She gets there ten minutes early.
Enough time spare that she can spend some time sitting in her car and wondering why on earth she’s doing this, how on earth she went from actively ignoring Kara to openly accepting an invitation into her home - an invitation she received for punching someone in the face, the first invitation Lena had been nervous about in a long time.
She’d been nervous the first time Sam asked her to hang out; nervous that she’d say something stupid and their timid friendship would come crumbling. It didn’t. It still hadn’t. She’d been completely on edge when Jack asked her to prom in their junior year (for completely the wrong reasons) but he’d been nothing but nice about the whole thing, not even flinching when she’d qualified them as friends.
But she’d never felt this nervous.
Nervous enough that she was almost scared she might pull her steering wheel from the dashboard. Nervous enough that her leg won’t stop bouncing in the foot well. Nervous enough that she was actually debating turning her car around and simply withstanding Kara’s chiding tomorrow.
Lena’s decision is taken from her, however, when a tap sounds against the driver’s side window. She’s a little ashamed to admit how much she jumps at the sight of Kara at the door, eyebrow quirked in amusement but eyes curious - rather telling of how long she’s seen Lena parked outside. It’s that knowledge that has Lena gesturing for her to step back and opening the car door, picking up the bouquet of flowers she purchased in an attempt to waste some time (and also hide her shaking hands as she entered the house).
“You brought flowers to a thank you dinner,” Kara says, a question without a question mark that seems to have an ‘of course’ tagged in their somewhere.
“It’s impolite to go to someone’s house empty-handed.” The third reason Lena had stopped to buy flowers on her way - family engrained rules of etiquette. That particular one was thrust upon her when she attended her first birthday party as a Luthor - she was six, she brought homemade cookies (homemade by the maid of course). The rule stuck with her a little more one day in her freshman year when Lex had offhandedly mentioned that it always impressed girls - a comment that probably meant nothing in the scheme of Lex’s life but had burrowed its way into Lena’s head.
“You’re something else.” Kara stops for a second before shaking her head like she’s actively trying to fling thoughts from her head. “Well come on then, better get you inside before you jump back in your car and drive off and leave me to explain it all to Eliza.”
“That’s still an option?”
“Ha ha,” Kara deadpans but Lena doesn’t miss the way she walks a half-step behind like she’s preparing herself just in case Lena really does try to turn and make a break for it, which was completely ridiculous. Lena never ran unless it was to just barely make her gym credit and even that was after a great deal of mental self-convincing.
The first thought on Lena’s mind as she shuffles towards Kara’s house with whatever level of confidence she can gather up is that it’s a home in every sense of the word. That’s the best way Lena can think to describe it. A picturesque building painted in a pastel blue, complete with a white picket fence, an array of bright, well-tended flowers, and a doormat with a dorky slogan that Lena is almost sure Kara herself had to have picked out.
It’s even more so when you go inside.
It feels warm. There’s art hung up on the walls in genuine frames that are signed with various names and ages that are far too terrible for anyone to actually think they’re any good. It doesn’t escape Lena’s notice that Alex’s name appears no more than Kara’s, despite the obvious difference of ages in the right-hand corner. Papers are stuck to the fridge, little notes from person to person and bright red grades displayed with suburban honour.
Knickknacks line shelves without care of what image they project upon the family and their level of wealth, or simply how appallingly they all tie together (or how appallingly they’re made, and yes, that thought was in direct response to Alex Danver’s middle school pottery project).
It looks lived-in and completely unlike Lena’s own home. Shoes and jackets sit in different places; strung over couches and forgotten about in such a manner that Lena can almost hear Eliza nagging Kara and Alex to clean up their things. Trophies line shelves and family photos, that don’t look like yearly staged events with focus grouped outfits, sit pride of place.
It’s a home that Lena thinks makes Kara make just that little bit more sense because yes, she suffered a great tragedy when she was too young to have had to, but these were the people who took her in and made a mosaic of her broken pieces. Warm people. Loving people. A family.
“You have a lovely home,” Lena says when the silence becomes to stifling, when she feels she’s looked around too long and needs to fall back on all too well practised formalities. She doesn’t know what she expects to find when she turns her attention to Kara, apprehension maybe, curiosity definitely, anything but the infinitely soft smile she finds set in place upon her lips.
“You’re—“ They both try at once, stopping and blushing without reason.
“You go,” they try again, practically harmonising their words, and Lena begins to wonder how red one person can go before they pass out from the lack of blood anywhere other than their cheeks. She can’t even explain why she suddenly feels so hot, why this moment suddenly feels so charged, why she’s suddenly feeling more on edge in Kara’s presence than she ever has before (she quickly blames it on them being on Kara’s home turf rather than neutral ground).
“I was just going to say that you look really-“
“Well if it isn’t the new featherweight champion of National City High,” Alex interrupts and Lena spends the next second wondering how that sentence was going to end. Did she look really good? Did she look really stupid? Did she look like she was having a really huge internal freak out about being in Kara’s house? She wipes those thoughts from her head on the next beat and plasters on a smile that she pairs with a shrug that’s maybe a little smug. “You sure do pack a punch, Luthor.”
“Even Luthor’s re-enact wrestling moves sometimes,” Lena jokes, finding validation in the responding laughs, only it’s not really a joke. Lena lost count of the amount of times she and Lex had gotten into trouble copying moves from the TV (she still sometimes felt herself tensing up in fear that Lex was going to attempt a People’s Elbow out of nowhere).
But it wasn’t just that. Lex had insisted on teaching Lena how to protect herself from the moment she got asked on her first date - she was eleven, he was fifteen and really had little clue what he was doing but kept trying. She didn’t go on that date in the end but Lex taught her how to throw a solid punch without managing to break her hand and Lena had thought it was the best thing ever.
“Well if you can resist suplexing someone for five minutes, I’m told dinner is ready.” Alex gestures into the kitchen and Lena follows behind Kara with her head high and shoulders drawn back, the posture she’d found herself mimicking from her father in what she’d always called business mode, preparing herself for whatever may come.
Eliza Danvers is somehow exactly what Lena expects her to be. She navigates her way around the kitchen with practised ease, nothing like the unsure feet of Kara anywhere other than the football pitch, but everything like the way Alex made her way through every aspect of life. And yet, she is everything like Kara and nothing like Alex in the case of the mess she’s left behind over the kitchen counters (Kara was a terrible partner to have in science experiments for that exact reason).
Free flowing blonde hair, tossed over her shoulders and a kind face decorated with lines that speak volumes to the smiles you would usually find upon it. Lena thinks it would be easy to forget she wasn’t Kara’s birth mother, that she wasn’t always a Danvers, briefly wonders if she would have ever questioned it if she hadn’t have been told.
(Not that it mattered.
Kara was a Danvers through and through, no matter the tragedy that got her there).
“Stand up for my daughter and bring flowers? You can come back again,” Eliza says when she notices their appearance and Lena only remembers the bouquet in her hands as they’re taken into Eliza’s own and replaced with a particular warmth in her arms and oh she’s being hugged. She’s being hugged and it’s nice. It’s really nice. “I hope you’re hungry. I made too much.”
“There’s never too much food around Kara, she’s like a dump truck,” Alex stage whispers, eyeing Kara the entire time like she’s just waiting for her retaliation, which comes quickly in the form of a solid punch to her arm that shows no signs of restraint. Alex barely flinches however, instead replying in kind by grabbing Kara into a headlock and ruffling her hair.
Eliza, on her part, sighs, and Lena expects some form of chastisement but nothing of the sort comes, instead she leans into Lena with a smile and says, “I may have set the wrong precedent with this punching victory dinner,” gesturing for Lena to simply sit and wait it out. It doesn’t take long, the two sisters breaking apart after some sort of half-hearted slapping match and sitting down with red faces and the kind of smiles that say they’re struggling not to laugh.
(They don’t last too long.
Lena finds herself laughing along).
The rest of the evening follows in much of the same way. Alex mocks Kara, Kara gives it right back (neither of them offering any real heat behind their words) and Eliza sits and rolls her eyes with exasperated amusement, sharing knowing looks with Lena that make her feel like she’s been a part of this group for years instead of merely an evening.
Lena finds herself having a nice time despite her better judgment, despite her rather terrible preconceived notions on how this night was going to go. Sure, she still feels awkward when conversation turns to her and Kara suddenly starts sprouting off a list of achievements she had no idea that other girl knew about, the ones Lena never really told people herself, with an odd level of pride. Lena feels awkward as Eliza compliments her on every single one but she still feels like there’s a bright light shining through her chest and she thinks she could get used to this.
Lena could get used to this.
But she shouldn’t.
She really needed to not get used to it, really needed to not make herself want something like this anymore than she already did - the warm mother or the warm smiles from Kara (even the snarky comments without any real snark from Alex).
Lena finds a reason to leave the moment that thought occurs to her. She attempts to leave with her heart intact with her closest approximation to a run after insisting on helping with the cleanup and quickly bumping her fist against the one Alex offers up with an easy grin. She doesn’t quite succeed when Kara insists on walking her out. Really doesn’t succeed when she catches Lena in a hug.
It shouldn’t mean anything. A hug. A simple hug between two friends on a paint-chipped porch, shrouded in the gently darkening light of the sky. It means something to Lena. Frankly it’s the best hug she’s ever had in her life and she wouldn’t consider that an exaggeration in the slightest. Kara’s grip is light as a feather at first, a barely there presence holding Lena to her chest, until Lena’s arms remember what they’re supposed to do and wrap around her in kind and then the floodgates open.
Kara’s grip tightens with the acceptance and Lena feels her own grip grow impossibly tight, her fingers beginning to curl into the soft fabric of Kara’s sweatshirt. And gods Kara was more muscular than Lena thought, and she smelled like apple shampoo and completely ubiquitous store-bought deodorant and it was stupidly amazing and holy fuck Lena needed to leave.
She breaks free of Kara’s hold with too much force, stumbles down the porch steps with awkward grace, waves with too much vigour as she all but shouts a goodbye to Kara, trying desperately to find the regular pitch of her voice.
Kara seemingly takes it all in stride, still smiling as Lena exits even if a look of dazed confusion coats the usual brightness with something a little murkier, even if her waving hand looks more like a reflexive action than something with any real intent. Lena doesn’t take the whole thing quite as well the moment she returns to her car, returns back to the exact place she was in just hours before, wondering how much force it would take to the steering wheel to come off in her hands.
(She stews in the phantom feeling of Kara’s arms wrapped around her.
She thinks the answer is not much more than she’s putting into it now).
“ I don’t love you as if you were a rose of salt, topaz,
or arrow of carnations that propagate fire:
I love you as one loves certain obscure things,
secretly, between the shadow and the soul.
I love you as the plant that doesn’t bloom but carries
the light of those flowers, hidden, within itself,
and thanks to your love the tight aroma that arose
from the earth lives dimly in my body.
I love you without knowing how, or when, or from where,
I love you directly without problems or pride:
I love you like this because I don’t know any other way to love,
except in this form in which I am not nor are you,
so close that your hand upon my chest is mine,
so close that your eyes close with my dreams.”
Honesty is a difficult thing, not in the sense that Lena went through her entire life lying to people, but simply in the fact that it had more rules than people liked to admit. Some honesty was easy, some hard. Some honesty was kind and some was cruel, some you wanted to shout from the rooftops and some you wanted to share in darkened corners in hushed whispers.
Lena’s not entirely sure why this honesty was something she wanted to share with Sam on this exact Saturday evening, in this exact diner, whilst sipping on this exact flavour of milkshake (banana), but it was. It was this exact setting in which Lena finally admitted something she’d been trying to put into adequate words for her best friend for a while.
“I’m gay.” Adequate enough, except maybe it isn’t because Sam is sitting across from her as stone faced as she was before Lena finally built the courage to say it, still with the same blank face that said, ‘okay I’m ready to hear the secret now’. Lena almost attempts to say it again, snaps her jaw shut again when Sam patiently lifts her hand, gesturing for her to stop in her tracks.
“That’s the secret?” She asks and Lena nods dumbly, confused about how these events are unravelling. “Lena, I love you and I’m glad you trust me enough to tell me this, but I’ve known you liked girls since the day I gave you a tour of the school - Kara Danvers waved at you and you almost decapitated yourself on a locker door.”
“That’s not-“ Lena cuts off her own protest. There was no point in arguing when they both knew that was exactly true, when they both know that the only reason Lena didn’t come away from that experience with a huge bruise on her forehead was because Sam managed to grab her before the collision occurred. Unfortunately Sam wasn’t there to save her the next day when she discovered Kara’s locker was right beside hers and slammed her fingers in the door in her haste to escape.
Maybe she was a bit too obvious.
“Okay, well that actually leads me on to the second secret I need to get off my chest, I-“
“If it’s that you fancy Kara I will start to rethink this entire friendship.” Lena doesn’t know if it’s that Sam raised her hand to cut off Lena once again, or that she was seemingly having so much fun revealing that she knew the inner workings of Lena’s mind more than Lena did on some days. Maybe it was just the overly smug and proud look on her face. Maybe it was just the need to regain the upper hand in this whole situation. Maybe she just thought it’d be funny.
Whatever the reason, Lena doesn’t bother sugar-coat her next words in the slightest, instead stating blunt as ever, “I’ve been writing love poems about Kara and letting Mike Matthews sign them with his name in an attempt to woo her on his behalf.”
“Woo, really?” Trust that to be the part that Sam focused on. Lena doesn’t know why she expected anything other than Sam to laugh in her face. Sure, she looked the tiniest bit shocked at the confession, but Lena feels like this was really the only way this could have gone.
“It’s not funny,” Lena says indignantly.
“It’s a little bit funny. And, I mean, come on, Kara can’t actually believe they’re from Mike. I’ve flicked through your secret journal enough to know you’re really good. Mike, on the other hand, often struggles to spell his own name.” So Lena was definitely going to come back to the whole journal snooping thing when she wasn’t hopelessly hoping for some actual advice.
“She seems pretty convinced.” Convinced enough that Mike kept asking for more, convinced enough that he begged her to keep going, definitely convinced enough that Mike had been receiving smiles and Kara didn’t duck his usual morning attempt at a hug the other day like she usually did - Lena had felt particularly sour about that one. She still wrote him another poem. And then some far more depressing ones that she spilled in the more hidden depths of her leather-bound book.
“Okay, so what if she actually does believe it’s him? Kara hasn’t shown any interest in Mike since like eighth grade before he was a jock douche. Honestly, I always kinda thought she had a thing for you,” Sam mentions offhandedly like the words weren’t going to send Lena into a tailspin, sipping on her own milkshake like she wasn’t even aware of the gravity of what she just said.
“Now you’re just being ridiculous.”
“It’d be ridiculous to ignore the evidence. She makes sure to smile and wave at you every day, even when you used to ignore her and give that look back like you were in pain.” Lena scoffs at the description. It wasn’t pain. It was more like the pressure of fighting off her own smile and convincing her hand not to raise itself and reply in kind.
“Kara smiles at everyone, she’s Kara.”
“What about when she practically shoved Winn out of the way so she could be your lab partner last year?” Okay so maybe that was funny but it still didn’t mean anything in the scheme of things.
“Being my partner means a guaranteed good grade.”
“What about prom season when she came to your locker, stuttered for like two whole minutes and then walked away blushing?” Alright, Lena could concede that, that had been a little strange. She’d been pretty blindsided by Kara, almost jumped out of her skin at the sight of her nervously smiling face as she slammed her locker shut. Kara responded to Lena’s greeting with shuffled feet and a bunch of sounds that sounded like someone had lobbed a dictionary in a blender and then tried to read the pieces. She walked away before Lena could ask her to repeat herself.
“The timing of that was purely coincidental.”
Sam sighs, “For someone so smart, you are truly dense.”
“We were barely even friends before this whole poetry thing started, there’s no way she’s into me.”
“You had a crush on her before you even knew her name.”
“It’s literally the exact same. Stop being so afraid about looking like an idiot and take a chance. What’s the worst that can happen? You go back to attempting to ignore that she exists until you escape to college and find some other girl to fawn after?” Maybe Sam was right. Maybe the whole thing wouldn’t actually be so bad - Kara would never make Lena feel bad about it, would let her down gently at the very least, and maybe, just maybe, there was actually a chance that Kara liked her back and this whole thing could be a funny story in their happily ever after (or happily for now).
Lena almost agrees to do it, almost tells Sam that she’ll finally stop being a chicken shit because if she says it out loud then there’s less of a chance of her backing out on it (mostly because Sam would continuously nag her about how she promised she would until she finally got annoyed enough to just do it in the spur of the moment).
Lena almost agrees to do it.
And then right before she opens her mouth to say fuck it, the bell rings on the diner door and she watches Kara walk in, securely tucked under Mike’s arm with a patient smile that said she was actually invested in listening to whatever story he was telling that required such vigorous arm gesticulation. The universe was a real bitch sometimes.
“I think the poetry worked,” Lena says, instead of what she originally planned, and goes back to forlornly drinking her milkshake as Sam spins to look at the door.
Yeah, fuck felt about right.
“in more ways than one
she’s like the moon
the light within her
shines in complete darkness
she’s a shade of beauty
among the stars.”
Lena watches Mike slip the last poem into Kara’s locker with a smile aimed her way and, as she fakes one back, she thinks that it’s almost like a weight has been lifted at the exact same time that another is dumped on her shoulders. She didn’t have to help Mike anymore, didn’t have to continue this lie. But she’d also already helped Mike enough to her own detriment.
The fake smile she flashes him vanishes the second her face is hidden behind her locker door. This was fine. It was all fine. No more love poems at least, except that wasn’t true, there would be more. So many more. She’s just didn’t have to let Mike take credit any more, didn’t have to let anyone see them but herself (and presumably Sam when she inevitably snooped again).
No more Kara reading them. No more Kara at all if she knew what was good for her, which Lena always liked to think she did, hence why she hadn’t spoken to Kara since the diner, had gone back to avoiding her like the plague - dodging waves and smiles, avoiding the library to the point where she had actually been eating in the cafeteria under the pitiful eye of Sam as she tried to figure out what to say to make this even the slightest bit better.
For lack of a better description, she felt shit.
She should never have spoken to Kara in the first place and then she wouldn’t have known what she was missing, could’ve happily stayed in her oblivious state, simply enjoying her crush completely built on far off observations and unattainable wants. That was nice. That was safe. Now Lena feels like her crush was just as tangible as the weight in her chest because Kara went out with Mike.
Kara went out with Mike.
Stupid idiot Mike.
Kara was also apparently amazingly stealthy because Lena’s heart almost jumps out of her chest when Kara practically poofs into existence beside her, face determined and maybe even a little angry - a look Lena could resolutely say she’d never seen Kara wear before.
“You’re ignoring me again,” she starts, before Lena can even begin to think what to say, before Lena has even fully realised she’s there. “Why are you ignoring me again? I thought we were— I thought we were friends.” Friends. They were friends. Lena actually liked being friends with Kara, thinks in another life being her friend would’ve been amazing, thinks it still probably would be in this one (after three to five business days to lick her wounds and figure out how to be normal).
“I’m not ignoring you.” She was. She really, really was.
“You’ve barely looked at me in like three days.”
“Contrary to the belief of your inflated ego, I don’t spend all day looking at you.” That wasn’t a lie. It was only like three quarters of it. On a good day Lena even managed to cut it down to two thirds.
“You don’t have to be a bitch about it,” Kara snaps and Lena flinches instinctively. “Sorry, that was, I don’t mean to—Did I do something wrong?” Her brow is furrowed, her lip almost looking like it might actually be quivering and Lena hates this. She hates that she’s done this, hates that she’s being so stupid about this whole thing. They could be friends. Lena could suck it up and be her friend. Wouldn’t that be infinitely better than no Kara at all?
“You didn’t do anything, Kara. You’re great.”
“KARA!” Mike calls from down the hall where his own locker resides, proceeds to act out the request for Kara to open her own locker for the poem he left. Lena’s poem. Kara does turn to offer him a slight wave, oddly dismissive in the way she immediately turns her attention back to Lena in front of her, attempting to continue and finish her sentence but it falls flat when she notices Lena already shutting her locker and trying to stuff all of her items in her bag as quickly as she possibly can.
“Just go be with your boyfriend, Kara,” Lena sighs and maybe the dismissal is a little unfair but it’s what she leaves the conversation at.
(She doesn’t notice the way she also leaves her journal behind as it falls from her bag. Ignores Kara’s calls of her name, too busy trying to escape before she does, or says, something stupid).
“I mimic poets I admire
Like hiding behind their metaphors
And regurgitating their similes
Will somehow help me explain my love.
But my love is inexplicable.
And you are ineffable.
And, just like the poets I admire,
You are long out of reach.
My chance was not is.
My longing is and was.”
Lena wasn’t moping, she was just... moping. She was moping. She was moping so hard. She was sitting around in your room, listening to sad playlists to amplify your sadness level moping. Staring at a page in a book for twenty minutes and absorbing none of it level moping. Debating programming her prototype robot to be able to slap her in the face level moping (and maybe that last one wasn’t as universal as the others but it was where she was at).
Lena has resigned herself to spending the entire weekend feeling sorry for herself when a knock sounds on her door and Lex pokes his head into her room, smirking when he sees her position flopped on the bed and Lena is immediately distrustful of the barely concealed excitement on his face - the kind of face that said he was intrigued to see where things went next, the kind of face that Lena learned you should never trust on Lex Luthor (it usually meant he was going to awkwardly introduce her to someone she’d never want to talk to at an event and then disappear into the crowd citing a ‘work emergency’).
“You look comfy,” he jokes, no doubt finding extreme amusement in the burrito Lena had made of herself with her blanket, complete with dollops of guac in the form of the way too many pillows she owned. “Well I hate to ruin all of this but Kara Danvers is downstairs waiting to see you. I didn’t realise you’d gotten over your stuttering enough to make friends.” Kara was waiting downstairs. Kara was in her house and waiting for Lena downstairs. Would climbing out her window to escape be considered too dramatic or just the right level?
“I don’t stutter,” Lena argues.
“You do when you have a crush.” Well she couldn’t argue very well against that. She was obviously still going to try though.
“I’m your brother, Lena, I notice things. She’s cute by the way, I approve.” Lex disappears before Lena can say any more with a parting smile that is softer than any she thinks she’s ever seen on his face before. She knows it’s something they’ll have to talk about later but for now it’s enough, for now she needs to focus more on the fact that Kara Danvers is downstairs.
She jumps from her bed, stumbling a little as her blanket prison catches on her feet, and attempts to make herself look more presentable (Lena will admit to sniffing her armpits a little bit as she drags her fingers through her hair). She doesn’t have time to change out of her sweatpants before she bounds down the stairs, switching her speed to something far more casual when she actually spots Kara awkwardly standing by the door still looking nervous and unsure in the house.
That look disappears the second she sees Lena, something far more determined slipping onto her face. A fact that makes far more sense in the next six heart stopping seconds.
“You have some explaining to do,” Kara says cryptically, or cryptically until she lifts a book into Lena’s line of sight. She stares at it for a moment, unable to fully comprehend what’s happening in that moment. She almost begins to rush upstairs to tear through her bag because she didn’t even realise she didn’t have it but it’s unmistakably hers. Her journal. The journal to end all journals. The journal that has every single poem she wrote for Mike inside. And others. And musings that never quite made it into something more. And maybe a few sketches when words failed Lena.
To put it simply - this was a clusterfuck.
Lena gestures for Kara to follow her as she attempts to put her thoughts in a row, partially not trusting her words just yet but also not wanting to have this conversation somewhere so open. This was the kind of awkwardness that needed to be hidden within the walls of her room.
“Where did you get that?” Are the words Lena eventually settles on asking the second she’s shut her door, not turning to face Kara quite yet, instead allowing herself a moment to settle herself by closely examining the swirls in the wood for a minute.
“You dropped it when you were running away from me.”
“I wasn’t-“ Lena begins to argue when she spins around but the words fall silent on her lips when she sees the look on Kara’s face, the genuine glare that she’s sending Lena’s way, as if she’s daring her to finish that sentence, daring her to lie. Lena never imagined Kara could pull off a glare, too much sunshine and not enough rain, but boy was she wrong.
“What is this?” Kara asks again, a simple question considering the complex answer Lena knows she’s really looking for and it takes all of Lena’s willpower to not reach out and snatch it back.
“It’s a journal.” Lena thinks if Kara could shoot lasers out of her eyes, she would be dead in this moment. Just a pile of ash built on lies and gay thoughts. Not that she was planning on stopping doing either of those things anytime soon.
“Stop dancing around answers, Lena. You owe me something.”
“It’s a journal of poems that I wrote.”
“Poems that Mike has been slipping into my locker and claiming her wrote,” Kara fills in when it becomes obvious Lena isn’t going to say it herself. Lena nods.
“He asked me to help him with, well with you I guess, which I suppose seemed to work since the two of you are a thing now.” Much to Lena’s chagrin. But Lena was hoping at least one good thing would come out of the soul crushing fact that Kara was dating Mike and that was that maybe Kara would be less mad because the ends would justify the means... come to think of it, shouldn’t Mike have been the one having to deal with this anger right now? His part in the lie was arguably worse.
“But why?” Kara presses, yet another question that seemed so simple until Lena had to think of the answer to it, an answer that she truly didn’t think she knew.
“I don’t know.” Lena wished she had a better answer to it but she honestly didn’t. She had absolutely no idea what compelled her to agree to help Mike. It was certainly nothing he offered up in payment. Maybe she just wanted Kara to finally see something she wrote, even if she didn’t know it was from Lena, even if it was in the form of deception. Maybe she just wanted to make Kara smile even if Kara didn’t know the smile was ultimately Lena’s doing. Maybe her childhood had turned her into a masochistic idiot. All of those were valid ideas and yet none of them were concrete.
“But you... everything in here. All of these poems you wrote. You’re telling me they were just for Mike, that every single one of these is just abstract fiction?” Kara presses, her sentences half formed and brimming with a curiosity that Lena was too scared to sate.
“Kara,” Lena says because they really don’t need to do this, not like this, she would really prefer they didn’t have to do it all because what good was it going to come to really.
Kara continues on like Lena hadn’t spoken a word, “because some of these are so specific, some of them feel like you— some of them don’t feel random.” And Lena doesn’t say a thing because what is she supposed to say, how was she supposed to make this go away? “She was the ocean and I was just a girl who loved the waves but was completely terrified to swim,” Kara recites and Lena knows she’s in trouble but, as usual, she refuses to admit that to anyone besides the voice in her head.
“It’s just a metaphor.” She really needed Kara to accept this.
“Based around something I only shared with you?” Kara refuses to budge.
“Purely coincidental.” She couldn’t keep doing this.
“Oh my god, Lena! Stop sidestepping around this whole thing and tell me something real. Do I not deserve a little honesty finally in all of this?” Kara shouts and Lena feels herself snap, like an elastic band pulled to tension point. It’s like everything she’s refused to say out loud, all the things she’s refused to admit, suddenly start thudding against her chest, a revolution building on her tongue and she’s too tired to hold it at bay any more.
“What do you want me to say, Kara? That I’ve had a crush building on you since pretty much the first second I saw you and that spending time with you only magnified that times a thousand because you’re so much more beautiful up close than at a distance?
You want to hear that I meant every single word in that journal? That I can’t stop thinking about you to the point that even when I sleep it’s like you seep into my dreams and I feel like I’m going insane because I’m eighteen years old but I feel like this is as good as it’s going to get, you are as good as it’s going to get, and how fucking stupid is that? Is that what you want because it really all seems like a waste considering you’re with Mike?”
“I’m not with Mike,” is all that Kara says in return after a few beats of tension, a few silent seconds filled with nothing but a deflating exhale on Lena’s behalf. Her eyes are wide, shocked at Lena’s outburst but she makes no move to say anything else and Lena wonders if she’s focusing on that because she’s avoiding the other stuff or because she just needs time to process the rest.
(Honestly Lena needs to process too).
“I’m not with Mike,” Kara repeats, clearer this time. “I only agreed to go out with him because I thought I should give him a chance after all the things he said about me but he was nothing like the poems that he wrote. The poems you wrote.”
“I’m sorry,” Lena says and she means it. Truly. She never really planned for this whole thing to get so messed up, never even considered the ways it might play with Kara’s emotions when she realised that Mike had the emotional range of an eggplant.
“No, I’m sorry. I didn’t mean to come in here all guns blazing. I actually told Alex I was going to go for subtle but I kind of lost it when I saw you.”
“It was a pretty dramatic opening move.” It certainly put her on edge.
“I meant to open by telling you that it’s not gone. Your chance.”
“My chance?” Lena asks, confusion written all over her face and Kara responds by turning to the last filled page in Lena’s journal, handing it to Lena with trembling hands and suddenly Lena realises she might not be the only one who feels like they might combust with nerves here. Lena stares at the last poem she wrote in silence for longer than she probably should, reads it over a dozen times to figure out if Kara’s really saying what Lena thinks she’s saying.
She can’t possibly be saying what Lena thinks she’s saying.
“I’m not really any good at poetry and I mostly stick to landscapes when I paint because I can never get hands quite right but that doesn’t mean I don’t still think about you a lot. Too much probably. All the time really. And since we’re being honest, you should know that I’ve had a crush on you since you almost walked into that locker door on your first day – your cheeks got all red and it was stupidly pretty but I pretended not to see because you looked so embarrassed.
“I’ve been trying to build up the courage to talk to you for ages but nothing ever came out right and then I saw you on the bus that day and I figured the universe was telling me to finally get it together and suddenly it was like I couldn’t stop talking to you, didn’t want to stop talking to you.”
“That time around prom?” Lena asks because she has to know if she’s really been this blind the entire time, if Sam was actually right (not that she would tell Sam if she was, not that Sam wouldn’t know she was right anyway. She was going to be so smug).
“I was trying to ask you to go with me but my heart was beating so fast I could barely breathe, let alone form words, and then you got that confused look on your face and it was so pretty everything went a little blurry and I just ran.”
“It seems we’re both quite good at avoiding things.”
“Maybe we should make a pact to not do that anymore.” Lena awkwardly holds her hand out in the space between them in an obvious offer to shake on it. She feels the smile break out on her face when Kara laughs, taking the hand without hesitation.
“Deal,” Kara agrees, shaking Lena’s hand sharply once but making no move to let go of it any time soon. “In the interest of not immediately breaking this pact you should know that I really want to kiss you right now and, if you don’t object in the next five seconds, I’m going to do it.”
Lena doesn’t object.
In fact, she grabs Kara’s shirt and tugs her in to kiss her soundly.
Their teeth click at first, too much force and not enough preparedness, and Lena is overly aware of the amount of garlic she had on her pizza at lunch because she never expected her day to go this way, but Kara doesn’t even flinch, simply adjusting their mouths and deepening the kiss. And Lena, Lena just follows the movement with languid lips and timid touches, thinking how amazing it is that one kiss could spark a thousand poems in a single second.
It’s the kind of kiss that feels so wholly like the first - searching mouths and inquisitive hands and an edge of wonder to every movement that practically screams holy shit we’re finally doing this. They were actually doing this. And it was better than anything Lena could’ve written in her life, the feeling in her chest. The one that explodes like a supernova when Kara pulls back with that one smile that’s had Lena in chains since the second she first saw it.
(It would be a lie for Lena to say she’d been in love with Kara Danvers her entire life.
But she thinks she just might be for the rest of it).