In Lena’s defense, it’s a universally known fact that when Kara Danvers pouts, her wishes come true. It’s like a secret superpower. You know, apart from the actual real superpowers her friend confessed to having a few months into their friendship.
(Lena had choked on her coffee. And when Kara started rubbing her back, a concerned crinkle on her forehead, Lena almost made a confession of her own.)
Anyway, the important thing is, Lena can’t be blamed for her current situation.
She looks at the bathroom mirror, steeling herself like she does before every nerve-wracking boardroom meeting and potentially life-threatening press conference. Her bikini-clad reflection makes her power pose look ridiculous, and the smell of sunscreen doesn’t help either.
It’s necessary, though, because she’s about to see Kara—sweet, excited, and absolutely jacked Kara—in swimwear.
Kara, her painfully straight best friend, who she’s been pining after for the better part of their “sisterly friendship,” had landed on her balcony with a hopeful smile a few days ago. Alex and Kelly had had to cancel their trip to Italy and given their tickets to her. And Lena, even important CEOs deserve a break sometimes. Please?
So naturally, here they are. Lena, who can’t even remember the last time she went on holiday. And Kara, who apparently thinks it’s normal to invite best friends to romantic getaways in Europe.
“Just a second!” Lena throws on her summer dress like it’s armor and she’s a Greek warrior about to head into the final battle at Troy. It’s a fitting analogy, probably. Kara let in the Trojan horse of their friendship, not realizing it was filled to the brim with unwanted, unrequited, very, very unfriendly feelings.
Any day now, it’s going to burst open and reveal all of Lena’s secrets.
But not today, if she can help it. So she takes a deep breath and leaves the safe haven of her bathroom to join the blond goddess waiting for her outside. Without looking at her biceps once.
Okay, maybe once.
Despite her many complaints about excessive exposure to sunlight and the sweatiness that entails, Lena finds she’s actually enjoying herself. She’s lounging in the shade of the trees reading a book she’s been meaning to read for ages.
Kara, meanwhile, is swimming laps in the pool like a hyperactive cat in the middle of the night. She’s given up on trying to get Lena to join her, for now, and all is well. Until Kara climbs out of the pool right when Lena decides to sneak a glance.
Kara’s swim shorts slip just a little when she pushes herself up, revealing, to Lena’s utter devastation, her V-cut abs. She’s pretty sure her whole body is blushing by the time Kara reaches for her towel and smiles at her.
“Hey,” Kara breathes, sitting down on the chair next to her. Then she frowns and puts a cold hand on Lena’s thigh. “Did you put on enough sunscreen?”
She absolutely did. So how do you tell your friend you’re experiencing a thirst-induced hot flash just because you peeked at their muscles a little?
“Maybe not,” she answers, and closes her eyes as Kara gently puts lotion on her face.
“I’m telling you, Lena, Italians may have invented pizza, but if they knew how good it’d taste with pineapples, they’d serve them here too.”
Lena laughs. “Okay, darling.”
There’s a blush on Kara’s cheeks that Lena wants to kiss. She brushes her shoulder against Kara’s instead. It’s the blue hour after sunset and street lamps flicker to light as they walk through the small town.
Kara takes her hand, and it’s not until they come to a stop at a small square that Lena realizes this isn’t on the way back to their apartment.
The fairy lights in the trees bathe the buildings and the pavement in soft effulgence. Street musicians are playing the mandolin and the guitar, children are running around and on the other side of the square someone is singing along to the song, serenading his laughing friends.
Kara squeezes her hand. “Do you want to dance?”
Lena is nodding before she has even fully processed the question—she sees the excitement on her friend’s face and knows her answer is yes.
Kara must be underestimating just how many glasses of the locally produced wine are currently in Lena’s bloodstream, though. She twirls her around and it makes Lena’s red dress billow, but it also makes everything around her spin really fast.
Thankfully, what would have been one of the most ungraceful collapses in Luthor history is prevented by a strong arm and what Lena suspects is a bit of superspeed.
“Whoa.” Lena giggles.
“Saved you,” Kara says.
A slower song starts playing and Kara pulls her close. With her head on Kara’s shoulder, Lena lets her body relax and her eyes fall shut.
It’s so easy to pretend, sometimes.
To pretend this romantic getaway is actually romantic, and the arms holding her are there for the reasons she so desperately wants them to be. It’s so easy to get carried away in her daydreams, in fact, that she almost starts to believe them sometimes.
“Hello,” Kara says with a smile in her voice. When Lena opens her eyes, she finds a little girl staring at her, biting the inside of her cheek.
“Ciao,” Lena says. The girl takes a hesitant step forward. Her small hands grab Lena’s dress and she looks up at her with a look that Lena can’t describe as anything other than adoration.
“Sei una principessa,” she breathes.
“Chiara!” a woman calls from across the square. “Vieni qua!” The girl pouts but then she’s gone and Lena waves distractedly, most of her brain preoccupied by Kara’s thumb rubbing circles on the small of her back.
“Pretty sure she just fell in love with you.”
Lena snorts, looking up at her dancing eyes just when Kara adds, “Can’t say that I blame her.”
Lena’s heart skips several beats at once. She feels a blush start spreading across her face but before she knows it, the moment is over again—a flash of panic on Kara’s face turns into excitement so fast Lena almost misses it.
“Let’s get ice cream!”
“Look,” Kara says softly. Her face is tilted upwards, her ice cream cone—with five scoops of gelato, including smurf-flavor, whatever the hell that may be—forgotten for a moment. Lena follows Kara’s gaze.
The night is cloudless and the docks are dark. It’s quiet, too, the gentle waves of the lake the only thing she hears for a long time as they gaze at the brightest stars Lena has seen in years. Combined with the fresh air and her relaxed body, she feels about as far away from home as possible.
She glances at Kara, and shakes her head with a half-smile.
There’s a question that has been on the tip of her tongue for days now. The wine makes it tumble right off, out into the world. “Kara?” Kara hums. “Why did you invite me here?”
“What do you mean?”
“I don’t know.”
Kara looks at her for a moment. “I just wanted to spend time with you.”
They finish their gelato in silence, and when they crawl into their apartment’s double bed that night, she falls asleep in Kara’s arms.
The blankets stick to her clammy skin when Lena wakes up to the sound of church bells. Who on Earth decided it was a good idea to install those inside her room? Frowning deeply, she opens her eyes to the blinding sunshine pouring in through the skylight.
She turns her head and finds Kara lying on her stomach, grinning at her.
Well. That’s way too pretty, and way too cheerful to deal with, currently. Lena picks up her pillow and shoves it in her own face.
“I’ll go get coffee,” Kara laughs, and the mattress dips. Right when Lena is about to look up, soft lips press a kiss to the back of her hand. “I’ll be right back.”
Oh. She’s glad Kara can’t see her face when that happens.
The late afternoon sun shines on their apartment’s small balcony. They’re eating fruit and glaring daggers at the church across the street that woke them up that morning.
That last part is just Lena. The mountains in the distance look beautiful, though.
“Do you want some wine?” Lena asks, standing up.
“Oh! Well, actually, uh. There’s something I wanted to talk to you about, if that’s okay.”
Lena sits back down, frowning a little. “Is everything alright?”
“Yeah! Yes. I just…” Kara chuckles nervously, not making eye contact. “Um.”
“Kara, whatever it is, you can tell me,” Lena says softly. When Kara doesn’t immediately reply, she puts her hand on her cheek and says, “You know that, right?”
Kara looks at her and then, slowly, raises her own hand to cover Lena’s with. In the same movement, she turns her head and presses her lips to Lena’s palm, her eyes closed and her eyebrows drawing together.
Every nerve in Lena’s body moves to the skin touched by Kara’s lips.
When Kara looks up, her lips drag across Lena’s palm and her eyes are wide. “Lena, I… am so scared of losing you.” She exhales and her breath washes over Lena’s wrist. “But Rao every time I look at you, I…” Her eyes drop to Lena’s mouth.
And that, it turns out, is all it takes for Lena to lose her self-control.
She gives in. The Trojan horse opens its belly, reveals its secrets, all of her repressed feelings spilling out at once. Kara makes a surprised sound when Lena kisses her, and there’s a split second where Lena thinks she’s made a mistake.
But then Kara’s hand tightens in hers and she’s kissing back, and oh. This is really happening. She’s kissing her best friend and her lips taste of mango, and she’s kissing her best friend.
Lena is half in, half out of her chair, and the corner of the table is poking her thigh, but it doesn’t matter. Kara’s free hand comes up to touch the back of her neck and her peach fuzz tickles Lena’s lips, and Lena has never had an imperfect kiss that was so perfect before.
When Kara pulls her onto her lap, their foreheads touch and she lets out a shaky sigh.
“Yeah,” Lena agrees, her smile wide and her heart hammering in her chest. “So what did you want to talk about?”
They both start laughing, long enough that they both have tears in their eyes by the end, and Lena feels years of pent-up tension leave her body when Kara pulls her close in a bone-crushing hug.
The edge of the swimming pool is jagged, rough against the backs of her thighs, but the water around her feet is blessedly cold. Her eyes have been staring at the same page of her book for a long time, but her mind is elsewhere.
‘Elsewhere’ swims up to her a moment later. Lena shivers when Kara’s cold and wet hands touch her, but she smiles when Kara’s gaze falls down to her lips.
“Hi.” She puts down her book, turns to Kara and leans in for a kiss. But right when she’s about to close her eyes, Kara picks her up and pulls her into the pool.
Lena shrieks and when they go under, she wraps her legs around Kara’s waist. Kara is laughing when they come up and Lena clings to her like a drowned koala, pouting halfheartedly.
Kara kisses her nose and grins. “Mmm, chlorine.”
“Well, if you hadn’t—” Lena starts, but Kara cuts her off with a kiss.
Lena pulls her bathing suit back up as the toilet flushes. She looks in the mirror while she’s washing her hands, and finds herself smiling.
Her love, it turns out, has never been a Trojan horse. There has never even been a war. All this time, she’s been comparing her life to the wrong epos: this isn’t the Iliad, it’s the Odyssey.
And after three long years, she’s finally found her way home.