Lena knows some people might consider it creepy. She’s questioned it herself more times than she count but always finds an excuse to quiet the voice in her head that says being the yearbook photographer doesn’t mean you take a thousand photos of the same person. Even if that same person is the head cheerleader, and part of the science club, and a hundred other activities. Even if that same person somehow seems even prettier through the lens of a camera.
Lena knows she should be listening to the talk she’s being given by the incredibly chipper lab assistant slash tour guide, but honestly she wasn’t saying anything Lena didn’t already know and there were more important questions running through her mind. Like, how much would she have to zoom to actually find a flaw on Kara Danvers’ face? Was it even possible to find one? At the rate she was going she was sure the answer was a definite no.
Although, her opinion was slightly clouded by the fact that she’d had a crush on Kara since they were kids. Thirteen years old and still completely new to town, Kara had still pushed Mike Matthews over for calling Lena dumb and breaking her glasses. It was the start of a tragic love story - one that was completely unrequited and then trodden on just a little bit more when Kara and Mike started dating at the beginning of the year. A classic footballer-cheerleader love story.
And Mike continued to be the bane of Lena’s existence, with his sexist jokes that he thought were charming and funny, and his punchable face, and the fact that he was ruining every photo she tried to take on this trip - be it intentionally or no. She wasn’t even sure why he was here. He sure as hell wasn’t in AP Bio and he obviously didn’t even understand, let alone care about, cross species genetics and their hypothesised applications to human medicine. He mostly just seemed to be happy to hang his arm over Kara’s shoulders and attempt to distract her from actually listening.
(Did Lena mention that he had a punchable face?
She’d just really like that to be on the record).
“You got any actual photos of this stuff, and like, other people?” Sam sidles up beside Lena, doesn’t even mention what the photos need to be other than - she looked straight through Lena like a piece of glass, always had. Lena, on her part, looks at her with an exasperated look, until Sam lifts her hands in surrender. “What? I’m just checking. Do you remember the planetarium trip where they asked for your film and you had nothing but Kara staring at the stars?”
Yeah… That was awkward. Lena had to lie about her camera breaking during the trip and how she only managed to get one good photo - she couldn’t well deprive the student body of a photo of Kara staring at the stars like they were the only important thing in the world. She still thinks about that photo sometimes. How Kara had seemed both wistful and pained in one moment, how she had a look in her eyes of someone way beyond her years.
“Don’t worry, I have a great picture of you picking a wedgie out by the DNA splicers in the last room,” Lena jokes, well half jokes, she actually does have a photo of that. It’s pretty amazing. Less amazing is the immediate way Sam tries to wrestle her camera from around her neck. It involves a lot of tickling and attempted headlocks but luckily ends with Lena slipping from her grasp and shifting back. Albeit shifting back a little too heavily, in the fact that her elbow bumps into a glass container on her backswing, causing a crack to form.
(She says a crack; it’s more of a missing shard and an open hole).
It almost slips from the shelf with the hit. Almost. Only someone on the other side of the podium catches it before it meets its doom on the laboratory floor. That witness to Lena’s clumsy moment unfortunately being Kara Danvers. Lena could’ve sworn she halfway across the room a second ago.
“Are you okay?” Kara asks, quietly handing the box to the woman beside her who is frantically fretting over the crack and telling another man in a lab coat to take it to the quarantine area immediately. Maybe Lena would take more notice of that if it weren’t for the fact that Kara keeps her eyes on her during the entire exchange. Maybe she would notice the tickle up her back and the slight pinch on the back of her neck if it weren’t for the concerned smile Kara sends her way.
In hindsight, she overlooks quite a lot because Kara is there. She always has. In freshman year she snapped the fountain pen her aunt had given her for her birthday because Kara had worn a yellow sundress to school. She didn’t notice until the ink had dripped halfway down her arm. That wasn’t even the worst thing that had happened to her whilst distracted.
“I’m fine.” Mostly. Her elbow kind of hurt and she felt a little bad about almost breaking something important, especially when she notes the trefoil denoting its radioactive status. Someone was in for some incredibly boring paperwork that evening.
“You should be more careful. No-one else takes action shots like you and we’ve added a new basket-toss into the routine for the game on Saturday,” Kara says. Lena just stares. She’d never been particularly good at talking to Kara. Honestly she’d never been great at talking to anyone - the only reason her and Sam were friends is because Lena’s the one who found her under the bleachers during her pregnancy scare. It turns out emotional trauma is great at bonding people. But here Kara Danvers was, talking to her, and apparently noticing things about her, and Lena didn’t really know what to do with that. “You are coming to the game right?”
“I’m sure I could clear my schedule.” God she sounded like an idiot. Exactly what schedule was she clearing? She had like one friend and zero plans. But Kara smiles and nods like it makes perfect sense, ducking back off to listen to the rest of the tour as it restarts.
Sam sidles back up to her, speaking in a near-perfect impression of Lena, “I’m sure I could clear my schedule. Why are you using your bedroom voice in the middle of a lab?”
“You have no idea what my bedroom voice sounds like.”
“Not from lack of trying,” Sam says, sending a wink Lena’s way and laughing at Lena’s failed attempts to push her off her feet. “Seriously though - Kara Danvers knows who you are. That’s like the first step in every dream you’ve ever had. You must feel on top of the world.”
Lena’s wouldn’t lie.
She felt pretty fucking great.
She felt terrible.
That was a complete and total understatement. Lena felt like utter shit. The first time she wakes up its three in the morning, with a mouth full of sand, burning eyes and a pounding head like her brain was throwing rocks against the walls of its cage. She feels a little like she might vomit. Mostly like she’s sweating so much she’s not sure there’s anything left inside her body.
She wakes up at seven next, her alarm blaring, her throat dry, and a burning sensation on the back of her neck like someone had been holding a lighter to it since the second she closed her eyes - she almost wished that was the case, instead, as she scrambles to get a view of it in her mirror, she finds she has a lump on the back of her neck the size of a plum.
A plum sized lump that was oozing some kind of sticky string with an insane tensile strength that, if Lena were a less sane person, she would swear was spider silk. But that would be insane. That would be a whole new level of insane. Except maybe it wouldn’t because Lena realises with a shocking sense of clarity, as she stares at herself in the mirror, that she shouldn’t be able to see herself in the at all - at least not this unblurred. Not without her glasses.
She was probably still asleep. It had to be some kind of fever dream. She lifts the bottom of her shirt up to wipe the sweat from her brow and finds… abs? Okay she was definitely still asleep. That was not a thing that was hiding under her shirt yesterday; Lena had stopped playing sports about the time she got her boobs in before everyone else in the grade.
She pinches her side. The fabric of her shirt rips away with her fingers, sticks to the pads of them like someone had super-glued them on and it was officially weird. Like Lena already wanted to throw up but now the whole experience is exacerbating that want weird.
She was hallucinating. That had to be it. That was absolutely the only explanation for this. She was infected with whatever she knocked yesterday and it was doing something to her head and she was locked into some kind of dream where she had abs and Velcro for thumbs.
She just needed to wake up and everything would be fine.
She slaps herself round the face.
Everything stays the same. Well, everything apart from the fact that as her hand continues its trajectory post-face-hit, a small, thin line of string spurts from her wrist and knocks a glass of water off her desk, and straight onto a plug socket that starts to fizzle dangerously, but honestly that was so the least of her worries right now. Like bottom of an incredibly long list.
Definitely below the knock sounding on her door, accompanied by the whining voice of Sam, as unhappy as ever to be awake this early, “Lena, why is your ass not already in the car like usual, berating me for being five seconds late? Are you masturbating? Don’t make me open this door and find you in here with your hands down your-- Oh hi, Mrs Luthor, how did your big meeting go?”
Lena’s not entirely sure when that became Sam’s go-to question with her mother but it seemed to work every time. Lena thinks that’s mostly because she’d been a little lonely since her dad died. Softer. His funeral was the first time Lena had seen her stone-faced façade crack. She held Lena’s hand when they lowered his coffin into the ground. She slept in a chair by her side that night.
(Sometimes Lena feels a little bad that she’s glad he died
Sometimes she thinks he deserves it).
“I’ll be one minute!” Lena rips three shirts in that one minute before she manages to slip one over her head. She snaps the buckle off her belt trying to pull it tighter. Spends ten seconds with her finger stuck in the back of her shoe as she tried to aid in slipping it on. Her hairbrush breaks in half and there’s definitely still sweat in her hair that a splash of water from the sink couldn’t fix, but she’s outside in her self-allotted sixty seconds, pressing a kiss to Lillian’s cheek and dragging Sam away before she can say something embarrassing like-
“Have a great day, Mrs Luthor. You look really hot!” She took ten seconds too long. “Jesus, Lee. You look like hell,” Sam says, words blunt and arguably offensive but Lena knows not to take it that way, knows that Sam cares about her more than anything as she brushes her hair back and rests the back of her hand on Lena’s forehead to gage her temperature.
“I’m fine. I think I just didn’t sleep very well, probably a cold or something,” she brushes off. Sam eyes her with scepticism but keeps her comments to herself regardless, probably half afraid that Lena will kick her out of the car if she said anything. It had happened before. Sometimes Sam could be really crude and comments (sexual or otherwise) about Kara Danvers were banned at any time in which Lena was sitting behind the wheel of a two-ton vehicle.
Sam was pretty good at following rules. She also happened to be amazing at being an asshole. Which is why, the second they’ve both stepped out of Lena’s car, she opens her mouth. “So, are you gonna talk to Kara today, keep the momentum going?”
“What momentum? I crashed into a priceless, and arguably dangerous, box yesterday and she caught it before it smashed into irreparable pieces on the floor.” She was fairly sure there was no ‘arguably’ about it. Her fever still hadn’t quite broken and she was wearing a turtleneck because she didn’t want anyone to think she had the world’s most insane hickey. The box was dangerous. Attempting to talk to Kara Danvers also felt infinitely dangerous. Perhaps more so.
“Yeah, but she also knows who you are and complimented your photos,” Sam points out because her optimism is apparently unmatched.
“Frank from the bodega by my house hung my picture of his store up on his wall and leaves a chocolate milk on the counter especially for me every day after school.”
“He’s also been married for forty-seven years,” Sam says.
“Kara’s been with Mike for almost a year,” Lena retorts, opening her locker so she doesn’t have to see the momentous eye roll Sam throws at the name. She can still feel it through the metal.
“Mike’s a douche.” It almost feels like Mike takes that as his cue to prove Sam right as she hears his laughter and an always too late shout of “think fast!” and normally Lena knows that would be followed up with a ball smashing next to her - next to her being Brian Dox’s head. It had happened enough days in a row to predict the exact turn of events.
Except today the events turn a little differently. Namely in that Lena does something insane. Insane like she feels it coming. The hairs on the back of her neck stand on end and there’s this spark in her head for an instant and it’s like she can feel the air parting for the ball. It’s like she can see the way it spirals across the room. Each individual spiral it makes.
Spiral. Spiral. Spiral.
She sticks her hand out. She doesn’t bother to turn. Head buried in her locker, Lena reaches her hand out and grabs the ball before it can meet its mark, in the split second before it meets its mark. She can feel Brian’s tensed brow brush against the back of her hand. So close she can feel the heat of the blush that always coats his face when this happens to him. So close that she feels the puff of air from his mouth when he realises he’s been saved. Following by a much larger puff of air when the ball deflates in Lena’s hand with no more than a miniscule squeeze.
It takes a few tries for Lena to shake it loose. She kicks it across the hallway when it finally drops, head still resolutely tucked into her locker. Sam gapes at her when she finally closes it. She sees Kara doing the same at the end of the hall where she just appeared for the tail-end of the scene. She never did quite manage to be around for the first few minutes of Mike being an asshole.
“No throwing balls indoors.” She ruined it. She just did arguably the coolest thing she’d ever done, or will ever do, in her life, and she ruined it with a single line. Not that Lena actually allows herself any time to dwell on that fact, instead walking towards her first class and hoping Sam is following her – she refuses to actually turn to check but she’s pretty sure she hears her scrambling to keep up.
“Are you on crack?” Sam asks before they catch eyes and both fall into full-bellied laughter because holy shit. She just did that. Lena ‘stay-out-of-everything-and-keep-your-head-down’ Luthor actually just did that and it was kind of fucking awesome.
She’s less…sweaty by the end of the day. Mostly because she showered three times after school and was wearing two different kinds of deodorant. Normally she wouldn’t mind. Normally she could hide in her room and only be seen when Lillian delivered her a sandwich cut into little triangles and a reminder to not work too hard (she refused to make sandwiches that way when Lena first arrived in the Luthor house following her moms death. Told her it was childish that she wouldn’t eat them any other way. Lena cried the first time Lillian placed one on her desk).
Normally isolation was kind of easy. Today not so much. Mostly because today marks a day in which Lex has miraculously appeared for dinner and instead the three of them have to sit at the table and eat a three course meal in the most awkward of half silences and forced questions.
It wasn’t always so hard. Truthfully Lena used to look forward to seeing Lex, back when he used to visit from college with a worn baseball cap in clear defiance of the Luthor image and tell her just as many stories about the projects he was getting to work on, as ones about the stuff one could get up to when they didn’t have overprotective, overlord parents looking over their shoulder.
He used to be the one person in the world that felt like Home.
Now all he really was, was less. Less light, less funny, less bright. More angry. Lex hadn’t seen Lionel’s passing as a second chance like Lillian and Lena had, didn’t see it as something to bring them together, to help them bury the hatchet and become something new.
He didn’t grieve like they did. He didn’t search for comfort in people, or make peace offerings, or find someone to sit with when he was feeling low, even if he couldn’t talk. And that was fine in itself. Everyone grieved in their own way, on their own time. But Lex had found his solace in research project, after research project, and Lena wasn’t deaf to the conversations with Lillian about the new underground level built in LuthorCorp that only Lex had access to. She wasn’t blind to how gaunt he was, the way his suits didn’t fit quite right on his skeletal frame, the discolouration of his skin that said he was betraying his body as much as it was betraying him.
She worries. Lillian worries. Lex eats the beef on his plate with the utmost focus - Lena will admit that it’s delicious but it didn’t quite warrant the unadulterated eye contact (she was more enjoying the conspiratorial looks Lillian was sending her way, it felt nice to be in on them for once).
“How was your trip yesterday, Lena?” Lex asks out of the blue and all Lena can do for a moment is stare. Suddenly the silence seems a lot more obvious than before and it had only just been filled. Probably because no part of Lena expected him to actually talk, let alone care about what she was doing. To her surprise, he keeps going, “I heard there was a containment breach in one of the labs?”
Lena doesn’t know why she suddenly feels compelled to lie but she does and she’s recently realised trusting her instincts might not be so bad for her.
“We mostly stuck to looking at machinery. I don’t think they trusted us around anything too dangerous.” They probably shouldn’t have. Lena was definitely going to blame that and not the tussle she had with Sam. She was completely blame free.
“What exactly were they doing there?” Lex pushes and Lena cocks a brow.
“I didn’t realise I was being added to the LuthorCorp payroll as a corporate spy,” she jokes. She can see the slight smirk on Lillian’s face as she sips her drink. Lex doesn’t laugh, doesn’t even crack a smile. Lena schools her own features. “I think the main goal was probably limb regeneration if you’re that interested, though I don’t understand why seeing as LuthorCorp is primarily a tech company.”
“Never hurts to have hobbies,” Lex says. Lena hums in response. She was personally of the opinion that hobbies should be things like stamp collecting, or gardening, and not playing around with science that you don’t understand. “How is the photography?” Lena definitely doesn’t expect that follow-up. For a second everything seems lighter, for a second it feels like the old Lex. Such a simple question that they both know means so much more to Lena.
Lex is the one that got her, her first camera. The one who always found something to compliment about her photos, even when she’d just started and hadn’t figured out the zoom properly yet. The one who put her pictures up on the wall of his dorm when he first left for college because he said it made him feel more at home. Lena imagines he didn’t move them along to his office.
“Good, thank you.” She doesn’t push it. She doesn’t tell him about her new camera, or the fact that she’s the yearbook photographer, or that one of her photos was used in the local newspaper last week. Nothing more. Just that and then she focuses her attention on other things - namely on the desert being brought to the table, and the one falling off the tray right beside her.
Lena grabs it without even a second thought. Her hand reaches out before she can even tell it to; or rather tell it not to. Lena can feel Lex staring at her the whole time as she waves off apologies. She doesn’t like the way it sits on her. Stifling. Suffocating.
“Nice catch,” Lex says.
“Just lucky I guess,” Lena replies with ease. And then she just places the plate gently on the table and takes a bite of her cheesecake like nothing happened. Lex doesn’t give eye contact to his food this time and Lena swears she can still feel his gaze on her even after he’s made his excuses to leave.
It’s more unsettling than it’s ever been before.
She starts… testing things. She uses the term loosely - it involves no real science and a lot of ridiculousness injected into her from a youth spent enjoying comics a little too much, and curiosity built off the back of one two many strange things occurring in this city and those around it.
Lena starts small. Starts with the obvious. Climbs the wall of her bedroom with her bare hands and hangs upside down from the ceiling, whispering what the fuck under her breath the entire time because never has the sentiment seemed more apt. She tries other things then. Goes to the home gym that absolutely no one ever goes in. Picks up every weight in the room without effort, runs on the treadmill, faster and faster until she can’t up the speed anymore, until she realises she’s not even remotely tired.
She finds her skateboard in the back of her closet. The same one she hasn’t used since she was nine and was convinced she was going to be the next Tony Hawk before she realised she was much better at chess and decided to quit whilst she was ahead. The same one she finds herself suddenly able to ride without question - perfect balance, swift movements, an alarming ability to sense the exact moment she needs to shift before she falls off.
She throws herself off on purpose.
Not even a scratch.
She starts being a little more scientific then. Recording and hypothesising and testing and retesting. Shoots the webbing from her wrist to see how fast it is, how strong, how far it extends.
Then she starts tinkering. When Lena was seven she programmed Lex’s stereo so it would only play a single song every time he turned it on (she stood by her choice of Africa even to this day). When she was ten she built a potato gun and promptly smashed several windows. When she was thirteen she made a robot arm just so it could high-five her. Now she was sneaking equipment from her garage to make web shooters. Web. Shooters.
To be more specific wrist gauntlets made to increase the tensile strength of the silk string she was already producing because she was bitten by some kind of radioactive spider that was slowly changing her DNA. But that sounded a little too wild so… web shooters.
Ones that she had somehow actually gotten to work. Ones that she’s convinced herself to believe in enough that she finds herself climbing the stairs of LuthorCorp all the way to the top. She bypasses the elevator, convincing and unconvincing herself with every step she takes - she lands on convince as she pushes open the roof door. A completely random moment of fate that leads her onto a ledge, hood secured around her head, genuinely debating jumping off.
She’s going to jump off.
She really is.
She does. Except, Lena doesn’t really jump, doesn’t leap, doesn’t throw herself from the edge. She just sort of… falls. Tilts her body towards the ground and lets gravity do its party trick. Panic sets in first. The immediate fear that she’s not as good as building things as she likes to think, that she’s actually just thrown herself to her death from her family building. Then she feels free. The wind rushing through her hair, the complete weightlessness of her body, the way every sound around her is muted.
Then she feels amazing. She shoots her web, watches as it catches on the side of the building, and then it’s like—it’s like she’s flying. She shoots them again. One after another. Zooms around the city, flies, swings. The view is incredible. National City from above is like something else entirely. She can’t see the street art, or make out faces, or hear their words. It’s all just lights, and lines of movement, and muffled sounds of everything and nothing.
She drops closer. Everything becomes clearer. She whips past pedestrians, and bolts past cars. Speeds through more blocks in a minute than she’d only be able to cover in a few hours before. And it’s frankly insane. And more than addictive - the adrenaline pumping through her veins is addictive, and it’s also exactly what she blames for the fact that when she hears screaming down a poorly lit alley, in one of the worse parts of the city, she flings herself towards it.
She drops down with a three point landing, surprises herself when it actually comes off well. Then she ruins it a second later when what she shouts to the man seemingly trying to snatch some woman’s purse at knifepoint is, “hey, you!” And then an even more ridiculous, “Stop that!”
He does not ‘stop that’. In fact, he actually laughs at Lena, tugs the purse he has a hand on harder and pushes the knife closer to the woman. It’s reflex that has Lena shooting web from her hand. Usually Lena would say its sheer luck that has the webbing soaring at the perfect angle and trapping his arm to the wall - seeing as she’s pretty much sucked at sports since she realised what sports were - but she has a feeling that this is something she’s just pretty good at now. She wasn’t complaining.
“You bitch!” He shouts, face red, all his effort going into attempting to free himself. It’s kind of hilarious. Lena most definitely was not complaining. Especially not when the woman rushes towards her and pulls her into a hug. Hugs had always been a little confusing for Lena - always seemingly steeped in duty and ‘I should probably hug my child’, until the last couple of years when everything seemed more genuine. From Sam. From Lillian. From this random woman in an alley who clutches her like she had never been more grateful to a person in her entire life.
Maybe she hadn’t.
“Thank you,” she whispers.
“You’re welcome,” Lena says, breaking free and sprinting the second sirens start blaring because she really doesn’t want to explain this, doesn’t think she can explain this, she’s really probably not supposed to hang around and explain this.
Lena stops three more assaults that night.
She keeps going out every night after.
It’s more than a little validating when she finds stories about her plastered all over the papers. Almost as great as the feeling of flying through the air. Almost as great as the look in people’s eyes when they realise she’s there to save them.
(She’s never felt so wanted.
It’s worth the long nights and tired eyes).
Lena figures she should tell someone. To be more specific, Lena gets slashed with a knife and as she watches the blood seep through her fingers, she figures that if she happens to die out on the streets, at least one person should know what she was out doing in the first place.
Thankfully, the knife wound doesn’t kill her. It actually heals a lot quicker than it should, which means Lena spends fewer days than she imagined faking an illness and fending off sympathy from Lillian that she never in a million years expected to be the recipient of.
(It was almost as annoying as it was heart-wrenching…
It wasn’t even close).
Picking who to confide in is simple. The answer is the same person she’s been confiding in for years, and the same one who had always confided in her - Sam. It turns out sharing your deepest secrets with someone one time in a moment of weakness really does wonders for the friendship. Lena thinks it’s probably the knowledge of how awkward it is to cry under the bleachers and tell someone you’re a lesbian for the first time that really stops her from wanting to do it twice.
She also kind of won the friend jackpot. Case in point, Sam doesn’t question her for a second when she starts leading her up the stairs of LuthorCorp, to the same roof Lena found herself on the first night she started this whole thing. She had debated just telling Sam normally but then she considered how many questions she’d have to field about if she was on drugs or not. She figured if she stuck herself on her bedroom wall Sam would make some joke about her going into magic and illusions. Which meant that she was really left with this (she also maybe just enjoyed the drama).
This being taking Sam to where it all began, cryptically saying, “I have something to tell you,” and then promptly throwing herself from the roof, before shooting a web and flinging herself back to exactly where she was before. All with a slightly terrified grin on her face. There was always a chance Sam would have a major freak-out. There was also a chance that she’d drag Lena in for a hug the second she landed and then promptly shove her away and almost back off the building.
It’s the latter that comes to fruition.
“Holy shit! You really just yeeted yourself off there,” Sam laughs, tilting her head over the ledge of the building to look down, then checking for any marks on Lena’s body, then looking over again, still laughing. “Was like half a second from jumping myself,” she admits. Lena’s brow furrows.
“You would have jumped? Why would you have jumped? What would you have even done?!” Each new question becomes noticeably more frantic as Lena gets wholly more confused because every time she tries to think of the answer herself she comes up blank.
Apparently Sam comes up blank too because she shrugs carelessly, “I don’t know. Fallen? Figured it was some kind of unspoken suicide pact we were just running with.”
“How did I end up with you as my best friend?” Lena asks incredulously but there’s no hint of malice in the question. It rests firmly in the realms of complete awe because when Lena was a kid, freshly dropped into a new home with a new family, she had always wondered what it would be like to have someone who would do absolutely anything for her - no questions asked.
She didn’t have to wonder anymore.
“You found me crying under the bleachers and were too awkward too run away,” Sam says, following the same joke they’d been making for years. It was a pretty realistic assessment of the situation. From Sam’s point of view anyway. Lena had never admitted she knew full well that Sam was hiding under there, that it had never been a coincidence, that she had walked head first into Sam’s deluge of tears because she didn’t want anyone else to be alone at their lowest point.
“I’m really bad at running.”
“That would explain why you’ve been fighting the entire mugging population of National City,” Sam says casually and Lena will admit she expected more questions. At least some shock. Instead Sam is just looking at her, tilting her head every couple of seconds like she’s slotting all the pieces together.
“There was a bank robber too,” Lena points out because she was particularly proud of that one. She was less proud of the ‘I bet you weren’t banking on me being here’ pun that came out of her mouth when she was webbing him to the bank vault wall.
“Cool.” Sam grins, pauses for a moment and Lena thinks that will finally be the moment when the questions start coming. How? When? Is that why she wasn’t wearing her glasses? Why the fuck had she decided to start risking her life every night? None of that comes, rather Sam eyes Lena for one last silent second and then says, “I have a sewing machine, you know, if you want to make this legit.”
“I think… that could be kind of awesome.” It would be nice to feel a little more legitimate and less like a teenage girl running about in a hoodie and gathering random splats of unidentified blood.
“Great. I’m thinking we put a giant spider on your chest.”
“You don’t think that’s a little… obvious?”
“It’s about building a brand, Lena,” Sam scoffs and she was ridiculous. She was so absolutely ridiculous but Lena loved her and she supposed she could maybe come to love the giant spider.
The fucker who bit her probably deserved a little credit.
The branding thing gets a little out of hand.
That’s an understatement. It gets incredibly out of hand. But honestly Lena doesn’t think that’s necessarily a bad thing. It may lead to her taking photos of herself and selling them to the papers but that also leads to her having money in her pocket and people starting to call her Spider-Girl (it was a little on the nose but the main point was that they were on her side).
Her symbol was plastered on t-shirts (being sold by Sam for more than a pretty penny because ‘sometimes you have to play capitalism before it plays you, Lena’ – that was a direct quote). People were tweeting about how she was making the city a better place. Maybe that was worth the police attempting to chase her and screaming on the TV that she wasn’t above the law, no matter what ‘good’ she was doing (it should be noted that the inverted commas came from the police).
She genuinely was doing good. Crime rates were actually down and no-one else had started wearing suits and tried to fight her yet so that was a definitely a win in her book. Also Lena heard Kara Danvers say she thought Spider-Girl was cool the other day and she was completely living off that. Literally every breath was a reminder that Kara Danvers thought she was cool, even if Kara Dan- Kara didn’t know that the person she thought was cool was actually Lena.
Speak of the devil, “Lena hey!!” She says it like it’s common. Kara says the words like she always comes up to Lena at her locker in the morning and greets her. Lena reacts to them like it’s not common at all, in that she smashes her head against the locker door because apparently even so-called spidey senses can’t protect her from her more powerful gay messness.
“Hey…Kara,” Lena hesitates because it’s weird. Kara coming over to her locker and looking nervous and actually talking to her directly for no apparent reason is weird.
“So I’m writing an article for the school newspaper and I was wondering if I could borrow your eye?”
“It’s kind of attached to me,” Lena jokes and fuck she’s an idiot. A genuine idiot. Oddly enough though Kara laughs at it. A chuckle more than anything but it feels like something.
“I meant could I bribe you into taking some photos for me? I heard a rumour you like chocolate milk and I know where to get the best milkshakes in town.” A rumour? A rumour? Sam was an asshole. She completely blamed Sam. She had no idea how she did this but she did this. Unless Kara had also seen Lena drinking it at lunch every day and catalogued the idea but that was a hundred times less believable than Sam being an asshole somehow so there was no point dwelling.
“You don’t have to bribe me, I’ll help regardless.” Honestly Lena would give Kara a milkshake to take photos with her for any amount of time.
“I’d like to,” Kara pushes, and when Lena opens her mouth to protest, she pushes further, “We can argue about that after. I was thinking we could take some afterschool, if you’re free?” Lena just nods. Kara squeezes her forearm gently in thanks before she leaves and Lena really needs to get a hold of herself because she honestly almost passes out.
God she’s gay.
She’s so gay.
It’s all Lena can think about all day. All day. The whole entire day. Not so much the gay part, more the part where Kara actually wanted to hang out. Sure, it’s because she needs Lena to take photos for her but she wasn’t going to let that particular cloud rain on her parade. Except she does kind of spend the whole day hung up on that detail.
“Hey, Lena! Ready to go?” Kara asks as she finds Lena waiting at her locker. Still hung up. Still thinking. Still somehow unready for Kara despite her new supposed biological readiness.
“Born ready,” Lena replies and immediately winces because why did she always turn into the biggest dork when Kara was involved. It’s that thought that has her keeping her mouth shut as she follows Kara to her car. That thought that has her silent as Kara starts driving to their destination. A destination that Lena doesn’t even know because she was too distracted to ask. She doesn’t even know what she’s taking pictures of. And she still doesn’t know why Kara needed her.
“I can practically hear the thoughts running around your head, wanna share?”
“I was just wondering why you asked me to help. Don’t you sit with James every day at lunch?” James Olsen who Lena was sure was born with a camera in his hand and had accompanied Kara’s name on more than one by-line over the years. James Olsen who was one of Kara’s best friend. James Olsen who would have said yes to her request of help without a second thought.
“Oh, well, James is good; I just… think you’re better.” Kara shrugs. Lena blushes beside her, feel her shoulders push back and her neck stretch with the colour. She feels like sunshine. “Also I kind of need to get in somewhere we’re not supposed to be and I didn’t think James would agree to it.”
“You thought you could charm me into breaking the law for you?” Lena jokes. It’s not a joke. Kara totally could, Lena’s already agreed to do whatever it is in her head. Kara doesn’t seem to think it’s much of a joke either because she gets this confused look in her eye like she’d never thought about being able to charm anyone in her life, like she doesn’t know half the effect she has on people.
(At least the effect she has on Lena.
That was probably for the best).
“I don’t want you to do anything that makes you uncomfortable.”
“Where do you want to go, Kara?” Kara grins at the obvious acceptance, putting the car in park and Lena takes that to mean they’ve arrived where they need to be – except, as she looks outside, all she sees are skyscrapers and more skyscrapers and she doesn’t understand where Kara can possibly want to go in this area, can’t imagine what business she’d have in any of these buildings.
“I’ve seen the photos you’ve taken of Spider-Girl, the angles some of them come from. I figure you must know how to sneak your way into a building in order to get to the roof.” Right. Sneak into the building. That’s exactly how she got those photos. She definitely did not just climb the outside of buildings with her bare hands or swing onto them with her webs. Definitely not.
“Which building are you trying to sneak into?”
“And what does the school newspaper need to know about Lord Industries.”
“It’s less the newspaper and more me,” Kara says and Lena sits silently with the admission, hoping her wordlessness will spark more of an explanation. As it stands she doesn’t understand what Kara could need with Lord Industries either, as a general rule, Lena has learned from family gala obligations that Lord should be avoided as much as is possible. “They have something of mine. I can’t… I can’t tell you any more than that but I need it back.”
“You don’t need any pictures do you?” Lena asks the obvious. Kara flinches, like she hadn’t really thought ahead to this moment in which her plans would have to be revealed.
“I’m sorry; I should’ve just been honest from the start. I’ll take you home.” She turns the key back in the ignition. In a moment of boldness Lena reaches over and twists it in the opposite direction in the next second, pulls the keys out and drops them in her own pocket as she steps out of the car. She rounds it and opens Kara’s door too, revels in the look of utter shock on her face, basks in the flash of awe and gratitude that passes through her eyes. “Let’s go get this thing back then.”
“Really?” She asks.
“Yeah, come on,” Lena assures, wiggles her outstretched fingers until they’re accepted and Kara steps out of her car. Lena drops her hand quickly, afraid that the longer she holds it, the harder it will be to eventually force herself to let go. It’s already half impossible.
But Lena doesn’t allow herself to dwell, instead she stalks into Lord Industries with her best Luthor smile and her sharpest posture and trusts that Kara will know to follow her lead. She almost loses her nerve as she approaches the front desk, starts imagining every worst case scenario that might occur the second she opens her mouth, but then she forces herself to open her mouth anyway.
“Hi, I’m here for an appointment with Maxwell Lord.” Well the building didn’t immediate blow up. She didn’t hiccup midway through her sentence. She also didn’t just pass the fuck out on the spot. She does however get greeted with the most blank stare she’s ever witnessed.
“I don’t think so, sweetie,” he says blankly, evidently eyeing the ripped jeans and leather jacket that Lena hadn’t thought twice about wearing this morning.
“I prefer Miss Luthor if you don’t mind and I’d like to make my scheduled appointment before I have to return to my mother and pass along the reason that I didn’t gather the files she needs from Mr. Lord is that… Benny at the desk was being incompetent.”
“Miss… Luthor?” He stares at her like it’s the first time he’s really bothered to look at her since she came in. The first time he really connected her face to the one splashed on the papers every few months when a new puff piece about her family’s empire surfaces. ”That’s- that’s fine, you can go up. Here.” He thrust a visitors badge across the desk towards her, shuffles a second one forward when she continues to stare disinterestedly that she hands to a bewildered Kara.
“Thank you, Benny. You have a nice day now.” Lena practically pushes a mute Kara towards the elevator, smiling as Kara starts laughing the second the elevator doors close and shut them in.
“That was so hot!” Kara exclaims. Lena’s entire body freezes. Kara’s entire body follows suit. “In like a cool way. It was cool. Like you really scared him but it was like totally badass rather than mean, and you had this look on your face that was really hot.” Kara freezes again, grimacing as she attempts to dig herself out of the hole she created and then just ended up back where she started.
Lena decides not to dwell on it. Mostly because she didn’t want her grave to note that she melted from gayness in a Lord Industries elevator. A little also because they only had a short amount of time before someone realised they weren’t really supposed to be in the building that long, no matter what name she flaunted at the front desk.
“Which floor is your thing on?”
“Sublevel 2.” Lena looks at the keys, notes the lack of that number on the normal pad, finds her curiosity peaked eve further as she wonders what on earth Kara needs that is hidden on a secret floor. A secret floor that Kara inexplicably knows about the existence of. A secret floor that Kara had the sense to find out about but not enough to make her way into herself.
Lena doesn’t verbalise any of this curiosity however. Instead she pulls her swiss army knife from her jacket pocket and dislodges the keypad from the wall. She starts fiddling with the wires, hoping somehow she can override the system and force the elevator down rather than up. Somehow it works. Somehow the elevator doesn’t just drop and kill them both. Somehow it slowly descends and ominously dings as it opens to a much darker level than the window coated reception.
The first thing Lena notes is the vaguely green hue that fills the room instead of artificial white light. There doesn’t seem to be an obvious light source coming from anywhere she can notice. Just illuminating stones dotted about like someone got a little addicted to Himalayan salt lamps and needed somewhere to put them. The second thing she notes is that there’s not much else in the room. It mostly just seems like scrapmetal. Different piles of silver, some more whole than others, one the most complete of all that looks like some confusing pod.
It’s the pod that Kara approaches. She steps past where Lena is stock still, staring in confusion, her feet moving with more purpose, more grace than Lena has ever witnessed from her before. Lena knows she doesn’t imagine the tears in Kara’s eyes as she runs her hands hover along the metal. For a second she doesn’t quite touch - her fingertips graze along the design of the contraption with reverence, trembling with each new inch that she doesn’t seem to believe it quite real.
Lena sees the tremble of Kara’s lip as much as she hears the gently sob as she finally lays her hand fully on the metal. Her shoulders shake as she drops her forehead next to her hand. Lena feels a little like she shouldn’t be watching but she can’t force herself to turn away. She’s glad she doesn’t as Kara mumbles something that she hears but doesn’t understand, pushing a button and stepping slightly back as the metal illuminates and the top opens up.
Lena almost pulls Kara back as she begins to climb inside. She’s not quite sure why she stays still instead, she thinks something inside her says she should see how it all plays out. That series of events ultimately being Kara’s body handing half in, half out of this strange device and then pulling back out with a simple piece of paper. It takes Lena a moment to realise it’s a photograph. She can’t make out particulars but Kara brushes her fingers across what seem to be faces, her throat bobbing with barely swallowed emotions that Lena can’t put words to but feels in her bones.
She tucks it safely into her pocket slowly and then, with an unexpected pace, crosses the space between her and Lena and drags her into a tight hug.
“Thank you,” she mumbles into the skin of Lena’s neck and it’s enough to startle Lena into remembering that she’s supposed to hold back at some point. It’s nice, she vaguely notes, to be able to rest her arms around Kara’s waist and feels her arms tighten around her neck in response. It’s warm, and addictive, and Lena thinks it’s a thousand times nicer than anything her imagination could’ve conjured up in her weaker moments when she let it run wild.
“Do you need anything else because I think we should get out of here before we’re caught?” Lena asks, pulling back to catch Kara’s still watery eyes.
“No that’s everything.” She turns back to the pod, gently closing the lid and pressing an adjacent button that shuts the lights off. Lena says nothing as it happens. Let’s Kara have the moment of silence she obviously needs. She’s not quite sure what she’d say anyway. She doesn’t understand what it is that she’s just witnessed, what secret she’d evidently been let in on.
They go back the way they came. Benny avoids eye contact as they drop their passes back on his desk and Lena’s thankful because she knows he’d figure out something was up in a second if he dared look at the guilt written all over Kara’s face. Lena doesn’t think she could lie her way out of a paper bag.
Kara waits until they’re back in the car to speak again. Holds her hand out for her keys and smiles softly when Lena drops them into her open palm. Let’s her lips slip into something more cheerful in the next second. “I think I owe you that milkshake now. Maybe two, for crying on you.”
“You can cry on me anytime you like.” God what a weird thing to say.
“Thanks, Lena. I don’t know we’ve never hung out more.” Probably because Lena is useless and says things like you can cry on me anytime you like. Lena would avoid herself if she could.
“You’re way out of my league,” Lena comments, laughing the whole time. It takes her a second to realise that Kara isn’t laughing along. In fact, she’s remarkably still. Her hands hovering over the steering wheel like she’d forgotten she was supposed to start driving. That’s when Lena thinks over her words. She hadn’t quite meant to say that. “Friendship league that is.”
That startles Kara into action. “If anyone is out of anyone’s league - it’s you.” Then it’s Lena’s turn to be frozen. Her mouth opening and closing and opening again, remaining mute the entire time. “I can sense you about to argue so it’s milkshake time. Prepare to have your mind blown.”
Lena stews in the warm feeling in her chest for the entire car ride. It’s distracting enough that she doesn’t pay attention to the fact that they’re in a residential neighbourhood until Kara pulls onto a drive and Lena is forced to take note. Note of the fact that she was most definitely sitting outside Kara’s house right now. She had no idea why she was outside Kara’s house right now.
“I thought we were going for milkshakes?” Lena asks.
“The best in town,” Kara replies with a succinct nod. Lena follows reflexively as she exits the car, feels her palms start to sweat as Kara slides her keys into the door. The door of her family home. Lena was going to meet her family and why did that suddenly feel like such a big thing? She wasn’t introducing her as her girlfriend or anything. It wasn’t a big deal. Lena could meet parents. She was polite, and confident enough, and she was walking inside. She was actually walking inside. “Eliza, I’m home! And I brought a friend so please don’t respond with something weird!”
“A friend?” Eliza, Lena supposes, gasps out and Kara cringes like that was already strike one. Eliza appears in the next second, a towel in her hands as she dries them, a grin on her face the whole time aimed completely at Lena. It’s disarming. It’s charming. It’s very Kara.
“Yes I have those,” Kara mumbles and Eliza immediately softens into something more motherly.
“I know, sweetheart, you just don’t really bring them round.” That strikes Lena as odd. Everyone liked Kara. Lena remembers a time when Kara first appeared in school - when she was quiet, and reserved, when she used to look around every room like she didn’t understand anything inside it, like everything was unfamiliar. She remembers a time when all people said about her was how sad it was that she lost her entire family.
But she also remembers when Kara started smiling more, and getting everyone to smile back, and walking through the hallways like the ground was made to be touched by her feet. She remembers when all she could hear people saying was how pretty Kara was, and kind, and stupidly smart, when all they had to say was nice things.
She remembers that Kara had her heart in a chokehold through it all.
She can’t imagine a world where Kara was still keeping these people at bay. Not when her eyes seemed so open and her cheerful grin and gentle hands were so ready to comfort.
“Yeah, well, this is Lena.” Something akin to what Lena would call recognition sparks in her eyes and she finds herself wondering what that means. “She’s here for a milkshake.”
Eliza nods like that makes complete sense. “Jeremiah should be home soon.” Then she turns to Lena completely, aims another smile her way as she asks, “Are you staying for dinner too, honey?” When Lena turns to Kara she finds herself trapped between two smiles. Two hopeful smiles. Two hopeful Danvers smiles and she’s under the impression there’s only one real answer.
“Sounds lovely, thank you.”
“And she’s polite. This one can come again.” Lena smiles, feels like a weight has been lifted - she doesn’t remember picking it up. She tenses again instinctively as the front door opens with a grand sweep and a called out, “Home, I’m honey!”
It doesn’t take a genius to realise it must be Jeremiah. It doesn’t take a genius to take note of the detective badge strapped to his waist either, doesn’t take Lena more than a second to realise she recognises him from the various press conferences about her extracurricular activities. That was maybe potentially a little bit awkward, even if she was the only one who knew it was awkward.
“Eliza, am I imagining it or has Kara actually brought a friend home to meet us?” Kara sighs like she can’t believe she didn’t have the foresight to see this coming.
“That’s Lena,” Eliza says with a smile that Lena doesn’t understand.
“Lena,” Jeremiah repeats with a knowing lilt and Lena finds herself even more confused. How did they know about her? What did they know about her? “It’s nice to meet you, Lena.”
“You too, sir.”
“Sir? I like this one.” Lena feels infinitely proud as he offers his hand for a shake, even if the brief furrow in his brow says she clasps a little too hard. “Two milkshakes?”
“You read my mind.” Kara pulls Lena along and there’s an ease to the way they all move together in the room that makes Lena think it makes sense that this is where Kara comes from. A room full of people that move effortlessly around one another, conscious of their space but happy to come into contact with one another in simple ways. A brush of hands as utensils are passed. A brief hand to the back in guidance. Encouraging smiles that feel like a caress. “You’re going to love it.”
“So Lena, how did Kara convince you to enter the mad house?” She existed. She literally just existed and then asked a simple question and Lena remembered that Kara owns her whole entire ass, even if she never went out of her way to purchase even a slice.
“I was just helping her get some photos for an article and she insisted on thanking me with these world famous milkshakes.” Safer answer. Not a complete lie and safe. Most importantly safe.
“Any chance you’re the same Lena Luthor I keep seeing in CatCo magazine below pictures of that spider menace?” She was definitely the same Lena Luthor. Just like he was definitely the same cop who basically labelled her public enemy number one and was allowing her to sit at his kitchen island as he made her a family famous frozen beverage.
“I’ve managed a few photos.” “She’s not a menace. She’s helping people. You said yourself that crime rates are down.” Lena and Kara say at the exact same time. Lena’s quiet agreement mostly swallowed by the genuine anger that laces Kara’s tone. It’s unexpected, and sharp, and more than a little tired, like she was bored of having to say the same words over and over.
“Yes but its dangerous. No one, no matter how good their intentions, is above the law. And it’s only a matter of time before she starts inspiring other people to do the same and people get hurt. You know what happened in Metropolis. We don’t need that here.” Metropolis: Home of Superman. Lena had seen that sign often enough, had taken more than a few cues about how to be a hero from what she’d read about the man, had also read more than a few stories about the other suited individuals that came out of the woodwork to follow on from him. Some ended better than others.
“Well obviously we did or she wouldn’t have had to step up to stop women being assaulted on the streets. The police can’t do everything. Half of the time you don’t even try.” Lena feels like this isn’t the first time this argument has happened and it’s definitely not the first time she’d felt like she was missing something deeper in their words.
“What’s your opinion, Lena?” That was a first though. That was new, definitely new, and ultimately dangerous territory. She almost feels like she should say she doesn’t have an opinion, brush it under the carpet before it even fully emerges, but Kara has this one hopeful look in her eyes that says she believes Lena to be on her side. That she wants nothing more than for Lena to be on her side.
“I think that… it isn’t weak to accept help, and that sometimes, no matter how hard you’re trying, you need someone to watch your back. Even if you didn’t ask for that. She hasn’t hurt anyone. She doesn’t even hurt those men, just shoots them with a web and waits for the police to show up.”
“She’s broken bones.”
“If something snaps on impact, well, then I think that’s probably karma for hunting women down in dark alleys when they’re just trying to get home,” Lena says more forcefully than she means to, though arguably not as forceful as she could’ve been. She sticks by it regardless. “Doesn’t it make you feel better to know that when Kara walks home at night, someone has her back? That even just the thought of this ‘spider-menace’, as you call her, appearing is scaring people straight?”
“A good heart doesn’t change the law.”
“Just because something is law doesn’t make it right. It only takes one non-whitewashed history book to see that.” There’s silence then as Lena feels like she’s being observed. She lets it happen. Lets Jeremiah watch her with a curious eye, and Eliza turn her back like she’s maybe trying not to laugh about her husband being bested by a teenager, and Kara, grinning like she’s amazing.
It’s that grin that quiets the anxious beat of Lena’s heart just as quickly as it jumpstarts the beat that she reserves especially for Kara.
The silence extends until Jeremiah places two glasses on the island in front of them and smiles like all they’d spoken of was the weather, “Two world-famous milkshakes.” Lena takes the peace offering for what it is, sipping on the drink and honestly it actually is pretty amazing.
“I have some article stuff in my room I’d like to show Lena before dinner.” The statement hangs in the air like a question but Kara’s already moving before Eliza can nod and Lena follows completely on reflex, sipping her milkshake the whole way up the stairs.“Sorry about that, I obviously don’t actually have anything to show you, just thought you might want a breather after all that.”
“You’re not wrong and I’m sorry too.” Kara looks confused, Lena blushes. “I didn’t mean to escalate it.” Not that she really had a choice. She doesn’t think she could’ve held her tongue if she tried.
“Oh no, we’ve had that argument more times than I can count. It was nice having someone else on my side - especially someone who’s head of the debate team.” Lena wants to ask why they argue about it all the time, why this is the thing that causes tension in their family, but she thinks the answer lies in the building they broke into today. She thinks asking Kara that question would be a lot like Kara asking Lena what she does with her evenings these days.
“Your room is exactly how I’d imagine it. Not that I have imagined it, just that if I was ever going to imagine your bedroom, which I wouldn’t because what would be the need, this would be it.” Lena thankfully cuts herself off eventually. Kara looks bemused. Lena ignores her gaze in favour of letting her eyes roam around the room a little more comprehensively.
There’s a single wall almost covered completely in photos of Kara. Kara and her friends, Kara and her whole family, Kara with what Lena recognises to be her sister - the one who went away to college to study medicine and the one that Sam used to drool over every day at lunch (the one that she definitely still would drool over if she ever saw again). Fluffy pillows and a stray teddy bear adorn the bed. Bright colours are dotted throughout and paintings hang on the wall, all of them following a familiar style that says they might just be Kara’s own.
“I imagine your room is a lot cleaner,” Kara says. Lena thinks back to the messes of wires, and half-completed contraptions, and dozens of books open on her desk. She grimaces.
“You’d be surprised.”
“You do have a habit of surprising me,” Kara says softly, looks at her softly and Lena honestly feels soft. The whole thing is just soft. “Thank you, for earlier, and for not asking me about it despite the fact that you obviously want to.”
“We’re all entitled to our secrets and I’ll keep whatever part of yours I hold. But, if you do decide you want to talk about what happened today or before, know that I’m here.” Lena says it offhandedly but there’s nothing offhanded about her offer. She means it with every fibre of her being, even if she doesn’t expect it to ever be accepted seriously, but Kara is nodding. Nodding and smiling and reaching to gently graze Lena’s pinky with her own before moving about a foot away.
“It scares me that I want to. A couple conversations and suddenly I want to tell you something I’ve never gotten to tell anyone before on my own volition,” Kara admits in a whisper.
“Sometimes it’s easier to confide in people when you don’t feel like they know enough to judge,” Lena matches her pitch, even if she’s not entirely sure why.
“You’re very wise, Lena Luthor.”
“Not always.” Lena sits in the tension until the telltale sound of her finding the bottom of her glass reverberates through the room. “The milkshake really was very good.”
“Worth everything it came along with?” Kara asks, obviously self-conscious and Lena couldn’t say it was a boring day. She’d deceived her way in a secret sub-level of Lord Industries, seen something that arguably wasn’t from this earth or any earth at all, had a debate with Kara Danvers’ father and then sat in her room drinking a milkshake as Kara alternated between stroking her pinky and trying to hide behind air. Eventful. She would say that it was all quite eventful.
“I meant it when I said I’d help regardless of reward, Kara. Always.”
“Always,” Kara repeats.”I like the sound of that. I’m going to need you to hold onto that promise through this dinner though. They can be a lot.” A lot sounds about right.
A lot of laughter and a lot of warmth and a lot of what Lena always thought family dinners were supposed to be but never experienced. It’s nice. It’s really nice. It’s nice to see Kara blush as minor secrets are divulged. Nice to be involved in jokes and be asked about she does and what she likes and a bunch of other trivial things.
It’s just nice.
(Kara leaning over her gearbox to hug her when she drops her off at her house however?
That’s a thousand times better than just nice).
Lena has come to expect a quiet Saturday in her house, and by quiet she means completely silent. Not in a bad way. Lena had come to associate it with solace, with reflection, with time where she didn’t need to put on any kind of face, she could just be.
She’s not actually sure where it is that Lillian disappears to every week but she comes back looking lighter than usual and Lena has never thought to question it. She thinks Lillian deserves to feel light - they both do - and the time alone gives them that, just some time to figure out their own heads without feeling like anyone else had to be consulted.
Lena has come to expect a quiet Saturday in her house. An empty house. So she’s rightfully confused when she steps from her room and catches sight of Lex through the open door to her father’s study. It’s a room they rarely enter anymore, not that they were entirely welcome in it even before Lionel passed away. A room that genuinely stays locked in both a literal and metaphorical sense, and yet Lex stands in it boldly, hunched over Lionel’s desk, staring at what Lena thinks from this distance is a fistful of his own hair that he seems to have just pulled out.
She tries to scamper off, tries to disappear unseen and unheard, but all it takes is a single step and bloodshot eyes are snapping up to stare at her sharply. He looks unwell, is the first thing Lena thinks, even beyond the hair falling from his head. His skin is pallid, an off-white colour that stems more towards yellow. His eyes are sunken, his cheek bones sharper than looks entirely healthy, his smile now crooked in a way that held now it’s usual charm.
“Lena.” His voice doesn’t sound right either. A little too high-pitched. A lot too frantic. Her name doesn’t settle on his tongue in the same way it usually does.
“Lex,” she returns. “Are you alright? Did you just pull your-“ She doesn’t know why she can’t seem to finish the sentence with words, simply deciding to finish with a point to his hand. He looks down at it like he’d almost forgotten what he was holding, like he didn’t remember staring at it only moments ago. He drops it thoughtlessly on the desk, wipes his hands on his pants automatically.
“Stress,” he explains simply. Lena allows the excuse with a small nod. “Do you know where father’s journal is? The monogrammed one, black leather, he was always writing in it.” Lena doesn’t mention that she didn’t need the qualification. She doesn’t say that she already knew exactly what he meant from the start, that he was her father too, that she paid attention to him too. She doesn’t have the energy to respond to the fallout the words may cause. It’s not worth it, especially not with the wild, manic look in Lex’s eye that she’s never seen before.
“I can’t say I’ve seen it. Mother took some of his items to a storage locker the other day though. She said it made her feel better to have some space from them.” It’s a lie and for a second Lex looks at her like he knows it, like he knows she has the journal in her room tucked under her pillow, like he knows she’s been reading about the secret experiments he was doing, the ones that are probably the reason they all had to attend his funeral.
But then he just smiles. Nods. Asks her to write down the address for him on a stray bit of paper. Lena’s surprised at her steady hand as she follows the request but allows herself to tremble when he’s finally gone, when she finally feels like she can breathe again.
Something definitely wasn’t right about him and Lena had a feeling he was far too gone to fix it.
Crying in the toilet isn’t a new thing. Lena can’t even begin to count the number of times she’d entered the room beside the cafeteria and heard the telltale signs of someone shedding a few cathartic tears. It’s by complete chance that she happens to walk in on it today. She probably should’ve taken the warning of wide-eyes from a girl exiting as she walked inside at its face value but she’d stupidly ignored it. Ignored it and stumbled into sniffles and hiccups.
Crying in the toilet isn’t a new thing. So Lena does what she always does - grabs some loo roll from an adjacent stall and hands it under the door. It’s more of a gesture than anything. A ‘this stranger is semi here for you but please don’t actually ask for help’ gesture.
It’s accepted quickly with a gentle, “thanks,” in a voice that Lena most definitely knows. For a second she thinks she shouldn’t say a thing, should simply ignore that she has any real clue who the hell resides inside the sniffling stall but then instead she does something stupid.
“Kara?” She asks.
“Lena?” She replies in an instant, voice a little wet.
“Umm, can I… come in?” Was that totally weird? That was probably totally weird. She was being weird. But then, before she can even think to take her words back in a panic, the door unlocks and she instead decides to ride this weird ass wave and step inside, locking it behind her. There she finds Kara, sitting on the toilet and wiping tears from her eyes. “Are you alright?”
“Mike and I broke up.” Lena almost smiles. It’s a reflex and she stifles it but god if there isn’t a moment where she believes she’s let it slip a little too much. “I don’t even know why I’m crying. I broke up with him and honesty I feel kind of free. Is that bad?”
“I’ve never been through a breakup so I’m not an expert,” Lena shrugs helplessly. Personally she feels no sense of judgement towards Kara’s admission but then she had never been the most well adjusted individual in life - something to do with the questionable childhood or whatever.
“Of course, you and Sam have been solid for like, ever,” Kara says flippantly and it apparently takes only eleven words for Lena to be completely frozen still. The same eleven words that then have her laughing hysterically in a slightly dingy bathroom stall.
“I’m not dating Sam,” she manages to get out and suddenly Kara is the one who looks more confused than she’s ever been before. “She’s my best friend and I love her but I’m not in love with her. Never have been. Nor has she with me.” Well, there was that one time that they kissed but then they’d immediately started laughing in each other’s faces and had decided to ignore it.
“Sorry, it’s just, you guys always hang out under the bleachers and they’re pretty known for…” Kara trails off, her obvious meaning hanging in the air and yeah, Lena had kind of forgotten about that. That being the time she stumbled upon Gayle Marsh’s hand up Imra Ardeen’s skirt and the three other occasions of very similar things. Similar things that Kara thought she and Sam were doing.
Kara follows suit.
“We used to smoke under there before we kicked the habit. Now we kinda just like it I guess.”
“So you’ve never dated anyone?” No, she definitely hadn’t, and probably because everyone apparently thought she was fingering Sam under the bleachers every day. Also for sure because Lena put all of her emotions into being hopelessly in love with the girl crying on the toilet in front of her.
“Haven’t had a chance with the right person I guess. Also crying in the toilet doesn’t seem like fun.”
“The company’s not half bad.” Kara smiles and Lena lets her own mouth fall into an easy grin at the sight of it. Or, not so easy, considering she has to keep it up through a zooming heart. A heart rate that only shoots even further through the roof when the outer doors opens and someone steps in.
Lena doesn’t know why her immediate instinct is to jump up and brace her legs on either side of the stall. All that she knows is there should probably only be one pair of feet on the floor and Kara doesn’t look like she’s about to come up with a solution anytime soon.
“Kara you in here?” The someone asks. That someone being Nia Nal - two years younger and Kara’s protégé, essentially impossible to hate, much like her idol. Also a perpetual gossip in that she had an innate ability for stumbling in on things she shouldn’t see and next to no ability to keep secrets.
For a second, nothing changes about the situation. Lena stays locked against the walls, Kara’s eyes stay locked on her, focused and confusing. Then Kara stands, places herself inside Lena’s bubble and pauses for another moment, her breath running along Lena’s neck where she’s just a little shorter now, her hands a little shaky as she pushes a fallen strand of hair behind Lena’s ear. And then she just ducks, under Lena’s legs and through the stall door like nothing happened at all.
“You broke up with him then?” Nia asks the second the door closes, sits with the brief pause in which a nod presumably resides. “Thank God, he’s an asshole and now you can finally do something about your huge crush on-“ The rest is mumbled through a hand and then there’s just no sound at all and Lena may not have any idea who this ‘huge crush’ is on but they might just be the luckiest person in the entire fucking universe right now.
Lena’s getting a big head. She wasn’t exactly toppling under the weight but it was surely larger than usual and it was all Kara Danvers’ fault. Kara Danvers and her constantly nice, very public words in the school paper. The words that just won’t stop coming. Every week there’s a new article, a new update in which Kara sings her praises and tells the entire school she’s a hero. A superhero.
And since there’s no sign of it all stopping, Lena starts leaving photos in her locker every week. A thank you, of sorts. Even if Kara doesn’t have a clue why she’s being thanked or that Lena might actually be thanking her at all. Which actually ironically just leads to Kara always appearing to thank Lena for all the pictures she was offering her free of charge.
That’s exactly what Lena thinks is happening today when she finds Kara smiling at her as her locker door slots closed. But this smile is tinged with something more awkward than usual, something that makes Lena pause in her usual greeting and take a new avenue.
“Nothing’s wrong,” Kara assures, but then she scuffs the floor with the toe of her shoe and Lena thinks that can’t wholly be true. “I just… need a favour.”
“Another building you need access to?”
“More like a person.” Lena’s brow furrows. “The pictures you take, it’s like she plays into it for you. At the very least you seem very good at finding her. I thought maybe you could get her to meet me?” Lena ignores the fact that they don’t need to mention who it is they’re referring to. She also ignores the voice in her head that says it’s stupid to say yes, that she really shouldn’t say yes, that it’ll be more trouble than it’s worth probably.
She doesn’t ignore the voice that says she’s doing it.
There was never a chance she was going to say no to Kara.
(Even if she did have to break into another building).
“I’ll see what I can do.”
“Thanks, Lena. For the pictures too.” Kara squeezes her forearm and Lena feels a shiver run down her spine at the contact like usual. She really needs to sort her shit out. However, instead of sorting out her head, she spends the whole day skipping class and hiding in the robotics club room so she can pull together some kind of makeshift voice modulator.
She checks it a thousand times and then she checks it a thousand more just in case. She sounds a little more like the Cookie Monster than she’d like by the end of it but honestly it was better than Kara pulling a toilet moment and knowing exactly who she was from a single word.
Then she texts Kara. Tells her that the meeting is on for that night before she can lose her momentum and refuse to ever follow through on her promise to try. She doesn’t want to try and fail. Just wants to put a smile on Kara’s face. A smile that she’s apparently going to be meeting tonight if Kara’s responding text is anything to go by - nothing but a smiley face and an address.
An address which is to an abandoned building. An abandoned building that she stands at the bottom of for ten minutes past the meeting time. She can’t convince herself to move. Finds herself stuck whispering to herself and hoping to not hear her own voice echo back. She’s not sure what it is that eventually has her swinging onto the roof. Maybe it’s just some sudden swirl of bravery or the fact that she can see Kara’s sneakers swinging back and forth over the ledge.
It’s probably the latter if Lena’s perfect landing (which ends with her directly next to Kara swinging her legs in tandem) has anything to say about her motives.
“Thank you for coming,” Kara says.
“Thank you for inviting me,” Lena automatically replies and then quickly flinches; glad she’s wearing a mask to hide her complete idiocy. “Lena said you need to talk. Are you in trouble?”
“I’m not in trouble.” Lena releases the tension from her shoulders in one long, thankful breath. “I just needed some advice and you’re the only one I knew who could help. I’m sorry; you probably have more important things to be doing.” It’s strange, how quickly Kara always goes from being bold enough to ask for these outrageous things to being afraid that she’s overstepped her boundaries in the next, to feeling like a burden that doesn’t deserve help. Lena understands it. May even relates. It doesn’t make it any less startling to see it in a person so bright.
“No I’m happy to help. Just call me your friendly neighbourhood Spider-Girl.”
“Okay, cool, amazing. So I’m just gonna cut straight to it.” In a direct contradiction to her words, Kara doesn’t say anything for a good amount of time. Just swings her legs a little harder, twists her fingers, twiddles her thumbs, and then takes a long, deep breath. “How did you build up the courage to actually help people with your powers?”
How does Lena explain that it wasn’t really a build at all? It wasn’t weeks of planning and debating and questioning. It was split seconds and spontaneity. It was the exact opposite of what she usually is and it was amazing. “Sometimes you’re not ready for things and you have to jump anyway.”
“So you just jumped?” Kara asks incredulously.
“I know it’s not the answer you’re looking for but pretty much. From a roof very much like this. I heard a woman screaming in an alley and I never looked back. I guess it’s kind of addictive - helping people, having someone actually be grateful for your existence.” Lena had never felt so wanted in her entire life. Even in spite of her doubters. She had never felt so much like she had a place, a purpose, a meaning. She didn’t want to let that go - even if that meant she had to spend her life lying, even if it meant hiding and danger and a bunch of other con’s to rival the pro list.
“What if someone were to tell you that you shouldn’t do it?”
Lena scoffs, “The police say that on the news everyday.”
“What if it was someone you cared about and they had your best interests in mind?” Kara presses and it takes Lena a single look at the harsh bob of her throat that punctuates the sentence to know what she needs. That it isn’t jokes. That it’s just for someone to tell her it’s okay.
“I would say that sometimes you’re the only person who knows what your best interests are and sometimes you need to make yourself happy before others.”
“So you would just ignore them?”
“You shine too bright to be boxed in.” Kara grins at the ease in which Lena spews the words and it’s an odd feeling, to have someone stare so clearly into your eyes knowing that they can’t see them, that they don’t really know what they’re looking at beneath the mask. Odd enough that Lena finds herself desperate to escape it. Turns her head even if she can still feel eyes on her in her peripheral. “You should be careful though. In case you haven’t heard, there’s a spider-menace about.”
“I think she seems pretty great,” Kara says earnestly and Lena wonders how long she’s supposed to be able to withstand the allure of Kara Danvers without passing out - the air circulation in her mask definitely already left much to be desired under normal circumstances.
“The moonlight really brings out the logo; it’s hard to resist my charm like this,” Lena jokes, if only to get Kara to look somewhere other than her fabric-clad face. Maybe her chest wasn’t the best choice.
“The spider is certainly… big.”
“I’m told it’s all about the branding.” Sam was certainly enjoying the money she was making off the back of it, though Lena still thinks she’s a little bitter that she can’t actually put ‘Spider-Girl Brand Manager’ onto her college application because she’s supposed to pretend she has no idea who she is. Lena wonders if there’s even a law against outfitting a superhero yet.
“You’re told? As in someone knows who you are under there?”
“Just the one.” Someone had to know the reason if she disappeared off the face of the earth. Unfortunately and fortunately for Lena, it was easy to pick the one person who would care. She thought about telling Lillian once, after a particularly tear-prickling and wholly unexpected forehead kiss but she didn’t want to disturb the peace. Not when she was finally happy with what they had.
“What does someone have to do to learn something like that?” Lena sees the question for what its worth. The wonder of if she could ever be someone who gets to see the girl behind the mask. Lena wonders if Kara could ever understand that she’d seen past more than one of the many masks of Lena Luthor but that this one she didn’t quite know how to drop quite yet.
“Be good at keeping secrets,” Lena says.
“I’m good with secrets,” Kara promises in an instant and Lena can’t stop her responding chuckle.
“If it were honestly that easy to get the truth from me I don’t think that would say very much about how good I am with them.”
Kara shrugs, “A girl had to try.”
“Give it a few more tries and you just might have me.” Lena stands up, brushes her thighs despite there being nothing of them, if only for another couple seconds of getting to be in her presence, which yes, she realises is completely insane. “Tonight though, tonight I’ve gotta go or I’ll be late for… something.” Lena stutters, trips in spite of her perfect equilibrium, catches herself in a flip that seems totally out of place and finds nothing but a smile in return.
“Ah so you have things to be on time for. I’m one step closer,” Kara jokes and Lena allows her the laugh that she wants before she falls from the ledge with practiced casualness.
And then she just swings, and swings, and swings, and swings and thinks about how she was wrong about one thing - the moonlight did nothing for her logo and everything for the blue of Kara’s eyes.
Lena had never been to a school dance. She actually kind of prided herself on the fact that she had never given into Sam’s pressuring to ‘suck it up and just go’ over the years. Except, this year, Sam had tried a different technique. A technique that included telling her Kara had been asking about her, if this might finally be the year that Lena went to the dance.
She’s not sure why she believes her. She’s not sure why Kara couldn’t just ask her herself. She’s not sure why she puts on a tight black dress that leaves her collarbones on show and lets Sam talk her into a vibrant red lipstick that begs someone to look at what it coats. She’s not sure why she hides a bag in the corner of the gym holding her suit but she’s on edge and taking every precaution.
Although, apparently Lena doesn’t prepare enough for all eventualities. In fact, she doesn’t even seem to prepare for the most obvious one of all. The most obvious being Sam sticking out her leg and pushing Lena over it so she falls directly into the exact reason she even came to this balloon infested, glitter ball hellhole in her free time in the first place. Kara.
She almost turns to curse Sam out. Almost makes her own move to push over her friend. Almost. Instead she gets caught in Kara’s smile. Kara with her bright eyes and soft curls loose around her shoulders. Kara in an emerald dress that plays with the golden tan on her skin, that lets Lena’s mind wander as she sees defined muscles on strong arms that are the only reason Lena is still on her feet.
Kara was always beautiful but there was something else about the way she was smiling now.
Something else that stole the breath from Lena’s lungs.
“You could just ask if you wanted to dance,” Kara jokes, but Lena doesn’t laugh. She doesn’t shift away, or avert her gaze, or give in to the fear tingling in her fingertips. She just watches until Kara falls into the silence too, and then she steps back, offers out her hand.
“Would you like to dance? With me?”
“I’d like that very much. With you.” Even with the permission of Kara’s hand in her own, or maybe because of, Lena doesn’t move. Not until Kara chuckles and drags her to the centre of the floor. Not until Kara drapes Lena’s arms around her own neck and settles her hands on Lena’s waist.
Lena’s hands feel sweaty as she intertwines her fingers. Kara grips her waist in a way that’s both tight and so gentle, like she doesn’t want Lena to move an inch, doesn’t want any space to exist between them but also doesn’t want Lena to think she couldn’t create it if she wanted to.
Desired but respected.
It makes Lena lightheaded.
She drops her forehead against the side of Kara’s face, rests against her jaw and feels the way it clenches and relaxes in the same second that Kara’s arms slip further around her body, wrapping her in what almost feels like a hug as they sway back and forth.
“Your hair smells nice,” Kara mumbles and Lena feels herself shaking with laughter at the realisation that maybe she wasn’t the only one who felt out of their depth. “Sorry that was weird.”
Lena ignores the second comment, “it’s apple shampoo.”
“It’s nice,” Kara says pointlessly and Lena smiles into her neck, enjoys the half purr that comes from Kara as she allows her fingers to play with the baby hairs at the nape of her neck, until Kara shifts her head back slightly in order to meet Lena’s eyes. “Lena, I-“
Lena doesn’t get to hear the end of the sentence as the ceiling begins to cave in around them, coating the floor in dust. A green essence eases slowly through the newly formed skylight. Pulsing, and dark, and distinctly humanoid? Maybe Lena finally had inspired other costumed freaks. Great.
Lena stills as a familiar laugh sounds. The same but different. Deep and full but mangled. A laugh made of putty that had been twisted and turned into some sinister version of itself. A laugh she’d grown up around and a laugh she knows matches the dark, distorted grin on his face.
There’s screaming, and stumbling, and shouting. Masses of people charging towards the door but Lena doesn’t move a muscle as she stares at her brother floating on a board in the air. It’s when his gaze falls onto her that she’s finally startled into action, finally notices Kara’s absence at her side and sprints to the corner, ducks beneath a thankfully empty table and slips her suit on.
(God she really should’ve worn it underneath).
She finds Kara again as she emerges, standing without a care at the door to the hall, rubble in her hair but a single word on the tip of her tongue, over and over again, “Lena!”
Smoke erupts around them. It seeps into Lena’s mouth, and clouds in her eyes, crawls its way harshly into her lungs and she swings towards the sound of her voice, darts her way along the walls and the still in-tact ceiling to the source of her fear. Her name is still being chanted and chanted and chanted, hopelessly and continuously, as Lena drops upside down from the ceiling - desperately hoping that the blindness goes both ways, that Lex won’t attack until Kara is safe.
“Lena’s fine. You need to get out,” Lena orders and Kara pauses for a moment, Lena’s name halfway out her lips before she nods. Then she nods again, almost too herself the second time, as she darts towards Lena, pulls the mask down until Lena’s red lips are free and kisses her. Hard and quick and mind-numbingly amazing.
Then she’s just gone.
And Lena turns back to what she’s half sure is her doom.
“I knew you were hiding things from me, Lena. Don’t worry, I figured them out anyway.” Another bomb drops. Smoke erupts darker, greener, it rips into her airway harsher than the last. Burns in her lungs, fizzles in her throat, claws at her eyes.
She can’t see a thing.
All she can hear is the manic laughter. From every angle and none at all. Constantly moving. Always in flux. Impossible to pinpoint as her mind whirls and her senses swirl.
“You don’t have to do this, Lex.” Laughter echoes. Lena spins to the missing source. “You haven’t done anything yet. Everyone got out fine, you can just go. We don’t have to do this.” The laugh comes from the opposite side this time. Lena finds nothing as she lunges towards it.
“You were always so weak, Lena. Always desperate for someone to love you, begging for attention from people who never cared about you. Now you put on this suit and seek validation from strangers. You could do so much more with what was handed to you. You could change the world.” Lena wonders when he started hating her so much, wonders if it’s because of the poison he’s put in himself for some semblance of power or if it had always been there. She wonders how long he’d sat with the knowledge of who she is, how long he’d been planning this exact move.
(Lex was always good at chess.
Lena was better).
“And how do you plan on changing it, Lex? Eradicating the entire human population?”
“I’m just culling the weak. Starting with you, baby sister.” It’s his turn to lunge then. He shoots out of the smoke on his board. Hairs prickle on the back of Lena’s neck and she darts out of the way just as he speeds by. She still can’t see a thing. “You still look so afraid. All this power you were handed for nothing and you still can’t stand up straight.” He darts forward again, connecting with his fist this time and sending her flying across the room. Lena’s ribs pulse in thanks as she manages to land on her feet, the floor beneath them tearing up as she slides backwards with the momentum.
“Of course I’m afraid, Lex. For you. Can’t you see what this power is doing to you, it’s driving you insane. You’re walking around in a fucking Halloween costume for fuck sake.”
“Says the girl with the giant spider on her chest.”
“It’s called branding,” Lena shouts and hopes that Sam managed to make it outside fine. She feels eyes behind her, more than she sees anything. She spins, shoots her web and flicks her wrist as she feels it make contact with something. Grins as she watches Lex’s body slam into a wall, rubble dropping onto him before another smoke bomb slips from his fingers and he’s hidden again. “You keep saying I’m afraid but I’m not the one hiding in smoke and shadows. You are,” Lena baits.
“I am not afraid!” Lex shouts angrily.
“Then stop with the gimmicks and fight me.” The moment Lena’s done he rushes her, arm ready to punch. She dodges it easily, sweep his leg out from under him but he’s on his feet in the next second, reaching into a pouch at his side and throwing tiny beads that stick to her suit and explode.
The pain is intense. It blooms through her chest. She can feel the blood seeping inside the suit, bursting inside her body. Her heart jolts. Her lungs are tight. He laughs and laughs and laughs.
Lena darts her eyes to the pouch at his side for a single second before she makes her move. She sprints at him with all the speed she has, runs a foot up the wall beside him, before jumping down towards him, right arm ready to punch him squarely in the jaw.
He grabs her hand at the last second, flings her across the room.
Her back screams with pain. An iron taste fills her mouth.
“Nice try, but you’ll have to do better than that.”
Lena allows herself her own laugh, “Are you sure about that?” She asks, lifting her left hand that holds his entire pouch of tiny explosives. She’ll begrudgingly admit that they are a feat of engineering. She’s about to reach in for a few of her own when she spots students crowded beneath the bleachers in the hall, directly behind Lex, right in the line of fire.
Crying, holding each other, hands covering their ears, eyes screwed shut in fear or pain - Lena doesn’t know but she doesn’t want to cause anymore of either. So she does something stupid.
(As per usual).
Lena shoots out her web, takes advantage of the confusion at being bested on Lex’s face, tugging him towards her, locking him to her with her web and reaching into the bag to click a single mini grenade. Hoping for the best the entire time.
He claws at her as she pulls him in. His laugh still present but more manic, more panicked. His nails dig into her neck and rip across her suit. She withstands every new spark of pain. Smoke still bills around them and, as he pulls her mask up over her eyes, she hopes it’s enough to cover the sight from the people cowering in the corner. Not that she thinks it’s going to matter much anyway. She wonders if they’d write both names on her grave. Lena Luthor: Spider-Girl.
“At least look at me in the eye whilst you kill me, sister,” Lex snarls.
Everything goes black.
Everything aches and stings and screams and she’s definitely being crushed.
Can you be crushed in heaven? Was she in hell?
Lena pushes in vain. She punches, and screams, and shoves. Nothing happens.
And then light pours in. Light pours in and even with her blurred sight Lena sees the way Kara holds the concrete pillar above her head, the way she tosses it aside like it’s nothing but a pebble. Light trickles in from over her shoulder and Lena thinks it must be heaven because that’s definitely an angel. An angel grinning down at her with a soft smile.
Lena vaguely notes the absence of her brother at her side as she continues to stare, dazed and a little dopey. She can’t even begin to imagine what kind of stupid look was adorning her face.
“I thought it was you. At least, I’d hoped,” Kara says and Lena lifts a weak hand to her face, meets bare skin just as blue lights pour into the room, just as sirens reverberate against crumbling walls. “You should put your mask back on,” she adds gently but bends down and does it for Lena anyway, stroking her face gently and wincing as her hand is met with blood before it’s hidden with a different kind of red. One that’s tinged with a black decal. One that makes Kara smile another kind of smile.
“You lifted a lot just then,” Lena says in a voice that doesn’t sound like hers.
“Maybe you just hallucinated.”
“I don’t think so.”
“I don’t think so either.” Kara grins, taps the spider on Lena’s chest with a gentle finger and a wink that’s almost just a blink. “Good thing we’re both good at secrets.”
“POLICE!” Lena jumps to her feet, immediately wincing as the pain runs through her. Kara nods to her sharply and she takes her queue to exit through the roof of the building, swinging on her web as Kara seemingly flies out the hole in the roof and disappears into the night sky.
That was new.
That was definitely new.
School is closed for the week as they try to rebuild the gym. Lena’s glad for the time away. She thinks most people are glad to get to avoid it for a while. Lena remembers the terror on their faces, doesn’t think anyone will step foot into that room with any sense of ease for a while.
Being home doesn’t feel quite right to Lena either. It’s weird knowing that Lex isn’t going to ever walk in again. Lena doesn’t know where he is, nobody had managed to find him after that night, but she does know that even if he were to step foot inside their house again it wouldn’t be him. Not really. He was something entirely new now.
The Green Goblin they were calling him. Spider-Girl was being hailed a hero. People kept talking about how she sacrificed herself for them; how it was a miracle she even got out alive after what she did. Lena can’t stop thinking about how that miracles name was Kara. Can’t stop thinking about Kara full stop.
She kissed her. Kara kissed her. She kissed Lena and said she knew it was her and she kissed her knowing full well who it was she was kissing. Her mind runs the word kiss over and over again to the point where it doesn’t feel like a real word anymore, doesn’t feel like a real event. She is almost half convinced she did actually hallucinate the whole turn of events. It was easier to explain away.
It takes Lena fives days to have had enough of it. Five days to stop being the world’s best procrastinator and make her way to Kara’s. She climbs up the back of the house, knocks on the window, knowing that she’d lose her wind the second she had to set eyes on anyone else, the second she tried to explain why she was at the door, who she was at the door for.
Kara tilts her head curiously as she sees Lena through the glass but she doesn’t hesitate to unlock the window and open it for entrance. In turn Lena doesn’t hesitate to get straight to the point.
“You kissed me.” It’s pretty much all that she’s thought about all week. Not Kara’s powers. Not Lex. Not the way Lillian held her tightly when she came home; chanting about how she was glad Lena was safe, that it was just them now but that they’d have each other’s backs, Lillian would have her back. None of that. None of that at all. Just the way her lips felt pressed against Kara’s. Just the kiss.
“I kissed Spider-Girl,” Kara retorts with a smile that can only be described as cheeky. Lena calls it sinking to her level as she pulls the mask from her pocket and slips it over her face.
“You kissed me,” she repeats. Kara laughs at the show, steps closer into Lena’s orbit in order to push the mask up until it sits at Lena’s forehead, until she can catch Lena’s eyes once again.
“I did,” Kara admits in the space in which Lena’s heart skips a beat.
“Why?” Maybe it was just because Kara thought she was about to die. Maybe it was just because Kara knew she was about to do something stupid and thought she needed some courage. Maybe it was just because Kara expected things were going to go very wrong for a lot of people and she knew that getting to kiss Kara had been Lena’s Make-A-Wish since before she could remember.
“I’ve thought about it for a long time. Not being able to see your eyes made it less terrifying.” Lena wouldn’t know. She can see the piercing blue with the utmost clarity. Can feel the attention.
Kara ignores the question, “You’re shaking.”
“You terrify me too.” Kara nods, slow and calculating, and then she’s pulling the mask from Lena’s head. The last thing Lena sees before her eyes drift closed with the touch of Kara’s lips, is Kara’s grin appearing from the bottom of red fabric.
This kiss is more than the last. Fuller, deeper, slower. The last was full of fear and panic and a ticking clock hanging in the background that said it wasn’t the time. This kiss is full of a different kind of fear, a different kind of panic, that soften with each passing second, each more confident kiss.
It’s gentle and sure and full of promise. The last kiss felt like an assurance - a second stolen to avoid missing out on something great, one created in fire and ice. This kiss is more like a promise. The promise of many more stolen seconds, and many more kisses, and fire. Still the fire. Fire spreading through Lena’s body, steaming at her fingertips, burning at her lips, flicking at her lungs.
She tugs the mask off Kara’s head to run her fingers through her hair. Pulls Kara closer as her breathing gets more rapid, their chests crashing into one another. She seconds away from passing out when Kara parts her lips further, allows Lena’s tongue its wish to brush against her own.
She’s pretty sure she would have passed out, if it weren’t for the door opening in the midst of it all. If it weren’t for Eliza popping her head into Kara’s room, forcing them to abruptly jump apart. Cheeks red. Hands restful. Eyes avoidant.
“Lena!” Eliza says, voice startled but eyes suspicious. “You definitely didn’t use the front door.”
Eliza nods. “Dinner’s in five. You two wash up.” She steps back out like nothing happened at all, closing the door gently. She opens it again not five seconds later and Lena half expects to hear about some ‘the door will now stay open’ rule considering how they were caught but instead Eliza just smiles and says, “Put that mask away before Jeremiah gets home. He’s still a little bitter.” She disappears once again then, the door noticeably open and everything remains silent for a second until Kara just laughs, and laughs, and laughs until Lena can’t resist joining in.
“Come on, Tiger, you have to withstand the girlfriend dinner now.”
Lena slips her hand into Kara’s outstretched one but can’t help the, “Girlfriend, huh?”
“My mom just caught your tongue in my mouth so we’re rushing ahead.” Lena would blush further if she wasn’t so proud of herself. As it stands, she smirks instead.
“I’m not complaining,” she admits to Kara’s smile and lets herself be kissed again before she rushes to stuff her mask under Kara’s pillow - they could worry about that later. Right now she had more important things to focus on. Like Kara’s outstretched hand. And the comments from Kara’s parents about the crush Kara had, had on her for years (and the eyerolls about Mike). And the way Kara returns Lena’s mask to her with a soft parting kiss.
(Lena was right about one thing.
That spider deserved some real fucking credit).