Lena has a difficult relationship with flying.
When she’s little, she hates planes and everything to do with them because they take Father away for weeks at a time, and even though Lex explains to her that a plane crash is statistically improbable, she’s terrified of being left alone with Lillian.
After her father dies, Lena discovers the manner of his death is not necessarily important, but her loathing of planes stays.
It grows as she’s bundled up and shipped off to Switzerland in one, and her first business class experience on a commercial flight does nothing to sweeten the experience.
She tries to tell Lillian she doesn’t want to go to the all girls’ private school in Geneva, pleading with her over dinner while Lex watches with a frown — powerless to stop their mother’s plans.
It’s all for nothing. Every Luthor has gone to boarding school in Europe, and she won’t be the exception, half-blood or not.
“You are a Luthor,” Lillian declares, cold and unsmiling. “Your father insisted, and you won’t sully our name with your behavior.”
The next morning she’s taken to the airport to be handed off. A package Lillian can't wait to be rid of.
She will come home only for the holidays until she turns eighteen, and she soon finds out she’d rather not be back at all.
Later, once she’s at the helm of her own Fortune 500 company and owns a private jet, flying becomes at least a bit more bearable.
Lena can’t ever fully enjoy it, however. Not when the plane lifts off at night and the lights below are fairy-like wisps, shining golden in the dark. Not when she finds herself chasing the sun across the ocean, heart-stopping sunsets shading the sky from fire engine red to mauve to a thousand other shades she has no name for.
Lena understands the convenience of it, can appreciate the aesthetic, but she never really likes to fly.
It’s just one of the things required of her, and she does it, as always, without complaint.
Everything changes the day she watches a mysterious woman stop a plane from crashing with her bare hands.
Soon enough, the media is putting a name to her — Supergirl, they call her — and Lena moves her entire life to National City on the off chance that they may meet and work together for the benefit of mankind.
(she sells the move to the board of directors by calling it cost-saving, and they gobble it all down like cats lapping clotted cream)
She gets to actually meet Supergirl a handful of months later, the first time someone makes an attempt on her life.
She’s in her office, late at night, when it happens. It’s quick, a flash of movement, the gunman bursting through the unlocked door, pistol already raised in her direction. Truly, a professional.
For a moment, everything freezes.
Lena thinks her heart has frozen, too. Breath stutters in her chest, her lungs refuse to work, and she wants to tell the man that he can save his bullet — her body’s decided to finish the job for him.
She’s already dying.
Then, in a shower of broken glass, a caped figure zips through the windows at her back, so fast Lena barely sees the blue-gold blur.
The gun fires — twice — bullets whizzing harmlessly off of Supergirl’s chest before the pistol’s crumpled into a lump of useless metal by her hand, the gunman smacked unconscious.
“Lena!” Supergirl’s hands are on her shoulders, gentle now, and warm. Lena feels like she’s about to faint. Her voice is steel wrapped in soft velvet, and strangely familiar. “I mean, Miss Luthor — Miss Luthor, are you alright?”
“I—” Lena cannot think past Supergirl’s touch. Her eyes keep going back to the obvious outline of her biceps, straining under the suit. And her eyes…
God, her eyes are bluer than any sky she’s ever seen from the window seat of a plane.
“He didn’t hurt you, did he?” Now Supergirl is looking her over, an adorable wrinkle of concern knitting her brows.
“No, no. I’m fine.” As long as you keep touching me. “You got here before he could—” It’s Lena’s turn to frown. “ How ? How did you know I was in danger?”
There’s a moment of silence, during which she thinks Supergirl is blushing. Silly thought, that. It must be the red strobe of the emergency lights overhead — they winked on the moment the armored glass was broken through.
“I— uh— I was patrolling the area when I saw him barge through your office door.” The assassin makes a pitiful noise, as if on cue.
“You… saw him?”
“Supersight.” Supergirl grins, and despite the fact that she just narrowly escaped her death, Lena can’t help but smile along with her.
“Yep.” The hit man groans again, and they both glare like he’s interrupting.
(he is, but Lena’s not sure about what )
“Mind if I take out the trash?”
“Please,” Lena gestures. “Go right—”
She’s cut off by the sonic boom of displaced air, and blinks back tears in time to see Supergirl lift up in the night sky, the gun for hire slung over one shoulder.
“See you around, Miss Luthor.” The words float down to her, and a piece of her heart leaves her chest along with Supergirl then. Higher and higher, until star-studded darkness closes around both.
As her security team’s footsteps thunder down the hallway, Lena has the time to think she’s never wanted to fly more in her life.
She doesn’t have to wait that long for her wish to be granted.
Just long enough for Lex to break out of the maximum security prison he was locked up in.
“That was close,” Supergirl murmurs, lips dangerously close to brushing her ear.
Her eyes are glued to the wreckage of her car, burning several feet below them. Sirens scream their alarms in the night, blaring ever closer. Already she can see the flashing lights of a cop car wash the parking lot in blue.
Too close by half.
She buries her face against Supergirl’s chest, the S emblazoned on the heroine’s chest digging into her cheekbone. She says nothing, but the uptik of her heart tells Supergirl she wants to be flown away, and so they rise.
High above the heat of the raging fire. Away from the acrid smell of melted plastic and burning rubber. Higher still, to where the air is moonlit and cool with the scent of autumn.
Lena tells herself she shouldn’t cling to Supergirl so hard, but she can’t stop her arms from tightening. Her heart is in her throat, and it beats so fast she’s positive she’s about to go into cardiac arrest, but then her feet are touching solid ground again, and Supergirl is stepping back slowly. Reluctantly, maybe — but that might just be her hopeful side talking.
“I’ll do a few sweeps around the neighborhood to make sure there’s no other threats.” Her voice is strained, threaded through with a breathy note Lena can’t explain.
“Okay.” Supergirl bolts up and Lena stares after her, weak in the knees, until her eyes burn.
“This is becoming too much of a habit.”
They’ve come at her with knives this time, and Supergirl is pressing a wadded cloth to the gash in her side while they wait for an ambulance.
“It’s nothing, really,” Lena tries to convince her, but her mouth twists in pain when she moves, betraying her.
“I’m sure.” Supergirl presses two fingers to her throat, checking her pulse. “I still think it’s best if a doctor checks you over anyway, Miss Luthor.”
“Lena,” she says hurriedly. “You’ve saved me… god, I lost count of how many times.” Five and counting, if she knows anything about Lex. “I think we’re well past formal.”
“If you’re sure… Lena.”
The way Supergirl says her name, soft and tinged with reverence, reminds Lena of Kara.
It’s the day Supergirl gets hurt to save her that Lena finally gives in and kisses her.
It’s fleeting, a tentative brushing of lips through which the Kryptonian is utterly still, wide-eyed with disbelief. Lena is about to pull away and apologize when she is kissed back.
Supergirl’s tongue swipes against her lower lip, strong fingers thread through her unbound hair, and Lena tilts her head, reciprocating.
The kiss deepens, full of need and hunger, breath leaving Lena in a rush when Supergirl’s teeth bite her lower lip.
“We can’t. I can’t. I’m sorry.”
Before Lena can beg her to stay, Supergirl is flying off, a little wobbly and off-kilter.
The piece of heart she stole from her so many months ago is given back to Lena, completely broken.
She’s lucky to have Kara by her side.
Kara, whose eyes are nearly as blue as Supergirl’s. Kara with her cuddles on the couch on movie night, Kara who holds her after Supergirl is gone and lets her cry on her shoulder without asking what she’s crying about while still promising she’ll be there for whatever Lena needs.
It would be easy to fall in love with her, Lena thinks, as easy as it was to fall in love with Supergirl. And maybe Kara would even love her back.
But she can’t.
She won’t allow Kara to become the rebound to a misplaced crush, but even if she knows it’s wrong, Lena allows the cuddles and the sleepovers, and what Kara jokingly calls their dinner dates.
(Because she’s joking, right? She must be.)
Kara becomes her best friend, and Lena watches the entire process like it’s an inevitable car crash. At the same time, the way Kara gets past her defences is so quick she’s barely aware of it till one day she wakes up and it’s too late to put a stop to it. She falls asleep in Kara’s arms almost every Friday, and wakes with her friend’s fingers carding through her hair, pensive eyes looking at her fondly while Lena pretends to still be asleep. And when Kara puts herself between Lena and the next henchman, holding her so tight Lena can barely breathe after the police take him away; when she whispers “I can’t lose you” over and over — well, that’s what friends do, isn’t it?
Except, turns out it isn’t.
“I can’t.” Kara walks in on her a week later, unannounced.
“I’m sorry, Kara, but I’m supposed to drop in on a remote meeting. Could you—” Lena sees the look on Kara’s face, the quiet desperation brewing a storm inside her eyes and stops. “You can’t what?”
“I can’t do this anymore.”
Everything collapses around Lena, and she sits back down on her chair. Hard.
“Be my friend?” She hates, hates, hates how close her voice’s to breaking. Of course, she should have seen it coming. The legacy of her name always catches up to her eventually. Kara must have realized she is too thoroughly, utterly good to associate with somebody like her.
“What? No, I—” Kara pauses. “Of course I want to be your friend! No I mean, there’s something I need to tell you, but on second thought, I should just show you.”
“Show me what?”
Kara blurs across the room, and Lena has a mere second to register the strong, muscular arms that go around her waist before she’s lifted and thrown out of the open window.
No. Not thrown.
“Lena, I’m— ” Kara sets her down on the roof, and steps back, fingers going to the front of her shirt. But Lena already knows.
“Supergirl,” she finishes for her, moving close to unbutton Kara’s flannel shirt herself. Her head spins, breath coming in short, labored bursts. She already knows what she will find; she pressed her cheek to the scarlet S so many times.
“Please don’t be mad,” Kara begs, as Lena follows the sigil with a trembling fingertip. “I understand if you are, but—”
“I’m not,” Lena answers, surprising herself. “It makes everything easier.”
“Yes.” Lena nods. “I am in love with Supergirl, and also with my best friend, Kara Danvers. And if they’re the same person, well, then I don’t have to choose.” The words swell inside her chest like a devastating flood and overflow before she can clamp the dam of her teeth shut around them. Tears accompany the truth, her treacherous heart speeding up until she’s sure it’ll burst forth from her chest with its next beat.
“You love me?” Kara wonders, on the other side of high-pitched.
“Why else would I kiss you, you idiot?”
Kara blinks, looking at Lena like she just grew a second head. The silence stretches between them, and Lena feels her blood run cold, her entire body gearing for rejection.
“You kissed Supergirl,” Kara points out — and is she fucking pouting? really? — but she is drawing Lena into the circle of her arms, wiping at her tears.
“Then kiss me, so I can say I kissed both of you.” Lena laughs at the sheer idiocy of the statement, but the laughter ends in a hoarse groan the moment Kara does exactly what she’s told.
Kara kisses her eagerly and slowly at the same time, making shivers race all along her spine. She kisses Lena as though she is a mystery to solve, or a new route to discover. Every gentle sweep of Kara’s tongue against her own dismantles what is left of her defenses, soft lips gliding over hers. It’s endless, unrelenting, and when Kara moves from her mouth to her throat, tongue licking at the salt of her skin as though she’s trying to melt into her pulse, Lena blanks out.
When, out of breath and disheveled, they look into each other’s eyes again, Lena feels Kara’s contain the entire celestial vault. They twinkle with so much warmth and love they put the actual stars to shame, and she pulls Kara in for another kiss, laughing in delight as her lipstick leaves red marks on Kara’s cheek and jaw.
They spend the entire night on the roof, talking and kissing and laughing with each other, fingers and bodied twined, both unwilling to be apart even for a second now that they have found their other half.
The sky is on the verge of paling when Kara presses their foreheads together, eyes shy.
“I lied to you that first time I saved you.”
“I didn’t see the gun for hire enter your office, but I knew you were in trouble because I heard your heart rate spike.”
“My heart? You can tell what my heart sounds like inside a city this size?”
“I might have memorized it.” The tips of Kara’s ears flush the brightest red Lena’s ever seen, and she casts her gaze down to the concrete roof. “It may be the last thing I listen to before I go to sleep. The first thing I listen to in the morning, as well.”
“Really?” Lena’s eyes sting with a fresh wave of tears, and all that she can hear is her own ragged breathing. Then, Kara’s fingers press under her chin, forcing her to tilt her head back up, and her lips are captured yet again, Kara’s face radiant with love.
“Really.” Arms around one another, they watch the sky pale at the edges. Down below, streetlights wink out block by block, aurora’s pink fingertips reaching across the horizon to paint the chrome of the skyscrapers a delicate rose-gold.
“This may be a little forward, but… can I… could I fly you home?”
“Yes.” Fragile heart held in both her hands, Lena adds. “You can stay, too, if you want. I’d like you to.”
Kara’s answering smile is so bright it rivals the dawn.
“I love you, Kara Danvers.”
It feels good to gasp it out loud as she lies naked on the bed, Kara’s hand working a slow pace between her legs.
“Actually, it’s Kara Zor-El. And I love you, too, Lena.”
Kara’s fingers curl inside her then, and Lena’s entire body jolts. She comes, face pressed to the crook of Kara’s neck, falling and flying at once.
Kara holds her tightly through the aftershocks until her breathing steadies, skin so warm that Lena feels some empathy for Icarus, who wanted to fly so close to the sun he was willing to fall instead. Kara is her own sun, and Lena stares at her without fear of getting burned.
She falls in love with Kara and with Supergirl all over again, but for the first time in her life, she doesn’t run the risk of crashing.
And, as they settle under the blankets, holding hands even while they’re drifting off to sleep, Lena comes to the conclusion that her relationship with flying may be a little turbulent, but is not so complicated after all.