“You need a vacation fling.”
Lena turns her eyes away from the quickly passing cobblestoned streets of Paris, sighing as she switches her phone to the other ear. Rain spatters the window, and Lena turns away from the melancholy sight to fend off her best friend. “Sam, I’m on a business trip. And I don’t have time for a fling.”
“Oh, I see. You’re saving yourself for Supergirl.”
Lena chokes, shielding her phone from her driver as if Sam’s accusation will somehow carry into the front of the car. “I’m not – saving – “
Even if she denies it, she knows Sam can see right through her. It took only one news story on TV while they had lunch for her to catch on to Lena’s mild attraction to National City’s caped heroine, and she hasn’t let Lena forget it since. And even here, halfway across the world, Sam calls her out on it.
She’s right, of course, but Lena hates giving her the satisfaction of knowing it.
“You’re in Paris,” Sam is insisting when Lena finally zones back into the conversation. “The city of love! At least try to get a little romance in. Go see the Eiffel Tower or something, you hermit.”
“I’m in wall-to-wall meetings until the day I leave,” Lena argues, idly fanning at her overheated face with one of her gloves. “Where exactly am I supposed to fit in romance?”
“You’re a genius. You figure it out.”
Lena rolls her eyes, hanging the call up without saying goodbye as her towncar rounds a corner and the aforementioned tower comes into view.
She’s seen the Eiffel Tower from the car, of course, but Sam is right in one thing – she hasn’t really seen it. It’s a drizzly day, so the usual droves of tourists are mostly absent, and she’s asking her driver to stop before she can think about it too hard.
Standing alone on the side of the road while her hair gets wet, she starts to regret it.
Before she can get fully soaked she takes out her phone and snaps a few photos of the monument, but when she looks at each of them she frowns. They’re lonely, somehow. Sort of empty. A few pictures of the Eiffel Tower by itself isn’t going to get Sam off her back. She needs something that really proves she let loose a little, even if it’s a fabrication.
A few feet away from her another woman stops, leaning against the stone railing and looking up at the tower with a smile that’s distracting enough to draw Lena’s attention. She’s striking in a casual way - her wet blonde hair is in a ponytail and dark with rain, she has a pair of rounded glasses covered in raindrops on her nose, and the way she looks wistfully up at the tower gives Lena an idea. A crazy idea.
No. No, no, she won’t let Sam’s pestering drive her to stupidity.
But then the woman looks at her, all bright blue eyes and warm smile, and Lena’s heart actually stutters a bit. Real, warm attraction curls itself around her belly, and the idea takes a solid shape in her mind. Maybe the city of love is doing something to the logical part of her brain, but she throws caution to the wind anyways.
Maybe Sam is right, again.
So she walks towards the woman, and opens her stupid mouth.
“Excuse me?” Lena says, clearing her throat of the nervous high note it’s taken on. “Um. This is going to be really weird, and please feel free to say no because it’s kind of a wild request from a total stranger, but –“
The woman laughs, turning towards Lena with none of the alarm or indignation she expected. She just looks open, and friendly.
“That’s one way to start a conversation,” the blonde says, white teeth flashing. “What’s the request?”
“Will you kiss me?”
It comes out in a rush, so fast that it’s almost all one word. Lena regrets it almost the moment it leaves her mouth. The other woman just blinks slowly – a tiny crease appears between her brows, and Lena starts to brace herself for the inevitable, horrifying rejection this stupid plan will reap. For the woman to storm off or look revolted, or slap her for her audacity.
“For a picture,” Lena clarifies quickly, knowing how desperate she sounds. “It’s silly, I know, but my friend Sam keeps bugging me about not having romance in my life, and the easiest way to stop it would be to just show her -”
“A fake kiss?” The woman interrupts, but her smile remains friendly, almost amused, and Lena sighs.
“I don’t have time for actual romance. I just need something to get her to lay off for a while.”
The woman looks thoughtful. Her gaze bores into Lena, almost to the point of discomfort – it feels like she’s seeing too much. Her eyes are blue, almost startlingly so, and Lena is actually on the verge of throwing the whole thing out the window and running for the car when the silence breaks.
“Okay?” Lena asks cautiously.
The woman nods, raindrops sliding down her forehead. “Okay. Just tell me what to do.”
“Right,” Lena says quietly, mostly to herself. “Okay. You said yes. I wasn’t expecting that.”
The woman just laughs fondly, looking at her with no judgement, and Lena feels a little braver. Quickly she flags someone down to snap the picture, and while the middle-aged French man figures out Lena’s phone she tugs the woman over to the stone railing by her tweed coat.
“Here should be good. With the tower in the background,” she says, adjusting their position so as to be the most convincing.
The woman just laughs again. Disregarding Lena’s attempt at staging she pulls her close, hands firm and strong on Lena’s waist, the few inches of height difference making her a little dizzy. “Like this?”
Real, tangible butterflies were not something Lena was expecting out of this, but nevertheless there they are in Lena’s chest, making a ruckus.
“Yeah, that’s…that’s good. Great. Yes.”
The woman is leaning in now, her perfume warm in Lena’s nose. “I’m going to kiss you now.”
“Okay,” Lena whispers, but the end of the word is caught up in the woman’s lips.
It’s surprisingly gentle, as kisses go. It’s clear that this woman is trying to be respectful, her hands planted on the neutral zone of Lena’s waist and her mouth firmly closed. It’s a soft, sensible meeting of lips, a kiss that Lena can decisively identify as nice.
It’s also an abrupt reminder that Lena hasn’t been kissed in months.
Words escape her as their lips drift apart – reluctantly, on Lena’s part - and her companion flashes a goofy smile. It almost looks like she wants to say something, but from the street behind them Lena hears a loud honk. Several cars are lined up behind her towncar, and her driver looks a little harried as he gestures through the open window for her to get back in.
“I have to go,” Lena says, backing away from the ridiculously attractive and soaking wet person she just kissed out of the blue. “Thank you for – you know. That.” She cringes at her own wording, snatching her phone back and getting into the car before she can make a complete idiot of herself.
“I hope your plan works!” The woman calls, waving, but Lena’s car is already pulling back onto the road, leaving her behind. It tugs at Lena’s heart in a way she doesn’t expect, watching her disappear into the Paris traffic. She watches until blonde hair disappears around a corner, and the woman’s gaze follows her just as long.
Sam gets the photo 3 days later, and Lena gets a few months of relief. Despite her reservations she’d call her plan an unmitigated success, until her next business trip to Rome.
She’d thought she was safe. Sam seemed content to only talk business during their phone calls this trip, and by her second-to-last day Lena really thought she might get all the way home before Sam teased her about her addiction to work and lack of social life. But she should have known.
“That fling in Paris did you good,” Sam says just as Lena is getting back to her hotel, the phone conversation annoyingly familiar. “You were glowing when you came back!”
“It was a distraction,” Lena insists, but just like last time she can feel her willpower waning against Sam’s endless optimism for her love life.
“You could use some distraction. Go find a hot Italian! Eat some gelato off her abs –“
She ends the call with an agreement that she’ll at least try – meaning, of course, that she’ll try to find someone to get Sam off her back again. It worked last time, after all. Maybe this is just her thing, now.
The Coliseum is much more crowded than the Eiffel Tower was. It’s a sunny October day, hot and loud, and it seems like everyone in Rome is concentrated here – she has no idea how she’s going to find someone in the 15 minutes she has before she needs to be at a meeting. Her driver is waiting safely in a parking spot this time, but she is still on a time limit.
It has to be a sign, when someone walks straight up to her with a friendly grin.
“Wow, hi!” The mystery woman says brightly, as if they aren’t perfect strangers. She’s beautiful, at least what Lena can see of her, her hair half-down and a pair of dark aviators on her face. She’s also holding a melting cup of gelato that she’s abandoned in favour of greeting Lena.
And, she’s blonde. Again. Sam is going to think she has a type.
Here goes nothing.
“Hi?” Lena says tentatively, taking the woman’s outstretched hand. The blonde looks almost expectant, which throws Lena off slightly – but, maybe the perceived familiarity will help.
“This is going to sound ridiculous, but I’m just going to say it. Will you kiss me, for a picture? In front of the coliseum?”
Again Lena braces herself, the only thing keeping her from running being the thought of Sam having nothing to tease her about.
This woman’s expression, however, doesn’t turn goofy but instead falters into confusion. She blinks a few times, retracting her hand. “Will I – wait, do you not –“
Lena frowns, looking at her watch. She doesn’t want to be rude, but she has 8 minutes, now. “Do I not what?”
The woman stares for a moment, and then laughs. Something about it is familiar, but Lena is running against the clock and if she’s going to do this, it has to happen now.
“I understand if you’d rather not, but if so, I need to find someone else, so –“
“No!” The woman says quickly, almost dropping her gelato. “No, I’ll do it. Just let me, uh –“ she finishes the gelato almost inhumanly fast, and drops the cup in a nearby bin. Just as quickly she whips the aviators off her face, revealing eyes so sparkling blue that Lena has to look away before she says something stupid. Even more stupid than asking a stranger to kiss her in the middle of a foreign city. Twice.
“Okay, ready,” the blonde says. Lena hands off her phone quickly to another tourist, and steps close.
“It doesn’t have to be intimate, just a quick –“ Lena starts, but she’s already being pulled in, swept up in a kiss that tastes like mango ice cream and lights her up to the tips of her toes. A surprisingly strong hand slides up to Lena’s upper back, holding her firmly and leaning her back into an absurdly romantic almost-dip. It’s alarmingly good, the kind of kiss that makes sparks flare up in her belly, and the only thing that keeps her from deepening it out of pure instinct is the fact that the other woman pulls away first. Abruptly.
She smells so familiar.
Lena’s eyes flutter open to see the woman looking into the middle distance, like she’s listening for something.
“I…I actually have to go,” the blonde says, stepping away and towards the crowd. “I’m sorry!”
And then like magic she’s gone, leaving Lena alone and wondering if it’s possible that the only two people she’s kissed in the last 6 months wear the same perfume.
Just like last time, Sam is delighted by the picture. Lena gets some much-needed relief, and only a tiny part of her starts to wish that her feigned romances were real.
When Lena actually meets Supergirl for the first time, she’s so distracted by drone strikes and almost-crashed helicopters that she has no time to be nervous. She’s in crisis mode, and the fact that Supergirl is just as tall and strong and charming as Lena always thought she would be is low in the list of priorities.
Supergirl walks her gallantly to the front doors of L-Corp, where already there’s a crowd of reporters waiting to ask what the commotion was, and when they emerge several flashbulbs go off in their faces. Reporters are sprawled out over the steps to the building, ready to weave stories about the Super and the Luthor.
The press is going to have a field day. The best thing to do would be to come at this as a united front, not give them any reason to build up some fake story of enmity between them, and she turns to Supergirl to say so in a low voice.
“I know this is very forward, since we just met. But –“
“Let me guess,” Supergirl says with an absent chuckle. “You need me to kiss you for the cameras?”
Lena stops dead.
“Excuse me?” she hisses, whirling on the blonde completely. Her hair shines in the sun, and Lena is almost distracted by it.
Supergirl seems to review what she just said in her head, and then she does something Lena didn’t know was possible for a Kryptonian superhero. She blushes. Her eyes are wide, alarmed, and so very blue, and something in Lena’s mind clicks into place.
Every organ in her body drops into her Louboutins, and the crowd of reporters fades into the background as Lena’s mortification rises.
“Oh my god,” Lena whispers.
Supergirl is quick to try to control the damage. She holds her hands up as if it will stem the tide, but it only makes things worse. “I don’t know why I said that, I just –“
But Lena isn’t to be dissuaded.
“It’s you,” she hisses, still reeling. Same blonde hair, same bow lips, same look of shock. It’s all the same. All that’s missing is the aviators. “From Rome! I kissed Supergirl in Rome?”
“And Paris,” Supergirl adds, and then seems to regret speaking again.
That piece of information is just a little bit too much for Lena to take. She thinks back to that trip, almost a year ago – the girl she met in the rain, the earnestness of her willingness to help. The blue eyes behind clouded glasses, the softness of her kiss. And then, a few months later, in Rome – how the woman she kissed had seemed to recognize her, had seemed shocked when Lena didn’t do the same.
Oh, god. How blind could she be?
“…what?” Lena manages to choke through a tight chest. It’s too much processing for one day, too much to do in public after a near-death experience.
“Hey, you’re the one who didn’t remember kissing me twice!” Supergirl protests, entirely too loudly. Her voice almost echoes as the press goes silent, and then erupts in an explosion of questions that Lena can’t answer.
“So you two have met before? When –“
“Supergirl, did you just admit to having kissed Lex Luthor’s sister? Is this some sort of plot –“
“Miss Luthor, what does your brother think of your romance –“
It’s chaotic, and Lena wants nothing more than to disappear into the earth.
“God, Alex is gonna kill me,” Supergirl mutters over the din, and Lena manages a laugh.
“My PR guy is going to kill me. Every press outlet in the city is going to be talking about how the shadowy Lena Luthor seduced Supergirl.”
Supergirl shifts from one foot to the other, looking about as nervous as Lena was when she asked for those photo-op kisses. She should be in panic mode, but somehow, Supergirl’s nervousness settles Lena’s own nerves.
“Well,” the hero says more quietly, “Since they already have the idea…?”
The next day, the photo of Lena Luthor kissing National City’s resident Super is on the front page of every paper in the city, and Lena chuckles as she scrolls through CatCo’s online article in the early morning light. An Unlikely Romance: a Luthor and a Super.
Catchy title. She has 31 unread texts from Sam, and she ignores all of them in favour of the warm body next to her.
“People seem to be fascinated with the idea of us working together.”
“We certainly worked together last night,” Kara – her name is Kara, Lena knows now – replies, stretching languorously in Lena’s bed. The blanket slips down, and so do Lena’s eyes. “Exceptionally well.”
“What do you say we continue working together at this little brunch place I know?” Lena suggests, succumbing to her impulse to kiss the revealed skin. She follows the scent of the now-familiar light perfume Kara wears from her chest all the way to her neck, ending in a nip to her throat. Kara gives Lena the grin that’s made her chest flutter since Paris, stroking the side of her face.
“Only if you’re okay seeing a woman eat twice her weight in waffles.”