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Our Stories Catch Fire (and burn bright)

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It’s a bit like long distance dating, Lena thinks as she picks up the newly downsized portal device from the workbench, or it would be if they were dating. But Kara doesn’t date, no Kryptonian does. They’ve never talked about her match, but Lena knows enough of Kryptonian culture to know she must have one. The thought makes her ache and feel cold the way she did before meeting Kara. So, mostly, she doesn’t think about it.

Checking the power drive, she starts up the little machine, feeling it hum as the interior whirls, faster and faster until the purple and silver swirl appears. Something warms in Lena’s chest as she waits, and she takes a shaky breath.

It’s been three weeks, just long enough to power the device again. She’s pared down the amount of energy she needs to open the portal, but it still takes far too long to charge here on earth. It’s much easier on Krypton, for better or worse.

When it’s ready, Lena holds out the device and walks toward the swirl. The energy begins to shimmer and shine even faster, and even though she’s been doing this for fifteen years, Lena still takes a deep breath before stepping up to the portal, reaching out her free hand and watching as it disappears inside the swirling mass.

With a smile, she steps through. 

At ten years old, Lena creates a portal that takes her halfway across the stars. 

It’s the year her mother dies, and between the grief and being left mostly alone, Lena throws herself into the project and no one stops her. After finding a little glowing rock in the woods and discovering its massive and strange energy, she began to look for a way to put it to use.

She finds the schematics for the portal in an online science journal and hacked into several major tech corporations for everything else, fixing the bugs in the design herself. LuthorCorp had come closest before her, managing to transport a small piece of rock across one of their labs.

It was hard to find the right parts, but Lena is determined. She spends weeks collecting and scavenging until she has what she needs, not sure if it will work

It does, but Lena accidentally transports herself a little further than the other side of the room. 

“Try this.” Kara holds out the spoon. Lena raises an eyebrow at her. Kara pouts and she opens her mouth, letting Kara feed her the latest in a long line of concoctions. 

Chewing, Lena nods. It tastes better this time, nearly perfect. Kara beams.

“I knew I could get it. Gosh, I love how inventive you humans get with food.”

“Gosh?” Lena asks, giggling a little. “No one says that.”

Kara shrugs. “I like the way it sounds. Gosh .” she exaggerates the word a little, grinning at Lena. “Ok, creme brulee out of the way, what’s next?”

“I could teach you something that’s not food related,” Lena suggests. “I don’t know, sports or something.”

Kara wrinkles her nose. “You humans and your sports. Watered down modern warfare. I just don’t understand it.”

“That’s why I could teach you,” Lena says, smiling in agreement even as she pushes. “Maybe you’d understand a little better if you learned to play one.” 

“Did you play any?”

Lena laughs and shakes her head. “No.”

“That settles it,” Kara decides, turning back to the cookbook Lena has compiled of all the “must know” earth recipes. “No sports. Hmmm. How about paella? Oooh, or gyoza.”

“We call them potstickers in English,” Lena says absently, swiping through the kryptonian science journal on Kara’s tablet. 

Kara hops up and down a little, drawing Lena’s eye. She looks like a little child, full of glee, a stark contrast to the proper Kryptonian mannerisms that she has when anyone else is around.

“Now that just sounds fun,” Kara says, still bouncing. “We have to do those.”

Her smile could light up an entire planet, her orbit pulling Lena in.

Lex contacts her when she turns 18. 

She’d learned her father was Lionel Luthor at 13, and quickly discovered he’d wanted nothing to do with her, even after cracking the biggest scientific discovery in years. On her next visit to Krypton, Kara had taken one look at her and given her a long hug, something not typical for Kryptonians.

Now, at 18, she realizes that Lex is still not interested in being her big brother: he wants her device so he can credit it to LuthorCorp.

“You’ll get paid,” he tells her. “Handsomely.”

“Will I get credit for my discovery?”

His smile falters. “Of course.”

“Will I still be able to use it?”

His smile falters even further. “Why would you need that? We can fly you anywhere. You’ll live in comfort, travel in style. You’ll never have to work another day in your life. Or you can work for LuthorCorp, make a difference. Whatever you want.”

For the briefest of moments, it’s tempting. She’ll finally have money, even some measure of influence if she can play her cards right. Her work will finally be recognized. But what he doesn’t know is that all of that pales in comparison to what she really wants.

You’ll never get to see Kara again.

Lena stands, looking at her half-brother’s face for the last time in person. “Thank you for the offer, Mr. Luthor. I regret to inform you that I must decline.”

Without waiting for a response, she turns and walks away.

Kara is agitated, and Lena can’t figure out why. She’s spent the night before, but this time felt different. They’d made pizza and Kara loved it more than any other earth food she’s made. They had a dance party in the kitchen to a playlist of songs that Lena had brought and watched a romcom together before bed, making plans for shakshuka in the morning, nearly falling asleep together on the couch.

Now, Kara stands before Lena in the little kitchen, not a single ingredient on the counter, wringing her hands together.

“What’s wrong?” Lena asks.

“I think I am,” Kara says, balling her hands into fists. 

Lena steps toward her, heart pounding, trying to keep her voice calm. “What do you mean?”

“I’m not supposed to feel this way.” 

Lena fights to keep her expression neutral, worried that Kara is hurt, even dying. “Feel how?”

Kara inhales shakily, her eyes never leaving Lena’s. “When I’m with you, I feel…I don’t know what it is. But it’s here.” She presses her hand firmly to her chest. “It’s here and it’s overwhelming. Sometimes I look at you and I can’t breathe. Because you’re so smart and beautiful and you want to spend time with me and I don’t understand it. You laugh and my heart pounds faster than it should. You’re sad and my lungs ache. I don’t understand it. I just want to be with you, always. I just want to touch you, hold your hand, make you smile.”

Lena can’t breathe. This conversation is taking a turn she’d never thought it would, and her mind is spinning. Kara’s voice is frantic now. She’s shaking like a leaf, her eyes boring into Lena’s, earnest and terrified. 

“Why do I feel this way?” Kara asks, her voice breaking. “I’m not supposed to feel this way. I feel sick, but I’m not sick. What’s wrong with me?”

Lena steps closer, hardly daring to hope. Kryptonians don’t feel romantic love the way humans do, not anymore. But what Kara is describing is exactly how she feels, exactly how she’s felt since 13, trading English storybooks for Kryptonian phrases, not knowing what love was but knowing she felt for Kara what girls at school talked about when they thought boys were cute. Lifting a hand, she presses it gently to Kara’s cheek. Kara leans into it, her eyes slipping closed for a long second.

“Lena,” Kara whispers, half question, half prayer.

Lena acts on instinct. Lifting her other hand to Kara’s face, she pulls her down, pressing their lips together. It’s sweet and chaste and nothing more than skin on skin. Kara’s fidgeting hands go instantly to her waist, flexing and unflexing in the material of her shirt. 

The kiss lasts mere seconds before Lena pulls away, eyes fluttering open to meet Kara’s. 

“Oh,” Kara whispers. “Oh.”

“I think you’re describing love, Kara,” Lena says softly, not letting go of her face. 

“I love plenty. Nothing has ever felt like this.”

“Romantic love, Kara.”

Kara blinks. 

“Kryptonians don’t… I can’t…”

Lena steps back slowly, letting her hands fall. Her smile saddens a bit. “I think you can and do, Kara. If it helps, I feel it too.”

Kara blinks. “You…love me? Romantically?”

Lena bites her lip and looks away, flushing. “I know you have a chosen partner through the matrix. I know you can never give me what I want. I also know, despite the distance and the differences, that you are the one person I want to spend every day with. But I know I can never have you.”

Kara’s staring at her, frozen, and Lena feels the cold seep back into her bones. She knows that this will never work. She knows they can never be more, and for the first time, she regrets not taking Lex’s offer.

“Who are you?”

“You are human.”

“Of course I’m human. Where am I?”

The little girl in front of her is about her age, and has long blonde hair and brilliant eyes. Lena can’t tear her gaze away. She’s almost glowing in the odd light of the strange round room they’re in.

“You are on Krypton of course. Did the portal get miscalibrated?”

“I didn’t...I didn’t mean to come here. I was supposed to go home.”


“Ireland, I think. I’ve never been.”

“Ireland.” The girl rolls the word around in her mouth and grins. “Rao. I have always wanted to meet a human, but Father said you could not travel to Krypton. He was wrong!”

Krypton. Lena frowns. “What is Krypton?” 

The girl’s smile is brilliant. She holds out a hand. “Let me show you.”

A swirling mass appears by the wall. Lena frowns, looking up at it in confusion. There have only been a few times when Kara has visited her, and never unplanned. She’s not sure what to expect.

The portal opens and a lone figures steps through. Looking haggard and exhausted, Kara’s eyes meet Lena’s across the room and she visibly sags with relief.

“Kara, what…”

“I don’t have a mate. Er, a partner. A match. The matrix hasn’t made a match for me. I asked them not to, to wait. Because of you.”

Lena slowly sets her tools down on the workbench in front of her and steps around it. “I don’t understand.”

Kara’s fidgeting, twisting her hands together, looking everywhere but Lena’s eyes. “I asked them to wait. I was 11 years old and I asked them to wait because I had already met someone that I wanted to match with. Someone smarter than me, prettier than I ever could have dreamed of. Someone that made me curious and excited and that I longed for every single day. They said it wasn’t possible, you were human, from earth. They said it wasn’t probable. You wouldn’t come back. But then you did.”

She finally looks up, eyes meeting Lena’s, and her hands stop moving. She takes a deep breath. 

“You came back and you kept coming back. I kept asking them to wait because I didn’t understand love, not how the earth storybooks said, but I knew you were my best friend and I wanted you. Only you, forever.”

Lena can’t breathe.

“I know it’ll be hard. We’ll have to fight for ourselves. We’ll have to make difficult decisions. But I also know that with you, I can face anything.”

Lena’s across the room before she realizes she’s moving, reaching for Kara, who welcomes her with open arms.

“I love you,” she whispers, her eyes watery and her throat thick. She reaches up to frame Kara’s face in her hands, and Kara leans into her, beaming, the sun and the moon and the stars all wrapped into one shining beacon that holds Lena’s heart.

“I love you too,” Kara whispers back, her voice steady and firm. She reaches out to pull Lena close by the waist, leaning forward to press their lips together in a kiss. 

And Lena knows that for as long as she lives, wherever she lives, she’ll never be alone again.