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be steel, my beating heart

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Life could be a little weird sometimes.

Weird like finding out the man you thought was just your adoptive father was actually the man who had your mother waiting wistfully by the window for years after he left on a not-so-strong gust of wind. Weird like your brother breaking down on the phone and basically begging you to upend your entire life to save the family company he always claimed he was ‘destined’ to champion.

Weird like your best friend in a new city becoming the statue by your office.

Lena stumbles upon it during a lunchtime walk. Ten minutes into convincing herself not to tear her hair out and mumbling under her breath all the complaints she couldn’t keep inside any longer, she finds it.

Her.

Steel still in the centre of a penny-filled fountain.

Lena isn’t sure what it is about her. Maybe it’s the soft smile permanently carved onto her face. Maybe it’s the oddly enticing curve of her body. Curves unlike Lena’s - curves built from broad shoulders and metal muscles. Maybe it’s the fact that she left all her favourite people behind in Metropolis and needs to say something to someone that isn’t trapped in the screen of her phone.

Maybe it’s the way Lena could spend hours imagining what she’d look like if she were made of flesh and blood.

She wonders how her hair might flow down her shoulders, what colour it would be. She wonders what her eyes would look like if they ever dared to open and pin her with their gaze. The shade of them. (The shade of her lips). She wonders how she’d walk – with confidence or pride or trepidation. She wonders what she’d sound like – if Lena could listen to her talk for as long as she listens to Lena.

(She wonders when it was that she officially lost her mind).

But, whatever the reason, the second Lena sees her, it stops being an under the breath moan and becomes a full-on spoken rant.

She listens well… the inanimate object shaped into the prettiest woman Lena has ever seen and built without the ability to walk away or interrupt her… listens really well.

So, she keeps coming back.

And back.

And back.

She comes back to complain about how annoying Lex’s assistant is – all weirdly into him and constantly undermining Lena and, truly, would it kill her to just once bring Lena a coffee as well while she breaks her back fixing problems that shouldn’t exist because Lex is incompetent.

She comes back to bemoan how her heel snapped mid-morning, right before an important meeting. A meeting that she was forced to turn up to wearing sneakers that didn’t fit her energy at all, forcing her to tilt her head up to meet the eyes of a man she should have been able to look down upon in every way.

She tells the statue about her latest plans and her successes and she always feels a little like, maybe, the statue smiles on those days. Like maybe she was a little proud.

Or maybe like Lena was searching for praise wherever she could find it, because it certainly wasn’t coming from where it should be – that being the board of directors, and her family, and the people in the breakroom enjoying her stress baked chocolate chip cookies.

She does stupid things too. Stupider things. Perhaps the stupidest thing she’s ever done (which says something considering she once climbed out of a third story window to avoid being caught in another girl’s room in boarding school).

She blames it on the fact that she was drunk. She blames it on too much whisky and too few sensible ceasefire thoughts. Thankfully, it’s bordering on late. Thankfully, the square is mainly occupied by dates too enamoured with one another to pay much mind to anything else. Thankfully, Lena’s second Doctorate is in denial.

So, she blames it on the fact that she was drunk. It being Lena taking her grain-stained lips and pressing them to a wordless mouth, to silent lips, to a steel trap that she’d never find her way to the heart of.

It didn’t feel like she thought it would. Not that she’d thought about it.

(She’d thought about it).

It felt like Andrea always used to say it would, when they laid shoulder-to-shoulder in a too small twin bed, talking about the future and how a girl’s smile could make your chest tight.

Warmer than it should have been. Softer. She’s almost sure there was a slight pressure pushing back against her mouth, something almost teasing her lips to part and let it in, teasing her brain to spark, spark, spark like a match in the pitch dark.

She’s sure she remembers, “I’m not usually attracted to statues but if I were into the steel look, you’d definitely be the first I’d go for.”

She’s sure she remembers the statue moving, sure she remembers stupidly spilling her address to a steel stranger and being led to her own front door. She’s sure she remembers steady hands taking shaky keys and finally finding the lock she was sure kept moving. She’s sure she remembers a soft goodbye paired with the almost silent click of her door behind a blurred figure.

Memories scratching in the back of her mind.

They beg to be let in. She shuts them tightly out.

She doesn’t need any more embarrassing moments to violently remember at three in the morning. She doesn’t need any reasons to convince herself not to go back. And she really doesn’t need to lose the thing that makes her happiest in the world right now because she did something weird.

Especially not today. Today of all days when the sun was shining, and Sam sent her an adorable video of Ruby, and the coffee cart outside her apartment started selling their (at least street-wide) famous banana oat muffins again.

Today of all days where, everything should have been great, but, “Lex forgot my birthday, which isn’t that uncommon and will surely be rectified tomorrow with a present I don’t really want, nor need, coupled with a pleading apology. But then he also shouted at me for an issue that wasn’t my fault in front of the entire lab, and I haven’t felt so embarrassed,” since she kissed a statue, “since I tripped up the stairs at my first college graduation.”

Lena sighs.

It echoes. Then, “Okay, I can’t keep this up anymore – your brother is the world’s biggest jerk face.”

That’s when Lena falls in the fountain. Topples right back into the water and immediately hopes she just drowns because she knew that voice. She heard that voice. Clear as a bell from its place atop a white horse as she saved the damsel in drunkenness.

Except apparently her shining armour wasn’t made of metal at all.

Hands tug Lena from the water. Hands covered in slightly dripping metallic paint.

Lena reaches up and wipes her cheek, wincing as it reveals tan skin, double wincing when she sees cautious blue eyes searching to meet hers.

She breaks her gaze to look at the statue’s usual perch – the centre of the fountain where now nothing but a hat remained. A hat full of coins. Coins…

She was one of those performers wasn’t she?

A real human performer that she had been spilling her guts to and who-

“Oh god, you’re real and I kissed you. I’m so sorry.” Kissed was a nice way of putting it. ‘Threw herself at’ was really the best way to phrase it. Threw herself onto, and planted her lips against, and never once asked for consent because she didn’t really tend to ask for consent when it came to inanimate objects like-

“I’m not particularly. Sorry, that is,” the statue, real life human being, shrugs, “I think it’ll make a great story for our wedding.”

“You’re a real human person who can talk.” Lena, on the other hand, was turning into a broken record. A record getting stuck on blue eyes and a silver scar and a warmth that would have made no sense two minutes ago but suddenly was the only thing that made sense in the world.

“I usually go by Kara.” She smiles, lets it trickle into a laugh. “I really thought you knew; I wasn’t very good at keeping my face straight around you.”

“I just thought I was imagining things.”

“Not imagining, just witnessing gay panic.”

Her heart skips a beat. Several beats. Almost stops entirely really, almost turning into steel itself in her chest. “Gay panic?” She asks, feeling her brain do a double take. “Wait, our wedding?” A third take. “You weren’t sorry about the kiss?”

Kara smiles: amused and patient. “Oh, so you did catch that?”

“I did.”

“Good. I meant it. But maybe we could go to lunch first – I hear it’s someone special’s birthday today and I’m always looking for an extra excuse to eat cake.” Kara stands, her feet still dipped into the fountain like she did this every day, like her politely offering her hand to pull Lena up was just part of their daily routine. Maybe it could be.

For once, Lena grabs life with both hands. She grabs Kara with just one as she lets herself be pulled to her feet, keeps hold of the hand for a firm shake. “I’m Lena, by the way.”

Kara hums, shifting the hold on their hands one last time until their palms touch, until their fingers intertwine. “It suits you.”

“It suits a crazy person who spews all their hopes, fears and bad days to a statue?” It sounded even more unhinged when she put it so plainly. Kara doesn’t flinch like Lena does. Her eyes are steady as they wait for Lena to meet them, as she waits for Lena to take in her sincerity and her soft smile.

“That’s not what I took from our talks.”

“What did you take from them?” Lena fishes.

Kara’s smile turns teasing as she bites. “Let me get some food in my stomach and I’ll tell you all about how intelligent and beautiful I think you are.”

“You really want to go somewhere dressed like that?”

“Why, you embarrassed?” Kara asks, wiggling her eyebrows and shoulders in a little dance. “I thought you liked this painted look. It got you to kiss me.”

“You’re going to be insufferable, aren’t you?”

“Big time. But you’re gonna love me anyway.”

Lena doesn’t doubt it for a second.

Not the second Kara takes her to her favourite taco truck. Not the second Kara reveals she’s the kind of person who has a favourite taco truck, where she’s on a first name basis with the chef, who feels the need to wingman enough that he tells Lena she’s found a great one. Not the second Kara tells her, her ‘money’s no good here’ and winks as she splurges for extra guacamole.

Not the second Kara runs her thumb along Lena’s lip to catch stray hot sauce. Not the second she licks it from her own skin. Not the second her tongue touches Lena’s mouth instead. Not the second she accepts Kara’s invite inside her apartment, and they spend the whole time talking about anything and everything until Lena falls asleep with her head in Kara’s lap.

Not any of the seconds after that first. Not when Kara first introduces her to her family (no matter how nervous Lena is). Definitely not when Kara tells Lena she loves her for the first time. Not even when a bunch of human statues start a flash mob on, what should have been a normal lunchbreak, because Kara wasn’t sure the proper protocol for asking someone to move in with you.

Because how can you doubt an irrefutable truth?

(And Kara was right.

It does make a great story for their wedding).