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Necessary Distractions

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I want to know what it feels like to have you beneath me, to feel your breath on my throat. I want to know how your bare skin would feel against mine, or how you would react when my lips ghost the nape of your neck and my fingers travel the length of your body. Would you like the way I kissed you? Would you even want my touch? Do you think about me as often as I think about you?

Do you even care?

About me.

Lena takes in an uneven breath. This is ridiculous. This whole infatuation with Kara Danvers ranks up there as one of her more reckless and irresponsible flights of fancy. It’s bad enough that Kara’s a member of the press; on top of that, Lena’s pretty certain (like 99.9% certain) the intrepid reporter spends her off hours saving National City and the world from fantastical threats while wearing a cape. Those two facts alone should be, quite frankly, enough reason to talk herself out of this crush.

Crush.

God, what is she? A teenager?

“This is ridiculous. It is stupid and it is ridiculous.” She has to say it aloud and with precision. Has to vocalize the statement in vain hope it’ll derail her current train of thought.

It doesn’t.

Her mind returns to its preoccupation: blonde hair, broad shoulders, a beautiful soul. That smile capable of igniting an entire room. Those blue eyes, so piercing. Lena wants Kara to reach out, to grip her waist with sturdy hands, to pull her close. She wants to be wanted.

God. She wants Kara to want her.

Lena pushes her chair back from her desk. Maybe a little too hard. Her frustration is a real, palpable thing. It hangs in the air around her like smoke, choking her. She is not objective. How could she be? She fidgets with the arm of her chair, fingertips tracing the pattern of stitches absently. There are so many other things she should be doing; there is work at hand that needs a more focused mind. No time for daydreams on the company dollar – isn’t that what Lex always used to say?

Her cell buzzes, vibration amplified by the glass desk top. Lena jumps, startled and a little confused by her own reaction. No, she’s not high strung at all. She’s completely calm. Her hands fumble with the device. She’s swiping to answer the call at the same time her brain registers who is calling her.

“Lena! I didn’t expect you to pick up.” Kara’s voice is so bright, so full of joy.

“Kara. Hi. Hello.” All grace abandons her. “I mean, what can I do for you?”

There is stifled laughter. There would be. “Hey. I’m not interrupting anything am I?”

“No. Nothing at all, actually.” It’s a lie. Complete and bald faced. A blush creeps up her throat, spreading across her cheeks like an unchecked forest fire. Unless you’re referring to interrupting the series of inappropriate thoughts I’m having about you while I should most definitely be working, because yes, in that case, you’re interrupting that.

“Good,” Kara says, and Lena would swear she can hear her smile through the phone. “I was just in the neighborhood and I was wondering if you’ve had lunch yet. Thought I could maybe grab us something. Or if you want to get out of the office for a bit –”

“I’d love that.” The words come out quickly. Instinctively. And she cringes immediately after they cross her lips. So eager. So foolish. This is dangerous, Luthor.

Kara doesn’t seem to mind. “That’s great. Wanna meet me out front?”

“I’ll be right down.”

+++

 

Everything takes just a little too long, from shutting down her computer to asking Jess to hold her calls and cancel her afternoon development meeting.

“But it’s such short notice, Ms. Luthor. Is everything alright?”

“Of course. Everything is fine,” Lena says as she slips on her coat. “Move it to next Wednesday. Casey won’t mind having more time to prep.”

She slips into the elevator and pushes the button for the lobby. The ride down feels like an eternity. The hum of the machine seems to match up perfectly to the hum of her growing anxiety. She lets out a slow breath as the doors slide open.

“It’s just lunch. It’s not a big deal,” she whispers to herself. It does not have the calming effect she had hoped for.

A few employees waiting for the elevator awkwardly sidestep to give their CEO room. She is keenly aware of the distance most people give her. Always kept at arm’s length. Always watched. How could she not be aware of it?

That’s why Kara stood out. There was a curiosity in her gaze, a genuine interest Lena had never felt before. Like she wanted to actually know her. All of her. The good, the bad, the minutia.

She wasn’t used to the feeling.

Being unconditionally accepted was new to her.

It still sat uncomfortably. A fragile thing set too close to the edge. Liable to teeter over and shatter at any moment.

“Lena!” A friendly voice chimes out as she exits the building.

Kara is waving at her with an unrestrained exuberance. Lena’s heart skips a beat. That smile. It will be the death of her. She is certain.

+++

 

They exchange small talk as they walk to a little coffee shop. It’s only a few blocks from the L-Corp building, right on her normal route to work, and yet Lena had never noticed it before. It’s quaint and earthy and the whole place smells of freshly ground coffee and perfectly baked pastries. Food ordered, Lena glances around the bustling cafe, feeling exposed. Kara gives a little tug to her elbow and gestures towards the rear of the building.

“Let’s go sit out back, ‘kay?” Kara says softly, a simple indication that she noticed Lena’s rising anxiety.  

The back patio is quiet and completely empty. Huge wooden planters house established wisteria plants. Their gnarled, bare tendrils weave through the latticework of the fence, reaching upward to snag hold of the simple pergola. The interwoven vines provide substantial cover and privacy, even devoid of their heavy blossoms.

Lena can’t help but think how this place looks like something out of a hipster Jane Austen novel.

Kara settles at a small table in the corner and dutifully places their order number placard in plain sight. Lena can feel Kara’s gaze as she sheds her coat and takes a seat across from her. She smiles as Kara adjusts her glasses, then worries that she has been looking at her too long - so she shifts her focus to her own hands, finger tracing the shape of her thumbnail.

“Are you okay?” Kara’s smile wavers a little, concern evident in her tone.

“Yes,” Lena responds quickly. Too quickly, maybe. “Why do you ask?”

“You just seem… I don’t know. A little quiet?” Kara tips her head to the side, seeking eye contact.  “Distracted?”

Lena starts to speak, or at least she thinks she does. Words are forming in her brain. They should be coming out, tumbling from her lips in a stream of articulate sentences. She should be speaking, claiming everything is fine and that she’s simply over-tired and appreciative of this distraction. But instead she is frozen, staring into blue eyes so full of compassion.

God. Why does it hurt to look at you?

“Excuse me?”

“What?” Lena responds, confused.

Kara adjust her glasses with both hands, her cheeks growing red. “You just said it hurts to look at me? Did I – did I do something wrong?”

“Shit,” Lena hisses under her breath. Her face instantly flushes with heat. That was very much supposed to be an inside thought.

“Lena?”

“I am so sorry.” She covers her face, fingertips press hard against her temples. Embarrassment forces her stomach to flip flop in the most acrobatic of ways. She feels sick. “I’ve just had a lot on my mind lately and I – I’m not good at this. Any of this.” She gestures at herself, at the sun dappled patio, at Kara Danvers who is sitting so close to her but she might as well be a million light years away.

The door opens and one of the cafe staff brings out their order. Lena feels sorry for the guy. His jovial smile fades the moment he makes eye contact with the two red-faced women. Plates are placed quickly. Niceties are exchanged. There might as well be a cartoon cloud of dust his exact shape and size lingering in the air given how quickly he vacates the patio.

Lena pokes at her sandwich, shockingly no longer hungry.

Kara fidgets with the hem of her blazer. She bites her lower lip and keeps her eyes glued to series of cracks in the concrete. “Why – why is it painful to look at me?”

The street noise fuzzes out. Sounds of traffic become distant echoes. This was not how she intended this afternoon to go. In retrospect, she’s glad she asked Jess to cancel her meetings as the likelihood of her heading back to work after this personal disaster are slim to nil. “Kara, I care about you –”

Kara reaches out across the table, her hand rests atop Lena’s arm. The weight is calming; the warmth reassuring. “I care about you, too. You’re my friend.”

Things start to fracture. She can hear it more than feel it. Pops and cracks, like a sheet of ice breaking as it starts to melt.

Lena swallows the lump in her throat. “Do you want me to be honest?”

Kara nods as she responds, her grip tightening on Lena’s forearm. “Always.”

Why is this all so exhausting? She’d practiced at this. After all these years, she should know the drill. She should be better at this. Better at hiding. Better at selling a false truth.

But she can’t lie to Kara.

“I think about you. Often. More than I should.” The words stick in her throat, but they do come. “I – I don’t want to ruin anything. It’s not like I have an abundance of people in my life I can trust.”

Kara nods, blush still evident on her cheeks.

“You’ve come to mean so much to me and I have this terrible habit of – a habit of attracting natural disasters.” Her chuckle is short, stiff, self-effacing. Lena Luthor recognizes she is the natural disaster. She is a storm. A hurricane making landfall and laying waste to seaside towns. Entire swaths of civilization laid bare in the wake of her reckless heart. “Yes. I’m extremely attracted to you, Kara. I – I always have been, but I – I cannot lose you. I cannot lose this.” She gestures at the space between them. “Your friendship, your kindness means the world to me. And I know that without it I most certainly would have drowned. I keep trying to not feel what I feel and it just comes up. I can be in a meeting, on a conference call with investors, or just at home, completely alone, and I can’t help but think about you and how empty my life would be without you in it.”

She feels like she’s talking too much. Talking too much and somehow not saying the right things. Or maybe it’s just that Kara is so quiet.

“Please. Say something.”

She prepares herself, in as much as she can, for Kara to react badly. To be disgusted. Or to be put off. The awkward fumbling for words and polite excuses she has become so used to over the years.

Nothing could have prepared her for what happens instead.

No words.

Simple actions.

Kara’s hand leaves Lena’s forearm only to cup her cheek. The contact is electric, warm, unexpected, but God, is it welcome.

I want to know how your bare skin would feel against mine.

Lena looks into blue eyes that radiate strength and certainty.

The kiss that follows is gentle at first, but it builds into something more stable and secure. And it’s strange, because those adjectives wouldn’t typically describe something so passionate.

The world seems to drop away. The only thing that matters is Kara Danvers is kissing her. In public. Out of her own choosing.

When Kara finally pulls away, Lena’s lips ache, missing the touch.

She doesn’t realize her hands are shaking until Kara takes them into her own, which are considerably steadier.

A part of her feels like looking at Kara will somehow make what just happened untrue. She takes a very slow, measured breath before chancing a glance at her lunch companion. Dark lipstick is smudged across Kara’s mouth, faint but distracting. Lena pulls a hand free from Kara’s grasp and gently strokes her thumb across her swollen lower lip, massaging the heaviest of the lip color into Kara’s skin.

At the contact, Kara’s eyes close. Her breath catches.

Maybe this won’t be such a terrible disaster after all.