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In This World, And The Next

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“Darling, will you tell me more about Krypton?”

 

Her husky voice laces around Kara’s ears and breaks the comfortable, lazy silence as the two gaze up at the sparkling stars through the skylight in Lena’s penthouse. Kara is sprawled across the couch, her head in Lena’s lap, breathing contentedly as Lena’s fingers run softly through her blonde locks, tracing patterns along her scalp in that adoring way of hers, with no intention or rush. It makes Kara’s entire body feel soothed and relaxed, the best medicine to cure a long week. It’s nights like these -- rare, quiet, tucked away nights-- where National City’s pair can be hidden from danger and distraction and just be them. Not Supergirl and the youngest Luthor. Not Kara Danvers, CatCo Reporter and Lena Luthor, L-Corp CEO. Just Kara and Lena. It’s nights like these that Kara feels closest to being whole again. Krypton may be gone, and her memories foggy and distant, but laying in Lena’s loving arms and gazing into space somehow holds a promise of a new and better future. Kara feels the vibration through her entire body as Lena’s voice cascades through her thoughts, wrapping her in a familiar embrace, one that always makes her feel particularly out of this world. Lena’s green eyes glance hopefully down at her, and Kara returns her stare with a beaming smile as her nose crinkles just slightly.

 

Lena has a way of staring at her in awe, a look she’s always given Kara from day one, even before she knew her identity as a superhero. It’s almost like she doesn’t believe Kara is real, and it never fails to make her Kryptonian heart flutter. Kara reaches her arms around and pulls Lena down into a gentle kiss, grinning as her black hair curtains around their faces, the rich jasmine scent filling Kara with an overflowing feeling of adoration and unconditional love.

 

If kissing Lena Luthor is what she gets in return for all she’s been through, she knows she would go through it again in a second.

 

“What would you like to know?” Kara whispers along her lips, trying to remember what else she could tell Lena that she hasn’t already divulged.

 

Lena is one of the few people in her life that understands the importance of Krypton, and allows her to ramble for hours. Though her memories are getting to be shorter and fewer, she still takes every opportunity to tell Lena about her former home. It keeps Krypton real, and it makes her bond with Lena that much more special, like she is giving her a private tour of the innermost workings of her heart, and letting Lena see a place no one else can.

 

“Tell me more about your favorite places. Tell me about the colors. Tell me anything. Tell me everything,” Lena smiles, her eyes sparkling. “I want to be able to visualize it.”

 

So she does. She talks, and tells Lena about all her favorite places. The gardens, the lagoons, the flowers, the sunsets. All the colors that don’t exist on Earth -- the neons, the ambers, the sapphire hues -- she uses terms humans are familiar with, but the colors themselves can only be imagined. She talks of Krypton’s moons, and the way the stars seem to dance. She talks of glowing flowers, and cascading waterfalls over golden cliffs. She talks of technology and inventions, of teleportation and flight. She talks of wishes and childhood dreams. She talks of family.

 

And Lena listens. She always listens.

 

Lena never interrupts, never looks bored, never waivers. She smiles, and nods, and listens. There is no “My turn”. There’s just comfort.

 

The tears come, as they inevitably do, but they aren’t tears of sadness. They’re tears of nostalgia. The tears of what used to be. The tears of what is still to come. They’re the tears that contain an entire world, and they fall with the force of a fallen planet.

 

Thankfully, Lena doesn’t wipe them away, because somehow, she knows they’re necessary. She doesn’t tell her it will be okay, because the loss of a lifetime is not. Instead, she holds Kara closer, kisses her head, and she listens.

 

Kara wants to tell her that even though Krypton was beautiful, there wasn’t a color on the planet that could do justice to Lena’s eyes. She wants to tell her that on Krypton, there were flowers given as marriage proposals, known for their delicate beauty, and those still wouldn’t be enough for someone as radiant as her. She wants to tell her that even though that life is gone, a life with Lena is better, more joyful, more than she could ever hope for. She wants to tell her that Krypton is where she is from, but Earth, and more specifically, Lena, is her home.

 

But she doesn’t. It’s too much to put on someone. She stares into those gorgeous eyes and instead she simply says, “I love you”.

 

She memorizes Lena’s heartbeat, and the way her smile lights up her face, and it’s enough.

 


 

They talk about weddings, but not in the excited way couples plan them. Kara asks her one day about Earth weddings, and Lena gets that tone. The one Kara hates. The one that has traces of old Luthor in it -- terse, and bitter -- words filled with venom. It’s the Lena that has to be in public. The one that needs to be bulletproof in order to survive a day. It isn’t Kara’s Lena that speaks.

 

“What are weddings like on Earth? I’ve never been to any.” Kara whispers one night, curled into Lena’s side, her face pressed gently into the crook of her arm. She refuses to make eye contact, it makes it too serious. Like she’s asking because she’s thinking of planning a wedding.

 

A wedding for her and Lena.

 

Truthfully, she wants that more than anything. But she doesn’t say it.

 

Lena stiffens. She stops stroking her hair.

 

“I suppose they’re big, gawdy affairs. I can’t say I’ve been to many, I’m not exactly on the top of people’s guests lists.” Lena speaks, the words sounding gruff in her throat.

 

“So you don’t want a big wedding?” Kara mumbles. She tries hard not to picture Lena in a beautiful white dress, one that hugs her body with a train that flows down behind her, and a veil on top of her raven black hair. She closes her eyes to erase the image of pouty lips pulling into a smirk when asked to say “I do”. She really really tries to not picture herself standing across from her, but any other person marrying Lena Luthor makes her soul crumble into dust.

 

She swallows the lump forming in her throat.

 

“I never thought it’d be in the cards for me,” Lena’s voice is back to being soft, but it isn’t what Kara wants to hear. She’s sad, and distant. “Anyway, it seems these days most weddings are an excuse for people to throw an over the top party and force everyone to toss money in their direction. It’s hardly about the relationship.”

 

How could she think that marriage wouldn’t be in the cards for her? Especially now. With everything. With her.

 

Kara sinks into the bed, overcome with dejection. Until she hears her speak again.

 

“What were weddings like on Krypton?” she asks, her fingers back to working nimbly through Kara’s hair, her heartbeat back to being strong and normal.

 

Kara exhales.

 

“They were small, and intimate. It was mostly just for the immediate family. I don’t remember many details, I only went to one, for my aunt,  and I was very young. But it was lovely. There were tons of flowers, lots of singing. Everyone was happy. There was a lot of food,” she smiles, thinking back, she can almost smell the spices, and see the smiles. “The best part, though, is that the couple writes a letter to each other, and they open them after the ceremony and read them. It’s the way they promise to take care of each other, sort of like vows, but they write it down to make it more permanent.”

 

Kara’s written at least 5 letters already promising to love every part of Lena Luthor for the rest of her life. They’re hidden, and they may never get opened, but they’re there. Burning a hole in her heart.

 

“That sounds perfect.” Lena whispers.

 


 

“When are you guys getting hitched?” Maggie asks casually, wrapping her arm around Kara as they’re sitting at the bar. It’s a Tuesday, and the place is fairly empty, and Kara is deep in thought.

 

She should be focused on alien threats, or Cadmus. She should be worried about the DEO. Instead, she’s pondering what life will be like without Lena. She’s afraid that Lena doesn’t love her the way Kara loves Lena. She’s preemptively heartbroken, even though nothing has happened.

 

“Me and Lena?” Kara mumbles, shrugging. “I don’t know if we’ll ever get married.”

 

Alex slides in next to her. Her eyebrows shoot up.

 

“Woah - did something happen?”

 

Kara shrugs again. Didn’t it? She isn’t sure.

They had been together long enough now for it to be time for decisions. Years go by and the only conclusion is we’re in this, or we’re not. Kara’s heart is there.

 

“Kara -- Lena adores you. She practically worships the ground you walk on. You can’t really be sitting here thinking you guys aren’t going to get married.” Alex puts her hand on Kara’s arm.

 

Kara sighs. Maybe it’s just bad timing. Maybe it will never be the right time. Maybe there are a thousand maybes as to why this is so hard.

 

“On Krypton, you were paired with your soulmate. There was-- a way of doing things. There was no doubt that it was the right match. On Earth, there is so much left to chance,” Kara tries to stop herself from saying too much. She doesn’t want to cry over this. The lump forms in her throat anyway. “What’s to stop Lena from finding something better?”

 

Alex eyes Maggie over Kara’s head, the two shake their heads in disbelief.

 

“That’s what makes it special, in a way. Here, you have a choice, but you make it because you find someone worth making that commitment to. You don’t go with formulas, or logic, or even the most compatible match. It doesn’t always work, but you go with your heart. It’s beautiful, in that sense.” Alex finishes, looking at Maggie, who nods and sips her drink, thoughtfully.

 

“But you and Lena are as close to soulmates as you can get on Earth,” Maggie interjects, “And that’s coming from a known cynic.” Alex nods. She’s familiar with Maggie’s work.

 

“Do you think she’s waiting for me to ask?” Kara wonders out loud. It doesn’t seem like Lena is waiting for anything, but perhaps she wants Kara to be the one to propose. Kara doesn’t care either way, she just wants Lena.

 

She wants to know she can have her for the rest of her life. Time seems too finite right now, and every passing day is another reminder that nothing is promised. She wants to curl up next to Lena and know .

 

Maggie shrugs.

 

“She could be, but knowing Luthor, she’s probably got tricks up her sleeve,” Kara gives her a warning glance. “I mean that in the best way possible. She loves you so much, Kara. You’d have to be blind to not see that.”

 

“I bought her a ring.” Her voice is small, and she says it barely loud enough for anyone to hear. But they do.

 

Both Maggie and Alex’s eyes light up.

 

“What? When?!” they both say in unison.

 

“Too long ago. But I have always known,” Kara glances at them, and they nod in agreement. It is true, Kara has always been adamant about Lena Luthor, even when the rest of the world still needed time. “I saw it, and it was decent, but I altered it. I wanted to make it right. She deserves something so perfect. But I wouldn’t even know how to ask. Nothing seems to fit. How will I even know when to do it?” Kara’s shoulders slump.

 

She would rather chase rogue aliens, or punch through steel right now. At least the feeling of achievement is more certain. She thought winning Lena’s heart was the hardest thing she had ever done, but suddenly, it seems keeping it will be the biggest challenge of her life.

 

Alex strokes her back.

 

“You have time to plan. Lena is going to love anything you do, I know it.” she nods confidently. Kara isn’t so sure.

 

She hears Lena’s voice denouncing weddings repeatedly in her ears. But at the same time, she can feel Lena’s soft, capable hands tracing over her face, memorizing the curve of her jaw, with the same hands that write notes with the most poetic compliments. She’s always been the most complicated contradiction. Kara’s heart feels just as torn.

 

It might be better to just ask. At least then, she’d know. A rejection might hurt less than the fear of the unknown. But she can’t wrap her mind around a life without Lena.

 

She waits.

 


 

The following evening, she kisses Lena with every ounce of passion she can gather from her soul. She kisses her with the intensity of the sun, desperate for the words she cannot say to be transferred to Lena’s lips. She’s made love to her countless times, but tonight every scratch on skin whispers “be mine” and her tongue begs for a lifetime of love. She stares at her longingly, desperately, as if one wrong movement will break the spell. Lena is willing, and compliant, melting in Kara’s arms, the sounds of her breath raspy and fast along Kara’s jaw, Lena’s lips pressed to her neck. She is whispering her name over and over, Kara, please, take me , begging and whimpering and thrashing. Kara stares into her eyes, and sees galaxies beyond anything Krypton could ever hope to be, as she pushes inside her and feels her body arch into oblivion.

 

Kara wonders how it’s possible to want someone so bad when she already has them. Lena is curled around her warm body, without the barrier of clothing, her skin hot and flushed, and Kara can’t seem to get close enough. She feels her heartbeat, the one she’s memorized, and it still seems to be from another world. Lena smiles up at her slowly, her eyelashes fluttering in such a way that Kara’s body goes limp.

 

“What’s gotten into you?” she asks playfully. “You’re always good but that might have been the best we’ve ever had.”

 

Kara’s chest fills and she almost cracks. Marry me. She wants to say it. She almost says it. Her ribs strain to keep her feelings locked inside.

 

Instead she says, “I thought I couldn’t possibly love you more than yesterday, but I do.”

 

Lena blushes. She kisses Kara deeply and she smiles.

 

“I love you doesn’t seem to do it justice, does it?” she responds, the slight smirk on her face, the one Kara falls in love with every time it appears.

 

No, it doesn’t, but she can’t find the words to say more.

 

She writes another letter after Lena falls asleep.

 


 

“I can’t commit to that. No. It’s too much.” Lena says into the phone, her back turned to her office door, staring out the window. Kara has come to surprise her, and Jess lets her in, because Jess always lets her in. But Lena is on the phone, and Kara waits. She’s been working late hours for the past few months, which is nothing unusual but she’s stressed and Kara misses her. More than that, she always worries when Lena works too hard.

 

She waits, and she listens. She doesn’t mean to, but she’s already there.

 

“That’s practically a lifetime commitment. I don’t make lifetime commitments,” Lena deadpans, her voice stern and cruel. She pauses, listening to the person on the other end. “Feelings change. I’m not doing it.” she huffs, her hands on her hips.

 

Kara’s heart shatters.

 

She knows it has to do with business, but she can’t help but hear the truth in those words. No lifetime commitments. Feelings change . She feels the ring burning a hole in her pocket. She squeezes her eyes closed and wills away the tears.

 

“Sweetheart! You scared me, I didn’t even hear you come in!” Lena’s beautiful voice rattles her thoughts, and Kara’s eyes fly open. Lena’s head is tilted thoughtfully, eyebrows furrowed in concern. “Are you okay? What’s wrong?”

 

“Nothing, I-- Nothing. I just came by to say hi.” Kara finishes lamely, her body actually feeling weak without any help from Kryptonite. This is a mistake. She shouldn’t be here. For the first time, she feels uncomfortable around Lena.

 

“Well, I’m glad you did -- I have a surprise for you,” Lena says, excitedly, and Kara is confused, because she knows Lena can tell something is wrong. She is choosing to ignore it, something she never does.

 

“Oh yeah?” Kara tries to sound excited. She wants to be excited. She can’t. Lena’s voice stings.

 

“Yes! Except it sort of has to wait until tonight. I was going to call you to tell you to meet me here after work. Can you still come?” Lena studies her intently, and Kara thinks she isn’t the only one with X-Ray vision. She swallows everything down and nods.

 

“Of course I can. I can’t wait.” Kara plasters a smile on her face, and Lena nods.

 

“Good. I’ll see you tonight,” Lena kisses her cheek. “I love you.”

 

Kara mumbles a variation of a response. It burns in her throat. All she hears in her mind is feelings change.

 


 

Kara meets her at the office, but Lena isn’t in there. Jess gives her a bouquet of beautiful plumerias, Lena’s favorite, and by extension also Kara’s, and a note in her gorgeous cursive script.

 

“I’ll see you in the stars ~ L”

 

Kara smiles, and traces the writing, her Lena had touched this paper and it feels like a sacred text. Jess tells her to take the elevator down to level C. She has never been down there before. Her knees quiver for unknown reasons, but she obeys, her mind whirling. The elevator lags, but she feels safe. She smells the flowers, and they have the same aroma she always associates with Lena -- light, fresh, and full of hope. She gets off the elevator and proceeds to walk.

 

The first thing she notices is her heartbeat. Lena’s heart is erratic. Wherever she is, she’s nervous. Kara can hear the way it dips and flutters, the way it forgets to beat, then beats far too fast. She doesn’t see her, but she knows she’s close by. She’s anxious. Kara picks up speed.

 

She sees Alex as soon as she turns the corner. Her eyebrows furrow in confusion, but Alex just shakes her head, a serious look on her face.

 

“Come with me.” she offers her hand, and Kara never hesitates to follow. She talks as she leads Kara down a long secluded hallway deep in the underbelly of the building. It would be suspicious if it wasn’t for Alex’s steady hand, and her soothing voice.

 

“Lena’s  been working on this for months,” she rambles, as she opens a door. The room is dark, and completely empty. There is a domed roof, giving the entire space a weird miniature stadium-like feel. Kara looks around, confused.

 

Is this a Supergirl thing? Has Lena created a new way for Kara to remain protected? It would explain Alex’s presence, and her mundane work-related tone. Kara tries to hide her disappointment.

 

Alex holds out something that looks like goggles, only they’re elaborate and cover most of Kara’s face.

 

“It’s virtual reality,” Alex explains, “You’ll put these on and you’ll see what she’s done. It’s a simulation of sorts, except you’ll be in full control. You can take them off at any time, but nothing is going to jump out at you, I promise.” Alex chuckles softly looking down at them sheepishly, “I probably should have led with that.”

 

Kara chuckles. She hesitates.

 

“But where’s Lena?” she asks. She can feel her, the way she always senses her. She knows she’s close, but she wonders why she isn’t there.

 

Alex shakes her head. “After you try this, she’ll be here. She asked me to tell you to trust her.”

 

Kara shrugs and puts on the goggles, because she trusts Lena. Unconditionally.

 

As soon as she puts them on, the tears begin to fall. It is impossible, and beautiful and overwhelming. It can’t be -- but it is. She’s recreated Krypton, an exact replica, down to the tiniest glimmer of light. Kara is surrounded by amber warmth, and immediately wrapped in her home. There are flowers, glowing, with the precision only someone who has been to the planet would ever know to make. There are colors dancing in front of Kara’s eyes that she swears she never thought could exist again. The stars glimmer and wink, the way she remembers them as a child. The secret garden is around the corner, and Kara holds her hands out and walks through it, reveling in the way the vines wrap gently around her hands. She sees the waterfall, and hears the sound of the splashing water, the dull roar pleasant in her ears. She marvels at the golden cliffs, and feels her lungs fill with the reminder of her favorite place. Somehow, this version is even better, because it is made with the hands of someone she adores. Her Lena.

 

She remembers her for the first time and wants to take off the mask and find her, but she’s distracted by a figure in the distance, overlooking the horizon. She shuffles slightly forward, edging closer, and realizes it’s a woman, dressed in a flowing white dress, her hair the color of the richest, darkest chocolate. Her back is to Kara, but she would know that figure anywhere. It’s Lena, or a version of Lena, and she’s practically glowing with warmth. If Krypton had angels, this is what they would be. Kara thinks she might have died, and would that really be the worst thing? She doesn’t think so.

 

Kryptonian Lena turns, her voice low and throaty and says, “Welcome home, Kara”.

 

Kara gulps and her heart swells with a feeling she thought she would only have while flying. The image of Lena glides toward her and Kara can almost feel her closing the gap as she watches her gracefully get to one knee. Her celadon eyes sparkling, she peers up, her lips parted slightly, and she holds out the proposal flower of Krypton. Kara can’t stifle the sob, as she pulls off the glasses.

 

The room has changed slightly from when she arrived. There is a small glowing light, and an astral projection of the stars on the ceiling. The real Lena is there now, kneeling in front of her, the flower in one hand and a small box in the other, presented to Kara like the most sacred offering. She’s dressed in a beautiful dark blue dress that hugs her hips, and her hair is freely flowing down her shoulders, wavy at the ends, a beautiful forest that Kara wants to get lost in. She’s so gorgeous that she makes time stop. Kara’s mouth goes dry. She forgets how to speak. She forgets how to breathe. She forgets everything except Lena’s face and those ocean eyes.

 

“Lena…..” she sobs, her entire body shaking, her heart on fire. All of the words she planned to say have been lost to this very moment.

 

“Kara Zor-El, I know I can’t give you back your home. I know my heart is a tainted consolation prize for the world you lost, and I know I am nothing in the way of super strength, or super speed. But I promise to spend every single day making a new and better home for you with every fiber of my being, and I will love you with every part of my soul until my dying breath,” her voice hitches slightly and she takes a pause. “I’ve written you so many letters, and none of them ever get the words right, so I’ll just tell you I love you, and I would be honored if you would spend the rest of your life with me.” The last part is spoken in Kryptonian. The lost language, newly found on the tongue of her soulmate.

 

Kara nods repeatedly, the “yes” coming out in whispers as Lena places the ring on her shaky finger, before she’s pulling Lena up and kissing her over and over and over again.

 

Hers. Finally, officially, undoubtedly.

 

When she pulls back, she looks at her, shaking her head, “But I thought… you hate weddings? I didn’t think you wanted to get married?” Kara is studying her face and gripping her tightly, afraid to lose this feeling.

 

Lena chuckles and shakes her head, her eyebrow cocked, “I hate tacky Earth weddings, yes. I hate pretending to be happy for people I don’t care about. But I never said I hated all weddings. I love the way the weddings sound on Krypton. I love everything about celebrating how I feel about you, with you. I would never want to miss out on that.” she smiles and kisses Kara’s forehead.

 

Kara nods, feeling the most hopeful she’s felt in months. Another question floats to the surface.

 

“But you don’t do lifetime commitments..I heard you on the phone. Feelings change….I’m sorry--” Kara rambles, running her fingers through her hair, and she knows she’s ruining the moment but Lena only laughs.

 

“I don’t do lifetime contracts when it means entering an agreement with foreign investors, despite what previous good relations we have had,” she shakes her head and sighs. “Signing a contract to mesh my life with yours, Kara? I signed that the day I met you. I’m sorry I ever gave you a reason to doubt my love for you.” she leans in close and whispers into her ear and Kara just smiles and melts into her touch.

 

“I have something for you,” Kara says, suddenly, remembering the box sitting woefully ignored in her pocket. “I didn’t know how I was ever going to ask, and clearly, nothing will ever top this but, I had this made months ago.” she fishes the box out and Lena looks genuinely stunned.

 

How could she ever doubt? It hits her, then, that Lena took the leap of faith Kara didn’t have the courage to take. She is so surprised by Kara’s ring, it shows that Lena didn’t know if Kara would say yes, either, but she recreated a world for her in the hopes that maybe.

 

Lena Luthor rearranged the stars for Kara Zor-El in the hopes that one day, her heart would be enough.

 

Kara shakes her head and promises herself to read every single letter she’s ever written to Lena just so she can finally understand. It is more than enough. It is everything.

 

“When did you…” Lena starts, but she stops when she sees the House of El engraving, intertwined with the L for Luthor. A tear escapes her eye as Kara puts it on.

 

“I’ve had it since before you knew I was Supergirl,” Kara confesses. She believed in Lena beyond her goodness. She knew she would tell Lena her identity, and more, one day.

 

Her heart always knew it would be Lena.

 

Lena stares at her, speechless, her mouth agape as she processes Kara’s words.

 

“A Luthor and a Super,” she says when she finally finds her voice, “Who would have believed it?” and she pulls Kara into her arms once again.