The invitation has been sitting on Kara’s counter ever since Alex left, a bright grin permanently fixed on her face.
Kara’s happy for her, she really is, because if anyone deserves this kind of happiness it’s her sister.
But she can’t touch that invitation yet. She sees it out of the corner of her eye, taunting her for all her failures in life, a reminder her that she can’t have it all.
Mon-el wasn’t perfect by any means, and deep down Kara knows that whatever they had was doomed to fail from the start. But she wanted someone. Someone she could touch without breaking. Someone who knew what it was like to lose everything.
She wanted Mon-el to be that someone for her, even though she knew that was something he could never be. She pretended and she hoped and all of this was her fault.
He’s gone. He’s not coming back.
And she hates the part of herself that almost feels relieved about it. She hates how torn she feels, because she wanted something that he could never live up to, but he was still there. And maybe that’s why Kara feels the way she does.
She wanted to love Mon-el. But she didn’t, she couldn’t, and she knows it.
Guilt settles like a weight on her limbs, making her movements sluggish and holding her down in a way this planet's gravity never could. If she’d been honest with herself, if she’d allowed herself to see past what she wanted to see, if she'd done things differently, if, if, if.
What if’s won’t stop flitting through her mind. Kara doesn’t know how to stop them.
The tears well up in her eyes before she can stop them, and she calls the one other person she can think of who’s probably feeling just as horrible as she is.
Lena picks up on the second ring.
“Kara? Is everything okay?” She sounds like she’s been either crying or sleeping, maybe a bit of both, and Kara can hear the rustle of sheets and her steady intake of breath through the line. It’s calming. It keeps her tethered to the moment.
She closes her eyes and takes a deep breath of her own.
“Can you come over? I just... I need-” her voice cracks, breaking before she can get out the rest of the sentence.
“ I'm on my way.”
Lena gets there in record time, Kara’s actually very impressed. She thinks she must have driven here herself, listens intently for her heartbeat outside the building. It’s a habit, to focus on those she’s closest with. Lena became a part of that grouping of people a long time ago.
The knocking on her door pulls her out of her head, and she rushes forward to get it.
Even late at night, rushing across the city on incredibly short notice, Lena still somehow manages to look amazing.
She walks into the apartment slowly, cautiously, like if she moves any faster Kara might try to make a break for it.
They don’t say anything for a moment, the silence stifling through the apartment. The Lena is surging forward and throwing her arms around Kara’s neck, burying her face in her shoulder and taking a deep, shuddering breath.
“I’m here.” Kara’s swallows down the lump that forms in her throat at the assurance, wrapping her arms tightly around her best friend.
They stand like that for a long time. Long enough that Kara is able to tune out the ever present noise of the city and focus on Lena. She lets all her senses tune in on this moment, blocking everything else out.
The softness of her shirt underneath her finger tips. The warmth of her breath as is washes over her neck and shoulder. The calming thud of her heart in her chest. The smell of her perfume.
It’s enough to take her mind off of the weight of everything for a moment, a brief reprieve from the nightmares that haunt her, of her reality.
“I’m so glad you came,” She whispers, not wanting to break the moment, but knowing that Lena will want to talk. Will want to make sure that she’s okay.
Slowly, Lena disentangles herself from their embrace, sighing softly.
“Me too.” Kara shifts for a moment, not wanting to talk yet, to talk at all really, and she thinks Lena must sense that because she doesn’t pry. She just stands their patiently, waiting for Kara to speak first.
“Did you want tea?” Kara asks, because she needs to do something with her hands, needs something to calm her down. Lena nods, and Kara sifts through her cupboards for mugs, setting the kettle on the stove and waiting for the water to boil.
She hears a sharp intake of breathe behind her and turns to find Lena staring at the wedding invitation. Kara’s heart drops in her chest.
“It’s from, um, Alex and Maggie. They just wanted to do something small, you know?” It’s something to say, something to take her mind off of the way Lena is staring at her with sympathy burning in her gaze. She fiddles with her glasses and looks away.
“Alex came by and dropped it off earlier, but I—I can’t-” She shakes her head, grateful for the loud whistling of the kettle to distract her. She fills their mugs with shaking hands, trying to keep it together when she feels Lena’s own hand settle over hers warmly.
“I’m really happy for them, I am.” Kara tries, but Lena just shakes her head.
“It’s alright, Kara. I know it hasn’t been that long since... since.” They both know she doesn’t need to finish that sentence. Kara knows. How could she not?
It’s too soon, too raw. Lena understands. It’s a relief not having to explain herself.
“Did you want me to be here while you open it?” The question is hesitant, and Kara blinks at her in surprise. That wasn’t what she had in mind when she’d asked Lena over, but now that she’s offered Kara can’t help but feel immensely grateful.
They settle down on her couch, tea on the table in front of them and the television switched on, mindless white noise in the background.
The envelope feels oddly heavy in her hands in a way Kara isn’t used to. It’s not a physical weight, but it’s something that settles on top of her chest and threatens to suffocate her. Lena’s hand smooths over hers, and she gently takes the envelope from Kara’s shaking fingers.
She cranes her neck, meeting Kara’s eye, seeking permission. She nods in understanding, unable to form the words to say how glad she is that Lena is here for this, that she’s doing this, how much she helps.
Lena gently lifts open the thick paper of the envelope and pries out the invitation, reading out details that Kara only really half hears. The date is far away, but Kara already knew that, Alex had said as much herself.
Lena pauses her reading, eyes flickering between the invitation and Kara cautiously.
She clears her throat softly, “You also have the option of bringing a plus one, Kara.” She's sure that’s not what the invitation says word for word, but she understands Lena’s hesitation now.
Carefully taking the paper from Lena’s hands, she reads it over herself once, feeling Lena’s concerned gaze on her the whole time.
Kara closes her eyes tightly and takes a steadying breath. With Lena here beside her it doesn’t feel too difficult, too overwhelming, the awful amalgamation of guilt, grief and loss. Loss of another piece of her history, grief for another person she couldn’t save, something she couldn’t fix or make right now matter how hard she tried.
Guilt because she should have known better. Because it still stings, feels like its her fault. Alex had told her it wasn’t, had held her and whispered assurances until Kara couldn’t cry anymore.
And then Kara had done the same for Lena, not days later, the first time they’d interacted since the invasion. She’s so tired of crying. So tired of feeling exhausted.
Tossing the invitation on the table, she puts her head in her hands.
“It’s my fault.” The words slip out before she can stop them, and it feels like a relief to say it out loud, to someone who knows what it’s like to carry blame. Even undeservedly.
She feels rather than sees Lena stand up. Kara’s heart thuds in her chest because she doesn’t know where this is going, if she’s maybe had enough, if she too realizes that Kara’s to blame and can’t stomach being near her any more.
Soft fingers brush under her chin and tilt it up until she’s staring into Lena’s gentle gaze, transfixed.
“Nothing you could have done would have stopped this from happening, Kara. Nothing.” It’s confident, strong, leaves no room for argument with the way the words fall from Lena’s lips. Like there’s no way she could be wrong.
Kara shakes her head anyways, but she’s stopped by Lena’s gentle grip on her chin. She leans down and presses a light kiss to Kara’s forehead.
Eyelids fluttering shut at the feeling, Kara’s eyes sting with unshed tears.
“He stayed because of me. He chose me over his family, if I’d just-”
“If you’d what, ordered him to go?” Kara snaps her mouth shut in surprise at the interruption, at the fire she can see burning in Lena’s eyes. “He was an adult who was capable of making he’s own decisions, Kara. He chose to stay. He chose to lie. And he chose to alienate and antagonize his family. None of that is on you.”
Kara is ready to protest, because it’s not that simple and she should have known, should have done something to stop this from happening.
“I was selfish.” She whispers, and at that Lena bends down to kneel in front of her, holding her gaze the entire time. She takes Kara’s hands in hers, squeezing them reassuringly.
“You’re allowed to be selfish sometimes, Kara.”
“I’m not so sure anymore.” Because every time Kara thinks she can be selfish, something always goes wrong. Somebody gets hurt and she can't deal with it any more. She doesn't even know how to face the unwavering faith in Lena's eyes. She looks away instead.
It stays silent in the apartment for a long moment, the only sounds being their breathing. If she listens closely, Lena's heartbeat is still steady, calm, always reassuring.
Lena sighs. Suddenly she's standing again, grabbing the remote and turning up the volume on the TV slightly before holding a hand out for Kara to take.
After a moment of hesitation she does, letting Lena lead her to her bedroom, letting her pull her down until they’ve settled down on top of the covers.
She holds her arms opens, gesturing with her fingers. “Come here,” she says quietly, and Kara doesn’t hesitate this time. Falling into Lena’s embrace desperately, she presses her face into the crook of her neck and breathes in deeply, the scent of her perfume calming and intoxicating all at once.
They take a minute to settle, bodies sliding together with practised ease that makes Kara feel at ease instantly.
Lena's hands settle on the back of her head, pressing her close.
“I’ve blamed myself for this too, Kara,” She starts, and Kara quickly jumps tot the defensive because that’s not fair, because Lena didn’t know and Rhea was a liar.
“It’s not your fault,” she says fiercely, tightening her grip around Lena’s waist. There's a the slight hitch in Lena’s breathing at her response, Kara can feel it. Her heart thuds painfully in her chest, because it always makes Kara incredibly sad to realize that Lena doesn’t know just how good she is.
“Thank you,” she says shakily, “but this isn’t about me. You are amazing Kara, and you’re so good, and if there was another way to get rid of the Daxamites then you would have found it.”
“I don’t know if that’s true,” it’s barely there, a breath, but she knows that Lena hears it by the way her body tenses up.
“When the invasion was happening, all I could think about was stopping it. About stopping more people from losing their homes, their loved ones, their lives.” Lena’s fingers card gently through her hair, soothing her as she tries to get it all out of her system, make sense of what she’s feeling.
“The cost didn’t matter. He-I didn’t even give it a second thought when you told me the solution. It barely even registered.”
Lena’s fingers slow their ministrations, and she pulls back a bit to look Kara in the eye. She’s confused, and Kara thinks she gets why.
“My first though when I thought about Mon-el leaving wasn’t that I would be heartbroken, that I would miss him. It was that I would be alone again. I didn't want to be alone again.” It’s like pulling teeth, getting that confession out of her body, and she’s not really sure that letting out it makes her feel any better. But it’s Lena, and Lena doesn’t judge.
She asks for clarification with clear, brilliant eyes, listens thoughtfully until she has all of the pieces and then says her piece. No judgement, just whatever she thinks will help, whatever will solve the problem.
It’s one of the things Kara loves about her. She just gets it.
An understanding dawns in Lena’s expression. Kara’s stomach twists with anxiety at the sight, afraid of what that understanding might mean. But Lena just gives her a soft, timid smile and pulls her closer.
“You’re a good person, Kara.” She goes rigid with surprise at the words, the tears that have been threatening to fall all night finally bursting free. Because of course Lena would see right through her, see exactly what she was afraid of and try to reassure her. “I’m here,” She whispers, echoing her words from earlier. “I’m not going anywhere.” A sob escapes Kara’s chest at the familiar words, words Kara herself had said to Lena after she lost Jack.
“I love you,” Kara murmurs quietly into Lena’s shoulder. It’s not the first time they’ve said the words to each other, Kara made sure of that, but Lena still gasps anyways. Like she can't believe that Kara's saying the words, which is ridiculous. Because if there's one thing that Kara is sure of right now, it's how much she loves the girl beside her.
“I love you too,” She says back just as quietly, a hushed confession, reverence in her voice. It washes over her like a soothing balm, calming her down instantly. She thinks back to earlier in the night. To when Lena had dropped whatever she’d been doing and rushed over here, to the gentle way she’d taken the burden of opening the invitation from Kara’s shoulders without even batting an eye, without needing to ask.
A hope sparks in her chest, the first she’s allowed herself to feel since she watched a fleet of ships enter the city, wreaking havoc and destruction and the words your fault, your fault echoed loudly through her thoughts.
“Will you be my plus one?” Lena startles, arms shifting around Kara’s body and fidgeting uncertainly.
“We don’t need to talk about this now, Kara.” Lena says, though the waver in her voice makes Kara think that there’s more to it than that. She drags herself further up the bed until she’s at eye level with her, their bodies pressed flush together.
“I want to.” She’s certain. Lena has been through hell these past few months, but she’s always present. Always there when Kara needs her, no questions asked, just a shoulder to lean on.
There’s so much more to talk about. So much more that needs to be done, the city in a complete disarray. Kara still has so much to do.
But here in the dim light of her apartment, in Lena’s arms, she feels lighter.
This is something she needs.
“If you don’t want to, that’s okay. I understand. But I’d like it to be you.”
She won’t meet Kara’s eye when she responds, swallowing harshly. “I’m not sure I’d be welcome. After... after everything.”
Kara shakes her head, pressing further into Lena’s space and trying to meet her gaze, trying to get her to understand.
“I want you there, Lena. No one will have a problem with it,” Lena still looks unsure, so she continues. “It’s still a long ways away. You have some time to think about it, I won’t push you now. Just think about it, please.” Kara asks softly, trailing her fingers up and down Lena’s back.
Relief flashes across Lena’s face and Kara knows she’s made the right choice in backing off for now.
They stay like that for the rest of the night, occasionally saying things that are ultimately meaningless, sweet nothings to make themselves feel better in the state of things. It’s a reprieve, something she knows they both need, and it isn’t long before her eyes drift shut.
She falls asleep soundly in Lena’s arms, listing the reassuring beat of her heart, breaths puffing softly against Kara’s crown.
It’s a long year. A long year that involves more cleanup than Kara knew was possible, and Supergirl is there for all of it. She’s there at the memorial for those who passed, at the presidents speech regarding the events of the invasion.
She’s there to help rebuild, offering help to those who need it whenever they ask.
It’s the busiest she’s ever been as Supergirl. The demands of the city are endless, and there’s more damage than Kara even realized.
She's putting out fires, helping to keep unstable building together, making sure to take the most dangerous jobs available so that no one gets hurt unnecessarily.
It's slow but sure progress forward, and the city moves on past it. It's all anyone can do. Kara knows that even through this, they will walk through to the other side, just like Cat had said.
It doesn't make her nights any easier though. She's plagued by dreams, dreams of the city in ruins, her friends and family no where to be seen. But when she wakes up, Lena is there.
Lena is there when she comes back from a night of working, exhausted and filthy and beaten down. Lena is there to brush away the remnants of the nightmares that cling to her when she can't tell what's real and what isn't when she cries for the lost.
She's stayed over every night since the wedding invitation incident.
Kara thought at first that it was for her sake, the sleepovers. It took several weeks into it to realize that Lena needed it just as much as she did. That Lena was also having nightmares, was also desperate for any reassurance and comfort that Kara could give, that she was wanted to offer the same in return.
She shows up on her doorstep inconsolable on the worst days, and tired beyond belief on the good ones. It's a pattern that Kara can often predict, and she makes sure to be there for the worst of it.
Lena helps the city too, in her own way, in the ways that Supergirl can't. She’s constantly out late, inventing new, more efficient ways to solve the problems that plague them, developing new systems and techniques whenever possible. She donates as much as she can to local projects and charities, to rebuilding what was lost.
Neither of them have much time for a personal life, for things besides simply spending the night together sleeping.
They've come to an understanding, both knowing what it means to have responsibilities, what it means to bear the weight of the world on your shoulders. When they do get those rare nights of reprieve, when they’re allowed to just be, they often spend them together.
Sometimes Kara thinks that there may be more there. More in the way that Lena looks at her, in their lingering touches, in the way Lena presses against her in bed. In the way she hugs Kara like she never wants to let go.
But all Kara can think about is sending the last person she was involved with off planet, of how badly it ended for everyone involved. She thinks about how it can't be more, because that would mean that Lena could get seriously hurt.
She can't stop thinking about how it all went wrong.
Lena is her best friend, one of the most important people in her life, and if she ever lost her Kara's not sure what she would do.
Those thoughts don't go away. But with time, like always, they begin to fade until they're less prominent.
It takes six months before Kara starts to feel normal again, or least, a new normal. A new standard that she sets for herself. She’s not sure she could ever be the same after last year, but she’s learning to live with it.
Her friends help. Her family helps. Alex’s presence is a constant in her life, as is Lena. Maggie's sense of humour helps. Winn's upbeat attitude. Jame's courage and optimism. J'onn's gentle concerns. Everyone helps, they all pitch in and make sure that everyone is still standing at the end of the day; they keep each other from crumbling apart.
Game nights are the most they can do to stay upbeat, nights with the entire group together again. She begs Lena to join early on and manages to convince her with relative ease, and it's not long before she's integrated seamlessly into their unit.
By the time the wedding rolls around, close to a year and a half after everything went wrong, she feels good.
She feels good because the sun is shining under the main tents, warming her skin as she watches Alex and Maggie stare at each other with stars in their eyes and grins on their faces.
She feels good because it’s happy. She feels happy.
An arm loops smoothly through hers, and Kara turns to find Lena watching her with soft eyes and a sweet smile, which she returns. Lena glances back at Maggie and Alex, staring at them fondly.
“They look good together,” she muses, and Kara can’t do anything but agree, “Happy.” She finishes quietly, grip around Kara’s elbow tightening.
Kara nods. “They deserve it, especially after this year.”
“I think we all needed a day like this to be reminded of it’s like to feel good. A day to be happy.”
It’s true, something that Kara feels deep in her bones. The day has been a breath of fresh air in all of their lives. She can’t even remember the last time she smiled this much.
The first dance is a riot, because neither Maggie nor Alex have any idea what they’re doing, but they look at each other with so much love it makes Kara ache. She’s so happy for her sister, to see her get to have this love in her life, that she gets to keep it. It’s all she’s ever wanted for Alex, to live a full and happy life.
Then they’re all on the dance floor, and Kara steals Alex away swiftly when she gets the chance, giggling and laughing as they both stumble over there feet and do ridiculous twirls. Kara can see Winn and Lena doing a makeshift waltz out of the corner of her eye and she stifles a laugh.
Alex follows her gaze and looks at Kara with a knowing expression.
“What?” Kara asks, defensive without meaning to be. Alex smirks.
“You’re not going to ask Lena to dance?” Normally that question wouldn't phase her, because of course she was going to, but something in her expression tells Kara that Alex means something else entirely.
“What-I mean, of course, she- I -we’re friends, and she’s- Alex.” Kara finishes with a whine, begging her sister to stop looking at her with such a smug expression.
“I’m just saying Kara, you and Lena have been awfully close lately,”
“This is your wedding, we should be talking about you!” Kara exclaims, high pitched and panicky. Alex rolls her eyes.
“Yes and this is me, the bride and your sister, telling you, to get your shit together. Go get the girl.”
Kara jaw drops as Alex twirls away and falls conveniently into Maggie’s arms, who also glances at Kara with a knowing look.
She realizes then that this is going to be the rest of her life, the two of them looking at her with matching expressions, teaming up on her like this. It's a good thought.
She turns back to Lena, barely registers the slow song as it starts playing. Kara wills her feet to move in her direction, walking on slightly unsteady legs until she’s standing in front of Lena.
Her friend looks at her expectantly, raising an eyebrow as she and Winn halt their movements. She ignores the grin that stretches across Winn’s face as he excuses himself quickly, not thinking about it's implications. She can only focus on the pounding of her own heart and she opens her mouth and tries to fumble words together.
It takes a couple of tries, but eventually she stutters it out. She reaches out her hand.
“Would you like to dance?” Lena’s answering smile is brilliant. It stretches across her face brightly, her eyes sparkling in a way that eaves Kara breathless.
“Why Ms. Danvers, I thought you’d never ask.”
Lena’s hand slips into hers with ease, fingers sliding together in a way that makes Kara’s stomach do back flips.
Leading her carefully into the middle of the dance floor, Kara places her hands lightly on Lena’s hips and pulls her in close. Lena’s arms wrap around her neck in response, and she shivers at the feeling.
It’s intimate, the way their bodies press together and sway to the beat of the music. In the way the Lena’s forehead rests against her neck, her lips brushing lightly against the skin there.
“I’m really glad you came,” Kara whispers, nudging Lena’s head with her cheek and laughing lightly when she feels Lena smile against her.
“I’m glad I did, too,” She says softly. Kara feels warm all the way down to her toes when Lena presses a light kiss to her cheek and tightens her hold, revelling in how good this feels, how right.
They've spent so much time together since everything happened, spent almost all of their nights together, but things like this still leave Kara aching for more.
Lena fits into her life in a way she didn't expect, in a way she didn't think could ever be hers. It's everything. It's terrifying.
Alex has given her several nudges on several different occasions, trying to get Kara to confess how she feels, but it was never the right time.
On a day like today, where their usual burdens aren't weighing them down, something feels different. She feels ready.
Breathing quickly, Kara tries to slow down her heart rate.
Soft hands smooth down Kara's back in response to her distress, making it easier to focus.
Lena hums softly in reply, nuzzling Kara's neck a pushing their bodies closer together.
“I love you.” The words are heavier this time, their meaning different from every other time she's said them. She wants to convey it properly, wants Lena to know what all of this means to her. Maybe she wasn't ready to realize just how badly she wants this until now.
Because Kara's still terrified. She's terrified because she wants Lena so much, and if something went wrong she's not sure if she could live through it again. She's not sure how many times she can break apart and put herself back together before there are too many pieces missing, before even the girl of steel breaks for good.
You can't live in fear.
That's something that Lena had said to her once. Something she wants to live by.
“I love you too, Kara,” Lena says gently.
“No I mean, I-” She pulls back slightly, even though her whole body objects to moving away from Lena. Kara needs her to see it, she needs Lena to know that this is something that she wants, that this is something real.
“I'm in love with you.” There are a million better ways she could say it. Probably a million better places, and a million better times. But Kara doesn't care, because she's put this off for long enough and she's done waiting.
Lena's draw jobs open slightly, and Kara can't tell if that's a good or a bad sign.
“You are?” Lena asks unsteadily, eyes glistening in a way that has Kara's own welling up with tears. She laughs wetly, pressing her forehead against Lena's and brushing their noses together.
The resulting smile that Lena gives her is definitely Kara's favourite. It's the most genuine smile she's ever seen from her, and it hits Kara square in the chest.
“I'm in love with you too.” They stare at each other for a long moment, grinning like idiots without a care in the world. Kara wouldn't have it any other way.
She doesn't think any feeling can top this, that is until she feels Lena's lips pressing fervently against her own.
It's a definite tie between the two.
Kara's heart races as she kisses her back, fingers tangling in her hair. She wants to memorize this feeling, hold onto this moment for as long as she can.
It doesn't matter what comes next, the danger involved, Kara's own fears. She can tell by the way Lena moves against her, like Kara's the only thing keeping her upright, like she never wants to let go, that Lena will be here through it all.
In the end, that's all Kara can ask for.
And if Alex just so happens to nearly choke up a lung when she catches them making out in a secluded corner later in the evening, still wrapped up in each other, well that's just an added bonus.
They dance like that for the rest of the night, teary eyed, laughing at their own ridiculousness, twirling themselves dizzy, clumsy and in love.