“Honestly, the worst thing you can do is stare.” Lena snapped, turning her head away from the superhero shifting uncomfortably in the doorway.
“Lena.” Kara breathed, her voice cracking in that way Lena loathed.
It was a crack of sympathy, of heartbreak, of… of… pity .
Lena was so fucking tired of being pitied.
“Don’t.” Lena ordered coldly, despising how weak the command sounded when issued from a hospital bed. “I don’t… I don’t want to hear fucking platitudes. I don’t want to hear that everything will get better. I don’t want to hear that it could have been worse. I don’t… I don’t…”
She wanted to keep going but the words caught in her throat as she lost the embittered war to the choked sobs she had been fighting so desperately to hold back.
Kara was by her side faster than humanly possible, sitting on the edge of the bed and pulling the raven-haired woman gently into her arms, holding her close and pressing tender kisses to the top of her head.
“I know it's pathetic and ungrateful…” Lena hiccuped, clutching at Kara like she was the only safe harbour in sight after a month-long storm.
“No, Lena… no…” Kara refuted, shaking her head firmly as she stroked Lena’s back trying to soothe her like her mother did when she was a child still afraid of monsters under the bed. “It’s not, you’re not, I promise.”
“I know I should just be grateful-”
“You get to feel however you want. No one gets to tell you otherwise, okay?” Kara insisted.
“I just…” Lena sobbed, as she buried her face into Kara’s shoulder, never wanting to see the light of day ever again.
“Take your time, zhao.” Kara murmured, “Take your time.”
It was as if Lena had been waiting for permission, because as soon as she was given it, her sobs increased in fervour.
She cried and cried and cried until she had nothing left to give.
At some point Kara had carefully arranged them both so they were lying down on the hospital bed; Kara on her back with Lena held close to her chest whilst she combed Lena’s hair with her fingers, intermittently scratching her scalp to steadily ease away the coiled tension within the raven-haired woman.
Once Lena was drained of tears, she was merely left feeling numb and disconnected. She slowly shifted out of Kara’s embrace and into the empty space at her side, quickly burying the right side of her face into the pillow. Kara let her go without a fight, not wanting Lena to feel restrained or stifled, though it was clear from the downturn to the corner of her mouth that she was displeased with the sudden lack of physical contact between them.
Silence settled over them as Lena took a sweet minute to admire Kara’s features, golden and sublime.
“I would understand, you know…” Lena muttered, painfully neutral.
Kara tilted her head to the side, the little crinkle between her eyebrows appearing that Lena normally could never resist reaching out to lightly touch, “Understand, what?”
“If…” Lena cleared her throat and hardened her heart, “if this changed things for you.”
Kara’s entire face went blank, void of everything except for the clench of her jaw, “I don’t understand… at least I really hope I don’t understand.”
Lena took a deep breath, ready to break her own heart, “I know you’re not with me purely for my looks, I know that-”
“Do you?” Kara exclaimed with a deep frown that looked so out of place occupying the place where a beaming grin should’ve been, “Because it doesn’t sound like you do for you to even be suggesting that I-”
“Let’s be real here, Kara… we both know how out of my league you are.” Lena declared sharply.
“You can’t be serious.” Kara said disbelievingly with a distraught shake of her head, “Lena, you can’t genuinely think that I would abandon you because of this?”
“No, you’re too noble.” Lena agreed, “I know that. That’s why I’m giving you an out. I won’t tell anyone,” Lena promised, “just go. We both know you want to.”
“No!” Kara yelled so vehemently that Lena jolted back in surprise, pulling the right side of her face away from the pillow. “I’m exactly where I want to be.” Kara’s right hand grabbed Lena’s hip ensuring they were connected, bound together beyond the glittering engagement rings on either of their fingers, “Where I always want to be. By your side.”
“For now…” Lena amended.
“Forever, Lena.” Kara corrected, her blue eyes watery with pain as she reached out with trembling fingers to the right hand-side of Lena’s face marred by a deep burn covered in see-through bandages, which extended from her jaw to her forehead. “This doesn’t change anything.” Kara whispered earnestly, as her fingertips caressed Lena’s scarred cheek.
“It changes everything!” Lena seethed, jerking away from Kara’s achingly soft touch, as her eyes burned with tears of self-loathing. “I have survived this long because of two things: my wealth and my looks. We both know it's true. The money bought me protection and my good looks bought me the benefit of the doubt. Because… I’m too pretty to be a monster, right?” Lena snarled, “Well, not anymore!”
“Why?” Lena scoffed, “It’s true, we both know it. I wonder which publications will use the word ‘grotesque’ and which will use ‘horrifying’.” Lena chuckled dark and cruelly as she suggested flippantly, “Maybe we should start a betting pool.”
“Lena, no one is going to say that.” Kara defended, “You’re a hero, you saved so many lives-”
“Of course they’re going to say it.” Lena rejected, “Maybe not today, maybe not tomorrow. But they’ll say it. Everyone will. The kind ones will look away, the cruel will jeer and the malicious will take photos for profit whilst children will cry at the sight of a Luthor that finally looks just like the monster they always wanted me to be.”
“No, they won’t-”
“Yes, they will!”
“You don’t even look at me the same!” Lena bellowed, her eyes going wide with regret the second she registered how her Kara looked like Lena had physically hit her with those words.
“Okay,” Kara exhaled slowly to keep her voice from shaking, “I think it’s my turn now.”
“Just leave already.” Lena shook her head in defeat and made to roll away from the blonde but was stopped by the gentle hand placed on her hip.
“No.” Kara refused, her tone hard as she struggled to keep herself in control, “You’ve had your chance to talk, now it's my turn. We are in a relationship and when I asked you to marry me, we made promises to each other.” Piercing blue eyes stared deep into green ones. “What were they?”
“Kara…” Lena groaned, rolling her eyes.
Kara didn’t budge, repeating her question belligerently, “What were they?”
Lena’s eyes dropped away, breathing deeply as she accepted that Kara was like a dog with a bone, she wouldn’t stop asking the question until she got the answer she wanted.
“No lies. No secrets. We always listen.” Lena murmured weakly, closing her eyes as she was flooded with the images of them both on their knees with rings in their hands and a commitment to give each other everything they needed for a happy ending.
“And?” Kara pushed, utterly unrelenting.
Lena pursed her lips, “The others aren’t really relevant right now…”
“I don’t care.” Kara demurred, repeating, “And?”
Lena’s lips twitched upwards for the first time since she looked in a mirror that day, “The last potsticker is always yours…”
“And?” Kara prodded.
“You’ll always kiss me first thing in the morning and last thing at night.” Lena whispered, the tears finally falling as she remembered making the request on the happiest day of her life.
“And?” Kara encouraged as she wiped the tears away with the light swipe of her thumb.
“I have to eat three full meals a day.” Lena laughed, thinking of all the times Kara had brought her lunch or dragged her away from work before six to ensure Lena never broke that promise.
“And?” Kara brightened considerably at the genuine sound of joy from the raven haired women.
Lena’s expression turned tender, “We always say ‘I love you’ whenever we have to leave each other.”
“Yeah.” Kara bent forward to place a kiss on Lena’s forehead in reward for perfect recitation, “Now it’s your turn to listen, okay?”
“Okay.” Lena merely nodded in acceptance as Kara shifted her hand from Lena’s hip to interlace their fingers.
“First,” Kara started, her voice firm and clear, “your wealth and good looks is not why you survived or what earned you the benefit of the doubt. It was your intellect and your kind heart, it was those two things working in tandem that made it possible for you to beat Lex time and time again.”
Lena's eyes flickered away, unconvinced. That was fine, though, because Kara was warming to the subject as she always did when it came to extolling her future wife’s achievements.
“That very first time, when you wore a wire to get evidence against him, what purpose did your wealth and looks serve?” Kara questioned, not requiring an answer before continuing, “It was your continued will to do good and be good that made it impossible for people not to trust you. It had absolutely nothing to do with your appearance and I find the assertion that it did, a very poor attempt to undermine all the tireless good work you have carried out over the years. And as an aside,” Kara paused, raising a challenging eyebrow at the raven haired woman, “you and I both know you could beat Lex without your fortune and both of your hands tied behind your back any day of the week.”
Lena merely shrugged but there was a more significant uptick to the corner of her lips now.
“Secondly, not a single newspaper, media outlet or blog would even consider writing a single disparaging comment about you or your scar after today. If they did, I’m pretty sure every single citizen in National City would hit the streets to protest and run them out of business before the end of the day. Thirdly,” Kara squeezed their joined hands as she lifted her chin defiantly, drawing on her Supergirl attitude as she asserted, “anyone - and I mean anyone - that makes you feel uncomfortable will have to answer to me.”
Lena looked up quickly at that, green eyes wide with shock, “Kara, you can’t-”
“I can and I will.” Kara declared, “Finally and by far the most important: I love you.”
Lena’s breath caught in her throat at those words, even now after over a year together, loving each other, it still surprised Lena to hear those three words from the woman she loved. It probably always would.
“I love you, all of you. My love is not dependent on your looks or attractiveness. I fell in love with you for a thousand and one different reasons and I swear to you Lena not a single one of them has been lost because of this.” Kara assured, stroking the side of Lena’s face, this time Lena didn’t flinch away, she leaned in to it. “Yes, I love your physical appearance but clearly not for the reasons you think. I love how your green eyes twinkle when you have a new idea. I love how you purse your lips a second before you laugh. I love how your eyes crinkle when you smile. I love how you arch an eyebrow just before you tease me. I love how you bite your lip when you think I’ve done something adorable. I love how you blink three times when you sneeze. I love how your nose scrunches when you’re confused.” Kara quirked her to the side thoughtfully, “Tell me Lena which one of those have been lost.”
Lena swallowed thickly as she answered honestly, “None.”
Kara kissed her then, sweet and ever so tender, pulling back to breathe out the contents of her heart, “Nothing has changed for me, Lena. Nothing. And it never will. Our love is not fickle. It is steady and strong. It has been built, brick by brick, by thousands of moments, actions and intimacies. It can’t be destroyed by any singular attack because it has no weak-spot and I promise you, zhao, it will withstand even the harshest of storms.”