Kara met Lena on a Tuesday. She remembers it distinctively because on Tuesdays, she and the rest of her fourth grade class would go to Mrs. Duffy’s classroom for biology. Mrs. Duffy had raised parakeets from eggs. Kara’ class had watched as one of them pecked its way out of the shell, looking more like an undercooked chicken dinner than a bird. During the following weeks, that changed, and the parakeets grew feathers and took flight. They flitted around their cage, all grown up, but Kara had a question.
“Yes, Kara?” Mrs. Duffy asked, as Kara thrust her hand high into the air and moved it around with some urgency.
“Mrs. Duffy,” Kara slowly stood as she spoke, “when do the parakeets get to go outside and be free?”
The rest of the class laughed. They did that a lot when Kara asked questions, but Mrs. Duffy smiled and said, “That’s a good question, Kara.” She said that a lot when other children laughed at Kara. “Unfortunately, they don’t. Parakeets aren’t native here, and they wouldn’t live long outside. There are too many predators, so they stay in their cage where they’re safe and cared for.”
That was the end of that discussion, but as she sat down, and her gaze came to rest on the birds in their gilded cage, Kara’s heart sank. She felt for them the same way she felt on the day Jeremiah told her she had to blend in with humans and could never fly. “It was safer,” he’d said, “and my job is to keep you safe no matter what.” She understood his intentions, but she also knew who she was. She was a colorful bird, and she was made to fly free.
It was nearing the end of the year, in that very classroom, that someone incredibly important would come into Kara’s life. As she sat in the back, trying to ignore Mike talking to her about football when she was trying to read about invertebrates, Mrs. Duffy drew their attention to the front of the room.
“Class, we have a new student. Her name is Lena. I expect you all to make her feel welcome.”
Lena was short. Petite was the word Eliza would use. Where Kara was gangly like a foal whose body hadn’t grown into its legs yet, Lena was dainty. Her skin was pale unlike Kara’s sunkissed tan, and long, black hair hung down her back in stark difference to Kara’s blonde curls. As the girl made her way to the empty seat on the other side of Kara, the side not occupied by Mike and his mumblings, Kara watched intently.
“Is this seat available?” Lena asked.
It was a child’s voice with adult inflections, but Kara hardly took note of that. She was captured by eyes made of more shades of green than she’d seen on her time on Earth. It reminded her of the Crystal Mountains back on Krypton, of a color neither blue nor green, a spot in the spectrum she didn’t think was visible under Earth’s atmosphere.
“You have the best eyes I’ve ever seen on this whole world,” Kara said in the way of a reply. “What color are they?”
There was that laughter again, though this time her mockery was restricted to Mike. “They’re green, dumbhead. You ask the dumbest questions.”
Even as Kara sunk inside, Lena pulled herself to her full height - which wasn’t much - and said, “Nonsense. There are no dumb questions, but there are dumb people.” She shot Mike a look with that statement that Kara was sure went over Mike’s head, but it left the Kryptonian with a shy smile. “There is no such thing as green eyes. All eyes are brown. The amount of melanin you have in your eyes creates the perception of other colors. Everyone knows that.”
Just like that, Kara had a defender (though a small one). Still, slight of stature made Lena no less fierce and determined. This was a fact Kara would learn again and again over the years to come.
“It’s available,” Kara said, reaching out and patting the desktop. She thrust out her hand as soon as Lena had taken a seat. “I’m Kara, Kara Danvers.”
Lena grasped just the tips of Kara’s fingers and held fast, not offering the traditional handshake Kara had been taught. “It’s a pleasure to make your acquaintance, Kara Danvers. I’m Lena Luthor. Charmed.” And when she smiled, Kara was charmed too.
The two became practically inseparable, eating lunch together, playing together after school, and even having sleepovers. Upon finding out Lena was going away for two weeks to sleepover camp that summer, Kara begged Jeremiah and Eliza to let her go also. Jeremiah was hesitant, stating the usual concerns about protecting Kara. She’d heard them so often that she could recite them in her sleep.
Surprisingly, it was Alex, her thirteen-year-old sister but not her biggest fan, who spoke up in Kara’s defense. “You should let her go. She does everything that you ask her to do to blend in. She deserves this chance.”
Kara tried to contain her smile as this was far from decided.
“We know she does, sweetheart,” Eliza said as she stroked Kara’s hair. “It’s sleepover camp though. If anything goes wrong, we’ll be an hour away. She’s never been that far from her family before.”
When Alex asked, “Didn’t she fly a million light years by herself or something?” Kara’s smile broke free. “Anyway, I’ll go to camp too.”
“You will?” Jeremiah the voiced the question on Kara’s mind.
Alex just shrugged, her attention returned to the magazine through which she’d been flipping. “Sure, why not? Vicky is going. I mean, how bad could sleepover camp with a bunch of other girls be?”
There was more talking, even more rules than normal, but it was decided. Kara was going to sleep away from home. The entire experience would be life altering for both of the Danvers sisters.
Camp Golden Arrow was divided into two sides by a lake. Every morning, the girls would swim on their side while the boys swam on the other. Many of the teen girls talked and giggled about the boys, pointing and turning away when a boy would look back. Kara was grateful that Alex wasn’t partaking in that odd custom, preferring to engage with other girls her age. Kara’s goals were similar, as she and Lena signed up for all of the same activities for the same time slots.
It was one evening after activities were done for the night, about a half an hour before lights out, that Lena pulled Kara away from the campfire.
“I have something for you,” Lena said, “a gift.”
“For me?” Kara could hardly contain her excitement. Whatever this something was, it didn’t align with any of the Earth gift giving traditions with which Kara was familiar.
“It’s just a… I… Well, when I was picking out colors, I thought of you. I want you to have this.” She dug into her pocket and pulled out the string bracelet she’d made earlier on in the day in arts and crafts. It was an even pairing of blue, red, and yellow strings. “It has all of your favorite colors. Well, blue and red are your favorites, but I needed a third color. I picked yellow because it’s sunny just like you. Do you like it?”
Kara’s mouth went dry, and she had to swallow twice to get enough moisture back to speak. “You want me to have this?”
“Of course. That’s why I made it.”
For her… from Lena for her. Kara took the bracelet in her hand, unable to control the slight tremor.
“Is everything alright?”
Kara nodded. Everything was more than alright, the best that it had been since she watched her whole world literally explode, but there was something she had to do. “I need you to come with me,” Kara said, and drew Lena further from the group and into the forest. They followed a path they knew well, one that emptied into the small field the girls used for archery. It was unpopulated by people at this hour but filled with small frogs and crickets who created a symphony of love calls. “I don’t want you to be scared. I would never hurt you.”
“I know that.” It was said with such certainty, with the knowledge of a child who only saw the good in those close to her, and it helped to steel Kara’s courage. She would never hurt Lena, and Lena would never hurt her either.
Kara took several steps back, keeping her gaze on Lena’s curious face. Arms outstretched, she struggled to touch the power which burying had become a second nature, but when Lena waited patiently and smiled, Kara found her wings. She rose into the air, not so high as to be seen over the treetops, not more than six feet off the ground, but it was enough. It had been so long, and everything within her was eager to soar free, so when Kara felt her eyes warm pleasantly, when she saw the glow reflected off of Lena’s eyes, she drifted back to Earth and bottled her power up once again.
Kara was enveloped in a fierce hug, one that might have been slightly painful to a human, but all she felt was joy as Lena said, “You’re magic!”
“No, I’m…” Though she hated to do it, Kara took a step back and held Lena at arm’s length. “I’m an alien.”
It seemed to Kara that the entire range of human emotions flashed across Lena’s face within ten second’s time, but what mattered was that it ended in unfettered joy. “That’s even better! My best friend is a—”
Lena whispered, “My best friend is an alien. Can I look at your hair under my microscope?”
“I guess,” Kara said with a shrug. “You know you can’t tell anyone, right? Jeremiah says the government will take me away and do experiments on me if anyone finds out.”
“I wouldn’t let them,” Lena said with such authority that Kara doubted the entire federal government could stand up to the power of this girl. “Anyway, I’ll never tell, not even if they torture me.”
“I wouldn’t let them do that. I’ll protect you.” The responding smile nearly had Kara hovering again.
“That’s because you’re my BFF,” Lena said as she stepped in for another hug. “BFFs, that means forever.”
Kara held her fast, only letting go to slide the bracelet that Lena had made for her onto her wrist. That meant forever.
They returned to the campfire without anyone noticing their absence. Alex was also unaccounted for, and Kara was momentarily concerned that her sister was off looking for her, but just before lights out, Alex returned with Vicky, both of their pulses rapid as they sat near each other on a log by the fire, not meeting anyone’s eyes. Though concerning, when Alex gave Kara a small smile and wave as they headed back to their individual cabins, that was comforting. It seemed to be a night for mystery.
The morning proved a bit frustrating for Kara. She was eager to share her news with Alex, but her sister was nowhere to be found. Kara understood being late, but being late for a meal was beyond her comprehension. Humans sometimes had the worst priorities. When Alex finally showed up, there was nothing left but cereal, and most of the other kids were gone to enjoy free time before the day’s activities started.
“There you are,” Kara said, sliding into the seat next to her sister. “You’re all sweaty and out of breath again. Were you running? What happened to your mouth? Your lips look chapped.”
“No, I…” Alex tucked her shoulder and turned further from her sister. “I overslept.”
“You? You’re always up early. Is something—”
“What do you want, Kara? I’m trying to eat. You respect food, don’t you?”
That very serious question received a serious nod in response. “I have big news, like galaxy big news, Alex.”
“Uh-huh,” Alex mumbled, and Kara followed Alex’s gaze to Vicky who had just entered the dining hall.
“Are you even listening to me?”
“Yeah, big galaxy, super big. Go on.”
“Okay, but you can’t tell Jeremiah and Eliza because I get to tell them.” Kara held out her wrist, proudly displaying her new bracelet. “Lena is my wife.” When that got no response, she asked, “Did you hear me?”
“What? Oh, yeah. Mazel Tov.” Still, Alex’s gaze didn’t wander, holding steady on Vicky who was drawing ever nearer.
“That means Lena is my family like you, like Jeremiah and Eliza. That means—”
“Hey, Danvers,” Vicky said as she reached the sisters. “So, I’m really full from breakfast. I was thinking I’d go walk this off. Want to walk with me?”
“Did you even eat?” Kara asked.
“I’m full too,” Alex said, sliding her food in front of her sister as she stood. “Here you go, Kara. Enjoy.”
“Thanks!” As they walked away, Kara said, “Alex, with Lena, I did the right thing… right?”
“Um, sure. Lena’s awesome. I’m sure it will be fine. Good going.” Then she allowed herself to be pulled out with shared whispers.
Content in her decision and having gotten Alex’s approval in revealing her alien nature and on her nuptials, Kara dug into the cereal left behind. Second breakfast was one of her favorite breakfasts, after all.
The two weeks of camp were over much too quickly in Kara’s opinion. She’d miss sitting around the campfire with her wife , eating breakfast with her wife, and telling ghost stories in the cabin with other girls, one of whom was her wife. Still, there was a certain level of excitement in returning home to the town where she and her wife - she really liked the word wife - first met and getting back to their normal lives together.
Mrs. Luthor was picking up all of the girls and dropping the Danvers sisters off at their house. Though Lena had cajoled her mother to allow her to go home with Kara, Lillian, a tall and rather astute but kindly woman, had held fast. She and Mr. Luthor hadn’t seen their daughter in two weeks, and Lena and Kara had the rest of the summer together. One day apart wouldn’t kill the duo. Kara wasn’t too sure of that, but she wasn’t about to argue with her - what was that word for what Mrs. Luthor was to her? Mother-in-law. Yes, Kara wasn’t about to argue with her mother-in-law, so she sat quietly and held Lena’s hand for the car ride back.
“So, did you girls have a nice time at camp?” Mrs. Luthor asked. “Alex?”
“Yeah, it was fine. It was just a lot of girls doing dumb girls stuff sometimes together and sometimes… not. I’d probably go again if Kara wanted.”
“I think we should go every year, like an anniversary,” Kara replied.
“Good plan,” Lena said. “I like the way you think.”
Mrs. Luthor’s blue eyes crinkled with her smile as she glanced at Kara in the backseat. “Well, it sounds like you two back there had fun. What was your favorite part?”
“Kara’s favorite part was mealtime,” Lena said with a teasing smile. “It’s always mealtime.”
“You know me so well.”
“Better than most,” Lena replied with a wink.
“We know what Kara liked, but what about you, Lena?” Mrs. Luthor asked.
“Hmmm.” Lena tapped a finger on her lips, a pensive look on her face before her smile grew wide. “The telescope. The sky was so clear at camp that we could see so many more stars. It was beautiful.” She shifted her gaze giving Kara a knowing look. “The best things are from the stars.”
“Sounds like I might have a future astronomer in the family,” Lillian said.
Kara was thinking the same thing.
When they got dropped off, Kara waved until Lena’s car pulled around the corner and out of sight before racing into the house.
“Hey, careful there,” Alex said. “Remember, Mom says no running in the house.”
“You always run in the—”
“Shhh, shhh, shhh.” Alex held up a hand, waving behind Kara and alerting of the presence of her parents. “Hey, everything was good. We had fun. I’m going to go to my room and call Vicky, okay?”
“Didn’t you just spend the last two weeks with—”
“Okay, bye!” Alex took off up the stairs, her feet pounding as she hurried.
“That’s running, Alex!” Kara huffed, but her annoyance was almost immediately forgotten as she rushed into Eliza’s arms for a hug. “I had the best time. Thank you for letting me go. Can I go again next year?”
“So long as we don’t have a conflict or any issues that crop up, I don’t see why not,” Jeremiah said.
“So, here’s a rhetorical question,” Eliza said, “Are you hungry?”
“Yeeesss. Do you know they didn’t know what breakfast-lunch was?”
“The meal after second breakfast and before brunch? That’s shocking.” Jeremiah put his arm around Kara’s shoulder, steering the girls toward the kitchen. “So, what do you want to eat?”
“You need some protein first.”
“Chicken and ice cream? Oh, wait.” Kara threw on the breaks, an immovable object that stopped Jeremiah in his tracks. “I have big news. Look.” She held out her wrist with the bracelet once again. “I’ve been wifed.”
“Wifed?” Jeremiah mouthed at his wife who shrugged back. “Kara, what does—”
“Lena gave it to me. She’s family. Alex approved. I’m going to get some chicken.”
So in Kara’s mind, that was settled. Her family knew about the biggest news she’d had since landing on this planet. The rest of her life was going to be a series of happily ever afters.
Even wedded bliss had its problems, and Kara’s started in high school. It was a larger district-wide school that incorporated students from three different lower schools. Andrea Rojas was a grade higher, but Lena’s AP classes still put her in the older girl’s path. It wasn’t that Andrea was mean. No, that Kara could have dealt with. Andrea was bright, funny, and smart with a smile that could light up the room. The girl joined Kara and Lena at lunch whenever their lunch periods overlapped. Movies and trips to the diner were more and more often for three, and while Lena and Andrea giggled over some inside joke from a mutual class Kara didn’t take, Kara grabbed at her stomach. There was a gnawing feeling inside a bit like hunger but not sated with even an extra serving of fries.
They went on like that for months with Kara growing more distant but unsure how to talk about it despite Lena’s coaxing. She was vaguely aware that her sister was going through something too. Alex’s mood had turned sour when Vicky moved away three years ago, but it became absolutely dreadful after a fight with Vicky over the phone that left Alex crying in their room. No matter how Kara tried to help, the best she got from her sister was, “You wouldn’t understand. You just wouldn’t.” But Kara thought she would. When the person you want to be your wife doesn’t choose you, it must be devastating.
Eliza said it was natural for kids to be emotional at that age and that Alex would come around. Eliza was right. The next school year brought a new student, a transfer from the midwest. Her name was Maggie Sawyer, and the first time Alex saw the girl, the conversation with Kara was forgotten. She and Alex were in the same science lab and quickly became lab partners. They worked on projects seemingly non-stop, spending even weekends secreted away somewhere talking about their love… of science.
The rest of that year seemed to fly by with Alex in a happy haze that was oddly unsettling and Kara nearly wearing out the pout. They were nearing the end of the school year, a busy time with seniors putting on epic promposals. Somehow, each display of affection made Kara’s heart grow but Alex’s grow tighter. Though not as moody as after the fight with Vicky that had ended their relationship, it was clear that Maggie and Alex’s was on the rocks. It wasn’t until a family dinner, three weeks before prom, that Kara found out why, though the explanation left Kara with more questions than answers.
Kara’s mood was actually lighter than it had been in nearly a year. Andrea had been asked to prom by a senior named William, and Lena had seemed nothing but pleased. She even took Andrea clothes shopping, a task she knew Kara disliked. It was now clear to Kara that Andrea and Lena’s relationship was based solely in friendship, and the pain in her stomach receded making room for more doughnuts. For the next few weeks, Kara’s life continued, largely without waves. It was Alex who would make the next splash.
“This is really good, Eliza,” Kara said as she practically shoveled food into her mouth. It seemed she was going through a growth spurt, a difficult time for the food bill of any family but made exponentially worse when you have a growing Kryptonian in your midst. She eyed the chicken leg sitting untouched on her sister’s plate. “Are you going to eat that?”
Alex made an offhand gesture that Kara took as permission, and the food quickly changed plates.
“Alex, is something wrong?” Eliza asked. “You’ve barely touched your dinner.”
“I’ll eat it,” Kara offered.
“So what else is new,” Jeremiah mumbled.
“Alex?” Eliza waited until Alex made eye contact before saying, “Talk to me. It’s obvious that you’re upset. Come on, you used to tell me everything.”
“Not… everything.” Alex inhaled deeply, tension visible in her jaw and shoulders. “I haven’t told you everything in a long time.”
A quiet settled over the dining room, one only broken by the chewing noises of the alien who was not about to let family drama interrupt her dinner.
“What does that mean?” Eliza finally said.
“Just don’t get upset.”
“Alex, are you in trouble?” Jeremiah asked. “If something is wrong with you—”
“Nothing is wrong with me,” Alex said a bit too loudly, as she pushed herself to her feet. “I’m normal. This is what normal looks like.”
“You’re not pregnant, are you?”
“Jeremiah!” Eliza scowled over at her husband before asking, “You’re not, are you?”
“Jesus Christ, Mom, not even close. Look I… I’m… Ugh, why is this so hard? Why can’t I just say it?”
“Hey, sweetie,” Eliza rounded the table, cradling Alex’s face in her hands. It was a technique she’d incorporated for years to offer comfort while maintaining eye contact. “Whatever it is, you can tell us. We’re your family. We love you.”
“No matter what?”
“Unconditionally,” Eliza promised, while Kara snuck her hand across the table to steal Alex’s dinner roll. “I can’t promise you we won’t be mad, but we’ll support you through whatever this is.”
“I’m not worried you’ll be mad. Well, I wasn’t until you said it. I just don’t want you to be disappointed in me.”
“How could we be? You’re perfect,” Eliza said, “exactly as you are.”
“Exactly as I am.” Alex stepped away, nodding and seeming to gather her courage. Apparently, some grand reveal was coming, something so exciting that even Kara slowed down and ate like a human. “Mom, Dad… I’m gay.”
Kara rolled her eyes while her parents were left to process what Kara felt was the least exciting announcement of this century. Next Alex would announce that climate change was real. Taking her sister’s plate and dumping the contents onto her own seemed a fitting punishment for interrupting dinner with hollow melodrama, so that’s what Kara did.
“Gay?” Jeremiah said, then with more assurance. “Gay. Yeah, that makes sense.” Eliza just nodded along.
“That makes sense?” Alex returned to the table and dropped into her chair, slouching back, momentarily, in a dramatic fashion. “That makes sense? Did you two know already?”
“Well,” Jeremiah began to scoop more mashed potatoes while Kara watched him steadily. Those were clearly seconds, “your mother and I knew you liked girls. After whatever went on with you and Vicky, it was pretty obvious. We just didn’t know what… Sweetie, is the term label?”
“Yes, your father and I have done a lot of research on sexual orientation and gender identity. We’re both cis-gendered heterosexuals. That means—”
“I know what it means, Mom,” Alex replied with an eye roll. “You guys have really known for years?”
“I’m pretty sure the whole town knows,” Kara mumbled around a mouthful of food.
“Damn. I can’t believe I was so worried, and everyone already knows. No one cares?”
“Of course, we care.”
“I don’t,” Kara said.
“Alex, your mother and I care that you’re happy and healthy. Just be a good person. Whoever you are, really are, that’s who we want in our lives.”
“So does this mean that I can go to prom?”
“With Maggie?” Eliza asked.
“You knew about Maggie too?” Within seconds, Alex’s frustration seemed to melt away, and her smile returned. “You know what? Good. Yes, Maggie is my girlfriend. I love her, and I want to take her to prom. So?”
“Well,” Jeremiah pushed her plate toward the middle of the table, “I do have a question. Dress or tuxedo?”
“Oh, either way we need to go shopping,” Eliza said. “Alex, what are you doing after school tomorrow?”
“Can I bring Maggie?”
“Of course. Kara, do you want to—”
Kara snorted rudely, a loud sound that broke the sweet mood of the moment. “Leave me out of this. I don’t have to worry about prom for two more years.”
“And I’ll be just as supportive of you then,” Alex said, pulling her chair back to the table. “Hey, what happened to my food?”
Alex’s promposal was nothing less than epic. It took place during the halftime show of the home football game and involved a marching band, a banner, and an original promposal cheer. When Maggie said yes and rushed down to the sidelines to kiss Alex, more cheers rose, this time from the bleachers. It was an outpouring of love.
“Crap, I was in the bathroom for like five minutes,” Lena said as she slid back into the bleacher seat next to Kara. “What did I miss?”
“Alex’s promposal. Maggie said yes.”
“Of course, she did. Those two are perfect for each other. They're the best couple in school, don’t you think?”
“Pffft. Whatever. I videoed it,” Kara said, holding up her phone. “Wanna watch it?”
“This is why you’re my favorite,” Lena replied, cuddling up under Kara’s arm against the cool fall air.
Two more years passed, and things went largely well for Kara. She was accepted to the art college of her choice with the comment that her portfolio was out of this world. If they only knew. Things with Lena had begun to grow… perhaps distant is the best word. Lena was still waiting to hear back from one college, but it was MIT and on the other side of the country, so Kara had no idea why her wife had applied there. It was probably to sate Mrs. Luthor.
There was less than a month left in her senior year, and the promposals were everywhere once again. Kara fought her way through a hallway full of balloons with Lena trailing behind her.
“Okay, this is ridiculous.” Kara pulled her glasses down enough to verify the area was devoid of humans before striding forward. “I feel badly for the kids who have to go through with all of these ridiculous displays of affection, don’t you?”
“Oh, I don’t know. Some of them are kind of sweet. Wouldn’t you like it if someone special, someone you really cared about, made a gesture to let the whole school know how they felt?”
“I guess,” Kara admitted. “It’s probably important to some people. I’m just glad I already know who I’m going to prom with.”
Lena came to a halt after only two steps of Kara tugging her along like a toddler’s toy. “You… you do?”
“Lena, don’t be weird. I’m going with you.”
Slowly, like a flower opening to the sun after a spring rain, a smile blossomed on Lena’s face. “You want to go to prom with me?”
“Or course, we’re BFFs. We have to go together.”
“Oh, BFFs.” With a heavy sigh, Lena studied her hands. Finally, she smiled up and said, “I’m lucky to have you in my life, Kara.”
“Forever,” Lena agreed, intertwining her fingers with Kara’s. “Sure, let’s go to prom together. It sounds… fun.” And that was that… at least in Kara’s mind, at least until the phone call that started a chain of events that flipped her worldview forever.
It was a Sunday afternoon, and Lena was sequestered somewhere studying for finals. It seemed ridiculous to Kara. What was she going to learn that she didn’t already know? But as usual, Mrs. Luthor was insistent.
The smile Kara had when she answered the phone quickly faded when she saw the name on her caller ID. Kara hesitated to answer it, but given how unusual the call was, her curiosity finally got the better of her.
“What do you want?”
“Hello to you too, Danvers,” came back a voice that somehow managed to be both sultry and grating. “So… what’s new?”
“Look, Veronica, I don’t have time for whatever game you’re playing. Tell me why you’re calling, or I’m hanging up now.”
Veronica Sinclair was as ugly on the inside as she was beautiful on the outside, and even Kara had to admit that she was stunning. She strutted the school with grace, marking her territory with sultry touches and sly glances. It only took her running a hand down Lena’s arm once for Kara to have a fairly loud and direct conversation with Veronica after school. It was a conversation of the not so empty threat kind. Though Veronica had backed off, she’d also stayed close enough to Kara’s orbit to bare her claws on occasion.
“Temper, temper. This is almost disappointing. I guess you heard about the epic promprosal.”
“Ugh, this conversation got boring fast. Why don’t you go swallow a live rat and leave me alone.”
“Oh, you don’t know.” Every hair on the back of Kara’s neck stood up at Veronica’s heartless laugh. “Well, then let me be the first to tell you before you hear it through the grapevine. I’d hate for you to be caught… unprepared.”
“Yeah, I don’t care.”
“Oh, I think you will care. I think you’ll care very, very much.”
As evil as Veronica was, she wasn’t dumb. So, as much as she hated to rise to the bait, Kara pushed herself fully upright in bed and asked, “What are you talking about?”
“Jack Spheer. He rented a blimp, one of those that spell out his promposal for the whole town to see. If you had stayed for your last period study hall, you’d know that.”
Jack Spheer was a nice guy and a good friend of Lena’s. They’d worked on school projects together, and Lena even spent time at the makeshift lab he had set up in his garage. On the Winn to Mike scale of Kara Danvers approved men, he leaned heavily toward the Winn end of things.
“Uh… great? Good for Jack. I hope he and his date have a good time.” At another cruel laugh, Kara ground her teeth with enough pressure to crush steel. “What? What are you cackling about?”
“Ask me who he asked, Kara. Ask me what girl’s name was on the blimp.”
“I don’t care. He can take anyone he wants.”
“Anyone? Anyone in the whole school can go to prom with Jack, and you wouldn’t care?”
“Yeah. I mean, anyone but—” And that’s when the realization hit her. “You’re lying.”
“Am I? Over a thousand YouTube hits in the first hour says differently. Good luck, Kara. I guess I’ll see you at prom. Though if you wanted to stay home alone, no one would blame you.”
Though Kara worked very hard to control her strength, especially when she got emotional, the cracking screen was a sure sign of being pushed over the edge. The entire house trembled, as she stomped down the stairs, shaking the home to its foundation. A conversation between her and Jack, one where he looked down at her from the length of an extended arm where her hand was wrapped around his throat, ran through Kara’s mind as she mentally prepared herself. She got as far as the front door, whipping it open so hard that the hinges partially moved free of the wall, when the presence of Alex - hand extended to open the door - stopped her progress.
But Alex did not. As terrifying as an angry alien might be to the average person, when they’re just the little sister who you’ve seen with her hand stuck in a peanut butter jar, the figure is less imposing.
“Kara, what the hell?”
“I said move!” The optical glow from Kara’s rage was reflected in Alex’s widening eyes. “I’m going to kill him.”
“Whoa, whoa, whoa.” It took several moments of Alex pushing, all of her body weight thrown into it, before Kara took the two steps back that allowed her to come in and close the door. “Kill who? What’s going on?”
“Jack Spheer. I trusted him, Alex. I thought he was a decent guy, but he’s been scheming behind my back this whole time, and I’m going to kill him.”
“Okay, take a breath. Just breath for a minute. Can you do that for me?”
“Kara, killing someone is not an empty threat from you. Do you want to become a murderer?”
Murder, death, destruction… these were all sobering words. Having literally lost everyone in her life, an entire planet, the idea of actually taking a life was anathema to her. With a whisper of, “Rao,” Kara put up no resistance as her sister tugged her to a seat on the couch and wrapped her in comforting arms.
“Thank you,” Alex whispered.
Kara swallowed hard and shook her head. “No, thank you.”
And so they sat for several minutes in relative silence, reflecting on what could have been. Some calls were too close.
When Kara nodded and leaned away from contact, that was Alex’s cue to say, “Want to tell me what’s going on?”
“Yeah.” Kara sniffled, rubbing her face to clear struggling tears that hadn’t made their way to Alex’s shoulder. “It’s Jack Spheer. He’s a guy in my school, a decent guy, I thought, but it turns out he’s just a snail in the grass.”
“I think you mean snake in the grass but go on.”
“Maybe, but he snuck up on me slowly like a snail. He’s been getting to know Lena through school projects, but today,” Kara took a moment, not trusting her voice to remain steady, “he asked Lena to prom.”
Concern faded from Alex’s face to be replaced with puzzlement. “Okay, did he do it rudely or something?”
“How else could he ask her to prom!? Sorry, sorry,” Kara said, temper back in check as quickly as it had flared. “I can’t believe I trusted him.”
“Kara, and I’m asking this as sincerely as possible, what the fuck are you talking about?”
“Jack asked Lena to prom.” Kara spoke slowly, annunciating each word to breach the confusion. For some reason, it was like explaining something to a child.
“Yeah, yeah, I got that. How did he do it, exactly?”
“He got a blimp to spell it out and fly it over the school at the end of the day.”
“Wow, makes my marching band proposal sound kind of lame. Wait, sorry, that’s not the point. Okay, and why is this Jack guy doing a huge promposal for Lena a problem?”
Kara had expected unconditional support from her sister, perhaps an offer to kick Jack’s ass with some human and less deadly feet, but this utter lack of understanding and empathy was shocking. “Alex, if you’re trying to be funny, you’re failing.”
“I’m not joking, Kara. I’m confused. Why can’t Jack ask your friend to prom?”
“You mean my BFF?” Kara asked, but Alex just nodded, expression unchanging. Kara was familiar with this stage in her communication, though it had become less and less common in recent years. This happened when there was a word whose context Kara was misusing. The answer was to choose different words. “Alex, how would you feel if someone was trying to date your wife?”
“Well, pissed, but it’s not like Lena is actually your wife. That’s just a joke.”
From a book she once read, Kara had asked Alex to explain the sentence, “Their words hit her like a gut punch.” Alex had tried, had attempted to explain physical pain in relation to emotional pain to Kara, but Kara had experienced drowning in emotional pain that was the result of her entire world’s destruction and had been physically invulnerable for years. Connecting the place she was now, where her sharp emotional edges were dulled and where her skin could feel the breeze but not a bullet, that had proven a challenge. It wasn’t until this moment that she understood what the phrase meant.
“It’s not,” Kara whispered, not trusting herself not to scream if she put any more force behind her words. “Lena’s my wife. You know that.”
“For real?” Alex’s throat bobbed with a dry, painful swallow. “You and Lena ran off and got married at some point?”
“At some point?” And there it was again, an anger so old that it represented an entire civilization, so deep that it crossed the universe. Anything she said would be designed to rip into her sister’s feelings and leave them as shredded as she was now feeling. So Kara said nothing and instead thrust out a fist that passed, faster than the human eye could see, inches from Alex’s face. On her wrist sat one tri-color, braided bracelet. It was a little worse for wear, frazzled in places but still holding firm. Though the hues were faded and you couldn’t fit a fingertip between it and her wrist, like Kara’s love for Lena, it endured across the years.
A split second after the gust from the passing fist blew back her hair, Alex stumbled away. It wasn’t far, just two steps, and then she seemed to realize this wasn’t an attack (not that she could do anything if it was). So her gaze went from her sister’s face, tight with rage, to those colored strands. “Uh… your bracelet?”
“Yeah. My bracelet.”
“I’m totally lost, Kara. You’ve had that ratty old thing for like seven years.”
“Seven years, ten months, and three days.”
“Pffft. You think I’d forget my anniversary?” There it was, a glimmer of understanding in her sister’s eyes but not enough to clear the haze of confusion Alex had been swimming in for the last five minutes. “Take this as a symbol of my sincere commitment. The end of each moment together is but a new beginning. From this day forward, we will forever be unbroken, eternal, as endless as my love for you.”
Kara’s marriage token was not the one she’d imagined as a child when playing with the bracelet on her mother’s wrist. There were no jewels from the highest mountain, no ore from the deepest chasm on all of Krypton. Yet the day Lena held it out to her, Kara had discovered something even more valuable. Her journey across the stars had led her to this very place, this very moment in time, for a reason, and with her arms encircling her wife, Kara’s life began again.
“Kara, those words you just said about unbroken and eternal—”
‘It sounds better in Kryptonese, but Lena didn’t know any of that yet. Maybe for our tenth anniversary, we can recite the vows together.”
“Anniversary? Vows? Kryptonese? Oh, my God. Oh, my God. Oh, my God. Kara, tell me Lena doesn’t know you’re an alien.” Kara said nothing in return, now as confused as her sister had clearly been. “Fuck. For how long?”
“For seven years, ten months, and—”
“Three days, yeah, I got that. Kara, how could you? How could you tell her? How could you tell her and not tell me you told her? What were you thinking?”
“I was thinking I did tell you,” Kara replied. “I told you the next morning over breakfast, and you gave me your cereal and went for a walk with Vicky so—”
“Oh, nonononononono. I remember that day and… Crap. You were talking about the stars and family and… Lena. You said Lena was family.”
Kara just held out her wrist again, exhibit A for the court.
“You think you married Lena that day?”
“I did marry Lena that night. She presented me with a token of marriage, and I accepted. On Krypton—”
“Kara, we’re not on Krypton!” There it was. There was the core harsh truth that Kara had avoided for years. She had to hide away her true name, her past, her people, her parents, but if she could just keep one piece of her culture, this piece, she could keep Krypton alive. “We’re on Earth, and on Earth, that’s just a bracelet.”
“Okay, if you’re married, have you and Lena ever had sex? Has she ever even kissed you on the lips?
This just proved Alex’s ignorance and skewed priorities. “No because Lena is asexual.”
“Um, I’m pretty sure she’s not asexual, not if her reaction to Keira Knightley in Pirates of the Caribbean is any indication. What would make you think that? Did she tell you that?”
“Lex did.” Alex’s head just titled, looking at Kara as if a change in angle would somehow make order out of the chaos. “Oh, come one, Alex. He calls her ace all the time. It’s incredibly rude, and I want to tell him so, but Lena just smiles, and he is my brother-in-law so—”
“He doesn’t mean ace like asexual, dumbass. He means ace like the best, like Lena’s really smart and… In a deck of cards, the best one you can draw is the ace. He means she’s the top of the deck, but I don’t think she’s asexual.”
Kara’s house of cards was falling down around her. She thrust the bracelet forward again, still clinging to this last shred of hope like driftwood in the ocean of unpleasant reality.
“Doesn't mean marriage on Earth. It means friendship. Kara, I’m sorry but—”
“No!” She was in the room with her door closed before Alex uttered another word. She ignored the knocks, the pleas of her sister. The world outside the room was a scary place full of ugly truths, and perhaps if she stayed in here forever, she could go on pretending… or perhaps the truth would come to her.
Kara knew before the gentle rapping touched her door, before that lovely voice lilted up from downstairs, before Lena even stepped into the house that she was undone. The blessing of her hearing was to always know more about what went on around her than others and to know it first. It was also the curse of her hearing.
“Kara,” Lena said with more force, and though she wanted to hide from it like a child refusing to peek out from under the covers, Kara turned.
Lena was stunning. Even now, dressed in yoga pants and Kara’s track hoodie, with lines of confusion etched in her face, she was the most beautiful anything Kara had ever seen. That feeling was no different than the one from the first time she gazed into Lena’s eyes, but the accompanying despair, that was new.
“You’re an idiot.”
Kara couldn’t argue that. She couldn’t argue with Lena on a good day, and today hardly managed that, but on this topic, she couldn’t argue. She was young and still fairly new to this planet when she met Lena, when she found herself sucked into the gravity of Lena’s ambience and grace and became little more than an orbital in Lena’s presence. However, that didn’t excuse the years that followed when Kara’s autonomy grew and she saw Lena as an equal, as a partner.
In retrospect, there were many indications that Kara’s relationship with Lena was not what she’d imagined. The signs were all there, and though not her native language, Kara had learned to read social cues. They all told her something she did not want to hear. Lena Luthor was her friend and nothing more.
So Kara ignored them, preferring the childish mistake she’d built into an elaborate illusion, a mirage where she wasn’t the sole survivor of a dead race, the only custodian of a culture now lost to stardust, but a part of something new and wonderful. Disavowing this beginning was a step back into her prior misery, and though Kara was strong enough to throw a school bus, there was some weight she could not bear. Even a girl born of destruction among the stars had her limits.
“Your sister told me everything.”
Kara knew that. No conversation in this house was hidden from her unless Kara chose to hide it. And though she’d been sorely tempted to do so, to avoid this for even five minutes longer, passing up the opportunity to hear each vowel formed, each word shaped, by the woman she loved was not something she could do when it might be her last.
“I know. I’m… I’m not sure what to say, Lena. You mean the world to me, and I never meant to take you for granted or assume things that weren’t there. I just wanted you, us. I wanted everything we had and everything I thought we could have. I wanted everything with you. I’m sorry.”
Lena didn’t reply, and the deafening silence spoke volumes.
“Lena, please, say something. Yell at me if you want but say something, anything. Just tell me you aren’t walking out of my life forever.”
Lena crossed the distance between them, placing herself tantalizingly close on the bed. “I’m in love with you.”
Whatever Kara was expecting Lena to say, this wasn’t it. In her mind, whether or not their friendship could be salvaged was in question while the hope of them ever having anything more than friendship was not. Though it should have been a light of celebration among the pitch, Kara had spent so long lying to herself that even such a clear statement left her in doubt.
“What did you say?”
“I said that I’m in love with you, idiot. Well, I left the idiot part off, but until I inform you otherwise, you can assume that it is implied any time I speak about you.”
That was so clear. That was not clear enough. ‘In love’ in what way? What nuance was Kara missing that meant her every wish wasn’t coming true? So she turned, sliding her bent leg further onto the bed so she could face Lena, and the truth, head-on. “What does that mean? When you say you’re in love with me, what does that mean, exactly?”
“Ugh.” Lena bookend Kara’s face with her hands, the loud smack denoting a bit more force than necessarily though it was a certainty she felt it more than Kara did. “That means, idiot, that if I knew on the day that I gave you that bracelet what I know now, what it means, I wouldn't have changed a damn thing. Actually, I would have changed one thing. I would have gotten down on one knee,” she said sliding off the bed and moving her hands to take Kara’s, “and told you that you were everything I always wanted but more than I ever dreamed possible. I would have told you that as creative as my mind is, I never could have imagined anything as good in my life as you. I would have said, “Kara Danvers, I’m in love with you. Will you be mine forever?””
“And when you say ‘mine’, you mean...?”
“God, you are an idiot,” Alex said, groaning in the doorway. “Kara do you want to marry this girl?”
“I thought I already did.”
Stomping across the bedroom, hands in fists, Alex stood practically shaking with emotion at the foot of Kara’s bed. “I swear to God, Kara Danvers, you may be invulnerable, but I will find a way to kick your—”
“I mean yes, yes!” Kara’s gaze swung from her angry sibling to the woman kneeling on the floor who owned her heart. “Yes. A yes for every day since the day you gave me this bracelet and every new tomorrow. Yes, I’ll marry you, but—”
“In your culture, we already are,” Lena supplied as she slid back onto the bed.
Kara could only nod, afraid to do more, to do anything, that would ruin the magic of this moment.
“Then we are,” Lena said, cupping Kara’s face, this time gently, and offering up a loving smile whose return in Kara’s presence was so recently in doubt. “In the way of your people, I’m your wife, and you’re mine, but let’s do it in the way of my people too. Let’s have a proper Earth wedding.”
“When?” Kara no longer cared to disguise her eagerness or worried this was all in her mind. If it was, then in her mind she would always live and damn reality if it couldn’t offer her this.
“I’d say tomorrow, but our mothers are both going to be upset enough about missing the first wedding. Maybe we tell them about this one and suffer through the wedding planning together.”
“We don’t have to tell them we’re already married,” Kara suggested. It wasn’t just that she wanted to save face but… No, it was just that she wanted to save face. Some secrets were best kept by two. Her gaze flicked over to Alex’s stern presence. Three.
“If you think I’m going to miss even a single opportunity to tell everyone that I meet that you’re my wife, you have another think coming.” As if to illustrate her point, Lena threw the window wide and leaned out far enough that Kara almost dove after her with safety concerns. But she went no further, merely throwing back her head and yelling her joy to the world with the unabashed enthusiasm of a rooster greeting the sun. “I’m in love with Kara Danvers! She’s my wife, and I’m going to spend the rest of my life with her!”
From the house next door, the shade on a bedroom window was pulled up. There, leaning back in his chair, sat Winslow Schott. He briefly studied the scene before him for seconds before yelling back, “I know! Everyone knows! Why don’t you go kiss the bride or something! Some of us are trying to study!” Then the shade dropped down again, and Lena turned to face the room, turned to face Kara who had one thought on her mind.
“Ca… Can I?” Kara looked to her older sister, to her advisor and protector on this strange world, for guidance.
With a knowing smile, Alex gestured toward Lena. “Why don’t you ask your wife?”
Her wife. How is a concept in which you have simmered comfortably for nearly eight years suddenly so steamy when you face it down? Kara was many things, but a coward was not among them. So she stepped forward, unsure where to put her lifted and dropped hands as she asked, “May I kiss you, Lena?”
Then that familiar presence stepped forward and slotted into her form as if Lena were made to be there, and perhaps Lena was. There were many mysteries in the universe, not the least of which was how star-crossed lovers came to find their way together. “You really are an idiot, Kara Danvers.” Then lips that had often touched her cheek, that had brushed her knuckles on many an occasion, were pressed against her own, and Kara understood what lips were for.
“Idiots, both of you,” Alex muttered. “I’m out of here.”
But Kara made no note of that, barely aware of the gentle click of the closing door. Her entire world, once so vast, was caught up in the experience of roaming hands, hungry mouths, and the gentle caresses of tongues. It was somewhere between five minutes and five days, Kara honestly couldn't say which, before they came up for air, and Lena’s heaving breasts, once an unintended tease for what would never be, became the pathway for a very important question.
“So for the record, you’re not asexual?”
And though she was many, many times stronger, Kara made no effort to resist when Lena pushed her onto her back on the bed and straddled her hips. “You really are an idiot.”
The next few months were a whirlwind of prom, graduation, and wedding planning. Lena had not been exaggerating about moms and weddings. They told the families together, Lex only muttering, “About time,” as he grabbed the potatoes and filled his plate, taking full advantage of Kara’ distracted state. After about five minutes of concerned discussion about the girls’ age, that was lost to words like caterers and flower arrangements. Kara and Lena left them to it, only insisting on two details: the date and the location. The wedding was to be less than two months away in a field on a campsite they had visited for the last seven years. It was a tight timeframe, but where there was a will, and the concerted efforts of a Luthor and a Danvers, there was a way.
Lena looked magnificent in her white dress that hugged those curves and left Kara dry mouthed and wondering how it would look on the bedroom floor. Kara’s white tux was simple, charming, much like Kara herself. In one pocket was a blue handkerchief and on her wrists, custom made cufflinks bearing the crest of the House of El, a wedding gift from her bride to be.
Kara listened, enraptured, as the priest first spoke to Lena and as Lena readily said, “I do,” as she squeezed Kara’s hands even tighter.
“And do you, Kara, take Lena to be your wife, to have and to hold from this day forward, for better, for worse, for richer, for poorer, in sickness and health, until death do you part?"
It was really just a formality. There was only one answer Kara could give. “I do,” Kara said, her lips curling up with the pleasure of the words as she whispered, “again.”