“What do you want? When all of this is over, when you hang up the cape and let someone else take up the mantle of protector, what do you want?”
It was a strange question, Kara thought. Still thinks. Strange like unnatural because she’d never considered it, never considered she’d get that far in the bleakest sense because, when she thinks about it, she supposes she’d always figured she’d just go out the way she’d lived her whole life on earth – fighting. Fighting for her place. Fighting for her identity. Fighting for her family. Fighting for the families of everyone else in the city she called home.
She hadn’t considered living.
She had wondered if Kelly could hear that thought rattling in her head in response to her question. She thinks it must have been written rather plainly because her gaze had softened, and there was a gentle force to her voice when she next said, “think about it.”
And Kara does. Constantly.
She thinks about it when corners Brainy and asks about her future. When she practically begs him to tell her something, anything at all, about what happens to her, what she becomes, what she is if she isn’t this (she doesn’t remember what she was before it). She thinks about it more when he says that he can’t say, when he tells her it could ruin it all, but she should at least know that she’s happy because she doesn’t know what would do that.
Kara doesn’t know how to define future happiness. She doesn’t know what parts of her life would add up to the smile he sends her. She doesn’t know what she should be gripping tighter, which grains of sand she should be desperately trying to stop from slipping through her fingers, which ones would be best for building her castle by the waves.
She thinks about it when she spends an evening with Alex. They’re joking and stealing food from each other’s plates even though their own is still full, and just being them, and Kara knows she wants this. She knows that whatever her life is, it has to have Alex, but she doesn’t feel like the answer. She’s not the key to the locked box rattling inside Kara’s brain, screaming at her to just pick at it a little longer until something clicks.
Alex is a given but she’s not the want.
She thinks about it until her fingers dial a number she always felt was too sacred to call, until a voice, that almost calls her Kara before it shifts to Kiera at the last moment for good measure, picks up - because oddly that was something sacred too.
“How did you know you needed to move on from CatCo? How did you know what you wanted next? I mean, what made it seem important enough to change everything?”
“How did you know you needed to wear the cape?”
“It just felt right. It felt like I couldn’t breathe until it was on. It felt like I didn’t know my own skin until it was hidden beneath my family’s legacy.”
“Wait for that feeling then. When you feel that, you’ll know. Don’t rush in like you usually do – be patient, wait, and you’ll know.”
She would know. She would know. She would know.
She thinks about it when she spends a whole day as Kara Danvers. She’s hunting down an expose – following leads and questioning witnesses and giving herself enough time to type the same speed as everyone else, enough time to slow down and feel the words trickling into her screen.
She loves it. She’s always loved it: helping people and learning new things and feeling like maybe she didn’t need powers to be powerful. Maybe all she needed is what she always had – her mind, and her passion, and the part of her she attributed to the good parts of her family (the parts she desperately hoped outweighed the bad of her bloodline).
She loves it, but it isn’t just right.
She thinks about it when she sits with Lena in her new office – right back where Lena started, in some dingy old building, trying to cure cancer and make a name for herself outside of her family. Kara visited for lunch and kind of never wants to leave as they laugh, and joke, and Lena pauses to wipe a stray bit of sauce from Kara’s cheek where she stuffed a little too much in her mouth at once and all she can think is this.
This is what she wants.
She wants the earthquake of her touch: the epicentre so deep in her bones that Kara feels like she’s going to come apart at the seams just because pale fingertips grazed her arm. She wants the moonlight of her gaze, the gentle blue light that illuminates new corners of the world that Kara had never thought to look at before in her sun; the gentle push towards new ideas and cares and worries that only Lena could make her see, feel, think.
She wants to pick the flowers from the field of Lena’s laugh, and dance in the raindrops of her sorrow, and be the last beam of sunlight in the height of the summer sky that sends Lena into a calming sleep. She wants to map the constellations of her body and know every myth that put them there: to mouth the freckles on her neck and place herself in the history of their existence.
She wants Lena.
She wants Lena like she’s never wanted anything so much before and she doesn’t just want it then. She doesn’t want Lena in the hypothetical future of cape free shoulders. She wants her now. She thinks she kind of needs her now, has maybe needed her for longer than she’d care to admit, for longer than she’s ever noticed.
And shit. She should think it through. She should think through every contingency, and every confession, and figure out the best way to say, “I’m in love with you.”
Lena stops. A drooping piece of spinach commits suicide from her fork and there’s dressing soaking into the leg of her trousers and she just… stops. “Excuse me?”
Kara doesn’t know if it’s a good sign. The quiet of her voice and the way it rattles around her chest like its moments away from setting a new high score in pinball. She has no idea what Lena’s stillness means, but Kara doesn’t want to be still anymore, to be stagnant and afraid of moving onto something else. She wants something else. So, she repeats, “Lena, I’m in love with you.”
Lena puts her fork down to grip Kara’s chin and turn her head inquisitively from left to right. “Did you hit your head on the way here?”
“No,” Kara says instinctively but then thinks about how she got distracted by knowing she was seeing Lena and smashed into a billboard (and Rao how had she not realised something so blindingly obvious). “Well, actually yes, but that’s not why I’m saying this. I’m saying it because I love you.”
“But you… you can’t love me.”
“Obviously, I can.”
“No because that would- that would mean that it’s not incredibly stupid and reckless for me to be in love with you and I’ve pretty much built my entire world view around that fact.”
“Well, unbuild it,” Kara says with a momentary laugh and then, “You’re in love with me?”
“Kara I’ve been in love with you since you called me ‘unfathomable’ in print.” Unfathomable. Kara had meant it. Every time Kara thought she knew Lena, thought she could read her, she did something else, something so inexplicable that Kara wondered if anyone could explore every inch of her depths. Unfathomable was the only way she could think to describe it. Only, Kara called Lena that in the first article she ever wrote about her.
(Back when Lena filled her office with flowers and… okay so maybe that wasn’t as platonic as she convinced herself. Maybe she really did need glasses).
Kara can’t paint over the shock on her face. “All this time?”
“All this time,” Lena says simply without a hint of hesitation or reservation - she’s already played all her cards. Kara wants to spill the whole deck.
“Me too. It, um, took me a while to notice. I wasn’t trying to hide anything, I just… I think I convinced myself that you could never want me, especially after I broke your trust, and so I just never let myself hope, or dream, or bother to look at what was right in front of me, of what was gripping my heart like a vice.”
“Kelly asked me what I wanted when all of this was said and done. She asked, when I stopped being Supergirl, what did I want to be, what did I want in my life. And there are a bunch of things that are important to me – like sister nights with Alex, and Star Wars marathons with Brainy and Winn, and chasing down stories with Nia, and heart-to-hearts with Kelly where we call Alex a huge dork, but they didn’t feel like the thing. They don’t feel like the right thing.
“But you do. You’ve always felt right, and I was just looking at you, laughing, and looking less burdened than I think I’ve ever seen you and I thought, this, this is what I want. You and me and everything we could do together, everything we could be together.
“Everything, anything, just something with you – so long as you want me too.”
Lena laughs wetly, “Of course, I want you too, you idiot.”
“May I kiss you?” Kara asks, already shifting their food onto the table beside them, shifting herself into Lena’s orbit, fully prepared to be overwhelmed by her gravity.
“I’d be really offended if you didn’t actually.”
“Well in that case.”
It occurs to Kara, as she presses her lips to Lena’s, that she’s never given all of herself in a kiss before. Not in terms of power. She’d kissed past lovers with all the force she had just to see what it was like, to feel the press of a mouth that she couldn’t bruise, couldn’t break, couldn’t ruin. But she’d never kissed like she was collecting every piece of her soul and handing it over so solidly.
Not until now. Not until she kisses Lena like every secret she’s ever kept – for herself or anyone else. Not until she kisses Lena like every hope, dream or wish that she’d realised or forgotten or locked away in some foreign corner of her mind never to be touched again. Not until she kisses Lena with every part of her trust, every part of her love, every part of her want.
Wanting is how she’d describe it best. The wanting press of her mouth to Lena’s lips and the want she feels in return. The wanting touch of her hands to Lena’s sharp jaw, to the pounding heartbeat in her neck, the soft curves of her waist and the want in Lena’s hitch, hitch, hitching breath with every new place Kara explores. The wanting rush of her blood, and the wanting tease of her tongue, and the wanting moan in her throat when Lena’s own wanting fingers slip beneath her skirt and claw.
A mutual wanting that builds from something soft to something that feels like its building up just to destroy everything in its wake.
Kara’s wanting kisses slipping from Lena’s mouth to her jaw to her neck to teeth nipping at her collarbone.
Lena’s low, wanting, “you shouldn’t do that if you want to stop.”
“What if stopping is the last thing I want?”
“Then bite harder,” Lena says trustingly.
Kara swallows harshly before she does just that, sinking her teeth into the skin Lena’s left on show with one too many buttons undone and soothing the mark over with her tongue as Lena’s fingers sink into her hair, scratching delicately but desperately at her scalp. She keeps kissing lower, flicking open one button at a time until Lena’s practically vibrating, until her hands are itching to rip her own shirt from her chest and be done with it, make Kara do something else, make Kara push this further.
Kara gently grips Lena’s hands as they reach to her shoulders to push the button-up down. “Patience,” she chuckles lowly, but she rids Lena of her shirt anyway, unclipping her bra whilst her hands are already busy mapping the newly discovered warmth of Lena’s skin.
Lena looks at Kara differently than she ever has as she sits there, half-naked and wholly vulnerable and Kara almost forgets how to move. “You’re so pretty.”
Lena’s teeth sink into her lip, “yeah?”
“Let me show you.”
It’s not the most coordinated sex Kara has ever had – they’re both a little out of practice and the angles are a little awkward and they’re just starting to figure out what it is that makes the other person tick but Lena coming is a revelation.
Lena pressing her heated face into Kara’s neck and moaning her name as she messily grinds onto her fingers, chasing the last of a fleeting sensation is something of a religion. Lena on her knees on an old couch cushion, Lena expertly twisting her hair into a messy bun in no time at all, Lena between Kara’s thighs with a wet chin and sticky fingers.
Just Lena. Everything about Lena.
The Lena who makes her feel like she’s being swallowed by flames, and the Lena who makes her feel handsome, and the Lena who makes her feel like a protector in a whole different way than ever before. The same Lena who lets Kara press soft kisses to her forehead and help her button her shirt up and half carry her back to Kara’s flat. The same Lena who preens when Kara says she loves her for the hundredth time since the first in the span of two hours and never fails to say it back.
The same Lena who is the answer to every question Kara is ever asked because she’s always the first thing on her mind, and the last, and messily intertwined with all the thoughts in the middle.
Lena is what she wants.
(Lena is her past, present and future.
And Kara can’t wait to experience it all).