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(belonging in the) spaces between the letters

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I don’t know, I think this post is just trying to make that corporation out to be the bad guy. Like, who does this person think they are? The “evidence” they put forth is basically nonexistent; it’s not convincing in the slightest. I think they’re just making stuff up to compensate for the fact that their own...

As Kara reads the reply to a comment on her anonymous blog post, it by all means should make her angry.

And she is a little frustrated. Sure, her evidence could have been a little stronger (she had omitted some details that the public probably shouldn’t know about quite yet), but to accuse her of lying and to start insulting her is just unnecessary.

(Not to mention, if she had actually been lying, shouldn’t she have made more damning statements? The argument doesn’t even make sense.)

But still, there’s something tugging at her to reread the comment because

The “evidence” they put forth

they put forth

they

and—

the fact that their

their own

their

It isn’t something that Kara has consciously thought about before.

But it sends a rush of something tingly through her.

And she doesn’t know why, but she kind of likes it.

--

Gender isn’t something Kara has ever given too much thought to.

Or rather, she thinks about gender when it comes to things like feminism and sexism. She knows that some people are trans. Kryptonese has gender neutral ways to refer to people.

But Kara has never really considered her own gender.

And as she thinks about it now, it just isn’t something she’s ever really understood.

Sure, she’s worn feminine clothing for almost as long as she can remember, and while she doesn’t like all “women’s” clothing, she does like hers. She doesn’t exactly mind when other people call her “she” and “Supergirl”.

But Kara doesn’t think she’s ever felt a part of womanhood. Not really.

All her research suggests that people have some sort of innate idea of their gender, but what does that even feel like?

The more she reads, the more confused she gets.

It reminds her of when Lena talks about the technical details of her research. Kara, for as much as she is interested, can only nod along and get swept up in Lena’s voice. 

The words make sense, but she doesn’t understand.

It’s like everyone else got the memo. Everyone else is in on something, has this thing called gender.

And it’s not even one of those Earth concepts that she eventually just gets used to—no, as far as she’s aware, gender was ubiquitous for Kryptonians too.

Kara’s worried that hers has wandered off somewhere else, lost amongst the stars.

--

Kara shifts as she sits in her booth. She isn’t nervous to meet Maggie, she just still feels a little bad for asking. She probably shouldn’t have gotten to the bar so early. Her only company is a club soda and her whirling thoughts.

“Little Danvers, hey!” Maggie slides in to sit across from Kara, temporarily relieving her from facing this confusing mess alone.

“Hey Maggie, how’s your day been?” 

Maggie shrugs. “Slow for once. Paperwork, mostly. How are you?” Maggie regards Kara softly, and Kara can see why she’s so good for Alex. There’s something in those eyes that conveys the depth of her care, that makes it easier for Kara to voice her worries.

“I’m fine, I just, you know...” Kara’s fingers creep up to her glasses, adjusting them over her darting eyes as if the frames aren’t already sitting perfectly on her face.

She’s being vague, she knows. 

But the words she means carry so much weight. Her superpowers can’t make them lighter and she feels so vulnerable, so off kilter. “And I’m sorry again, I know you aren’t an authority on all this, and I know how tiring it can be to explain things to people, so just tell me to shut up if I ask too many questions or—”

“Kara.” Maggie gently cuts off her rambling. “You’re fine. This isn’t annoying me. I promise. You’re a friend, and you seemed a little overwhelmed.” Head tilt to one side.

“I just…” Kara sighs, trailing her finger through the condensation gathering on her glass. “I don’t get any of it, you know? Like, how does everyone know their gender?”

Maggie hums as she leans back, thoughtful. “Well, not everyone knows. And that’s okay. You don’t need to have a label for it either. But I can try to tell you my experience if it helps?”

Kara nods. Maybe Maggie will say something different than the posts she’s found online.

“I guess I’ve always known that I’m a woman. Which I know probably isn’t that helpful,” she concedes when Kara furrows her brow. “And honestly, I have trouble articulating why I know my own gender. But I like looking like this, and I feel seen when other people recognize me as a woman, too. ‘She’ pronouns feel the best to me—not that pronouns are inherently gendered, but they can be a way to express your gender. And I like participating in my own brand of femininity. I feel real like this.”

“I guess I’m confused since I just don’t really know? If I feel like a woman? Like, I’m fine with the way I dress and the way that people see me, but aren’t clothes supposed to just be clothes? And anyone can be feminine, right?” 

“You’re right,” Maggie starts slowly. 

Kara slumps down further. It’s good to hear Maggie’s perspective, but Kara’s still confused, and she can’t help but feel… alienated, in yet another way. 

“Hey, Kara.” Maggie tilts her head to the other side and seeks out eye contact that Kara can’t quite give. “I know it’s confusing. And I can’t really speak for people who fall outside the binary. But for me, the most important part is knowing that the label ‘woman’ is what I’m comfortable with and what makes me happy.”

Kara takes a sip from her glass and thinks back to the blog post and they. At least she knows that made her feel something. Everything else though…

“I think,” Kara finally says, as quietly as she can while still being loud enough for Maggie to hear over the chatter, “I think I’m afraid that something’s wrong. With me. Nothing fits.” 

“Kara, hey, look at me, please?” Maggie’s voice is soft, earnest in a way that manages to draw Kara’s gaze up. “Labels are meant to fit people, not the other way around. If you don’t like one, you can try another. And if you don’t want to use one at all, then that’s okay too. Labels can be helpful, but it’s about figuring out your personal relationship to gender. Nothing is wrong with you, Kara.”

The words swirl around in Kara’s head. Maggie says them like they’re the truth. 

“You’re sure?” Kara’s fingers curl around the warming glass as she bites her bottom lip, wavering.

“I promise.”

“Okay.” She trusts Maggie. So maybe they are true. “Thank you, Maggie, really.”

Maggie smiles, eyes warm. “Anytime, Kara. I mean it. Just let me know if you want to talk more.”

Kara leaves the bar reassured, yet still without any new answers.

But maybe that’s okay.

--

She sits with the word “woman”. 

It’s not that she hates it.

So maybe she is a woman, and is just confused.

Does she think she may not be a woman because she has internalized too narrow of a definition of it? Does she not like womanhood since society has defined it too rigidly?

Or has she just gotten used to being referred to as a woman over time? Maybe she’s not one at all, and she isn’t viscerally uncomfortable with the label because society has called her a woman over and over to the point where she’s accepted it. 

And what is womanhood, really?

That’s the question that always comes back to her at the end.

Gender still just doesn’t make much sense to her, personally. 

She sits with the word “woman” and unfortunately, it does not reply to her questions like Maggie does.

--

Maggie said “it’s about figuring out your own personal relationship to gender”, and Kara gets the sentiment, but she’s also still stuck in this loop of questioning.

She tries imagining herself as a man. Or at least, imagines herself as a traditionally masculine person. 

It’s not her.

Which, it’s nice to feel pretty sure about something.

But it still leaves her no closer to actually having a label that fits.

Kara starts researching nonbinary identities.

She sees androgynous bodies and clothes and feels so lost because this isn’t her either.

And it still feels like everyone has some sort of deep, intrinsic understanding that she’s missing.

Kara knows she doesn’t need a label. Maggie tells her that and Kara believes it.

But is it really too selfish of her to want one, to feel like she’s not alone?

--

Looking back on the moment when she finds it, it isn’t all that spectacular.

Kara tries on the label “agender” and stamps down the growing excitement at this definition that’s the closest to herself that she’s found so far. 

She’s been through several labels now, and none have been quite right. 

This might be the same.

But she sits with it.

Settles into the spaces between the letters.

And Rao, it feels so much better.

--

“Kara! How are you?” 

Other people might consider Kara to be the sunny one, but to her, it’s Alex’s presence that is Kara’s light.

“Hey Alex!” Kara jumps up from the couch to meet her halfway as she walks into Kara’s apartment, arms full of delicious smelling take-out.

Alex snorts as Kara bounces over to grab the bags out of her hands.

“You know, it seems like you’re more excited to get your hands on this food than to see me. Am I just food delivery to you?” Alex says, watching Kara pull out a fistful of fries with one hand while using the other to place the rest of the food on the table.

“Mmm, no you’re not just food delivery. You’re the best food delivery.”

“Ah, high praise coming from you.” Alex raises her eyebrows but grins. “Hey, you better save me some of those fries!”

In between bites, Kara updates Alex on the latest at CatCo and wonders whether this, her gender (or lack thereof), is worth sharing.

Because it’s not that Kara feels horrible when getting called “she”. And she doesn’t plan to change her appearance. At least not so far.

And she doesn’t want this to change anything between them.

“So, what else is on your mind?” Alex asks, just this side of pointed, once their food is consumed and the conversation is meandering.

Kara panics. “What? Nothing!” Too quick.

“Kar, you’ve been fiddling with your glasses every other minute.”

Caught. 

She resists the urge to adjust the frames again and ends up awkwardly flexing her hand above the table.

“Kara, whatever it is, you can tell me.” 

Kara looks up at Alex. 

She’s played this scenario over and over, considering Alex’s reaction and her own response.

And now, sitting in the moment, Kara knows that she’s not ready to face that yet. She’s only barely begun accepting and exploring this herself. Alex will have questions that Kara doesn’t have the answers to.

Alex waits patiently, knowingly, until Kara can’t help but fill the silence.

“I—there’s something. Nothing bad, I hope? It’s not—it’s nothing about you. But I’m just not… ready to say. I think I need a little more time. I’m sorry.” Kara shakes her head and glances away. Guilt floods into space between them. Kara hates her own uncertainty.

“Kara,” Alex says, gentle in the way she lets herself be with Kara. “Kar, can you look at me?” Kara’s eyes glisten with vulnerability and Alex softens impossibly further. “Whatever it is, it’s okay. And I want you to take all the time that you need.”

“But I—”

“You don’t need to be sorry for waiting until you’re ready, okay? If it’s not something we need to talk about soon, there’s no rush.”

Kara falls into Alex’s embrace and hopes.

--

It’s sunny outside as Kara and Maggie walk through the park. The breeze is chilly though, giving Kara a good excuse to don her pea coat. 

The cut is narrow and it hugs her body slightly, but she thinks the key part is this: while she likes looking just somewhat feminine in this way, she doesn’t want to be perceived as a woman, or any particular gender, really.

She can say it now, in her head at least. She’s agender.

“You’ve never heard anyone else say it?” Maggie asks as they round a bend in the path.

“Nope.” No one who knows her as Kara, at least. “You’re the only one I’ve told.” Kara’s pretty sure Maggie guessed that already, but the little hitch in her breath that only Kara’s super hearing can pick up says something, makes it clear that Maggie understands the trust Kara has in her. “I like the way it sounds in my head, so I guess I just wanted to make sure the same was true when someone else said it.” Kara shrugs a little.

The word “she” doesn’t exactly bother her, but...

“Well, I just want you to know—I’ve got this amazing friend. Their name is Kara, and I am so, so happy and proud that they’re figuring themself out and getting to be themself.”

And, oh—

Kara’s hand flies up to her face, but it’s to wipe away the tears gathering at the corner of her eyes.

She has to force herself to keep moving her legs, to not stop in place. Because she wants to stay in that moment for longer, wants to relive that moment again.

“Kara?” Maggie stops walking and turns toward her. “Was that not okay?”

“No, no, it was perfect.” Kara stops—breathless, heart pounding. She feels slightly ridiculous, tears sticking to her eyelashes in a public park at noon with Maggie, and yet she wouldn’t want it any other way. “I just, I didn’t expect it to mean so much. Can you, can you maybe say it again?” 

Maggie smiles and pulls Kara to a nearby bench. “I met them a little while ago. And at first, I really just thought of them as my girlfriend’s sibling. But they have a way of drawing people in, you know? And I—” Maggie’s voice catches again. “I really consider them to be family now.”

“Maggie—” Kara’s chest is blazing, hot like the tears still leaking out.

“I go over to game night at their apartment. And they have this uncanny knack for winning. In fact I’m almost positive that it’s not just luck—not with their record.” Maggie smirks and Kara laughs not just because of what Maggie noticed, but also because hearing those pronouns—

Rao, it’s so, so affirming.

“We can come back to the game night thing, but I, I think that’s what I want,” Kara breathes, glancing at Maggie. “That’s—I want to be them.”

“Kara.” The tenderness in Maggie’s voice warms them head to toe. “You already are.”

--

Maggie has offered to be here for this, but it’s something that Kara needs to do themself.

And now, well, Kara isn’t reconsidering the offer, but their eyes might bore a hole into their apartment’s bar table, even without their super vision.

Now they get why Alex took them on a walk to come out. Kara can’t make themself look up.

The Danvers sisters.

That’s what Kara and Alex have always been.

“Kar.” Alex’s voice pushes through their thoughts. “Whatever you’re worried about, I promise it’ll be okay.”

She says that, but she has no idea what she’s promising.

“If this is the thing from earlier, I meant what I said. There’s no rush.” 

Kara is glad that Alex can’t listen to their heartbeat since it’s entirely too fast and erratic.

With each breath, they feel like they’re forcing their lungs to expand past where they can, past the impossible tightness in their chest.

They remain silent for a moment longer.

“Kara, you’re worrying me,” Alex says quietly. “Talk to me. What are you so afraid of? Or how can I help?”

“I—” Their throat closes up. “Water, please?”

“Of course.” Alex gets up and heads to the fridge. 

It’s no easier to think without her presence.

Alex’s hand settles on Kara’s shoulder. “Here.” A glass is placed on the table in front of their crossed arms. 

They unfold slowly, careful not to tremble.

Alex sits back down across from them. 

Kara takes a sip of water. It’s partly just to buy time, but they try to relax too, to remind themself that if this situation was reversed, they would be happy for Alex. 

They hope that Alex will be happy for them.

“There’s this thing,” Kara starts. “You know how there are some people that don’t feel—that aren’t a man or a woman?” 

Maggie had assured Kara that Alex knew about gender, at least the basics. Kara sees Alex nod out of the corner of their eye.

“And then some people—there are some people that…” 

Why is it so hard to say?

“Hey.” Alex’s voice is so gentle that it aches. “I love you no matter what.”

I love you no matter what.

“There are some people that don’t have one, and I, I…” Their heart pounds in their ears and it’s nearly all they can hear.

“Is that you?” Alex asks softly.

Kara nods, a single up and down motion because they feel like moving any more will shatter them and this moment completely.

“C’mere.” Alex circles around the table to close the space in between them and Kara buries their head into her shoulder as she hugs them tight. “I love you, and I am so proud of you.”

The dam breaks.

They let in a shuddering breath and Alex holds them steady, like she always has.

Kara breathes. Once. Twice. 

And Alex is still here.

I love you no matter what.

Kara finally pulls away. “This doesn’t change anything?”

“Hey, no. You’re still my annoying little sibling that cheats at game night and steals my potstickers, and I love you just the same as I did before,” Alex promises, her smile genuine.

“So… even if I’m not your sister?” Kara asks. Tentative, mouth twisting, sliding their jaw over to one side.

“It’s you I care about. ‘Danvers siblings’ is just as meaningful to me, and you know what? It’s even better if that’s what you want.”

The biggest knot still in Kara’s stomach starts to dissolve. There are other things they need to bring up, but that can wait. “Danvers siblings, then.”

“Always.”