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Ethereal

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Lena can tell something is wrong.

The party is in full swing but Kara is nowhere to be seen and when she finally finds her, sitting by herself at a table far away from the main crowd, she can’t help but feel something is oddly off.

“Hey, you,” she greets a glum-looking Kara as she walks over, clocking the soft ‘hey’ the Kryptonian mumbles back to her, “where did you go? You’ve missed all the fun. Nia caught the bouquet.”

She smiles and takes a seat opposite of Kara, watching carefully as the older woman glances into the distance for a few seconds. There’s something fidgety about Kara, the way she plants her feet on the ground, the way her left hand awkwardly grips the wooden chair in a vice grip, the way her right hand on the table jerks every few seconds. Lena glances down at the multi-colored center piece on the table before leaning back in the chair and crossing her legs, eyeing her friend carefully.

“Did you fly away?” She asks good-humoredly, determined to lift’s Kara’s mood, “No rest, even on your sister’s wedding day?” She jokes, but Kara doesn’t take the bait. Instead, she fidgets with her dress and looks pained, and something is wrong. Lena frowns and leans in closer, “Hey,” she tries, “what’s wrong?”

“I’m supposed to be the strongest person in the world, but I think I am actually the weakest.” Kara says self-depreciatingly.

It may be one of the silliest things she’s ever heard Kara say, and she’s heard the blonde rave about ramen pizza before. Without giving it a further thought, Lena reaches her hand across the table, trying to offer a friendly squeeze of her hand. Unlike similar times in the past, Kara doesn’t actually take her up on the offer and Lena frowns slightly at the lack of contact.

“What are you talking about?”

Kara unravels in front of her. “Ms. Grant,” Kara looks like she’s about to burst out crying, “the glasses, I give speeches inspiring people to live their best lives but she’s right, I,” Kara sighs, “I’m too afraid to live my own.”

“No,” Lena hears herself interject, “that’s not true. Kara -”

“It is,” the blonde nods sadly, “my entire life I’ve hid behind these glasses, it’s got in the way of every job I ever had, everything I ever wanted to do,” she continues, moving a strand of loose hair out of her face, “every relationship,” she pauses, “every friendship…”

The way she says it, the way she looks at Lena while she says it, make her want to reach over and touch Kara, wrap her up in her arms and tell her it’s fine, but instead, she offers something light-hearted, anything to pull Kara out of her current train of thought.

“Well,” she smirks, “maybe we did have a bit of a bumpy road.”

Kara nods in appreciation but doesn’t quite smile. “I think hiding who I am is the reason I couldn’t pass the courage gauntlet, I created Supergirl that night because the thought of saving my sister as myself was too terrifying.”

Lena pushes herself up from the chair and Kara follows her lead, falling into pace next to her as they start walking to the dance floor further down the park.

“For me it was always about protecting the Luthor name,” Lena offers, “You know, I went from trying to make that name stand for something good to trying to be my true mother’s daughter.” She smiles at Kara as she glances at her, “My life was always framed by someone else; it wasn’t until Lillian told me the truth that I realized I haven’t been living my own life.” Lena shrugs, smiling wider this time, “And now finally, I am, and it feels amazing.”

She stops, turns to face Kara and musters all the restraint she possesses to not reach out and stroke the blonde’s cheek until she stops frowning.

“I don’t even know what that would feel like for me, connecting with someone as my whole self.” She frowns, “To not be afraid, to just be who I am.”

“Sounds like it could be empowering.” Lena swallows back the lump in her throat.

“What if I just,” Kara breathes, “let myself be who I am, and someone gets hurt? It,” she sighs, looking up at Lena, “it happened before.”

“If you are talking about me, Kara, I promise -”

“No, wait,” Kara mumbles, holding out her hands and prompting Lena to take them, “I - I’ve never told you this because I didn’t,” she pauses, “I didn’t want to make things worse.”

“Make what worse?” Lena inquires, an uneasy heat running up her spine, “What are you talking about?”

“About two years ago, I got a visit from Mxyzptlk,” she chews her bottom lip gently, “Mxy. And basically, he offered me the chance to go back in time and tell you that I was Supergirl as some sort of ideal do-over.”

Oh.

“The deal was that if I liked what happened, he would make that timeline the reality.” Kara purses her lips together, “And I felt so guilty about lying to you, Lena, I decided to try it. First I told you right before Mercy attacked L-Corp, but that made you run to Sam in Metropolis, meaning you couldn’t save my life when the atmosphere was full with Kryptonite. I tried telling you sooner during the next attempt, but you still got pissed off at me and by the time you came around, Sam,” she swallows, “Reign killed you.”

“Okay.” Lena meekly responds, her throat dry.

“I told you when we became friends, but then that meant you got kidnapped by Ben Lockwood. I saved you but he murdered everyone I loved.” Kara shakes her head, “I even tried to go to an alternate reality where we never became friends in the first place and,” blue eyes find green ones, “you wouldn’t have wanted to be that Lena.” The blonde squeezes Lena’s hands tightly, “There was never a right time to tell you. And I stupidly thought there might be - I wanted to be myself so badly and all it did was hurt people. I hurt you, so badly, and the only thing I wanted to do was save you from -”

“You can’t always be our savior, Kara.” Lena says gently, “you shine your light and inspire others to shine theirs - your words, not mine. And if someone does come, if they try to mess with this,” she swallows, “family, we’ll take them on together. El mayarah.”

There’s maybe a beat of silence between them after she repeats Kara’s family motto to her when Kara suddenly breaks. The small smile she was forcing falters and instead, she brings a shaking hand up to her face and takes the glasses off - and then the tears come. Lena stands in shock, unsure what is happening to the normally always hopeful, cheerful blonde, but she realizes something must be done and fast.

“Hey,” Lena steps in closer, taking a firm hold on Kara’s shoulders when the first sob escapes her lips, “hey, it’s okay.” She tries to reassure the blonde, pressing her lips against the shell of her earlobe gently, “I’m not going anywhere.”

Kara stops pinching the bridge of her nose but sniffles and looks at their friends in the distance before daring to look at her and fuck, Lena doesn’t think she’s ever seen Kara this vulnerable before. She drops her hands from Kara’s shoulders and there’s a familiar pull in her chest when Kara swallows and looks her in the eye, blue eyes flickering down just for a second before making eye contact again.

It’s in this moment Lena thinks she should say something, admit something that maybe has been brewing in her for the past five years. There’s something ethereal about the way Kara looks in this moment, the soft braids with the little flowers delicately tucked in, the way that dress brings out the blue of her eyes like she’s never seen before. God, I love you. She swallows back the words as soon as she hears Kara breathe in sharply.

“Of all the friends I have ever had,” Kara cries, “you have pushed me the most,” she swallows before she looks down again and Lena feels her heartbeat pound in her chest, “challenged me the most. You have always been the one,” she mutters, “the one.”

Kara looks like she’s about to start crying again so Lena instinctively wraps her arms around her, pulling her in closer. She feels Kara let out a breath she doesn’t think the blonde knew she was holding up and then they’re swaying gently, the blonde tightening her hold on her marginally, just enough for Lena to feel her bottom lip start to quiver.

“You’ve made me a better person,” she offers in exchange, “thank you.”

There is something in the air when Kara pulls away from her and wipes her tears away. Lena swallows back the tears and quickly runs her thumbs under her eye to make sure her eyeliner didn’t bleed. When she looks back up at Kara, she can tell the Kryptonian is about to say something else - God, she wants her to.

There is something inherently unfair about watching her best friend feel so downright shit about herself, not when she’s undoubtedly the most wonderful being she’s ever come across. Lillian’s words come back to mind. Live the life you want to live. She almost smiles at the realization the speech she gave Lena on her deathbed resembles the speech she gave Kara just now.

“Kara! Lena!” Nia calls for them from a distance, breaking the silence, “Come!”

She cannot, in good conscience, let Alex and Kelly drive away without seeing them off, especially now she’s Esme’s godmother. She looks over at their friends before turning back to Kara, who’s still wiping silent tears away with one hand as the other clasps her glasses.

“Oh,” she swallows, “Are you okay?” She asks gently, resting her hand on Kara’s waist for just a brief second.

“Yeah,” Kara sounds slightly hoarse, “I’m fine.”

She leaves Kara standing, rushing toward the car, and waving at the newlyweds. Esme is even more enthusiast than she is, cheering and waving as her mothers drive off in J’onn’s convertible space car. She can hear the sound of heels in the gravel of the driveway and when she glances to her left, Kara is standing there waving off her sister, glasses nowhere in sight. Lena smiles as James picks up Esme and tells her he’s got another surprise for her and slowly the crowd disperses from the venue entrance, until it’s just the two of them, again.

“You want to head back and grab a drink?” She offers Kara a warm smile and walks over, looping her arm through Kara’s, “I think we both need one. Where did your glasses go?” She jokes, “Don’t tell me your dress has pockets.”

“I don’t think I need them anymore.” Kara says gently, pulling Lena closer as they fall into a slow walking pace and walk back to where the rest of the guests are gathered, “I think I’m ready.”

“Ready?” Lena echoes, glancing sideways.

“Yeah,” the blonde nods, “I want to be me, just me. And fuck the consequences.”

If she gasps, it’s only because she doesn’t think she’s ever heard Kara swear. Her obvious shock makes Kara laugh - it feels genuine this time and Lena feels like a weight is lifted off of her shoulders now Kara no longer looks like she’s about to burst out crying. They find Brainy and Nia sitting with Winn and J’onn at one of the tables and Kara offers to get them drinks as Lena pulls a chair out and sits down with their friends.

“Is she okay?” Winn asks, nodding in Kara’s direction as she walks off to the bar, “The cheeks look a bit,” he gestures, “pinkish.”

“She will be,” Lena smiles at him before watching Kara lean against the bar and put their drinks order in, “I think she came to an important realization.”

“An important realization! I told you,” Brainy exclaims triumphantly, nudging Nia next to him, “did I not tell you there was a 94% chance that -”

Nia shuts him up with a hushed Querl and normally Lena’s paranoia would take over but maybe today out of all days is a day where she should just accept Brainy’s quirky outbursts for what they are and leave it at that. After all, there’s too much to be happy about. Kara returns with a gin and tonic for herself, a generous pour of single malt for her, something fruity for Winn, a white wine for Nia and drinks for J’onn and Brainy she doesn’t quite recognize.

“Did you lose your glasses?” Nia frowns, sipping her rioja, “Are you having a Hannah Montana moment where you’re having the best of both worlds? What’s happening?”

“I um,” Kara puts her glass down and sighs heavily, “I’m going to sign the contract.” She looks up at Nia, “I’m going to agree to become Cat’s new editor-in-chief. And” she pauses briefly, running her fingers over the rim of her glass nervously, “I think I’m ready for the world to know that Kara Danvers is Supergirl.”

The table falls quiet. Nia looks at Kara, then Lena, and the latter shrugs. She knew Andrea had sold up to Cat the second she proposed to the Argentinian to collaborate on her future philanthropist projects. It had felt right, like a full circle moment, to know that CatCo worldwide media would be back in the hands of the woman who made it the powerhouse Lena had purchased years ago. She had had dinner and drinks with Andrea, who had asked her between a bottle of rioja and another malbec how much profit she had made from the company. When Lena admitted it had been well over half a billion, Andrea had muttered bien ahí under her breath and then declared she would sell to Cat with the same profit margin.

And would add a clause to rehire Pulitzer-winning reporter Kara Danvers.

Lena may have had something to do with that, although she made Andrea promise to not breathe a word about it to anyone.

“In the future,” Brainy breaks the silence, “this is how it is. You don’t have to fear, Kara, the decisions you are making today are ones that benefit humankind in the long run. Just like -”

This time, Lena definitely spots something is up when Nia shoves her elbow into Brainy’s side with a hushed shut up. When she looks at the younger woman, Nia is fast to look away. The age-old paranoia rears its ugly head as Lena suddenly feels like maybe she got it all wrong, maybe there will always be secrets and she’s not as much part of this weird family as she thought she was - just like she wasn’t a true part of the Luthor clan.

“If you’ll excuse me,” she pushes her chair back abruptly, causing Kara to startle, “I just need a second -”

“Lena,” she hears Kara call out as she walks away from the table, “Lena!”

She makes it around the corner of the makeshift bar before Kara catches up with her, muttering under her breath as her heels struggle with the soft grassy terrain. Lena looks down at her own Louboutin heels, relatively certain she’s going to have to get them professionally cleaned, but that is not a problem that matches the one she’s currently facing when Kara ducks to catch her gaze.

“What’s wrong?”

“Don’t take this the wrong way,” Lena feels her heart pound in her chest, “I am so glad that you have made your decision and you can live your authentic life, I just think that maybe I should not -”

“No,” Kara’s voice sounds louder than she thought it would, “don’t.” The blonde silences her, “Don’t do that. You belong here, with us,” she adds in a slightly softer voice, “with me.

“Kara.”

“If I were to truly live my authentic life,” Kara breathes, taking one step closer to her, then two, “I think there’s something else I should tell you.”

Her heartbeat thumps so loudly, her skin feels so hot all of a sudden, she is surprised the double-sided tape she carefully applied hours prior is holding up. Please hold up. Kara is standing close, so close she can make out the small freckles that adorn her collarbones and can smell the shower gel she’s secretly stocked up on because she knows it’s Kara’s favorite when she stays over. Without thinking, she brings up her hand to Kara’s shoulder and gently runs her fingers over the blonde’s collarbone, stopping only when she feels Kara’s heartbeat pulse under her fingertips once she reaches her neck.

“It’s you,” Kara whispers gently, “my perfect partner at game night, the rock who anchors me to my humanity, the person I,” she pauses, “think I fell for the second I walked into that office. It’s always been you, even when it wasn’t,” Kara sighs, “you’re it, for me.”

Lena doesn’t quite move when Kara brings her hands up to cup her face, but the second Kara’s eyes flicker down to her lips and the blonde leans in closer, she knows she’s a goner. She blindly reaches for Kara’s waist and digs her fingers into the fabric of the dress as Kara leans in and brushes her lips against Lena’s.

“I love you,” Kara manages to murmur between soft pecks, “so much, Lena. Please stay with me.”

If she feels extremely delicate and light in a way that seems not to be of this world, it has nothing to do with how carefree she suddenly feels, and everything with how Kara Zor-El looks at her with blue eyes she feels she could drown in.

“Always.”

She finally feels loved, she finally belongs. She feels ethereal.