“I guess I just never felt whole. I have, I have different sides to myself. Kind of like two different people. But the two parts of me, just, they don’t really go together. Actually, I’m at my sister’s wedding right now, and her life is just blossoming. She’s fully at home with who she is, and what she stands for, and it;’s amazing. You can feel it. I just feel-”
“Now, let’s take a look at everything that Supergirl and Kara Danvers have accomplished separately. And then, let’s imagine what you could do if you became one integrated authentic being.”
“I don’t know if I’m ready.”
“Kira, you need to stop making excuses, and you need to decide what your course will be. Now, there is important work to be done and I hope you’ll join me. But more than that, I hope that you will choose to become your full self because that would really be something to see. And, it would be interesting, because this is boring.”
“Thank you, Ms. Grant. I really needed to hear that.”
“I believe in you, I always have.”
Cat Grant’s words swam in Kara’s head as she stagnated at the small wooden table. Her hand fidgeted compulsively at the thick familiar glasses framing her eyes. She’d been so grateful when Elijah gave her these, only a few short weeks after her pod landed. Earth had been terrifying then. These glasses had given her a small reprieve from the constant sensory overload, a layer of protection between her and the chaos of uncontrolled powers. A line between her and what would become Supergirl.
Kara was startled out of her thoughts then by a familiar voice.
“Hey, you,” Lena called out, striding toward her. Kara looked up to see Lena’s overpowering smile.
“Hey.” Kara managed weakly as Lena reached the table, sitting in the chair opposite her.
“Where’d you go? You missed all the fun. Nia caught the bouquet.” Lena said, a smile still dancing in her eyes. Kara couldn’t manage to comment, she could hardly manage to process what Lena was saying. “Hey, did you fly away to rescue some people? No rest? Not even on your sister’s wedding day?” When Kara didn’t reply to this, either, Lena seemed to grow concerned. “Hey, what’s wrong?”
“I’m supposed to be the strongest person on Earth, but I think I’m actually the weakest.” Kara blurted the most recent in a stream of thoughts.
“What are you talking about?” Lena asked, confused. Kara understood that. A few months ago she too would have been confused by the sentiment. But, now everything was caving in. For so long, she’d been split into two people, and when something splits, things fall through the cracks. Parts of herself that didn’t fit into either archetype were abandoned. She was two empty halves of nothing.
“Ms. Grant, glasses,” Kara began, trying and failing to articulate. After a long pause, she tried again. “I give speeches inspiring people to live their best lives, but she’s right. I'm too afraid to live my own.” Her own, singular. One life. The idea felt foreign.
“No, that’s not true, Kara-” Lena was clearly taken aback.
“It is. My entire life I’ve hid behind these glasses. It’s gotten in the way of every job I’ve ever had, everything I’ve ever wanted to do. Every relationship, every friendship.” Kara lamented.
“Maybe we did have a bit of a bumpy road.”
“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.” Kara thought back to that night as she spoke. She remembered the adrenaline rush and the uncoordinated flying; the icy wind and the ocean spray. She remembered muscles burning from lack of use as she landed the plane. She remembered standing on the wing, drenched and trembling. She had been so scared, but also exhilarated. Like, for the first time in years, she was really alive.
Lena reached out then, taking one of Kara’s clammy hands in her own. Their eyes met as Lena spoke. “Look, you’ve had your entire life, people telling you who you’re supposed to be, and that if you didn’t hide your true self then the people would get hurt. I mean, it’s tough to move beyond those types of core wounds. When Lillian told me she basically programmed the magic out of me as a child I felt devastated. But I was devastated because I realized I didn’t have the chance to grow up to be the person I was supposed to be. And I think it’s the same for you.”
Lena stood then, pulling Kara up with her. She began leading Kara along the outskirts of the venue as she continued. “For me, it was always about protecting the Luthor name. You know, I went from trying to make that name stand for something good, to trying to be my true mother’s daughter. I 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. And finally, now I am, and it feels amazing.”
Kara mulled over Lena’s words, trying to understand, when something finally clicked, and she suddenly felt very weak.
For the past six years, Kara had felt split between herself and Supergirl. Really, though, the split had been made a long time ago, with a new last name and a pair of glasses. Kara Zor-El had landed on Earth, but soon she became Kara Danvers. Kara Danvers was just as much a persona as Supergirl. Kara felt like she was falling, unable to fly. But Lena’s hand was there, in hers, a soft anchor.
They’d stopped walking now, and Kara finally took a moment to regard Lena, trying to ground herself. Lena wore a deep purple top with sheer sleeves, slit down the front, and tucked into satin pants of a much brighter purple, a color match that didn’t seem like it should work, and yet somehow Lena pulled it off. Her black hair was slicked back, putting her devastating smoky eye and dark lip on full display. Lena really was gorgeous, Kara thought absently. And something altogether unfamiliar ached as she thought this. Confused, Kara tried to delve further into the feeling, but more fears just bubbled to the surface as she searched.
“I don’t even know what that would feel like for me. Connection with someone as my whole self. To not be afraid to just be who I am.” Kara choked out.
“It sounds like it could be empowering,” Lena said, voice thick with purpose. Kara recoiled internally, still afraid.
“But what if I let myself just be who I am and someone gets hurt?”
“You can’t always be our savior, Kara. You shine your light and inspire others to shine theirs. Your words, not mine. If somebody does come, if they try to mess with this family, then we will take them on together.” Lena took Kara’s other hand then, clutching both now. “El mayarah.”
The little composure Kara was maintaining shattered suddenly as Lena quoted Kara’s own family crest. Stronger Together. In a fit of emotion, Kara ripped the glasses from her face as her eyes overflowed with tears. She felt like an open wound, painfully exposed. But Lena was there. Lena was clean gauze, yellow sunlight. Healing, warmth.
“Hey, hey. It’s okay.” Lena said, voice soothing. She dropped Kara’s hands in favor of taking her by the arms, holding her close. Her eyes were so encouraging, so loving. Kara felt overcome with affection so strong that her heart began to feel too heavy for her body.
“But, Lena, I don’t even know who I am. I feel like, for my whole life, I’ve been wearing masks. Glasses, capes. I don’t feel real.”
“Kara,” Lena began, hands still wrapped around Kara’s arms. “I know what it’s like to feel lost, to struggle with my identity. But, Kara, I know you. I know Kara Danvers. She’s kind, she’s caring, and she’s so, so passionate. She’s quirky in the most endearing way possible.” a light blush crept into Lena’s cheeks as she spoke. “And I know Supergirl. She’s strong and righteous and self-sacrificing to a fault. And both of these women,” Lena paused then, reaching up so one hand rested on Kara’s cheek. “Are a part of you. They’re different aspects of a woman so, so much greater than the sum of her parts.” Lena was crying now, too. “And I can’t wait to get to know her, because I already love her.” Lena inhaled shakily when she finished, smiling big even as tears streaked down her pale cheeks.
Kara held Lena’s gaze as she took in her words, that strange ache resurfacing. She had no words, she realized, for how much Lena meant to her. Still, she tried.
“Of all the friends I have ever had you have pushed me the most. Challenged me the most” Kara said between light sobs, leaning her face into Lena’s palm.
Lena began crying harder then, and suddenly pulled Kara in for a tight hug. “You’ve made me a better person. Thank you” Kara heard Lena say in her ear, voice shaky. Kara hugged her back, clinging as hard as was safe. The ache was stronger now, thudding in tandem with her too-heavy heart. It was a strange feeling. Like an unreachable longing for something she couldn’t see. But Lena was here, wrapped warmly in her arms. Sturdy and safe. And yet, this only made the ache worse.
Futilely, she tried to distract herself, to focus only on reality. Lena's hands pressed into her back, Lena’s hair tickling her nose. The sound of quiet sobs against her ear. The scent of Lena’s musky perfume. She loved Lena so achingly much.
Oh. Oh .
The power of the realization hit Kara like a freight train. Her arms loosened around Lena and then tightened again. Fear rising anew.
Finally, she pulled back enough to be face to face with Lena again, though they still embraced. “Lena,” Kara started, but her throat closed up and she found it impossible to finish.
“Yes, Kara?” Lena asked. Her sobs had slowed now, and she breathed heavily as she searched Kara’s face with misty eyes.
Kara took a few breaths, trying hard to hold onto her bravery. “Lena, I, Rao,” Kara took a gulping breath. “So many things fell through the cracks. So much of,” A sob. “So much of who I’m supposed to be.” Kara reached her own hand up now, cupping Lena’s face just as Lena had cupped hers. “I don’t know why I couldn’t see it before, but, Lena, I, I just. And you’re just so,” Kara was shaking, terrified, and chasing words she couldn’t grasp. Lena’s expression was unreadable as she watched Kara struggle. “Well, you’re you, Lena. And I may not know who the woman I am supposed to be is yet. But, I know that she loves you. Is in love with you. I, I’m in love with you, Lena.”
Lena was silent for a moment after Kara finished, but then Kara saw the unmistakable crinkle of a smile in the corner of Lena’s eye, and before she even knew what was happening, Lena closed the distance between them, kissing Kara squarely on the mouth.
It was like flying, Kara found, Like shooting up, up, up, and bursting through the atmosphere, surrounded by the stars. Lena’s soft lips were on hers and Kara felt like she was burning up from the inside out, going supernova. Kara was crying harder now, she realized, sobbing desperately into the kiss, but Lena just kept holding her, pressing gentle kisses to Kara’s tear-stained lips, swallowing her sobs.
After what felt both like an eternity and no time at all, Lena pulled back just a few inches and giggled.
“What?” Kara asked, trying futilely to catch her breath.
“Kara, we’re airborne,” Lena said, pointing downward.
Sure enough, they were hovering a few feet off the ground, Lena wrapped securely in Kara’s arms. “Oh, Rao,” Kara muttered, quickly lowering them back to the ground. “I’m so sorry, Lena.”
Lena smiled and laughed again. “Don’t be. Kara, do you have any idea how long I’ve been waiting to do that?”