DISCLAIMER: The characters herein are used without permission. No infringement intended.
AUTHOR'S NOTE: Many, many thanks to the always incredible wyback for the beta.
ARCHIVING: Only with the permission of the author.
FEEDBACK: To mjduncan18[at]gmail.com
Not All Heroes Wear Capes (All the Time)
Lena watched the sky from her couch. As the seconds ticked closer and closer to midnight, her resolve to talk to Kara was-surprisingly enough-as strong as it had been back at the bar. Truthfully, she'd been expecting that urge to fade once Kara was out of her sight. The part of her that was still clinging to her anger had been hoping for it, but it seemed that an apologetic smile and a pair of oh-so-sad baby blues were precisely her particular brand of Kryptonite.
It had just taken time, and the reminder of what friends could be like, for the combined effect to overwhelm her.
She pulled her legs up under herself and straightened the chenille throw draped over her lap, her eyes trained on the darkness outside, searching for the flicker of movement that would signal Kara's appearance. She had traded her blouse and skirt for joggers and the NCU hoodie Kara had never asked to be returned, and her whiskey for tea. She had no idea how things would progress once Kara arrived-hell, she still didn't have a clear idea of what she wanted, exactly-but she did know that this was a conversation that needed to be had sober.
Sure enough, just as the hands on the clock merged at twelve, she appeared. And though the method of arrival was super, there was no mistaking that this was most definitely Kara. She was dressed in the same jeans and sweater she'd been wearing at Prohibition earlier, and her loose curls drifted ever so slightly in the breeze as she touched down lightly onto the balcony.
And, even though Lena had explicitly asked for Kara to meet her on her balcony, it was still disarming to see the two aspects of the woman combined. Knowing that Kara "I flew here on a bus" Danvers could fly was so very different from actually witnessing it. Anger had always clouded her thoughts whenever she saw Supergirl's exploits covered on the news, so she had never really acknowledged that it was Kara flying around, shooting lasers out of her eyes, and generally beating ill-mannered aliens into submission. But she wasn't angry now, and the realization that it was this beautiful woman doing all those extraordinary and dangerous things made her heart ache because she could have helped. Not with the flying or the fighting, exactly, but she could have developed tools for Kara to use that could keep her safe. Better polymers for her suit. A way to block the effects of Kryptonite.
She was a genius with a billion-dollar empire at her fingertips, primed and poised to tackle whatever project she directed it toward, and she could have helped. But she hadn't, because she'd been lied to- they had all lied to her-and, oh, there was that anger...
She took a deep breath and forced the flicker of rage back into its box. She could continue to dwell on that, or she could listen to Kara for ten minutes.
Besides, in the moments when she'd let herself reflect honestly on their shared past, there was one moment, right at the beginning, that she was convinced had altered the trajectory of their friendship.
And it had been entirely her fault.
Maybe, if she hadn't shown Kara that damned alien scanner, everything would have turned out differently. Because of course that would make Kara think she was anti-alien and couldn't be trusted, when all she'd really been doing was showing off for the pretty girl that had made her stomach swoop and dip when she'd smiled at her.
But that was in the past, too, and she would just have to find a way to move beyond it.
Kara had been trying so very hard to do it for the both of them for too long; maybe now it was time to meet her a little of the way.
There was a nervousness in the way Kara's eyes remained on the ground as she quickly combed her fingers through her windblown hair that made Lena's throat tighten. If she were really the heartless bitch Lillian had tried so goddamn hard to raise, she would have been pleased by the show of weakness, emboldened by the knowledge that she had some kind of power over her. But instead, that visual proof that Kara was just as uncertain as she, herself, was, made her sad.
She took a deep breath as she unwound her legs and got to her feet. She couldn't keep going like this. And, judging by the way Kara's eyes snapped to her as she rose, fearful and hopeful all at once, Kara couldn't either. Her pulse beat heavily in the base of her throat as she watched Kara's hands drop, fingers twisting nervously together as she approached, looking every bit like a startled animal on the edge of feeling. It was only the rigid set of her shoulders that signaled her determination to see through whatever it was she wanted from this conversation.
Lena was glad for that sign of strength.
Unsure as she was, Kara hadn't given up on her yet. Part of her was beginning to wonder if Kara ever would.
The night hadn't cooled too significantly from when she had left the bar, and she was glad for it as she stepped outside in her bare feet. For the first time since she'd gotten off the couch, Kara's eyes darted from her own, and Lena's throat tightened at the way her brow pinched with concern when she saw Lena wasn't wearing anything on her feet.
That concern was masked by the time Kara's gaze once again met hers, though her eyes were still wary. "I'm sorry about earlier," Kara apologized. "I thought it'd be okay to meet them at the bar because Kate was looking for ideas for hers, and you've been working so much lately that-"
"Kara," Lena interrupted with a small shake of her head. She should have been annoyed by the fact that Kara knew how much time she had been spending at the office, but she was more concerned by the way Kara was still twisting and untwisting her fingers with enough force that it was a wonder they didn't break. "It's okay."
Kara shook her head. "I told them..." Her voice trailed off as Lena moved closer to stop her hands from fidgeting.
From the way Sara had insisted she and Kate were trying to help, it was clear Kara had indeed told the duo about her, and Lena couldn't help but wonder aloud, "What did you tell them?"
Kara's hands twitched like she was going to pull away, but Lena didn't relax her grip, and Kara submitted with a sigh. "Everything. Well, Alex did some of the filling-in too, because her and Sara..." She huffed a nervous little laugh. "But that's a whole ‘nother story that I'm sure you don't want to hear about and-"
Lena squeezed Kara's hands to stop her rambling. "Kara..."
Kara's throat bobbed heavily. "I told them that I screwed up and ruined the best thing in my life." She licked her lips. "That I miss you," she whispered, her voice cracking with emotion. "That I wish I had done it all so differently. That on the nights when I do sleep, I dream about you." A tear rolled down her cheek as she confessed, "And how on the mornings after I've actually slept and found a few hours' peace with you at my side again in my dreams, I've called in sick to work because the idea of going out into the world without you hurts too much."
Lena's heart clenched at the anguish in Kara's voice. She hadn't seen this level of emotion from her since the night Kara had finally told her the truth about who she was. "Hey..."
"It's not your fault, but I just..." Kara sniffed. "I lost my entire world once, and I'm trying so hard not to let it happen again, to do whatever it takes to be allowed in your life, but I don't know how much longer I can keep doing this, Lena."
Lena's eyes filled with tears at the naked fragility in Kara's confession. "Kara."
"I'm sorry," Kara murmured.
Lena tightened her grip on Kara's hands. "Stop apologizing."
Kara's eyes widened, and she nodded, looking like it would take just one harsh word from Lena to shatter her.
Lena looked down at Kara's hands in hers. "I've missed you, too."
Silence heavy with longing coiled around them, the air so thick with feelings that it was suffocating.
"I'm so tired of missing you," Kara confessed, her voice still thick with tears.
Lena sniffed and looked up into Kara's watery eyes. This, hurting like this, was doing neither of them any good. They were both hollowed-out shells of who they'd been before and, god, how she hated it. She was tired of hurting. Of being angry. Of missing Kara. Was so fucking tired of seeing only pain and caution in those baby blues that had used to radiate so much love and joy. "Me too."
Kara nodded sadly. "I wish I'd done the whole thing differently."
Lena wished that, too, but what's done was done. All they could do was find a way forward. She caressed Kara's hands with her thumbs and gave them a light squeeze. "I don't want to keep feeling like this."
"Me neither," Kara said, the corners of her eyes crinkling ever so slightly as she realized she'd echoed Lena's words from a moment before. She sighed, and that hint of lightness disappeared from her expression. "So, what do we do?"
That was the million-dollar question. And, earlier that day, perhaps, Lena's answer to it would have been different, but right now, at this moment, with Kara's strong, warm hands in hers, there was only one acceptable answer.
"Not this." Lena tightened her grip on Kara's hands when she immediately tried to pull away. "No, this"-she squeezed Kara's hands-"is perfect." And it was. Something inside her had always settled whenever they touched, soothed by the steady warmth and the open affection Kara gave all too freely. "I mean...what about brunch?"
A small smile slowly tugged at Kara's lips as she echoed, "Brunch?"
Lena nodded. "Yes. Brunch. Like we used to do. Tomorrow? Say, ten o'clock at Delilah's?"
"Um, well, I'd love to, but, you see, Kate and Sara are only going to be here for a few days, and we're supposed to go... But I really want to, I swear! Rao, you have no idea how much, but I just –"
"I'd forgotten how adorable you are when you ramble," Lena murmured fondly, rather enjoying the way Kara's cheeks immediately pinked at the compliment. She'd long since accepted that she had broken rule number one of the Sapphic Code of Conduct by falling for a straight girl (and her best friend, no less, because she was an overachiever to a fault). And she had no doubt those feelings fueled her anger at Kara's deception-but while she had never stepped over that line, she couldn't resist tiptoeing along it every now and again just because she was a glutton for punishment and she couldn't resist. "Bring them along."
"Are you sure?" Kara eyed her skeptically. "I mean, they can be a lot."
"Yes, I kind of already got that impression." Lena squeezed Kara's hands and tilted her head imploringly. "So, what do you say? Brunch tomorrow?"
Kara nodded. "I'll be there."
Lena smiled. "Good." For the first time in months, she felt lighter. Like she could finally breathe. "Does ten work for you guys? Or do they have-"
"That's perfect!" Kara interrupted with a grin, her bright, earnest eyes reflecting the light of the moon. "We'll be there. I promise."
"I look forward to it," Lena murmured.
"Me too," Kara whispered, her grin gentling into something familiar and soft that curled around Lena's heart and squeezed so gently that it nearly brought tears to her eyes. She caught her lower lip between her teeth as her eyes danced over Lena's face, and her eyes fluttered in a long blink as she let it slip free. "Can I..." Her voice trailed off and she shook her head. "I know this is... I mean, I get that we're not, but..."
Lena's heart thumped up into her throat. What could Kara possibly want that would have her acting so nervous? "Kara, just ask..."
Kara ducked her head shyly. "Can I hug you? Before I go? I just..."
That wonderful, heavenly feeling of being able to breath left Lena in an instant, and she didn't mind in the least as she nodded and held out her arms. "Of course."
Kara sighed and, in a blink of an eye, had Lena gathered tenderly in her arms. "Thank you," she breathed.
Lena squeezed her eyes shut and tucked her head in the crook of Kara's neck. "Thank you."
Eventually, and far too soon for Lena's liking, Kara's hold loosened, and Lena licked her lips as she looked up into Kara's face. "I'm glad your friends ran into me tonight."
"Yeah." Kara rubbed a hand over the back of her neck. "Me too." Her lips once again curled into that soft smile Lena so adored as her hand fell back to her side. "Ten o'clock?"
Lena nodded. "I can't wait."
"Me neither. Good night, Lena," Kara murmured. And then, before Lena could echo the sentiment, she heaved a sigh that rang with relief, and rose into the air.
Lena folded her arms over her stomach as she watched Kara fly off, and she couldn't contain her smile when her ears detected an ever so faint whoop of joy and her eyes tracked the fading shadow of Kara twisting into an elongated barrel roll. She was sure Kara hadn't meant for her to witness either, but it was reassuring to know that all of this, everything that had just happened, had left Kara feeling as elated as she did.
To Be Continued
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