Lena can’t breathe. She can’t think. She can’t concentrate. She’s barely there at all. Somehow she’s still on her feet, no matter how much they’re trembling, no matter how much she wants to collapse on the floor. She hasn’t spoken. She’s not sure she can’t get words out past the clog in her throat, and even then she’s not quite sure she trusts the words her brain would pick to say anyway.
Her face is plastered into a smile, one she hopes doesn’t look as obviously fake as it feels, but she still can’t breathe. She feels like the world has crumbled on her chest. Maybe it has. There’s no doubt in her mind that her entire world shattered the moment Kara spoke those words.
I’m getting married.
She’s getting married. Kara is getting married and what’s Lena supposed to say? What’s she supposed to say when her chest feels like it’s about to cave in and she has no will left to stop it? Maybe she should have told Kara that she hated Mike the moment she met him, probably even the first time she heard his name. Maybe she should have told Kara that she thinks this is a bad decision, that she thinks Mike isn’t right for her, that they should have given it more time before they got engaged, that everyone silently agrees that Mike isn’t worthy of her.
Maybe she should have told her that she loved her.
Maybe Lena, in some last ditch attempt to save her sanity, should have outright admitted that she’d had a crush on Kara since the first day they met in college. Maybe Lena should have told her that she had been in love with her since she missed a day and Kara brought her copies of all her notes - doodles and all. She should have been honest. She should have said the words I’m in love with you or I’ve wanted you for five years or some amalgamation of both.
Just in case it meant something.
Just in case it would stop the ceaseless hammering in her chest as her heart rampaged in its cage.
Instead she says, “Congratulations,” in a voice she hopes is convincing enough. It must be if the way Kara flings herself into her arms is anything to go by. It makes it worse. The way Kara holds on for dear life. The way she wraps her warmth around Lena like a blanket, one that Lena knows will blow away the moment the snowstorm hits, and she’ll be left feeling nothing but cold, haunted by what she once had. Lena still hugs back. Still clutches onto Kara like she won’t have to let go, like maybe if she hugs hard enough she’ll wake up in a world where this isn’t happening, where she can be forever consumed by an ineffable warmth.
It doesn’t work.
Kara pulls away.
“Thank you for not laughing. Alex laughed. She said that she thought I was joking.” If only. If only this was all some elaborate prank and someone would rush out of her bedroom with a camera. If only Kara would do that adorable laugh of hers when she couldn’t quite manage to get through telling a joke. If only she had the courage to laugh herself. If only she was brave enough to tell Kara that this whole thing was ridiculous, that the fact that she had put up with Mike for a year was already ridiculous, but that this was something else entirely.
“I’m sure that’s just Alex being Alex.” Kara nods quietly, mulling over Lena’s words. They both know she’ll let it go, just like she always does when Alex scoffs at Mike’s presence under her breath, or makes thinly veiled comments about his suitability. It’s what Lena loves most about Alex. That, and the fact that they are the undefeated champions of charades at game night (five years of being the self appointed chief members of the ‘Protect Kara Danvers’ squad had left them rather attuned to one another).
Kara bounces back to excitement quickly, and Lena doesn’t think she’s seen her this excited since she got her first cover story - the one Lena had handed to her on a silver platter because she was a fantastic business woman, might she add. Lena won’t ruin this for her. Lena won’t be the one to make this fall apart. Lena can smile, and smile, and push her feelings down deeper than they’ve ever been.
Lena won’t ruin this for her.
“So I actually have a proposition for you.” Kara smiles. Lena’s fairly sure she’s going to need a glass of wine, a large glass, perhaps even a bottle. Two bottles could be good. There’s also always the choice of doing something harder - one of her latest investors had given her a bottle of something expensive that smelt like it could take her eyebrows off so that was always a contender.
“Anything,” Lena says reverently, despite her reservations. It’s true. She would do anything for Kara. Has already done everything for Kara. It’s her biggest weakness but Kara’s her biggest strength, the person who believed in her when no one else did, the person who picked her up off the floor when she was too torn down to do it herself. Kara built Lena up, fortified her, and in return Lena would do anything, everything, to see Kara smile.
“Will you be a bridesmaid?”
“Of course.” She’s a masochist. The ultimate masochist. She’s signing herself up for front row seats to the worst day of her life with a smile. It’s a terrible decision but it’s the one she’s making. It’s the one she will continue to make if it results in Kara’s beaming grin and warm arms wrapped back around her body. Lena will take whatever she can get - even if it’s just a whiff of raspberry shampoo and temporary warmth.
She can think all about the repercussions of her decisions in the next life.
Lena should never have introduced Alex to Maggie Sawyer.
Not because they weren’t perfect for one another. Not because Maggie had spilled certain photos of her overt punk phase from high school to the Danvers sisters. Not even because she had the misfortune on walking in on the two of them in the midst of... something.
No. Lena should never have introduced the two because now they were in the honeymoon phase. That great phase in which they were all about each other, and being with each other, and being with each other in places Lena apparently frequented far too much for her own good. And she was happy for them. She was glad that Maggie had moved to town, and she was equally glad that Alex had actually taken her up on her offer to meet her old friend.
It was good for them both.
It was not so good for Lena.
It was, in fact, terrible for Lena. It was quite possibly the worst thing that had happened to Lena since the ‘my best friend and secret love of my life just told me she is getting married’ debacle considering it had left her stuck with Maid of Honour duties, and apparently also soon-to-be-husband duties.
In short, Lena had been resolutely trying to outright ignore the state of her personal life but apparently the universe was having none of that since she was continuously being thrust right back into Kara’s marital orbit.
It starts out small. Flower arrangements. It starts out with Mike claiming that the bar is too busy for him to miss any work. It starts out with Lena taking time away from legitimately running a company to help Kara out. Lena manages not to comment on the absurdity of those statements; she thinks about it a lot though. She thinks about how Mike could have done this on his lunch break. She thinks about how Mike should have at least pretended to be interested in flowers for Kara, or even just gone along for the ride despite being not caring in the slightest about petal hues or equal flower distribution.
It was his wedding. It was Mike’s wedding, and yet, it was Lena who was watching Kara walk around in complete disarray because they were all so pretty and how was she supposed to decide. Lena can relate to the awe in her eyes as they dart around the shop because she knows anyone, paying any semblance of attention, would find the exact same awe in Lena’s eyes as she watched Kara.
She doesn’t mention what the tiger lilies mean when she hands them to Kara wordlessly, telling her that they’ll be perfect, but she knows. Lena knows that they mean. She claims they’ll add vibrancy but she knows she’s hinting at something that her mouth has never found the courage to say. She says they’ll be more interesting than classic roses, readies a hundred more excuses, when the reality is that she’s trying to say something without having to say something.
She’s hoping for a way to ease the burden in her chest when Kara smiles the smile she reserves for Lena. The only smile she possessed that Lena had never managed to find the meaning of. She thinks maybe it’s one of surprise, or thankfulness. She holds out for fondness, prays that maybe the smile means something more than you’re a good friend, Lena.
She knows she’s playing with fire but she’s already willingly burned herself so many times that she can’t quite bring herself to care. She doesn’t know what to think when she walks out of the store with a violet in her hair that Kara placed. She tells herself that Kara doesn’t know what she’s doing, doesn’t know what they mean, doesn’t know that Lena stopped breathing when Kara’s fingers grazed the shell of her ear.
She’s probably right.
It doesn’t settle the enamoured flutter in her chest.
It doesn’t halt the ‘what ifs?’ that circle ceaselessly through her head.
Lena tells herself it can’t get worse. She tells herself that’ll be it. It’s not. Truthfully she’s not even the slightest bit surprised when she finds herself the one accompanying Kara to cake tasting, but ultimately she can’t conjure up the effort to berate herself when the cake is so good.
She does, however, have absolutely no qualms in self chastisement the second she accepts the cake Kara offers up to her mouth. With her fingers. She eats cake from Kara’s fingers without question and it’s a terrible choice for three reasons: one, Kara eyes watch her mouth the entire time, two, Kara licks the frosting off of her fingers the moment Lena is done and then Lena is watching her mouth the entire time, three, the woman running the cake tasting immediately assumes they’re the ones getting married.
She spends the rest of the tasting distractedly chewing cake as Kara never once corrects the woman, never even bats an eyelid at the idea of the two of them being together. Sometimes Lena thinks she’s even playing it up a little. Her hand holds Lena’s a little longer than usual. Her gaze follows Lena’s movements with more precision. Her lips press softly against Lena’s cheek when they decide on the same cake (Lena would be lying if she said she didn’t just pick the chocolate because the smear around Kara’s lips evidently marked it as her favourite).
It’s not the last time it happens. It being both Lena getting dragged out on wedding prep and the mistaking of them as a couple. It seems worse the second time. Probably because Kara is in a wedding dress. Kara is in a wedding dress and Lena wonders how long a human can go without breathing, without their heart beating, without their brain being able to process anything beyond the woman in front of them.
Kara had always been beautiful. Lena vaguely thinks that her first thought about Kara was that she was beautiful, that, as cheesy as it sounded, Kara shined like the sun and that, given the chance; Lena would gladly spend the rest of her days orbiting her light. She supposes on some level that’s exactly how she spends her life - always there, always within touching distance, always wanting to be pulled in and consumed but never quite achieving her wish.
So Kara had always been beautiful, but as she shuffled in a wedding dress, nervously awaiting Lena’s verdict, Lena couldn’t think of a word that would accurately describe Kara Danvers. Ethereal. Breathtaking. Ineffable. Kara was every feeling that Lena could never vocalise. Every dream that made waking life so heart wrenching. Every want that she would never give into but that would always linger at the edge of her mind.
Kara was just so...
“Beautiful,” Lena hadn’t meant to say it aloud. She hadn’t meant to let tears well up in her eyes either but the fact that both things happen is an undeniable truth. Kara’s smile is blinding as she pulls Lena from her seat and twirls the two of them, laughing happily as she admires the swish of the dress.
For a moment Lena wonders if she should just be honest, if maybe she shouldn’t just endure the weight of the world on her shoulders without question, if maybe the way Kara smiled at her like she was worthy meant that she actually was. She lets the thought perish as quickly as it formed when they’re interrupted by the saleswoman’s voice.
“You two are very sweet. I’m happy not everyone believes in the whole ‘don’t see the bride before the wedding’ ordeal. My husband insisted we stick to it and it was truly ridiculous.” Lena really wished it would stop happening. She wished just once someone wouldn’t say something to spark that bit of hope in her chest. That last bit of hope that she knew would be her downfall. That last bit of hope that, in the end, would hurt more than anything else when it was finally crushed to dust. That last bit of hope that would kill her, and as Kara just smiles politely and goes on to gush about the dress without correcting her, Lena thinks she’s probably going to let it.
She lets herself get dragged to the venue.
She willing accepts the invitation to go see the venue - the one that Kara claims is perfect, the one that Kara claims she always dreamed of getting married in, the one that housed the first gala Lena ever invited Kara to, the one where she first (finally) had the courage to ask Kara to dance, the one where she finally admitted to herself that, even if she never actually spoke the words to the woman in her arms, it would still be true that Lena Luthor would love Kara Danvers until her dying breath.
Her ribcage threatens to close in on her heart, tempts her lungs into just giving up under the pressure in her chest. Her stomach drops and it’s not thrilling like a rollercoaster, it’s terrifying like she’s been thrown off a building and knows that nothing is going to soften the blow of the concrete. Her head is pounding with the state of her thoughts, the way they crash against her skull pleading for escape, the way they try to force their way to the tip of her tongue like if they just manage to get that far Lena will have to let them loose.
Her body is staging a mutiny and Kara just stands with a smile.
Kara in faded jeans and a worn out t-shirt from college that Lena knows, with the upmost certainty, used to be hers. Kara who is walking down the aisle towards her just to get a feel for the space. Kara who catches Lena’s eye whenever she’s not too busy watching her feet like she too can’t stop thinking about their first dance, the one where she stood on Lena’s toes too many times to count, the one where she almost fell before Lena played it off as a dip. Kara who Lena would say ‘I do’ to without hesitation, but with more conviction than she had spoken any other words in her life.
But this isn’t her venue.
And Kara isn’t her fiancée.
And Lena needs to get out before she collapses in on herself.
She runs as fast as her feet will carry her. She runs until her lungs burn. She runs until the flames lick dangerously at her throat. She runs until she remembers why exactly she hates running and then she runs just that little bit more so that she can’t hear Kara shouting her name, or the ringing of her phone over the buzzing in her ears.
She runs until she finds solace.
She runs until she finds a solution.
“So your solution is to get drunk in a bar?” Lena never claimed it was a solid solution, but at least the numbness was now an after effect of too much whiskey and not of the knowledge that Kara was marrying someone that wasn’t her (mostly). At least she was drunk enough to forget the image of Kara walking down a makeshift aisle towards her (somewhat). At least the bartender here seemed willing to let her drink herself into oblivion before attempting to call a cab (hopefully).
“What do you want, Maggie?” Lena had been quite enjoying the peace of the bar. Although by peace what she really meant is that the distant sounds of a bar fight in the corner, that everyone was conveniently ignoring, were doing wonders to distract her from reality. Would Riley get his money back? Did Big Carl’s girl really cheat on him with a man from a rival gang? Had Little Carl officially completed his initiation task?
“Kara’s been worried sick. Apparently you ran out on her earlier, three hours earlier to be precise and since you weren’t in your apartment and wouldn’t return her calls, she went straight to assuming you were dead.” Lena laughs humourlessly, it’s more of a huff than anything, an acknowledgment that Kara has a flare for the dramatic - a knack for always going straight into panic mode, especially when Alex or Lena were the ones in question. “She was crying, Lena, and I had to bribe people to find you, which was kind of badass but I’m also down twenty dollars.”
“Just tell me what you want so I can go back to being alone.” And then get back on track to getting to that beautiful point where she was too drunk to think coherently but just sober enough to still call a car to pick her up.
“Exactly what you want,” Maggie states, dropping onto the stool beside Lena at the bar and Lena very much doubts that. All Lena wants right now is to wallow. Alone. She really needs to be alone because looking at Maggie just makes her realise that the detective is wearing Alex’s shirt.
Alex who was the first person to tell Lena her crush wasn’t very subtle. Alex who was the first person to hug her when her father died, who held her until Kara stormed in soaking wet from the downpour outside and wrapped herself around the two of them with whispered apologies about work, and Snapper, and stupid CatCo. Alex who reminded Lena of Kara at every turn - the excitable nerves when they first fell in love, the loyalty they displayed for friends, the conviction of their beliefs, the power stance that Alex had taught Kara as a way to show strength, to show confidence, a way to say I won’t back down.
Seeing Maggie makes Lena think of Alex and then she’s back to needing another drink because all she can see are confused blue eyes and a wavering smile that she caused. Lena immediately gestures for another drink.
“Oh and what is it that I want, oh wise one?” Lena questions sarcastically, finding a little bit of comfort in Maggie’s responding eye roll. At least some things would never change.
“To get off your ass and say something already.” It’s a pipe dream. It’s something she always used to tell herself she would do. Honestly, at this point in her life, at this point in her friendship with Kara, she had lost count of the times she told herself she would finally admit her feelings.
She’s come close before. Lena had been halfway through her confession once, halfway through incoherent rambles and stuttered words, but halfway nonetheless. She was half a second away from blurting out the words when she heard a toilet flush, watched a man step out of Kara’s bathroom with a boyish grin and a hand already reaching out to shake hers. His name was Mike, he told her. She barely registered it, barely registered Kara asking her what she was about to say, barely registered anything beyond the mantra of stupid, stupid, stupid coursing through her mind.
She hadn’t come that close since.
Truthfully she hadn’t even tried.
“And what exactly am I supposed to say? Don’t marry him? He’s an asshole? I’ve been secretly in love with you for five years and this is killing me?” None of those seemed like particularly great ideas. She couldn’t make this about her. Lena couldn’t turn this into some guilt trip when Kara was supposed to be having the happiest time of her life. She wouldn’t.
“Any of those would work. Personally I’d go for a mix of all three.”
“She said yes to him, Maggie. She said yes.” Lena sighs, runs her fingers through dishevelled hair in an attempt to calm herself, to right her thoughts. “I just want her to be happy.”
“She could be happy with you, Lena, and did you ever stop to think that maybe she wouldn’t have said yes if she realised there was another option?” No. No Lena had never thought about the possibility that maybe Kara could like her too if she just put herself on the line. No Lena had never dared to dream that there was a chance Kara might just be too blind to see what was right in front of her. Just like water wasn’t wet and February didn’t come after January.
Of course she’d thought about it.
That didn’t mean it was anything more than hypothetical recklessness.
“Is that all you have to say Maggie because I’d rather ply myself with alcohol than false hope.” False hope used to be the only thing that got her through it; got her through the ache in her chest and the itch she could never quite scratch. She held onto it all through college. She held onto it as she watched Kara become infatuated with James. She held onto it when that fell apart before it even started. Then came Mike and Lena let it go.
“Everyone knows how she feels about you Lena. Except you.”
“And her,” Lena tags on petulantly.
“Kara knows, Lena. She’s just almost as good as you at ignoring what’s right in front of her.” Lena sighs again because this is a cycle she’s familiar with - one where they’re both too stubborn to give in, where they both think they’re right, where Lena always ends up back at square one.
Square one being the point where she thinks that Kara deserves more, that Kara deserves someone who doesn’t waste five years, that Kara deserves to be happy, that maybe Kara already is and there’s nothing Lena could possibly want that would ever be more important than that.
Maggie sighs too because she knows the process, knows that Alex warned her she’d get nowhere, especially not with alcohol in the equation, and yet, she still persists.
“Look, just tell her, and if she says she doesn’t feel the same way then I will personally come back to this shitty dive bar with you and drink until we can’t feel anything.” Lena tilts her head in a gesture that says I’ll think about it. A gesture that they both know means she won’t. A gesture that always truly means not in a million years.
Lena texts Kara not to worry.
Lena orders another drink.
Lena hopes to God that this one will be enough to give her a clean slate, if only for a night.
Kara doesn’t question her, never once asks her to explain herself and Lena knows it’s not because she isn’t curious but because she knows Lena will never tell her. Somehow, thankfully, the universe seemed to take pity on Lena in one small part of her life - lying about her feelings for Kara to Kara.
She was terrible at lying to Kara about anything else. She couldn’t even begin to say no to the girl when she pouted. But feelings... feelings she could lie about perfectly - which is why she wasn’t shocked that Kara accepted her unspoken apology the moment she showed up at her apartment with pizza, potstickers and a smile that said please don’t ask me to explain.
Things went back to normal after that or, well, as normal as they possibly could be considering Lena spent most of her days throwing herself into work and trying to forget that the probable love of her life (as ridiculous as she always thought the sentiment) was going to be married in less than a week. The new normal, Lena supposed. The astonishingly terrible new normal. But Kara had let it go and Lena took it as a blessing. At least at first. At first she was happy to be back in Kara’s good graces and then everything just got hard.
Seven days to go.
Kara comes to her office with lunch and flops onto Lena’s couch with a huge sigh before even a greeting can be exchanged, and if her entrance wasn’t enough, Lena knew something was up the moment she realised Kara had brought them both salads. Both of them. Salads. Kara had willingly bought herself a salad.
Lena listened to Kara ramble on about how Mike wasn’t listening to her, or taking the fact that their wedding was so soon seriously, or doing anything more than acting like the stupid man-child that he is (Lena may have added that last one in her head). She debates the merits of speaking her mind. She contemplates being truthful - not ‘declarations of undying love’ truthful but perhaps a lighter ‘Mike is a waste of your time and affection’ truthful.
She doesn’t say it. Not because she doesn’t want to. Not because she doesn’t think it almost every second of the day that she isn’t thinking of work, or Kara, or that bakery that just opened round the corner from her office that was forcing her to go the gym far more than she liked. Not even because she’s sparing Kara’s happiness.
Lena doesn’t say anything because she knows how it goes. She knows that Mike does something stupid, or inconsiderate, or something that is the exact opposite of what Kara asked of him. But then Lena also knows that Mike will put on that smile, and claim that he’s trying, that he’s getting better every day with Kara by his side, that it’ll be the last time he lets her down. Then Kara will forgive him and Lena will be stuck with her foot in her mouth because she was stupid enough to think Kara would buck up and kick him to the curb.
She never got what it was about Mike. Never understood why Kara put up with it, especially since, even if Lena had reservations, Alex had been more than happy to voice hers, at first, at least. After a while she had joined Lena in the silent resentment group - she brought good scotch with her though so Lena had never complained.
So silence was the way to go. Silence and a shoulder to lean on as Kara vented her frustrations and viciously spiked her lettuce with her fork like it would make all of her problems go away. Lena takes it away from her, and calls for Jess to get the two of them cheeseburgers after five minutes of letting herself enjoy the frustrated crinkle between Kara’s eyes, and the small huffs she released when her fork didn’t pick up quite enough for her liking.
She remains silent when Kara kisses her cheek in thanks. She remains silent when Kara remains in her space for a beat too long. She remains silent when Kara blushes and checks the ‘watch’ she forgot to put on that morning.
She remains silent.
Five days to go.
Lena brings work home. It’s just what she does. She submerges herself with contracts, and patents, and tinkering with things that definitely should not be casually tinkered with in her kitchen. It calms her, soothes her, makes her forget about everything else in her life even if it’s just for a moment.
Some might say she’s a workaholic; personally she would label herself as an escapist. She liked the way her mind focused, the way it fixated and obsessed and always somehow came out with the result that she was hoping for. She called it determination. She called it strength. She realised some time ago that it was also a flaw, her biggest flaw actually, because she had fixated on Kara somewhere along the way and even attempting to lose herself in equations and prototypes could never fix that.
Instead she sits at her countertop with sheets haphazardly strewn around her and another empty bottle of wine that she’s preparing to put out of sight so she can once again pretend the next glass is the first glass she’s had all evening.
Five days. One hundred and twenty hours. Seven thousand two hundred minutes. Four hundred and thirty two thousand seconds. Give or take. Five days. Less than a week and Kara would be married. Kara would be married and she’d have a whole new life and how was Lena supposed to fit into that?
Everything would change the moment Kara said I do and that thought was killing Lena because she liked the way things were. Sure, she wanted more, Lena would always want more, but that didn’t negate the fact that the thought of Kara holding Lena in her arms at the end of a bad day always got her through it.
It wouldn’t erase the fact that eating ice cream with Kara at four in the morning whilst watching some terrible film that Kara insisted was a classic was her favourite thing to do.
It couldn’t alter the truth that Lena’s best memory in life was when Kara gave her a key to her apartment, when she told Lena the only other person to have one was Alex, that they were the only two people in the world she trusted enough for that, the only two people in the world she loved enough to invite into her space.
Five days and everything would change.
She wasn’t ready.
Lena wasn’t ready.
Lena’s in a strip club. She somehow never imagined she would find herself in a male strip club, truthfully she had never even thought of attending one. It wasn’t really her taste. Although, it wasn’t really the taste of most of the attendees of Kara’s bachelorette party - Kara included but that was mostly because she blushed like a school girl the moment she stepped foot inside and looked like she was seconds away from passing out at any moment.
She was adorable.
Lena needed a drink.
She decides she actually needs several drinks when she’s an hour into hiding in her seat, and only engaging with waiter who thankfully still had pants on, because that’s when Kara slips into the seat beside her. Kara who is decidedly hammered. Kara who can’t hold herself up without leaning on Lena for support. Kara whose hand had landed precariously high on Lena’s thigh.
Kara who was trying to mumble something in Lena’s ear and in the end only really succeeding in making Lena’s head spin. Lena has no idea what’s been said. She does know that Kara’s breath smells like peach and vodka and something else sugary. She knows that there’s an undeniable warmth to it as it skirts down her neck, an intoxicating heat that Lena can feel herself falling into with every new puff of air across her skin.
She pulls away slightly, signals for the waiter and quickly asks for a glass of water. She needs sober Kara back, or at least, semi-sober Kara because drunk Kara is dangerous, makes Lena’s thoughts dangerous, makes Lena debate being dangerous.
It’s after she’s managed to separate their bodies that Lena finally takes the time to look at Kara, and she can’t help but chuckle at what she finds - the tiara sitting haphazardly on her head, the sash falling off her shoulder, the glasses she’s left askew, the ones that Lena can’t stop herself from gently pushing up the bridge of her nose. Lena laughs again when she passes Kara the glass of water and watches her attempt at drinking ultimately end in her pouring half of it down herself.
“You’re very drunk,” Lena offers needlessly, as though everyone and their mother couldn’t tell just how drunk Kara was. Maybe Lena should have been paying more attention. Maybe she shouldn’t have let Alex talk Kara into that last round of shots. Maybe she should have done something other than sit and think about how cute Kara looked, carefree and happy as she danced in that ridiculous way she always did (the way that was still somehow better than any move Lena could do).
“It’s the only way Alex could get me in here,” Kara admits and Lena scans the room momentarily.
“I know how you feel,” Lena says and Kara looks at her like she knows exactly what Lena is thinking. She probably does. Kara seemed to have some sort of sixth sense when it came to Lena, some amazing ability to read her like a book. It was annoying sometimes. Other times Lena wished that Kara would read further, would push on to the end of the book so that she could finally see the one thing she was overlooking, the one thing Lena thinks she could admit if only Kara took the first step.
“Why aren’t you drunk?” Because she doesn’t trust herself. Because she’s already been drinking far too much recently and she doesn’t plan to make a habit of it. Because her moral compass always goes a little bit haywire when alcohol and Kara mix together. Because she didn’t trust Maggie not to talk her into doing something hugely embarrassing if her guard was even the slightest bit down.
“I have an important meeting tomorrow,” is the excuse Lena actually gives and Kara nods grandly until she’s ultimately just bobbing her head like she can’t quite stop. Lena finds herself laughing again as she catches Kara’s face between her hands to halt the movement. The laughter catches the exact second in which Kara’s forehead falls to rest against her own.
It’s too close.
It’s not close enough.
“You’re so sensible, and smart, and pretty,” Kara breathes. Lena tries to drop her hands, tries to distance herself, even if it’s only an inch. Kara hands wrap around Lena’s wrists before her hands have even fully left Kara’s face, holding them in place as she leans in their warmth. Lena doesn’t fight it. It’s pointless after all. When Kara has a drink she becomes ten times more tactile, which was saying a lot, because she was already the most tactile person Lena knew.
When Kara has multiple drinks she decides to attempt a full body fusion with Lena - attempts that Lena thinks sparked in college when she designated herself the role of Kara’s protector (also known as, the role of glaring at any and all people that looked like they might try to hit on Kara). A role that honestly was often more for her benefit than Kara’s.
“Thanks, Kara.” Lena tries to play it off but Kara shakes her head slowly, in a manner that looks half like going any faster would make her vomit and half like she’s trying to get Lena to realise the severity of her statement. It’s both adorable and alarming. It makes Lena’s heart both speed up and stop. It makes her both want to push closer and pull further away. Give in versus protect herself.
“No, I mean, you’re beautiful. So beautiful. You made me forget my name the first day we met you know.” Lena remembers that day with sharper clarity than any other day in her life. She remembers being stopped by a girl who couldn’t form anything more than stutters and single syllable words. She remembers a clumsy Kara Danvers thrusting a map into her hands and pointing where she needed to go without a single real sentence coming out of her mouth.
Lena didn’t even question helping the silent girl navigate. She felt Kara’s eyes burning into her the whole time, felt her own gaze shifting to the girl beside her every few seconds without her consent. Lena had never been more thankful in her life than when she realised it was the same building she needed to be in, that they were in the same class, that she would have an excuse to see Kara again.
She never realised how much that day would change her life.
How much that day would change her.
“That was a long time ago.” Lena pulls away sharply, doesn’t give Kara anytime to pull her back in, doesn’t give herself any more time to fall into Kara’s stare, and her warmth, and her everything.
“I’d still forget my name if I met you today,” Kara whispers, never once looking away from Lena. She doesn’t shift closer, doesn’t put herself back into Lena’s space like it’s obvious she wants to, but she never stops staring and no matter how Lena wishes she could, or thinks that she should, she never stops staring either.
“I’m not sure you could remember it anyway with all the drinks you’ve had,” Lena quips in a vain attempt to lighten the mood. It doesn’t work. If anything the conviction in Kara’s eyes grows stronger, harder, more resilient to her avoidance attempts.
“Maybe but I’d never forget those eyes.” Lena’s never seen her like this before. She’s seen Kara stand up for her friends, and she’s watched her try to convince people of the good in others, but this... this is something else entirely and Lena can’t even begin to comprehend what it means, so she doesn’t try, tells herself she’d be a fool to put so much stock into something Kara said after she’d had drink after drink pushed into her hand and downed them without question.
She thinks she’s already been enough of a fool for one lifetime.
“Well, my ego has been sufficiently buffed if you’d like to go throw some money at half naked men,” Lena tries even though she knows it won’t work. It’s worth a try though. Anything is worth trying before she lets herself fall into the moment, before she gets sucked back in by Kara’s gravity and doesn’t have the strength (or will) to pull herself back out.
“I wanna be with you.” And just like that there’s no escape. It’s not the first time she’s heard those words. It’s not the first time she wished she would hear them in a different context. It’s not the last time either. But it’ll never be the way she wants, and hearing it with slurred syllables and blurred meanings isn’t going to make her feel any better about what’s to come. She owes it to the both of them to shut whatever this is down before it even begins.
“Want me to take you home?” Lena asks softly, chuckling as Kara gasps dramatically.
“Miss Luthor, how very forward of you.” She was such a dork, an adorable, beautiful dork that Lena really needed to get home before Kara convinced her to do karaoke or something else ridiculous that never seemed ridiculous when Kara was doing that smile or that pout.
“Okay, Little Miss Lightweight, grab your coat.”
“I’ve pulled?” Lena’s eye roll is as instantaneous as it is inevitable.
“You should never be left alone with Maggie, ever.” Lena signals their exit to Alex before helping a struggling Kara with her coat and tugging her out of the bar. She doesn’t even argue when Kara slurs Lena’s address to the taxi driver, just holds still as Kara rests her head on Lena’s shoulder.
She allows silence to overcome them as she all but carries Kara into her apartment. Doesn’t even attempt to break it as she carefully removes Kara’s makeup, slips her into more comfortable clothes to sleep in. She thinks Kara might be the one to break it as she tucks her in. Lena can feel Kara’s eyes on her the entire time, she can see the way she opens her mouth every few seconds as though she’s finally going to say something before she decides against it.
In the end the silence never gets broken but Lena also doesn’t end up in her spare bedroom like she intended. She lets Kara pull her into her bed, lets Kara curl around her like a koala bear, lets herself get caught up in her warmth and her smell and the soft hands that run along her skin with timid tenderness. Lena tells herself that she can have this one last time. She just needs this one last time.
Lena doesn’t get out of bed, or answer her phone, or pay attention to the incessant knocks on her door. She just lies, and stares, and wonders how she’s supposed to smile tomorrow as she stands by and watches her dreams crumble; as she wonders if saying something could have changed things.
She doesn’t eat.
She can’t breathe.
Lena had almost fooled herself into thinking the day wouldn’t come if she hid in her apartment for long enough. Almost. Not quite. She supposes there was no real way to convince yourself a wedding wasn’t to come when you were in a bridesmaid dress doing last minute fixes to the floral arrangements as an excuse to not have to stand in direct vicinity to the blushing bride.
She’d been playing around with one in particular, not really changing anything at all, when Alex sidles up beside her. She doesn’t quite know what she expects her to say - perhaps a why do you look so miserable? Or an I think you might actually be doing more harm than good whilst taking the flowers from Lena’s hands. She doesn’t expect Alex to simply mimic her pointless movements with the bouquet next to her.
“You know, I always thought it’d be you.” She doesn’t expect those words either. She knows what they mean. She knows exactly what it is that Alex is implying. She also knows that she can’t let herself fall apart when she’s made it this far, that she can’t do anything more than feign obliviousness and hope that she can push herself over the final hurdle.
“What?” Lena questions. Alex just scoffs like she knows exactly what Lena is trying to do, like there is no way in hell she’s actually going to let her get away with it.
“Getting married to Kara.”
“What?” She tries again, partially because Lena may be the only person on earth who is just that little bit more stubborn than Alex, and partially because she can’t actually seem to remember any other words. No one had ever actually said it aloud like that before. She had never said it aloud before. But now here was Alex openly saying it like she was simply telling Lena she thought it might rain later, or that she was thinking of having waffles for breakfast tomorrow.
Alex never did have any real tact. It’s probably the reason the two of them got on so well - they both loved avoiding feelings, both were terrible at expressing them even when they tried, although Lena definitely won on that front, especially now.
“There was always something about your relationship. I just figured at some point Kara was bound to realise the way you looked at her, or you’d just get impatient and tell her that you love her.” Apparently today was the day for just putting it out there, for just casually throwing all of Lena’s not so secret, secrets into the world. Truthfully though Lena could never quite believe it either. Sure, she had never spoken her feelings aloud, and sure after a while she had actively attempted to hide her feelings but not in the beginning.
In the beginning she didn’t hide her lingering stares, or quieten down the thoughts that ran rampant in her head on a daily basis. In the beginning she let herself fall wholly into Kara’s embrace, let herself believe that she wouldn’t have to let go, that maybe this one could mean something more than the rest. In the beginning she said things, risky things, things that anyone but Kara would see straight to the heart of. She still does those things sometimes when she slips up, and forgets her life isn’t the way she wants it to be, the way it often is when she falls asleep.
But in the beginning she was hopeful.
Now she felt hopeless.
“I-I don-“Alex cuts her off before she even has a real chance to begin.
“Don’t even bother trying to lie, Lena. You’ve been in love with Kara for years. You love her now. So, tell me, why have you let it get this far?” A thousand reasons. It’s selfish. It’s foolish. It’s reckless. She doesn’t really know how Kara feels about her. She doesn’t know what telling her would result in. She’s scared. She’s unsure. She’s trying to be selfless. A thousand reasons.
A thousand reasons...
“I can’t ruin her happiness for mine,” she mumbles forlornly.
“She’d be happier with you.” Alex doesn’t miss a beat. She wants to argue, wants to ask Alex why, if she was so sure about Lena making Kara happy, she didn’t say something sooner. Alex could have stopped this. Alex could have convinced Kara to stop this. It didn’t have to rest completely on Lena’s shoulders, Lena’s emotionally crippled and terrified shoulders. She doesn’t. She doesn’t have the will to start that argument today, doesn’t think it’ll end in any satisfying conclusion. Instead she hopes for clarity, for answers, maybe for a little bit of courage to do something incredibly stupid.
“How can you know that?” Lena asks, finally letting herself look at the woman beside her, only to find her already watching Lena carefully. She knows that Alex is trying to pick her words wisely, trying to figure out what she would say to herself if she were in this situation. Alex watches her with sympathy, with knowing, with a hint of a challenge. She never liked the hint of challenge in Alex’s eyes - it always meant Lena was about to do something idiotic in the name of proving a point.
“Because when I ask Kara how she is, she tells me about you, about how the two of you had lunch, about how you brought her flowers, about how you looked sad that day and how she couldn’t stop thinking about it. Kara never talks about Mike without someone asking. She talks about you like you’re the answer to every question ever asked.”
“We’re friends.” It sounds weak even to Lena’s ears. It’s a phrase she’s said more times than she should have had to over the years. A phrase that never sounded quite right to her. A phrase that she hated. Now it just sounds like an excuse, a way for Lena to hide, a way for Lena to ignore the truth right in front of her, a way to avoid getting hurt.
“You’re two people in love who are too scared to admit it but, Lena, you either admit it today or you lose her because we both know you can’t sit around and watch the two of them together for the rest of your life.” The gentle touch to her shoulder is fleeting before Alex disappears, and Lena is left staring at flowers she picked, in a room that held meaning to her and Kara, with a cake that Mike had never tasted in his life.
Retrospectively she’ll probably view that moment as one of insanity. She’ll blame heightened emotions for distorting her thoughts, making her see things that aren’t there, making her think things that can’t possibly be true. But in that moment she’ll call it clarity with a dash of recklessness for good measure.
Lena is terrified.
And this is insane.
“Speak now or forever hold your peace.” Lena’s heart halts. Her body tenses. She can feel eyes on her and it’s a strange feeling to realise that it isn’t just Maggie and Alex who are expecting her to reveal something, that it isn’t just them watching and waiting to see if Lena will finally crack.
She should have said something earlier. She should have told Kara before today. She should have told Kara before she walked down the aisle. She should have told Kara literally anytime before now. Anytime before now when it was less public, when it felt slightly less like she was about to put her head on the chopping block.
She shouldn’t do it.
She won’t do it.
She steps forward. She doesn’t mean to. She doesn’t tell herself to. But she steps forward. Lena steps forward, every watchful eye in the room is on her, and honestly half of them don’t even look shocked. There are some gasps, some whispered shouts at companions, some wide eyes but only from a small few. The rest look like they were expecting it. The rest don’t looked shocked. She’s shocked. Lena can’t believe she’s actually done it after five years of standing in the background but she’s started this now. She’s started it and she’ll finish it. She can finish it.
She just needs to speak.
“I object,” Lena all but shouts, immediately cringing at the volume, at the way her voice cracks slightly as the words come out. She allows her eyes to briefly scan over Mike and, if she gets a little jolt of pleasure seeing the furious look on his face, well who would really blame her?
Then she looks at Kara. Kara who isn’t moving. Kara who looks like she’s barely breathing. Kara who is staring at Lena with a look that she can’t decipher. It’s unnerving, to say the least, having no idea what’s running through her mind, having no idea how this is going to end. But she can’t stop now. She’s already gotten this far, and honestly if she’s going to lose Kara, she would much rather know she did everything in her power to keep her.
That she was honest.
That she put herself out there.
Lena takes a deep breath. She shuts the rest of the world out. Ignores the whispers of the crowd. Ignores the smug smirks on Maggie and Alex’s faces. Ignores Mike’s glare. Ignores the questioning glances. Ignores everything that isn’t Kara’s blue eyes and blank face, everything that became completely irrelevant the moment Lena decided to take the plunge.
“I object because, Kara, Mike is an asshole, so much so that I was the one who had to plan this whole fucking wedding with you and it was torture. It was torture because I’ve been in love with you since I realised you knew exactly how to read a map, that you had Girl Scout badges for navigation, and it’s been killing me to keep it a secret and, in the interest of being totally honest, I was kind of planning to do that for the rest of my life, but some people have made some compelling points in the past few days, so I’m being truthful. And the truth is - I, Lena Luthor, the woman who looks like a total idiot right now, am irrevocably in love with you, and I’m objecting because I think you just might love me a little bit too. So, don’t marry Mike. Please don’t marry Mike.”
It feels good, saying it out loud, more than good actually. Liberating. Well, for a moment at least. For a split second Lena feels more free than she has in five years, and then reality comes crashing down on her, and she’s back to feeling the panic clawing at her chest, back to the awareness that a multitude of people are watching the ordeal cautiously, back to noting that Kara is still frozen. She’s standing still, too still, watching Lena like she can’t believe this is actually happening and Lena can’t work out if it’s happy disbelief or how dare you ruin my wedding disbelief.
She’s pushing for the prior.
The latter is putting up a good fight though, playing every maybe in her head on repeat. Maybe she shouldn’t have listened to Alex and Maggie. Maybe she shouldn’t have let herself get psyched up enough to cause a spectacle. Maybe she had let herself see things that weren’t really there. Maybe she had let herself believe she wasn’t alone in this. Maybe this was a mistake. Maybe she should already be walking away and planning how to fake her own death.
Lena takes a step away. Kara flinches. She takes another step. She could move to Metropolis. She could finally open international office. She could relocate to a remote cabin in the woods and become a recluse. She takes another step. Kara’s hand reaches out. Lena stops. Kara takes a step forward, her face still void of emotion, void of any indication of which way this is going to go.
“This is ridiculous. Someone get her out of my wedding.” Lena snaps her head to Mike, who she maybe forgot existed for a second, and she should feel terrible for what she’s doing but honestly she never liked him, never liked the way he betrayed Kara’s trust and made her feel less than only to pull out a half assed apology and somehow win her back.
She should feel terrible.
She does feel bad enough that she starts to turn away. Except, that isn’t the real reason she starts to walk out. The real reason is because Kara still hasn’t spoken and Lena thinks that silence might just mean I love you but not in that way or I don’t know how to let you down or you’re still my friend even though you almost ruined my wedding - emphasis on the friend part. Truthfully, Lena would take the silence over any of those choice words any day.
So she walks. She clenches her jaw, holds back the tears that threaten to fall, and walks. She keeps her eyes on the ground, away from the prying eyes of others, nothing like her usual confident gaze. Eyes on her feet, mind on getting out, she doesn’t hear the clacking sound of heels following behind her, doesn’t hear the gasps of people around her, doesn’t hear Mike’s resigned sigh.
She does feel the hand on her wrist that spins her with cautious certainty. She definitely feels the lips on her own. Kara’s lips, she notes, before her eyes slam shut at the sensation. Lena expects it to be chaste. She expects their lips to press together timidly, shakily - the kind of kiss that builds after five years of repression and fear, one that happens when you’re so hyped up on adrenaline that you almost can’t believe it’s finally happening.
There’s no hesitation to Kara’s mouth. No qualms about their audience. No question about what it is that she wants in that moment. Lena loses herself in it. How could she not? It would be impossible not to fall into the way Kara pushed her lips incessantly against Lena’s, like she was trying to get her fix before it was taken away, like she was scared this would be the last time.
It would be improbable for her to withstand Kara’s soft hands gently caressing her cheeks, and running through her hair, and scraping against her jaw like she wanted to map out every inch of Lena, just in case.
It would be implausible for Lena to not give into the soft sounds that Kara makes and the ones she pulls out of Lena in return. So she falls, and she crumbles, and she gives in and it’s the best decision she’s ever made, paired with actually being honest in the first place, because this is all she’s ever wanted. To hold and to be held. To want and to be wanted. To need and to be needed. To drive and be driven insane.
In the end all she ever really wanted was Kara and it was happening. Lena pulls Kara closer, tries to drown in her kisses, to lose herself in her embrace, to build herself up from the wreckage with soft lips, sure hands, and something so undeniably Kara Lena wonders how it can even exist.
“This is the best wedding I’ve ever been to.” Lena pulls away to laugh at Maggie’s words - the ones that she evidently meant to whisper quietly to Alex but instead managed to shout to an amused crowd. Lena’s thankful to find the sea of faces watching them smiling, and to not find Mike still standing awkwardly at the end of the aisle, enough so that she allows herself another chaste kiss to Kara’s lips.
(There’s also a chance she just does it because she can...
She can kiss Kara Danvers just because she wants to).
“I-I never thought... I never thought y-you, um...” Kara stutters and Lena can’t help but chuckle at the absurdity of it all. She wonders how long Kara has felt the way she has. If it was from the first time they talked. If it was in the moment she decided to ask Lena for directions that she didn’t even need. If it was the first time she saw Lena with someone else, and felt like someone had punched a hole in her chest, just to see how hard they could squeeze her heart before she couldn’t take it any longer. If it was the first time she saw Lena smile, or heard her laugh, or the first time she finally had the courage to wrap Lena firmly in her arms.
“Says the one in the wedding dress,” Lena quips, bringing herself back to the real world, bringing Kara back to the real world in which she’s still wearing a white dress and standing in the place she was supposed to be getting married, the place where she had chosen Lena over Mike, the place that Lena would never forget for the rest of her life.
“Wanna help me out of it?” Kara asks with a smirk and it’s immediately something else that Lena will never forget, primarily because she immediately starts thinking about it and her imagination certainly doesn’t begin letting her down now, but also because she gets the added enjoyment of hearing Alex choke on air as, she too, hears the comment.
“I do.” Lena doesn’t spend too much time thinking about the connotations of those words as Kara laughs and pulls her along into a run. She doesn’t think about what they mean in a setting like this as their friends cheer and she vaguely hears a thank God coming from Eliza. She doesn’t question them, but she will, in due time, when it’s her that Kara is grinning at as Lena holds her breath and hears the priest say speak now or forever hold your peace.