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The Implications of Compulsory Heteronormativity & Its Superhero Backlash

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The dreams were always different, but they all started the same way, in that sunny field in Kansas, with the flowers blooming and a warm breeze ruffling the long grass. Although Kara had never returned there in all of her thirteen years on Earth, the place where her pod had landed remained etched in her memory and came back to her regularly in her dreams.

And even though Supergirl and J’onn had found Mon-El’s pod inside National City at night in early autumn, lately she dreamed that this was where the Daxamite had landed, and when she made the decision to open the pod or pitch it back into space, it was usually a sunny day, and she was always alone.

Some nights, she opened the pod, opened up the Earth’s future to chaos and destruction, as if she didn’t know what her actions would lead to. Some nights she opened it up only to reset the controls and let it take off into space on its way back to the dead planet it came from. Some nights she didn’t even bother using the controls, simply picked it up and flew as high into the atmosphere as she could before hurling it forward and away.

Those nights were the ones she woke from more refreshed and less guilty.

But then there were the other nights, the ones where rather than the Daxamite in the pod it was her aunt Astra or her mother Alura, and she still had to make the same decision: allow the woman to stay on Earth and bring on Myriad or Medusa, or pitch her back into space.

Some nights the one in the pod was Kara Zor-El. Those nights were the worst.

On this night, 180 days since the Battle of National City, Kara Zor-El found herself standing in the field, wearing a white dress, feeling the warm, scented breeze in her hair and feeling momentarily at peace. Then she looked down and could not find the House of El crest that should have been over her heart. How could she have left the house in Midvale without being properly dressed?

And there across the field, also in white, the color of youth and mourning, stood the Daxamite, scruffy and unshaved as always, and he was looking past her in fear. She turned to see her mother, Alura, in the pale blue dress she always favored, with the gold belt. At least her dress had the crest. She looked past Kara at the Daxamite and pointed her finger at him. He hung his head and got back into the pod he had stolen from the Kryptonian ambassador. Kara turned back to her mother as the pod took off into the sky.

“Mom?”

“My daughter. Sometimes everything you do is still not enough.”

Kara woke with a start, gasping for breath, soaked in sweat. The red numbers on her clock declared that it was 3:47 a.m., but she knew that more sleep wasn’t going to happen, so she took a quick lukewarm shower (too impatient to wait for the water to gradually heat up), put on her supersuit and took to the sky.

It was raining. Of course it was. Somehow lately it felt like it was always raining, although she knew objectively that this was impossible.

As she flew through the wet darkness above the city, she felt the rain sting her eyes almost like tears, but she hadn’t cried at all in 180 days, working endlessly as Supergirl to rebuild the city and make amends for letting the Daxamite out of his cage. So many had died because of her one bad call. So many places had been partly or completely destroyed, people’s homes and businesses.

All because she had opened that damned pod.

These days, the dreams bled into her waking life especially on days that forced her to focus on her alter-ego's career path rather than her greater duty to the city she had so endangered. She tried to write, but fell instead to daydreaming about a sunny field and a chance to rewrite history. She knew from discussions with Barry Allen that changing the timeline pretty much never worked out. But it couldn't stop her from wishing.

And on a night like this, when she couldn't sleep, she took to hanging aloft above the city with all its little lights, all its dear people, the citizens she had sworn to protect, and she listened.

Listened to dogs barking, doors slamming, sirens of ambulances headed to NC General Hospital, the screeching of brakes, gunshots, her sister's wild heartbeat--

In an instant she was flying toward the river, to the wide bridge where three NCPD black-and-whites and Detective Sawyer's unmarked car were racing after a semi. More shots were fired as she dove down and landed on the hood of Maggie's car just in time to set herself as a Kryptonian shield between a machine gun and her sister and Maggie. She blocked several dozen bullets before reaching forward and bending the gun's barrel. The shooter ran to the back of the truck and climbed up the ladder and out onto the truck's roof--as if that would enable him get away from a hero who could fucking fly.

She landed on the roof and immediately the man attacked her with what looked like an electrified ninja sword. She ducked, dodged, grabbed the weapon away from him and hit him so hard he went flying onto the roof of another vehicle, leaving a distinct dent in the roof and falling off. Supergirl had no time to waste on him, as the truck was still racing forward despite the explosion on the bridge having left traffic in its path. The station wagon with the mother and daughter--

Supergirl supersped to in front of the truck and stopped it like a mountain confronting a sandcastle.

The girl in the back seat of the car was elated. "Supergirl! You're the best!"

But she had no time for such things and took off into the sky.

Even so, she could hear Maggie Sawyer saying, "Doesn't even stop for autographs anymore."

No, thought Supergirl, she fucking doesn't. Instead she went back to her post above the city, listening for peril, even though, in the back of her mind was a sunny field and Idina Menzel's voice that had been keeping her sane for 180 days.

I'm standing in the field
My feet lift off the ground
No one here will see me
No one will hurt me now

I'm brushing off the rain
While climbing through the clouds
Nobody can see me
No one can hurt me now

Goodbye, gravity
Goodbye, enemies
I'm going up to a place where the world is small
Where I can fly above it all
If I don't make it, sing my song
From here I'm weightless
No stars are famous
And the world is small
And the world is small

Still rising towards the dark
Don't care what's down below
'Cause no one can see me
And no one has to know

The atmosphere is lonely
And beautiful
I don't miss a thing I used to know
I used to know...

Tomorrow would be 181 days. She could do this. She could.

She had to.