This morning, when Kara wakes up, it’s not because of the light or because of a sound—it’s the way her head hurts and her eyes itch; the way she shivers in the small camp bed. For a second, she’s disoriented. Sitting up and swinging her legs over the side, she pulls the blanket up around her shoulders and looks around the small room. There’s a window with no curtain, but it’s so grey outside that the light barely penetrates. She sees a small lamp on the desk by the bed and flicks the switch near the base.
It doesn’t take long for the evening to come rushing back, and when it does, Kara immediately wishes it hadn’t. The memory of Lena, standing in the rain, turning away from her takes the breath out of her. She has to lean over, put a hand on her own knee, to recover from the force of it.
Her first impetus is to return to the hotel. There has to be a way to fix this. No matter what Lena said last night, she had been reeling from Andrea’s revelation, from Lex’s betrayal—maybe today, she’ll hear Kara out.
But what if she won’t?
Kara sits back on the bed, leans against the wall, and pulls the covers tighter. She’s replayed yesterday in her head over and over and over again already, but one more time can’t hurt. If she’d just gone back to the room with Lena after the dance lesson, none of this would have happened. And maybe that’s not fair, because Andrea still would have told Lena and Lena would still be reeling from the fallout.
But Kara would be there with her.
At least she’s figured out the point of no return: when Lena told her that the most important thing in the world to her was trust and Kara didn’t say anything—letting that moment pass, that’s when hurting Lena became inevitable, no matter how Kara handled it. Kara had known it then and she knows it now.
The last thing that Kara wants to do right now is hurt Lena more.
Kara can tell she’s getting close to crying again. She pulls her legs back onto the bed and slumps over onto her side, face in the pillow. The thing that she can’t get out of her mind is how alone Lena must be feeling. Kara would give anything to be there for her, to hold her and navigate this day with her.
The fact that there might not be any part of Lena that wants Kara next to her, hurts more than Kara can describe.
Alex always says that when you’re feeling overwhelmed, the best thing to do is find a problem you have that you can solve. Maybe she can’t do anything about how she’s feeling right now, but Kara knows that she can’t keep Lena’s money. Even if they never talk again, accepting payment for this weekend is no longer an option for her.
Without getting up, Kara reaches down next to the bed and slips her cell phone out of her bag.
She rolls over to free both arms and pulls up the banking app on her phone. It doesn’t take long to initiate a transfer from her own account to the account listed on the check Lena had used. It doesn’t make her feel better, necessarily, but it feels right.
One problem down. Fifty-seven thousand to go.
It’s nearly eight in the morning now. Kara squints at her phone, she doesn’t have a ton of battery—she should probably plug it in before she looks up the ferry schedule and thinks about changing her flight.
This time, when Kara sits up, she leaves the blanket on the bed. She pulls her bag closer and starts rooting around in the outer pocket. There’s the cable she needs, and the American-pronged plug, but she doesn’t see the European adapter. She digs deeper.
Feeling a rising sense of panic, Kara unzips the main pocket, starts taking out her headphones, her notebook, her pen case. It isn’t here. She must have left it in the hotel room last night.
Just perfect, she thinks.
Kara pulls up the airline information anyway. The last thing she needs is to get to Heathrow and not be able to get on a flight. She’ll be able to buy a stupid adapter at the airport.
Listening to the automated operator explain her choices makes Kara want to throw her phone. The first half of the menu options don’t apply and she’s already frustrated enough that she decides to just hit 0 over and over until she gets a real live person. She puts the phone on speaker when it rings through and stands up, stretching her back.
As the phone rings, Kara can’t help thinking about Lena. Lena would probably be rehearsing what she was going to say, would probably have figured it out before dialing the phone. It’s a ridiculous thing to know about a person—far less intimate compared to so many of the things on the list—but right now knowing it makes Kara want to cry again.
Her conversation with the flight associate is stilted; Kara’s too distracted to really participate. Given the weekend ferry and train schedules, the next fight she’s going to be able to make doesn’t leave until tomorrow afternoon, she’ll have to spend the night in some crappy airport hotel.
She texts Alex her new flight information. Knowing that Alex will be there to pick her up at the airport helps.
Just thinking about flying makes her think of Lena, too. How anxious she gets during take off, how good it made Kara feel to be able to help. The fact that Lena will be flying home alone makes Kara’s chest clench.
Trying to push that away, Kara bends down and starts repacking her bag. It’s been a truly horrific twelve hours and everything feels so raw that she's having trouble sorting out her feelings.
Is this all in her head?
Zippering shut the main pocket, Kelly’s explanation from last night comes back to her. The chemistry and connection she’s feeling with Lena are real, even if it’s all been on some crazy, accelerated timeline. And Kara knows that Lena feels it, too.
Maybe she should go back to the hotel.
But Lena fired her, made it very clear that she wanted Kara to leave. And if not listening to what Lena was telling her is what got Kara into this mess in the first place, then going directly against Lena’s expressed wishes might only make this worse. If Lena is feeling any differently this morning, it isn’t like she doesn’t know how to contact her.
Kara picks her phone back up, flicks open her messaging app. The last contact from Lena is the same series of missed calls and voicemails from Tuesday before they left. Kara’s thumbs hover over the keys. If going back to the hotel is crossing a boundary, maybe she can send a text instead. After all, Lena hadn’t said anything about never contacting her again.
It feels a little like a loophole, but Kara will take what she can get right now.
She thinks about what to say, starts typing out i changed my flight but i’ll come back if you want me to, then deletes it. Too desperate. Kara tries again: i returned your $ bc this week wasn’t a job for me. She deletes that, too. Kara realizes that she’s talking around what she wants to say to Lena.
She takes a deep breath. One more try.
Lena, I’m flying back tomorrow, but I want to apologize for hurting you. Keeping something from you was the wrong choice no matter what I intended. I returned your payment. If there is any way that we can move past this, I want to try. I have real feelings for you and I couldn’t live with myself if I didn’t tell you. If you’re still interested, please call me whenever you’re up to it.
Kara reads it over twice, fixes a misspelling, and capitalizes the right words. It’s the best she can do right now, places the ball firmly in Lena’s court. If Lena wants to ignore the message, then she can, but at least Kara will have made an attempt. Her thumb hovers over the send button as she reads it over one more time.
And just as she’s about to commit, Kara’s phone shuts down.
She regrets throwing the phone in frustration as soon as it leaves her hand, but the ensuing crunch as it collides with the solid wooden door seals it for her. It looks like an adapter won’t be the only thing she has to buy in London.
Kara takes a deep breath and tries to keep from crying, resists the urge to pick the phone up and throw it again. Focus on what you have control over, Alex’s voice sounds in her head. The ferry leaves at quarter to ten; that’s just over an hour, and she desperately needs to wash up before heading out. She grabs her dopp kit and a change of clothing, and heads for the bathroom down the hall.
Her phone shutting down before she can send the message feels like some sort of sign.
Maybe the universe is trying to tell her to leave Lena alone right now.
Lena wakes up to knocking on the hotel room door. She blinks her eyes open and looks around in the semi-darkness. The intensity of the ache in between her ribs at the sight of Kara’s empty side of the bed makes her want to go back to sleep.
Perhaps this is all just a bad dream. Perhaps if she falls asleep, she’ll wake up and Kara will be there and none of this will have ever happened.
The knock sounds again and Lena gets a wave of deja vu from the night before. It can’t be Lillian again. Andrea wouldn’t dare. She’s not sure what she’ll do if it’s Jack.
What if it’s Kara?
Lena pulls in a sharp breath and sits up. She wants it to be Kara. She wants it to be Kara so badly that her chest feels like it might collapse.
She pushes the covers away and slides off the bed. She runs her fingers through her hair, knows it’s a mess from going to sleep with it wet.
Not that it matters. Kara won’t care. She tugs on her sleep shirt and walks across the room. What should she say? Should she apologize right away or should she let Kara speak first? Does she lead with the fact that she’s still hurt, but that, with a night of sleep and some encouragement from Lillian, she can understand why Kara didn’t know what to do?
Lena takes a deep breath, unlocks the door, and opens it.
“Just give me five minutes,” Lex says. He walks in without waiting for an invitation.
“Doesn’t seem like you’re going to give me much of a choice,” Lena says under her breath as she closes the door. She turns around and follows him back into the room. He’s standing at the foot of the bed, next to one of the armchairs, looking uncertain and rubbing the back of his head with one of his hands.
“Lena—“ he starts.
“No. Actually. You know what Lex? No, you don’t get to explain right now. Fuck you.” His eyes go wide, like Lena has slapped him, but for once, Lena doesn’t care. She’s never unloaded on Lex, always worshiped him even after he started to cut her out, even after he stopped encouraging her. “I’ll still be a bridesmaid, but you need to know that I’m not doing it for you. I’m doing it for Eve. Because she doesn’t deserve to have her wedding ruined just because you turn out to be the biggest fucking asshole in my entire life.”
“I deserve that.” He puts his hands in his pockets.
Lena crosses her arms. “You fucking do.”
“If it helps, mother isn’t speaking to me right now, either. And Eve told me that if I wasn’t the groom, she’d uninvite me from the wedding.”
“I told Eve about it this morning.” He looks at Lena quickly, and then away. “After she got done yelling at me, I asked her what to do. She said I had to make it right. So there’s a docusign in your e-mail, just waiting for your approval.”
“What do you need my approval for?”
“As of an hour ago, I own the largest stake in Lord Industries. I’m signing the IP from your work back over to you.”
Lena drops her arms, lets them hang limply. “What?”
“I can’t take back what I did, but I can rescue your work, Lena.” He rubs the back of his neck again. “Turns out nobody over there has been able to make much progress since they got it from me. I remember you saying what a difference this project could make. I want you to be able to finish it, assuming you still want that.”
“This doesn’t make it right, Lex.” Lena wants to laugh in his face, ask how exactly this is supposed to make anything right. “You manipulated my fiancée into helping steal from me. You gaslit me and lied to my face, repeatedly, for years, about what happened. All because, what, you were worried I was smarter than you?”
“No, I know you’re smarter than me. I’ve known it since you beat me at chess when you weren’t even in elementary school.”
“So then what, Lex,” Lena hisses. “What compelled you to fuck up my entire life?”
“I was scared, ok? You had all these projects, all these ideas about changing the direction of Luthor Corp. And I wasn’t ready for that. I thought if you had a setback, you’d go back to the work I needed you to be doing. I’d heard about Andrea’s father and the trouble they were in, it just seemed like the easiest way.”
“Not good enough, Lex.” As if there were some reason that would be enough to justify any of this. Lena’s shaking with anger and reeling from the betrayal. She feels like she might break apart from the force of it. “I’ll take the IP back, but I don’t want to speak to you. I need you to leave.”
Lex purses his lips and looks down at the floor, rocks back on his heels for a second. “Yeah. Ok.”
He walks past Lena to the door, pauses with his hand on the brass knob.
Lex doesn’t turn around, just starts speaking as he faces the door, as if he can’t bring himself to look directly at her. “If it’s worth anything, I’ve never regretted anything more.” He pauses, but makes no move to open the door. “I think that’d be true no matter how it played out, but, especially so. I’m so sorry, Lena.”
He shuts the door quietly when he leaves and, as soon as she hears the snick of the latch engaging, Lena can’t help sinking to the floor, her eyes blurring with tears. She heaves in a breath and tries to get her heart rate under control. The carpet is rough on her bare legs and Lena focuses on the feeling, uses it to ground herself.
Lena is suddenly hit with such a fierce wave of longing for Kara that it’s like having the wind knocked out of her. She blinks away the burning in her eyes and starts counting to four, matching her inhales and exhales as Kara had done for her in the helicopter.
It helps, but it isn’t the same.
When she heard the knock on her door, Lena had genuinely wanted it to be Kara. Had wanted it with a force that surprised her, but that was no less powerful for being so unexpected. With her mind full of Kara now, sitting on the floor with her hands on the carpet and counting her breaths, thinking about how she had been the one to send Kara away—Lena realizes with startling clarity what it is she needs to do.
Still shaking slightly, Lena gets up from the floor and makes her way back around the bed. She unplugs her phone from where it’s been charging on the nightstand and opens her messaging app.
Pressing the call button on Kara’s contact page, Lena thinks about what she needs to say. She should start with an apology. Tell Kara that she’ll understand if Kara no longer wants anything to do with her, but that if she’ll give Lena a chance, Lena wants to apologize in person. She wants the chance to tell Kara that what they have feels real and that, if Kara is still interested, Lena wants to make it up to her.
“Hi, you’ve reached Kara Danvers, leave a message and I’ll get back to you as soon as I can!” Straight to voicemail. Lena hangs up, tries again, but the same thing happens.
Is it possible that Kara is screening her calls? Does she not want to hear from Lena?
That’s something that Lena has to acknowledge as a possibility. To say that she wasn’t at her best with Kara last night is the type of gross understatement usually reserved for Jack’s descriptions of her mother’s behavior.
Lena can’t think about him right now. She looks down at her phone. She’ll just have to send a message. It’s important to her that Kara knows that Lena is sorry, even if Kara doesn’t want to talk to her right now.
Kara, I am so sorry for how I treated you last night. I couldn’t see past my own hurt. I’d like to apologize to you in person, although I will understand if you don’t want to see me. I hope you travel safely.
It’s the most she can do by text. Lena can’t help squinting at her phone after she sends it. The check mark confirming it’s made it to the network is present, but there’s no checkmark confirming that Kara has received it. Maybe Kara has turned her phone off.
It doesn’t matter now, anyway.
Lena looks at the time. It’s after nine and she’s supposed to head down to the wellness center with Eve and the rest of the bridesmaids to get massages before they get their hair and makeup done.
She pulls on a pair of yoga pants and an oversize sweater, heads into the bathroom and splashes some cold water on her face.
Looking in the mirror, Lena can see just how badly the last twelve hours have been written all over her face. Her eyes are still swollen and puffy, and her hair is wavy, tangled mess. She rinses with mouthwash but knows that nothing is really going to make her feel any better right now. She might as well face the day.
Lena walks out of her room in a daze. She walks through the hall, past the front desk on autopilot, not even noticing Lillian in the lobby until Lillian steps in front of her and asks her a question.
“Are you alright?” From the look on Lillian’s face, she’s had to repeat herself.
“Yes,” Lena answers, but it isn’t remotely sincere. Her heart isn’t in pretending, she shakes her head to try to clear it.
Lillian narrows her eyes. “I don’t believe you.”
“What do you want me to say?” Lena asks, and there isn’t even any bite to her voice. She’s just exhausted. “Lex came by and nothing he said made me any less angry, Kara is still gone and her phone is off, or she’s screening my calls.” Lena shrugs. “I’m just trying to get through this day without breaking down and embarrassing anyone.”
Lillian, to her credit, ignores that last bit. She chooses, instead, to focus on the one part that Lena wishes she wouldn’t.
“Why are you letting her go?”
Lena sighs. “It’s complicated, mother.”
“Oh, well, then,” Lillian says sarcastically. “It probably won’t work out.”
“Don’t,” Lena says, her voice nearly breaking. She sees regret flash briefly across Lillian’s face.
“I’m sorry.” Lillian seems to take a moment to collect herself. Lena is about to continue making her way across the hotel, she’s running late as it is, when Lillian speaks again.
“I read a fascinating article in CatCo Magazine once, in which the author said ‘every woman has the exact love life she wants.’’ She’s looking intently at Lena now. “You know what, Lena? I agree. But I refuse to believe that this is what you want.”
Lena doesn’t know how to process what she’s hearing. It’s as if, in the last twelve hours, Lillian has been replaced with someone else entirely. Or maybe it’s just that she doesn’t really know her step-mother anymore—maybe she never knew her.
God, maybe therapy actually works. Perish the thought.
“Ever since you were a little girl, you’ve been trying to please other people,” Lillian continues. “I imagine it was an attempt to protect yourself. And, yet, in return for your services, all we’ve done is disappoint you.”
Lena doesn’t know if she wants to cry or laugh. Where was all of this empathy when she was five, or eleven, or twenty?
But then Lillian asks a question that knocks every other thought out of Lena’s head.
“So tell me, is she the woman for you?”
“Yes,” Lena breathes out without even having to think. She can feel the truth of it settle in her bones. “Yes, I think she is.”
Lillian smiles at her. “Then, for once in your life, do something for yourself.” She holds out a car fob. “I had Eve give Kara the keys to the distillery, she spent the night there. She’s planning on walking on to the nine forty-five ferry. If you leave right now, you can catch her.”
Lena looks down at her wrist, but she isn’t wearing a watch.
“It’s almost half past. Go. Go!” Lillian practically pushes her in the direction of the front door.
“That’ll be seven pounds even for a one way to Kennacraig.” The clerk smiles at Kara from behind the counter inside the CalMac Ferry Terminal. He pushes up the sleeves of his dark sweater and tugs at the matching tie at his neck, trying to loosen the button on his white dress shirt while she counts out the coins. “You’re lucky you’re not sailing yesterday, had to cancel half the boats; waves were enormous.”
Kara smiles weakly at him. “Yesterday was pretty rough.” She hands him the money.
“Don’t you worry, today’ll be smooth as glass.” He prints the ticket, validates it, and passes it to Kara—a smooth economy of practiced motion. “Right then. You’re all checked in. Need to be on the boat ten minutes before departure. She’ll push back right on time, so don’t try dashing on at the last moment. You’re welcome to wait in the terminal or outside, boarding will start in just a few minutes.”
Kara thanks him and looks around. There’s a small seating area with a few rows of attached plastic chairs, but the room smells of linoleum and burnt coffee.
She tugs her bag back out in front of the low building at the end of the pier extension. The enormous ferry is disgorging the last cars from it’s gaping belly, the blue hull yawing slightly as the engines work to keep it flush with the dock. Kara can see the orange vested crew moving about on the white upper decks. The cars making the trip with her have already filled in the painted rows at the end of the dock, waiting for instructions from the loadmasters to begin boarding.
The cloud cover has flattened the light over the harbor. Kara shivers. The air is sharp and salty, the wind whipping small whitecaps onto the gray-green surface of the North Channel in a way that looks decidedly unlike the glass the clerk promised. She sighs. At least she doesn’t get seasick.
A disembodied voice with a thick burr crackles over the intercom. “Boarding, boarding Port Ellen to Kennacraig.”
Around her, passengers start to make their way over to the ferry. Kara can hear the cars start up, the shouts of the crew as they direct the vehicles over the steel apron on the dock and into the hold. Every fiber of her being seems to protest, as if trying to resist leaving, and her eyes burn as she looks up at the ship.
This is the right decision, Kara tries to remind herself as she heads over to the passenger bridge. She’ll message Lena from London, and, if that doesn’t work, then she’ll call from National City. This won’t be the last time she sees Lena.
It can’t be.
Everything goes wrong from the moment Lena steps outside the hotel.
First, she can’t for the life of her figure out which of the identical gleaming black Defenders the key fob goes to. There’s a veritable fleet of them parked outside the hotel and Lena absolutely does not have time to try the physical lock on every door. After a moment of frustration spent clicking the unlock button on the remote and being unable to tell which of the boxy vehicles blinks its light in response, Lena simply holds down the panic button until the last car in the line is rocking on its springs from the force of anti-theft siren.
She climbs in and slams the car into gear almost before she’s shut the door, gravel flying as she reverses.
The woman at the front desk had been very helpful: turn right at the end of the driveway, go five minutes down the road then take the left to Port Ellen, then the first right, and follow the signs to the dock. The drive should take less than ten minutes, giving Lena another five to figure out how to get Kara off the boat before it departs—that’s a problem she’s just going to have to solve on the fly.
There isn’t a soul on the road except her. Lena can see the left turn to the town up ahead: flat white with a black arrow, “Port Ellen” written in clear helpful script.
That’s when she sees the first one.
Lena’s initial thought is to wonder whether or not there’s a tumbleweed on the roadway. But it’s more substantial, and a kind of dark, muddy gray color. And does Scotland even have tumbleweeds anyway? That’s when the second one pops up and Lena realizes what’s happening.
Sheep. There are sheep in the middle of the road. And not a manageable number of sheep, either. Lena imagines she could slalom around three or four, but no, there are a dozen, now—easy. She contemplates their likelihood of survival if she just bowls through the middle.
Lena slams on the brakes.
The shepherd standing next to a low stone wall just looks at her helplessly, gives an apologetic shrug, and whistles to the border collie with him as it tries in vain to get the flock back together and off the road. For every sheep that leaves the road, two more seem to step onto it.
This cannot be happening to her. Lena feels like she can’t breathe. There are now eight minutes until the ferry is scheduled to depart. She needs to go—needed to go five minutes ago. Lena curses sheep, sheep dogs, sheep herders, and Scotland as a whole for having the lot of them.
Another minute goes by, and Lena is now very close to a panic attack. She needs to get to the dock, needs the chance to find Kara and tell her that Lena wants her to stay. It’s desperate, and probably a little untoward, but the idea of waiting until she’s back in National City, of leaving a voicemail, of risking never seeing Kara again, is enough to override whatever sense of propriety Lena woke up with this morning.
One of the sheep lays down.
“You little shit,” Lena says. “Fuck it. I’m going around.”
She turns the wheel sharply to the left and leaves the roadway, heading down into the side ditch at a perilous angle, inching forward. Lena experiences a brief moment of horror when the wheels seem to sink into the morass, but traction returns, and then she’s gunning the engine and popping up over the other side, shooting out onto the field next to the road.
Lena doesn’t even bother looking back at the shepherd, she just hits the accelerator and flies over the greenery. She’ll ask around later, figure out who’s field this is and offer to pay for any damages.
As soon as she’s clear, Lena eases the vehicle back into the ditch and up the other side back to the asphalt.
Thank god for the British and their love of practical utility vehicles.
In no time at all, Lena has made the second turn onto what passes for the main thoroughfare to Port Ellen; it's devoid of other vehicles and, thankfully, sheep, as well. Over the course of the last mile, the flat countryside gives way to rolling hills, and then Lena is driving through the low, dirty looking council houses at the edge of town.
The silo at the ferry dock comes into view as she passes the beach, a large red roofed church to her left. The ferry is still visible, idling at the end of the massive pier extension. Too scared to look down at the time, Lena pushes on, winding through the smaller town streets as fast as she dares.
The last stretch takes her behind a row of buildings too high to see over. She loses sight of the pier and the ship for a moment. The next turn up ahead is the entrance to the marina and the loading dock.
The parking lot ahead of her is empty when she bursts around the corner. She can just see the brake lights of the final car being loaded and the steel apron being pulled back to set the ferry free. Even as she flies across the concrete, Lena knows she’s missed her chance.
The foghorn sounds as the ferry drifts away from the mooring, engines kicking into gear and churning the water into a series of frothing whirlpools.
She stops the car on the concrete just past the terminal and gets out anyway, leaves the driver’s door open and wraps one arm around herself, puts her other hand over her mouth to try to hold in whatever broken sound is trying to claw its way up her throat.
She thought she would make it, thought she might be able to stop Kara before she left the island.
Lena can feel the first hot tears fall from her eyes. She tries to draw in a breath but finds that she can’t. Maybe this is a sign, maybe—
“What was your plan?”
The voice comes from behind her and Lena is turning and throwing her arms around Kara’s shoulders before she’s even consciously processed that it’s her.
All of the adrenaline finally catches up with Lena and the next thing she knows, she’s sobbing into Kara’s shoulder, inhaling the fabric softener scent of her mixed with the salt air. Kara just rocks her back and forth, one hand in Lena’s hair, the other wrapped securely around her ribs.
“Hey,” Kara breathes out softly. “It’s ok. It’s ok, Lena. You’re ok.”
Lena’s breathing slows down and her heart rate starts to settle as Kara holds her. She pulls back just enough to look up at Kara’s face. “You’re crying,” Lena says, frowning. She brings one of her hands to Kara’s face, uses her thumb to wipe softly at the wetness on Kara’s cheek.
“You started it,” Kara huffs out, and her eyes are wet, but she’s smiling down at Lena and the force of it is blinding.
Lena loosens her arms to disengage so that she can step back, but Kara just holds her tighter and Lena can’t bring herself to protest. She doesn’t want to let go, anyway, and if Kara doesn’t either, well, then that’s just fine. She can say what she needs to say like this.
“Kara, I’m so sorry,” Lena starts, but Kara interrupts her.
“You don’t need to be, I’m the one—“
“No, Kara, I really need to do this. Please let me?” Kara nods and Lena takes a deep breath before continuing. “None of this is your fault. I’m so sorry I took it out on you last night. I was so hurt and angry and upset, and it took me longer than it should have to sort out exactly who I was so mad at.”
Kara opens her mouth, but Lena puts a finger on Kara’s lips and that’s enough to stop her.
“I knew I’d made a mistake before I even went to sleep last night. I wanted to call you, but it was so late and I didn’t know—I didn’t know if you would want to hear from me, or if you needed some time to think.” Lena drags her finger from Kara’s mouth along the soft skin of her cheek, cups her jaw. “And then this morning, Lex knocked on my door and the only person I wanted it to be was you.”
Lena laughs wetly, strokes her thumb along Kara’s cheekbone, smoothing at the new tears gathered there.
“So I called, but you didn’t answer. And I thought...” Lena’s breath catches, as she remembers the sinking feeling at hearing Kara’s voicemail. “I thought maybe you didn’t want to hear from me.”
“Then why come after me?”
“Because Lillian, of all people, made a very compelling point,” Lena says, still shocked by it. “That it was possible you were only leaving because you thought I wanted you to. And the only way to tell you that I didn’t want that at all, was to find you before you left.”
“I’m right here.” Kara leans down, presses their foreheads together. “You’ve found me.”
Lena closes her eyes. “I did.”
They're silent for a moment, breathing each other in.
“I was going to leave, you know. I spent the night agonizing about it.” Kara tightens her grip, Lena feels the flex of her fingers. “Even this morning I couldn’t figure out what to do. I didn’t know what you would want and the last thing I wanted to do was make anything more difficult for you.”
“What stopped you?” Lena’s whispering now.
“I talked to my sister and her girlfriend last night. And they both asked me if you knew, really knew, how I feel about you. They said I should tell you before letting you make a decision. Lena, I—”
“I think I’m falling in love with you,” Lena says, interrupting her, she pulls her head back and opens her eyes to look at Kara again. “I realized it in the car on the way here, thinking about those stupid questions and what I would regret most if I didn’t tell you. I’m sorry if it’s too soon or too much or not what you want—”
Kara kisses her, spins them and pushes Lena into the driver’s side passenger door. The kiss is hard and open-mouthed, all need and no finesse, and Lena matches Kara’s intensity, melts into her.
By the time Kara pulls back, they’re both breathing heavily. Lena is still leaned against the car, their bodies pressed together so tightly that Lena can feel the pounding of both their hearts, the beats impossible to separate.
“It’s not too soon or too much, or, gosh, Lena.” Kara closes her eyes for a moment and then opens them again. “I know I’m falling in love with you.”
And just like that, the pressure in Lena’s chest eases for the first time in what feels like days.
She can’t help the smile on her face and Kara’s grows to match it, until both their cheeks hurt. Lena goes to kiss her again, but they’re interrupted by the sound of a throat being cleared.
“Um, ma’ams?” It’s a young man dressed in a dark sweater and pants, maybe a ferry employee. He looks uncomfortable, like he knows he’s interrupting and has tried waiting as long as he can. “I’m awfully sorry, but you can’t park your vehicle here. I’m going to need you to park in one of the marked rows if you’re here early for the afternoon boat.”
“Sorry about that,” Kara says. She steps back from Lena finally, but runs her hands down Lena’s sides, leaving one hand on Lena’s hip as she turns to the man. “We’ll move it.”
He looks grateful and nods, before ducking away.
Lena takes the hand Kara left on her hip and starts playing with her fingers. “So.”
“Yeah?” Kara looks at her, still smiling from ear to ear.
“I have this wedding I have to go to.”
“Do you?” Kara purses her lips together like she’s trying not to laugh. “Do you need a date?”
Lena smiles. “Only if it’s you.”
Kara steps back in and kisses her softly. “Of course I’ll be your date.”
“On one condition,” Kara adds.
“Anything,” Lena says. Kara’s eyes widen and her smile turns gentle when Lena repeats herself. “Anything, it doesn’t matter. Whatever you want.”
“It has to be real,” Kara says. Lena quirks her head, but Kara continues. “Being your date. It has to be real. I transferred your money back this morning. If we do this, I need it to be real.”
“Of course it’s real. I think, I think it's been real almost the whole time.”
Kara looks so relieved that Lena has to kiss her again, couldn’t stop herself if she tried.
They’re interrupted again by another loud cough. The ferry employee is back. “Look,” he says. “I’m really sorry, but if you’re not going to buy a ticket and get into a row, then I really do need you to clear the space.”
Lena just drops her forehead on Kara’s shoulder and laughs. “Ok, we’re sorry. We’re going, I swear.” She pulls her head up and steps away from Kara, if she doesn’t then they may not actually leave. “Will you throw your bag in the back?”
“Sure,” Kara says and grabs her suitcase from behind her, lifting it easily and bringing it around to the rear of the vehicle.
“Lena, why is there mud all over the car?”
“There were sheep,” Lena says defensively, now wiping the drying tears off of her cheeks. “I had to take evasive action.”
“Maybe I’d better drive.”
Lena isn’t even mad about it.
“So,” Kara starts as soon as she’s behind the wheel, puts her left hand out for Lena to hold. “You didn’t tell me. What exactly was your plan for the ferry?” She eases the car around a large coil of rope at the end of the dock and swings them back onto the road to the exit.
“I hadn’t actually gotten that far.” Lena laughs. “Fake a medical emergency, maybe? Start yelling and hope you heard me?”
“Lucky it didn’t come to that, then.” Kara pulls their joined hands up to her mouth and kisses that back of Lena’s.
When they arrive back at the hotel, they separate only long enough to get out of the car. Lena can’t quite believe that this is real, that Kara is back, and beside her, and holding her hand, and she doesn’t want to stop touching her in case it breaks the spell. Kara keeps looking at Lena like she can’t quite believe it either.
As they walk into the lobby, Lena sees Lillian is sitting in the lounge by the fireplace. It occurs to Lena that maybe Lillian has been sitting there, waiting for Lena to come back either way. She doesn’t know entirely how she feels about that.
Lena can tell that Lillian sees them as soon as her face breaks into a tentative smile. She gets up and makes her way across the space, stops just short of Lena and Kara.
“You’re back?” Lillian eyes Kara, looks like she might be about to say something more pointed, but seems to stop herself when Kara nods. “Good. That’s good,” Lillian says instead. She looks at Lena. “Eve has asked me to see if you’re up for joining them downstairs for hair and make up.”
So Lillian has been waiting for her to come back. Lena looks up at Kara.
“Go, it’s ok, go. I’ll be right here when you get back.” Kara squeezes the hand she’s holding. “I’m not going anywhere,” she says, like she can read Lena’s mind. “There’s nothing in the world that would make me leave you now.”
Lena fishes the room key out of the small pocket at the back of her yoga pants, hands it to Kara. “Here. You can put your things back in the room.”
Kara takes the key and leans down to kiss her lightly. She squeezes Lena’s hand one more time before letting go. “I’ll meet you right back here when you’re done.”
Lena watches Kara leave and then turns to Lillian, who’s looking at her more gently than Lena has ever seen.
“I’m proud of you.” Lena feels Lillian’s words deep in the small part of herself that never stopped hoping for a moment like this. “It may not matter, but I’m proud of you, nevertheless.”
“It matters,” Lena says, feeling like she’s about to cry again for the umpteenth time today. She twists her mouth in an effort to hold back. It doesn’t help that Lillian looks emotional. God, thinks Lena, therapy will really fuck you up.
Lillian seems to get a grip on herself. “You’d better get down there. I’ll see you at the ceremony.”
She doesn’t try to hug Lena, just offers a small smile and returns to her seat, and Lena is grateful for that. There are only so many things she can handle right now.
Lena makes her way across the hotel, through the modern wing and past the pro shop, back to the wellness center where the spa is located.
She walks into the salon to find Eve, Mercy, and Eve’s other bridesmaid, a woman named Gretchen Kelley, who Lena recognizes from Luthor Corp. They’re seated in high chairs, being attended to by various aestheticians, but Eve jumps up from her seat as soon as she sees Lena.
“Lillian said...” Eve starts. “Did you…?” She trails off, waiting for Lena to pick up the thread or tell her to drop it.
“Kara’s just dropping her things in the room.”
“Oh thank goodness.” Eve looks genuinely relieved. “I told her last night you two would work it out. I’m so glad.”
“Me, too,” Lena says. She smiles at Eve and accepts the hug Eve offers.
“I uninvited Andrea and Max. I hope that’s alright. I can’t uninvite your brother, though,” Eve says, pulling back, frowning and furrowing her brow, and somehow looking like she wishes she could for Lena’s sake. “I may love him, but I’m super mad at him right now.”
“Fuck him,” adds Mercy. “Glad to see you back, kid.”
Gretchen doesn’t say anything, but she raises the flute of champagne she’s holding in salute.
Lena can’t help laughing. “Thanks.” She lets the attendant guide her over the shampoo station.
They’ve just wrapped a towel around her hair and she’s settling into a fourth chair in front of the mirrors when Jack walks in holding two empty glasses and a bottle of bubbly.
“They said this is the last bottle of the Grande Année, and after this we’ll have to switch—“ he trails off when he notices Lena.
Jack walks over to Eve and pops the cork, refills her glass. Mercy and Gretchen wave him off.
He walks over to Lena.
“I don’t want to talk to you, Jack”
“I know, love, I know.” He sits down in the chair next to her, hands her a glass of champagne anyway.
Lena takes it and considers him. This morning she was ready to write him off with the rest of them, but maybe going after Kara has softened her a bit. She’s still pissed, but he’s the only one who’s side of the story she still hasn’t heard. It doesn’t seem unreasonable to ask him what happened.
“How...” Lena falters, takes a sip from the flute. “How long did you know?”
Jack makes eye contact with her in the mirror. “I found out about a year ago, at some product launch.” He sighs. “Max got drunk, started bragging about this tech he was working on. I said it sounded like yours. He said that’s because it was yours, and that Andrea and Lex had given it to him.”
Lena looks away, down into her lap. She watches the bubbles make their way up lazily from the bottom of the glass.
“I understand why Andrea and Lex kept it from me, but once you found out, why did you?”
“I thought you might forgive them.” He shrugs and gives her a small smile. “I was worried you’d come back and make yourself into a shape that allowed you to keep them, to pretend it was fine. And you were finally off, doing amazing things of your own. It’s a shit excuse, I know. Sorry doesn’t cover it.”
Lena considers this. He’s right, it doesn’t make it better, not really, not right now, but at least it means that he’s still her Jack—the one she knows, who loves her, who doesn’t want to hurt her and wants what’s best for her. Maybe that’s enough to find the time and the space to start to forgive him.
But he should have known better. And, given the expression on his face and his words, he knows that.
“I’m still mad at you, Jack.” She takes a sip as she considers what to say. “Forgive them or not, that wasn’t your call to make.”
“I know, love. Take as long as you need.”
Jack stays with them until it’s time to get dressed and then excuses himself. Eve asks for their dresses to be brought out and they’re helped into them so that no one catches their hair or ruins the makeup they’ve spent the last three hours having perfected. To Lena’s eternal thankfulness, Eve’s chosen a beautiful dark green satin as the base, and allowed each bridesmaid to select her own style. The idea of being stuffed into some horrible beige monstrosity would have been too much to bear right now.
Even better is the look on Kara’s face when Lena walks back into the lobby.
To be fair, it takes Lena a minute to register because she’s too busy wondering why Kara hasn’t spent the entire week in her wedding outfit. She looks perfect in a white marcella shirt, her black trousers crisp enough to cut, and the matching single-breasted tailcoat clearly made to order.
“You look stunning,” Kara breathes as soon as Lena is close enough to hear.
Lena reaches out to tug on Kara’s collar, playing with the ends of her white bow tie unnecessarily. “I could say the same to you.”
Kara goes slightly pink and leans in to kiss her, but Lena pulls back. “I don’t know how long this lipstick will last, let me make it through the ceremony at least.”
“Fine,” Kara says, her mouth turned into a frown but her eyes are all smiles. She ducks down to kiss Lena’s neck instead, a move that has Lena immediately regretting everything. “I’ll try to control myself.”
Kara pulls back and looks at her. “I’ll see you out there, ok?” She asks Lena.
All Lena can do is nod.
The interior courtyard has been covered by an enormous white tent. Protected from the wind, it’s a beautiful setting, decorated in white and dark green and gold, and lit by large lanterns and strings of small lights. The ceremony is lovely, but Lena finds herself distracted the entire time, glancing out into the audience to look at Kara.
Kara’s gaze never leaves her.
After the officiant pronounces Eve and Lex married, the guests are led up to the lounge and restaurant for a cocktail hour while the courtyard is set up for dinner and dancing. Lena waits just inside for Kara and they walk up together.
As frenetic as the rest of the day has been, now all Lena can bring herself to feel is a perfect sense of calm. Kara is here and she won’t let herself be more than a foot from Lena, even as they make their way through the crush of guests to the bar. They end up standing off to the side of the lounge with their drinks, caught up in the moment and each other.
“Oh shoot,” Kara says suddenly, breaking their comfortable silence.
Lena furrows her brow. “What?”
“I need to use your phone.”
Lena can’t help laughing. “What on earth do you need that for right now?”
“Um, you remember how I didn’t answer your call this morning?” Kara has the sense to look a little chagrined. “It’s because my battery died and I didn’t have the right charger.”
“Why didn’t you plug it into mine in the room earlier?”
“I may have thrown my phone in frustration afterwards.” Kara rubs at the back of her neck. “I’m not proud, but I was really upset. I was trying to send you a text. And Alex thinks I’m trying to get on a flight to National City right now. I need to tell her I’m not.” She looks at Lena so earnestly that Lena has a hard time remembering that they still have to make it through the rest of the evening, she just wants to take Kara back to the room right now.
Lena puts her hand on Kara’s chest. “Can it wait till we make it back to the room?”
“Definitely.” Kara smiles.
Somewhere in the background, someone is making a toast, but Lena can’t bring herself to pay attention to anything but Kara.
Eventually, they all make their way back down for dinner. The food is good, but what Lena enjoys the most is the look on Kara’s face when she passes her the rest of her fourth course and her dessert. With Kara sitting next to her, Lena lets the drinks relax her, shifting in her seat so that Kara can keep an arm around her shoulder.
They laugh together when the band strikes up The Way You Look Tonight. Lex’s dancing hasn’t been improved much by the lesson and Eve ends up leading. It makes Lena forget, for a second, how mad she is at him.
Maybe one day she’ll forgive him.
As the band transitions to another old standard, Kara stands up beside her, offers a small bow, and holds out her arm to Lena.
“May I have this dance?” She asks.
“Yes,” Lena says, without hesitation. She matches Kara’s wide smile, and follows her out onto the dance floor.
When Lena looks back on this week years later, what she’ll remember most is Kara—dancing and laughing and sometimes crying—a thousand memories of Kara created over five days, all blurred together in a panoply of emotion with a single, unified trajectory:
Their future, together.
National City, Two Years Later
When she gets home, Lena can hear Kara working in the kitchen. She slips off her heels, laying them carefully on the rack next to Kara’s oxfords, and puts her keys in the dish and her purse on the hallway table by Kara’s messenger bag. Lena makes her way through the apartment and finds Kara where she expected, sitting at the island tapping away at her computer. She kisses Kara’s cheek as she walks by.
“Hello, darling. Much left to do?”
“Oh, hey! I ordered Chinese. It should be here in about ten minutes,” Kara says, smiling up at her. “I’m just wrapping up for the night.”
“Chinese sounds perfect—let me change, and I’ll pick out a bottle to go with it.”
“Awesome. Before I forget, I made reservations for Saturday to celebrate your first successful network deployment!” Kara bounces a little in her seat.
“It was a mini-deployment, and the mechanism is still a prototype.” Lena laughs and rolls her eyes. Kara might be more excited about it than she is.
“Mini or not, it was in a real disaster zone and it worked! That’s worth celebrating.” Kara pushes her bottom lip up and furrows her brow a little at Lena. “Brainy couldn’t stop talking about it at game night last week.”
Telling Kara how effective that pout is on her is one of Lena’s biggest regrets in life.
“Fine. I’ll allow the celebration.” She gives Kara a lopsided smile. “Where?”
“Not telling. That would ruin the surprise, but Lillian recommended it,” Kara says, looking back down at her computer.
Lena walks down the hall to the bedroom, passing pictures of the life they’ve built: game nights captured by Kara’s friend James, lovely group shots of all of them together with Alex and Kelly, Nia and Brainy, Jess, Sam and Jack. There’s even a picture of Lillian and Lena that Kara took last summer.
Lena heads to the dresser and pulls out a soft sweater and leggings, slips out of her work clothing and drapes it over the bench at the end of the bed as a reminder to send it out for dry cleaning.
She hears the buzzer and Kara running to answer it, the food must be here. Lena steps into the master bathroom and washes her makeup off. She takes her time, towels off her face, and wipes off the counter.
When Lena makes her way back to the kitchen, she sees that Kara is putting the finishing touches on the dining room table. Kara’s taken the time to lay out full place settings, complete with a tablecloth, Lena’s favorite flowers in a vase at the center, and candles. Lena smiles to herself, normally, her girlfriend begs to eat dinner in front of the television, even though she knows Lena prefers eating like adults.
“That’s fancy,” Lena says, smirking at Kara as she passes.
“Can’t I be fancy sometimes?”
Lena laughs. “You can, but you’re not.” She starts making her way over to their built-in wine cooler at the far end of the kitchen. “Any preference?” She asks Kara.
“Whatever you want,” Kara says, straightening one of the candles and lighting a match. “You know, at some point, we’re going to have to tell your mother how we actually got together.”
“God, can we not?” Lena bends down, opens the door, and pulls out the first shelf. “You know I’m not embarrassed by it, but does she really need to know right now? She and I are just getting to the point where I actually look forward to her phone calls. Jack’s reaction was bad enough.”
“I didn’t think it was so bad!” Kara sounds a little indignant somewhere behind her. “I mean, I guess I was a little concerned when he laughed so hard he fell sideways off the couch, but he rallied. That rib didn’t even end up being bruised.”
“Kara, he sent us your Supergirl article.” Lena says dryly, without turning around. “In museum quality framing.”
“He has a sentimental streak!”
Lena just hums in response. None of the bottles of red are catching her attention tonight. She closes the first shelf and pulls open the second, before quickly moving on to the third. She pulls a bottle of white out of the rack and examines the label—riesling would work.
“Why the renewed interest in this again?” She calls out to Kara over her shoulder, still looking at the bottle. “You haven’t brought it up in a while.” She puts the bottle back and grabs a different one.
“Well,” Kara drawls out. “I’ve been thinking about it.”
Finally satisfied, Lena strips off the foil wrapper by twisting it over the top and moves around the kitchen island to grab the corkscrew. She can hear Kara come round the island behind her as she starts to pull on the cork.
“And?” Lena prompts, distracted. The cork doesn’t seem to want to come out.
“And I just don’t think there’s any way Alex or Jack is going to keep their mouth shut at the wedding.”
The cork finally eases out with a soft ‘pop’ and Lena sets the bottle down. “What wedding?” she asks distractedly, turning around to look at Kara.
“Our wedding, assuming you say yes." Kara is kneeling on one knee behind her, holding a ring box out with two hands. "Lena Luthor, will you marry me?”
Lena has a sudden flash of memory to the first time she met Kara on that plane, Kara kneeling by her seat as they taxied out to the runway at National City International, talking Lena down even without knowing anything about her. It’s been a while since Lena’s thought about that weekend—about how she met, and fell for, and then almost lost the most incredible woman she’s ever known.
Anything is worth marrying Kara. Even having to tell Lillian.
“Yes,” Lena says, smiling through sudden tears. She sinks to her own knees and pulls Kara into a kiss. “How could I not?”