Kara was sitting up in bed when Mon-El got back, typing madly on her tablet. She noticed him but didn't take her eyes off the screen until he wafted coffee under her nose. "I got a hundred and eighty comments," she said, taking the lidded cup and still typing clumsily with her free hand. "Thanks. Some are from aliens halfway across Earth. They're all scared, they want to know how to protect themselves."
"So why don't you blob again and tell them?" Mon-El asked, balancing his own cup and the donut box as he climbed back into bed.
She hit a button with finality and began scrolling down her screen. Mon-El wiggled the open box in front of her and, when that didn't work, picked up a donut and held it in front of her. She bit it mid-air. "Fwank ooo."
Bit of sugar and cinnamon sprinkled over her keyboard; Kara hurriedly swiped them away as she swallowed. "I'm answering the comments one by one. But I don't know what I can say; some of them really aren't safe. Cadmus still has the list, but I haven't got any public sources I can use to to tell them that. I can't even tell them the aliens who were captured are free without using Supergirl as my only source again."
Mon-El thought hard, taking a gulp of coffee and considering his options carefully as Kara started typing again, coffee cup wedged in her lap. With a prayer to Rao, he made his choice: He offered her a chocolate donut.
The tap-tap of her keyboard slowed down as fried sugary heaven hovered in front of her. "Is that double sprinkles?"
"Yes." He dangled it just out of biting range. Kara narrowed her eyes at him and went for it anyway. Mon-El yanked it back and her teeth snapped shut on air. "Take a break? Please? There's three more."
"Did you plan on bribing me when you went out?" she asked, but she did push the tablet down to their knees and, partly out of self-preservation, Mon-El put the box on her lap. She picked a chocolate double sprinkles one first.
"I call it currency. Buys me some Kara time."
He didn't mean it as a complaint – mostly – but her chewing slowed and she glanced down guiltily. She swallowed. "What humans say about the way to the heart being through the stomach – you know it's not true, right?"
"It's sort of true. But hey, means more donuts for me too," said Mon-El, snatching a second one from the box (cinnamon. He wasn't crazy) and snaking an arm round to hug her on the way. "So, what if you write a blob with first-hand accounts from the aliens who got off the ship? Lyra will give you an interview. She'll be at the bar after lunch."
Kara looked up, surprised, a hint of optimism in her eyes. Then she squinted at him. "You arranged that? In the ten minutes you were gone?"
"Um. No." Mon-El ducked and scratched his chin. "Wasn't even my idea. I called Winn." He shrugged. "He's known you way longer than I have. He told Lyra yesterday that you're the one who tipped off Supergirl about the launch and your blob warned some of her friends in time for them to get away, so she's more than happy to help."
Surprise melted into a smile. "Thank you." She shook herself and turned to reach for her phone. "I've got to thank Winn."
"He'll be there too after work. Hey– where're you going?"
Kara was shoving the blankets off and heading for the bathroom. "I need a shower if I'm going to meet Lyra in half an hour."
"You can do that in, like, twenty seconds once the water's hot."
"Fifteen!" she replied, and closed the door behind her.
Mon-El groaned and let himself slip over till he was lying on her empty pillow. "But I was just getting warm again."
The after-lunch crowd at the bar was thin. Lyra was waiting at a booth tucked into a corner past the pool tables. "Winn said you lost your job," she said as Kara and Mon-El sat down. "I'm sorry to hear it. But for what it's worth I know half a dozen people who are alive now because of you."
Half out of her jacket, Kara went still. Something restful settled into her shoulders and smoothed the lines from her face, and she nodded slowly, sliding her arm out of her sleeve. "That's worth everything," she said. "Thank you."
Under the table, Mon-El squeezed her hand. Her fingers were cool as she squeezed back.
"Okay, right." Kara shook herself into her professional mask and took out her phone. "Do you mind if I record this?"
Lyra shook her head. "No, but Winn said I shouldn't mention Alex because that's got to be a secret." She gave them a narrow look. "I don't like secrets."
"And we don't like keeping them," said Kara, "but Alex has to stay anonymous. For her own safety: Cadmus is still out there."
Lyra frowned, then nodded once. Kara set her phone on the table and started swiping for the app, but Mon-El, thinking back, frowned. "What did you mean, people are alive because of her? I thought shipping all of you off world was Cadmus' non-lethal option."
It was hard to tell, but Lyra might have gotten paler. "Maybe some of them thought so," she said acidly, "but Lillian Luthor stopped in to let us know our course was for Takron-Galtos."
Lead – or something that felt a lot like it – dropped into Mon-El's stomach. "Oh."
Kara looked between them. "What? Why is that so terrible? It's a resettlement colony."
Mon-El winced. It was easy to forget she'd been a child when she left for Earth, and Kryptonians didn't exactly go around telling ugly truths when pretty lies worked.
"It's a prison planet," Lyra replied. "And they're not particularly picky about who they execute or whether you're really guilty. Will you be wanting that in your article?"
"Oh." Kara blinked quickly. "Um, yes. But we should start from the beginning." She cleared her throat and tapped Record. "Can you describe the first time you knowingly encountered anyone from the group called Cadmus?"
As Lyra started to describe the events at the bar when she was abducted, Mon-El slipped out of the booth, giving Kara's hand a squeeze on the way. She didn't need him, and he miiiiiiight have failed to mention that he'd called in sick on his shift last night – a shift that Sazu would've had to pick up, and since she was still here now, staring vacantly at the bar as she wiped it down, she must have double-shifted, closing and opening the place. Ouch.
In fact, she was so out of it she barely noticed Mon-El walk up until he was right beside her. Blinking dully at him, she said, "Did anyone you know get taken?"
Startled, he shook his head. "No. Well, yeah, but they're okay. Are you okay?"
Sazu shrugged and kept wiping a dry patch of bar. "Sure."
"Uh-huh." He reached to tug the dishrag out of her hands and gently turned her towards the kitchen."Go home and get some sleep. I can handle things till the others get here."
She nodded and shuffled round looking for her handbag, then fumbling with the shoulder strap. Mon-El watched uneasily.
"Hey, uh," he said, "did anyone you know get taken?"
The handbag slipped out of her hands and hit the floor. Sazu sighed and leaned down for it. "My brother," she mumbled, eyes downcast. "He's– okay, he's home now, but I saw them take him, through the window, and..."
Yeah. Yeah, he got that.
Mon-El nudged her again. "Go home," he said quietly. "You should be together."
She trudged out.
Sazu wasn't the only one. George was supposed to be working the day shift too, but he didn't stumble in till after Mon-El had run two loads of glasses through the dishwasher and put in a rush order for more limes. And when he did turn up, he slumped at the bar and muttered something about losing track of things when your clients get abducted. "Rough few days," said George. "Think the boss would care if I had a shot?"
"Yeah," said Mon-El. "If I told her." He took down a bottle of scotch and a glass for each of them. George knocked his back before Mon-El had finished pouring his own, then looked at the empty glass plaintively.
"Maybe two?" he asked. Mon-El hesitated; shook his head.
"Sorry, man. You'll hate yourself when it gets loud later. I've seen you. You throw up."
George groaned. "Don't talk about sick. 'sides, it won't get loud."
Frowning, Mon-El poured him water instead. "What do you mean?"
"It's been dead around here," said George, sipping the water. "Everyone's scared."
Mon-El looked around then, really looked. There were Kara and Lyra at their table, leaning in as they talked intently, hardly the image of relaxed and happy clients. Near them Brian was curled up at table with an ale he was barely touching. A trio of Valeronians were racking up pool, talking loudly with booming laughs but twitching every time someone walked too close to their table. Barely a handful of other customers were scattered around, and everyone was quiet, as if any noise would bring Cadmus swooping back in. Even George, and he was human.
"Well, maybe tonight will be better."
It was the same story all afternoon. Everyone who came in knew someone who'd been abducted or had been taken themselves. Some flitted through, ordered a drink and left most of it behind; one took a look at the bullet holes in the walls and ceiling and almost sprinted away. Others planted themselves at the bar and started talking like they couldn't stop, and by the time Kara finished her interview with Lyra, Mon-El had leant an ear to half a dozen people; nervous people, angry people, people who needed information.
Those were the only ones he could help. He squashed rumours about a bigger ship hidden out there with thousands of prisoners on board, or one that had already been launched, or was designed to blow up in orbit and kill them all, and said no, Supergirl ruined all of Cadmus' plans and is going to take them down soon. He soothed fears about the Registry being in hostile hands and said, "Supergirl's working on it, it'll be okay." And when they calmed down enough to to ask how he could be so sure, he pulled out his phone to show them this amazing new blog by a talented reporter who happened to be sitting right over there. "She's writing another article now about the escape. Maybe you could tell her what it was like for you?"
A few took him up on it, and as soon as Lyra was done a Trombusan hurried over and begged Kara to put her story online too: her husbands hadn't been captured with her but now she couldn't find them anywhere and was terrified they'd fled the city. A Sedenachian who'd been beaten when he was abducted asked Kara to photograph his wounds and make sure everyone, human and alien, knew how he hadn't resisted and Cadmus had still done this, and they had to be stopped. Others had nothing new to add but went to give their point of view for the record when Mon-El said Kara needed multiple sources, and others just popped over to thank her.
As evening came and the bar filled up, people started talking to each other, sharing what Mon-El had said, and more than a few sent Kara drinks. By the time Winn arrived and offered to help transcribe recordings, there were four empty club sodas on her table. By the time they finished – and had taken two more interviews from aliens who narrowly escaped capture to round it out – she had enough donated credit on her tab to take home a whole bottle of Aldebaran rum. Once he'd handed off to George and the rest of the evening shift, Mon-El brought it over.
"From your fans," he declared, setting it down with a flourish. Kara blinked.
"Oh. Um, that's great."
Huh. She seemed like she'd had fun getting drunk. He took a seat. "It's okay if you don't want it. They just needed to thank you."
"They have thanked me," said Kara, shaking her head. "I mean, look at this, Mon-El, I have so much material, I don't know where to start!"
But she was shining again, lighting up with hope and purpose. Mon-El kissed her cheek. "Way to go, babe." Her best smile broke out and she pressed her forehead against his, so happy.
"Look at you two, you're cute," said Winn. He took out his earbuds and handed Kara's phone back, and closed his laptop. "That's the last interview, it's in your inbox, I am an awesome speed typer."
If not for the table between them, Kara definitely would've hugged him. "I owe you," she said intently. "I owe you huge."
Winn spread his hands, happy and smug and said, "How about you restart games night?"
"Done." She stretched out a hand and they shook on it.
"Now I gotta run, I promised Lyra we'd– Um," his eyes shot to Kara, then away, "go to her place and, uh..."
Kara's face collapsed into a huge cringe. "I didn't need to know that!"
Chuckling – he couldn't help it – Mon-El held up a palm for a high-five. "Congratulations, buddy! Or 'congrats', is that how you're supposed to shorten it?"
"I'll take it," said Winn, shouldering his bag. "Great luck with your article, Kara, link me when it's done, I will get the word out. And Lyra. Um, well, after we–"
He retreated. Mon-El started laughing, and Kara, red-faced, punched his shoulder lightly. (It hurt.) "You are such a male."
"Hey, if it were Lyra I'd say the same thing," he shrugged and held Kara's bag open as she started packing up. "On Daxam you always congratulate people on good sex. And don't say it's a guy thing, I've haven't heard you and Alex talking about Maggie."
"That's different, she's my sister." Kara pocketed her phone and picked up her coat.
"Maybe Winn's like a brother to me."
"You never had a brother."
She'd said it off-handedly, and was twisting round in the seat to get her coat on; she didn't notice Mon-El go still. "Yeah, well." He bunched up his shoulders and dropped them as she slid out of the booth. "Ready to go home?"
She nodded. "I want to get the draft for the article about the rescue done tonight. I wonder if James will proofread it for me. People need that one soon. I'll leave the in-depth personal accounts for now; maybe I can do something later this week."
"So you think you'll keep doing this?" he asked, waving goodbye to George and holding the door open for her. "Keep blobbing, I mean."
"For now, yes. These people, they need their stories told. And there's so many more aliens out there who are scared, or hiding or hurt just like the ones in there tonight. They need to know they're not alone."
Mon-El smiled faintly at her as they started down the street. "You did a lot of good today."
"So did you," she said, and he turned to her, surprised. "All those people you sent my way, they would never have come on their own. They were lost and you helped them find their way."
That seemed like a bit of an overstatement. "It was just talking. Mostly I was listening."
"That's what they needed. It's what I needed, this morning and yesterday." Kara looped her arm around his and beamed up at him. "You're a good person, Mon-El."
He smiled and didn't feel it.