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The whole walk home, Kara's head was full of faces and names and stories and moving quotes and chilling descriptions. There was too much for one article, way too much, but it had to be told, so she tossed around ideas, sketching them out aloud until she'd settled on doing one short piece right away to spread the word that everyone abducted had been freed and as far as they knew Cadmus didn't have any other ship or a Plan B. That would reassure people. She'd use the material from Lyra and two of the others for it; they'd all been clear and factual in their interviews (though she'd had to stop Lyra a few times when she said "so I knew they were going to" or "he would have" and backtrack to clarify why) so she could use a lot of direct quotes. Primary sources, as Snapper had drilled into her head, were always best. Plus it would save writing time: This was news that couldn't wait.

"After that's up I'll start working on something longer with all these personal accounts," she said as they walked in the door. Mon-El headed for the kitchen while she shrugged off her coat and bag. "The problem with a lot of humans is that they've never actually met an alien so they don't really understand how similar we all are. If I can tell their stories and get enough people to read them, maybe it would help build bridges against all this hate in the world." She climbed onto a barstool and booted up her tablet, unpacking her notebooks while Mon-El dug through the freezer. "It could be a series. I could write one alien's story every time; where they came from, why they came to Earth, what it's been like for them here. Between writing about alien-related news, of course. Once a month isn't enough. Maybe once every two weeks?"

No answer. She glanced up to see him mechanically unpacking a pizza and elbowing the freezer closed. "Mon-El?"

He blinked. "Sorry, yeah. Sounds like a great idea." He smiled for her. "You should do that. Can I help?"

"Sure." Her login screen had loaded and she turned to type in her password. "I mean, once I've got this article up we can sit down and I can write your story. It'd be a great start to my series." Escaping Daxam at the last second in one-man pod would be a thrilling start to an article, definitely a good way to get readers to stick around. Though, he wasn't involved in the Cadmus abductions and that's all that anyone would be talking about for a while–

"Eh, there's not much to tell, you already know it all," Mon-El said, shrugging. "Party, drink, guard the royal family. Everything with the DEO is classified anyway, so it would leave a lot of gaps."

"Oh, yeah," said Kara, disappointed. "I guess you're right."

He turned back to the microwave. "You write, babe. I'll have chow ready soon."

Kara nodded absently, mind already back on her blog. Most of tonight's article was already hlf-written in her head during the walk, and she typed as fast as her tablet was able to keep up with. Winn had done a great job transcribing the interviews, she only had to do a little editing to turn them into a smooth narrative, and–

"I'm not a good person."

Kara blinked, fingers halting on the keyboard. "What?"

Mon-El had his back to her, leaning hunched over the counter. He let out a deep breath and turned to face her. "I'm not a good person. I want to be, but I'm not."

Where in Rao's name was this coming from? Kara frowned. "Well, you're not perfect but you've changed, Mon-El," she said.

"Not as much as you think. I'm still lying to you."

Something cold jolted through her and it must have shown on her face because he blurted, "I mean, I'm not actively lying, I lied once back when I first met you had no reason to trust you and never corrected it because I thought it didn't matter, and it doesn't, maybe it does, but you deserve to know and I wanted to tell you and I almost did a few times but I'm really, really scared you won't like me anymore if I do."

Kara shook her head. "Wait, slow down. What? Why would you think that? Sure you were..." she waved a hand looking for a word "...less than admirable, but I know who you are now and that's all that matters."

Mon-El looked miserable. "Kara, I want to believe you, but you aren't always as fair and reasonable as you think you are."

That piqued. She folded her arms. "Oh yeah?"

He stiffened. "Yeah," he said, "because for all that you talk big about 'understanding' and 'building bridges', deep down you still think all Daxamites are bullies and hedonists."

She narrowed her eyes. "I am not a hologram. I know you. You're different."

"No, Kara, that's exactly who I was and you don't want to face that." He jerked around, pacing the kitchen and dragging his fingers over his scalp. "Look, I am not proud of who I was, but as much as I want to ignore it, we can't, or this–" he shook a hand between them "–is never going to work."

Steeling herself, Kara pulled in a long breath through her nose. "Mon-El," she said coolly, "I think I know what I've gotten into."

"You really don't," he said, and all the fire in him was gone, slumped into resignation. "Did any of those trustworthhy rumours you heard as a kid ever mention there were two princes of Daxam? 'Cause there were, and the one who sent me away in that pod, he wasn't the frat boy you looked down your nose at." Mon-El's voice shook. "He was my brother."

Kara froze. A million spinning feelings hit her gut and he lied lied lied lied LIED–

"How could you?"

 

 

9:21pm
4 missed calls:
Mon-El
Mon-El
Mon-El
Mon-El

 

 

9:24pm
To: Kara
I'm sorry.

9:25pm
To: Kara
That I didn't tell you earlier. I wanted to.

9:32pm
To: Kara
Winn says I can stay on his couch for a while.

9:35pm
To: Kara
Please don't hate me.

 

 

10:18pm
To: Alex
Can you come over?

10:22pm
To: Kara
I'm with Maggie. What's wrong?

10:23pm
To: Alex
Everything. Please. Bring ice cream.

10:25pm
To: Kara
15min.

 

 

"Lyra, I don't know when the article's going up. I'm sure she's working on it." Winn clutched his phhone and made desperate eyes at his guest over the back of the couch. Mon-El hung his head. "No, I'm sure everything's fine. She knows how important this is. I'll get you the link as soon as it goes live. Promise. You can definitely tell your friends. I am. I love you too."

 

 

11:38pm
To: Maggie
really sorry. i've got to stay w/Kara tonight. romantic crisis

11:40pm
To: Alex
ML leave the seat up or something?

11:44pm
To: Maggie
trust issus. shes questioning lifelng asmptions trying 2 figure out if shes racist b/c hes Dxmite.
+he lied about somthin. not good or bad i think but big. Karas shaken up.

11:46pm
To: Alex
Give her a hug for me.

11:53pm
To: Maggie
you dnt hug <3

11:54pm
To: Alex
As far as she knows <3 <3 <3

 

 

"Hey, Winn?"

A muffled groan filtered through two walls and a lot of fabric. "Knew I should've closed the door."

"You did."

"...damn super hearing." The blankets shifted and his voice cleared. "Yeah?"

"Do you think I'm a bad person?"

Winn sighed and shifted in his bed. "No, man. I mean, we knew you were an ass before. I don't see why it makes a difference that you were a royal one."

Mon-El hugged the borrowed blanket round his neck. "Am I still an ass?"

More sheets shifting. He might have been shrugging. "Hey, we're all asses sometimes. Even Kara."

"Yeah, don't tell her that."

"Duh."

 

 

2:02am
Incoming call: Kara

Alex froze on her doorstep, keys jangling loudly in the dark as she swiped Accept. "What's wrong? Do you need me to come back?"

"No. No, it's nothing. I mean, I didn't say thank you. For coming over. So, um, thank you."

Fondly rolling her eyes, Alex turned the key and stepped into the foyer of her apartment block. "What are sisters for?"

"Say sorry to Maggie for me."

"She gets it. Will you be okay?"

Kara sniffed. The speaker crackled for a second as fabric covered the mic. "I think so. It's a lot."

"Get some rest." Alex jabbed the elevator button and dragged her feet inside. "Things will be clearer in the morning, I promise."

"Thanks, Sis."

 

 

8:21am
To: Mon-El
Come home.

 

 

The smell of milk and sugar floated through the door as Kara opened it. Mon-El was looking at her, nervous, holding two coffees and a box of chocolate double sprinkle donuts. "I'm sorry," he said. "For all of it."

"Me too."

She stepped back to let him in, accepting the coffee he offered. He put the donuts down and hovered, fingers flexing on the cup in his hand. "Look, I– I need you to know something." He put the cup down. "I'm proud of my brother." He closed his eyes and the words, rehearsed, spilled out. "We had one job on Daxam: to protect our people. He stayed behind to die with them and I abandoned them. I know he did it because he loved me, but it doesn't make me any less of a coward."

Kara looked down guiltily.

"I'm proud of him," Mon-El said softly. "And I wish I could live up to him. And if the best I can do is help people here, maybe that's my calling. But I should've told you everything a long time ago."

"I.... should've been ready to listen." He looked up, and Kara tried not to be stung by the surprise on his face. "I'm sorry."

"Me too."

Feeling twice as awkward as usual, Kara ducked and fished around in the box for the best donuts, and offered him two. He took them with a small smile. "I'll never get tired of these," he said.

"Me neither." Kara looked at him, really looked, eyes fixed on every detail of him. Who he was now. Who he was trying to be. "Mon-El?" she said.

"Mm?"

"I love you."

His face lit up like Christmas. "Me too."