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Kara feels like she might punch the next person that so much as whispers Lena’s name. Her powers are buzzing throughout her body, her usually fine-tuned control barely in place.

As she’s walking out of L Corp - stomping really - she gets the text from Snapper. Office. Now. The command is clear, but her body hesitates. Every inch of her is screaming that she go after Lena, find some way to bust her out of police custody and hide them both away somewhere safe. The bracelet on her wrist feels uncharacteristically heavy and the watch she’s slipped into her blazer pocket feels like it’s burning a hole through the fabric.  

It takes a few deep, calming breathes just for her to get her body under control. Instinctively her hearing zones in on Lena’s heartbeat, lets the steady familiar thump of it settle the nerves buzzing across her skin. When she finally feels capable of normal human functioning, she picks her head up and turns to walk towards CatCo.

-- 

When she gets there, CatCo seems to be in a state of chaos. It’s almost comforting to see the feelings that have been swirling inside her manifest in a physical form. Bodies rush past her, murmuring incomprehensibly. Across the floor an intern drops a stack of papers and fumbles around to pick them all back up. There’s shouting across the room from desk to desk about layout designs and Kara stops abruptly to observe it all, her fingers adjusting her glasses as she wonders what she just stepped into.

Suddenly, the image of James crosses her path and her hand darts out to grab his arm, pulling him to a halt.

“Kara, hey,” he says and there’s something wary in his face that Kara can tell has nothing to do with the current anxiety thrumming through CatCo. The uneasiness she feels only grows.

“What’s going on?”

He turns to keep walking and she steps in line with him. “We’re crashing the cover,” he explains simply and Kara blinks, uncertain over what could possibly have happened that was so important.

“But the pub date is tomorrow!”

It’s then that something catches her eye and she reaches out so fast that the young man passing by her jumps backwards, the stack of files in his arms nearly tumbling to the ground as Kara picks up the top sheet and feels a red hot spike of fury go through her.

“You can’t do this,” she says in a low, dangerous voice. Her eyes feel hot and her muscles tense as she looks back at James in question. His jaw is tight and back arched as if he’s bracing to be hit.

A dark feeling washes over her that he might be right.

“She’s front page news right now,” he says.

The mockup of the cover in her hand is lucky it hasn’t been vaporized. It’s a picture of Lena from a few years ago, her jaw tight and face impassive and it’s the sort of look Kara can read easily but has always confused others - combined with the title splashed across it, the intent of the cover burns through her. Lena Luthor Arrested, it says, and when she looks back at James, he still looks stubborn and infuriating. 

“This will make her look guilty!” Kara exclaims.

Snapper comes walking by them, adding to the conversation almost absently with a, “She makes herself look guilty.”

The paper in Kara’s hand crinkles violently as her fist clenches, but only James seems to notice. They both follow Snapper towards his office and Kara feels single minded in her pursuit of him. She may not be able to break Lena out of prison, but she can at least do this.

“Lena Luthor isn’t a front page story,” Kara says as she trails after him. “She’s done nothing wrong and-”

“She’s arguably the most famous person in National City, Danvers,” Snapper interrupts with a snort. “And with her notorious brother in prison and now her mother in the wind…” He looks at her with a look that makes Kara want to crush something. “Of course I’m putting her on the cover. She’s a Luthor!”

It takes considerable restraint for Kara to keep her eyes from heating up dangerously and James must sense it because he steps between her and Snapper to shield her from view. It gives her a few seconds to recover and she’d be grateful to him if she didn’t feel like she wanted to punch every single person in the building.

“She didn’t do it,” Kara argues with a considerable amount of intensity as she steps around James and follows Snapper as he sorts through cover layouts.

He looks at her incredulously. “Have you seen the video? Or are you letting your…” He pauses as if searching for a way to be delicate. “Personal entanglement with the woman corrupt your reporting?”

Just hearing her relationship with Lena classified as a mere entanglement almost makes Kara shout at him. She’s my mate, asshole sits on the tip of her tongue, the words screaming to get out, but she clenches her jaw to keep her mouth shut. Instead, she turns to James who’s watching the exchange with a neutral expression from his perch against a nearby table. “It’s Lena,” she says and hopes he understands, but his lips just thin in discomfort and he looks back at Snapper who replies to her.

Luthor,” he says with the kind of emphasis that makes Kara’s eyes feel hot. “Lena Luthor. And there’s video of her with illegal alien-”

“She didn’t do it!” Kara shouts, unable to stop herself and James pushes forward to put a hand at her elbow. It doesn’t have the calming effect he likely intended, but she takes the warning for what it is.

“Kara,” he says softly. She takes a deep breath and stretches her fingers out to avoid clenching them too forcefully. She’s in no position to be here right now. Her whole body is thrumming with anger and frustration and all she can think about is Lena’s face as she handed over her watch.

The object in question pulls against her pocket heavily.

Pumping some semblance of calm into her tone, Kara stalks towards Snapper. “She told me on the record that she didn’t do it.”

“That’s she said, he said,” Snapper dismisses and Kara’s fingers grip so tightly against the strap of her bag that she feels the fabric give way. “My source with the PD says that if the video is authenticated, it’s open-and-shut.”

“They’re wrong. I’ll prove you wrong,” she says darkly, moving her hands to a safer location at her hips. “The video is fake and she’s innocent. She would never do anything like this.”

“Go ahead,” Snapper says casually, looking at her over the tops of his glasses. “That’d make a great story for tomorrow.”

“Tomorrow?!” Kara asks incredulously. “By then everyone will think she’s guilty.”

“Everyone already thinks she’s guilty. Open your phone and look at Twitter, Sunshine. The video is pretty clear.”

Kara looks at James, desperate for an ally. “James, come on. You know Lena.”

The look on his face does nothing to comfort her and he crosses his arms over his chest, his eyes flitting away. “It’s news, Kara. This is a news department. I agree with Snapper.”

“Thanks for your support, boss,” Snapper says, sardonically. “Danvers, get the hell out of my office and go home if you aren’t going to help.”

The almost violent urge to dropkick both James and Snapper through the glass walls of the office spikes through her so hotly that she has to swallow and turn away just to resist it. Incapable of arguing further, she just paces out of the room and away from the two men, her eyes feeling like they’re on fire. They probably are. She tries to think rationally and calmly, to pick out Lena’s heartbeat or Alex’s, but it feels like she’s overflowing, almost.

James is following her, she can hear the sound of her name being called out from behind, but she just stalks through the office floor, brushing past the people rushing around and ignoring the curious looks. It takes a few seconds, but he catches up to her and reaches out, his hand circling her arm.

For a moment she considers resisting, knows that even the slightest tug against his hand could dislocate his shoulder or worse, but bites down the urge and allows him to pull her into a nearby office. He hardly gets the door closed before Kara speaks.

“I can’t believe you,” she says in a dark, low tone. He crosses his arms again, all defiance, and Kara wants to - destroy things. She shouldn’t be entertaining this conversation; she should be figuring out how to get Lena out of jail as soon as possible and safe. She should be talking to Lena’s lawyer or tracking her mother or finding Alex or-

Everything feels so loud and hot and infuriating that it’s harder than normal to focus on the sound of Lena across the city. And without the calm thread of Lena’s heartbeat that she’s just started to become dependent on again Kara feels like she might explode the entirety of CatCo Media and take a few city blocks with it.

“I’m doing my job, Kara,” James says and it does nothing to quell the rage overturning in her stomach.

She laughs incredulously, rubs fingers against her temple. “If I have to hear that one more time tonight-”

“She’s news,” James insists and then his chest puffs out a bit. “And frankly, how are you so confident she’s not guilty?”

“Are you kidding me?” Kara practically shouts and she has to rip her glasses off and press fingers against her eyes for a moment just to compose herself. “James!”

“Kara, I know you guys are-”

“You don’t know anything,” Kara interrupts in a hiss, putting her glasses back on and taking a deep breath that does nothing to calm her. For some reason, James views this as an opportunity to keep talking.

“You hadn’t seen her for four years,” James argues. “And then what? She comes to National City and suddenly we’ve got Cadmus and her mother and kryptonite hearts and-”

“I can’t believe I’m hearing this,” Kara says almost to herself and the shock of having James talk about Lena like this is almost enough to tamp down some of the aggression still buzzing over her skin. Almost.

“Maybe you need to,” James says and Kara closes her eyes to get them to stop feeling so heated. It takes a few deep breaths before she feels like she can speak again.

“Lena has nothing to do with any of that with her mother or Cadmus,” Kara says. “She stopped Medusa. She stopped the gang her mother hired to terrorize the city.”

“So she’s playing a long game,” James insists and Kara resists the urge to stomp her feet, just barely, because she knows her foot would go into the next floor. But it’s a close thing.

“James, listen to yourself,” Kara says and tries for rational argument, thinks maybe that will be able to get through to him. “She’s known about me since we were eighteen. Eighteen. Don’t you think if she were trying to hurt me or whatever the hell you think she wants to do, she would have already done it? All she has ever done is protect me.”

“It’s called a long game for a reason,” James says. Kara takes a deep breath, closing her eyes tight as she tries to reign in her emotions.

“I’m not going to argue about this. I don’t have time for it and it’s - this is ridiculous,” Kara says and she stares at James like she doesn’t even know him. The gulf between them seems insurmountable and a man that’s been nothing but a beacon of support and trust for nearly two years now seems like a stranger. “Lena’s innocent. Nothing you can say will change that.”

“She’s a Luth-”

“Finish that sentence and consider our friendship over,” Kara threatens with an intensity that makes his mouth snap shut.

“Kara,” he entreats softly and she puts a hand up to stop him, feeling the weight of her bracelet and tracking the glint of light it gives off.

“I’m leaving before one of us says something we can’t take back.”

--

Around the corner from CatCo, Kara slumps against a concrete wall and sucks in air that she usually doesn’t need, glasses discarded and her palms pressed against her face as she lets her hearing reach out to Lena’s heartbeat. It takes a good two minutes of counting the beats and focusing on the familiar drumline until she feels like she’s recovered from the wealth of emotion of earlier.

It doesn’t stop her from punching against the wall behind her and it lets out a satisfying smashing sound as the material breaks under her fist.

A presence to her right makes itself known and Kara looks up to see Mon-El standing at the end of the alleyway and regarding her warily, hands in his pockets. She hadn’t realized it, but she’s drifted close to the alien bar.

“You okay?” He asks, observing her with a wrinkle in his brow.

The answer to that is decidedly obvious in the way her hands feel shaky and her chest feels tight, but she still answers, “I’m fine.”

His smile is disbelieving as he paces forward. “I heard about Lena. One of the guys at the bar was talking about it.”

Kara sighs and nods, tries not to let the idea that people are just discussing Lena boil the rage in her chest again. Her hearing starts to wander at the thought and she just catches the tail end of typical Luthor before she has to press her hands against her ears for a moment.

Mon-El is looking at her like she might explode at any moment and Kara doesn’t blame him. It takes a second for her to block everything out again and stay focused on Lena’s heartbeat, but she does and on a deep breath she offers Mon-El a small smile. “Yeah, I’m sure she’s hot gossip right now.”

That seems to relax him a bit and he steps closer to prop a shoulder against the wall.  He gestures at her wrist and it draws her attention to it. “She’s you’re…” He pauses as if looking for the right words.

The metal bracelet there catches some of the light from a nearby street lamp and just looking at it makes her chest relax a bit.

“I mean she’s the bracelet, right?” He finishes with a half-shrug.

It makes Kara laugh just the slightest, a soft moment against the otherwise hard events of the evening. “Yeah,” she says. “She’s the bracelet.”

He nods, lips pressed into a tight smile. “She seems like a good match,” he comments and it warms the tension across her chest.

“Thanks,” she says and the thought of being matched with Lena allows some thread of calm to weave its way around her heart. “I think so too.”

Mon-El chuckles. “Well I’d hope so,” he says. “I mean I’m no Jewel of Truth, but I’m sure you guys would pass.”

“We would,” Kara says with conviction and just thinking about what it’d be like to actually marry Lena, to observe the proper rituals and make it official makes Kara buzz with something at odds with the distress of the past few hours.

They’re both silent for a moment, a careful smile playing on Mon-El’s lips before he speaks again.

“Everyone seems pretty convinced she’s guilty,” he says casually and just like that the moment is broken and Kara’s chest goes hollow again as she straightens up and turns to him. His hands go up in a defensive reaction almost immediately. “Hey, I know she’s not.”

Her brow furrows. “You do?”

He shrugs like it’s obvious and Kara feels like maybe she’s in some kind of alternate dimension where James is the one being a stubborn idiot and Mon-El is somehow the understanding friend.

“She’s your match. It’d be kind of awkward if she was toting around kryptonite and conspiring to kill you.”

It’s an absurdly logical line of reasoning that Kara didn’t think Mon-El was capable of. It makes her smile a bit and she wonders if such an argument might finally get through to James. If she just explained how connected she and Lena are, maybe James would understand.

“Wouldn’t be unheard of,” she replies as she remembers stories from her childhood about mating pairs that went bad.

“Sure, but it’s Lena, right?”

Kara’s chest warms considerably and she steps forward to wrap Mon-El in a tight hug. “Thanks,” she says softly.

He returns the embrace, but his voice is a touch confused when he responds. “Yeah, anytime.”

--

After tasking Mon-El with keeping an eye out at the bar for any important information about Lena, Kara seeks her sister out knowing that she’s really the only person that will both believe her and be able to help her.

The heady anxiety of before is starting to smooth out, but it’s getting replaced with a sense of urgency that she can’t fight. She needs to get Lena out of jail and finally end all this business with her mother.

Alex should be at the DEO - she rarely isn’t - so Kara spins into her suit and takes off that direction. She flies there so quickly that she nearly crashes through the glass doors at the landing platform. As it is she skids across the ground there and cracks it just enough that she knows J’onn will probably scold her - if Alex doesn’t first.

She can’t care about that now, however, and instead just stalks into the base and lets her hearing pinpoint Alex’s location.

It takes less than a second to find Alex standing on the central platform behind Winn and Alex must have heard her land because she’s already turning to look at Kara with a quizzical expression.

They meet halfway across the DEO main floor and a shadow of concern takes hold of Alex’s face immediately. “Hey, I’ve been trying to reach you - James called me four times in a row and then Mon-El called-”

“Maggie just arrested Lena,” she interrupts and Alex’s eyes go wide. The hand Alex has on Kara’s shoulder clenches and releases, her face freezing up.

“I’m sorry,” Alex says, shaking her head. “Run that by me again.”

“Your girlfriend,” Kara says and it sounds more accusatory than she necessarily means it. “Just arrested my girlfriend for conspiring with her mother and Metallo.”

Alex’s jaw drops open and she blinks at Kara as if processing the information is impossible. “No, she didn’t.”

“She did,” Kara emphasizes. “I just watched it happen.”

“You let it happen?” Alex asks, tone dripping with surprise.

“Lena made me,” Kara grumbles and Alex actually laughs, but the sounds stifles at Kara’s quick glare. “This is serious.”

“Right. Just - tell me what happened.”

Kara regales the story as they walk further up into the base, Alex’s face darkening the more of the story she hears. Her hands are clenching at her waist, and her frown grows heavier. Somehow the rage that’s growing in Alex is helping to calm the same emotion in Kara. At least Alex is hearing her out and reacting appropriately. At least Alex seems just as protective over Lena as Kara feels.

She explains as much as she can: the arrest, CatCo, James.

“James said that?” Alex asks incredulously, nearly shouting it and it makes Kara smile irrationally.

“Yeah,” Kara says with a nod and Alex looks about as confused and angry as Kara had felt during the entire conversation with James.

“He can’t actually believe that,” Alex says emphatically and Kara hopes she’s right - hopes the entire thing with James was just some kind of weird crazed anomaly and he’ll come around to the truth eventually.

Kara shrugs, doesn’t know how to reply other than. “He seemed pretty convinced about it all.”

Winn is stationed at his usual desk, typing away at some program on his computer as they make their way over.

“Hey,” Kara greets and he turns, his expression growing wary as he catches sight of Kara and Alex’s face.

“What’s wrong?” He asks, half-standing in his chair but Kara waves him back down.

“Lena was just arrested,” Alex answers for them. “The NCPD has some kind of video of her retrieving the synthetic kryptonite Metallo used to escape the courtroom.”

“What?!” Winn exclaims and he laughs disbelievingly. “Lena would never. I mean she’s like - you know.” He waves at Kara as if that means anything. Alex snorts, though, her arms crossing.

“Yeah, I know. I need you to find the video and figure out how it was faked, and get it to NCPD. I’m gonna call Maggie and see if I can do something.”

“Sure, no problem,” he says turning back to his computer. “Consider it done.”

Alex puts a comforting hand at Kara’s elbow and smiles encouragingly. “We’ll get her out,” Alex tells her and Kara lets her hearing reach back out to Lena’s heartbeat, mixing with the consistent sounds of Winn typing away. “I’m sure she already has some ridiculously expensive lawyer working on it anyway.”

It’s said with a teasing grin that makes Kara laugh a bit. “True.”

It reminds her of the time Lena used all the power of the Luthor Corp legal department to get Kara out of a meager speeding ticket.

Alex offers another smile and squeezes Kara’s arm. “Let me just go yell at Maggie first,” she jokes and Kara is grateful for the comforting feel of support radiating out of her sister.

With a last nod for Kara, Alex walks off and pulls her phone out of her pocket to press a few quick numbers and put it to her ear.

Kara watches for a moment, unable to tune out the sound of Maggie’s quick answer and Alex’s sudden flurry of angry words that relax Kara bit by bit. She listens for a few more seconds as Alex starts in on jurisdiction and evidence and how downright insane it is to arrest Lena Luthor before blocking it out in favor Lena’s still steady heartbeat.

She drops into the open chair next to Winn, rubbing at the bracelet wrapped around her wrist and watches as he plays with the video of Lena in her office and observes a bunch of different programs already running on the screen.

Winn glances at her briefly, but keeps working and she follows his commands on the screen with her fingers crossed that he finds something quickly.

“You know how I know Lena isn’t guilty?” Winn asks after a minute of silent work. He looks over again and nudges Kara’s shoe lightly until she adopts a soft smile for him.

Kara tilts her head, uncertain of how to respond and Winn grins at her as if they’re not talking about something so devastatingly serious. “She gave me a battle bot for Christmas,” he answers and Kara can’t help but startle at the information.

“She did?” Kara can’t decide what’s more surprising - that Lena gifted him something like that for Christmas or that battlebots is Winn’s big argument against Lena’s guilt.

“Yup,” Winn says with a pop of the word as he turns back to his screen. “We’ve been battling at L Corp when she has the free time.”

Kara hadn’t known Lena did that and something desperate twists through her ribs at the thought. Kara’s fairly certain Lena hasn’t so much as touched a robot like that since Lex. It had been something she and Lex had always shared with a kind of intimacy that Kara didn’t really understand at the time. Lena had explained it once - how building robots with her brother was something that made her feel close to him and accomplished all at once, how seeing Lex’s smile of pride when Lena would win a competition was something she wouldn’t trade for anything.

“I didn’t know,” Kara says softly and this time when her eyes heat up it isn’t in anger, but the foretelling of tears pooling there. The nearly unstoppable urge to find Lena and hug her washes through her.

“Oh yeah, it’s awesome,” Winn says in an excited, boyish tone. “Except for the part where she seriously never lets me win.”

It makes Kara laugh abruptly, startled out of her more heavy emotions, as she imagines the fierce expression of competitiveness Lena always gets when she’s challenged. “She’s not someone that just lets people win if she can help it,” Kara adds with a smile. “But I don’t see how that has anything to do with all of this.”

She waves a hand at the monitors in front of them, still running scripts in a pace so fast that Kara can barely follow it.

“She’s ruthless,” Winn says simply with a shrug and when Kara starts to frown he adds, “I don’t mean it like-” He pauses, considers his words with a press of his lips. “Lena’s not evil, but the girl is still diabolical. Last week she broke my poor, sweet Choo-Choo Bacca by freezing it and then smashing it with some sort of hammer device she added to hers and she laughed while she did it. Like one of those maniacal villain laughs.”

Kara smiles at the image, can see it almost perfectly - Lena had been like that even in college when she’d handedly destroy a competitor and a look of sheer unadulterated glee would spread over her face in light of their despair.

“She likes to win,” Kara replies with a shrug and a laugh.

“To say the least,” Winn says with a grin. “Anyway, my point is that if you didn’t know her and you saw that you’d be like oh yeah typical Luthor, right? All happy as she destroys stuff.”

Kara can’t help the way her back straightens at that, a frown pulling her mouth down that Winn is hasty to prevent.

“They’d be wrong,” he adds. “Obviously. I mean, she and I are actually kind of alike, right?”

Kara’s brow pulls down a moment. “You are?”

“Sure,” he says with a shrug. “My dad killed people and we share a name. Her brother killed people, her mother’s crazy, I mean...there are similarities.”

“I guess I hadn’t thought about that,” Kara says softly.

“So I get the whole thing where people assume you’re guilty from the start and don’t take the time to realize maybe you’re not like the rest of your family.”

Kara nods.

“Look,” he says and this time he turns to face her head on. “She wasn’t afraid to give a big old glorified battle toy to the son of the Toyman. She barely blinked when she let me down into L Corp labs. I mean like the deep access stuff. And then she handed me the controls to a weaponized robot.”

Kara’s a bit surprised to learn of how close Lena and Winn had gotten and wonders if she’s missed any other details in favor of being completely focused on her own relationship with Lena.

“She must trust you,” Kara eventually replies and Winn smiles.

“Yeah, the son of the Toyman,” he repeats. “Not many people would be willing to give either of us the benefit of the doubt. So she gets the benefit of my doubt.”

They regard each other a moment and Kara softens. “Thank you,” she says and Winn laughs.

“Don’t thank me,” he says. “It’s the truth.”

Dropping her head back against the headrest of the chair, Kara reaches out and squeezes Winn’s forearm. “I meant thank you for making me feel better.”

Winn seems pleased with that, his smile widening. “No problem,” he says quietly and when he turns back to his screen he adds, “Plus, I know we’re not supposed to talk about this, but like, she crazy loves you. Way too much to try to kill you.”

Absurdly, it makes Kara start to laugh and Winn joins her, sharing another smile as he types away at the computer.

“Okay, I’m back, and that was not a productive conversation,” Alex says, looking annoyed as she winds her way back up to the command desk. “I think Maggie is mostly pissed at me now.”

Kara twirls in her chair to look at her sister and raises her eyebrows. “Well, I nearly kicked James off of CatCo’s balcony when he tried to tell me Lena was playing a long con on me,” she says and Alex looks incredulous as she leans up against the desk next to them.

“A long con,” she mutters with a hint of bewilderment in a scoff. “As if Lena’d have the patience for that.”

“She has patience,” Kara protests even though she’s arguing against her own interests. Alex gives her a look that tells her how ridiculous that is, but Kara shrugs.

“Not when it comes to you,” Alex points out and Kara sighs, unwilling to deny it. Lena has lots of patience, Kara thinks, considering how long she spent resisting getting back together.

It reminds Kara quite acutely of how they’ve just seemed to figure their relationship out after years of waiting only to come up against a complicated array of obstacles that make her want to steal them both away to some isolated safehouse far away.

As Alex leans over Winn’s shoulder and watches him work, Kara finds herself closing her eyes and leaning back against the chair. Her ears extend outward towards Lena’s heartbeat amidst the comforting sounds of the DEO and Alex and Winn.

It thuds steadily in her ears for a few moments and she sinks into the sound, lets it warm and relax the parts in her that are still tense and ready for battle. Everything starts to feel infinitely calmer until the sound starts to ramp up with little warning.

Her eyes pop open and her head whips to the direction of the jail. The motion prompts Alex to look at her, eyes narrowed in concentration. “What is it?”

“Winn get me NCPD downtown jail footage now,” Kara snaps and Winn startles, but does as he’s told, stroking his fingers over the keyboard until black and white video footage starts to play on his screen.

At the sight, Kara doesn’t hesitate. Her chair knocks over as she moves, but she barely notices as she strips into her suit and speeds out of the base.

--

The city jail is a mess of unconscious bodies as she finds her way into the block where Lena’s cell resides. She isn’t very mindful of any obstacle in her way and she knows she’s leaving a path of destruction in her wake, but she can’t find it in her to care. Not when Lena’s heartrate is skyrocketing and she can hear the crashing sounds of Metallo making his way through the jail.

When she finds him, he’s in front of Lena’s cell, his hands on the bars as he’s prying them apart.

Her eyes heat up and she knows they’re glowing hotly as she calls out to him. “You shouldn't have come here.” He turns to her and she spots the green glow of his chest with a watchful eye. “Get away from her.”

Metallo turns back to the cell. “Just a moment, Miss Luthor,” he tells her with a smile that Kara is eager to punch off.

Kara widens her stance and when Metallo turns and approaches her his chest immediately brightens - the only warning before a hot beam of green energy is hurtling towards her and she has to crash through a nearby cell to avoid it.

The proximity is already affecting her powers, she can feel the strength slowly ebbing out of her body. Nothing significant, not yet, but she knows she can’t afford to take a direct hit.

Just as she’s getting back up off the ground another body joins the fight and she turns to see James in his Guardian armor jumping at Metallo and swinging with his shield. How he had arrived so quickly is beyond her, and the sight of him in full Guardian mode only heightens her irritation with him - but if it saves Lena faster, then she’s going to make an exception.

Metallo fields the blow easily, grabbing James and tossing him down the hallway where he skids across the ground, but his chest glows green again, this time as if the energy is flooding the veins over his chest and he staggers for a second.

Kara takes the opening to jump back at Metallo, catching him in the abdomen with a direct hit that sends him into the wall with a crash and cracking sound. James has refound his feet and immediately punches Metallo across the face.

For a few minutes they’re able to stand flanking him, trading blows back in forth in a kind of unison Kara didn’t think would be possible after their standoff at CatCo. But it works well. James seems able to read Kara’s movements, picks good openings for attack, but the nearness of kryptonite is making Kara feel sluggish, her brain foggy.

She’s a second too slow at hitting Metallo and it gives him the opportunity to direct a beam of kryptonite straight at James, blasting him away and down the hallway until he’s crashing to a halt, his body lying limp against the ground in a way that grasps tightly around Kara’s heart.

There’s no time for hesitation and she tackles Metallo to the ground. If she can get in enough good hits before Metallo can hit her with the kryptonite or before it completely drains her powers, she might be able to defeat him.

She rains a series of punches down across his face so hard that the back of his head cracks against the floor violently and she doesn’t relent for a long while even after his body stills beneath her. All her frustration comes pouring out of her fists and it feels good to be able to beat on something.

It isn’t until Lena’s voice calls out to her that she ceases the battle.

“Supergirl!”

At the sound of it she picks her head up immediately and races towards Lena’s cell, the vision of her coming into view doing wonders for the agitated anxiety humming over her skin.

“Hey,” she breathes out, her hands grasping the slightly bent bars of Lena’s cell as she leans forward. Her body feels desperate to be as close as possible to Lena and Lena doesn’t look much different as she sags forward and looks Kara over.

“Are you okay?”

“Yeah,” Kara answers absently, her own eyes tracking down Lena’s form. She looks unharmed from what Kara can tell, but her anxiety doesn’t ease. “You?”

Lena nods and Kara takes a deep breath, trying to take stock of her situation.

All she can think now is that she’s not leaving Lena in jail another second. With a low curse in Kryptonian, she tightens her hold on the bars. “Stand back,” she orders Lena and Lena’s eyes go a little wide.

She’s sure Lena can read the intention in her body and she can sense the protest in the air even before Lena whispers her name out in a soft warning.

The decision has already been made, however, and she cuts Lena a hard stare. “Leaving you here is no longer up for discussion,” she says and she dosen’t mean it to sound harsh, but her whole being feels drained and nervous and it’s a sickening feeling low in her gut that she knows can only be cured by getting her hands on Lena. By the reassurance that Lena’s whole and okay and protected.

After Lena takes a step backwards, Kara tugs the cell door outward and though it takes more strength than it normally would, it rips off the hinges and she’s able to toss it to the side.

Had she been at full strength, or perhaps not distracted by bottomless worry for Lena, she might have noticed Metallo getting up off the ground. Instead, all she sees is Lena’s eyes go wide and her mouth drop open around half of Kara’s name before a spike of hot pain registers in her side and she goes flying away from the cell.

The last thing her mind registers before completely blacking out is Lena screaming out for her, punctuated by the heavy race of her heartbeat.

--

When she comes back to consciousness, she forgets where she is for a moment. It isn’t until her eyes blink open on the fuzzy image of James a few feet away lying limp against the ground that the information comes back to her.

James isn’t moving and Lena’s no longer in sight. There’s nearly deafening silence in her ears that threaten to debilitate Kara, but she pushes to her feet. It’s a struggle. Her head feels heavy and her body completely drained. She stumbles her way upward and manages to get across the floor to James.

It’s much harder than she’s used to when she rolls his body over and pulls his helmet off. It doesn’t help that Kara’s heart feels like it might beat its way out of her chest with the way her hearing is absent of any indication of Lena.

“James, James,” she tries, hands on his cheeks as she tries to get him to wake back up. She can make out the sound of his heartbeat just barely with the powers she still has left, but it doesn’t really reassure her. All she can think about is how she can’t hear Lena anymore.

James pulls his eyes open after Kara lightly slaps at his cheeks and he groans awake, his brows contracting in clear confusion.

“Kara?”

“We have to get up. He took Lena,” she says and her voice cracks on the word. “I can’t hear her anywhere.”

The information seems to pull him back to reality and he sits up, his eyes surveying the scene around him. “Metallo got away,” he says.

“And he took Lena with him,” Kara says.

James exhales noisily, but doesn’t answer as he picks himself up off the ground and Kara follows.

“You’re bleeding,” he says in an awed sort of tone as he reaches out his fingertips to brush against her temple.

She jerks back and brings her own hand up to her face, wincing when she feels an unnatural amount of pain radiate outwards and her fingers come away red. It’s a strangely comforting moment. If she’s bleeding it’s because her powers are drained, likely because of Metallo’s kryptonite heart. If her powers are that drained maybe that’s why she can’t hear Lena anywhere.

“Kara,” James breathes out and she shakes her head.

“We don’t have time for that. We need to find Lena.”

“You’re hurt,” he insists, but before they can continue arguing, Alex is jogging around the corner with her gun in hand and a scared expression on her face, a team of DEO agents with rifles drawn and full tactical gear behind her.

“Are you guys okay? The video feed cut out after the blasts went off.”

Kara paces towards her sister. “He got Lena and now I can’t - I can’t hear her heartbeat anywhere. He took her somewhere.”

Alex’s nostrils flare, her face hardening and Kara can tell that Alex is noticing the trickle of blood near her temple and the shaky way her whole body feels. “We’ll find her.”

“I’m going to go fly over the city,” Kara says. “See if I can catch a trail.”

Alex restrains her motion with a grip on her wrist and Kara’s surprised to feel like Alex could actually stop her. “You’re going to come back to the DEO and sit under the sun lamps for a bit,” Alex says.

“They took Lena,” Kara emphasizes and her sister steps in close.

“I know. And we’re going to find her. But not if you go after them in the condition you’re in right now.” Alex presses in even closer and lowers her voice. “Are you sure you can even fly right now?”

A hesitant stock of her body indicates to Kara that Alex might have a point. She tries to hover slightly off the ground like she usually can, but it takes considerable more effort than usual and even when her feet do lift off the floor it’s like they’re being pulled down by something tangible.

“Come back to the DEO,” Alex whispers as the team filters out through the jail looking around and James is picking up his shield from where it landed down the hallway. “Recharge and go full strength.”

Reluctantly, Kara agrees.

--

They regroup at the DEO and Alex immediately pushes Kara into a sunbed. “Stay here until you start to feel better,” Alex orders. “I’m going to go look at James.”

Kara does as she’s told, lies there until her muscles start to feel stronger and she’s able to levitate into the air without much effort. It takes everything in her to block out the vision of Lena’s face the seconds before Kara was hit by Metallo’s kryptonite beam. Her hearing still stretches outward trying to find Lena to no avail. It’s an isolating, desperate kind of feeling that Kara has no idea how to fight.

When she stalks back into the medical bay where James is being treated, Winn is already sitting there watching Alex treat a burn wound on James’s shoulder. She marches over to him, hands on her hips.

“Anything?”

He startles at her sudden presence and looks at her with a solemn expression before shaking his head. “I’ve watched it a hundred times, Kara. It’s clean. I don’t understand it, but it is.”

“It’s not,” Kara insists. “Look again.”

Winn sighs. “She’s my friend too, Kara and-”

“No,” she interrupts. “Look again. Find something.”

They stare at each other for a long silent moment before Winn glances around the room and stands, picking a tablet up and walking away towards the central control platform.

“Kara,” James starts and Kara puts a hand up to halt his words. Alex, glances between them with a strange expression on her face, still working on James’s bandage.

“Don’t.”

“We’re your friends-”

“James,” Kara says lowly. “I love you, but if you keep-”

James jumps down from the table he had been sitting on and steps towards her. Alex watches them both warily from over his shoulder. “Everyone forgets, but Clark and Lex used to be close,” he says emphatically, moving in close. “Like, really close.”

“Lena isn’t Lex,” Kara says with considerable heat in her tone, there’s a discarded tablet on the table to her right and when her palm comes down on its face it cracks loudly, breaking under the weight of her anger.

James jumps a bit, but Alex just stares at her impassively as if expecting another outburst.

“You need to start thinking rationally,” James tries again and Kara closes her eyes against white hot rage building in her stomach.

“After what just happened you really still believe she did it,” Kara manages to say in an even tone.

James’s mouth thins for a moment. “She may not be her brother, but they still grew up together in the same house. With the same mother.”

The cracked pieces of the tablet under her hand get further destroyed with her fist clenches violently. “You don’t know anything about them,” she bites out, but he remains undeterred.

“I knew Lex well enough,” he says. “I was there when he-”

“Lena. Is. Not. Lex.” Kara says emphatically, her hand punctuating each word with a slam on the table that rocks the equipment sitting there.

“Kara-”

“I knew Lex too, you know,” Kara continues and she knows her eyes must be glowing by the way James takes a cautious step backward. She shakes her head to get it to stop and takes a deep breath.

“Then you should know that-”

“What I know,” Kara says. “Is that Lena didn’t do this. And that you’re supposed to be her friend.”

“No, I’m your friend,” James says. “And you love her.”

Kara’s silent for a moment, their eyes locked before she answers with a soft, but firm, “I do.”

He nods, mouth thinning a bit. “Most days that’s enough for me. I trust your judgement and she’s done nothing…” He trails off, looks away a bit. “You have to understand that Clark and Lex were close too. I saw what happened - I just want to protect you. I don’t want to watch you make the same mistakes Clark did.”

Kara shakes her head, laughs a little. “I’m the Girl of Steel, James. I don’t need your protection.”

“I’m not talking about physically,” he says, a little soft as his head bends slightly towards her.

“Lena isn’t a threat to me in any way,” Kara tells him and they’re hovered in each other’s airspace, the energy between them hot and angry.

He stares at her for a moment. “Isn’t she?”

“No,” Kara says immediately and she steps away from him.

“She broke your heart, Kara,” James says. “When she came back, you were still heartbroken. That’s easy picking.”

“Are you saying I’m weak?” Kara asks. Her fingers feel full of energy, like she could snap the table next to her in half with her pinky. She tries to clench them and keep them away from any surface.

“I’m saying that maybe Lena Luthor is your weak point,” James says, his eyes gentle. It only serves to make Kara angrier.

“Lena makes me strong,” she says, her jaw tight. “And if you really loved me, you’d understand that.”

She leaves him in the room then with a last look at where Alex is still watching them with a neutral expression. A few feet away from them she can hear the sound of Alex speaking a furious tone to James what the hell is wrong with you? but she tunes it out in favor of trying to search again for Lena’s heartbeat.

--

Winn is typing away at his computer when Kara finds him and he looks over his shoulder at her approach. His expression is weary, and if Kara weren’t packed to the brim with anger, she might want to ease him. But she can only hear the blood racing around in her brain, not Lena’s heartbeat, and every minute that passes without it is ratcheting up her irritation even more.

“Anything yet?” Kara asks, coming up behind him.

“My answer is the same one it was five minutes ago,” Winn says.

With a frustrated exhale, Kara starts to pace behind him, shaking her hands out. “Winn, you know it’s not real and you-”

“The backseat driving is really not helping, Kara,” he says and he swivels just a bit. “I know she’s innocent just as much as you do. That doesn’t mean I can prove it.”

It helps just a bit to hear a hint of conviction in Winn’s voice. “I’m sorry,” she says, blowing out a low breath. “I’m just really worried.”

“Really? I couldn’t tell,” he says with a soft smile before turning back to his computer. “I’m working as fast as I can and I’m tracking kryptonite to see if we can find Metallo.” He gestures to the monitor next to him which displays a monitoring program.

“Thanks, Winn,” she says.

James, Alex, and J’onn join them on the platform and Kara pointedly doesn’t look at them. J’onn can clearly read the mood between everyone, probably doesn’t need the ability to read Kara’s mind to judge where her mind is at, and she tries to relax a little when his hand rests on her shoulder for a brief moment.

They all watch as Winn does his thing and agents buzz by, and Kara stays focused on the screens in front of her until James gets close enough to put a hand at her elbow.

“Hey,” he says softly and she turns wary eyes his direction.

She pulls her elbow away from his touch and takes a step to the side. “Don’t touch me.”

An apologetic look crosses his face, but he drops his hands to the side. “I’m sorry,” he says. “I do love you. And I trust you. If you say Lena’s good, then Lena’s good.”

The anger from their earlier confrontation relaxes only slightly and her eyes narrow skeptically. “Just like that?”

His eyes flit over to where Alex is watching them, arms crossed as she leans against a desk. “Apparently I wasn’t seeing the whole picture.”

Kara cocks a questioning eyebrow at her sister and then at James, curious as to what Alex could have said to change his mind like that, but before she can ask, Winn is jumping in his chair with a loud exclamation of, “Whoa!”

It spurs Kara into action and she speeds towards Winn so quickly that a few sheets of paper on a nearby desk get blown into the air and an agent to their left has to snatch at their coffee cup to keep it from toppling over.

“You found something?!” Kara asks urgently. Her fingers play with the bracelet at her wrist, pulling it away from her skin as hard as she can and taking comfort when it doesn’t break.

He sits up straight and starts to type furiously. “So I hacked into L Corp CCTV, right?” Winn says. “I wanted to see if I could find the raw footage of Lena in her office.”

“You hacked Lena?” Kara asks incredulously and tries not to get a little angry at the casual invasion of Lena’s privacy.

Winn glances back at her, brows pulling together. “Yeah, to save her,” he defends and Kara deflates a bit. “Plus, I wouldn’t really call it hacking when she’s basically given me most of the access codes. I just went in a backdoor.”

“Sorry,” Kara says softly and he turns back to his computer.

“So like I said, I hacked in and it looks like someone else went in this way just a couple of days ago,” he explained and the footage pulls up on the screen of Lena bending down near her office cabinet.

It swirls comfort and worry around Kara’s heart to see an image of Lena in front of her. “Can you see who did it?”

Winn stares at the screen for a few moments as code scrolls by in a terminal. “I know this code,” he whispers after a few seconds. “I know this code.”

“You do?” James asks and Alex comes up next to them after that, looking over his shoulder as well.

“This is the script the real Hank Henshaw used the day he broke into L Corp to get the isotope,” Winn explains and he starts to type quickly, screens popping up so fast that even Kara’s superior eyesight can’t follow it all.

Alex leans forward. “So the video is corrupted,” she says and Winn nods.

“And since this is the same code I think I can…” He trails off a bit as he types, completely zeroed in on his monitor. “This should reverse Henshaw’s signature and separate the raw video from the corrupted one.”

Sure enough the image on the screen starts to pixelate and decrypt and moments later what was once Lena bending down at her cabinet is Henshaw leaning down with green glowing kryptonite in his hand.

“Lena didn’t do it,” James breathes as they all watch the footage.

“Lena didn’t do it,” Winn repeats with a triumphant smile on his face as he turns to Kara. “And now I can prove it.”

An alarm rings out then from the monitor to their left and Winn’s head whips that direction.

Kryptonite signature detected, the computer announces and Alex drops into a chair immediately.  

“Metallo?” Kara asks, watching as her sister follows the satellite tracking on the screen.

At that point, J’onn walks across the platform to join them as alarms continue to blare across the control room for a few more seconds. “You’ve found him?”

Kara can feel something start to buzz up over her skin at the prospect of finally being able to do something other than worry. She stares as Alex types away and Winn scoots closer to help her.

“Looks like he’s 50 miles north of Mount Whitney,” Winn narrates and then he squints at the screen. “Something’s wrong with this signal.”

“The source isn’t pure,” Alex says. “It’s unstable.”

“Kryptonite is usually the most stable of all the elements,” J’onn says and Kara glances to see M’gann stepping towards them reading something on a tablet in her hands.

“This is synthetic kryptonite,” Alex replies. “And the ionizing radiation signature is breaking down at an exponential rate.”

“Something was off about Metallo,” Kara says and James nods along with her.

“Yeah, he was not right,” James adds. “I think the kryptonite might actually be hurting him.”

“Oh shit,” Winn says softly and Kara puts a hand at his shoulder.

“What?”

His head starts to shake and he points at the screen Alex has pulled up. “If these numbers are right, then it’s not just unstable,” he says, looking up at Kara. “It’s going to blow.”

“Blow?” Kara asks.

“Yeah,” he says in an ominous tone. “Like, go nuclear.”

“What about that anti-kryptonite vest you wore the last time you fought this guy,” James says and Winn shakes his head. Kara can hear how fast his heartbeat is starting to thud.

“It’s in pieces. I’ve been trying to rebuild it, but-”

“M’gann and I can go,” J’onn adds and M’gann looks up from her tablet to nod at Kara, her shoulders straightening in a show of strength and support.

“The kryptonite won’t affect us,” she says, moving to stand next to J’onn.

“There’s no time. I’m faster than both of you,” Kara says definitively and when she locks eyes with Alex, the decision has been made at the surety in Alex’s eyes. “I’m going.” 

“Kara, it’s not safe,” James says but Alex puts a restraining hand on his wrist when he looks like he’s going to step forward.

“If she doesn’t go now, Lena’s dead,” Alex says softly and just hearing the words makes Kara’s stomach turn over. She doesn’t wait for further comment, just turns towards the landing platform and flies out of the DEO.

--

Halfway there, she starts to hear Lena’s heartbeat again. Strong and sure as it thuds against Kara’s ears and it soothes something twisted inside Kara’s chest, allows her to take a calming breath and focus on getting to the location as quickly as possible.

Alex’s voice comes across the comm systems, worried, but even. “Kara, if Metallo’s heart explodes, it’s going to release a massive cloud of kryptonite gas,” she tells her. “If you’re anywhere near it, it will kill you.”

“Then I’ll make sure I’m not near it,” Kara says as she finally comes up on Lena’s location. Her heartbeat is louder and louder, nearly drowning out whatever Alex and Winn are trying to tell her and she’s finally able to scan the landscape with her x-ray vision. It takes seconds for her to find Lena standing next to her mother, Metallo and Henshaw in what looks like a warehouse.

Just the sight of her pumps purpose and strength across Kara’s body.

“You have minutes,” Winn tells her. “Be careful.”

There’s not a single part of her capable of finessing her way into the base so she picks the least structurally sound part she can detect and crashes through it, landing with a thud so forceful that the ground cracks beneath her feet.

She doesn’t see anything else right away except for the way Lena turns immediately towards her, eyes wide in surprise. Lena’s heartbeat sounds like it stutters between slowing down and then picking up, but it all sounds so good to Kara that she forgets for a second they’re standing in a room with a ticking time bomb.

That is until Lena glances to where Lillian is walking forward with a smile and she lets out a warning, “Supergirl!”

Her fists clench and she widens her stance defensively, the smile on Lillian's face foreboding. “You’re not getting away with this, Lillian,” she warns, but Lena’s mother just laughs. It reminds her distractingly of the first time she ever met Lillian - the easy way she had always been able to mix condescension with threat into a sound like laughter.

“I’m so glad you’re here,” Lillian says, her smile only growing before she adds, “Kara.”

Kara’s eyes widen at the confirmation of something they’d all suspected and she glances at Lena for a moment.

“You’ll make the perfect test subject,” Lillian continues and it’s then that Kara notices the device in her hand. “I’d love to see if these work.”

The grenade goes hurtling towards her and she reaches a hand out to catch it, trying to figure out what it is for a moment and if she should be shielding it. Before she can figure anything out the device lets out a piercing sound that stabs into Kara’s head in a way so painful that she has to drop the grenade and clutch her forehead.

The pain brings her to her knees and she lets out a loud groan.

Distantly, she’s aware of the sound of Lena yelling for her, but it’s hard to make out against the wail of pure agony echoing against her skull.

A new pain makes itself known as a hand hauls her up off the ground by her bicep and she realizes that Metallo has approached her and is currently dragging her across the ground. Trying as hard as she can to push the pain away and focus she tries to get her feet under her and clear her vision.

It’s just in time to see Henshaw throw Lena to the ground so hard that her head knocks against the concrete and that’s all she needed to get her brain to focus against the pain. A rage builds up inside her chest and she pulls out of Metallo’s grip to look at Lillian. “Metallo’s heart is going to explode,” she gasps out and as if on cue the green in Metallo’s chest starts to glow.

“You’re lying,” Lillian accuses, her eyes narrowing, but she steps forward to look at Metallo’s chest.

“It’s going to explode. And kill all of us,” Kara tells her and she focuses on Lena’s now still body across the way. She just needs to distract them long enough to disable the grenade.

Suddenly Metallo makes a pained noise and his heart starts to glow again, radiating out of his chest in a way that makes Lillian’s eyes go wide. With the opening, Kara finds the grenade still lying on the ground and directs her heat vision that way. She’s not as strong as normal with the way kryptonite is starting to affect her, but she’s able to hit the small device and explode it, the pain in her head ceasing and everything going clear.

She kicks Metallo in the chest immediately and it sends him sprawling across the warehouse until he crashes against a shipping container.

Lillian has already backed away with Henshaw and they all watch as Metallo gets up and tries to stalk forward but he jolts violently when the kryptonite lets out a heavy glowing pulse. “He’s unstable!” Kara yells again.

Suddenly two familiar forms come crashing down next to her and she breathes a slight sigh of relief to see J’onn and M’gann stepping forward.

“Get Lena,” J’onn orders and he doesn’t have to ask her twice. “We’ll get him.”

Kara scrambles across the ground to where Lena is still lying while M’gann and J’onn engage Metallo. Lena’s body is still, but her eyes are open, if unfocused. “Lena,” she says, desperate for a response. Her hands pull Lena up into her arms, slide over her cheek to get her eyes to focus. “Lena.”

There’s no real response, but the sound of Metallo screaming in rage reminds her they can’t stay in the warehouse. She scoops Lena up and jumps forward, knowing she needs to get as far away as possible. Lena’s arms go immediately around her neck and she almost falls out of the air in relief. The feeling of Lena’s face sliding against her neck is the most comforting thing she’s felt in ages.

They’re only seconds away from the warehouse when Kara hears the explosion and then suddenly it’s hitting her in the back like a physical blow and she feels her powers flag dangerously.

The ground starts to come up ridiculously fast and she knows they’re going to crash, but she turns her body to shield Lena from the worst of the impact.

Her whole body feels like it’s vibrating out of control, the kryptonite infecting her lungs and her muscles and when they tumble over the ground Kara’s sure she’s dying. But at least Lena is safe.

Panic surges through her and she tries to suck in oxygen that she normally doesn’t need as she bends over the ground and tries to get her eyes to focus. Pain radiates across her skin, her veins feel like they’re on fire. Her vision is blurring, darkening, and it’s all she can think until familiar hands are tugging at her cheeks.

“Kara,” she hears through the fog of hurt. It’s fuzzy and unclear, but Lena’s face is suddenly in front of her looking just as panicked as Kara feels.

“Lena,” she manages to gasp out and Lena’s grabbing for one of Kara’s hands.

“Hey, you’re okay,” Lena is saying as she pulls Kara’s palm up against her sternum.

She wants to say I’m not okay and I love you and I’m sorry but she can’t get any of the words out.

“You’re okay,” Lena repeats and she’s pressing Kara’s fingers across her chest like she used to in college when Kara had tenuous control over her powers. It’s enough to break through the panic for a moment. “Breathe with me,” Lena instructs. “Feel my heart beating.”

It’s a barely there sound, like something really far away, but Kara can just make out Lena’s heartbeat. It helps that she can also feel it against her palm and she presses her hand closer to try to cling to it.

“The kryptonite,” she tries to say, to explain, but her voice is hoarse and achy and Lena just shuffles closer, shushing her as a hand cups her cheek.

“I know,” Lena says softly, and they’re so close their foreheads touch. “I know. Just breathe, you’ll be okay. Count them.”

The distant sound of Lena’s heartbeat starts to fade out of Kara’s ears and it’s so startling that she feels the panic start to rise up again. Her eyes stay locked on the hand she has pressed up against Lena’s chest as if she could see her heart, but her vision won’t work like normal and it’s so painful Kara starts to suck in panicked breath again. “I can’t, I can’t hear-”

“Kara,” Lena interrupts forcefully enough that it pulls Kara out of her spiral. “Just count, focus.”

She squeezes her eyes shut and tries to do as Lena says, feeling the steady beat against her palm.

“Count,” Lena repeats and then she starts the counting for her. Soft, Kryptonian words that start to ease Kara’s breathing.

It takes a second for Kara to feel like she has some kind of calm back and she joins Lena in the counting when she gets to duhv.

“That’s it,” Lena says, her own voice sounding more steady, focused. “Relax.”

Strength has completely seeped out of her and Kara feels gravity in a way she’s not used to, sagging forward against Lena’s body. Her own body is still aching, wracked with pain, but there’s Lena, soft and warm.

“Everything’s okay,” Lena murmurs as she pulls Kara into her body and Kara feels like she might start crying if she had anything left in her body to give.

“I’m sorry,” she says against the cool skin of Lena’s collarbone. “Sorry I didn’t stop them. I’m sorry I-”

Lena shakes her head and presses a kiss to Kara’s forehead. “Don’t be sorry. You saved me.”

They stay like that for long moments and Kara lets the close presence of Lena soothe the aches in her body until she feels like she can breathe and function normally. With her ear pressed up against Lena’s chest she can hear the steady sound of her heartbeat again and it does wonders to calming her. That is, until she detects irregularities that indicate maybe not everything is okay.

She pulls back and takes stock of Lena’s face. “Are you okay?” It’s then that she notices the pained crinkle of skin around Lena’s eyes. “What’s wrong?”

Her hand swipes up to brush some of Lena’s tangled hair away and that’s when she sees it. “You’re bleeding,” she says in a calm, even voice that she doesn’t feel.

“Hit my head,” Lena explains and Kara watches as her pupils go a little crazy and unfocused.

“We need to get you to a hospital,” she tells her and she gets an arm around Lena’s waist just before Lena falls over. It spikes urgency into her body that almost topples her.

“M’fine,” Lena tries to tell her and Kara would laugh if she wasn’t so terrified. Lena’s hands are gripping Kara’s biceps in a grip so strong that she can actually feel it, the pain of it unfamiliar.

“You’re not fine,” she tells her, running her hand over Lena’s head to check for other unseen injuries. “I can’t fly us. Metallo’s stupid synthetic kryptonite.”

“It’s okay,” Lena tries to say, her fingers tracing softly over Kara’s cheek. “It’s okay.”

It’s clear Lena’s losing a grip on consciousness. “Lena,” Kara says, shaking her a bit and keeping a hand behind her head. “Stay with me.”

There’s a smile on Lena’s face at a dissonance with the moment as her eyes roll back a bit and Kara can tell the moment Lena blacks out. “Lena!” She yells, shaking her a bit. “Lena!”

The panic is back, coupled with a kind of helplessness that makes Kara want to cry, the heat of it pricking painfully in her eyes. She tries to pick Lena up off the ground, but it’s harder than she’s used to. Her limbs feel limp and overused and Lena feels heavy like she’s being pulled to the ground by an invisible rope.

A soft thud to her right breaks through her panic and the image of M’gann comes rushing forward. “Kara! Are you okay?”

Kara’s so grateful to see a friend that she almost passes out. “Lena needs a hospital,” she calls out as J’onn drops in behind M’gann and follows her over. “We need to get her back to the DEO. I can’t fly.”

M’gann doesn’t hesitate, just steps forward and scoops Lena out of Kara’s arms. “Let’s go,” she says and J’onn follows suit, reaching out for Kara.

She falls into his arms and lets him pick her up off the ground as the pair of them zoom back towards National City.

--

Alex, Winn and James are all waiting for them when they land back in the DEO and M’gann carries Lena immediately towards the medical bay. Alex rushes forward and wraps her arms around Kara so forcefully that Kara’s breath whooshes out of her.

“Are you okay?” Alex asks and Kara spares a minute to take comfort from the solid feel of her sister holding her. She buries her face against Alex’s neck and takes a deep steadying breath before shaking her head and fighting off the sob that threatens to break through.

“Lena’s hurt,” she says, before pulling away and limping in the direction M’gann went.

“We’ll fix her,” Alex says, pacing after her.

James and Winn join them, and Kara doesn’t protest when James walks forward and immediately slings his arm over Kara’s shoulders. Their argument seems trivial in light of the still way Lena’s body lies on the table after M’gann sets her down.

Alex walks over immediately, pulling a device off a nearby table and hooking up a few monitors.

Kara feels helpless as all she can do is watch her sister work. She takes some amount of strength from the way James is still holding on to her and Winn walks over to grab Kara’s hand, giving her as comforting a smile as he can manage.

“She’s okay,” Alex finally announces, running a device across Lena’s body. “She just needs some rest. She must have hit her head pretty hard.”

Alex reaches out to push some of Lena’s hair away from where the wound is and works on cleaning it up. M’gann stands next to her, no longer in her Martian form, and provides a quiet assistance.

“Kara, you should go sit under the sunlamps,” Alex says, though her eyes never leave Lena’s form.

“I’m fine,” Kara protests.

“You’re not fine and Lena’d be saying the same thing if she were awake right now,” Alex tries, this time looking over.

James pulls her tighter against him and looks down at her. “Alex is right, Kara. You’re going to need your strength.”

J’onn, who’s been standing silently on the side of the room steps forward. “M’gann and I will go out and see if we can pick up any trace of Metallo and Lillian. In the meantime you should do your best to regain your strength.”

“I’m staying with Lena,” Kara says. Just the idea of walking away from her, of having Lena out of sight, is starting to thread panic back into her body.

Alex looks over sharply. “Spend an hour under the sunlamps and then you can stay in here as much as you’d like,” she says and when Kara goes to protest again, Alex adds, “Don’t make me order James to carry you there.”

With how weak Kara feels she knows it’s not an idle threat. She disengages from James and Winn and walks up to the bed. Quietly, she leans forward and presses her forehead to Lena’s temple as softly as possible. “I’ll be right back,” she whispers before pressing a quick kiss to Lena’s cheek and with a last significant look for her sister, she leaves in the direction of the sunbeds.

--

James finds her just as she gets the sunbed operational and he saunters into the room with hands in his pockets and a soft expression on his face.

Not knowing exactly why he’s sought her out, she just stays quiet, perched on the edge of the bed and regarding him with an expectant expression.

“I owe you an apology,” he says after a bit.

Kara still feels like everything is so shaky between them, but the open look on his face does wonders to soothe that feeling over. “For what?”

“The things I said about Lena,” he says and Kara lets out a sharp laugh.

“Yeah, you were pretty clear about how you feel about her.”

“That’s the thing,” James says and he moves forward until he’s right in front of Kara and she has to lift her chin to keep eye contact. “I don’t think I was.”

“How do you mean?” Kara asks, confused.

“I shouldn’t have said those things,” he says and with a sag of his shoulders he takes a seat on the bed next to Kara and reaches over to clasp her thigh. “I told myself I was just trying to protect you, but the truth is…”

Kara’s brow pulls down but she settles a hand over his, can tell that whatever he’s trying to say must be hard.

“The truth is that there’s still a part of me that knows if she hadn’t come to National City and back into your life,” he says, pausing and letting out a soft sad sounding laugh. “We would be together right now.”

The truth of it burns across Kara’s chest and she has to take in a sharp breath of air. “James,” she breathes out.

He looks away for bit, mouth thinned. “It’s hard to let go of that part,” he admits and when Kara’s expression goes soft and sympathetic he adds, “The part still in love with you.”

It hurts unexpectedly, like a scab cracking open suddenly.

“I think that part maybe wanted her to be guilty instead of,” he shrugs with a short laugh. “Instead of totally perfect for you and obviously in love with you as much as you are with her.”

Usually the information would be like a warm blanket over Kara’s shoulders, but right now she feels cold and unsure and wanting to soothe the pained crinkle around James’s eyes as he talks.

As it is all she can think of doing is turning and wrapping her arms around his shoulders until they’re hugging each other. His arm goes around her back low on her waist and the position is a little awkward, but she pulls him in closer, presses a kiss to his head. “I love you, James,” she murmurs.

“I love you too,” he says quietly.

“I’m sorry that-

“Don’t apologize for loving her more,” he interrupts, pulling back a little until they can look at each other.

Kara shakes her head, puts a palm against his cheek. “It’s not more. Just different.”

His laugh is warm this time as he leans into her hand and Kara marvels, not for the first time, at how soft and strong this manages to be at the same time. He reaches up to clasp her hand and stand, squeezing her fingers in a motion that radiates up her arm.

“I can handle different,” he says. “But I’m still sorry. I shouldn’t have said those things about her. I do consider her my friend.”

Kara slides off the bed to stand in front of hi and can’t resist the urge to hug him again. “Then she’s very lucky to have you as a friend,” Kara says, squeezing him as tight as her powerless muscles allow. “I know I am.”

James wraps her up, holds her close for a long moment before letting her go. “Thanks, Kara,” he says as he gives her a final squeeze to her shoulder and exits the room.

Kara slides back onto the sunbed and checks the settings. There’s a mix of emotion still pushing insistently at the back of her eyes and tugging at her chest, but she inhales as deeply as she can as the sunlight starts to hit her body.

--

The artificial sunlight doesn’t feel like it’s helping at all.

She lets forty minutes pass before she gives up and tries to leave the bed, but Alex is already walking into the room. “How’s Lena?” She asks immediately.

Alex picks up a scanning device and holds it over Kara’s body. “She’s stable. We just have to wait for her to wake up.”

“I’m going over there,” Kara says and she tries to jump off the bed, but Alex stops her with a hand on her shoulder and it actually works. No matter how hard she pushes she doesn’t feel like she could overpower her sister. It’s a frustratingly vulnerable feeling.

“You’re staying here and letting me observe you.”

“Alex,” Kara warns lowly, but Alex just glares back.

“Kara, do what I say.”

Acquiescing for a few seconds, Kara just sits on the table and fidgets while Alex conducts a quick exam. “Alex,” she repeats, but this time it’s soft and unsure.

Alex’s face softens when she looks back at her sister. “Yeah?”

“I can’t hear her,” Kara says and she almost chokes on the words.

“Can’t-”

“Lena’s heartbeat. I can’t hear it. Again,” she explains and it feels so much like those first few months after their breakup when all she could hear was the vast silence. It’s an all consuming feeling and Alex looks like she understands. Her fingers pull at the bracelet still wrapped around her wrist, and it gives even less than usual. It’s heavy in a way she’s not used to and a constant reminder of the way Lena looked as she passed out.

“Hey,” Alex says softly, bringing a hand up to her cheek. “It’ll come back. She’s just a room over.”

Kara nods, but she doesn’t feel assured. The silence feels far too loud and her body still feels achy from the fight and the fall and everything in her is screaming for her to go to Lena.

Alex is still scanning her, inputting something in a tablet and Kara can’t handle it anymore. While her sister is distracted with typing something, Kara jumps off the table as quickly as she can manage it, jogging out of the room before Alex can stop her.

“Kara!” She hears call out after her, but she just stalks towards Lena’s room.

Alex catches up easily. “Alex, I’m fine,” she says with some amount of heat.

With a grip on her arm, Alex is able to pull her to a halt in the hallway and twirl her until they’re facing each other. “You need some more time under the-”

“I’m fine,” she says again. “I’m going to check on Lena.”

“Lena’s actually fine, but you’re-”

Without hearing the rest of it, Kara just pulls out of Alex’s grasp as forcefully as she can manage and turns to stalk into Lena’s room. It’s then that she notices Lena is actually awake, staring right at her with the prettiest eyes Kara has ever seen.

A wash of relief so violent washes over her she nearly falls, but manages to get over to the bed. “Hey, how are you feeling?”

Alex has seemingly noticed Lena is awake as well because she rushes up next to Kara and asks the same question, her hands grabbing for the tablet with Lena’s vitals on it, her shoulder bumping warmly up against Kara’s.

Lena smiles up at her and Kara feels her world start to shift back into place.

--

Alex and J’onn both insist on debriefing Lena over the events at the warehouse, but Kara stops them with a firm glare.

“She just went through a seriously traumatic experience with her mother,” Kara tells them in a heated tone. “Not to mention her head injury.”

J’onn looks ready to argue with her, but Alex puts a hand on his arm and when he looks over at her he must read something in her face because he relents immediately.

“We’ll need to speak with her as soon as she’s ready,” he tells Kara. “This isn’t a time to dawdle.”

Kara nods, understanding the sense of urgency he feels. It’s not far from how Kara is feeling. Lillian is still out there presumably with Henshaw and the pain of the grenade she had thrown at Kara lingers like a ghost in the back of her mind. The last thing they need to do is give Lillian time to regroup and prepare.

--

It’s a little too easy to convince Lena to stay at the DEO. She relents almost immediately with a tired smile and nod that scares Kara a bit. Lena’s rarely so cooperative about things of this nature, but Kara tries to blame it on the exhaustion of the past few days and not get too worried.

“I do have some work I should catch up on,” Lena tells her softly and Kara’s lips purse a moment.

“You’re supposed to be resting.” 

Lena shrugs a shoulder and shoots her a half-smile that eases some of the nerves in Kara’s gut. “I find work to be relaxing sometimes,” she says and Kara rolls her eyes.

“This is how I ended up spending Saturday nights in the library,” she jokes and Lena laughs. It lets some more of the tension in her stomach uncoil.

Lena reaches out for Kara’s hand and the touch does what it always does, the entirety of her body relaxes forward towards Lena’s presence. “I should at least respond to the hundred of messages I’m sure are sitting in my inbox and let everyone know I’m okay.” Her lips quirk a bit. “My last e-mail to Jess was a bit hasty. I can’t imagine what she must be thinking.”

Kara agrees with a nod of her head and a squeeze to Lena’s fingers. “Okay. But I’ll do all the actual work,” she says and she reaches up with her free hand to stroke hair off Lena’s forehead. “You can dictate to me.”

With an agreeable smile, Lena laughs a bit. “Deal.”

--

Commandeering a laptop from one of the DEO storerooms, Kara pulls up a chair next to Lena’s bed and helps her slog through any e-mails she missed the last couple days and address any fallout from her arrest.

There are indeed a slew of emails from Lena’s assistant just as Lena predicted. “Tell her everything is fine and that I’ll be back in the office next week.”

Kara does as she’s told and opens up the documents Jess had attached to several of the emails detailing her phone messages and rescheduled meetings.

A name starts to appear more than once and halfway through telling Lena that, “You have like ten emails and a bunch of messages from a Jack-” Her voice cuts off midsentence as she registers the full name. “Jack Spheer. Oh.”

She tries to fight the wave of jealousy that pours over her, but it feels just as acute as it had years ago when she saw the first picture of Lena and Jack together.

It had been a mix of complicated emotions when Kara began to notice how Lena seemed to start attending all her events with him. For months whenever Kara would see a picture of Lena - after it took her just as long to even be able to do so - there was always a look on her face Kara could easily read. It was a forced looking expression of neutrality like Lena was merely going through the motions of her life and the requirements of being a Luthor daughter.

Then Jack appeared and Lena stopped looking so stiff. Kara remembers a particular picture of Lena laughing - genuinely full bodied laughing - at Jack during a presentation at some sci-tech awards show.

Their joint TED Talk was the first one Lena did where she sounded relaxed, at ease with her role of representing Luthor Corp and being a pioneer of innovation. They played off each other like they had known each other for years.

It hurt Kara just as much as it made her happy.

Lena’s voice breaks softly through her thoughts. “I’m sure he’s seen the news and is worried,” she says. “Send him a note that I’m okay and that I’ll call him soon.”

Kara’s fingers are still paused over the keyboard as she eyes one of the brief messages on the screen for a moment. Call me. Please - Jack  

“You still talk to Jack?” She hears herself ask and she picks her eyes up to lock with Lena’s.

Lena looks wary of the conversation which doesn’t make Kara feel better and her voice is careful as she explains, “Jack is a good friend of mine. He called me last week when he heard about my mother’s trial, but we hadn’t spoken since I came to National City before that.”

It’s as satisfying answer as Kara feels she’ll get so she just nods and turns to type a quick reply to the man in question.

Lena clearly reads right through her unease and speaks out again. “Kara, Jack and I-”

“Dated,” Kara interrupts before she can stop herself and the word comes out like a snap that she nearly winces at. “I know. It was all over the news.”

Lena arches a brow at her and it’s an attractive look as always, but Kara looks away, unwilling to be distracted by how pretty Lena always is.

“He was there for me during a very hard time in my life,” Lena says quietly and it’s clear she’s trying to catch Kara’s eye, is searching her face for a reaction. Kara tries very hard to keep her expression still. “He made me feel less alone.”

It snaps, “I would have been there for you,” out of her lips and she has to clear her throat before she adds, “If you had wanted me.”

The words break over Lena’s face and Kara regrets them for a tiny second, but knows that sometimes some things just need to be said.

Lena blows out a breath before crooking her finger in the air. “Come here,” she entreats.

Kara hesitates for a moment, but she’s helpless to resist the look in Lena’s eye and moves to sit on the bed.

Lena’s hands grab at her own and she talks in the softest tone as she explains her relationship with Jack in a way that Kara understands in her head, but can’t get her heart to quite match up.

It isn’t until Lena mentions James, mentions that she feels weird around him even though he and Kara never really dated that Kara starts to sort through her emotions.

It will always be hard for her that Lena had someone else after Kara, that Lena had been with other people, but so had Kara. All she can do now is be happy Lena wasn’t so alone.

So she tells Lena as much and when Lena just smiles and pushes up Kara’s glasses, a blush spreads hotly over her cheeks.

--

When Alex comes to debrief Lena about the contents of Lex’s vault everything goes fine until Lena utters the words something called a black mercy.

Kara can practically sense Alex stiffen in reaction as soon as she says it and she feels her own body lock up in reaction.

It’s been over a year now since she was trapped in the fantasy world of that alien parasite, but the memory comes back to her like she’s still there.

“Kara,” Lena says softly, but it pulls Kara’s mind out of the memory and back to where Lena’s looking at her cautiously, but also expectantly and Kara realizes she’s waiting for an explanation.

“It’s an alien parasite,” she explains and her fingers twist together.

Lena’s entirely unimpressed by that answer and Alex tries to help, but she can tell that their collective evasiveness is starting to annoy Lena.

Alex ends up relenting and explaining it more fully to Lena, but she can hear the way Alex tiptoes around saying anything explicit about what exactly Kara’s Black Mercy dream entailed, and she knows Lena can hear it as well.

Kara doesn’t blame her. For months after the incident, just the thought about that fantasy world would send Kara into a fit of tears.

“Was it Krypton?” Lena guess later after Alex has left them alone in the room and Kara still can’t focus on anything but blocking out the memory of her fake utopia. “Your parents.”

“Not exactly,” Kara says, her throat feeling thicker than she wants it to as she perches on Lena’s bed.

Realization starts to pass over Lena’s face and it makes Kara feel like she can’t breathe for a second. The expression frozen in Lena’s eyes turns into something like guilt and Kara feels desperate to reassure her.

“It’s not what you think,” she says, scooting forward a bit, but Lena doesn’t seem convinced by that reasoning.

It breaks something fragile inside her when Lena reaches out to press their hands together and tells her that, “I know a little bit about how sometimes the good dreams can be worse than the nightmares. Especially waking up from them.”

So much of their history - together and individually - swirls up between them and Kara is definitely going to start crying if she’s not careful. “Lena,” she says softly, feeling incapable of fixing this problem. It’s almost like it was when Lena first showed up in National City and Kara felt like the obstacles between them were insurmountable.

But Lena’s face relaxes then and her chin lifts when she squeezes Kara’s fingers. She’s just powerless enough that she can really feel it and the pressure runs warmth up her arm. “That’s behind us,” Lena says. “Let’s not go back there.”

--

Something inside her that had still been wrought with nerves and tension relaxes the minute she gets Lena back inside her apartment.

It’s a safe, quiet feeling when she takes Lena to bed and both of them allow each other to break apart over what’s transpired. Lena cries silently against Kara’s shoulder, her fingers twisting in the fabric of Kara’s shirt and Kara just pushes her face into Lena’s hair, breathes in the soft scent of her and lets her tears join Lena’s.

It’s difficult to replace the images she has of Lena being ripped away by Metallo, of the sound of her voice calling out of her, of the feeling of kryptonite radiation running painfully through her veins, but she does her best.

They stay tangled up together until they both fall into a deep sleep and when Kara wakes up again it’s to soft strokes against her back and hair that makes her sink into the warm feeling of Lena’s body. Lena’s face looks noticeably more relaxed and when she laughs it sounds easy and genuine. Kara’s sure she could stay just like this for an eternity, but the soft growl of her stomach makes it clear that’s not entirely feasible.

It’s like a balm to her soul, however, when Lena keeps laughing even as Kara vaults off the bed and follows her into the kitchen.

“What are you hungry for?” Kara asks as she starts to open up her cabinets one by one and review their contents.

“I’m not the one that’s hungry,” Lena responds and she lets out a soft yawn as she watches Kara move around the kitchen.

It’s then that Kara notices the wrinkles in Lena’s clothing, the fact that she herself is still in the jeans and shirt she’d been wearing at the DEO.

“Do you want to change?” she asks as she steps up to Lena and puts a hand on her hip. It soothes her when Lena leans into the touch and a soft smile flutters over her lips. “I think I have some of your stuff in my closet.”

That prompts a quirk of a brow. “You do?”

Kara chokes on an answer to that as she realizes what she just revealed, but shoots Lena a smile before racing back out of the kitchen and towards the bedroom.

She’s not nearly as fast as she’s used to, but she’s still quick enough that Lena’s still looking skeptically after her when she returns to the kitchen with a pair of yoga pants and a soft sweatshirt.

Lena’s eyebrows raise when she sees the sweatshirt in Kara’s hand, but she doesn’t comment, just reaches forward slowly and takes the offered clothing.

They don’t say much more, but Kara goes about the task of sorting through ingredients and deciding on a meal that would appease both of them. Lena laughs when she realizes what it is.

“I haven’t had this in ages,” she comments, plucking a knife out of Kara’s drawer and finding her own cutting board.

Kara tsks as she sets about peeling an onion. “Your life was so sad without me,” she comments casually and she doesn’t mean anything by it, not really, but Lena freezes at the counter.

It only lasts a second before Lena shakes her head and lets out a laugh that Kara’s sure sounds normal to most people, but her hearing cuts right to the heart of it. “It was indeed,” Lena says with a smile before setting back to the task at hand.

There’s no stopping the sudden inescapable need to pull Lena into a hug. Her fingers reach out before she can even think about it and she’s hooking one into the waistband of Lena’s pants and tugging until they’re coming together.

It’s always been like that. Kara hates it when Lena tries to shrug off her emotions like they don’t matter or they shouldn’t matter. Sometimes Kara feels like she has to do all the feeling for the both of them because no one taught Lena it was okay to feel.

“I’m sorry, I didn’t mean anything by it,” she murmurs when Lena starts to go a little limp in her arms and Lena sighs into a soft laugh.

“I know you didn’t, it’s fine.”

They stay pressed together for a few more moments until Kara feels Lena pat her on the back softly and her chin lifts up, nosing against Kara’s collarbone where her face is still tucked. “It’s really okay,” Lena murmurs softly and Kara reluctantly lets her go.

--

It’s not Kara’s fault that she cuts herself.

Lena’s reaching across the counter to grab for another avocado and her sweatshirt rides up high enough off her hips that Kara becomes a little entranced by it.

It’s part the simple feeling of having Lena in her space, of doing something familiar with her and yet something they haven’t really done in years and part this physical need Kara’s always had to be as close to Lena as possible.

So she gets a little distracted by the way Lena’s sweatshirt rides up and the way she looks as she leans a bit over the table, her toes arching up to get the right leverage and Kara slices the knife she’s using right across her hand.

The pain is immediate and sharp and such a generally foreign feeling that she’s shocked for a moment until her brain catches up and the gasped yelp that escapes her mouth isn’t something she intends, but happens nonetheless.

“Kara, what the hell?” Lena’s got a hand to her chest and she can hear the surprised staccato of her heart.

In lieu of an immediate answer, Kara just shoves her hand in front of Lena’s face and waits for Lena’s eyes to focus on the cut before she adds, “Lena, I’m bleeding.”

Lena looks entirely unimpressed with Kara’s wound, but moves immediately to take care of it. There’s no hesitation in the way she grabs Kara’s arm and shoves it under the sink, the way she finds a bandage in her kitchen and goes about cleaning Kara up.

It’s the same effortless way Lena had always taken care of her and it makes her chest clench around emotions that always felt too big for her body.

She hides her feelings in commentary about the fragility of humans that makes Lena roll her eyes, and when Lena puts a warm kiss to Kara’s palm she happily uses it as an excuse to stay pressed together.

Lena’s laughing against Kara’s mouth, and her hips are pressing forward radiating tension and it can’t be helped that Kara’s body responds to that.

--

Kara’s not sure she’ll ever get used to the way Lena sounds when they’re alone and in bed. The little gasps of breath she lets out when Kara runs her lips down her jawline, across her chest, over her hipbones.

Knowing it’s the only thing that will keep her from vibrating out of her own skin, she lets the steady drum of Lena’s heartbeat fill up her ears. It stutters a bit when her fingers hook into the waistband of Lena’s pants and pull down, and it quickens noticeably when Kara pulls Lena’s legs apart, her fingers strong where they clench into Lena’s thigh.

Kara yanks at Lena’s legs until she’s shifting across the mattress and enjoys the way that sends a flush up Lena’s neck.

“I missed this,” Kara murmurs into the skin near Lena’s knee as she pushes between her legs.

Lena’s fingers push into Kara’s hair as her lips travel upward. “Me too.”

Moving up Lena’s body until their hips are slotting together and her lips are warming the skin under Lena’s jaw, Kara sighs. “It was never the same,” she whispers and Lena’s hands wrap solidly around her back.

“I know, darling,” she says, her legs clasping over Kara’s hips, feet pressing against Kara’s thighs. “For me too.”

Lena’s fingers run a track down Kara’s spine and it turns her to liquid just like always. She feels like she could melt into Lena right now and a low, lazy curl of arousal burns low in her gut.

“I-” Lena’s finger stops her from saying anything else and the way the hips under her cant up just right makes Kara’s throat go thick.

“I think we’ve done enough talking for now,” Lena says in this low, throaty tone that makes Kara’s skin vibrate.

Wisely, she keeps her mouth shut and nods.

--

Sometimes it’s almost overwhelming.  

Kara can hear and feel and smell and taste so much of Lena when they’re like this. The only way she gets through it without succumbing to all that sensation is focusing on the way Lena’s heart beats - the sound of it, the feel of it.

It’s her heartbeat that gives Kara direction too - like how it skips to a quicker rhythm when Kara holds Lena’s hips down if they buck or keeps her wrists together when Lena’s hands try to give Kara commands. Or how her heart sounds heavy and significant when Kara slides a hand across her chest, right over the beat and keeps Lena in place with the slightest pressure. Lena had always liked it just a little more forceful than she had expected from someone so in control of her real life.

It had taken awhile for Kara to figure out exactly what Lena liked, how to make Lena gasp out her name, how to make her fingers pull hard enough against Kara’s hair that she can almost really feel it and how to make her back arch in pleasure. It had taken awhile, but eventually Kara had mastered it and even after a four year absence it’s as familiar to her as flying.

A flush spreads over Lena’s chest and up her neck when Kara keeps her legs spread even as Lena tries to close them. The little sounds that she lets out when Kara presses into warm, hot, tight flesh makes Kara want to stay there forever, long after Lena protests with tugs to Kara’s hair.

“Too sensitive,” Lena says on a breathy sounding whine just like she always does and eventually Kara relents, kisses upward, presses their lips together and smiles at the gasped way Lena pushes against the pressure. It’s a mingled taste of sex and Lena and them that makes Kara want to ignore the protest all together and spread Lena open again.

“Kara,” Lena whimpers a bit when Kara lets her fingers wander back down, a teasing touch just meant to suggest. It makes Lena laugh just slightly as she hooks a finger in the metal bracelet at Kara’s wrist and pulls until Kara stops her movement.

“Sorry,” she concedes into the crook of Lena’s neck, her body deflating on top of Lena’s.

Lena laughs again, an out of breath but affectionate sound. “Don’t be. I love how much you want me.”

Kara smiles, nips at Lena’s jawline. “Then you must love me like a lot.”

When Kara picks her head Lena’s face is all warmth and fondness and the crooked smile on her lips makes Kara’s skin tingle. “True,” Lena says, her voice sounding thick and gorgeous. “I do love you a lot.”

Kara laughs and presses a series of quick playful kisses up Lena’s neck until Lena joins her in mirth.

--

Everything starts to feel almost normal again. But there’s still something shaky and fragile between them, something that makes Lena cling to Kara’s cape before she goes on her first city patrol since having lost her powers and gained them back.

“I’m sorry,” Lena apologizes, shaking her head at herself and blushing. Her fingers release the fabric immediately and she shoots Kara a sheepish smile. “I don’t know what came over me.”

“Hey,” Kara says, stepping forward immediately to wrap Lena up in a light hug. “It’s okay. Don’t apologize. Especially if something is wrong.”

Lena’s got a hand pinching the bridge of her nose and Kara pulls it away gently. “Nothing’s wrong. I’m fine,” Lena says with a watery sounding laugh. “Honestly.”

“We just went through a lot of stuff,” Kara tells her for what feels like the hundredth time, but she’ll say it as many times as Lena needs to get that haunted look that still lingers in her eyes. With a guess for what Lena’s feeling, Kara ventures, “I don’t really want to leave you either.”

It’s the truth. Kara can still almost feel the isolating sound of silence instead of Lena’s heartbeat. It makes her throat go dry just remembering it.

“I’m not trying to be clingy,” Lena says and when she tries to push away, Kara holds her steady.

“Well, I feel clingy,” Kara says with a joking smile and a stroke of fingers over Lena’s hairline.

It does the trick, makes Lena laugh even if it still sounds just the slightest way off to Kara’s ears.

“Seriously,” Kara insists with a quick kiss to Lena’s forehead. “I’m glad you’re not going into the office today.”

Lena just hums into the pressure and sinks into Kara’s body for a moment. “Only for today.”

“Of course,” Kara says, pulling Lena closer. “Then tomorrow Lena Luthor has to return to conquering the world.”

This time when Lena laughs it’s full and genuine and it makes Kara grin.

--

Kara didn’t think she’d ever feel more nervous than the time she gave Lena her watch in college, but apparently college-her never contemplated that she’d have to give it to Lena again.

And this time, Lena actually knows what it means.

The sound of the clasp snapping the watch back on Lena’s wrist sounds so loud it nearly makes Kara’s heart jump out of her chest. Lena’s own heart is beating so heavily that it’s threatening to deafen Kara and she feels like she might faint at any moment.

Can she faint? Is that a thing Kryptonians do on Earth?

Idly she makes a note to ask Alex or Eliza if that’s even possible because there’s a high probability she’ll be in this situation again and she’d really like for it not to kill her.

Everything steadies though when she kisses Lena and Lena’s fingers tug at her clothing until they’re sliding down the bed together. It’s still an overwhelming sensation - just like always - when Lena’s knee bends to bracket her hips and she sighs lightly in Kara’s ear, but at least this is familiar territory. This she can handle.

That’s of course when a loud snapping sound kicks out against Kara’s hearing so forcefully that it drowns out the steadily increasing beat of Lena’s heart and surprises Kara enough that she nearly bites through the skin at Lena’s neck.

The next second she’s up off the bed and Lena’s hissing, “What the hell?” and suddenly there’s a man standing casually on the other side of the room.

Kara blinks confusedly for a moment before she asks the first question she can think of.

“Who the hell are you?”