SNAPSHOT (KARA). No one knows who the person who will save them is; not their name, not how they'll look, or what they'll mean to you. You hadn't imagined her when you were shot across the galaxy; you hadn't imagined green eyes and sharp words. But now you can't imagine life without her. Without your own personal salvation. // Prompt from maggiemerc
You wake up with crumbling worlds behind your eyelids. The red dust of Krypton caught in your eyelashes, the dry air clambering like tumbling stones in your lungs. You have no words in this language, or any other, to describe how exactly a planet sounds when it dies. The groan of shifting plates, and brittle atmospheres—how it shivers beneath your feet, how it whines and whimpers. Living in all the same ways as the people who will share its grave; left in the emptiness of space, forgotten, adrift. You carry an apology in your chest, a silent unspoken I’m sorry that has somehow stitched itself into your spine, into your heart; into the strongest parts of you, because whenever you wonder where you came from, why you’re here, you think of that apology. Of what you had promised a dying world.
You’d be one amongst millions at home, just a girl who wanted to hug a star, who dreamed of faraway places that would be wonderful, and warm, and bright. You’d traced constellations against your father’s chest while he named them—he’d always been so good, had always known, even when you’d cheated a little and didn’t draw them properly. Straying a little too far between stars, curving them when they should be straight—he’d laugh and hoist you up, spinning before setting you down.
“Clever girl,” he’d smile, not like he did for your mother, or any of his friends, it was his smallest, most genuine, smile—just for you. He’d press his finger to your nose, and then pull you into his arms. A hug more comforting than any a star could offer.
On the nights you remember your dying home, you can almost feel his arms engulfing you.
“Kar?” Clarke asks, his small hand tucked into the strap of your backpack, his other hand swinging back and forth, fingers clutching tightly to the stuffed guinea pig he’d “won” at the carnival over the summer. (He really had just thrown himself to the ground and cried until the carnies felt bad and offered him the stuffed rodent.)
“Yeah, bub?” You’re looking at the bus schedule, because you’re not familiar with this side of town. You know the sixteen brings you closest to the upper-west, but that transit wouldn’t dream of coming this far south in the city.
“We gonna see Kitty?” Blue eyes wide, innocent, still so full of things you can only hope to keep in him—things you’ll always protect him from. Not because you promised your mother, though you had, but because your cousin is your whole world—no, universe.
Your world was dead.
You are just borrowing this one.
“We are.” You trail of, tracing the red line until you find where it stops two blocks over.
“Kitty has popcorn, and candy, and movies!” The enthusiasm is infections, because all he can do is babble about how much fun they’re going to have the whole ride there—he’s too young to see how you’re down to your last dollar, that the juice box you gave him is your last. You’ll always protect him from these things. The hard truths out there that he doesn’t need to know—just yet.
The buildings become larger, more glass and chrome; the cheap neon signs from pawn shops changes into the inlet ambient lighting of the avenue—drugged out prostitutes in cheap pleather, turning into old money in sleek fur. You’ve never been particularly comfortable in this side of town; you feel somehow more out of place than an alien from the other side of the galaxy should.
Which is saying a lot.
You don’t realize you’ve pressed your forehead against the cool window, closing your eyes and basking in the warm light of the yellow sun—it digs into you in ways you’ll never be able to describe. Like forever promises and tight hugs; it makes you stronger than the I’m sorry you hold inside, at least physically.
“Kar! Kar! It's Kitty!” Opening your eyes, he’s already getting up, and you just snag him by the back of his pants before he sprints off the landing; two passengers pass by with upturned noses and scoffs, but they’re immediately cowed when you hear excuse you in a sharp, commanding tone. No fifteen year old should have that much authority laced into their bones—but this one manages like she was born to conquer worlds with nothing more than impeccable posture and a silver tongue.
“Kitty!” He shakes free, showing some of that yellow sun strength he still doesn’t know separates him from everyone else, and throws his small body at the girl waiting at the bus stop. You stumble behind him, utterly graceless, pushing your glasses up your nose, looking everywhere but at the reunion happening before you.
It isn’t until the bus chugs away that you can feel her eyes on you—burning in ways the yellow sun can’t touch. Swallowing, you look up to catch her eyes—green, but not just green. Seafoam, or emerald, or celadon—or—you don’t know, she’s always been the writer. They’re just green, and wonderful.
“Take a breath, supergirl,” Cat drawls, lips turning up into something that is mostly a smirk—but could be mistaken for a smile if you know where to look. And you do. “Who’ll save us if you give yourself a concussion getting off a bus?” Clark has wrapped himself around the girl’s legs, his face pressed inter her stomach, but Cat’s always seemed—at ease with Clark.
From the very first time she prevented him from sprinting out into traffic; becoming the boy’s hero in turn.
You can bench press a car, fly, melt things with your eyes, but you’re old news—Cat Grant? She’s where it’s at.
“You didn’t have to meet us,” the words tumble free, before you can tuck them away, “I know it’s a long walk, and your mother must—,”
“Mommy dearest is out of town this weekend,” definitely a smirk now, “Something about a French fashion show—and the models to go with it.” Clark has finally separated enough so that he’s only tethered to Cat’s hand, his cheek pressed into her arm. But she’s looking at you, and her eyes have to be emerald, because you’ll swear until the yellow sun explodes that they sparkle.
Her voice is so quiet you can only just make out her words, and the smile to go with it, “It’s just us, and the little heathen here.”
Three years ago, you crashed on earth with only the knowledge that you would protect your cousin with your dying breath. You’d keep him safe, and out of harm; from horrible truths, and ruining lies. You’d do your best. Whatever that was.
Three years ago, all you had was an apology in your chest and a promise on your tongue. You’d protect him; but who’d protect you?
The answer then, is the same as it is now—you’re protector doesn’t have super strength, or freeze breath, or heat vision. She’s made of hard edges, and a brilliant mind—she’s no-nonsense, and seems to have a soft spot just large enough for you and your cousin.
On the nights you remember Krypton, you sometimes wake up to worried green eyes, and it’s so much easier to keep that I’m sorry inside when Cat pushes your blonde hair away from your face, and whispers quietly, “it’s just a dream, supergirl.”
It isn’t, but on those nights it’s almost alright.