“Danvers, seriously? You beat up aliens from outer space for a living, yet you’ve been brought to your knees by cargo pants? You're pathetic.”
Maggie's laughter echoed through the bedroom. A loud thud was heard as Alex Danvers stumbled upon the mattress unceremoniously, her pants halfway through her legs, her back to Maggie showing a black bra, shirt already on the floor, boots still on. Her face was buried in the quilt, voice muffled by the fabric.
“Oh gosh, you should know better, Sawyer! I’m just tired! And of course I’m pathetic. And horny! Just help me out already!”
Finally, Maggie took pity and quickly took off Alex’s boots, followed by her pants. She rolled Alex over and climbed on top of her, the DEO agent gloriously exposed in only her underwear. Maggie was wearing dark green boxers and a loose fit t-shirt that read, in white letters upon black: I’m not a lesbian. My girlfriend is.
“I love how by day you’re a killing machine but by night you become this cute uncoordinated mess.” Maggie began kissing the crook of Alex’s neck as she held her wrists in her hands.
“Shut up,” Alex groaned softly as Maggie’s lips sucked on her left earlobe. “Supergirl and I detained three Durlans today that were trying to invade Earth. They had a time-machine! Do you know how exhausting that can be? Fighting aliens with time-machines!? I deserve to be a little clumsy if I want to, after that…”
“Yes, you do. And you deserve a reward." Maggie inhaled Alex's perfume with her eyes closed and then whispered softly in her ear…
“Tonight, you’re mine. No aliens, no superheroes, no worries. Just you, me, our tongues and my fingers.”
Alex gasped in anticipation as Maggie's words sank in. She felt fingers marching confidently towards the center of her back and one second later her bra was skilfully unhooked with just one hand. Maggie’s other hand was mischievously circling her breasts, brushing against them with the slightest of touches while she placed little kisses around her belly button.
“Oh, Mags…” Alex struggled for air as she lifted her chin to try and look into Maggie’s eyes.
The detective rose her head and met Alex’s gaze with what could only be called pure devotion, her playful tone now completely gone from her voice. Only tenderness danced now above a delicate whisper that was indeed like music to Alex’s ears.
“Are you ready to forget the world outside these walls?”
Alex held her girlfriend’s gaze for as long as she could without melting down.
“I already have,” she answered nearly out of breath, just from mere anticipation.
Maggie poured all her appetite in a new kiss, silencing the moan that was beginning to form in Alex’s mouth. Her hands moved to the agent’s hips as tongues danced together and heartbeats began racing. They kissed for long minutes, hungrily, hands exploring each other’s bodies, out of breath and out of their minds, they only were aware of one another. All the stress, all the exhaustion from another week of running, shooting and worrying just disappeared. Maggie slipped her hand into Alex’s panties as she bit and sucked the skin around her shoulder. Alex trembled, knowing what was about to happen, and she let out a sigh of pure bliss. She was never a talker, but with Maggie everything was new.
They both halted every action. They stopped even breathing. Like children caught red-handed, they stared at each other incredulously.
“Was that–” Maggie’s question hanged in the air as she was interrupted by another knock on the front door, louder this time.
Alex began to pout immediately.
“No. No. Nononono.”
Maggie sighed heavily and hanged her had down for a few seconds. Gathering strength she didn’t know she had, she stepped away from Alex’s warm body and tried to collect herself. Flush was spreading all over her face, her hair was a mess and her breathing was uneven. She really wouldn’t fool anyone.
“Might be someone from work.” Maggie said finally, in an attempt to sound like she was a reasonable adult that would not ever suggest her girlfriend to hide until whoever was at the door just left.
“No, no, I don’t believe this.” Alex buried her face in a pillow, two seconds later she threw it at the bedroom door. “I’m gonna kill them, whoever they are. I’m gonna kill them, I swear.”
Maggie sighed again. The moment was broken, Alex was pissed, and her momentum was now wasted. Her shoulders sank down a little, her body language showing they were defeated. She was about to open her mouth again to try and be the voice of reason, when an actual voice that wasn’t hers filled the air with anxiety.
“Alex? You there? I really need to talk to you!”
Maggie finally found a reason to smile.
“Well then, seems like you’re about to commit fratricide, babe.”
Alex’s expression changed instantly the moment she heard her sister’s voice. She had told her earlier that morning that Maggie was coming over, and Kara herself had a date with Mon-El, so if she was here, maybe something was wrong… Aliens attacking the city? Lillian Luthor finally coming out of hiding and creating chaos? J’onn in danger? Kryptonite? A clue about her father’s whereabouts? At this point in their lives, it could be literally anything.
“Kara? What the– She knows you’re here tonight.”
Maggie nodded, knowing what Alex was thinking.
“Then it must be important”, the detective kissed Alex quickly on the lips, finally finding resolution. “Put on your pj’s, I’ll let her in.” Maggie opened the bedroom door as Kara’s voice insisted with an increased pitch.
“Aaaalex? I’m so, so sorry, ok? But I really, really need to talk.”
“She does sound distressed,” Alex said, her voice filled with worry.
Maggie smiled to herself seeing the change in Alex, from pure rage for the interruption to unconditional love, now she realized it was her sister knocking at her door.
For most people, Alex and Kara’s strong devotion would be a source for conflict, that’s how intimidating it could be. For Maggie, it was one of the reasons she was drawn to Alex; they were a force of nature, seeing them interact was… refreshing, in a way. Like a cure. A love so powerful, a bond so strong, could only inspire you to be better, inspire you to be worth of both the Danvers sisters’ approval. Maggie craved to be a part of that, maybe because of her own family history… so different from the Danvers safe environment.
The bond between Alex and Kara reminded her of what she had missed as a teen, the exact opposite of her loneliness, and because of that, in a way, she had always understood. That’s why Alex hadn’t needed to tell her Kara was Supergirl. So while she knew better than to compete for Alex’s love with Kara (there was no doubt about who would win that fight, in case she was fool enough to start it), Maggie never doubted even for just one second that Alex could handle them both in her life, that she could find equilibrium.
Though she did struggle, at first, but don’t we all when we fall in love?
Maggie flinched. She thought it was better to find different phrasing for that, because love wasn’t a word in the vocabulary of their relationship, yet. Sure, there were the I care about you, I miss you, I want you… But neither of them had dropped the L bomb yet despite dating for quite some time now. And well, she was not going to open that door right now because it was simply terrifying.
Alex’s warning tone quickly pulled her out of her reverie. Maggie turned around and saw her girlfriend pointing at her legs with eyes wide open.
“Put your pants on!”, the DEO Agent finally said when Maggie didn’t seem to comprehend.
Maggie chuckled and reached for her yoga pants, ungracefully scattered on the bedroom floor.
“Aye, aye, Ma’am.”
And there was Kara, again, impatient as a whining child.
“Aaaalex? Pleaaase? Pretty pleeease?”
“We heard you, Little Danvers! Just a sec!”
As Maggie put her pants on she could hear a sigh of relief adorned with a Thank Rao! coming from the other side of the door.
Maggie always found Kara’s vocal range to be both creepy and fascinating. She could impersonate the most tiresome, whining little girl, mastering pouts and emotional blackmail through high-pitched whimpers and yet, somehow, she managed to be bearable. The detective called it “the Little Danvers routine”. Kara just did it because she loved being indulged by her big sis– she couldn’t blame her. Yet, when she changed into her Supergirl persona, this confident, proud being, managed to inspire citizens or scare villains with low tones, husky warnings and assertive statements.
It was… unsettling. And awfully sexy. That, she could admit to. And not that she didn’t see Kara as anything but the little sister she never had, but she did get why every lesbian bar in National City had dozens of Supergirl posters hanging in their walls…
She was chuckling to herself as she reached the front door and finally opened it. Kara Danvers, in full Super suit, stepped inside as if the hallway was filled with Kryptonite. Out of instinct, Maggie peeked out just to see if someone was chasing her or something. But no, no Super stalkers were in sight.
Right in time, Alex stepped out of the bedroom, dressed in her cute grey pijamas with bears and tiny hearts all over them. Maggie melted. And a second later she remembered Alex’s little sister was in the room and it was no time to be melting. Yet.
“Kara, what’s going on? Are you hurt? What happened?”, Alex asked while she approached her visibly upset sister.
Maggie just closed the door while Kara– well, Supergirl, finally let herself fall on the couch. Alex yelped a little in fear that Kara’s carelessness might break it in half, but luckily she only moved it a few inches.
“Mon-El!”, the superhero bursted out, with no further explanation.
Maggie and Alex exchanged confused glances as Kara hid her face between her hands.
“Ooookay”, Alex said while she approached her sister carefully.
Kara was still hiding her face and little sobs were muffled against her hands. Maggie and Alex could only make out a few words.
“It’s just… sometimes… everything… it’s too much…”
Alex hurried to her sister’s side, sat down beside her and took her hands in hers. Kara looked at her sheepishly and sobbed a little louder. Her big sister just embraced her and Kara accepted the warmth of arms she trusted with her own life.
“Hey, hey, Kara. It’s ok. You’re here. We’re here.”
Maggie had carefully approached them but now she realized this was a rather intimate moment, and Kara might feel uncomfortable with her presence, so she opened her mouth to excuse herself.
“You guys need some privacy, so I’m gonna tak–“
“No, Maggie, STAY!”
It sounded like an order and it didn’t come from Alex.
Supergirl just reached out, grabbed her by her long t-shirt and pulled her close so she stumbled on the couch. Kara patted her on the cheek as if she was some kind of puppy and then grabbed her arm, obviously looking for some sisterly comfort on Maggie’s part too. Alex just smiled, saying nothing. So now, Alex was holding Kara and kissing the top of her head, while Kara held Maggie’s arm and Maggie just sat there, frozen, caught in this tangled mess of Danvers love. It was quite a picture.
After a minute or two passed (it felt like a year to Maggie), Alex released Kara and handed her a tissue from the coffee table.
“Ok. Blow your nose. Then, explain.” Alex said in a gentle yet firm tone that reminded Kara of Eliza.
Kara complied and then she sighed heavily.
“Ah, it’s really stupid… Maybe it’s just all these months finally taking their toll on me, I don’t know…”
Alex could tell her sister was beating around the bush just to try and get out of telling her what the real problem was. She took her chin in her hand, gently, and forced her to look into her eyes.
“Kara. Please, tell us.”
Kara smiled, nervously, then shook her head.
“It’s very silly, guys, now I’m kind of embarrassed that I came all the way here for this. I ruined your night, I’m so sorry.”
Alex was not buying it, and she was not giving up.
The superhero looked between Alex and Maggie and knew she was doomed. There was no turning back now. She raised her hands in surrender and rolled her eyes.
“Ok. Don’t say I didn’t warn you. You’re my witness, Maggie.”
“We’re listening, Little Danvers.”
Kara breathed in deeply and gathered some courage.
“Ok, so… so I had planned a romantic evening, you know, just us, at home, enjoying ourselves. I cooked dinner, I lit candles, I bought roses, a bottle of the best alien wine I could find… And everything was just fine. We talked, we laughed, we made out–”
Alex quickly raised her hand and Maggie stopped herself before muttering a Thank God.
“Sis, don’t go into details unless you really have to, please?”
Kara bit her lip and renewed tears appeared in her eyes. Maggie understood right then, but Alex wasn’t that quick to follow.
“But that’s the point, and that’s why I warned you…”
Sensing frustration and confusion could impair the interaction, Maggie intervened. She took Kara’s hand in hers, surprising everyone in the room, herself mostly. Then, a nod to Alex, letting her know she should trust her.
“It’s ok, Kara. It’s ok, really, we won’t judge. Keep going.” Maggie said with a soft smile.
The detective’s kindness worked like a charm on both the Danvers sisters. Alex relaxed a little against the couch, listening attentively, and Kara nodded, breathing in again and letting go of Maggie’s hand with a quick affective squeeze.
“Ok, to summarized the whole thing and to spare you the details you sure don’t wanna know, the thing is today was our eight-month anniversary. He forgot. As usual. And I’m not even mad because in a way I knew it would happen, I know him, that’s what he does, I was just happy to have a night just for us and just be… together.”
Kara hanged her head down and look at the floor for long seconds. Alex put a hand on her back, encouraging her to keep going.
“So, if that’s not what’s bothering you, what is it?” Her big sister asked, carefully.
Kara sighed heavily again and laughed. A hurt laugh.
“We were– Rao, Alex, I’m so sorry– we were making love, well, having sex, ugh, whatever you want to call it, and, uh…”
Kara kept laughing nervously as tears welled up in her eyes. It was obvious she was in pain. Alex was speechless after that last piece of information, so Maggie took over.
“It’s ok, sweetie. Just say it.”
The detective joined Alex’s hand as they both traced small circles on Kara's back, for encouragement. Alex found Maggie’s gaze above her sister's head and mouthed a silent thank you.
“Well, lately we always do the same stuff…” Kara began again, as if each word was a punch to the stomach. “It’s like watching the same movie over and over again and I kind of lost interest at some point, I guess. So he asked me what was wrong and I, I just told him. Uh… you know, I tried to use the right words. I tried to be gentle and not make a fuss.”
“Oh, God.” Maggie couldn’t help herself. She knew people, she knew men, despite never being involved with one. She knew what was coming.
“And then… I swear, guys, he just– he just went mad!”
Kara burst into tears she’d been holding on for the entire conversation. She just let them flow and Maggie and Alex could only listen and look at her in sympathy.
“He was like… so offended!” Kara shook her head as if reviving the moment. “He said he was trying to be generous with me, that he was being gentle and considerate and… and that he even did things he did not like just to please me!” Kara choked a little on the words, but she kept going, nevertheless. “That he never did those things with girls in Daxam because he didn’t have to. That I was being unfair. And selfish.”
The superhero covered her face with her hands again and her big sister embraced her in a bear hug. Kara just sobbed for a while and no one dared to speak.
Moments later, it was Maggie who broke the silence, slowly, her voice low, though she couldn’t hide her anger.
“He told you he does things in bed with you that he doesn’t like?”
Kara wiped her tears and looked at the detective, nodding, never leaving Alex’s arms. Her voice was still trembling, but she was calmer this time.
“He said he– he does not enjoy oral sex. He likes… receiving it, I mean, but not the other way around.” Kara closed her eyes for a second in a gesture of pure embarrassment. She was glad she was in her sister’s arms so she couldn’t see her face. Alex just remained still, but Kara could feel her heart had skipped a beat or two. She just kept going, she needed to take it out of her system. “He said he didn’t mind doing it– um… to… to me. But he said it was gross and I should be considerate enough to be grateful that he was doing it anyway. Because he loves me. That’s what he said, anyway.”
Maggie looked at Kara with a heartbreaking smile.
“Oh, Little Danvers, I’m so sorry. But that’s not love.” Maggie said, struggling with her cracking voice. “Love’s never an excuse.”
Alex was still holding Kara and she was refusing to meet Maggie’s eyes. The detective knew she had to be trying so hard to collect herself and not break down for the sake of her sister. Still, she said nothing.
“The thing is, now I think about it and the things he said… maybe they weren’t that bad, but in the moment I just–” Kara stopped herself to get rid of Alex’s arms so she could look her in the eye.
Alex’s eyes were red, but dry. Kara spoke again as if she was trying to apologize to her big sister, for no reason at all.
“I snapped, Alex, I told him to get out and I just put on the suit and just flew and flew and… And I couldn’t stop crying. I don’t know. I told you it was silly.”
Maggie held her breath, waiting for Alex’s reaction whose face was a little pale and in a shock-like expression. Finally, she found strength to speak, rather calmly, and Maggie felt so proud.
“No, no, it’s not silly, Kara. I’m glad you came. You had every right to react the way you did. And I’ll always be here for you, whatever happens. Always.”
Maggie watched as they melted in a hug, once more, and she smiled to herself: there it was, that unstoppable force, that blinding light of faith in one another. She was lost in those thoughts when a strong hand pulled her to the side and she found herself embracing both Kara and Alex. Her mouth ended up on top of Alex’s head, her arms around Kara’s back and Alex’s waist. It was totally uncomfortable and awkward, but it was also great to be part of this pile of beautiful chaos and unconditional love that were the Danvers sisters.
“You’re our fifth Beatle, Maggie.” Kara said, weak laughter breaking through her sadness despite herself.
“We’re all Ringo.” Alex pointed out, smiling through silent tears of her own.
Kara raised her head from the pile of love, frowning.
“Wouldn’t she be more like our Chandler? I mean, her jokes do suck.”
Alex shook her head, laughing. Maggie kept quiet, looking between them disapprovingly. These two are unbelievable, she thought to herself.
“I thought Winn was Chandler.” Alex stated matter-of-factly.
Maggie was about to protest and put an end to the nonsense when Alex spoke again, excited as if she just had won game night.
“I think it fits better if you’re Luke Skywalker, I’m Leia and she’s my Han Solo?”
Kara’s eyes went wide with enthusiasm. Maggie had to stop it, this could have literally no end…
“Ok, that’s it, guys!” The detective said while she jumped from the couch. She stood in front of the Danvers sisters, raising an accusative finger at Alex. “You want me to be Solo, seriously? You do remember what happened to him in The Force Awakens, right?”
Her girlfriend looked at her innocently and Maggie didn’t like it one bit.
“I’m sorry, I don’t remember, I was busy looking at Daisy Ridley’s perfect face.” Alex burst into laughter and Kara giggled and maniacally nodded with her head. “Did I say face? I meant ass, of course.” Alex added with a wink to her sister.
The Danvers joined in uncontrollable laughter and Maggie was so done with them.
“John Boyega! I mean, damn!” The youngest Danvers added enthusiastically and Maggie wondered how a perfectly planned night with her girlfriend had turned into a nightmare of babysitting these two dorks.
“Ok, that's enough, YOU LITTLE PERVS!”
Not even the commanding voice of Detective Maggie Sawyer could stop a silly moment of spontaneous laughter from the Danvers sisters. Maggie accepted defeat by ignoring them and going to the fridge to grab a beer. She waited the storm out sitting at the kitchen counter and drinking small sips. She kept an stoic look on her face for the sake of drama, but deep down she really was enjoying seeing Alex and Kara relax, finally.
The laughter subsided slowly until there were only sighs of relief.
“Rao, I needed that!” Kara gave her sister a quick kiss on the cheek.
“Anytime, Supergirl…” Alex smiled warmly.
The three of them shared comfortable silence for a while. Maggie enjoyed her beer while Alex grabbed a blanket and covered Kara and herself with it. After a few minutes Kara chuckled softly to herself, as if remembering something funny. She smiled, but the sadness, the faint regret was back in her tone.
“I was so upset I just flew with no direction.. The top of the Burj-Khalifa is a great place to think.” Kara looked at her sister searching for sympathy. Alex squeezed her hand and smiled softly back at her.
“That’s the tallest building in the world.” Maggie said, and Kara just nodded. The detective was about to take another sip of her beer when she stopped herself and frowned. “Wait a minute. It’s in Dubai. You ended up in Dubai?”
Kara blushed a little and just smiled innocently.
“When I’m upset I just fly. I think I might have circled the globe a couple of times.”
“Impressive.” Maggie raised her bottle towards Kara and smiled.
Alex cleared her throat in a clear sign she was about to get serious and break the moment for all of them. It was time.
“Kara…” The DEO Agent began, choosing her words carefully. “You need to talk things through with Mon-El, no matter how much it hurts. He said harmful things. You have to call him out on that.”
Kara shook her head again, frustration taking over her.
“But I’ve tried, Alex! And it’s always the same, we’re great together for a few weeks and then he goes back to his old ways and… I’m just tired!”
“I can tell.” Alex stroke the hero’s back, trying to soothe her.
Kara stared vacantly in front of her, voicing something that had been in her mind for quite some time.
“I don’t feel like I have a relationship with an adult, I feel like I’m the legal guardian of this, this…”
Kara couldn’t bring herself to voice some of the things she had been burying deep within her, even in moments like this, with pain overwhelming her. Maggie knew a lot of words that could help Kara define Mon-El (dudebro, fuckboy, dickhead, man-child, asshole…) but she remained silent. Alex searched for her gaze, as if looking for advice, but Maggie just shook her head when Kara wasn’t looking, as if telling Alex: let her talk, let her let it all out…
“I’d rather not finish that sentence, I don’t wanna be unfair.” Kara took a deep breath and tried to get herself together. Again. “Sometimes I think it’s my fault because I just can’t enjoy things the way I used to, I’m sad all the time…”
“Kara, that’s not–” The blonde didn’t let her sister finish.
“And lonely.” Kara added, admitting this to herself for the first time. “I have him and I have you guys and J’onn and… But still, I remember her and I just can’t help but feel so sad. It’s killing me, not knowing it’s… I failed her, Alex. I failed her.”
“Lena.” Alex whispered, knowingly.
Kara nodded and buried her head in the blanket around her legs.
“I miss her, Alex, I…” The softest of sobs interrupted Kara’s speech. She kept going despite the burning pain in her chest. “I just can’t bear the thought that she’s gone. That she could be– dead, because of me. And me trying to have a normal life, a relationship, even just enjoying myself… it makes me feel so guilty. I should be looking for her out there.”
Alex shook her head and took her sister’s face in her hands, so she could look her in the eye.
“You kind of literally swept the face of the Earth looking for her, Kara. Don’t you remember those first few weeks? You weren’t yourself. You weren’t getting any sleep, you became erratic… you put yourself in danger far too many times, mostly for leads that turned out to be hoaxes in the end. You almost got yourself killed trying to find her.”
Kara jerked from her sister’s touch and self-doubt and anxiety filled her voice, once again.
“Well, maybe I should do it again! Maybe I should’ve never stopped.”
Alex jumped from the couch and kneeled in front of Kara, so she couldn’t avoid her gaze. This was not the first time they had discussed this and she was not about to let her sister fall down again.
“No, no, Kara, we’ve been through this. You’re not to blame for what happened to Lena.” Alex swallowed hard and briefly looked at Maggie, who had a haunted look on her face. They were both thinking the same. “On the contrary, you were the only one that believed in her,” Alex said softly. “You proved she was innocent, you cleaned her name and you did everything, literally everything you could to find her. It’s not your fault, Kara.”
Kara finally raised her head and looked at her sister, her eyes lost in the midst of guilt and regret. Alex had never seen her like this. Not after the Red Kryptonite. Not even after Astra. The pain Kara was in right now didn't come from something that had happened to her. It was something surfacing from the inside, something buried deep in her soul that her sister could not quite figure out.
“Then, why does it hurt so much?” Kara asked in a thin voice, as if she had swallowed liquid Kryptonite, shutting down her vocal cords and burning her chest.
Alex could only hold her.
I actually started writing this way before "Luthors" aired. I had the plot for the whole fic figured out, but then I adapted it so it could fit at least the starting point of "Luthors". From that on, the canon divergence is quite obvious, we'll see if I can salvage anything from "Homecoming", though I doubt it.
Apologies for any mistakes, this is unbetad and English is not my first language ¯\_(ツ)_/¯
Constructive feedback always welcomed. Thank you for reading.
(Also, if any of you followed any of my non-Supergirl stories, I'll be continuing those in the near future, it's just I've been on a very long sick leave)
Chapter 2: Save Our Souls
Both women remained silent for a few seconds. Alex thought there was little to add to what could only be called “A list of reasons why Kara Danvers is miserable and her sister feels like crap”. But Maggie had an ace under her sleeve.
“On top of that, I think Kara had a little crush on her.”
Maggie was folding out the couch seats when Alex came out of the bedroom, fatigue beginning to show in her sleepless face. Maggie smiled while she smoothed out the sheets.
“How is she?”
Alex sighed and pursed her lips.
“She’s sleeping. Though I doubt that she’s resting…”
Maggie nodded. She was unfolding a blanket now. Alex stopped her, grabbing her arm and turning her around.
“I’m sorry…” Alex smiled, weakly. “I know this is not how you’d planned our Saturday night–”
“Don’t mention it, Danvers. This is your sister we’re talking about. I get it. You were the one that taught me that Kryptonian thing, remember?”
Alex frowned, confused.
“Stronger together?” Maggie tucked a rebel lock of hair behind Alex’s ear.
Alex allowed herself to close her eyes and enjoy Maggie’s touch. When did she get so lucky? How could she deserve a woman so caring, so balanced despite everything she had been through? So beautiful, inside and out?
Alex couldn’t help herself. She kissed Maggie with all she had, letting the pain she felt for her sister leave her body for at least a few seconds. Maggie put her hands on her lover’s waist and tentatively grazed Alex’s tongue with hers, earning a moan from the DEO Agent. The detective pulled away despite herself before she could produce a moan of her own.
“Your sister is sleeping next door, babe.” Maggie whispered, her breathing uneven.
“I know.” Alex whined, closing her eyes. She hugged her girlfriend and together they fell on the couch, now spread as a bed that could fit them both.
Maggie found a comfortable position in Alex’s chest while the DEO Agent stared at the ceiling, her left arm gently tracing circles on her girlfriend’s back.
“She’s in a lot of pain.” Alex said after a minute or two just laying there.
Maggie nodded against her chest.
“Yes, she is. But her taking the weight of the world upon her shoulders and you taking the weight of her pain upon yours is not going to change anything, Alex.”
They felt silent again, just enjoying each other’s presence, while thoughts raged in their minds and none of them dared to be the first to speak.
Finally, it was Maggie who tried to be the voice of reason (and uncalled-for remarks).
“Your sister is an adorable creature, anyways, and man! So, so annoying.”
Alex chuckled softly.
“But it’s impossible to not like her.” Maggie continued. “That little crinkle when she lies?”
Alex nodded and smiled warmly.
“I know, she’s the cutest, always has been. But…”
Alex bit her lower lip and Maggie knew something was still bugging her.
“It’s just… I wish… Ah, never mind.”
“Danvers. Spit it out.”
Maggie sat up to be able to see her girlfriend’s eyes. Alex stroked her hair, nervously, sighed deeply and just let it all out; quickly, painfully.
“It’s just– maybe things would be better if she could find someone better suited for her than Mon-El? I mean, we all are selfish sometimes, but that guy? I wanted to give him a chance and I’m sure deep down he’s not a bad person, but it seems like he lives in a bubble made exclusively of his immediate, narcissistic needs. After all this time, he still thinks that Kara should teach him how to behave all the time, and when he doesn’t like what she tells him, he just disregards her feelings, I don’t know if on purpose or not. And I don’t know which one would be worse!”
Maggie smirked and raised her eyebrows. She was about to scream “Alex, what the fuck?!” but then she remembered she had to keep her voice down. She tried the sarcastic approach instead, making sure her tone still remained playful so Alex would know she had her back.
“Well, excuse me, Agent Danvers, weren’t you the one who gave her the talk about facing her feelings for him?!”
Alex sat up and crossed her arms above her chest, though she had her “Oh, crap” look. Maggie loved it so much.
“Well, yeah! But that was because I thought she was holding back because of Supergirl! You know, being a hero is being alone and all that crap? I thought she wanted to be with him. I thought she just needed a little push… I thought I could help her, just like she helped me.”
Maggie let out a deep breath and smiled at her girlfriend sympathetically. She could keep on teasing her, but Alex was obviously in pain now, so it was out of the question. The detective softened her features, and she took one of Alex’s hands in hers.
“Babe, while you meant well, Kara is more than capable of figuring out her feelings on her own. And she’s stronger than you think. You need to stop giving your little sister catastrophic romantic advice. I wouldn’t change a thing about you, don’t get me wrong, but it took you almost three decades to figure out you were gay. You’re not exactly the most qualified person to give advice to anyone at all, hon, especially if it is heterosexual advice.”
Alex closed her eyes, mentally kicking herself.
“Shit. You’re right. Again.”
Maggie gave her a light kiss on the cheek and nodded.
“That I am. Besides, she rejected him the first time. Didn’t it occur to you that maybe she felt a bit forced to date him?”
Alex’s face panicked for a second and then she sat crossing her legs, now face to face with Maggie.
Alex realized the moment she spoke that she was being too loud and too jumpy. She anxiously looked at the bedroom door, but after a few seconds of silence there was no sign of a cranky Kara telling her to shut up. If her sister wanted to spy on them and listen to their conversation, a closed door was not going to be an obstacle, but she knew Kara: after flying around the world a couple of times to put her mind at ease, she’d sleep soundly for hours. So the real reason to remain as quiet as possible was simply to not wake her up. It would be a crime after the night she had.
So Alex lowered her voice, but couldn’t get rid of the high-pitched tone and appalled indignation.
“You mean she’s dating Mon-El just because I encouraged her? Don’t be ridiculous!”
Maggie shook her head and caressed Alex’s cheek with the back of her hand. Alex hated her (for like a split second), because she knew Maggie was about to speak the truth and nothing but the truth. And, of course, the truth always hurts, one way or another.
“Not because of you, babe. It’s the overall situation.” Maggie said in an awfully calm tone. Alex wondered sometimes how she could properly function as a human being when Maggie was around; her voice did unspeakable things to her body… Things she couldn’t focus on right now.
“See,” Maggie began, in her best Detective Sawyer tone, “Mon-El ends up in Earth to discover his planet is gone. Your sister takes him under her wing and vows to train him, to teach him Human values, in part because she didn’t get to do that with her cousin, in part because she wanted to spare him the pain of losing everything and not being able to find his place, a fact your sister knows a thing or two about. She failed miserably, not because she didn’t do it right, but because he wasn’t interested. And that would be totally fair if only he hadn’t agreed to it just because he wanted to get in her pants. Double disappointment, and so she feels both responsible AND guilty. When, of course, she shouldn’t, because none of this is her fault, but it’s the superhero inside her telling her she has to carry the weight of the world. So she cares about everybody, feels responsible for everybody. And that guy took advantage of that. Then, he tells her he has feelings for her, and she turns him down and THEN, her own personal hero, her big sister, tells her she should give him a chance.”
Alex stared at her girlfriend in horror.
“But I– That’s not what I–”
Paralyzed with a building sensation of nausea, Alex shook her head. Maggie patted her shoulder and looked into her eyes, comforting her.
“I know, babe. But that’s what I’m trying to say: this is not your fault. See, there are more things to consider. For example, her best friends slipped away from her at the same time Mon-El arrived. Doesn’t take a genius to figure out Winn and James are doing some superheroing of their own and Kara does not approve…”
Alex snorted in disbelieve, but Maggie did not flinch.
“How do you– when did you–?”
Maggie smiled, a little too proud of herself.
“Hellooo, Guardian? I wasn’t sure, but you pretty much confirmed it to me when you told me to back off him, remember? Well, you confirmed it was someone you knew, and later on I did the math.” Maggie shrugged her shoulders innocently while Alex tried to hide her shock under a casual, not-surprised-at-all-by-my-girlfriend’s-unlimited-shrewdness look. “Then Kara and James grew apart and there were the little glances of disapproval… That’s all I needed. Oh, and the tech. It was obvious he had some kind of geeky sidekick helping him, duh.”
That was it.
“Now you’re just trying to be a smart-ass”, Alex sneered.
Maggie pretty much ignored her, wit reloaded at full throttle.
“Sooo… back to Kara. Now let’s take a look at her work life: she’s way out of her comfort zone trying to build a new career and her mentor and protector, the one and only Cat Grant, left last year to write her memoirs or drink a ton of piña coladas in her house beach, who cares.” Alex would have choke up if she were having a sip of anything. Maggie showed her trademark smile: no teeth, dimples showing off, mischievous eyes. “Don’t look at me like that, Danvers, I know I haven’t met you when Kara worked for her, but I’m a detective, the second I meet someone is the moment I order a full background check.”
“That’s not creepy at all.” Alex wasn’t very good using sarcasm, but judging looks? That, she always nailed. Of course that only encouraged Maggie even more.
“That’s why I’m the best.” Maggie smiled and Alex was pretty sure she could wipe that stupid grin off her face with a crushing kiss but, well, her detective girlfriend was keen on making a point and stealing her thunder like that would be cheating. Not that she would feel bad, but they were talking about her sister. This was far more important than her ability to leave Maggie speechless. There would be plenty of time for that. Later. “Let’s see, where was I?” Maggie struck back in an almost singing tone. “Oh, her sister doesn’t spend as much time with her as she used to, because she’s got a very hot, very smart girlfriend to take care of.”
Alex nodded, a bittersweet smile crossing her face.
“And finally, Lena Luthor! The only person in the city that had given her some kind of hope about changing the world for good, you know, the unsung hero, the hope of resistance against a clan of super-villains and all. But first, she is wrongly accused for a crime she didn’t commit, raise your hand if you’re kinda responsible for that one…” Maggie raised her hand immediately, a small hint of regret crossing her eyes, then continued. “And then kidnapped, gone. Alive, dead? Your sister doesn’t know and she feels responsible. She lost a friend and she might never get her back. She’s in pain, who wouldn’t?”
Both women remained silent for a few seconds. Alex thought there was little to add to what could only be called “A list of reasons why Kara Danvers is miserable and her sister feels like crap”. But Maggie had an ace under her sleeve.
“On top of that, I think Kara had a little crush on her.” The detective murmured, her eyes staring blankly at the bedroom’s door.
And that’s when the most horrified squeal ever was heard in the voice of one Alex Danvers.
“Kara? A crush on Lena Luthor?!”
Maggie gestured for Alex to keep her voice down. Alex immediately realized what she’d done and covered her mouth with both her hands, as if that would help turn back time or something. After that, waking up Kara would be the least of their problems… the neighbours were probably calling the police in that precise moment: Please send help, there’s a gay lady freaking out in my building. Maggie thought the teasing at the station would never stop if she had to open the door to a pair of rookies and explain this.
After a minute of unnerving tension, no NCPD officers knocked on the front door, nor did a sleepy Kara appear on the living room to ask what the hell they were doing. Alex, still a little crazed but remembering it was past 2 am, whispered her indignation out to her girlfriend.
“NowaymylittlesisterhasacrushonLenaLuthor, Maggie, Kara’sthestraightest!”
“I am breathing, Sawyer, I am. It’s just that you’re not right about Kara, Karaissostraightc’monsheevenlikedN’Sync”
“You’re doing it again. And besides, you were sure you were not gay, remember? I liked the Backstreet Boys. Still do. Brian’s the cutest, you gotta admit that. But that doesn’t make me straight. Besides, sometimes you’re so blind it’s adorable. When Lena stopped those guys with the alien guns at her party, your sister was ecstatic. You told me she didn’t talk about anything else for two weeks, remember?”
Alex’s mouth formed the roundest of “ohs” but she still seemed pretty confused.
“But Kara was…. Kara was… kind of… Mon-El centric, even back then.”
“Which would explain why Lena, an experimented and intelligent lesbian woman, did not make her move and waited it out before things got really complicated with your self-deceit, straight-until-proven-otherwise little sister.” Maggie stated as if this was some obvious law of nature that was written in every textbook known to mankind.
“Lena Luthor is gay?!” Alex mouthed in an incredulous whisper.
Maggie did not blink for a second.
“Honey, does a bear shit in the woods?”
Alex mouth hanged open and she murmured a “whoa” that made Maggie chuckle and shake her head gently. The DEO Agent lied down and put a pillow behind her head, she touched her forehead and looked at the ceiling, processing a thousand thoughts crossing her mind to try and see if this was even a possibility.
“But I heard she had… you know, boyfriends?” Alex asked looking like a six-year-old that is first introduced to the concept of relationships.
“Oh, and that makes her automatically not-gay?” Maggie lied down next to Alex and put her hand above her girlfriend’s chest, so she could lower her voice even more, her breath caressing Alex’s chin in an abdication of personal space none of them even noticed anymore. “Because, you know, heteronormativity is not something that affects every single woman on the planet and it’s not like sometimes really gay women have really non-gay relationships so they can fit in and/or escape abuse and homophobia. Who would do that, right, babe?”
The detective stared at Alex with fake severity and that rewarded her a quick kiss on the lips and a light poke in her ribs. Simultaneously. Maggie made a mental note to ask later where did she learn that trick.
“Ok, ok, stop being a jerk. I get it.” Alex protested while Maggie rolled on her back.
They were both staring at the ceiling now, lying down next to each other. Maggie entwined their hands and smirked.
“Sorry hon, it’s the cop in me, overuse of sarcasm is a job requirement.”
Alex didn’t care about the apology at all. She was a scientist. She needed facts. Data. Statistics. Proof. Pictures. Or something.
“Yeah, yeah, yeah, how can you possibly deduce all this information?”
“I told you, sweetie, I detect. And I know people. And I know lesbians even better.”
The aforementioned chuckled softly and confessed.
“Okay, if you oughta know, I’ll tell you my secret: Miss Luthor happens to be one of the most high-profile customers of the lesbian bar scene in National City. Well… she used to be, anyway. She didn’t write it in the sky, you know, but she didn’t hide it either. She was kind of a heartbreaker, actually. Or so I heard.”
Alex, for the umpteenth time in the night, could only stare at the ceiling, dumbfounded.
“Wow. I’m such a baby gay. There’s so many things I don’t know… Wait a minute. Did you– you and Le–”
Now it was Maggie’s turn to be a little too loud.
“NO, GOD, ALEX, NO!”
Luckily for Maggie’s health, Alex dropped the subject without further probing, as she went back to her own thoughts.
Maggie sat upright again, trying to sound as nonchalant as possible. She could detect that, perhaps, bringing up all this things tonight wasn’t such a good idea and it might get Alex even more worried about her sister.
“Listen, I’m not saying it was something serious, it probably was the most innocent crush in the history of crushes, but it was there. You should’ve seen her when I went to L-Corp to arrest Lena, I swear those two went all Romeo and Juliet on me– Kara turned into this little aggressive puppy, so cute, she went into full protective girlfriend mode, and Lena was like: I want my puppy, my puppy stays, she’s mine!”
That was supposed to ease the tension, but then Maggie realized the anecdote was completely true, so she really wasn’t helping. Thankfully, Alex seemed to recover her sense of humour.
“Ok, ok, that’s enough, Sawyer, I’ve had it with mental pictures of my sister tonight, I’m already traumatized for life. So yes, Kara could have a girl crush, totally platonic. That doesn’t mean anything.”
Maggie saw a window of opportunity to make things a little lighter.
“Of course not. Babe, you know your sister, she… idealizes people, especially people she admires. She probably had a girl crush on Cat Grant, too.” Alex’s eyes went wide with panic again and Maggie’s brain sounded a shitshitshit alarm that made her stammer on her next words awkwardly. And Maggie Sawyer does not do awkward. Unless it’s for a girl. “Uh, well, you know… There’s a whole spectrum… I mean… She’s probably sexually straight but bi-romantic? I don’t know. It’s no big deal, really, and it’s not my place to say…”
That must had hit a nerve with Alex because suddenly she didn’t seem freaked out anymore, just dreamy.
Maggie cleared her throat.
“Yeah. So, um… Anyway, back to the point, if you put yourself in your sister’s shoes… can you blame her if she feels abandoned and alone after all she’s been through?”
Alex run her hands through her head, nervously.
“Shit. Mags, you’re right. Shit, shit, shit. I’m an asshole, shit!”
“Baby, don’t. Don’t blame yourself.” Maggie pulled her girlfriend close and embraced her, Alex resting her head against her chest and Maggie rocking her gently. “You were trying to help. You love her and you just want her to be happy.” Alex squeezed Maggie tighter and the detective placed a gentle kiss on her head, so she would know her next words were a joke. Kind of. “But the fact is your sister is lonely and you kinda threw her into the arms of a little shit. A good-looking little shit, if you’re into the white male cishet blandness and all, but a little shit all the same.”
Fortunately, Alex chuckled lightly against her chest and Maggie sighed with relief.
“How do you do this?” Alex asked, her voice reverberating against Maggie’s chest, sending shivers down her spine. “Are you made of magic? How are you able to see all this? Will I survive if I ever keep a secret from you?”
Maggie smiled and push Alex gently so she could look her in the eye.
“How do I do it? My grandma told me we had Shaman ancestors, so maybe I’m a superhero too. Am I made of magic? Yes, gay magic, it’s like the Force in Star Wars so not everyone gets it but the gayness is strong with you, I can feel it, you’ll get it someday. How am I able to see it? I’m a cop: quiet sneaky observation gets most of the jobs done. And you, keeping things from me? Danvers, get real, please.” And with that, Maggie kissed her. Alex gave into the kiss internally thanking all the Shamans that ever existed, the Gay Force, physics, genetics, gravity and even dark matter for bringing this amazing human being to her doorstep.
Maggie sensed a change in Alex’s body, tension rising in her shoulders, and broke the kiss. Alex was now on the verge of tears.
“Oh, God, Mags, I feel so bad for her. How do I fix this now?”
Maggie caressed her cheek and smiled, her voice soft, low and comforting.
“Babe, as a functioning adult, the only thing you can do now (wait for it) is nothing! It’s fucked up, right?” Alex groaned and found her place back in Maggie’s chest. The detective rocked her again as she kept on talking. “But it is what it is. You suck it up like a big girl, swallow your guilt and give your little sis some credit. Be there for her, not to tell her what to do. Listen to her. Have her back, one hundred percent. No questions, no talks. Just pure sisterly support.”
“Ok.” Alex murmured.
They remained like that for a long time. Minutes passed and not either one of them wanted to brake the embrace. No matter how complicated and strange the world out there could get, this was their safe place.
“Everything is gonna be alright. But you gotta let her fix her life this time, baby.” Maggie broke the silence, her cheek resting on Alex’s head. Then, she smirked. “Unless, of course, Mon-El continues to behave like a dickhead. Then, you just beat the shit out of him to Daxam and back.”
Alex suppressed a laugh. “Oh, if it does come to that, I’m sure Kara wouldn’t let me. She likes to do her own beating.”
Now it was Alex’s turn to pull away so she could look at Maggie.
“You really are the best, aren’t you?” She whispered, never losing sight of her girlfriend’s lips.
Maggie raised her eyebrows and looked intensely into Alex’s eyes.
“Your words, not mine.”
The kiss that was about to come was one of those Earth-shattering ones that are a promise to something even bigger. But since their night was already kind of ruined, Alex’s phone decided 2.30 am was a perfect time to start vibrating with a vengeance in her pocket.
“Ugh” That grunt could only be Alex’s. She took a look at the cellphone’s screen and her face went from annoyed to “oh-oh”. Maggie knew that face.
And there was no need for further explanation as Alex answered the call.
Winn loved working the nights.
If anyone had asked him a couple of years ago, he never would have said he’d love staying up late for anything else than playing World of Warcraft, but he still hadn’t found his dream job back then.
Most nights, the DEO was quiet, J’onn J'onzz always allowed him to dim out the lights and he felt like there was only him and his computers, the masterliness of his fingers against the keyboard, the rapid fire of his mind against the data. Supergirl might own the sky and Guardian might feel invincible behind the shield, but this was his territory. This was where he felt like a real hero; no one could do what he did, no one could swim in the stream of infinite chaos and come back to the surface with what was relevant to save lives and what was not. And if only he could go back to 1999 and shove his PhD in Computer Science up Dustin Masterson’s ignorant ass, all the teasing in school would have been worth it. Well, it was worth it anyway, but a little payback couldn’t hurt anyone (except for Dustin’s pride).
Winn was fantasizing about epic comebacks and retaliations that never happened, when one of his screens started to blink with a red notification.
He typed furiously on his keyboard (a command to open the system’s terminal, a command to decrypt the message, a command to run six different diagnostics) and then he froze. J’onn was making his way towards central command from the med room at that exact same moment.
“Sir, I just found something…” Winn called out, eyes still locked on his screen. “Oh, whoa, this can’t be.”
J’onn rushed to his side.
“What is it, Mr. Schott?”
“Uh… someone’s in our secure network.” Winn really didn’t want to sound as freaked out as he did, but this was a first in the DEO seemingly impenetrable servers (at least, from the outside).
“What?” J’onn didn’t know all the tech details, but he knew that was rather impossible.
“Someone very smart and very, very careful is sending us a message through our secure network.” Winn’s tone evolved from a scared, high-pitched whine to geeky fascination.
J’onn rested his palms on his hips and sighed: just what he needed to liven up a Saturday night.
“How is than even possible?”
“Well, it’s genius, actually.” Winn looked at J’onn for the first time and began to emphasize everything he was saying with his enthusiastic hand gestures. J’onn rolled his eyes, but forced himself to listen. Almost patiently. “If anyone outside this facility tries to mess with our signals they get intercepted by our jamming antennas, rerouting them, covering our tracks and fooling them into thinking our servers are from a bank, eBay or Amazon, right? Because that way we hide the insane amount of data we handle.”
The Martian Manhunter was not impressed.
“Just cut to the chase, Mr. Schott, tell me what they’re trying to say.”
“But the how is as important as the what!” Winn persisted, a little too stubbornly. “Instead of letting our jammers reroute them to any random website they’re rerouting OUR signal into one specific site and they’re doing it at specific intervals of time, in groups of threes…”
“Well, tell me.” J’onn demanded. Winn was muttering numbers under his breath, her attention completely focused on his keyboard. J’onn shook his head and raised his voice. Just a little. “The website, Mr. Schott!”
“Uh…” Winn turned around, startled by J’onn’s proximity. He typed something on the keyboard and a face they both knew appeared on the screen.
“Lena Luthor’s profile on L-Corp directory web, sir.” Winn said, as if what J’onn was seeing on the screen wasn’t obvious.
J’onn muttered something in a language Winn did not understand.
“And that… interval, what does it say?” J’onn inquired in a low tone, as if he already suspected something, but was afraid to ask.
“First, three quick pins. Then, three longer pins. And finally, three quick pins again. And it’s a looping sequence. It’s so subtle, so simple, yet so old school…” Winn was so fascinated about what he was explaining that he forgot to actually explain it.
J’onn was about to kick something.
“So what is that?!”
Winn blinked and looked between his boss and the green, intense eyes of Lena Luthor, her picture still showing on the screen.
“Sir, it’s morse for SOS.” Winn finally stated as if it was the most obvious thing in the world.
J’onn hissed under his breath.
Tonight kept getting better and better.
Another message appeared on Winn’s terminal and he frowned. J’onn did not like that.
“There’s more, sir. Coordinates… a location?”
“It’s encrypted in the HTML of the website. 34.356737, -118.109156. It’s definitely a location, it’s gotta be, there’s no reason why those numbers should be there…”
Winn opened his military maps program (not like he hacked into the Pentagon to get them because that would be like treason or something) and he typed the coordinates.
“Where is it?”
“Ah… just outside the city, sir. It’s the Forest Highway.”
“The mountains. That’s very close to our facilities outside the city.”
“Yes, si– whoa, whoa!”
The computer beeped insistently. Winn looked at streams of code as J’onn grew even more impatient.
Winn pursed his lips and raised his eyebrows, looking rather impressed.
“Ah, ok… they’re sending us a second stream of data. Same technique… Ah… let’s see… it’s looping the signal into a different website… oh…”
“Oh, Mr. Schott? What does oh mean?”
“Oh… crap?” Winn pressed the enter button and a new website popped on the screen. It was a small press note published in The Daily Planet fifteen years ago: Jeremiah Danvers, awarded scientist and phylantropist, officially missing on research trip.
J’onn J'onzz froze, all of his Martian blood running much colder than usual.
“This could be a hoax. Or a trap.” J’onn said quietly.
Suddenly, his body language shifted into fierce determination, making Winn’s stomach twitch, sensing the anticipation of danger.
“You know…” J’onn began, as serious as he could get. “I wouldn’t mind if your friend Guardian finds out about this and lends us a hand?”
Winn swallowed hard and nodded.
“Uh, ok. But… you don’t want me to call Supergirl and Alex, sir?”
J’onn’s loud command reverberated through the building. If someone was casually asleep in their post, Winn was sure they had just been woken up in an unpleasant manner.
“I’m sorry,” J’onn apologized quickly. “Just… don’t call them, Mr. Schott. Not until I say so.”
“But sir, if this leads us to Lena Luthor or Jeremiah Danvers–”
Winn’s protest was halted by an unknown fury in J’onn’s eyes.
“What if it doesn’t?”
J’onn sighed as he leaned on Winn’s table so he could lower his voice.
“You remember what happened after Lena Luthor’s disappearance, right? Kara was out of her mind for weeks.” Winn nodded, his expression gloomy. “Imagine adding her adoptive father to the problem. If this message is legit, both Kara and Alex are emotionally compromised, so I need a team that stays focused and that won’t be misguided by their feelings. Now imagine this turns out to be another false lead, how will Kara feel? How will Alex? Either way, we don’t call them until we know what we’re really dealing with and have the situation under control. Understood?”
Oh, Winn understood now. J’onn’s determination was not fury, not really. It was the unbreakable resolution of protecting his daughters. At all costs.
Winn mirrored his boss’s seriousness and turned to his computer again, trying to gather as much information as possible.
“Call Guardian for me, please, sent him the coordinates and tell him to meet us there. Inform everybody that’s available in the building, starting with Vasquez. I wanna be leaving with our best team in ten. With medical support. I have a bad feeling about this…”
Winn rapidly nodded and began his task inmediately.
He raised his head a little concerned, as that was the first time in a long time that J’onn had used his first name.
All he found in the Martian eyes was fondness, strenght, duty.
“We do this for them this time. For Kara. For Alex. We owe it to them.”
She was dreaming about flying.
That was not unusual.
She flew under the sea, dancing with whales and sea-horses, and she flew above the stars, touching comets with her bare hands.
In her dreams, there were always voices.
Astra. Mother. Father. Alex. Eliza. Jeremiah. Cat. Clark.
Mon-El, sometimes. James. Winn. J’onn.
Sometimes the voices were gentle and they rocked her in a tide of tenderness.
Other times, the voices screamed at her. Terrible things. Awful things. The voices died, or they asked her to die. Those times she would wake up in tears, believing all they had said was actually true.
This time, the voice did not rock her, nor did it accuse her of anything.
Instead, the voice just asks her one simple thing.
“Kara, wake up, please.”
“Kara. I’m sorry. But we need you.”
Her eyelids were the only thing she could perceive as heavy, only in times like this, when she was sleep-deprived and sad. Kara opened her eyes to find her sister looking at her, gently touching her arm so she would wake up.
“I’m sorry, sis. But we gotta go down to the DEO right now.”
Kara heard herself ask something, not really aware of her surroundings.
She was in Alex’s bed, she remembered. Maggie was there, standing next to Alex.
“What time is it?”
“That was– that was a short nap. What happened?”
Kara’s voice was hoarse and Alex felt terrible, but she deserved to know. Immediately. Alex took her sister’s hand in hers, but then briefly looked at Maggie, as if gathering her courage, and Kara felt something change in the room, like the air suddenly filled her lungs with something worse than fear.
Alex finally let it out, never letting go of Kara’s hand.
“It’s Lena, Kara. They found her.”
Chapter 3: Darkest Before Dawn (Part I)
She wanted to laugh, too. Laugh, cry, fly to the sun and back just to celebrate that Lena Luthor was here: safe, alive, in this same room, with her.
Aaaand we have lift-off! When the seat belt sign illuminates, you must fasten your seat belt. Insert the metal fittings one into the other, and tighten by pulling on the loose end of the strap. To release your seat belt, lift the upper portion of the buckle. We suggest that you keep your seat belt fastened throughout the flight, as we may experience turbulence :-)
Supergirl landed in the middle of the DEO’s command centre, startling everyone at their posts and provoking a shift in the air that tossed all of J’onn’s papers to the floor.
Winn and Vasquez shared nervous looks. The DEO building was crowded now, top clearance agents all over the place working in all kinds of assignments regarding Cadmus. They all had strict orders from J’onn on how to handle the current situation (basically: don’t talk to Supergirl) and they sure would stick to the plan, but no one knew how everyone’s favourite hero would react to what they’d found in the mountains.
Hell, even J’onn J’onzz didn’t know how he would react if he was in Kara’s shoes.
He would probably punch the walls.
Everyone shifted their attention back to the screens after a vehement look from J’onn.
He turned to Kara.
“Supergirl, I’m glad you’re here. Your sister called twenty seconds ago warning me about your arrival… What took you so long?” J’onn asked impassively while he picked up the documents.
Kara was in no mood for passive-agressive humour.
“Where is she?” Supergirl stared at him, a dead-serious look on her face, her tone demanding, but her voice betrayed fluster and worry.
J’onn sighed and pursed his lips, knowingly. At least, they’d had a few hours to prepare for this. He didn’t need to read her mind to know exactly what she was going through. And what she was about to find out would turmoil her even more. He really needed to stick to the plan and handle this with the outmost care.
“Supergirl, your sister’s on her way with Maggie,” J’onn began, serenely. “They’ll be here any minute now. I’ve also called Mon-El, and our best agents are already working on all the information we gathered from the site. When they’re here, I’ll brief you all and you may proceed to–”
“I want to see Lena, J’onn. NOW”.
Kara took a step forward and J’onn could have sworn he saw little red sparks in her eyes.
Well, we all knew this was not going to be easy, the Martian thought to himself.
“I’m afraid that’s not possible right now.”
The Director of the DEO tried to ignore her tone, but it was quite unsettling; never had he been the object of one of Supergirl’s signature warning growls.
“All you need to know for now is that Miss Luthor is safe, she’s receiving medical attention from our best doctors, including Eliza–”
Yikes. Big mistake, boss. Winn’s ears went stiff the moment he heard the word medical out of J’onn’s mouth. He was pretending to be very intrigued by something on his screen, and he didn’t need to turn around to imagine the look of terror in Kara’s face.
“Medical attention? What happened to her? Is she… is she hurt?!”
And that was indeed Kara’s voice, not Supergirl’s. J’onn sighed and grabbed her by the elbow, pushing her aside so they could have an illusion of privacy.
“Kara… please. You need to trust me. Miss Luthor is in good hands. But there are things you need to know before you see her…”
Supergirl shook her head and jerked away from the Martian’s touch. She went back to her hero-like composure, as if she remembered this was not the time or place to show weakness.
“Damnit, J’onn, you know you can’t stop me. I’ll search every room in the building if I have to!”
J’onn let his Director-of-the-DEO mask fall. He felt her pain, her despair. His compassionate self took over, and he couldn’t help but take Kara’s hands in his and give in.
“Listen, I understand how you feel,” he began in his best fatherly tone. “We won’t wait for Alex, ok?” He looked her in the eye and hoped that she could feel how much he cared about her. After a few seconds, he sensed Kara relaxing a little under his sympathetic gaze.
“I’ll tell you everything we know, Kara, I promise. But there’s someone else you need to see before–”
NOOOO. STOP, MOTHER! PLEASE!!!
J’onn’s words were interrupted by haunted screams that almost made Kara’s ears bleed. He didn’t hear them, but Supergirl gasped, feeling the pain in that voice, knowing that voice.
J’onn stopped himself as he realized she had heard something, but before he could stop her or even warn her, Supergirl was gone in a flash of red and blue.
Kara followed the screams down the stairs, super speed at full throttle. She ran past her training room down the aisle and in the blink of an eye she found herself in front of James Olsen, arms crossed over his chest, wearing his Guardian suit, no helmet.
He didn’t even bother to greet her, not even flinched, as if he knew she was coming.
“Kara, please, you need to listen to Henshaw.”
As it turned out, the Guardian was actually guarding a door, with two DEO Agents with full weaponry right by his side. Behind that door, the screams had stopped but now Kara could hear her adoptive mother’s voice. Eliza was giving orders to someone.
“Just 1mg of Propofol, we don’t want to harm–”
Kara shook her head and focused her senses back to James. She didn’t even try to use her X-Ray vision, knowing the walls were reinforced with lead. But still, she was so close. She just needed to cross that door…
“Step aside, James, this has nothing to do with you.”
James Olsen shook his head and cracked a sad smile. He let his arms fall to his sides, trying to show Kara he was not the enemy.
“But it does. I’m here as your friend, Kara. We’re all here to help. Just listen to Henshaw, please.”
The honesty in James’ voice made Kara hesitate. She frowned, battling with herself, took a step backwards and breathed a sigh. James reached out a hand to try and soothe her but she took a few more steps back until she let her body rest against the wall. James looked away, trying to give her a moment, though he was actually a little relieved that Kara had listened to reason.
In that precise moment, J’onn arrived at the scene, flanked by Alex and Maggie.
“Kara!” Alex called out to her and ran to her side. She circled her sister’s shoulders protectively and though of course Supergirl did not need any kind of physical help, Alex squeezed her a bit to help her stand up straight, knowing she appreciated physical contact in moments like this. Luckily, she could do that because they were surrounded by family.
“Hey. Why don’t we head upstairs?” Alex rubbed her arms, Kara finally smiled weakly at her. “We’ll catch our breath and J’onn can explain everything, ok?”
A bewildered Kara nodded silently and let herself be guided by Alex, who hadn’t let go of her. The group headed back, James staying behind. J’onn looked back at him, a grateful look in his eyes. James just nodded, his shoulders relaxing a little as he watched them leave. Still, he remained where he was, right in front of the white door where no more screams were heard.
Out of instinct, just when they were about to turn the corner, and without effort or intention, Kara heard Eliza’s voice again, talking to someone.
“She didn’t even wake up. It was just a nightmare. No wonder after what the kid’s been through…”
Kara could hear her foster mother’s heartbeat now, steady and calm – she had a strong heart, in every meaning of the phrase. She could also hear that two other people where with her in the room, her assistants, probably.
There was a beeping sound coming from a machine that was controlling the heartbeat of the fourth person in the room, and Kara couldn’t help but smile.
But something was wrong.
There was another sound her super hearing was deciphering (two, actually) in the waves that expanded through air and space without anyone being able to see them.
Her body went completely still, her fists clinched.
“Kara? Are you alright?”
Alex’s voice was just a distant echo as she focused on those two faint sounds she couldn’t quite recognize. She closed her eyes, tried to take her mind off everything else, everything but those rapid beats, reaching her through the walls, like tiny drums reverberating with despair at the bottom of a vast sea…
She gasped, her eyes wide open now.
“Oh, Rao. It can’t be.”
J’onn, Alex and Maggie exchanged confused looks. J’onn looked at James, and he just frowned, just as lost.
“Kara?” Alex tried again, this time, far more preoccupied.
Eyes of blue pierced right through her and before Alex could even process what her sister was saying to her, she was already being pushed into Maggie’s arms, making them both stumble against the wall, surprisingly unharmed.
“I– I need to see her. I’m sorry.”
Those were Kara’s words. J’onn did understand, but not even The Martian Manhunter’s abilities were a match to Kryptonian super speed. He did have time to register a disappointed thought: Well, that’s cheating.
If outside observers were to film the scene and then play it in slow motion, they could have appreciated how Kara just grabbed and pushed everyone with the precise amount of strength to get them out of her way, but not enough to really harm them, though that agent's back would hurt for a couple of days. James found himself with his ass seating on the floor, back against the wall, right in front of the door he was supposed to be protecting.
Well. There was no door now. It was on the floor, several feet away from him. He almost laughed.
Shit, Kara, you should’ve listened.
James wondered for a brief second if there was anyone on the face of the Earth as stubborn as Kara Danvers. Himself, maybe.
Inside the completely white room there was all sort of cutting-edge, very expensive medical equipment and a bed. Two very confused nurses stared at the door, where Supergirl herself was standing, not paying any bit of attention to them.
Eliza Danvers gasped in surprise as she watched her daughter enter the room after literally tearing the door out of its place.
Kara didn’t register her mother calling her name in a disapproving tone. She only had eyes for the woman on the bed, soundly asleep, the one friend she thought she had lost… She took a couple of tentative steps towards the bed as tears were threatening to drown her blue eyes. Even her vision got a little blurry and her heart jumped in her chest with the raging beat it reserved only for flights at maximum speed or exhausting fights with powerful beings from other worlds.
She wanted to laugh, too. Laugh, cry, fly to the sun and back just to celebrate that Lena Luthor was here: safe, alive, in this same room, with her.
Her features were so soft with her eyes closed, and Kara realized it was the first time she had seen her without make-up. There were a couple of bruises in her forehead and some defensive marks in her arms. Kara flinched, but couldn’t help taking another step. She wanted to touch her face. She wanted her to wake up and to look her in the eye, she wanted to see that impossible green staring back at her, so she could be completely sure this was real.
She looked so young. So like Lena, yet so different from the shadow of power she was doomed to cast upon the world just to protect herself. Her beautiful long hair was loose, and her lips were partially opened, and Kara let out a sigh of awe as she watched her chest go up and down, breathing calmly in her sleep.
Nobody dared to say a thing, though now even J’onn, Alex, Maggie and James had stepped in the room. Only Eliza took a step towards her adoptive daughter, waiting for the inevitable to happen.
Maybe because she was lost in thought, maybe because she was astounded by seeing Lena again, Kara took more than a few seconds to notice.
Her gaze went down Lena’s body and she finally fixed her eyes on her belly.
Kara couldn’t believe it.
She tried to say the words, but couldn’t. The air around her went cold, and it was as if she was inhaling tiny knives with each breath. She felt a hand on her shoulder. Eliza.
“Yes. She’s pregnant, honey.”
Kara couldn’t help the scoff of disbelieve that came out of her mouth. Suddenly, she felt dizzy. And she never felt things like that unless she had three glasses of Aldebaran ale. Ok, two. One and a half.
Kara hated she couldn’t find words, both her mind and her body seemed to have been taken over by a force that she could only call panic.
Eliza spoke again, even gentler, still rubbing her daughter’s shoulder and pulling her close by the arm.
“34 weeks. Eight and a half months.”
Put as something so cold (numbers, just like that), Kara felt like a splash of water hit her face and she turned to her mother, completely dumbstruck.
Since Kara couldn’t find her voice, Alex stepped in.
“Mom… you’re completely sure, right?”
Eliza nodded, no doubt in her voice.
"Yes, sweetie.” Eliza looked around her and met J’onn’s gaze, a guilty look on his face. She shook her head and felt so much for him: always taking care of her girls, always trying to spare them pain that no parent, adoptive or not, could prevent. She hoped, for his own good, that someday he’d understand that, completely.
They both knew who should be the one revealing the truth to Kara, so they’d share only the necessary information, for now. Eliza spoke again, focusing mainly on her alien daughter.
“She’s resting now. She was talking when she was brought in, but she was exhausted, so we need to let her rest as much as possible. She’s completely out now because we gave her something to help her sleep, though the dose is very reduced given her state.” The scientist squeezed her adoptive daughter’s arm one last time, for reassurance, and she let go to register a few notes on her tablet. “She doesn’t seem to be psychologically compromised,” she continued. “Except for that sleep terror she just had… but we’ll know more about her state of mind when she wakes up. All we know is that she’s in apparently good condition, physically at least, and so are the babies.”
“Babies?!” Alex and Maggie yelped at the same time.
“That’s why I felt two heartbeats.” Kara whispered, her face between horror and awe. She closed her eyes, and Eliza could tell she was listening to their heartbeats, again.
“Twins.” Eliza confirmed. “A girl and a boy.” There was a hint of hope in her voice. Alex arched her eyebrows and felt J'onn shifting the weight of his body, as if he was eager to say something, though after that he remained quiet and very, very still. Alex looked suspiciously between them, knowing instantly she was missing some crucial insight about what was going on.
It was obvious this was not new information for J’onn and James. As for Maggie, she had found something very interesting in her shoes.
Suddenly, Kara opened her eyes and rested her palms on her knees, as if she was struggling for air. Alex knew instantly that wasn’t the case, so her sister must had been hit with the multiple implications this situation could have about what had happened to her friend.
“I feel like I’m gonna be sick…” Kara blurted out. She headed for the door, visibly shaken.
She took a final look at Lena, resting on the bed, and the hero just shook her head, an unreadable expression on her face. “I need to get out of here.” She stormed out of the room.
“Kara! Wait!” Eliza called behind her but Kara didn’t look back.
Both J’onn J’onzz and Dr. Danvers ran after her. Alex apologized to the nurses, still surprised and visibly uncomfortable, and, ever the scientist, went on to ask them all kinds of technical questions about Lena’s state.
Maggie and James just let them be and stepped outside the room, sharing the unarguably most awkward silence of their entire lives.
Meanwhile, Supergirl reached the upper floor of the DEO, looking ready to reduce a thousand blocks of concrete to mere ashes.
“Supergirl!” J’onn called behind her, not caring if the entire building heard him. “This is why you needed to be briefed before–”
Kara turned to face him, red sparks of fury dancing in her pupils.
“You should’ve told me everything the moment I landed in this room!”
J’onn was about to protest when Eliza stepped between the two of them.
“Sweetie, I know she’s your friend and that you’ve been looking for her for a very long time,” Eliza looked at her daughter right in the eye, but Kara immediately looked away. “I know this is not how you expected to find her but the important thing is she’s here now, she’s safe.” When Kara wouldn’t look back at her, Eliza took another step forward and took her daughter’s chin in her hand, forcing her gently to just look up. “We’ll take care of her, honey, I promise.”
Kara didn’t want to let go of her rage because doing that would open the door to painful questions and unbearable guilt. It would also give room to all the terrible truths that were hiding behind what had happened to Lena.
Eliza was trying hard to make her see reason, she could tell, and she needed to calm down… if not for her sake, for the sake of her family. They didn’t deserve to see her like this. They were not the ones responsible for this terrible mess.
Eliza was about to embrace her in a comforting hug, but Kara stopped her, grabbing her hands and squeezing them briefly before letting her go, just to let her know she was getting herself together now, and the last thing she needed was a mom hug that would probably make her tear up.
The Kryptonian cleared her throat and nodded to herself, finding her collected self, if only for a moment.
“She wasn’t pregnant when she was kidnapped.” Kara said in a low tone. “The timing just doesn’t add up. Cadmus must have done something to her…” She was really trying to remain firm, professional. But all the options that raced in her mind right now were terrible, unbearable, horrific… A sob died in her throat before she could let it out. Rage was better, she thought. Rage was easier.
“I… Rao. Those… those monsters.” Kara closed her eyes and took a step backwards. All she wanted to do was to take off and fly until she found Lillian Luthor. For a moment, she imagined herself with her strong hands around her neck, telling her to think about her sins, to say goodbye to a life she’d wasted hurting others, both human and alien, both strangers and family.
“I will find them,” Kara growled, her eyes searching for the night sky that was seen through the balcony of the command room. “I will find them and I will end them once and for all…”
This time, the hands that grabbed her shoulders didn’t let go. Eliza looked at her, intently, and suddenly she felt like a 13 year old again, lost and confused, her new mother’s eyes the only thing she could find comforting about this brave, new world.
“Sweetie, that’s not how you do things.” Eliza said in a whisper, only for Kara to hear. “Please, stay with us, ok? Let us help you.”
Again, the honesty and wisdom in Eliza’s words cut through Kara’s anger and she shook her head again, not knowing what was happening to her, how her pain for Lena just didn’t let her think clearly.
J’onn approached them and spoke with caution, slowly. He even sounded remorseful, almost guilty.
“If you won’t listen to me, please listen to your mother. There are things you don’t know… That’s why I didn’t want you to see her before you knew the rest. I’m sorry that didn’t work, I– I should’ve known I couldn’t keep you from seeing Lena the moment you landed.” Kara shook her head, how could she had reacted so badly? This wasn’t anyone’s fault. It was all Cadmus doing. It was Lillian.. “But… but I need to know you can take it.” J’onn continued, slowly going back to his Director of the DEO attitude. “I need to know you can handle this as Supergirl. Professionally, and above all, rationally.”
“I know, J’onn, I know… I’m sorry… I’m ok now. I’m– I’m fine, really.” Kara cracked an embarrased smile that seemed too forced, too soon to be genuine.
“No, you’re not.” J’onn quickly caressed one of her cheeks with his thumb, in a gesture he hardly ever allowed himself. Kara sighed, kind of relieved. “But I understand. We understand. But we need you to be strong now, stronger than ever… Just…” J’onn looked between both women and then nodded to Eliza. “You tell her, please.”
Kara turned to her adoptive mother, frowning, the scientist had a worried look in her face. She cracked a sad smile, and Kara knew. She didn’t know how, but she knew.
“Lena isn’t the only one we rescued.” Eliza swallowed hard and smiled weakly at her adoptive daughter. Then, she pointed with her gaze at the med-bay, just above their heads.
“Jeremiah is here, with us. And he knows what happened to Lena. He’ll tell you himself.”
Kara looked up to the med-bay, her mouth slightly open, her heart beating fast in her chest. She couldn’t see inside, but she could feel warmth and hope building up within her.
She laughed, suddenly, love breaking through her pain like a summer rain dissipating a storm.
She could only hug her adoptive mother, who was now spilling the tears she had denied herself for fifteen years.
Right in that moment, Mon-El stepped into the command centre, dressed in casual jeans and a brown sweater. He clapped his hands once to announce himself.
“Hey everybody, sorry I’m late, busy night at the bar… what did I miss?!” He asked cheerfully.
He finally turned to meet J’onn’s annoyed, unimpressed gaze.
Kara and Eliza broke their embrace and just kind of ignored him, heading for the stairs, hand in hand.
J’onn just shook his head at Mon-El, that was now very aware of everybody looking at him as if he was– well, an alien.
Winn was looking between them from his post and for a couple of seconds there he feared for Mon-El’s life since J’onn was looking at him as if he was going to send him back to Daxam.
Nothing happened, thankfully, as J’onn turned around and followed Kara and Eliza upstairs.
The Daxamite looked around, pretty confused, and he finally found Winn’s gaze. He immediately walked over to him, raising his eyebrows in complete perplexity.
“Hey, pal, so, really, what the hell happened here?”
Winn just rolled his eyes and facepalmed himself in his own personal rendition of Captain Pickard’s most well known internet meme, wishing he could turn back time, skip the night shift and just stay home playing World of Warcraft. Or League of Legends. Or sleeping.
He sighed in defeat as he heard Mon-El sitting down beside him. He turned to the oblivious Daxamite.
“Patience you must have, my young Padawan,” he finally said in his best Yoda impression.
“Cause I’m about to blow your mind.”
Chapter 4: Darkest Before Dawn (Part II)
In which we learn about Lena's fate (and what Jeremiah did to keep her alive). Finally.
I took some elements from the episode "Homecoming" and twisted them to fit my pretty, little plot. This will be filled with grammar errors and typos but I'll come back to it and edit everything when I'm not sleep deprived. Sorry about that, but I needed to get this chapter out of my system. Hope you enjoy this very, very long chapter, kiddos. It certainly has been a pain in my ass.
More than anything, she hated this artificial light. Blinding, cold, unforgiving.
She had been in and out of consciousness for so long, she didn’t even know what day it was.
She knew she was on a bed, again, her wrists and legs restrained. She knew they were performing some kind of surgery on her, or tests… She couldn’t tell, she didn’t feel a thing.
She knew her mother was around, she had heard her voice earlier, giving orders, saying her name.
But the rest was a blur, a burning pain between her eyes, the artificial light preventing her from being able to focus on anything.
When was the last time she had seen the light of day, anyway? The real light?
It had been weeks since Metallo and her mother had violently broke her out of prison. Her mother had revealed to her that Lionel Luthor was her biological father, just so she could manipulate her again. Against her will, they had forced her to open Lex’s vault for them. And now she didn’t know where she was, or how long ago had those events taken place. Was it months, now? She didn’t know, she couldn’t tell and she knew losing the grip on time was the first step to madness.
So she closed her eyes to escape this living nightmare, and tried to picture the yellow sun. The sweet, warm sunshine over National City’s skyline, sunset exploding into orange, pink, yellow, purple and red.
Sometimes, she allowed herself ten minutes, not even one second more, just ten minutes out of her busy schedule, letting Jess know she was not to be bothered during that brief amount of time. And she used to step outside around the same hour, let her hands rest on the edge of the balcony and let the sunset light bathe her to wash her guilt away, if only for a moment.
One day, when she was out there enjoying the gentle breeze and the golden hour, a flash of blue crossed the sky and from her perspective it was as if it came from the sun itself. Her mouth hanged open in awe. There was some kind of poetry to what she had just seen, there was a hidden meaning, and she couldn’t help but smile. The sun made her forget who she was, if only for a few minutes, but knowing she was out there, flying over the city, made her feel something entirely different— safe, somehow. It made National City home, for some reason. And she never felt safe under Superman’s sweep flights in Metropolis, maybe because she knew he would never trust her, he would never see past the burdens of her name.
That was one of the reasons she had chosen National City for a new start. And she already knew there was a Super flying over the city when she made plans to move. But she would be lying if she denied the fact that Supergirl had inspired her to finally pursue her dream– she had hoped she could get out of Lex’s shadow the same way Supergirl got away from Superman’s influence. They could both write their own story… Be their own hero.
And well, she had certainly hoped at first that she could be in good terms with Supergirl and would’ve had contented herself with the Kryptonian not seeing her as a threat. She wouldn’t have mind a cold relationship or the obvious tension and mistrust there should be between a Super and a Luthor, as long as she had her space and felt that her boundaries were respected.
But she never imagined they would become friends. She never dreamed a Super would look at her as a mutual. She never would have thought that anyone in the whole wide world, alien or not, could have so much kindness in their eyes.
But Supergirl was real, very real. And each time the hero smiled at her or said her name, Lena Luthor felt like they were breaking the law, defying some ancient curse, as if the Gods themselves were looking down at them with disapproving eyes, ready to cast a spell and tear the ground under their feet to keep them apart.
Like a star-crossed lovers story.
Lena, being the Shakespearian junkie she was, had read them all as a teenager, back in boarding school in Dublin, where she had been the most enthusiastic member of the Theatre Club (anything to take her mind off the fact that she was the only girl that didn’t receive visits or phone calls or letters from home).
Romeo and Juliet (of course), Troilus and Cressida, Anthony and Cleopatra, Hamlet and Ophelia, Lorenzo and Jessica…
Some of those characters were hideous pricks, she knew, but the message of those plays was the inevitability of destiny, the consequences of refusing to accept one’s fate. Shakespeare had also tried to state through them that hatred, bigotry and prejudice were plagues that needed to be wiped out from the face of the Earth. But, of course, when you’re a 14 year old girl hiding in the library after-hours, rooting for the Montague boy and the Capulet girl, you kind of forget that the real problem there is that their families are plain assholes.
Maybe teenager Lena couldn’t see that back then because she had internalized her Mother’s distance and mistrust as if she was at fault: not being good enough, not being a real Luthor, not meeting her expectations… If you crave someone’s love, if it is something your heart desires and your mind can’t really rationalize, you’ll always be at their mercy. You’ll keep on giving them second chances and brand new starts even if they keep hurting you. Because you can’t see, you’re blinded by this unforgiving light that you think you can reach before it burns you forever. But if you have no one around you to tell you that the light will kill you, as a moth is burned by the flame it can’t help to adore, you will keep on falling into the trap. And you will not be responsible for that, never, how could you? You’re just being manipulated, in the dark. You’re being kept hostage with the thing you need the most (their love, their trust, their approval). You’re a victim and an innocent. But how could you know the difference between love and abuse, when all they’ve shown you is hurt?
Only when you step out of their shadow and you feel the real sunshine in your skin for the first time, you understand love’s not a blinding light. It should be warm, cleansing, not unbearable and painful. It should make you feel powerful, not weak. It should be a card that grants you freedom, not something that keeps you bound to one person or one place because of a guilt trip.
This applies to family, lovers and friends.
So, Lena had no examples of real affection, except those that she found in books, though no matter how sensitive you are, you’re not going to learn love from fiction. Furthermore, it might distort the image, though the art of creating twisted mirrors of reality that people buy into, making their lives eventually miserable, is a piece of work only television has mastered.
She did have Lex, but Lex didn’t love her. She knew that, and she was fine with it, because she loved her brother the way he was, she wouldn’t dream of changing him, and she knew it was not like he didn’t want to love her back, he just couldn’t. Lex’s brain was not mapped like that… sure, he cared about her, he worried about her, he wanted her to be safe and happy… But to Lex, love was a waste of time just because it was not a science: he could not dissect it and control it, and above anything else, Lex needed to feel in control. Nobody knew what would happen if Lex lost control, and once he did, the whole world took notice, and once again Lena blamed herself for not seeing it coming, for letting him camouflage his psychopathic tendencies under a veil of disinterest.
Again, she was a victim. Again, she didn’t see it, blindfolded by pain.
Still, she had never felt with anyone, ever, a gravitational force as strong as Supergirl’s, and she didn’t know why the moment the superhero entered her life, she kept on thinking back on that time when she used to fall asleep with a book in her hands and had lunch on her own, every day, sitting alone on the corner of the dining-hall. She was never bullied, but no one dared to try and be her friend. The other girls were probably just afraid of her: she was a prodigy and was treated as such by all their teachers, and she was a Luthor. That name probably inspired some terror back in their homes, with rich parents that feared Lillian Luthor would knock on their door someday to tell them she had targeted their company for any reason, and that she would destroy them financially unless they agreed to whatever offer she had for them.
Lena couldn’t care less about what the other girls thought of her, but still, sometimes, an unstoppable sadness overwhelmed her and she allowed herself to cry in her favourite spot of the library, one that was never visited by other students and she had claimed as her safe place: the one corner dedicated exclusively to Arthurian literature, among books she cherished close to her heart such as Chrétien de Troyes’ medieval romances and T.H. White’s The Once and Future King. She allowed herself to cry freely there, and only there, guarded by Arthur and Excalibur and the entire court of Camelot.
So, why?, she wondered, why the moment Supergirl began to play a bigger role in her life she felt again like that scared teenager that used to hide herself in books and study?
Maybe it had something to do with the fact that around that time, she finally embraced loneliness. The first summer she came back from boarding school everything had changed: Lionel began to show symptoms of the illness that would end up taking his life a couple of years after diagnosis (actually, truth be told, he put a bullet in his head before cancer got its filthy hands on him), her mother was crueler than usual because of the stress of the whole situation, and Lex shielded himself in his work, became distant and began to make a habit of not returning her calls.
So she accepted her fate. Loneliness would be her queendom, emotions were just for the weak. She told herself it was better to be alone, that she was strong, sufficient and independent, that she needed no one (she was a Luthor, after all) and that she would wear her armor proudly.
She was better off that way.
She had learned to live like that.
She thought it was the only way to live, actually.
Yes. Loneliness. Work. Numbers. Statistics. Formulas. Power. Control.
That was all she needed.
It was clear as crystal.
But then came the alien girl with the blonde hair and the sunshine smile.
And Lena wondered how a perfectly constructed notion of life through years of practice and self-deception could be shattered in one second by perfect teeth and the swing of a red cape.
It made absolutely no sense.
It defied all logic.
It wouldn’t let her sleep.
And it was the last thing she needed.
It pissed her off beyond reason that she couldn’t begin to crack that enigma, despite having being declared officially a genius at the age of six by The International IQ Society.
So, assuming she was screwed, she let Supergirl (and all other advantages that came with the package) walk into her life, and braced for the inevitable disappointment that would come someday, when the hero would doubt her or put her own interests before their friendship.
Lena was quite surprised as time kept going by and none of that happened. It all… evolved, between them. And it was going to be the end of her.
A friend. Who would’ve thought after all these years that’d be all she needed to feel the walls around her crumbling down. The worst part was that now she’d had a peek at what not being alone felt like, she couldn’t help but needing her more. Craved her, actually.
Desire, that irritating feeling.
When she thought about it, she felt like an idiot, no matter what three digits number was written in her IQ test.
How did she not see it coming, once again?
How could she allowed herself to fall that quickly, that deep and hard for someone that could never reciprocate?
If she ever said something, Supergirl would laugh on her face, so loud she’d be heard in whatever remained of Krypton’s lifeless rocks floating in deep space.
Lena Luthor, CEO of L-Corp. The L is for loser.
Usually, when her thoughts took that dark turn, she’d call it a day and go home and drown her mind in a bottle of Jameson 18-Year-Old limited reserve. And when insultingly expensive whiskey didn’t work, she browsed through her contacts list and called any number from that selected few that already knew (and accepted) her rules: 1) I’m the one who calls. 2) Yes, we can talk. But the moment you get personal, it’s over. 3) Yes, you can use the shower. Yes, I know, it’s amazing. 4) Don’t even try selling anything to the press. Whatever they offer you, I can double it. I can also destroy your work-life, your relationships and your reputation faster than you can say “you heartless bitch”. 5) No cuddling. 6) Don’t be here when I wake up. And that usually happens before dawn.
Lately, she’d been making too much use of that list, and it was going to run out of numbers very soon if she kept going that way. Getting twice with the same person was not an option, so either she created a profile in a dating app and endured the ridiculousness of it all or simply got herself together and over her dumb, ill fated crush on Supergirl.
Alcohol and meaningless sex. Not only am I pathetic, I’m a bloody cliché.
Self-pity and regret weren’t the things that would help her out of the current situation.
Her mouth was dry and her legs felt numb. She could feel something on her nose, and she guessed immediately they had connected her to a mechanical ventilation machine. Her heart skipped a beat and she tried not to think about the endless list of atrocities her mother could intend to put her through.
She could hear voices around her, but she wondered if she had gone mad and the voices were inside her head.
Someone, a man, was speaking her name. She didn’t recognize the voice but she thought she might as well be dreaming about her father, coming to take her away. Although she was a convinced atheist, she couldn’t help but hope that if some kind of after-life existed, it would grant her at least the right to forget about her whole existence. Oblivion would be mercy.
“Lena. Lena, look at me.”
The man disconnected the blinding light that had her narrowing her eyes painfully. She tried to focus on the figure above her, and the shadow in front of her slowly turned into a dark, handsome man in his early 50s. She had no idea who he was.
“Lena, my name’s Jeremiah Danvers.”
She felt like she couldn’t breath for a second, despite the ventilation machine and all. Danvers!
“I’m Kara and Alex’s father. You know them, right?”
Lena flinched. This had to be another of her cruel dreams. She was having a lot of those, lately, with Supergirl breaking the ceiling, landing and taking her in her arms, telling her she was safe now. Each night she woke up cold and alone, her tears the only thing that felt real.
She couldn’t speak. She formed the words, but no sound came out of her throat. She had so many questions… If she could have said something, she’d probably just repeated Kara’s name and begged him to tell her she was sorry, for everything…
“I’ve been your mother’s hostage for a very long time, but you and I, we’re gonna get out of here, kid. I need you to stay strong, ok?” There was something warm and comforting about the man’s voice, and Lena could see him expertly pouring liquids between recipients he had displayed on a metallic table beside her. He was a scientist, she understood. Of course he was. “And whatever your mother and I tell you… whatever she does to you, know that you’re not alone. Just go along with everything and you’ll be alright.” He was removing a syringe from its packaging and filling it with a blueish liquid.
“’This is something to help you sleep.” He said while injecting the liquid into Lena’s catheter, expertly placed in her left hand. When the liquid hit her vein, Lena felt a sharp pain extending from her wrist to her forearm. She didn’t say a thing. “I don’t know when I’ll be able to talk to you again. For now, just keep pretending you don’t know me and I’m a bad guy, ok? Just rest now.”
Pretending to be a bad guy? About that, Lena knew a thing or two. She wondered if he would accept constructive feedback.
Before Jeremiah Danvers went back to being a shadow and she slipped into unconsciousness, Lena had time to register one suppliant thought.
Please, don’t turn the light on again. I hate that artificial light. I hate it.
This was not how Alex had pictured getting her father back.
For instance, J’onn had made the unilateral, insulting call of leaving her and Kara out of the rescue mission. Sure, it was sweet of him to try to protect them, but it was also a patronizing attitude and she ought to have a conversation with him about all that, because it was beginning to feel like he just didn’t trust their judgment.
The fact that it was the Martian Manhunter and Guardian getting her father back to safety instead of Kara and her still felt wrong.
Also, Alex had always imagined that this would be a time of joy. Tears would be spilled and hugs would feel like coming home, sure, but her family would be together, at last, and nothing but happiness could take over the moment.
How wrong she was.
All of that had happened. There had been tears and long family hugs, moments were words fell short, but still, this was not how she pictured it.
In her multiple fantasies visualizing this moment, there was never Mon-El, arms crossed over his chest and narrowed eyes, scanning her father with an air of suspicion. There was never the pain that she felt when he heard her father explain how he was tortured, forced to do terrible things, kept hostage over the years with a hanging threat over his daughters’ lives. There was never a torn apart Kara, battling between the feeling of relief for having Jeremiah back and her concern for Lena.
And also, that: there was never a pregnant Lena Luthor in her imaginary reunions.
She was as eager as everybody else to find out what had happened to her, but given the uneasiness and tension she could smell in the air, she knew her mother and J’onn already knew, and she had a feeling it was going to be something like dropping a bomb over them.
Especially for Kara.
She focused her attention back to her father.
They were on the med-bay, her mother and her flanking Jeremiah while they made sure all of his wounds were tended to. Mon-El stood silently apart from them, his back against one of the crystal walls. J’onn was there too, and Kara, both of them keeping their distance to let Alex and Eliza work, though the Kryptonian girl couldn’t help but touch his dad’s leg sometimes, for reassurance, as if she couldn’t believe he was finally here.
Jeremiah went on to explain how Cadmus had recovered him and Hank Henshaw from the Amazon, saving him only to force him save Henshaw, enhancing him, physically turning him into the monster he was beneath. He told them how he had tried to escape again and again and how it all seemed useless in the end.
“Honey, don’t bother with the arm.” Jeremiah warned when Alex was about to clean the wounds in his right hand. “I don’t feel any pain there. Lillian enhanced it many years ago breaking it in half as punishment for one of my escape attempts…” He lamented. “But she gave me a robotic arm instead. It’s bulletproof.” He winked at Kara trying to ease the tension and smiled warmly at Alex. Both sisters looked at him with sadness clouding their features.
Eliza just sighed, but said nothing while she kept on stitching up a wound on his left shoulder.
“We’ll have Winn check it later then, if you’d like to, just to make sure everything is in its place.” J’onn offered.
Winn, Maggie and James had said they’d wait for all of them at the command centre, reasoning the reunion was a family moment and there would be time to introduce themselves to Jeremiah.
“How did you escape?” Mon-El took advantage of a moment of silence to bluntly ask the question that had been burning in the back of his mind for long minutes.
It was obvious J’onn was now part of the Danvers family, but Alex wondered who let Mon-El walk into the med-bay as if he owned the place. By the way Kara was avoiding all kind of eye contact with the Daxamite, she could tell they hadn't talked after last night's fiasco.
“Well, I didn’t.” Jeremiah leered back at Mon-El. “This was all a plan. Lillian’s plan. She wanted to send you guys a signal so you’d be lured to a convoy that would pass as transport for a weapon. Then, you would rescue me, I’d win your trust back again and hack into the DEO computer system.” He looked back at his daughters and smiled apologetically.
“To what purpose?” J’onn inquired.
“First, to prove to her that I’m committed to the cause, as she calls it, by betraying my own children.”
“Oh, God.” Alex gave voice to everyone’s horror.
“And then, to steal the alien national registry.” Jeremiah continued. “So she could have access to every alien on the country and prep her plans for massive genocide.”
J’onn let out a harsh breath. Kara clenched her jaw and anger found a home in the pit of her stomach. Alex noticed immediately and reached out to rub her back with one hand and pulled her little sister close for a quick kiss on the temple. As Alex kissed her, Kara closed her eyes taking a deep breath, and when she opened her eyes again it was as if Alex had wiped all the anger away, leaving only dignity and determination. The unstoppable force.
“How did you send the message, the one with the SOS?” J’onn was still intrigued about that part.
Jeremiah smiled, a hint of amusement on his face.
“It wasn’t me, it was Lena. All I gave her was a stolen smartphone and my old account and password for the DEO intranet. She did the rest." He shrugged. "I tell you, J’onn, that kid knows her science. You should hire her.”
Mon-El cleared his throat and took a couple of tentative steps towards the center of the room. He paced for a second and then he turned to the scientist, a sour expression in his eyes.
"But still... excuse me, Mr. Danvers, but I still don't get it. You said Lillian Luthor had planned for you to infiltrate the DEO–"
Jeremiah nodded and, sensing the distrust in the Daxamite's voice, he chimed in with a calm but firm tone.
"Yes, once you guys followed the convoy's signal and intercepted it you wouldn't find a weapon. You would find me." He shook his head, remembering his struggle. Then, he looked at Mon-El, intently. "When Lillian captured Lena, all I wanted to do was help her escape, just like I helped you and Kara when they captured you. The problem was that Lillian wouldn't set the plan in motion until she was absolutely sure that Lena– that what she had planned for her was... unavoidable." He paused for a moment, taking a deep breath. "So I had to prepare for months, study all the elements and have a shot at it only when the moment was right. Unfortunately, that meant I couldn't spare Lena what her mother had in store for her…"
Jeremiah looked up to Eliza and then back to his daughters.
"The plan was scheduled for tomorrow. So I had to take my chances, it was the only way. I had gained the trust of a few guards that used to be my watchdogs. After all, we kind of were working together for years…” He winced with embarrassment for a second. “So when the truck arrived in the middle of the night and they showed me around to know how the plan was gonna go, I did what I have to do.”
Everybody in the room held their breaths, and when Jeremiah didn’t continue, Alex touched his arm carefully and squeezed a little bit.
"Dad... what did y–“
"I killed them, Alex.” He blurted out. Alex felt him tremble. “I killed all three of them. Carl, Evan and Dimitri.” He put a great deal of effort trying to crack a smile, but it was useless . “Those guys were lousy drinkers and terrible storytellers... I wish there had been another way, kids, but it was me or them.”
Kara and Alex shared worried looks as Jeremiah closed his eyes, swallowing hard. Eliza took his hand on hers and nobody said a thing. As if he gathered his courage through his wife’s touch, he kept on recounting the story of how they got away from Cadmus.
"I set off a couple of explosives I stole from their equipment to create chaos, a distraction... and I only had a few minutes to get to Lena and take her to the truck. We made it, barely. I stole Dimitri's phone and while I drove like a madman, Lena hacked into your system and sent you the coordinates where I had planned to abandon the truck.”
"Near our old facilities. You did that on purpose.”
"Yes. I figured if something went wrong and you didn't show up, we could lay low there for a while. We got lucky you guys were there even before we arrived because Lillian's goons were on our tail…"
J’onn smiled proudly, showing all his admiration for the man in front of him. The man that had saved him many years ago, showing him humans were capable of mercy and a loyalty that had cost him almost 15 years of his life.
"And we took care of them. But it was you, Jeremiah, who accomplished the impossible. Not only did you save Miss Luthor, you found your way back home. I'm glad to have you back, my friend.”
Jeremiah smiled back at J’onn, without effort this time.
"And I'm glad to be looking at you and not see a trace of that Cyborg Superman abomination. And also, thank you, J'onn. You kept your promise. You looked after my girls.”
J’onn brightened up and looked proudly at Alex and Kara.
"Well, they've been looking after me, too.”
The aforementioned smiled back at J’onn and for a moment, things felt right. Jeremiah touched Eliza’s hand over his shoulder. Alex and Kara lit up at the scene.
“So, just to be clear, Mr. Danvers…” Mon-El interjected, slowly, trying to keep his voice down this time. “That weapon you mentioned as part of the plan? It’s not real, then, is it?”
Jeremiah pressed his lips together and shook his head.
"Oh, she does have a weapon. Or some sort of plan for a weapon. I heard her talking about something called 'Project Doomsday', but she wouldn't let me anywhere near those files.”
Kara felt a shiver down her spine.
"Doomsday, uh? Sounds like my kind of party.” The hero said in a playful tone, just so she could cover the uneasy feeling.
"I really don't know what it is, but it has something to do with– uh... Kryptonian genetics. Without my supervision, though, I'm afraid Lillian could be doing all kind of abominations. Cruel and brutal experiments, that's her style. That's how she lost her medical license in the first place.”
"Well, that's just great.” Alex rolled her eyes.
Kara forced a smile and looked proudly at her adoptive father.
"At least, with you here, we have some kind of advantage. We have your insight on Cadmus. We will defeat them, just as we have in the past.”
Jeremiah looked lovingly at her.
“Oh, sunshine, how I’ve missed your unbreakable optimism.”
Kara giggled like she was a 13 year old again, but after a few seconds her expression closed up.
Though she wished she could stay with her family in a bubble of comfort, she needed to stay focused and remember that she still had a lot to deal with.
She cleared her throat and looked at her hands, her voice came out a little shaky.
“We still need to talk about Lena… if you– if you’re not too tired–”
Jeremiah immediately nodded.
“Of course, Kara. You need to know what happened.”
Alex felt the air filling up with tension and uncertainty. Eliza put her tools aside and gave her husband a quick kiss on the forehead.
“Uh, Mon-El, could you please give me a moment with my family?” Jeremiah asked gently.
Mon-El was about to open his mouth when J’onn stepped in, sympathy shining in his eyes.
“We will join the others downstairs. Take all the time you need.”
With that, the Martian gestured for Mon-El to leave the room. The Daxamite’s body language showed he wasn’t very pleased with the subtle order, but he turned around and walked out, followed by the Director of the DEO.
Kara was about to protest. She wanted J’onn to stay. She needed his support and wisdom. Then again, she was positive J’onn already knew what had happened and he was probably just stepping down to make things easier with Mon-El. If she had asked J’onn to stay she wasn’t sure the Daxamite wouldn’t have caused a scene. They hadn’t talked since yesterday and she knew she was postponing a conversation that was going to be critical to their relationship. But right now, it was the last thing she wanted to do.
She sighed, there would be time to catch up with J’onn and ask him his take on everything that was going on.
Kara was distracted by her own thoughts when she felt a hand on her shoulder. Eliza was looking at her, offering a chair beside Jeremiah.
“Sweetie, have a seat.”
“Um… you guys want me to sit down? Should I be worried?” Kara let out a high-pitched titter and when no one followed, her breath quickened.
She sat down beside her father without another word, Eliza and Alex flanking them, standing up. She really wished she was in her civilian clothes right now. The suit always gave her confidence and strength, but when she felt this vulnerable, only her glasses could do the trick for her. It was silly, she knew, but still…
“Kara,” Jeremiah began in a wary tone. “When Mon-El was captured by Cadmus, you remember they took your blood, right?”
Kara nodded, trying to control the quivering of her lower lip.
“Yeah. So Hank Henshaw could steal Medusa from the Fortress of Solitude.”
Jeremiah looked down at his right arm, the one they had modified, and took a deep breath.
“Well, sweetie, Medusa wasn’t the only thing they stole from the Fortress of Solitude. Nor was blood the only thing Cadmus took from you…”
“Uh… what… what do you mean?” Kara tried not to panic. It wasn’t easy.
“You know the Fortress has all kind of information about the Universe, it’s an archive of Kryptonian culture, so you and Clark can access anything you need and all the knowledge of your ancestors will be preserved…” Superman himself had disclosed some of the info from the Fortress with Jeremiah and Eliza, many years ago, so they could advance in their study of his powers. “Your father’s work on Kryptonian genetics is archived in the Fortress. Along with Medusa, he worked on multiple projects and everything he did as a scientist was outstanding, a masterpiece. Kryptonian medicine was centuries ahead of us. Krypton’s laws were very strict about genetic modification, but Zor-El created a formula to help same-sex couples conceive children together, for example, and he had also identified and mapped all the genes of the Kryptonian genome, in much more detail than the investigation of the Human Genome Project, here on Earth.”
Kara was trying hard not to jump out of the chair and pace the room at super speed. She took a quick glance at Alex, who was listening to their father with a haunted look in her face. Kara knew that Alex was already connecting dots in her scientific mind– being a giant nerd apparently had its perks.
Jeremiah’s voice brought her back to reality.
“So, Medusa was kind of a bonus that Lillian found while looking for other things in your father’s work. She took all that information, and with it, she’s working on that ‘Project Doomsday’ of hers. But she initially intended to crack the Kryptonian genetic code, so she could use it to her advantage.”
Alex cleared her throat and Kara looked between her and Jeremiah, puzzled.
“I always thought it seemed really weird that Lillian gained access to the Fortress and the only thing she took from it was Medusa… Should’ve seen it coming.” Alex lamented.
“You thought Cadmus just took your blood, but that's because you don't actually remember what they did to you.” Jeremiah went on, looking at Kara, a sad grimace in his face. “Lillian sedated you. She took more than your blood, Kara. She took your DNA.”
Kara frowned in confusion, still, she didn’t know where all of this was going…
A heavy silence installed between them, and when Jeremiah opened his mouth he just couldn’t find the right words.
Eliza stepped in.
“Your egg cells, baby, your ova.” She said with simple directness.
Kara groaned with disgust.
“Ewww! You mean they… Oh sweet Father of Krypton!”
The hero put her hands on her forehead, her eyes wide open, looking nervously between her mother and her father, as if she was waiting for them to reveal this was all a joke, a bad dream…
“As I told you, you were sedated. I couldn’t help you, I’m so sorry, honey…” Jeremiah’s voice trailed off. He pressed his lips together and then continued. “And there was no way you could remember once you woke up. Only the blood extraction that was performed before that. Lillian was clever enough to expose you to some yellow sun radiation before waking you up so you couldn’t even feel the slightest discomfort from the procedure.”
Kara sneered and raised her eyebrows in disbelief.
“But why?! Why would they do that? What was Lillian planning on doing with my DNA?”
When no one answered, she became very aware of the dejected looks everyone had on their faces.
“Kara…” Alex said, but her mind failed to add anything else.
What could be said in a moment like this?
Fear crept within Kara’s chest, her jaw tightened.
“So tell me…” She whispered, very slowly. “What did they do?”
The scientist shook his head and hesitated, but he finally raised his eyes to meet Kara’s gaze.
“As Lillian explained it to me, she was convinced she was losing the war against aliens because she thought it could be done overnight, just like Lex. And when you revealed yourself to the world, she finally understood something: aliens would keep on coming, so she needed to fight fire with fire. And most importantly, she needed to develop a long-term plan. When the President passed the law on alien immigration, she came up with this plan. She told me she finally understood she just needed to be patient.”
Kara went pale as realization dawned on her face.
“She wanted her own superchildren.” Jeremiah added in a low tone. “So she could use them as weapons, use them for her cause.”
Nausea began a dance with Kara’s stomach as she finally understood.
“Mon-El was captured for that reason, actually. Lillian wanted to see if combining your DNA with his would do the trick. But Mon-El’s allergy to lead was a huge obstacle, because that would mean she would have to manipulate his DNA, and there wasn’t any information on Daxamite’s genetics on Zor-El’s work… So she quickly discarded the idea.” Jeremiah took a moment to let her shaken daughter take in all the information. “Then, she had some sort of epiphany. To make the superchildren her superchildren, she wanted them to have Luthor DNA. We’re lucky Lex Luthor is in maximum security, because her first idea was to fertilized your eggs with his sp–“
Kara raised her hand quickly to stop Jeremiah from finishing that sentence, her eyes burning with repulsion.
“Don’t even say it! Please! I just… I can’t, I just can’t…”
Jeremiah nodded, and he sighed again. Telling Kara was turning to be much painful than he had imagined.
“So that’s when she targeted Lena.”
Kara opened her mouth and her worried crinkle appeared as she shook her head.
“But Lena… Lena’s adopted.”
“No. That was another of Lillian’s belated lies to control her.” Jeremiah said gloomily. “Lena’s the biological daughter of Lionel Luthor, the result of an affair. Lillian told her when she was in jail, before framing her… Lillian said that she was content if her… um, grandchildren had Luthor’s DNA, even if she couldn’t have Lex’s.”
Kara’s heart sank in agony.
Oh, Rao, Lena… Oh, Lena.
“What was Lillian’s ultimate purpose for the children? Was she planning on raising them herself?” Alex asked. It was taking all her willpower not to run out of the DEO with her favorite alien gun to find and shoot the crap out of Lillian Luthor.
Kara was speechless. Jeremiah ran his good hand through his hair and nodded.
“Yes. They would become the Anti-Supers. She wanted to raise them to kill Kara and Clark…” He sighed, fatigue showing in his face. “So she kidnapped Lena, and the rest… Well. You know it now.”
Jeremiah felt silent. He looked like a man who had been beaten up almost to the death. And that had happened to him more than once, just not this time.
For a while, no one dared to say anything. Alex was regarding her sister with outmost concern. Tears shimmered in Kara’s eyes, but she fought them back with determination. Now was not the time. Kara took a deep breath and glanced at the ceiling, gathering her courage.
“So you’re saying that Lena’s babies… they…”
Jeremiah smiled weakly at her.
“They’re your babies too, honey.”
Kara let out a bitter laugh.
“So this is why you wanted me to sit down.”
The tears were unavoidable now, but they were silent. She wouldn’t allow herself to give them room, because Lena hadn’t, probably.
“We know it’s a lot to take in, sweetie.” Eliza approached her daughter and caressed the top of her head.
Kara laughed again. Louder and harsher.
“A lot? A lot?! Mom, that’s gotta be the understatement of the millennium!”
She was laughing, but there was no hint of humour in her voice. Eliza knew she was beyond pain; she only used the word ‘Mom’ in certain occasions, and they always had been moments of sadness, when she needed her most.
“It’s… it’s… babies!” Kara finally stood up and began pacing, her hands on the sides of her head as she was trying to contain her raging thoughts. “We’re talking about two people coming to the world! Two. Real. People. Alive. With little feet and little hands! And she’s carrying them… she’s… she’s been used for– Gosh, I just can’t!”
Kara looked like a caged animal looking for a way out.
“And they did this to her against her will and it was all her mother’s doing, for Rao’s sake! I… I just can’t imagine what she must’ve gone through… And when she wakes up… I…”
Eliza approached her daughter with firm steps and she took her face firmly between her hands. Eliza Danvers looked with determination into her daughter’s eyes, and Kara felt she could see right through her.
“Honey, we know this is too much. We know is sick, and Cadmus will pay for what they did to Lena, to your father… but we’ve got to use our heads, ok? You are Kara Zor-El, Kara Danvers, you are a member of the House of El, and you are my daughter, and you will never be alone. You have to get yourself together and not let emotion overwhelm you, because when Lena wakes up, she’s gonna need you. She’s gonna need you like no one has ever needed you before, sweetie. And you’re Supergirl, so go figure.”
Kara nodded very slowly, never taking her eyes from her mother. Eliza smiled warmly at her and released her face, placing a gentle kiss on Kara’s forehead.
The Kryptonian walked back to Jeremiah’s side.
“Alright, so…” Kara began, her voice trembling a little, enough for everyone to pretend like they didn’t notice. “Let me get this right. Technically put, I’m… I’m the father of Lena’s babies. I can’t believe I said that without passing out…”
“Yes. You’re both the biological parents of these children. They’re your blood as much as they’re hers. They’re the new children of Krypton, Kara.”
Kara shivered at Jeremiah’s words. She had so many questions… But Eliza was right, she had to apply logic to this situation so she wouldn’t lose her mind. So she nodded and put her fists on her hips, as if the gesture would give her some kind of sense of control. She really needed it, no matter how much of an illusion it was.
Alex looked at her with that knowing, furrowed look that was so Alex. Then, the older Danvers sister looked back at her dad, a thought sparking her curiosity.
“But… Dad, just… in order to fertilize Kara’s ova… then implant them on Lena… they would’ve needed a sperm donor, right?”
Jeremiah shook his head.
“No. Zor-El’s formula was so advanced they could create synthetic spermatozoa from any eggs, and vice-versa. The only thing they needed to do was an in-vitro fertilization, thus creating embryos that perfectly combined Kara and Lena’s genetics. Those embryos were then implanted on Lena’s uterus, and so we have the twins.”
Alex still wondered.
“But Dad… how can you be so sure about all of this? Were you there? Did Lillian tell you?”
Jeremiah looked up at Eliza. She just nodded.
“Well… that’s the other thing you need to know, girls.”
Kara and Alex shared a puzzled look and they waited for their father to continue.
“I know because I did it.” Jeremiah finally blurted out. “I was able to create the genetically combined embryos thanks to your father’s work, Kara. I helped Lillian decrypt it and test it. I’m the one responsible for this.”
Kara couldn’t believe her ears. Her whole body stiffened and confusion clouded her face.
“What? How– why?! Why would you agree to do something like this?! Something this… this sick!”
“I didn’t agree to do it, Kara, I didn’t have a choice.” Jeremiah held up his hands. “Listen, it was the only way to save Lena’s life. It was either this, or watch her die. Lillian would have tried to do this with or without me, and without me the chances of her killing her own daughter on the process were very high. She knew that, and she didn’t even care. So I asked myself, what would my girls do?” Jeremiah looked between her daughters, desperately trying to make them understand. “And I knew I had to save her. Because that’s what you’d have done in my place. Especially when I knew what Lillian was doing… Lena is an innocent that got caught in this absurd war, and I wish I could’ve spare her what they did to her, but I couldn’t find a way to escape any sooner. Only when the pregnancy was more than stable did Lillian agree to put the plan in motion… I… I had to save the babies, too. If they were going to come into this world, no matter what I did… I couldn’t leave them in Lillian’s hands.… I know the circumstances are horrible… but they are still your blood, Kara.”
Kara’s lower lip trembled at that last sentence. What could be out there any more innocent than children? The pain in Jeremiah’s voice was absolutely genuine and she felt selfish and heartless for assuming he would have agreed to Lillian’s cruel plan willingly.
“I’m sorry. I’m so sorry.” Kara whispered, her voice breaking.
“Oh, sunshine… C’mere.”
Jeremiah reached out to her and Kara let herself go in his father’s embrace. She gestured for Alex and Eliza to join them, and together, the Danvers family let their sorrow and fear dissolve in the warmth of the hug. When they pulled apart, the four of them were sniffing and trying to regain some composure.
Alex let out weak laughter, breathing deeply and trying to not mess her eyeliner while she dried her tears with a tissue. Eliza and Kara mimicked her nervous laughter, and after a few seconds the whole Danvers family was sighing in relief.
“Oh, boy, I think we all need a break.” Alex rubbed her hands together. “Dad, you’re good to go. How about we have some coffee and join the others downstairs? Then, we can come up with a plan with J’onn. We need to be fast, Cadmus will come after Dad and Lena, that’s a sure thing.”
Everyone nodded and Kara was the first one to head for the door.
“Ok. I’m gonna change in the locker room, I need… I need to process all of this with my regular clothes on.”
Kara didn’t look back as she left the room, walking fast, her cape majestically swinging behind her.
“Kara! Kara, wait!”
It was Alex who was calling her name, running towards her. Kara turned around and waited for her sister to reach her, perhaps there was some other information she needed to–
“Umph!” Kara felt her lungs release too much air at a time when Alex just jumped her, embracing her in a hug that made the legs of the Girl of Steel feel like grilled cheese.
Her sister didn’t let go until she felt Kara relaxing a little bit inside her arms. Kara closed her eyes and put her arms around Alex, shutting everything that was not her sister’s breathing from her senses.
After a few minutes, they broke the hug and Alex tucked a few golden locks behind Kara’s ear.
“Go change. I’ll have a coffee ready for you.” She told her.
Kara’s mouth carved into a weak smile.
Before the superhero could turn again, her sister gave her one quick kiss on the cheek and whispered something, only for Kara to hear.
“I love you, Kara, and I’m here for you, always. You know that, right?”
Alex’s words broke through Kara’s concern, finding buried deep within her heart the hope that Kara always clung to, no matter what. She didn’t know how, and she didn’t know when, but Alex made her feel like everything was going to be alright.
“Yes. I love you too, Alex. El Mayarah.”
When she woke up, there was no blinding light. Instead, the blueish lights of the room left her almost in the dark, as they were dim out.
She heard the beeping sound of a machine that was singing her heartbeat out. For a moment, she thought she was back on her mother’s operating room, panic building up in her chest.
She looked around her and on the machine’s side there was a sticker: Property of the Department of Extranormal Operations. She remembered immediately the events of last night and she regained control of her breathing.
Lena thought it was funny that a governmental agency that supposedly didn’t exist marked their equipment, proving that internal theft existed everywhere.
She slowly began to get rid of all the electrodes and wires stuck to her body. Everything hurt, even the slightest movement. When she tried to get on her feet, nausea crept out of her stomach and she had to hold on to the bed for dear life.
She felt a kick inside her belly. Then another one. Then, two at the same time.
She patted her belly, and talked to it, a habit she had picked up in the long hours of her imprisonment when she was left alone in her room– or should she say cell?
“Shhhh. It’s going to be alright now, don’t be impatient.”
There were no more kicks and Lena felt a little proud of herself: after months of insisting, they finally listened to her from time to time.
She finally was able to stand up. She was barefoot, and the floor was cold, but she welcomed the sensation, it made her feel like this was real, and not one of her dreams. She couldn’t make much of what was surrounding her in the room, but she spotted a white coat hanging from the back of the door. A door that seemed new and the wall around it was recently painted.
Weird, she thought.
She walked carefully towards the door, took the coat and put it on, an embroidered patch of the DEO’s logo on the front pocket. At least she was wearing something over the hospital gown they’d changed her into.
When she opened the door (carefully, very, very slowly), she was expecting to see at least an agent or two. No one was there to be seen. She felt a little insulted– surely they knew Cadmus would be trying to get her back, the decent thing to do would have been putting some security at her door. Maybe they did, and the assigned agent had to go to the bathroom. Or maybe they were just plain incompetent.
She followed the lights down the aisle and she ended up walking up stairs that lead her to the main floor. The first thing she noticed was the light. Natural light.
“Here comes the sun, kids.”
She noticed the command room, busy with people processing data or studying feeds from all over the city. But she only had eyes for the break of dawn, so she walked up to the balcony and let the cold air of the morning make her shiver from head to toe. It was the most wonderful feeling in the world. She looked behind her and she hoped no one would notice her for at least a few minutes, so she could feel this. The light. The real light.
National City’s skyline had never seemed so beautiful in her eyes, not even in those sunsets where she could see Supergirl flying over her, drawing patterns on the clouds.
“We’re home,” she whispered, and she put a protective hand over her belly.
The orange light hit her face while the sun peeked from behind the mountains, and she couldn’t help the happy tears.
“We’re home”, she repeated while approaching the edge of the balcony and rested her hand against the concrete railing.
Yellow and blue colors danced in the sky as the sun rapidly picked up a pace and offered itself to the city. Lena closed her eyes and let the tears fall.
When she opened her eyes again, she leaned a little against the railing to look down. She had to stand on her tip toes to get a peek of the road. She never liked heights, she never liked flying. But now, everything had changed.
The best way to do it was just trying to sit, first. It wasn’t easy, after all she was almost nine months pregnant. Her whole body hurt and her mind was screaming for her to stop. But she did it, anyway. She used her arms to grasp the edge of the railing and with a quick jump, she passed one leg over it. Holding to the edge, and not very gracefully, she managed to do the same with the other leg.
So now Lena Luthor was sitting on the railing, her legs hanging in the air almost a thousand feet above National City’s streets. She wondered if she could stand up. It wasn’t very dignifying to do this sitting down. She crossed her legs, first, the railing was wide enough to allow her to do that. Then, she held on tightly and she crouched. Slowly, she stood up and with arms open wide, she smiled to the horizon. The sun was almost up. Orange gave room to bright daylight, and her skin felt warm where the rays hit her, calling to her, embracing her.
A memory came back to rise itself over the voices in her head that were begging her to stop.
Her mother’s voice, above all of them. Her mother’s voice, haunting her even after the escape.
“You’re fulfilling your destiny, my darling. You’re going to be the Mother of Peace. You’ll be Our Holy Mother, the one that will give birth to Humanity’s last hope and make Earth safe again.”
“Fuck you, mother! You’re insane! You– all those times you said you loved me, even if it wasn’t real, I thought that maybe, deep within you, there was some light… I was wrong, wasn’t I? You’re just pure evil.”
“Honey, I know you think I don’t love you. And I know you only see me as a clichéd comic-book villain. But someday, you’ll understand. Everything I do, I do for you, for the future of my children… And the moment you become a mother, you’ll understand, and I’ll be waiting for you.”
“Do you even hear yourself?! This is sick! Please, mother, you can still stop it. Please, don’t do this.”
“It’s too late, my darling. The tests came back positive. You will be giving me my Luthor grandchildren, and together, we’ll raise them to be the protectors of Earth.”
“I’ll never follow you, no matter what you do.”
“Oh, but you will, Lena. Once they’re born, you’ll see. Everything will change. You’ll love them despite yourself. And even if you won’t join me… Well. Don’t worry, we’ll see what you do, because a mother’s love knows no limits...”
Her face was warm now despite the height and the morning breeze. She was trying to convince herself this was the only way to save them. Save herself. She would always come back for them, she would always hunt them down, until she had what she needed. There was no stopping Lillian, or Lex, and there was no escape from the pain of how they had violated her trust, her mind, her spirit, her body… Even if she could love the children that were growing inside her, despite the reminders, despite all this pain, even if she could save them… How could she be sure that she would never turn into her? How could she know they wouldn’t go through what she’d been through?
There was no way to know, so this was the only safe way out. This was the only way to save them.
Still, her feet were anchored to the concrete and she couldn’t dare herself to step into the darkness.
But, what if I can prove her wrong?
The doubt became anger and the anger became strength and the strength made her realize what she was about to do. She felt another kick inside her belly. And another. And another. And they were telling her: don’t do it. Don’t. And she laughed, she laughed and hug herself in the wind and if anyone had looked up from the street she would have looked like an angel trying to earn her wings, all in white, pale, her long, dark hair waving as if the breeze was trying to dance with it.
A familiar voice called her name behind her with an anxiety that startled her to the point that when she was about to turn, her bare feet failed her and she lost her balance in the most stupid, unflattering way.
Well, fuck me.
It was over.
She was falling.
The screams were useless now, but as the ground got nearer and her lungs ran out of air, she still fought it. It wasn’t right. It wasn’t fair.
And suddenly, everything began again.
She stopped falling.
“I’ve got you.”
The first thought she registered was a panicky “You’ve got me, who’s got you?”
Strong arms carried her back up and she inhaled vanilla shampoo. A heat like no other irradiated from the body that was carrying her gently. She was flying. They were flying.
She didn’t open her eyes. She just let herself feel her through the warm skin on the crook of her neck and the warmth of her body. This felt real. Even more real than the light of dawn, the sound of the streets.
When they landed in the balcony, the arms around her opened carefully and she stepped out of the embrace, forced to open her eyes.
But in front of her she didn’t find Supergirl.
Kara Danvers looked at her, suddenly terrified. She was wearing a blue blouse and red skinny pants. Lena blinked twice in front of her, not believing her eyes. She had saved her… like this. No supersuit. No S in her chest.
How did she not lose her glasses while flying?
Fascinated, Lena took a step forward as Kara’s lower lip began to tremble. Lena didn’t care that Kara looked so frightened that she couldn’t even move.
Lena reached out to her with one hand and Kara followed that hand with her gaze up until it rested on her chest, where the emblem of the House of El shined proudly in her suit. Kara couldn’t find the words she wanted to say, the apology, the long delayed confession… All of that was forgotten when Lena took another step towards her.
And then, Lena Luthor was unbuttoning her blouse.
Kara swallowed hard. Kryptonite had never left her mouth as dry as Lena’s closeness.
Lena could see the suit under the blouse now. She didn’t stop until the whole emblem was exposed. She could feel Kara’s gaze upon her, but all she wanted to do was feel the way the S that was not an S felt against her skin. So she touched it, barely, with the tip of her fingers, while Kara Danvers held her breath for long seconds. No human could’ve done that.
Finally, Lena’s hand went up and she touched Kara’s cheekbone, scrutinizing her as if she was some kind of new device Lena had never seen in her life. Again, just the tip of her fingers, just the slightest of touches, and when Kara was about to gasp, when Kara was about to yell for mercy and just let Lena’s wrath fall all over her, Lena smiled, and Kara could see stars shimmering in her eyes.
They began to speak at the same time, abruptly, one voice over the other.
“I didn’t mean to fall, not really, I’m so stupid, I… I just wanted to see the sun rising, and then, the memories…”
Lena stopped talking when she felt a sharp pain cutting her from the center of her legs up to her spine. Kara kept rambling on.
“I’m sorry, Lena, I’m so sorry… I just saw you and I didn’t think, I wanted to tell you for such a long time but–”
Lena grasped Kara’s forearm as the pain intensified.
“Kara, shut up!” Lena shouted as the pain made her bend over.
“What?” Kara didn’t realize what was happening until Lena almost collapsed.
Kara caught her in her arms again as she was about to fall.
Kara rushed inside with Lena in her arms, shouting her sister’s name at the top of her lungs.
She didn’t hear what Lena whispered weakly in her ear while she grimaced from the pain.
“Lena? Lena, did you say something?”
As Kara run to the med-bay with Lena in her arms, she whispered it again, softly, but this time Kara heard her loud and clear.
“I’ve always known, you idiot.”
Chapter 5: The New Children of Krypton
Enter The Twins™
So, just to clarify, we’re assuming that everything that happened on the show that did not involve the Luthors also happened in this timeline while Lillian kept Lena hostage. So, yes, Mr. Mxyzptlk came and went, Kara knows about Mon-El being Daxam’s prince, his parents did visit Earth, and Kara forgave him after the whole musical fiasco with Barry. But she was never fired from CatCo as Jeremiah didn't betray them and the alien registry was never stolen from the DEO. Enjoy.
(See the end of the chapter for more notes.)
“I’ve always known, you idiot.”
Kara wished that among all her powers there was the ability to freeze time.
That way, she would’ve had a moment to enjoy those words. They were tender, affectionate, not a trace of reproach in them. She had never felt so much warmth from being called ‘an idiot’.
Of course she was an idiot, of course she was.
She wished she could see Lena’s face, but she was buried in the crook of her neck, holding tightly to her, breathing rapidly and muffling her cries of pain against Kara’s golden locks.
If the circumstances were different, Kara would’ve panicked. She never had been this physically close with Lena, and it did something to the balance of her legs and the rhythm of her heartbeat.
Also, did she really know from the very beginning? She had so many questions. How did she know, when did she know, what did she think about her being Supergirl?
All that would have to wait.
There was no time to think now, and panic did overtake her but for an entirely different reason.
She focused for a second in those tiny drums inside Lena’s belly and listened. They were there, and she sighed with relief, but she could tell something was wrong. Their rhythm was out of control, uneasy. Like a cry for help.
“Alex!! Alex, I need you!!”
Her sister and all the others heard her from the command centre. From the corner of her eye, while she crossed the upper platform, she could see Alex running towards her.
They reached the med-bay at the same time, entering through opposed doors, and her sister looked at her with her mouth half-open. She knew what Alex was seeing: Kara’s blouse completely open exposing her suit, Lena in her arms, holding so tightly to her that if she were human, she would be bleeding now. She didn’t care.
Lena was moaning louder in her arms, and Kara could almost feel the reverberation of her pain in her skin.
“Something’s wrong– I– I think it’s the babies!”
Alex immediately snapped back to reality, at the same time Jeremiah, Eliza, J’onn, Maggie and Mon-El crossed the door. James and Winn stood out of the room, watching the scene through the crystal walls, unsure of what to do.
Eliza shouted for her team to rush back to the med-bay and the nurses that had tended to Lena’s wounds quickly ran to her side, waiting for orders. Jeremiah looked at her wife concernedly and she just nodded at him.
Kara placed Lena gently on an articulated bed. Alex ran to her side and began examining Lena and her belly with a stethoscope. Alex’s face paled as she listened.
Lena just shut her eyes and grabbed the sheets trying to resist the urge to scream when another wave of convulsion hit her.
Kara wanted to reach out and take Lena’s hands in hers, to tell her that she could clasp as hard as she wanted to, but instead, the hero’s hands squeezed into fists in terror and frustration. She had never felt this powerless, not even in the occasions where she had actually lost her powers.
“What is it, Alex?”
“Mom!” Alex yelled, ignoring Kara’s question, “Mom, you gotta listen to this!” And Alex stepped away so her mother could take her place by Lena’s side, handing her the stethoscope.
Eliza and Alex exchanged concerned looks and the older woman nodded at her daughter and just said “Prep yourself.”
Alex ran to the cabinet and began pulling out all kind of supplies.
Lena cried out in pain once again. Cold sweat ran down her forehead, she opened her eyes and her pupils were dilated and dark. Kara couldn’t take it anymore, so she launched herself forward and took Lena’s hand in her own, touching her forehead gently with her other hand.
Lena just closed her eyes again, gritting her teeth. She squeezed Kara’s hand hard, and though Kara couldn’t feel any pain, she looked down at their entwined hands and wondered if Lena would’ve been stronger than her if she had been born a Kryptonian.
Eliza leaned on Lena’s side and cleaned her forehead with a wet cloth while Kara stroked her hair.
“Darling, you’re gonna be alright but we need to take them out right now, ok?” Eliza said gently to Lena. The brunette blinked twice and looked at her, nodding. Fear clouded Lena’s features despite Eliza’s calming tone. “They’re under some kind of stressful situation, could be anything. We need to perform a C-Section, but you won’t feel a thing. It’s going to be alright, just try to breath…”
“What?” Kara let go of Lena and rushed to her mother’s side, looking at her pleadingly.
Eliza began preparing the equipment that Alex was handling her over.
“It’s perfectly safe, Kara, but we need to take the babies out right now, we don’t know what’s going on…”
Kara immediately raised her glasses over her eyebrows and scanned Lena’s body with her X-Ray vision. She gasped when she spotted two beautiful, tiny, precious little bodies, placed in position to come out to the world. But the moment she saw beyond that and realized what was going on, she grasped her mother’s arm.
“One of them has the umbilical cord around their neck!” Kara exclaimed.
Eliza understood, then.
“They’re choking. We need to take them out now, Alex!”
“But what about Lena, will she be alright?!”
Jeremiah stepped in and put a hand on Kara’s shoulder, urging her to calm down.
“Honey, you need to let your mom and sister work…”
The moment Alex moved to Lena’s side to check her heartbeat again, the brunette raised her head, grabbing the agent’s hand and pleading through gritted teeth.
“Whatever you’re going to do, please do it now!”
Alex nodded and Lena collapsed back on the bed. Kara wasn’t about to give them a break.
“But– She’s in pain! Do something, Alex, please!”
“I’m trying, Kara!”
Kara felt strong hands grabbing her shoulders, pushing her backwards. It was J’onn this time.
“Kara, it’s better if you wait outside–”
The Kryptonian jerked away from J’onn’s touch.
Eliza was prepping Lena for regional anaesthesia while Alex was putting on a white coat and gloves, eyeing intently her favourite scalpel. Kara’s heart was bouncing inside her chest as if she had been hit with a Kryptonite bullet.
Jeremiah tried again the careful and calming approach.
“Kara, honey, just let them work…”
“But I should be here, this is my resp–”
“Supergirl!” J’onn yelled. Everybody froze in place, except for Alex, Eliza, and the nurses, getting all the equipment ready around Lena’s bed. “Out, now!” J’onn’s tone was firm an unequivocal, still Kara tried to protest.
“You can’t be serious, I–”
J’onn stepped closer to her until they were eye to eye, only inches separating their faces. The Martian kept the firm, iron-handed tone, but he lowered his voice this time.
“I know what you’re feeling right now and why you’re feeling it, but if you don’t leave this room right now, Kara Zor-El, I will personally make you.”
Kara knew she was out of line, that if she had forced J’onn to transform into his menacing self, she needed to get a grip. It was so unlike her. She just couldn’t help it. She knew Alex and Eliza would take good care of Lena… still, fear took control of her as if some kind of substance similar to Red-K had infected her with uneasiness and despair.
Maggie approached Kara and whispered softly, careful not to step in her personal space.
“C’mon, Little Danvers, it’s okay. Let your sister do her thing.”
Staring at Lena on the bed, Alex ready to begin the procedure on her, flanked by the nurses and Eliza, Kara couldn't help but close her eyes in pain.
“Actually, anyone who’s not a doctor or a medical assistant, out of this room, now. Miss Luthor deserves her privacy.” J’onn commanded.
“You can’t help her right now, Kara.” Maggie insisted again, softly.
Kara finally looked back at the cop as her hands began to tremble.
“Maggie. Maggie, I don’t know what I’ll do if something happens to…” Her voice just trailed off.
An understanding smile from Maggie was all Kara needed to be brought back from the impeding darkness.
But then, Mon-El’s voice cut through their connection and Kara felt him grabbing her by the shoulders and pulling her close to him, trying to hug her in the most awkward of positions.
“Kara, c’mon, J’onn’s right. Come, we’ll wait outs–”
Kara’s first reaction was to punch Mon-El in the face just to get away from his touch. She stopped herself when her hand turned into a fist. She jerked away from him, violently, as she growled, a little too loud.
“Get your hands off me!”
Mon-El looked at her wide-eyed, very aware of everyone in the room regarding them, shock obvious in their faces. Maggie shook her head at him and sighed. Outside the crystal walls, Winn arched his eyebrows exaggeratedly and James watched the scene attentively, crossing his arms over his chest.
Kara just raised her arms and sighed in frustration. She looked between J’onn and her father, and suddenly, she couldn’t breath. Again. She stormed out of the med-bay visibly upset, still hearing clearly in her ears the uneasy polyphony of Lena and the babies’ hearts. She tried to fight back the tears as she rushed past James and Winn. Everyone left behind her, but one particular person was eager to stop her.
“Kara?! Kara, wait!”
Mon-El’s was darting behind her while she crossed the platform in front of the med-bay. She didn’t know where she was going, but she needed to move, so she just ignored him.
“Kara, stop it, we need to talk.”
He finally reached her, grabbing her by the elbow, forcing her to turn around. If she couldn’t be by Lena’s side right now, all Kara wanted was to get away, disappear… She shook her head, not meeting his eyes.
“Not now, Mon-El, this is… this is not the right time to talk.”
Mon-El looked around him quickly. He could see the interior of the med-bay, where Alex was about to begin the procedure on Lena. Maggie was pacing outside the room, J’onn and Jeremiah stood at the door, ready to assist if anything was needed and Winn was running his hands nervously through his hair, looking away from the scene. But James was studying Kara and Mon-El, looking between them, arms still crossed over his chest, an unreadable expression on his face. Mon-El turned back to Kara and leaned a little over her, lowering his voice so nobody but Kara could hear.
“You’ve been avoiding me all morning. If not now, when?”
Kara couldn’t care less about anybody hearing them, though.
“Well, I’m sorry this seems to be an inconvenience for you, but I’m about to become a very unwilling, very unprepared mother of two, so this will have to wait!”
Mon-El twisted his lips and rested his hands on his hips, defyingly.
“But that’s why we need to talk, as in right now! You can’t seriously believe that insane story about those babies being yours…”
Kara’s voice reached one of her higher pitches, ever.
Mon-El took a step forward and, again, lowered his voice, his lips inches from Kara’s.
“Winn– Winn told me. I’m just saying… your father lived with your enemy for years. They forced him to keep Henshaw alive, what makes you think they’re not forcing Jeremiah to do something now?”
Kara stared wide-eyed at him.
“He’s my father and I know he’s telling the truth! Besides, what would Jeremiah gain from convincing me these are my children if they weren’t?”
Mon-El ran a nervous hand through his short hair.
“I don’t know! Maybe that way they could manipulate you into doing something or whatever! If you believe these children are yours, they know they can take advantage of your good heart, Kara, your kindness…”
Mon-El pointed at her chest. Kara remembered then the suit was still showing and she buttoned up her blouse.
“See, I know most of the time your suspicions and your very, very annoying remarks are meant to protect us–”
“But that’s it, Kara, I’m just trying to look out for you!”
“This time, Mon-El, you’re wrong, ok? Just drop it.”
Kara turned around and resumed walking. Mon-El wasn’t about to let her have the final word. He kept on shouting behind her, maybe finally not giving a damn if anyone could hear them. That was more like his usual self.
“Who's gonna break your fall, Kara? When all of this turns out to be another Luthor master plan, who are you gonna turn to, huh?! Because it’s always me picking up your pieces. I swear, sometimes you just can’t see what’s right in front of you, and you’ve always had a soft spot for Lena, I know, and I get it, she’s your friend, but everything about this feels wrong…”
That was it. Kara turned around, a fury she reserved for the battlefield galloping wildly in her eyes.
“Wrong?! Really, Mon-El, buddy, please illuminate my path with your wise mansplaining! I didn’t even realize that the fact that one of my best friends was impregnated with MY children against her WILL by her own MOTHER in order to raise SUPERBABIES so they could grow up and KILL ME felt like something wrong, you know? Thank you, thank you so much for your eye-opening opinion!”
It took all of Mon-El’s will not to show how taken-aback he was by Kara’s reaction. She usually didn’t show this much… irritation. Not lately, at least.
“Ok, underneath all that uncalled for sarcasm you know what I mean, right?” Mon-El smiled sweetly, he was hoping he could get his way out of this mess the way he always did. He lowered his voice. Surely the charming approach would work better on Kara. “I’m just saying… I’m worried about you, babe. Just… don’t trust her, Kara, not yet, you don’t know if the Lena that Cadmus kidnapped is the same one that came back.”
Kara sighed and massaged her temples, tired as if she hadn’t slept in years.
“Well, that’s where you’re wrong, Mon-El, because I know her.” She raised her head, finally, looking at him right in the eye, a determined look in her face. “I know Lena and I’m gonna be here for her. No matter what.”
Mon-El scoffed and opened his mouth, but no sound came out. After a second, he shook his head and snapped back.
“Oh, so you’re going to take her word for everything? And then what? Will you play dollhouse with her and the babies? Raise them together as if you were a couple of fake, hipster lesbi–”
The slap in his cheek wouldn’t leave a mark. Nor was the strength of it enough to make him feel actual pain, but it was unexpected all the same.
A few meters behind them, James repressed the urge to clap and cheer Kara on. Winn just looked utterly uncomfortable. Maggie raised an eyebrow, but remained silent, and J’onn and Jeremiah were too busy going through contingency plans to notice.
“You leave her out of this, you leave those innocent babies out of this! Nobody asked for this situation. And nobody asked for your opinion, either. Do you understand?”
Kara’s tone was a full-on Supergirl warning.
Mon-El raised his hands and camouflaged his hurt pride under an attempt at a regretful smile.
“Ok, I deserved that. My bad, I’m so sorry, Kara.”
Mon-El’s words seemed to add fuel to Kara’s fury.
“No, you’re not.” Kara snickered bitterly. She swallowed and nodded to herself. “And you don’t get to I’m sorry me anymore. I’m sick of hearing you say those words again and again as if you were crooning a Bruno Mars song.” She approached him until they were eye to eye. “You know, Mon-El, the thing about those precious words is that you have to do everything you can in your power to never have to say them. And if you can’t avoid getting yourself on a situation where you have to do it, then you’ve gotta mean it. It’s not abracadabra, it’s not a magic word you just say so your girlfriend keeps on putting up with you.” Mon-El blinked nervously and opened his mouth but Kara kept on going. “It’s not a password that gets you into my pants the moment you pronounce it, and I’m sick of all… this! These arguments and these constant throwbacks!”
Mon-El frowned, confused, and his voice changed into a scared plea.
“But Kara… this is just a regular thing between couples. It’s great that we discuss things, that we disagree–”
“There’s nothing great about this…” Kara whispered.
Silence fell upon them, Kara staring at the floor, Mon-El searching for the words that would make this right, something like fear burning in his chest.
Kara finally sighed.
“I don’t know, I just don’t know. But I know that I can’t look at you right now.”
Mon-El was about to protest when Eliza came out of the med-bay, her white coat stained with blood.
“Kara!” She called, gently. “Lena wants you to come in.”
Kara ran back towards her mother.
“Oh Rao, is she alright? Are they alright?”
Eliza just dedicated her a half-smile and handed her a green surgical gown, gloves and a headgear.
“Put this on, sweetie, and see for yourself.”
Kara’s mouth fell open. She accepted the clothes and changed instantly with her super speed. She really didn’t care about everybody around her. Eliza was left at the door, her daughter’s civilian clothes scattered in front of her. Kara was already inside the med-bay. Eliza picked up the clothes and murmured “Kids…”
Mon-El approached the med-bay door, unsure of what to do. His fear was beginning to make room for a disturbing rage as the stupidity of this whole situation hit him. James sensed his tension and walked over to him with resolute attitude.
James put himself between Mon-El and the med-bay’s door that the Daxamite was studying as if he was a trapped animal and that was the opening of his cell.
“Back off, buddy.” James said, slowly. Carefully. Firm. “She made herself very clear, and the distance will help you think.”
Mon-El scoffed. Truth is, he could use a drink. Or three. He looked at James and gnashed his teeth. Olsen, human or not, was not the best option to pick up a fight.
“Yeah, right. Keep an eye on her for me, will ya?”
Mon-El’s words came out a little too proud, and he immediately regretted it and felt a little tired of playing this game. There would be time to talk to Kara alone, later, and make her see reason.
James was relieved when Mon-El turned around and left. One problem at a time.
That’s when he realized someone was tugging at his shirt.
“Dude. Dude, look at that.”
James turned to see Winn, mouth hanging open, pointing at the med-bay with one hand, tugging and puling nervously Jame’s shirt, as if he was a child eagerly needing his parent to see what he was seeing.
“Oh, my fuck, fuck me in the fuck, sweet shit in a bucket, fuck…”
James and Winn slowly turned their heads towards one Maggie Sawyer that was as surprised as them, amazed by the scene, only she was so much better at expressing it.
J’onn and Jeremiah were smiling like maniacs and hugging each other in a bizarre, yet somehow comforting image.
A cry was heard from inside the med-bay. It resonated through the building, and those who were able to hear it stopped everything they were doing to look up to the source of the sound. Even some members of the team began to tentatively approach the stairs. J’onn motioned for them to come up if they wanted to, only slowly, and in silence.
Another cry, this time louder. And now there was no doubt that two newborn babies were in the room, screaming their confusion out to the world, filling their little lungs with air as they sang away their disagreement from being taken away from the warmth of their mother’s belly.
It was Kara Danvers who had one of those babies in her arms. She had a smile so bright in her face that she could’ve eclipsed the sun if she had wanted to. She looked out at the crystal walls, and found her friends looking at her in awe.
“The girl came in first place!” Kara shouted for them to hear while she rocked the little girl in her arms, blood in her gloves and gown as she put the little baby closer to her chest.
Kara couldn't stop grinning.
Maggie covered her mouth with her hands. Winn blinked and swallowed hard, trying to remember things that pissed him off, so he wouldn’t cry. Because he really wanted to cry. For no reason.
James grabbed his friend by the shoulders and pulled him close. Winn silently cursed and sniffed a little.
Inside the med-bay, Alex was holding the little boy that had the umbilical cord around his neck, now safely freed from that menace and breathing normally again. Actually, he was crying at the top of his lungs. And that was a good thing. Eliza examined him while Alex also checked his limbs and his face.
On the bed, Lena Luthor was sweating (and swearing), pale, her hair a mess, her heartbeat uneasy. Kara leaned over her with the baby girl in her arms and whispered something, only for Lena to hear.
“Mom says that when they are born by Cesarean, the physical contact is very important. Do you want to hold her?”
Lena was speechless. Scared. Lost. Terrified. She nodded to Kara, but she didn’t know what she was doing. This was not a dream. Nor a nightmare. But it somehow felt like something in between.
Kara slowly placed the baby on top of Lena’s chest, carefully minding her head and tiny legs. Lena grabbed her by the tiny belly and the baby cooed against her jaw. She noticed the way she smelled. This was… life. If life had a smell, it definitely would be this salty essence in a mixture of blood, tears and flustered skin.
She didn’t know why, but just that essence was enough to make her cry. So she cried. And when the baby girl grabbed her finger with that little, minuscule hand, she just let herself go.
Alex approached them with the boy in her arms. She passed him on to Kara, carefully, while she explained the situation to both Lena and Kara.
“They seem to be perfectly fine despite coming out a little early. The boy was being strangled by the cord, but everything’s fine now, it happens sometimes. We’re gonna give you guys two minutes alone to catch your breath, and then we’ll clean them and prep them, ok? Just as a precaution I would like them to spend a few days in the incubator. Your stitches are done but I wanna check again, when you're a little more rested. You won't feel a thing for now, but it's going to hurt eventually. Nothing you can't take, and my mother and I will give you some amazing legal drugs, anyway. Then I’ll run some tests on them, if that's okay with you.”
Lena opened her eyes reluctantly, she was now beyond tired.
“Thank you, Alex.” Lena whispered, hoarse, cracking, not even an echo of her real voice.
“You’re welcome, Lena, my pleasure.”
Alex smiled warmly at her and left the room with her mother and the nurses, stroking gently Kara’s shoulder as she passed by her sister. Kara just looked at her with the most infinite of gratitudes.
The baby boy cried in Kara’s arms, reaching out with his hands, red and swollen from the effort of hanging on to life.
“Wanna hug the baby boy, too?” Kara whispered to Lena, no matter that they were alone in the room now.
Lena just nodded. So Kara repeated the process of placing the baby above Lena’s chest, on the side that the baby girl was not occupying. The boy grabbed Kara’s finger with his tiny hand before she could let go, so she had to sit down on the side of Lena’s bed and smiled apologetically at her, Kara’s arm crossed over the babies and above Lena’s chest. Lena just closed her eyes and breathed.
After a few seconds, Kara cleared her throat.
“Lena… Lena… do you want me to go and give you some time alone with them?“
There was no answer. Just the now steadier rhythm of Lena’s breath, and the babies’ sporadic coos, now enjoying the comfort of their mother’s chest.
Lena moved her head to look at Kara. She waited a few seconds to open her eyes, slowly. She didn’t say a thing. She just raised her hand a put it above Kara’s, where the superhero’s index finger was still trapped inside tiny hands. Lena closed her eyes again and sighed. Kara wouldn’t dare to move even one inch, in fact, she almost stopped breathing.
“Stay, Kara. Just stay.”
That one time James suggested that they could investigate in the Fortress of Solitude, and Kara said she’d never been there because she was afraid of the memories, she had lied. A little lie, yes, but a lie all the same.
She had been in the Fortress before. Once. But she had done all she could to forget it.
Eliza and Alex had been teasing her for the whole week, never revealing what they had in mind now she was about to turn 18 (at least, from Earth’s standards). They had told her she needed to pack winter clothes, that she was going to experience something unique and that they hoped she would keep a place for them in her heart once she came back. That they always would have her back. She even joked that it sounded almost like they were going to send her to another planet, and she got a little nervous when all she received for an answer were weird looks from both her mother and sister.
But it all came together when she saw him. The morning of the day she turned 18 years old, almost at dawn, she was already dressed and had her backpack with her.
Superman floated above her window and just stared at her with the most transparent of smiles.
“Hey, cuz, are you ready to fly with me?” He asked her.
Kara jumped out of the window to throw herself at her cousin’s arms. Clark caught her and laugh. She was wearing a tracksuit: red jacket, blue pants.
“Nice colors”, Clark said.
Alex and Eliza appeared in Kara’s windows to wave them goodbye.
“We’ll be back at sunset!” Clark nodded to Eliza, and he began ascending, Kara still in his arms.
“Where are we going?” The teenager asked excitedly.
Clark chuckled softly.
They flew for more than an hour. From time to time, Kara would ask him to let her fly solo and he would let her, always giving her feedback on the technique and helping when she struggled with turns or altitude control.
The first time Kara saw it, she had to repress the urge to cry. It looked so much like any old building from Krypton. It was just like a dream. Clark opened the door with that gigantic gold key, and when they stepped in, it was even more beautiful.
“That’s Aunt Lara and Uncle Jor-El!”
Kara ran towards the huge statue of Kal-El’s parents, holding a globe of planet Krypton on their hands.
“Yeah.” Clark said proudly.
A floating robot approached them carefully.
“Welcome, Master Kal. Oh, I can see you’ve brought family. Welcome to the Fortress of Solitude, Kara Zor-El. My name is Kelex, loyal servant of the House of El.”
Kara couldn’t help but approach the machine and touch it everywhere, curiosity and wonder filling her up with excitement.
“Whoa! We had one just like you back home. We used to play together all the time!”
“I’m aware that other servants like me existed in Krypton.” Kelex said looking as dignified as possible while Kara poked between his wires.
“Come, Kara, let me show you the reason I brought you here.”
Clark guided her through the Fortress until they were in front of some kind of panel. Kara could read Kryptonian symbols on it, and she felt super excited.
Clark typed a few lines on the panel. In front of them, lights formed figures and images, until they could see pictures of Krypton, videos of the throbbing heart of its cities, vehicles, inventions, landscapes… In the end, the House of El emblem appeared, and above it, multiple faces and names. It was their family tree.
Non and Astra In-Ze: no heirs.
Zor-El and Alura In-Ze: one daughter, Kara Zor-El.
Jor-El and Lara Lor-Van: one son, Kal-El.
“I came here when I was 18, just like you are now.” Clark began. Kara was simply blown away. “I spent many years here, studying, trying to learn everything I could from the Universe and our origins. Through all that, my Father’s voice guided me, always. See… this is the last message he recorded for me… I want you to listen to it, Kara.”
Jor-El’s face appeared in front of them. The handsome features Kara remembered were exactly the same, and the deep voice of her uncle carried her to the past…
“Live as one of them, Kal-El, to discover where your strength and your power are needed. Always hold in your heart the pride of your special heritage. They can be a great people, Kal-El, they wish to be. They only lack the light to show the way. For this reason above all, their capacity for good, I have sent them you… my only son.”
As the image of his uncle dissipated in front of her, Kara felt hot tears running down her cheeks.
“This message is also for you, Kara.” Clark put a hand on her shoulder and squeezed gently. “Whoever you want to be in this planet, don’t forget where you come from and always strive for the best in you, in everybody. It’s our mission here, as we are the last children of Krypton…”
“You shouldn’t have brought me here, Clark. I know you meant well, but…” Kara said abruptly, looking back to her cousin. Clark looked at her absolutely surprised.
“For you, Krypton is a dream. You call Smallville your home and dream about Krypton.” Kara continued, her voice trembling, her face strong. “For me, this is home. And all that's left is my memory of it. This is all too painful, Clark, because you can’t, but I do remember your father’s face, and his voice. I remember my mother, my father, our family… The buildings in our city and the warmth of our house. This all… I can understand that this keeps that dream alive for you, Clark. But for me… I’m standing on a graveyard.”
Kara bit her upper lip and just closed her eyes. She breathed deeply, retrieved her backpack from the floor and began to make her way for the door.
“Kara, I didn’t mean to–” Clark called behind her.
“I know. I’m so sorry, Clark. We’ll just forget that you ever brought me here, ok? I can’t do this. I’m sorry… I… don’t worry about me. I can fly back home. I’ll call you when I get there.”
Clark did not try to stop her, and Kara was thankful for his sensitivity. At least, she could try to process what she was feeling on the flight back home.
Kal-El had accepted long ago that solitude was his way. Jonathan Kent had infected his mind with that idea. That he was a lone wolf, that he alone needed to carry the weight of the world upon his shoulders, just like Atlas, and that to share his powers and his gift would be a mistake. Like a distant god, he could help, but he could not let the mortals touch him. He accepted his fate as the last son of Krypton willingly, never able to miss a world he couldn’t remember.
But to Kara, it was completely different. Her legacy couldn’t be loneliness. Her journey couldn’t be done alone. She had Alex, and Eliza, and Jeremiah, even if he was gone, she missed him everyday…
She understood she should honor the past and remember the fallen, she would always feel a hole in her chest nobody could fill. That hole left by her parents and her world. But she needed to believe the future could bring hope, she needed to know there would be brighter days and that she could create a new history for her name. The House of El wouldn’t die with her and Clark. And she really didn’t know how she could ever create a new legacy, maybe she could become a hero too, someday? Maybe she could find others like her?
Whatever the future would bring her way, she would be ready, she would live in the present.
She was Kara Danvers, she was Kara Zor-El, and she wouldn’t be the last of anything.
Hey kids, just wanted to thank you all for the kudos and comments and amazing support, I didn’t think this crazy idea would be so well received. Regarding updates, I’ll try my best to keep this biweekly on worst case scenario. My day job is kinda excruciating and I have to travel a lot but I’ll try to keep my word, and if I can’t, I’ll let you know. Since this is not beta read, I'll also try to come back to every chapter every week and correct grammar and typos.
Also, for all the SuperNerds like me out there, I wanted to share some of the references that I draw inspiration from. The title of this fic is taken from a line from a Jor-El monologue (as quoted in the Fortress of Solitude scene in this chapter), played by Marlon Brando in the original Superman movie (1978), though I prefer it in the epic, emotional form of Superman Returns (2006) teaser trailer: https://youtu.be/4CuJ08nwJpA
It gives me the chills every time. Maybe I’m the only person in the planet that really liked that movie. Plus, Brandon Routh is my beautiful baby boy.
For those of you unfamiliar with the classic movie, I’ve also made some nods to it and all the Clois/Supercorp parallels (and I’ll continue to do that because there’s no doubt that Lena Luthor is Supergirl’s Lois Lane). In the previous chapter, Lena quotes Lois when Kara saves her from the fall. Here you can see the original, classic scene, the first time Superman is introduced and his first interaction with Lois: https://youtu.be/bUY48aQFcwA
Aaaand, Margott Kidder & Christopher Reeve <3
On a different note, I tend to also draw inspiration from music or certain songs that help me get into the mood of a scene before I sit down to write. So, I found myself with a monstrous playlist as an informal soundtrack for this fic. If you have a Spotify account, you can check it out here: https://open.spotify.com/user/jen_sparks/playlist/5FMbbArnV0QRLbmAhTn2r2
50 songs and counting.
And last but not least, I’m also on Tumblr though I only reblog cute pictures of puppies and kitties and I don’t know how to use it because I’m too old for that shite. Anyways: @jennysparksandtheauthority
Thank you all again for reading and commenting. Be safe.
Chapter 6: The Protector
This chapter may contain: Alex freaking out, Protective!Maggie.
Hey, kids! Ok. So you don't want to read another apology from a fic author telling you she's sorry because she promised it wouldn't take this long to update but here we are. Long story short; right after I updated chapter 5, our landlord told us she'd got a divorce, poor woman, and of course she needed her house back. We were in shock for a couple of days but to make things easier for her (she was always the nicest) we moved out a couple of weeks ago. New place (yay!) + all our stuff in boxes (nay!) = stressed little Sparky with no time to write. All while keeping up with work. On top of that, our wedding is in four months...
So the thing is I was feeling guilty for making you all wait so I had to split Chapter 6 because it was, as always, way too long and editing was taking me ages, so I made the cut before Kara and Lena's conversation (I'm bad, I know, I'm a bad person).
As always, please forgive me for any mistakes.
Yes, I'm trying to trick you into pitying me.
Please let me know if it worked in the comments... ¡Gracias!
(See the end of the chapter for more notes.)
Alex needed a moment.
And a vacation.
But most of all, she needed a bottle of Maggie’s favorite tequila.
She had been ignoring the trembling of her legs and the increasing need of catching her breath all morning. The twins had been born shortly after dawn, and now it was way past 2 pm.
She was exhausted. And scared.
Not scared in the way of “There’s a three-ton monstrous alien coming towards me and I have to put all my training as a black-ops agent to use so I don’t die”. She was used to that. But no, this new way of shitting her pants felt more like “My sister is a mother now. Wait. Does she want to be one? Does this mean I’m an aunt now? What the fuck is happening? What in the fucking hell is happening and how come a few hours ago I was happy and ignorant and ready to bang my girlfriend and NOW I’m covered in blood and fluids and running DNA tests on newborns, tests, by the way, that undoubtedly confirm these two babies are a genetic marvel and have two mothers and are half-Human, half-Kryptonian!!??”.
That sounded accurate in her mind.
And then, there was her father, acting calm and nonchalantly, as if almost fifteen years of their lives weren't taken away by an evil organization that had tortured him and forced him to do terrible things. Alex feared Jeremiah was damaged in ways that ran too deep for her to understand. Yet.
Alex hated when she couldn't fix things. The kind of rage it made her feel couldn't be compared to anything else. For someone accustomed to punch her way through problems, this was a new level of frustration.
As she contemplated National City’s skyline from the DEO’s balcony, the city roaring with its hell-bent pace even on a Sunday, she was glad she was out of her medical coat. It felt too heavy, it reminded her of unhappier times… a simple piece of clothing took her back to her internship at the hospital, when she was bitter and angry and fought her way through the world, only without a reason… besides loneliness, maybe.
The moment Kara became an adult, Alex was reminded that she had her own life to live. And that was never the plan… the plan was protecting Kara, at all costs. But her sister came out of her wing ready to fly (quite literally, though it would take her some years to wear the cape), and Alex watched as the bubble she had built to protect her from the rest of the world ran too small for the eagerness and curiosity of one Kara Danvers. So she let her go, and she lost herself.
Her rebel without a cause years seemed so far away now, like it was another life. Now she had a cause, she had purpose, and she had Kara back, both finally accepting who they were. Truly, fearlessly, and most importantly, together.
But now, she wondered if the latest events could take all that away. Not only was Kara the unwilling mother of two newborns, but she shared that responsibility with a Luthor now, of all people. And Alex knew her sister: no matter how sick and twisted this all was, she wouldn’t walk away from the defenseless, the innocent… and that little girl and that little boy, still nameless, sleeping peacefully inside of an incubator, clueless about the terrible circumstances that led to their unexpected arrival to the world, were the actual definition of innocent.
Alex wished she could feel optimistic about the future, but she could feel in her bones someone was bound to get hurt, and that her sister had all the winning tickets.
A warm, husky voice took her out of her reverie.
“So… is it weird if I tell you that seeing you delivering babies is such a turn on?”
Alex didn’t need to turn around to picture her girlfriend smirking at her.
She chuckled softly, smiling naturally for the first time in hours.
“Uh… eh, I wouldn’t call it weird. Sick, maybe. But that’s just the way you are… you.”
Alex turned around to see Maggie smiling warmly at her. When she saw what Maggie had in her hands, she couldn’t help but squee.
“Oooh, you’re the best, Sawyer!”
“I get that a lot.”
Maggie had driven down to Noonan’s to get Alex’s favorite sandwich and the largest coffee she could find. Maggie had grabbed a bite earlier with James and Winn (so they could freak out collectively in a safe environment), but she knew Alex hadn’t eaten anything yet. She was glad when her girlfriend practically teared the bag to get to the sandwich. That was phase one of her plan: make her eat, check. Now, make her talk… that was going to be another story.
Maggie just watched Alex eat, wondering how something as simple as that could make her feel so happy. They spent long minutes in silence, enjoying the cold breeze and the sounds of the city, just content in each other’s presence. Alex rested her elbows against the railing while she enjoyed her sandwich, making little sounds of pleasure. Maggie just smiled and shook her head; the Danvers sisters and food, a love story, she thought to herself.
“Mmmm, oh my God. Thank, you, thank you. I needed that.” Alex proclaimed while she sucked blue cheese sauce from her fingers.
Maggie nodded and just watched in unapologetic awe.
“I’m here to serve and protect, sweetheart.”
Alex gave her girlfriend a quick peck on the lips but she couldn’t help to linger a little and whisper something in Maggie’s ear.
“I love it when you protect me, even more when you serve me…”
Before Maggie could blush and react to Alex’s closeness, the unmistakable sound of a sonic boom sounded high above the city, loud as thunder.
They both raised their heads to look up to the sky.
It wasn’t a bird, obviously. And of course, it wasn’t a plane, either.
A blur of blue and red crossed the sky as sirens wailed across the city.
“Oh oh. She never breaks the sound barrier unless it’s a national emergency or something…” Alex frowned, a flash of worry crossing her face.
Maggie reassured her.
“I think she’s just pissed, she couldn’t talk to Lena after the babies were born because there was a fire in a mall. Then, she had to stop a couple of thugs trying to rob Brian.”
Alex raised an eyebrow, intrigued.
Maggie just gave a half-smile and pursed her lips.
“Apparently he came out of a bookie waving two grand in his hands and yelling he was the king of the world.”
“Ah, good old Brian.”
“Aaand after that, your sister had to convinced some yuppie guy not to jump from the top of the Wayne Building at WTC.”
Alex raised her eyebrows in amazement.
“Wow, she’s having a busy day, huh?”
Suddenly, Alex felt a shift in the air and turned to the sky again to see the Girl of Steel floating right in front of them, almost magically.
“Hey guys, you talking about me?”
Supergirl dedicated them a fake smile that quickly turned into a sigh, filled with annoyance. The crinkle in the middle of Kara’s forehead could be seen from where they were standing. Alex grimaced.
“By the way, do you think this is just chance or do the criminals of this city know this is the worst time ever to pester me beyond end? Because they’ve been at it all morning…”
Maggie and Alex had no time to respond as the loud screech of a skidding car was heard in the street below them.
“For the love of Rao, it’s a Sunday, people! Gimme a break!”
Kara knew they couldn’t hear her, but she was going to make sure they did in a few moments.
“Murphy’s law, Little Danvers.”
Maggie hadn’t finished the sentence when two police cars followed right behind the reckless runaway.
Supergirl looked back at her sister with pleading eyes, her forehead puckering.
“Tell Lena I’ll be back in ten, please? And I mean it this time. I don’t care if a Nuclear Power Plant explodes, I need– I need to talk to her..."
Alex smiled warmly at her, sensing the stress in Kara’s voice.
“Don’t worry about Lena, sis. She knows, she’s fine. Go get ‘em, tiger.”
And with a nod of her head, Kara flew down towards the action where Supergirl was needed for the umpteenth time.
Alex sighed and turned back to Maggie. The detective was looking at her with a mixture of tenderness and worry. Alex, after all this time, still wasn’t used to the soft warmth in her chest that burst whenever she caught Maggie looking at her like that.
She hoped she’d never get used to it.
“So… how are you holding up?”
Maggie’s sweet voice sounded like music in her ears, but there was something inside her that still made her clench to her Agent Danvers facade.
“Fine… fine.” Alex sighed and Maggie could see her shoulders loading up with tension, exactly the opposite of fine. “Lena is resting now,” Alex continued, thoughtfully. “I think I did a great work with her stitches, we’ll have her move around in a wheel chair for a couple of days though she’ll be able to stand and walk by herself in no time. The babies seem to be fine, too fine actually to be preterm, but I guess that’s their Kryptonian side at work. We still don’t know anything about what powers they’ll have… Lena told Mom that Lillian kept her for months in a chamber with red sun lamps. How did she get her hands on such technology we’ll never know, but she’s a clever bitch, I’ll giver her that; she made sure their Kryptonian genes boosted during pregnancy. So, we’re positive they will have powers, but all we can hope for is that they’ll develop them slowly. J’onn is worried sick about Lena, about the babies, about Kara… Winn said we should call him Space Grandpa from now. If we do that, he’ll probably freak out.”
“Uh huh… Alex?”
“Though I appreciate you sharing information regarding your very confidential work with me, I didn’t ask for a full status report on your patients or the emotional state of your boss. I asked how YOU are holding up.”
For a moment, only the wind dared to break the now unexpectedly uncomfortable silence.
Alex blushed a little.
Maggie finally chuckled and raised an eyebrow.
Alex rested her forearms on the balcony’s railing and looked sheepishly at Maggie. She pursed her lips and shrugged.
“My father just came back from the dead and my straight, alien sister has two kids now. With a woman. With a Luthor. I’m just… Is this the real life, Sawyer?”
Alex smiled weakly and Maggie was glad that at least she could find some room for humor.
“Yep, it seems it is, babe.”
Maggie opened her arms without another word, and Alex stepped into an embrace that had her whimpering with pleasure as she closed her eyes and inhaled Maggie’s essence. The warmth of Maggie’s arms and the sound of her breathing close to her ears seemed to take away all her worries, all her fears, if only for a moment. There was no place like her safe place.
They broke the hug reluctantly. Maggie turned around and looked back to the med-bay, where Lena and the babies were supposed to be resting as they spoke.
“So, there’s no doubt now that the babies are Kara’s?” The Detective asked.
Alex nodded and rested her back and elbows against the rail, looking in the same direction as Maggie.
“Pretty much confirmed by every DNA test known on this side of the galaxy.”
“Please show those test results to Mon-El, he’s been trying to convince everyone that the babies can’t be Kara’s, that your father is hiding something, that Lena might be helping her mother…”, Maggie raised her eyebrows and shook her head slightly. “James and I tried to talk some sense into him, but he’s just not listening…”
Alex looked down to the ground.
“I guess it’s understandable that he’s– maybe– a little shaken by this whole situation? I’ve thought about being in his shoes and, well, it can’t be easy.”
Maggie looked back at her girlfriend and frowned.
“Excuse me? Who are you, ma’am? The Prince of Daxam defense squad?”
Alex poked Maggie playfully but sighed, a little frustrated.
“I’m not defending him, Maggie! I’m just saying… I get it, you know? I get why he might be on edge. We all need time to process this, you know?”
The puzzled look on Maggie’s face encouraged Alex to try and explain herself. The agent was visibly conflicted.
“Imagine… imagine if it was me pregnant with… I don’t know… James’ children! After being kidnapped for ten months? How would that make you feel?”
Maggie bit her lower lip and pretended to think about it for a few seconds.
“Well. That’s a fucked up scenario, I’ll give you that. But James is such a hunk, plus he’s kind, and smart, so I’d say he’s the perfect sperm donor and I’d look at it on the bright side.”
Alex shook her head and looked back to the med-bay, then back to her girlfriend. Maggie tried to hide her surprise the moment she saw the look of real fear on Alex’s face.
“I’m serious, Maggie. You can’t tell me this isn’t a terrible situation. This… this is a mess. This is something I never would have imagine.”
Maggie contemplated Alex breathing in and out as if her chest was hurting. She discarded the playful tone and mentally kicked herself for not realizing any sooner that Alex was truly upset. Not that everyone else wasn’t worried and intrigued about how they were going to handle this whole situation, but Maggie had to quote herself in her mind: The only person you get that turn up over is Kara. Of course her girlfriend was worried sick about her sister.
The detective couldn’t help but feel a familiar warmth in her chest.
“Babe, this is fucked up, no one is denying that…” Maggie began in the softest of tones. “But, don’t you think your sister and Lena already know that? I don’t think they need to be reminded. And I think Kara is going to need us to be as supportive and understanding as ever, whatever decision she makes…”
“I… I just… God, Mags, this will change her life forever. And her and Lena… it’s not like they can raise those children together and just forget about the rest of their lives, right?”
Alex immediately hunch her shoulders and grit her teeth, as if she had spoken too much.
Looking at her, realization suddenly hit Maggie and she felt a wave of guilty washing over her. Could she have been the one that planted all these seeds of doubt in Alex?
“Wait a minute. Is this because of what I said last night?” Maggie asked eagerly.
Alex didn’t look at her. She just stuttered.
“Last night? I don’t… God, Mags. I don’t know. I’m just tired.”
Last night… it seemed so far away right now.
“You know that what I said about your sister and Lena… it was just… I shouldn’t have said anything, Alex, I’m so sorry. I was just gossiping, you know? And… well… they’re friends. They’ll get through this, somehow.” Maggie felt so stupid for not seeing this coming. “Is that why you’re worried about Mon-El, too?”
Alex shrugged as tears of frustration and confusion began to water in her eyes.
“I just… I don’t want her to get hurt.”
Maggie stepped closer and wrapped her arms around Alex’s waist, resting her head on her shoulder.
“I know, babe, but this is your sister we’re talking about.” Maggie whispered softly, as they both looked up to the sky. “She’s the strongest woman I know, and not just because they call her the Girl of Steel.”
Alex rested her hand on top of Maggie’s, and let herself melt a little into the embrace. She closed her eyes and breathed in. Then, she turned around in Maggie’s arms until she was facing her, she cupped her cheeks with her hands and look intently into her girlfriend’s eyes.
“And you, Maggie Sawyer…” Alex began, unable to repress an adoring smile, “…you’re the most beautiful woman I know, and not just because of how good you look…”
They kissed. Slowly, tenderly. Lips collapsed and tongues found a home in each other’s mouth. When they broke the kiss, they rested their foreheads against one another’s, soothing smiles on their faces.
“So… Have you ever thought about having children?” Maggie said casually, resting her arms on Alex’s waist, as they began a slow-paced music-less dance.
“Can I be completely honest with you?” Alex bit her lip.
“I have thought about it. And every time… I felt like it was something that’s not for me.” Alex said, a simple conviction in her tone. “I love my life as it is. I have this job where I feel useful, where I am complete. I have friends and family. And now I’ve got you. So… I don’t know how a child could fit into all of this.” Alex felt reassured when she didn’t feel Maggie tense or look at her disapprovingly; oddly enough, this was a topic that had never come up before. “Don’t get me wrong, I like children, I’m not one of those people that can’t stand them but… It would change everything. So every time I think about it… I just…”
Maggie smiled. They were still dancing. They were still holding each other’s waists.
“It’s ok, babe. I get it.”
Alex kind of panicked for a second… maybe Maggie was putting a brave face and she had unconsciously shattered her hopes for the future.
“Are you– is this… is this a problem?” Alex questioned stepping back from their embrace. Maggie held on to her tightly.
“No. I appreciate you being honest with me.” The detective was smiling now, but still, Alex worried she had said something wrong.
“Maggie? Seriously, we’ve never talked about this… Do you want to have them?” Alex insisted.
It was Maggie’s turn to shrug now, as she just shook her head.
“I don’t know. Honestly? I’ve never thought about it. I always thought I’d end up– you know.”
“No, I don’t know. Please, explain.” Alex frowned.
“Alex… I don’t know, I guess I thought I’d never have them because I’d end up alone… Or killed in action or something.” This time, the DEO agent did feel how her detective girlfriend tensed up in her arms. “It’s not like my family sat a great example of a loving environment for a child, so if I was to bring a little person to the world… I’d had to make sure they were going to be most beloved child ever.” Maggie looked down at her feet. Alex did not let her go. “That they’d feel wanted, you know?” Maggie looked up to meet Alex’s eyes once again. All she found was understanding. “That they’d feel accepted, no matter what. I don’t know if I’d be capable of providing that.”
Alex kissed her forehead and Maggie let out a content sigh.
“Oh, Mags, of course you would.”
Maggie chuckled softly, grateful for Alex’s sometimes unsettling and stubborn faith in her, no matter what.
“Shut up, Danvers. It’s not like this is an issue or anything because I’m more inclined towards your point of view…”
Alex raised her eyebrows, pulling Maggie closer to her. Their hips moved together now.
“Uh huh. So no kids?” Alex said in a bizarrely playful tone.
“I don’t think so, no…”
“So we can have sex forever at any time we want?” Alex had a goofy smile on her face.
“Absolutely.” Maggie answered with solemnity.
Maggie rested her head on Alex’s shoulder, and they kept on dancing silently for long minutes, as if they could stop the rest of the world.
“We’re going to be the coolest aunties ever, anyway.” Maggie stated not even attempting to lift her head.
“We’re going to spoil those little brats so much that Kara is going to ban us from her house.” Maggie’s muffled remark made Alex grin.
“She’ll probably establish a perimeter.” Alex agreed.
Silence settled between them once again. The slow dance never stopped.
“God, it’s still so unreal.” Alex sighed, and Maggie could feel her heartbeat through her shirt. “I don’t think I’m ready to be an aunt. And Kara… God. This is… this is just so fucking weird.”
“It is, babe. But, correct me if I’m wrong… didn’t our lives have all this weirdness way before your sister had lab babies with Lena Luthor?”
Alex’s eyes went wide with horror for a second.
“God, it sounds even weirder when you put it that way.”
“I guess we all will have to get used to it."
And the dance stopped. Because Maggie could hear the uneasiness back in Alex’s voice. She stepped away and looked into once again concerned eyes.
“What you mean, Danvers?”
Alex hated to feel like this. She wanted to rest for a bit, she wanted to enjoy Maggie’s presence, she wanted to be in the now and don’t let what ifs and dark clouds take over her mind, but when it came to Kara… she couldn’t help it.
“This is all… this is all Lillian’s fault. I just wanna find her and– God! And they haven’t talk yet… maybe… maybe Lena doesn’t want them? I mean, after what she’s been through, if I was in her shoes I wouldn’t know if… You know? It’s only human, right? Maybe she… she can’t do it. Or… or maybe Kara won’t know what to do? And Cadmus… they’re still out there.”
Kara had travelled millions of light-years to escape a dying planet, leaving her family behind. And Alex knew there was no one stronger on Earth. But when her sister hugged her with strong arms that could crash her bones in a second, Alex was the only one that could feel the fragility of her heart and the immense sea of love that pumped in her veins.
Kara’s destiny was to protect Earth, but Alex’s was to protect the protector.
She would always feel the responsibility.
It wasn’t a burden. It was a blessing.
“Hon, it’s just natural to be worried, but you’re a woman of action.” Maggie took Alex’s hands in hers and shook them a little bit, as if making a point. Action. Always. “We’ll be ready to face them. And so will be your sister…” Alex nodded and squeezed Maggie’s hands, gently. But then Maggie said something that was intended to sound casual, but added new fuel to Alex’s mind. “Besides, I have a feeling that this is going to be much harder to grasp for all of us than for Kara.”
“What do you mean?” The DEO agent frowned.
Maggie sighed, realizing once again that her girlfriend’s intrepid mind wasn’t about to give her a break. Maggie resolved the only valid approach was honesty. Always.
“Well, you didn’t see it because you were saving those little pumpkins' lives…” Maggie sighed with defeated reluctance, knowing very well what effect the words she was about to say would have on Alex, “…but the look on your sister’s face when she held the baby girl for the first time… it was… she was glowing, Alex.”
Alex nodded and her body inevitably became stiff. She raised her index finger to make her point.
“See… that…” Alex began, cut short by a Kryptonian thunder of red and blue and gold flying inside the DEO, straight into the med-bay.
Alex looked back at Maggie. Her eyes said everything, but she finished her sentence anyway.
“That’s what scares me.”
I feel robbed with the finale. Plot-holes, plot-holes everywhere.
There, I said it.
Chapter 7, featuring Kara and Lena, and some more Lena and Kara, and a lot of Kara and Lena, will be published on June the 7th.
Why? Because it's my birthday!
Chapter 7: Blood Bonds Us All
Lena and Kara finally have The Talk about… well, everything. Plus, The Twins™ get names, just not the ones Winn wanted. You know this island of tranquility is not going to last (I can see you lurking in the shadows, Lillian!), so enjoy it while you can.
***Trigger warning on this one for brief mentions of suicide attempts.***
I know I said the 7th, but, you know... life happened. I hope you all can forgive me when you see the length of this chapter. This is a milestone for the story and it closes what I had pictured in my mind as the first act. Don't worry, there's still a long way to go. As always, I'll come back to it to fix any mistakes; remember, I'm flying solo here and this is not beta read, so please bear with me. Thank you all for your words of encouragement and hope you stay for the rest of the ride.
Lena Luthor never had the time to wonder if she would ever want to have children.
She suspected that if she ever had asked herself this question before her saying on the matter was taken away, the answer would have been a plain no. Not because she didn't like children or because she thought she could never make time for them… her biweekly visit to the Luthor Family Children's Hospital was, in fact, the only thing that Jess knew was absolutely unremovable from her schedule.
But Humanity had turned planet Earth into a terrible, lonely place.
What right did she have to bring a baby into a place that despised the life that already existed upon it?
No, she probably would have never pictured herself as a mother in this cruel world.
Unless, of course, she could fix it.
She had believed that after Lex, after she took over L-Corp. She was so desperate for hope that she truly thought she could fix the world. If a corporation could be used to destroy and raze, it could be turned into a force for good. She felt foolish admitting to herself she had believed she could save the world.
But now… Now everything had changed and she didn't know what to believe anymore.
The only thing she knew now, as a fact, is that a newborn is a delicate thing.
And that a preterm newborn is the most delicate thing of all delicate things that exist in the world.
Yes, Lena Luthor, the multi-talented scientist, knew this.
At least, the analytical facts behind that statement.
Newborns are delicate, yes. But, why?
She had always loved that question… why?
So she tried to reduce this to the whys. To facts. Facts, they always brought her peace of mind.
The absolute calm a brain trained in science finds in proof.
Numbers. Explanations. Solved variables. Equations. Formulas.
Biology and biochemistry.
Yes, newborns are delicate. The most delicate thing.
Lena Luthor wondered if she could bury that simple statement in science.
She knew it wasn't magic what made tiny hearts and an almost undeveloped respiratory system work.
She knew about the fontanel, the soft spot babies have on the back of their heads that allows them to manoeuvre out of the birth canal.
She knew it could pulsate (and how some parents found that terrifying), because it was placed over blood vessels that cover the brain.
She knew how newborns lose five to eight percent of their weight in the first week, releasing odourless, disgustingly looking meconium the first days, then switching to stinky, regular poop the moment they are introduced to good old bacteria through breast milk.
She knew that breast milk provided by the mother would make them immune to some diseases for the first six months, then needing the aid of vaccines to defend their tiny bodies.
She knew twins usually weren't full term, and that there was always a slight weight difference between them.
She knew now, Alex Danvers had informed her, that the children that shared the room with her weighed 5 pounds and 9 ounces (the girl), and 4 pounds and 8 ounces (the boy). She also knew that those were extremely good numbers for almost 35 weeks, but Lena assumed that their Kryptonian genes had helped them grow faster than human babies would.
She knew so many things, yes; about newborns and genetics, about so many things related and unrelated to her work. Oh so many things: stem cells biomedical research and cancer-cell metabolism, theoretical astrophysics and quantum entanglement, mathematical models and programming languages, stock exchange variables and macroeconomics policy…
Still, laying down on a bed inside a governmental building with a stitched vertical incision that ran from her belly button to her pubis, Lena Luthor felt like she knew nothing. Like everything she had learned in the most prestigious universities around the world or working with the most revered scientists in their respective fields was a complete waste of time.
There was no line of code, no formulas and no threads of information in her brain that could help her decrypt how she was supposed to feel right now.
Like the butterfly responsible for causing a hurricane on the other side of the world, she kept on existing, gasping for air, waving her wings, but unable to figure out her part in this incomprehensible chaos theory.
She was a mother now, whether she liked it or not.
And so was Kara Danvers.
When she thought about her, all the feelings that seemed to be paralyzed inside her chest came bursting at once, leaving her almost asphyxiated.
She wanted to explain so many things to Kara. She wanted to tell her all the thoughts that had her drifting in the arms of madness all those months in captivity, but part of her knew she would never be able to confess all the things she had wanted to do when time was the only thing she had on her hands. Time, regret, anger and despair.
Her mother had been smart enough to keep her in a Spartan cell: it was obvious it was equipped with high-tech gadgets behind the white walls, it was spacious, also, but there was only a bed, a toilet and a chair.
She remembered the smirk on Lillian's face while she showed her around… It's not the Ritz, I know, but consider this a compliment from your mother, darling; I know you and your limitless intelligence, if I let you have anything at all, you'd be able to create a satellite with a spoon or send a message to your friend Supergirl with a scrunchie, who knows what you could do… Besides, there's also the matter of your safety. I don't want you to get hurt, Lena, you're too valuable.
She hated how Lillian knew her so well, because she definitely had thought about ways to escape her current situation, permanently.
As if sensing what she was thinking, her mother approached her, and the caress on her cheek that followed Lillian's words felt as cold as ever. Her mother's hands were always freezing and Lena wondered how that cliched metaphor had escape her for so many years. Lillian had looked down at her belly and dedicated her one last closed-lip smile before turning around and gesturing for the guards to close the cell.
Ventilation entered through holes in the ceiling and she was bathed almost the entire day in the red sun lamps that hang way out of her reach, along with the cameras that followed her every move every second of every day.
She had four guards that were her personal watchdogs, and three times a day she was escorted out of her cell so she could walk around the facility, with them walking surrounding her in formation. Low impact exercise is good for the babies, as Lillian had said. Also, a couple of books appeared on the door every morning. Lillian made another vain remark about keeping her mind healthy as well as her body.
But there was nothing healthy about the situation she was in.
At first, she dreamt about Kara almost every night.
Some dreams were surreal and funny (for example: one night she dreamt they went on a food date to try a new vegan gastro-bar and Kara was served tofu hamburgers with Snapper Carr's face on them, not a drawing or something, no, literally his face all over the hamburgers, and Kara told her they were delicious while Lena laughed and drank a brown milkshake that tasted like sand, and the waiter was her CFO, Jürgen, a man she had never seen smiling in her whole life, and he was stoically wearing a pink tuxedo and at one point he asked her to marry him and Lena said why not, and then they were instantly on a church that wasn't a church and looked more like CatCo, only with green walls, and her third grade History teacher, Mrs. Davenport, was the priest, but instead of marrying Jürgen, there was Kara in the pink tuxedo, smiling warmly at her and insisting that they should kiss Eskimo style, so Kara was trying to rub the tip of her nose against hers, but Lena couldn't stop laughing, and then she looked down at herself and realized she was wearing Supergirl's suit and Kara shrugged her shoulders, and then Lena ran and jumped from CatCo's balcony, and before she could feel herself flying and defying gravity, she woke up).
She had other dreams about Kara. Dreams in which she appeared as Supergirl to save her from Cadmus and everything went just fine. She used to wake up in tears because the warmth of Kara's arms had seemed so real. There were other types of dreams that also had her in tears most nights, but for different reasons: in those, Kara rushed in as Supergirl not to save her, but to tell her she should've killed herself before she allowed her mother to do this monstrosity, that the babies were an abomination and that she should finish them herself. There were other nightmares in which Kara did save her, only to let her fall to the ground from a thousand feet above the city.
She dreamt about the babies, too. One time, there was this dream in which she gave birth to two rays of light. Literally. Rays of light so bright it was almost impossible to look at them. And there was Kara, holding them in her arms, and telling her to look at how beautiful their tiny faces were, but when Lena looked, she was blinded, and then she would wake up realizing the lights in the cell had been turned on to wake her up.
Another time, she dreamt she gave birth to a shadow. The shadow grew and turned into a tornado that swept National City. And then she was in the middle of Cordova Street, next to L Corp's building, screaming at the tornado. The city was empty and the tornado engulfed everything, every building, every car, everything but her, until the city disappeared under her feet and she was left alone in the darkness.
Those were the dreams that had her caressing her own belly, out of pure instinct. Those were the dreams that planted an unavoidable need to start talking to the babies, just to try and not go insane, just to remember that she was not alone.
It was a dangerous thing to do. Getting attached. Because when months went by, and her belly started to grow, and her breasts became bigger, and her swollen feet and her enlarging hips reminded her everyday how real this was, how no one was falling from the sky to save her, she knew what she had to do.
She tried two times.
The first one, on one of those daily walks. It was a two stories fall frustrated by the taller guard that got to her before she could jump off the railing.
The second one, she put the bed sheets around her head and tried to suffocate herself. An alarm broke the silence of the night, and she knew that it was obvious the cameras had night vision and they were able to spot her even in the darkness.
Lillian lectured her after the attempts, but she was surprisingly succinct about it.
So after that, two female guards literally lived with her in the cell, and even more goons were assigned to follow her around whenever she was allowed to move.
Would she be brave enough to tell Kara, one day? Would she come to terms with the fact that she thought everything was lost and gave up?
The same thought that haunted her when she was about to succeed in her third attempt came back to give her an answer.
What if I can prove her wrong?
She could hear the beeping sound of the machines that monitored the babies' vital signs. They were sleeping peacefully inside the incubator. She could see them from her bed, and the vision reminded her of a simple truth.
She was here now, alive, and so were they. Whatever feelings she had, whatever thoughts… she had to ignore them now. Lena had come to a decision when the babies were born, and she was sticking to it.
She knew now how it was going to be. Us against the world.
She didn't know if she could ever love them… or be deserving of their love? That question was an opening to the land of confusion. And sheer terror. Was her biggest fear that of becoming her mother, or being better than her?
Those were questions she could not ask herself, at least not right now as she snapped back to reality when the Director of the DEO, J'onn J'onnz, asked her politely how she was feeling and went through a series of formal pleasantries that Lena detected instantly as the way to introduce more pressing matters and the real motive behind his visit.
She had to prepare. She reminded herself that nothing mattered anymore: Lillian, Cadmus, the DEO, L-Corp, not even Kara and Supergirl… whatever they did, whatever they threw at her didn't matter anymore.
The only thing she needed to remember was that she was never going to be alone again. Them against the world.
When she was about to thank J'onn J'onnz for the visit but politely ask him to cut to the chase, Kara flew into the med-bay in her Super suit. She reminded herself she didn't have to pretend anymore, and she inevitably relaxed her shoulders against the pillow that was accommodating her back when Kara smiled adorably at her, ignoring J'onnz.
She could also feel how Kara had relaxed, and how interesting was going to be to see Kara being Kara dressed as Supergirl. All this time she had to split her personality in two, and Lena wondered if Kara could finally let her see right through.
J'onn J'onnz stared uncomfortably between the two women, until he rolled his eyes and cleared his throat since no one in the room seemed to acknowledge his presence.
Kara's eyes went wide with surprise and she grinned awkwardly at her boss.
"Uh… J'onn… hi! Busy morning, whoa! What are you doing here? Is everything fine?"
J'onn rested the palm of his hands against his hips and just went in for the kill.
"I just came by to inform Ms. Luthor that I'm about to send my report of events to the President. This was just a courtesy visit to let her know the Commander-In-Chief needs to be briefed on the existence of these children." J'onn said in his best Director of the DEO attitude.
Kara didn't exactly hide her shock.
Lena, on the other hand, didn't even flinch.
"The children are irrelevant to your mission, Mr. J'onnz, and you know that. The facts are still the same with or without them on your report. Jeremiah and I escaped Cadmus, my mother is coming after us all the same. That's the only information absolutely relevant to the President."
A staring contest between J'onn and Lena began as they held each other's gaze.
"But your mother, she wants them back." J'onn said.
Kara could see Lena's jaw clenching immediately.
"Let her try." The CEO snapped back.
"Perhaps, Ms. Luthor, you should think about your situation and consider all the options. I know this is an unheard of situation for all parties and we'd like to help you with any decision you make."
J'onn's tone was oddly slow. There was a a moment of silence, and Kara was the last one in the room to understand the meaning behind J'onn's words. Her eyes went wide with realization, but before she could say anything, Lena's voice, as hard as steel, raised above her thoughts.
"Just to make things clear, Mr. J'onnz, these are my children," Lena's voice was calm and firm, yet there was some fire ready to burn hiding behind her self-control. Kara swallowed silently, feeling the air charge up with even more tension. "They're not my mother's, they are not yours, and they're certainly not the government's. I don't care if I have to go to war with you, your agency or the President herself. They won't leave my sight and if you try anything to take them away from me, you'll regret it."
Kara wondered how a woman that just had twins could have so much strength within her. She frowned in confusion when she saw J'onn smiling briefly.
"I wouldn't dare to do anything against your wishes, Ms. Luthor," J'onn assured. "In fact, I'm actually… relieved that you feel that way… I was just implying that if you wanted to make a different decision… well, we wouldn't judge."
"And I get it, Mr. J'onnz–"
"Please call me J'onn."
"J'onn… I get why you had to say that. But we won't stay long."
That was Kara's cue.
"But Lena, your mother's still out there. Cadmus will be coming for you– for them. If you stay here, we can protect you–"
"Staying here would be like accepting she's won." Lena snapped back closing her eyes in anger. When she opened them, she looked back at Kara with that same anger. "Or are you really suggesting me that I raise children inside a governmental facility? I've just been in captivity for ten months, Supergirl, or do you want to take my freedom away, just like my mother did?"
Kara was taken aback by the reaction and she stuttered.
"I was– I wasn't…"
"You need proper security, Ms. Luthor." J'onn pointed out, firmly, ignoring Kara's fuss. "Your team failed you spectacularly last time, when you needed them the most."
"I'll hire a new team, then, the best ones I can find." Lena was not about to give in.
"The best are not enough against Cadmus. They have to be unbeatable."
Lena smiled, her CEO armour up and ready to deflect any blows with cockiness and sarcasm.
"Kara, do you think the Justice League is available for hiring? I always wanted to have Wonder Woman's number."
Kara Danvers, once again, opened her mouth but couldn't say a thing. She had never seen Lena so… aggresive. J'onn stepped in.
"Remember you've been gone for ten months, Ms. Luthor, and now you've come back to National City with two kids under your arm. No matter how good your security detail is, you will be scrutinised under the public eye, and that will put you all three in danger."
"I don't care. I've never cared about that." Lena said sharply. "Whatever it takes to protect them. I will sell an insane story to the media if I have to; my mother kidnapped me, I fell in love with a guard or something, I got pregnant, he got killed, she let me out. That'll feed the tabloids for years, right, Kara? CatCo can have the exclusive, as always. Snapper Carr would make you editor-in-chief for a piece like that, am I right?"
Kara was speechless. This was a match between Lena and J'onn and she felt like a clueless spectator that didn't know the rules of the game.
"Please forgive me saying, Ms. Luthor, but the media knows those are not your preferences."
"Then we'll sell it as a lesbian–turned–straight story through the redeeming power of kidnapping. Fox News will love it."
Kara almost choked on her own saliva.
"You two find another solution." J'onn commanded. "This agency will support you both one hundred percent, but I need you to find middle ground. You have one day to come to me with a plan. One that works for your safety and the chidren's. Thank you for your time, Ms. Luthor, I'll make sure to check up on you later."
J'onn was almost at the door when he turned around.
"Report back to me when you're done talking to Ms. Luthor. Take your time, though, you two certainly have a lot to talk about."
Kara didn't have time to acknowledge the order, as J'onn left immediately and she found herself alone with Lena Luthor.
She had wanted to see her all morning, and now that she was here, in front of her, finally able to talk, she could only fidget with her cape and stare at her boots.
"Kara." The moment Lena said her name, her heart jumped in her chest. Stupid, stupid heart. Kara finally gathered the courage to meet her gaze. "Kara, sit down." It sounded like an order, but it was a gentle one.
The closest chair was the one nearest to Lena's bed. Kara carefully moved away her cape so she rested on one side as she sat down.
No one said anything for a few seconds, the sound of the machines monitoring the babies' breathing the only thing that dared to defy the silence.
"So… so uh… talk about awkward, huh?" Kara mentally kicked herself. Way to break the ice, Danvers.
"Yes, Kara. This is awkward." Lena sighed, visibly tired. "For you. For me… I'd go with a different word."
Kara instantly reached out but she rectified immediately and kept her hands to herself.
"God, Lena, I'm so sorry…"
"Kara, don't… it's… it's okay." Lena rubbed her eyes, a little annoyed with herself.
Kara finally found confidence in her voice.
"No, it's not okay," she asserted, "and we both know that."
Lena simply nodded.
"I'm at a loss of words, Lena. I wish I knew what to say but–"
Kara stopped herself. Everything that came out of her mouth seemed completely obvious, stupid, useless.
In that moment, a nurse came into the med-bay to check some readings on the incubators. She apologetically smiled at them and Kara watched as the babies slept peacefully while the nurse wrote down in her pad. She finished quickly and smiled again at them, leaving the room without a word.
Kara couldn't help but smile as the baby girl kicked the air in her sleep and opened her mouth briefly. She looked back at Lena that was regarding her silently, an unreadable expression on her face. The babies were kept together because Eliza had insisted that they'd feel safer and comforted in each other's presence. The baby boy reached out with a tiny hand and wrapped his arm around her sister's head.
Kara watched in silent awe. She finally turned around to look at Lena with a little bit of shyness.
"So," Kara breathed in… "You're keeping them."
"Of course I'm keeping them… What– what do you mean, Kara?"
Kara opened her mouth but she realized that Lena missunderstood the meaning behind her words, so while she searched for an explanation, Lena snapped back bitterly.
"Oh, I see. You know, I could expect that question from anyone else but you of all people should know me, you should know I don't run from things, no matter how complicated they are…"
Kara raised her hands and tried to explain herself. Poorly.
"I… Lena… I didn't mean it like that."
"Then what did you mean, Kara? Do you see me having any other choice? Perhaps I should be selfish and give them up, right?" There it was again, defensive Lena, sarcastic Lena, hurting Lena. "What shall I choose, Kara? Give them up to the Government so they can train them to be killing machines or handing them over to my mother so she can raise them to become your nemeses?"
Kara sighed and shook her head.
"I– I'm overwhelmed by this whole situation, Lena. It's… I… I don't know what to do. Or say."
Lena looked at Kara for long seconds in which the Kryptonian feared what could come next, but eventually, sympathy replaced anger and those green eyes filled with sadness, once again.
"I know. I'm sorry, Kara. It's perfectly understandable. You're in shock. I get it."
When Kara didn't say anything, Lena smiled, but her voice came out washed in fragility.
"I forgot I had almost nine months to get used to the idea that I was going to have your babies."
There it is again, Kara thought to herself. That smile that hides unspeakable pain. Rao, Lena, why do things have to be so complicated?
Kara chose not to share her growing frustration. Instead, she lowered her voice and opted to just voice the truth.
"You know, it's not just about the babies, Lena. I… I was so worried about you. I thought I'd lost you."
It was Lena's turn to find something very interesting in the covers of her bed. Kara waited for a moment. She hated to ask, but she had to.
"Did you know? Did she tell you?" Kara said softly.
Lena nodded and swallowed hard.
"Not right away… They started making tests, sedating me… I heard them talking, sometimes. I suspected it. I didn't want to believe it… but the moment I started throwing up in my cell every morning, well– it just clicked."
Kara closed her eyes. Picturing her like that… if she ever got her hands on Lillian, she didn't know what she could do.
"I'm so sorry that you had to go through all that alone, Lena. I'm so sorry I couldn't– stop it. That I couldn't find you."
Lena ignored Kara's apology and looked at her friend directly in the eye. All Kara saw was pain.
"You know how she told me? She said she needed them to have powers, but to also have a weakness…" Lena's lower lip trembled with anger, and Kara could tell she was trying to contain the tears. "She said she knew if they were mine, she would be able to control them. Because if they were anything like me, she could make them crave her love… and that would be the most powerful weapon of all. And that she would use it, just like she used it with me."
Kara sighed deeply and looked back at Lena with true understanding.
"I don't think she believes that. She only said that to get to you."
Lena laughed a little. It was awkward, painful. She looked back at Kara. She was smiling, but a silent tear was rolling down her cheek.
"Yeah. Guess what? She did."
Kara wanted to get up, hold her, kiss her forehead, rock her in her arms, tell her that everything was going to be alright. But she couldn't move, for some reason. Lena rapidly wiped the tears away and shook her head.
"Your sister told me you tried to convince everybody I was innocent…" Lena said trying to regain some composure. "Even before you found proof that the Kryptonite video was manipulated."
"Yes. I wasn't popular around here back in those days." Kara smiled and winked at her.
A simple question, yet so eager.
"Why did you believe in me even when everyone told you to do exactly the opposite?"
Kara shrugged her shoulders for a moment, as if trying to keep it casual. But she knew the answer. She knew for a long time.
"You're my friend." Kara stated with plain honesty, looking intently into Lena's eyes. "From the moment we met you were transparent to me. Maybe because we are similar at so many levels. We get each other, I guess. The others… they couldn't see past the Luthor name. I just saw you. I just saw Lena."
Lena closed her eyes for a second. When she opened them to look back at her, Kara knew she understood.
"Thank you, Kara."
A wave of guilt suddenly creeped down Kara's back. She shook her head and ran a nervous hand up her golden locks.
"Don't thank me, please. I, on the other hand, have been everything but transparent… I– there's so much I want to tell you, to explain–"
A hand was raised, green met blue, and Kara knew what she was about to say.
"Kara, you don't have to. I know why you didn't tell me. I get it."
Always so understanding, so supportive, and yet she couldn't see the amount of good she had within her. Kara was overwhelmed.
"But… you said you've always known."
"When? I mean, how? If I may ask…"
Lena pursed her lips and smiled, a hint of mischievousness shining in her eyes.
"Well, if you really want to know, Kara Zor-El…" Kara's eyes went insanely wide when Lena spoked her real name. The CEO was enjoying the moment. "…I think I was seventeen the first time I hacked into Lex's not-so-unpenetrable-secret-server-of-secret-files."
"Wait… Lex knew about me?"
And a gentle chuckle.
"Of course he did, Kara, he'd always known about Clark."
"You– you know about Clark, too?"
"I think I might have slipped a bit when I commented on him having some steel under the Kansas wheat, but luckily your cousin Kal-El and I had never met before your visit to L-Corp…"
There was silence. And then, another chuckle, this time a little bit louder.
"Kara, darling, close your mouth. You're gonna catch some flies if you don't."
Since Kara's shock seemed not to be ceasing any sooner, Lena kept on tipping her hand. It was about time.
"When Lex was convicted, he had a few of his goons set up a plan in motion to reveal all the documents he had on you and Superman to the world. Revealing your identities was cheap and childish, he knew, but I guess he was so desperate for a little victory that even that'd do it for him." Lena dedicated Kara a proud smile, a sincere one, for the first time. "Luckily, I took over Luthor Corp before the goons could do anything and before you revealed yourself to the world as Supergirl."
Kara was dumbstruck.
"So, what happened to the files?"
Lena tilted her head almost playfully, trying to guess if it was fear what she'd heard in Kara's voice.
"I destroyed them." Lena stated finally, a dead serious look in her face. "All the hard copies, all the replicas, all the dormant files he had cloned and hid in the darknet and spread around in seemingly unhackable mirror servers throughout Russia and China…" Lena focused her eyes on Kara's, her unblinking gaze absolutely unambiguous. "It's all gone now, Kara. You don't have to worry about that."
Kara found herself with her mouth hanging open, once again.
"Lena, I… you saved my life. And Clark's. And you didn't even knew me, you didn't even had to… I don't know what to say."
"How about a thank you, Kara? I hear that works just fine in a situation like this."
"Well, thank you, Lena, of course. It's just that… what you did, it's amazing. You protected us. And Superman had just incarcerated your brother for life, I mean… There's not a lot of people that would have done what you did, and… a thank you just falls short, you know?" Kara smiled in that way that always left Lena weak at the knees; despite the suit, Lena could finally see the real Kara was indeed Kara Danvers, space puppy and queen of dazzling smiles. She couldn't help but feel intoxicated.
"Well, consider it my retroactive thank you for believing in me when I needed you the most. You cleaned my name, Kara, so we're even. Can we agree on that?"
The silence that followed was different from all that had come before. There was complicity, this time, there was familiarity.
"So… when you invited me to your party as Supergirl…"
"You were playing me."
"All the time."
"Well, that's… that's just mean, Lena!"
The room filled with laughter for the first time in a very long time.
"Can you blame me?" Lena had a smug smile on her face now. "It was so cute seeing you struggle with your clumsy Kara act and your oh, Golly! and your straighten up shoulders as Supergirl and your I'm gonna check the perimeter…" Kara laughed despite not being very fond of Lena's impression of both her personas.
The superhero narrowed her eyes and looked at her friend with pretended disdain.
"See, I knew you were evil, from the very beginning, Luthor."
The aforementioned laughed even harder and then she put her hands over her belly, her face twisting slightly.
"Please, Kara, don't make me laugh…" She breathed wearily, but still smiling. "The stitches hurt like hell."
Kara was about to partially apologize when something caught her attention from the corner of her eye.
Mon-El and Winn were passing by the med-bay in the middle of what looked like a heated conversation. Kara almost had the impulse to use her superhearing to find out what the fuss was all about, but she felt Lena's intense gaze upon her and turned around to meet her eyes, shyness renewed in the Kryptonian's features.
"That's– uh… that's my–" Kara stammered.
Lena nodded and Kara didn't need to finish the sentence.
"Your boyfriend." The surprised had to be clearly written on the blonde's face, because Lena just smirked and dedicated Kara a closed-lip, knowing smile. "C'mon, Kara, the way he looks at you… It's obvious. But I'm guessing his real name is not Mike, now, is it?"
"No. His name is Mon-El." Kara replied, her voice suddenly hoarse for some reason.
It was Lena's turn to show surprise and a little bit of confusion.
"Oh. Like Zor-El?"
Kara shook her head and wondered why her mouth was suddenly dry. She suspected that she was afraid it all came wrong in Lena's eyes: that she could think that just because she had a boyfriend now, she had moved on with her life and forgotten about her kidnapped best friend. Far from reality.
"No, uh… He's from a planet called Daxam, in Krypton's star system. Just a coincidence, I guess."
Kara was suffering inexplicably under Lena's gaze. She waited for a hurt remark that never came. Instead, Lena looked at her with so much warmth that Kara's guilt sank even deeper into her chest.
"So you found someone just like you, Kara, another traveler from the stars."
No matter how understanding and comforting Lena could be, Kara still felt there was something very wrong about all of this. She looked back at Mon-El and Winn. The Daxamite met her gaze and the shadow in his eyes was still there, looming silently, reminding Kara that he'd be waiting for her once she stepped outside the room.
"Yeah, well... it's a long story…" Kara said in a low whisper, watching as Mon-El waved a goodbye to Winn and walked down the stairs.
When she returned her gaze back to Lena, the brunette was regarding her with bright eyes that only emitted compassion…
"That's alright, Kara, you don't have to explain. I'm happy for you."
Kara felt even worse.
Unable to say something that could make sense in her mind, she nodded and tried to crack a smile.
"I– uh… Thank you, Lena."
Thankfully for Kara, she didn't have the time to give room to dark thoughts, as Winn came rushing into the room, smiling like a maniac, nervously waving his hands in the air and displaying the body language of a baboon on drugs.
Oh, Rao, Kara mentally rolled her eyes, what now?
"Uh, umm… guys? Can I talk to you both for a second?"
Lena and Kara exchanged concerned looks without saying a word. Kara reluctantly gestured for him to come closer.
Winn began babbling at what sounded to Kara like superspeed. If talking faster than a speeding bullet was a superpower, Winn would definitely have it.
"I'm sorry for interrupting, I'm sorry, I'm sorry but I'm DYING to tell you something. I know that this is probably a bad time, and everybody is gossiping and wondering what's gonna happen with these two cutie-patooties and what you guys are going to do about them and all that BUT – but, the unquestionable thing is that they are going to need names… and I… I just wanted to make a suggestion because if I don't say I'll regret it my whole life and–"
Kara knew where this was going, and though she hated to be abrupt with her friends, she had to at least try and spare Lena the awkwardness.
"Winn, now's not the time–"
The resident genius of the DEO raised his hands in the air quickly and bluntly interrupted Kara. "Wait, wait, just hear me out, it makes sense!" There was no way of stopping his momentum. Kara looked momentarily at Lena, who had an amused expression on her face.
Winn turned his attention to Lena and breathed, trying to appear cool, if only for a second. It didn't work.
"Lena, allow me to explain, please." Lena nodded her head to him, encouraging him to proceed. Kara rolled her eyes. Nerds. "If you're thinking about honoring your family tradition uh, with the names starting with an L, you know?" Winn stammered for a second and quickly cleared his throat. "Um… You know you could name them after these two very revered historical figures… They were twins too. And their names start with an L. I'm trying to get you to understand what I'm thinking without saying it so… are you following, Lena? I know you do…"
"Winn, please." Kara rubbed her hand against her forehead.
Winn finally snapped.
"Ah, c'mon! Naming them Luke and Leia would be like, so awesome! And they're a boy and a girl, and they're going to be the ones to bring balance to the Force–"
Lena was laughing warmly, but Kara was shaking her head in dissaproval.
"Winn, stop it."
"Luke and Leia Luthor. I mean, aren't those the coolest names in the whole wide galaxy?! Guys, I'm serious, you can't miss this opportunity… Just– just think about it."
Kara sighed, defeated, as Lena's sweet laughter echoed through the med-bay. Winn was looking at her with hopeful eyes. Kara just couldn't believe they were even having this conversation. Lena chimed in only to give Kara a tiny, tiny heart attack.
"Thank you, Winn, that's sweet of you. I'll definitely think about it."
Was she really considering this? No, it couldn't be…
"Bye, Winn." Kara stated with narrowing eyes.
Winn was smiling now like a child on Christmas morning.
"Why, Supergirl, I find your lack of faith disturb–"
"I said BYE, WINN."
"Yeah, yeah, yeah I'm going! I'm sorry guys, but I had a mission, I needed to tell you because.. well. You know. I'm gonna head back to that thing that I do with the… things." Winn sweetly waved at them and left the room quickly. They could hear him giggling.
Kara looked back at Lena, actually kind of mad at her.
"You shouldn't give room to his wildest fantasies, I'm telling you."
Lena just ignored her and frowned.
"Did he call them cutie-patooties?"
"Yeah, he did."
"Leia Luthor does sound pretty badass, though."
Kara's eyes went wide but when she looked into Lena's eyes she was relieved that it had to be, in fact, a joke. She had to be sure, anyway.
"Tell me you are NOT seriously considering this."
Lena smiled and shook her head. Her green eyes shined with intention.
"Winn's proposal is very interesting… But I pretty much know how I want to name them. I was just waiting to tell you."
It was Kara's turn to find her best baboon moves within her.
She urged her mind to say something, but all that came out was a babbling sentence with trembling hands (that she could oh so conveniently hide behind her cape).
"Well, I'm… I'm here now."
Lena nodded and rubbed the back of her neck, smiling nervously.
"Right. So… for the boy, I'd like to name him after my grandfather. Not the Luthor one, though… I know little about my biological mother's family, but I know they were Irish and my grandpa's name was Liam. He died before I was born. Oddly enough, when I was in boarding school in Dublin the only friend I had was named Liam, too, so…"
"Wasn't it a girls-only school?"
"He was the librarian."
Kara's face went pale. Way to go, Zor-El.
"It's okay, Kara." Lena chuckled gently.
Kara must've used superspeed to pull her iPhone out of her boot and do a Google search, because Lena was positive she didn't have it in her hand the second before.
"Liam, Liam… Hey, Internet says it means protector, guardian. James is going to love it!"
It was quite a contrast, Lena thought, to see Kara's enthusiasm colliding with her fear of rejection, but of course Kara Danvers was oblivious.
"But do you, Kara?" Lena asked in a thread of voice.
Lena was reluctant to let her insecurities leave that easy, but Kara's smile certainly made her forget them if only for a few moments.
"Yes, Lena, of course. It couldn't be more fitting. And the girl…?"
Lena sighed with something that seemed like content, and enjoyed the feeling of saying out-loud her daughter's name for the first time.
Kara's eyes just went wide with thrill.
"Hey, I know that one, that's moon in Spanish!"
"And Italian." Lena nodded.
"Lena, it's beautiful. So, so beautiful. They're both beautiful names."
Both women shared a silence that once again had them looking intensely into one another's eyes. They couldn't help but smile.
"I'm glad you think that way" Lena confided. "You know, having alien genes I thought it would be fitting if one of them had a spacey name."
"Oh, right, so it's not because you're a giant nerd." Kara giggled.
Lena shook her head, the smirk never leaving her face.
"Liam and Luna Luthor. Sounds catchy." Kara pointed out cheerfully.
Suddenly, there was silence again. And then…
Kara frowned and raised her eyebrows.
Lena shifted uncomfortably in her sitting position at the bed. She run her hands through her long hair and her eyes shifted on the incubator behind Kara's back. She shook her head, and Kara just wondered what had her so immediately distressed.
"Kara, there's something I want to ask you. Please, let me explain and please, please don't freak out…"
"You know when you tell someone to not freak out the first thing they feel compelled to do is freak out, right?" Kara knew she shouldn't have let out that nervous scoff, but she couldn't help it.
Lena ignored her, thankfully.
"Just listen, please. I don't want them to be Luthors. I… I just want to spare them the burdens of the name…" Lena was still looking at the babies. Her chest raised as it was filled with air. And hope. Kara regarded her, silently. Lena finally looked back at her. "I want them to be Liam Jeremiah and Luna Alexandra Danvers. Anyway… Would you... would you be ok with that?"
Kara knew what being deprived of air felt like. For real. She had lifted a spaceship into Earth's orbit and she had almost died out there, asphyxiated, alone, before her big sister came to the rescue and literally brought her back from the dead.
But this… this way of feeling the air in the room was not enough, this was entirely new.
Lena's voice sounded so fragile that Kara quickly snapped back to reality. Still, the words came out of her mouth as if someone else was saying them.
"I, uh… That's such a generous gesture, Lena. And– and Jeremiah and my sister are going to be thrilled!"
"Well, I already asked your father for permission."
"You– you did?"
"He's fine with it. I haven't had the opportunity to talk to your sister, though, and I thought it was only fair to tell you first so if you agree to it, then maybe we could ask her together…?"
Lena looked so afraid. So vulnerable. Kara didn't know what to say, and she was positive the longer she stayed silent, the quicker Lena would feel exposed and maybe even unwanted. But… her mind raged with so many questions now, and she couldn't help but stare at her friend with growing awe.
"They did save my life. And theirs. But uh… I care about what you think most." Lena stammered and crossed her arms over her chest, as if she was trying to hug herself and gain some confidence. "How do you feel about the last name, Kara? Be honest, please, it's fine if you don't agree to it, I'll respect your wishes."
"I uh… I don't know. This is all so…"
Lena smiled while saying the words. And Kara saw through that hearbreaking smile; it was the one she always used when she was in pain, and she wondered why Lena tried to hide her sadness so much. She wondered if it was something she had to learn on the Luthor household: to never show weakness, never let the others see her pain whenever something brought her down because they might use it against her or because they taught her it was weakness. Kara wondered how could anyone ever learn that, and if she could ever find a cure for it and help her unlearn sadness, help Lena understand that it was okay to feel down and show it, that she, Kara Zor-El, would never use it against her.
She wondered so many things. She wanted to ask so many questions.
She'd always known, from the very beginning, that she wanted to know everything about Lena, decipher all the enigmas she threw out to the world just to defend herself. And not from a journalistic point of view.
But for now, she buried all those questions, all those desires deep in her mind.
"I was gonna say… new." Kara attempted a soft smile.
Lena relaxed a little bit, but Kara could still see her shoulders charged up with tension.
"Lena… I can only feel honored, really." Kara finally found her voice. And the more she spoked, the more she became convinced about what she was saying. "But you don't have to do it for me. If that's the case. I mean, I… I love it. But only if we can agree that it should be Danvers-Luthor. If you want to, I mean. I think there's still hope, Lena, and you're on the path of redeeming your family name. I think that has to count. We can still do that. Together."
Lena sighed. Was that relief? Kara couldn't tell. Not yet.
"You know, Kara… all my life, just to survive the environment I was brought up in, I had to believe against all odds that from something bad and terrible there was always a chance to create good. These children will always remind me the horrible things my mother did to me, and as much as I want to get past that… It's not going to be easy. But they're innocent. What better revenge than to crash my mother's intentions for them? If I give them a name that represents our friendship, if I raise them with the love I did not know and something to stand for, fearlessly, maybe we can change what being a Luthor means, for good this time."
Kara stared at her in silent awe. There was a warmth building in her chest and tears watering in her eyes.
"I'm glad you see it that way. I… I couldn't agree more with you. I'm proud of you, Lena, of your strength and your amazing kindness, despite everything you've been through."
Kara wanted to reach out. She wanted to take Lena's hands in hers, even kissed her knuckles, rest her cheek against them and let her know how she thought she was the bravest human being she knew. Instead, she just smiled, like a friend should.
"Thank you, Kara." Lena raised her eyebrows and bit her lower lip, trying to sound casual. "Besides, they're probably going to stick to Danvers only, and that's fine. I gave birth to them but these babies are half Kryptonian, so I want people to know this is your fault. Even if they don't know Kara Danvers is Supergirl, they will know she's the mother of my children."
Kara's look was so stunned Lena had to suppress a snort.
"I'm kidding, Kara. Well, as much I can attempt any shot at humor in my situation."
Kara's eyebrows went down, but still, she didn't say a word.
"And this doesn't tie you to anything, you do know that, right? I wouldn't force any decision on you. You can be involved in any way you want, or even not be involved at all… I mean… I just don't expect you to. You have your life. What my mother did was terrible and you don't deserve to be dragged by this. I need you to know that you can do whatever you want, I'll always respect you… I had time to think about everything and prepare myself for the changes that all of this is going to have in my life, but you… you must be wondering if all of this is even real. So you have to know this, Kara: it's fine if you want to stay away… From them… from me. I'll understand…"
When Kara didn't say anything, insecurity took over Lena once again and she began rambling just to ignore the pain that was gripping her heart.
"Them having your family name does not mean I want anything from you–"
"I just don't want you to think I'm trying to pull anything shady here–"
"Lena, Lena, stop it."
"We don't need to officially acknowledge in any way they're taking your family nam–"
Ok. That came out a little louder than Kara had wanted, but she had to make her listen somehow.
"Please…" Kara whispered.
And Lena just watched her with parted lips and confused eyes as Kara got up of her chair, took her hand in hers and kneeled beside her bed.
Kara kneeled in front of her.
Kara Zor-El took her hand and kneeled.
Lena was mesmerized.
"Please let me be a part of this, Lena?"
Kara smiled softly and when Lena didn't reply, she continued.
"I want to be there, I mean. I know it's not going to be easy but they… I know they're going to need me. And not just because of their powers. I'll train them, I'll…"
Kara stopped herself when Lena squeezed her hand a little bit. The superhero smiled when she felt that, but still, her tone was solemn when she spoke again. It was a vow on her Kryptonian honor. It was a promise.
"I want to raise them. With you. If you allow me. It seems weird now, I know, but I'm sure we'll make it work. Somehow."
Lena finally swallowed and released Kara's hand with a final squeeze. Kara was relieved.
"Two friends raising children together, huh?" Lena leered, needing to hold back the emotion, somehow. "We're not the first ones to do this in the history of Humanity, though we're probably one of the few that didn't have any choice. It's not like I'm gonna ask you to marry me or anything, Kara, so you don't have to worry about us interfering with your personal life…"
Kara stood up and sat down on the edge of the bed, not even asking Lena for permission.
"Oh, but I want you all in my life. You won't interfere with it, you are part of it."
"Yes, I know, but I also understand that your family and loved ones have to come first. That's alright." Lena smiled weakly and Kara frowned.
Family… a word that always came back to haunt Kara Zor-El, through time and space. Quite literally.
Her family for her was the memory of the dead: Mother, Father. Astra. That name still hurt the most because she was so close to have her back, to rest in her warm embrace after years of mourning, only to lose her again. Only to say goodbye forever.
Her family, her home, her motherland... those weren't places anymore, they were people. It was Alex's laugh and Eliza's arms and Jeremiah's proud smile.
Her family was Cat Grant, looking proudly at her from behind her desk. It was James, telling her she could be the hero she always wanted to be, with or without the suit. Family was Winn and his unbreakable faith in her.
Family was J'onn, holding her hand when she felt like breaking, teaching her new flying techniques, looking at her with silent awe when she defeated a new, bigger and tougher enemy.
And Mon-El, yes, there were the good days when she came home after a long day and he was there waiting for her with his charming smile, a sweet kiss, a hot, appetizing pizza and Breakfast at Tiffany's ready to play on the TV, taking the weight of the world off her shoulders if only for a little while.
So now she thought about these three names and wondered if they could also mean something larger than life for her: Lena, Liam, Luna. Family.
Lena, Liam, Luna, Kara chanted silently in her mind. Lena, Liam, Luna, she repeated again, and yes, she thought, it could become her new hymn and she could imagine herself saying their names before a battle as if she was saying a prayer to the gods of love and victory.
But while Kara's mind battled silently with words and meanings and warm memories, Lena was on a different mindset as she kept on talking, her armor still on, that heartbroken smile still trying to masquerade a sadness that Kara could not stand anymore. What would it take to take that all away? What would she had to do to heal Lena? Because she wanted to, and now Kara was wondering how to put into words all this
"Your parents, Alex, Mon-El, they are your life, not these babies you didn't ask for…" Lena sighed, the polite smile still not leaving her face. Her tone was closer to the one she would use on a business meeting than anything else, but Kara wouldn't know that, she tried to convince herself, Kara didn't know her that well… "And that's perfectly fine, Kara, I want you to know that," she continued, "I'm sure it will be great when you come visit us, but you're still two people at the same time and I won't be the person responsible for keeping Supergirl or Kara Danvers from their destiny, so you have my word I will only rely on you when it's worth your time."
Visit? Did she say visit?
Kara felt her heart sinking at that thought.
And what are you going to do about it, you moron? Ask her to move in with you?
There it was again, Lena could sense it. That Kryptonian, protective tone. That echo of an unbreakable bond in Kara's voice. She couldn't meet her eyes. But she could listen, oh yes, she could listen to that voice for a long time.
But a hand touched her chin, just the slightest of touches to raise her face up and make her meet Kara's gaze.
Were her eyes always so blue?
"Lena, I'm not going anywhere." Kara vowed. "I will always be your friend."
Yes, they probably were.
"And I don't think you should do this on your own." Kara continued, oblivious to Lena's raging thoughts. "In fact, I just won't let you. It's not fair. You didn't ask for this situation… None of us did. It's not just because of your mother, your security and the babies' are my top priority but… I would like to be completely involved, if you… if you let me…" Kara released Lena's chin with a quick caress to her cheek with the back of her hand. Lena could feel the heat radiating from her. She didn't dare to speak, or to move, and Kara wasn't finished. "I could move closer to you guys, maybe rent an apartment in your area? I would be far more efficient at keeping you safe, maybe J'onn will see this as the perfect solution for your safety… and I could help with them any time, I mean I used to change my cousin's diapers back in Krypton, but he didn't have any powers back then! In this case, we have two Superbabies to handle!"
Lena was speechless, her face unreadable.
"It's just that there's so many things we don't know." Kara sighed, anxiety slowly raising in her voice in that way that was so Danvers and not so Zor-El. "Are they vulnerable to any Kryptonian minerals? Will they be able to fly? When I came to Earth it took me a month to be able to sleep without my head ending up against the ceiling! I always woke up floating… If they have… abilities, it will be very hard to take care of them. We can only hope they won't develop them until they're older, but still… I feel like I should be there. For you– for them."
Lena finally found a reason to smile.
"So, are you suggesting one of my… Superbabies, as you called them, is going to accidentally fry me with heat vision? Because that is a bit unsettling, Ms. Danvers."
Lena grinned when Kara's eyes went crazy.
"Oh Rao, of course not! I'm sorry! It's just… My cousin has told me some insane stories about when he was a toddler trying to learn how to control his strength."
Kara smiled apologetically.
"But I'm sure our babies won't have that problem! They're half Human after all, right?"
"Sure." Lena said, meaning exactly the opposite. Seeing Kara freaking out like this should be fun.
"But I still wanna be around. You know… just in case." Kara said, trying to reassure herself more than she was trying to reassure Lena.
"Just in case." The CEO echoed, a little playfully.
But inside her mind, a little voice, that one that sounded a lot like Lillian's, warned her, again. It was a menace, more than anything…
Don't do this, Luthor.
Kara got up from the bed and began to pace the room.
"We didn't ask for this, you're right, and everything seems weird and unfair and scary. But it's only fair I share responsibility with you. After all you've been through…" Kara stopped and looked back at Lena with pleading eyes. "You're my friend… I won't let you do this alone. I want you to be able to go on with your life, too. We're in this together."
Contain yourself. Do not be emotional.
"I guess our lives have changed forever." No matter how loud her mind screamed no, Lena couldn't help but let go of herself and be rocked by Kara's gentle tide.
"I guess so."
A sigh. A resolution.
"Alright, Kara, I see your point."
Think. Do not feel.
"Well, that was easy."
"Not so fast, Supergirl. I will agree to this… arrangement of yours, under two conditions."
Think. Do not yield.
"Of course, anything you need."
"First, this will be temporary. Just until we know more about the babies' abilities and how to handle them."
You'll regret this.
"You're right. Cool. Temporary. Agreed."
Kara's body language was a little too enthusiastic.
"And second, you won't rent an apartment in my area."
You'll get hurt.
"You'll move in with us. If you want to, of course."
"I live in a ten bedroom penthouse, Kara, half of the bedrooms are empty and the other half are full with my nerd books. It's only right that you move in if you really want to help. This way maybe J'onn will get off our backs… it doesn't get any more unbeatable than having Supergirl as your personal bodyguard. You'll have your privacy, I promise, and I'll have mine. It's just– practical."
This is a mistake.
"Oh, I'll pay my half of the rent, of course!"
Lena shook her head.
"Kara, please. You don't want to know how much I pay for that place… I would be embarrassed, actually, you'll think I'm a spoiled rich brat and in some way you wouldn't be far from the truth but… Just relax, ok? Money is the least of my problems… You'll be my guest. Is that alright with you?"
"Yeah, yeah, I understand, Lena."
"What are you smiling at?"
"Well… I guess I… I have two kids with a Luthor. I'm dying to tell my cousin. He's gonna snap."
Silence. The voice, again.
Stop this, before it's too late.
"Too soon to be making jokes?"
A weak smile.
"No, I… It's alright, Kara. It's just weird that… that you're talking like–"
You'll end up alone. Again.
"God, Kara, I don't know if I'll be any good at this."
"Me neither. But if someone can make this work…"
"Ah, don't say it, Kara, don't say a Super and a Luthor."
"Hey, why not? That's kind of our motto, right?"
"Yeah, exactly. But I think this is too big of a mission, even for us."
"But we make a great team, that's a fact."
This will be the beginning of the end. And you're allowing it.
"Kara? Will you– I…"
"Rest, Lena, it's fine, you need it. I'm here. I'll be here when you wake up."
You're already broken, Luthor…
Lena closed her eyes and tried to fall sleep as fatigue suddenly took over her body.
…but that doesn't mean she cannot break you, for good, this time.
The voice fainted, but she could still hear the warnings. Sleep claimed her as another voice rose above the other, in a language she couldn't understand, in a strikingly beautiful singing she had never heard before.
It was a nursery rhyme, an old Kryptonian one that Alura used to sing to Kara.
Kara used to sing it to baby Kal-El.
And now she was singing it to Lena.
And she would sing it to the twins, Liam and Luna, for many moons to come.
Lena was fast asleep when Kara finished the song. That's why she didn't feel the soft kiss that red lips pressed against her forehead, nor did she hear the gentle voice that made a vow to her in an extraterrestrial language.
"Thronivu zhindif khap ripp, Lena."
I will always protect you.
Chapter 8: Loyal
"L-Corp building, my name is Jessica, how may I help you?” (Please read the notes)
Hey kids, Sparky here. So, this is a short chapter focused on our favorite secretary. It was actually meant to be part of a larger chapter, but given the shit show we just witnessed at ComicCon –you all know what I'm talking about– I wanted to give you guys something, anything. Since the rest of the chapter is not perfectly edited yet, I apologize in advance for just giving you this short one, but it's sweet and I hope you enjoy it. Chapter 9, titled "Of Gods and Monsters" will be published next weekend (for real), featuring Kara, Lena, the twins, Lillian and a few other resident villains.
That said, I also wanted to post something to reassure you that in the light of the mess we just witnessed this weekend, I for one will be going stronger with this fandom, at least on my tiny, humble part with this fic. I'll keep on posting, I'll keep on updating, whenever real life allows me, I'm not leaving this story unfinished. Don't get me wrong, I completely support and understand those of you that want nothing to do with the show or cast after that mess.
I've been writing and reading fanfiction since I was 13 years old. It got me through some dark moments in my life where you could not find any media content with representation. I started out with Xena, I learned English mostly because of fanfiction, and it did make me a better writer and a better artist overall. I went on to study Performing Arts. I've published two original novels, I've directed plays written by Shakespeare, Lope de Vega, Ferdinand Bruckner, several adaptations of Virginia Woolf's novels... I work in the technology field now but I founded my own indie theatre company. We celebrate Pride in our workplace every year. I am getting married next month to my girlfriend of six years and our families and friends are going to join us to celebrate.
I am telling you this because if you're a LGTBQ+ person suffering because of what a part of the Supergirl cast did at ComicCon you need to know it does get fucking BETTER and there are people in the world waiting with open arms to love you and cherish you and you have to know you are valid. Especially if you're young. Life is hard and you'll encounter lots of assholes, yes, but you have to know your points of view are valid and you are meant for great things in this world. I've battled my whole life with clinical depression, I've been on therapy over the years, I'm on medication right now and still, it is all worth it. Being out and proud and alive is worth it.
Take comfort in fics, movies, shows, music, art, make your own content, whatever you want! I for one take comfort in Katie McGrath's validation and kindness. I take comfort on my own strength and my resolution to keep on living my life the way it feels natural for me.
As Charlie Chaplin put it in the closing scene of The Great Dictator, we should make this life a wonderful adventure, so let's cut the crap and let us all unite!
My Tumblr is always open if you need to talk: @jennysparksandtheauthority
(See the end of the chapter for more notes.)
It was just another frightening, stressful Monday for Jess, the secretary, as some friends of hers called her in a futile attempt to mock her (actually, her job title was Senior Administrative Assistant, but go and try to explain that to those nitwits).
The same old ritual she had been performing for the last ten months started at 7 am sharp, opening Lena Luthor’s office with her personal security code and making sure everything was in order, though order meant in this case that the office remained exactly the same as L-Corp’s CEO had left it that dreadful night when NCPD came to arrest her.
She took pictures of the office with her phone, everyday, and kept files with the dates organised in her computer just to make sure everything remained exactly in its place. She had a perfect photographic memory, but she needed to use all the resources she had at hand to avoid mistakes. Intrusions and espionage were the last thing L-Corp needed right now.
Once she was done making sure everything was in its right place, she would close the office and sit at her desk. At around 7.30, the phone would start ringing and it wouldn’t stop for the rest of the day.
Right after Lena’s imprisonment, the company’s stock plummeted in every market around the world, unleashing chaos. The board didn’t know what to do, the employees were freaking out, investors lost millions and the subsidiary companies began pulling their assets out.
Jess really thought it was going to be the end of Lena’s dream, and it broke her heart.
It didn’t matter that they had prepared for this: Lena had given her clear instructions on what to do if something happened to her. They had gone through every possible scenario, and Jess knew exactly who to call, what to do and what to say in order to protect the company without Lena, as long as possible. Still, she knew she was failing. As head of the personal assistants team, she never got much sleep… but it only got worse with Lena gone. Hector was the only one that could keep up with her, and the others just followed out of fear of losing their jobs.
And there was Alana… that lying, traitorous bitch.
Jess knew for quite some time that someone in her team was leaking information to rival companies, so she shared false documents with every member of her team, feeding them specific details so every story was unique. It was Alana’s fake intel that ended up in the hands of the wrong people.
Jess had never enjoyed sending someone’s file to Legal, but that time it gave her absolute pleasure. Alana didn’t even bother to come by the office to pick up her stuff, surely the court citation as a suspect of industrial espionage had prevented her from retrieving her boyfriend’s picture and her cactus.
Jess just gave everything to the janitor telling him that “the trash belongs with the trash”.
That was the only victory she had.
Three days after Lena’s arrest and posterior escape, Jess felt like ten years had gone by.
She was almost ready to give in to despair and fatigue, surrender to all those voices that yelled at her that her boss was, indeed, a villain.
But then, Kara Danvers happened, because not all heroes wear capes.
Jess put the reporter on an imaginary pedestal when she saved the company single-handedly with a 12-page special on CatCo Magazine under the title “Where on Earth is Lena Luthor? The truth about the unsung hero of National City, wrongly accused of working for Cadmus.”
Jess really thought Ms. Danvers deserved the Pulitzer, the Nobel Prize and unlimited supplies of plumerias for the rest of her life. Stocks rose back, investors stopped losing their minds, and the board finally released a statement backing up their CEO and vowing to put all the company’s resources at the disposal of the authorities so they could bring her home unharmed.
The Senior VP of the company was handling things from Metropolis in Lena’s absence, keeping the board at bay. Luckily, part of Lena’s numerous contingency plans involved clear instructions on how to prevent anyone from taking over the CEO position in her absence (she would have to be declared legally dead by three different forensic experts, and that was the easy part).
Things went slowly back to the tense calm that was L-Corp’s natural atmosphere since Lex Luthor was imprisoned. The staff was happier with Lena, there was no doubt about that, but no one dared to speak out loud the alarming question that was on everyone’s minds: what will happen if Lena Luthor never comes back? What will L-Corp become, then?
And so Jess sat at her desk on another idle Monday, worrying too much about things she had no control over. Summer was knocking at the city’s door and the warm rays of the early morning always filled Jess’s mind with optimism, but lately it was becoming harder to believe that everything was going to be alright, that Lena would have a happy ending… Jess hadn’t pray since her datuk died and she really didn’t think that Allah would care much for what she had to say after all that time, but sometimes she felt the need to close her eyes and just pray, pray that Lena wasn’t de–
A phone that was not supposed to ring.
Hector looked up from his desk, a puzzled, almost comic expression on his face.
Jess froze and looked to the closed door of the office of their absent CEO.
Again… RING, RING.
That… that’s not possible, Jess thought. No one has that number. No one can access it without being redirected from the switchboard on my desk.
Hector began making wild gesticulations, almost maniacally, as if he was trying to signal a plane for landing while on drugs. Jess hissed at him and silently wondered why they were acting like fools if they were alone in the office.
The phone kept screaming from the surface of Lena’s desk.
It was impossible, yes, but it was happening.
Jess opened the door to Lena’s office and stepped in, her hands shaking.
She took tentative steps towards the phone, speeding up the pace as her heart pumped faster.
A trembling hand reached out to grab the handset.
“This is… mmm…” She closed her eyes in embarrassment as she heard her own voice cracking. She got herself together with a deep breath. “L-Corp building, my name is Jessica, how may I help you?”
There was a pause, and then only one word.
A familiar female voice, deep and warm, a subtle trace of a familiar accent…
“This is Tess Mercer.”
The assistant’s mind raged in confusion for a second. Then, as Hector appeared on the door to find out what was going on, Jess brought a hand to her chest and a gasp escaped her mouth.
Before a betraying sob escaped her, she moved her free hand to her mouth, trying to contain herself from screaming.
The impossible had happened.
Jess fought back the tears, but it was useless. Remaining as professional as possible, she just stared at Hector, wide-eyed, and clang with both hands to the phone.
“Oh, oh… Ms. Mercer…” There was a little sob there, but she wouldn’t give in to emotion. Not now. She wouldn’t fail. She wouldn’t fail her. “It’s been a long time. It’s… it’s so good to hear your voice.”
“Ah, likewise, Jess.”
There was silence again on the other side of the line. Then, just remarkable serenity. Jess wondered how her voice could be so calm… that had to be a good sign, right?
“I was just calling to tell you I’m gonna be in town for a couple of days, so I’d like to have my usual arrangements?”
Jess understood immediately. The plan. The contingency. A couple of days. She remembered what it meant. She tried to contain her growing anxiety.
“Yes, yes, of course, Ms. Mercer, anything you need.”
There was another pause, and Jess listened intently to the steady breathing of her interlocutor. And suddenly, she heard something, in the distance, could it be… a baby, crying?
“Also, I need you to contact Epsilon and Nu for me. Could you that, Jess?”
There was no hint of hesitation in that voice. It breathed the determination Jess was so familiar with.
“Yes, consider it done, Ms. Mercer.”
“Thank you, Jess. I’ll see you soon.”
Jess smiled now at a very confused Hector that stood still looking at her.
“I– We hope to see you soon too, Ms. Mercer.”
“Take care, Jess. Bye.”
She could hear the soft smile in the farewell. It was true. She was alive.
Jess, the secretary, hung up the phone and began crying and laughing and whispering terima kashis to Allah.
“Who was it?” Hector asked, but Jess just wiped her tears, smiled, and sighed with determination.
“We need to make some calls. Let’s get back to work.”
Jess jogged back to her desk, a puzzled Hector following behind.
She perfectly remembered the list of names Lena made her memorize. Twenty-four names, each one associated to one letter of the greek alphabet, in case they needed to speak in code, in case someone was listening. She could recite each and every one of them. And she never asked questions.
Though some names on that list were certainly… intriguing, she didn’t know the connection those selected few had with Lena. She wouldn’t dare to ask.
There was K, Kappa, Kara Danvers, of course.
There was Beta, Bruce Wayne.
There was Delta, Diana Prince.
There was Sigma, Barry Allen (who was that guy anyway, it was the only one she couldn’t trace back to any living person).
There was Omega… Clark Kent.
But none of those names mattered now. She had to contact Epsilon and Nu.
Epsilon. Jonathan Essen.
Nu. Natasha Terranova.
On their particular language, there was also the matter of Tess Mercer declaring she was going to be in town for a couple of days. That only meant she was safe, and that she would come back soon.
Of course, Tess Mercer didn’t exist. Like Lena Thorul and so many other aliases.
Jess couldn’t help but smile.
Tess Mercer was the one and only Lena Luthor, CEO of L-Corp, born Lena Kieran Jenkins, daughter of Pamela Jenkins and of unknown father, later legally adopted by Lionel and Lillian Luthor, immediately becoming Lena Kieran Luthor.
And she was coming home.
We'll get some DC Universe Random Easter Eggs from time to time.
I don't know, maybe the Justice League will make a proper appearance in the future.
*Tess Mercer is the identity of an amnesic Lena Luthor as seen in the Smalville series, so when choosing an alias for Lena, there was no other choice.
*Natasha Terranova appeared in the Wonder Woman comics as a Russian-Israeli astronaut that gets trapped in space with the amazon hero. We'll see her in a very different facet in the next few chapters.
*Jonathan Essen is actually an original character based on the idea that Sarah Essen and Commissioner James Gordon had an illegitimate child when he was married to his first wife and while they both worked for the Gotham City Police Department. As seen in the comics canon, James and Sarah eventually got married and Sarah was later killed by The Joker. I was reluctant to use the existing character James Gordon Jr., son of James and Barbara Eileen Gordon, since he's a psychopath and a murderer according to canon. Don't worry about Jon, though, he's friends with Bruce Wayne and has a heart of gold, you'll see.
Edit: As I'm editing this, the show has just aired 3x17 were it is revealed that Lena's middle name is Kieran. My Irish culture loving ass can't pass this opportunity, so I changed the middle name I originally used when I posted this chapter (Lutessa, from the Smallville lore). Plus in my head that Irish middle name was Katie's idea and no one can change my mind.
Chapter 9: Of Gods and Monsters (Part I)
“Will you promise, my darling, that if you find yourself in your father’s place, someday, whatever the reason, you won’t hesitate?”
This is the product of lack of sleep, work related stress and some self-consciousness. I mean I know where the story is going, it's just sometimes is hard to get there.
You don't want to read another one of my lame apologies about being a jerk regarding updates, but hey, I'll do it anyway... so. Sorry about that.
For the record, I pushed myself to update before the season premiere, so this is me saying "fuck you" to my writer's block. Forgive any mistakes, please, because this one's going to be chock full of them. Seriously, guys, I'm sleep deprived. It's going to be embarrassing.
Also, this one's dark.
A lovely friend of mine made a cover for this, you can see it at the end of this chapter. Was reluctant to post it since it kinda contained spoilers for this chapter.
Thank you all for your words of encouragement. You guys are the best.
The approaching sound of thunder growled over the buildings of Metropolis.
Once a proud Babylon, now only ashes and dust.
Once the home of a God, now the kingdom of despair.
The screams had become extinct days ago. There was no one to cry out for a hero now.
Those who still had a voice, only used it to weep, or to tell others to run, to go away, to escape while they had the chance.
Among the chaos of the night, flying through the red sky and the smoke, there was the Archangel that fell from grace.
Her name was not Lucifer.
But many years ago, just like the Prince of Darkness before his downfall, she used to be associated with sunshine and hope.
This powerful being that searched the city with red eyes and fire in her chest was not the Supergirl the world had known and loved.
“Murderer! Murderer, where are you?”
Her words raged through the heavens.
“You cannot hide from me, Kal!”
An unspeakable pain was hidden in the distorted notes of her voice.
“I followed you through the Galaxy, remember? I WILL FIND YOU, MURDERER!”
No, this was not the hero of National City that saved millions with a speech and a symbol of hope.
You could tell just by looking at her. If you dared to look.
Her suit was different. The familiar colors she wore proudly years ago were gone.
So was the skirt that used to disguise her invulnerability in cliched femininity.
No, this suit was very different.
No red, no blue. Only black. Obsidian black.
The black cape followed the lines that her curvy blonde hair traced while dodging buildings and debris. Her hair straightened under the rain and turned the color of ashes. The only sign of ageing was a single white lock that had appeared in the left side of her head, exactly like the one her aunt Astra used to have.
She prayed now that she could be more like Astra, or at least as strong and brave as she was, especially when she needed to do the unimaginable.
She landed hard on the ground, in the middle of what used to be called Krypton Square.
Oh, isn’t it ironic?
The emblem of the House of El could only be identified when the black metallic contours above her chest shined under thunder and lightning.
“Murderer! Come out, come out!” She shouted again, and this time, the heavens answered.
A familiar figure landed a few meters in front of her. It was too dark to make out the face of her opponent, but the red cape and the muscular form in blue was unmistakable.
Without a word, Kara Zor-El launched herself forward with all her strength, burying her fists in her cousin’s ribs and pushing him towards a building. Debris fell upon them, but Kara did not let go.
She needed to see his face, the face of Kal-El, Clark Kent, the betrayer, the murderer…
When Kal raised his head, Kara gasped and realized her mistake.
Instead of big blue eyes, she found a familiar green. A green that used to be enough to make her heart dance in her chest and her knees go weak. A green that filled her with the warmth of a home, a place where she belonged, and just like her home planet, no longer existed.
She regarded the man (the young man, actually) in front of her, completely in shock.
The impecable lines of his jawline were a carbon copy of his mother’s. His dark hair with a hint of brown sparkles wherever light touched it, so like his mother’s.
And the green of his gentle eyes, so unmistakable.
It was like looking at her, again. And be reminded of everything she had lost.
Her son’s name fell from her tongue hard, just as if she had been hit by a Kryptonite bullet. She took a step backwards and realized that he wasn’t wearing just any super suit.
He was wearing the suit that her mother had designed for him: red, blue and gold, just like Supergirl's, yes, but on his chest, a replica of the House of El coat of arms half the size of the one in Kara’s original suit shined on the left side, above his heart. And on the right side, Liam wore proudly the symbol that had become L-Corp’s company logo many years ago, before he was born. Just a beautiful, stylish “L”, embroidered in lapis lazuli and gold.
Liam Jeremiah Danvers-Luthor, known to the world as Superboy, fell to his knees in front of her Kryptonian mother and coughed, trying to regain the rhythm of his breath.
“Liam? My son… what- What are you doing?”
Kara reached out and helped him stand, caressing his face and searching his organs with X-Ray vision, afraid she might had injured him.
“We had to stop you, Ieiu. You can’t do this.”
Another figure landed in front of them. And this time, Kara knew exactly who it was.
Her daughter, dressed in the classical Supergirl suit that used to be Kara’s, stared at her with unequivocal intentions. Seeing Luna dressed like that was like looking in a mirror of her younger self, and it made her ache inside even more.
“You shouldn’t be here, kids,” Kara growled, her voice betraying hesitation. “You shouldn’t be seeing this. Go home now, before it’s too late.”
Luna took a step forward and put her hands on her hips, defiantly. Kara had to close her eyes, the image was so familiar and powerful that she was losing focus. And she had a mission, she could not forget that, even if she had to make her children understand… Even if she had to make terrible choices.
“Everything we know, you taught us.” Luna spoke proudly, not a hint of fear in her voice. “If someone can stop you on this Earth, it’s us, Ieiu.”
Kara was afraid now. Her legs trembled as her son tried to take her hand in his.
"It doesn’t have to be like this,” Liam whispered, gently. His voice sounded like a beautiful melody in the middle of confusion, in the middle of all this chaos and thunder. “She would have never allowed this. You know this is not what Mama wanted-“
Kara almost gave in, almost faltered.
She jerked away from her son’s touch and looked to the heavens, the unforgiving rain reminding her of what she had to do.
“We can’t know now, can we? She’s not here!” Kara turned around and faced her children, her rage taking over like a stream in a flood. “My cousin made sure of that. My cousin, Lex, the Justice League, Brainiac, Doomsday… They all murdered her. And she’s not here anymore, no, she’s not here to watch as I avenge her.”
“And what will you gain?” Luna stepped closer, her face determined as her brother fell in line behind her. “Do you think this will bring her back? Do you think you’ll feel less empty? Do you think it’ll make us feel better?”
Kara Zor-El sighed and asked herself if she could do this… if she could be strong enough.
“It’s not about feelings. I need to do this. They took everything from me, now I’ll take everything from them. I will kill them all.” Kara’s knuckles went white at the thought of revenge. “I will make sure they don’t hurt anyone else, ever again…”
“You know Mom wouldn’t want you to kill for her.”
Liam’s warm, soothing voice, just made her rage boil this time.
“They took EVERYTHING from me!!”
Kara’s voice echoed through the plaza, but her daughter didn’t even flinch.
"That’s not true, Ieiu. You’ve got us. Ukiem kryp rrip. Mom lives in me and in Liam and we need you.”
Kara hesitated, looking for an answer, and Luna seize the moment to take another step forward, searching to connect her eyes with those of her mother, the same blue in both women, the same shade of blonde in their hair.
"We need the one parent we have left to mourn with us. This pain, this loss… we can only overcome it as a family. And we are still a family.” Kara was sobbing now, resisting the urge to fall on her knees and just give up. Give up, and let her rest. Let her go.
Kara died a bit inside at the thought.
Luna crouched in front of her and spoke again, her voice cracking with emotion.
“We need you, Ieiu, we need you by our side, as our mother. Mama would never want you to do this. Stronger together, remember?”
Kara tried to wipe away her tears but her daughter took her hands in hers and squeezed them enough to make her listen. Enough to reach through and break her heart, again.
“They only lack the light to show the way.”
Kara Zor-El raised her head as her daughter said the words of a message that had travelled millions of light years to reach them, to guide her family in times of need. Her tears seemed to dry instantly, and the rapid beating of her heart turned suddenly steadier, calmer.
Her daughter, on the contrary, was crying freely now, begging her, trying to break through the wall of pain Kara had built around her the moment she had felt Lena’s heartbeat stop.
"You made us memorize uncle Jor-El’s words when we were kids, and we’ll never forget. Please be our light again, Ieiu. Just think about Mama. Just think about how much she loved you. Just think about how much WE love you. Please, please, Ieiu, come home. Please.”
Kara crouched mimicking her daughter’s position. She caressed her cheek, wiping one lonely tear away.
“I’m sorry, Loo…” The familiar nickname felt like the lyrics of an adored song in Kara’s tongue. But it was deceiving. It made her daughter missunderstand her real intentions.
Luna reacted with a sad yet hopeful smile.
“Ieiu, it’s alright, we–“
Kara had to stop it. Stop everything. For good.
“No. I’m sorry. I can’t do this, baby girl. I can’t walk away. Not without her.”
Her voice didn’t show any emotion anymore. A little bit of regret for the disappointment her kids were about to feel. A little bit of surrender. But nothing else. Not anymore.
She had to haunt them. The murderers. She had to kill them.
Kara stood on her feet and began walking away from her children, praying to Rao that they would do the same.
She felt them taking off quickly just to land in front of her to stand in her way.
Kara smiled despite herself. Of course, her children were a reflection of Lena’s moral rightness and committed ethics. They wouldn’t walk away.
Even from this.
From the hardest choice of their lives.
Kara felt so proud.
And so, so sad.
“We can’t let you do this either. Please forgive us, Ieiu.”
Kara closed her eyes. Her son’s voice reminded her so much of that of her Kryptonian father. Always so collected. Always so caring. It always grounded her, even when he was a baby. His laughter would always relax her, instantly, the way the sweetest of melodies would do.
This time, it broke her heart.
She opened her eyes, and she just nodded at them.
Kara could tell they were afraid. Confronting one’s parents was one thing. Trying to stop them when they are the most powerful being on Earth… well, that’s something else.
So Kara felt like the one thing she could do right was making sure they would face their duty with strength.
“It’s ok, kids. I understand.”
She smiled. No anger. Just acceptance for what was coming.
And that’s when they launched themselves forward.
It all happened too quickly. It was so strange. The heavens changed color. The reds turned green and the blood in her mouth tasted like metal.
She fought her own children, and a voice, deep within her, cried for her to stop.
But madness was the faithful companion of a broken heart, and she did not refrain.
Not even when the rain stopped and she felt something sharp in her hand. A weapon.
She had not bring a weapon to this fight.
She would never wield a weapon against her own children…
And yet, when the storm was through, she felt blood in her hands. And it wasn’t hers.
Her son was calling someone, but not her. Her other mother. Her son, bleeding in her arms.
No. No. How?
Liam laid trembling. Dying.
A Kryptonite dagger was buried in his chest.
“Te unah, te unah…”
No. No, no, no.
Kara’s mind drowned in confusion. She hadn’t brought a Kryptonite weapon with her. She would never used it against her own child.
Unless… was this madness?
Was this pain finally taking over and revealing the monster she really was?
“Mama? I’m- I’m cold…”
Liam was shivering in her arms. His voice sounded faint and weak. And in agonizing pain.
He was disoriented and confused. But he finally focused on her.
“Oh, Ieiu. I’m so sorry. I love you, Ieiu. Just… Nzhalish khahp, Ieiu, nzhalish khahp, sokao…”
He was asking forgiveness? For what? Had she done this? How could this be happening…
No. This couldn’t be happening.
She touched his face just to see if it was real. The light faded from his eyes. His skin turned white as snow. His cheek felt cold.
No. No. No.
“Liam? Liam, baby?” Kara smiled in disbelieve. She stroke his cheek, his lips, he touched his frozen eyelids. This was her son. It wasn’t true. It coudn’t be. “Liam, get up, baby boy. Get up.” She tried to fly with him in her arms but she felt so heavy. The Kryptonite… could this be real?
“It’s just a scratch, baby boy.” And now her voice was breaking and hot tears were dancing in her eyes even if she still tried to smile. “Let’s take you to… to aunt Alex. Let’s give you a sun bath and…” She tried to lift his body again. She felt tired, tired as she hadn’t been in her whole life. Still she ignored it. This couldn’t be true.
“C’mon, baby boy.” The words were painful. Still, her mind did not surrender. “C’mon, son, it’s nothing. C’mon. Look at me, sweetie. Look at your Ieiu. I’m here, baby, I’m here, your Ieiu is here…”
His head fell from side to side like he was a rag doll.
Her heart stopped.
Did I–? Could I–? Have I killed my son?
“Get away from him!”
“Luna, honey, don’t…”
Her daughter pushed her and took his brother’s body in her arms. She just stepped backwards, unable to understand what had happened…
Luna was shaking Liam’s cold body, just like she had done.
“Li? Li…? Wake up, Li?”
He was gone.
Luna emitted a long, heartbreaking cry.
Kara Zor-El trembled with pain and confusion. This was not possible. This was a cruel joke. She had to be dreaming, she had to be trapped inside a nightmare.
Her daughter turned to her, red dots of rage shining in her eyes.
“What have you done?! WHAT HAVE YOU DONE?!”
And Kara just surrendered.
Luna threw punches and kicks at her body and she just let her do it harder and harder without even raising her hands in self-defense.
If this was real, she deserved it.
She deserved something else.
“Tae!?” Luna yelled at her in Kryptonian, red eyes ready to hit her with heat vision any minute now. “Why won’t you fight?! Look at what you did!! SKULIR! That is your son! Nan zhod ue!”
Yes, she could see it. She could see what she’d done to her own son.
Her son, and Lena’s.
Luna was lost in her anger now.
And Kara was beyond lost.
She watched as her daughter flew back to her brother’s body to take out of his chest the weapon that had killed him.
The weapon Kara Zor-El had no memory of.
Luna looked at her one last time, the dagger burning in her hands, but no sign of weakness in her voice.
“You’re not my mother, you’re not my Ieiu!! You’re a monster!!”
And Kara Zor-El just looked at her daughter straight in the eye, with the most outpouring understanding, opening her arms and welcoming in her chest the Kryptonite dagger that had been buried in his son moments ago.
Oświęcim, Poland. January 1974.
Memorial and Museum Auschwitz-Birkenau
Her father’s voice did not break through the girl’s mind. Not at first, at least.
The silence was what struck her the most. The silence, as she stared at the long railroad. White and grey clouds hovered over them, and the 13 year-old girl with red hair and a crimson coat was daunted by the view though she couldn’t quite understand what it all meant, not just yet.
Her father’s voice was deeper, this time, but not louder. Never louder.
Liliana ran quickly to the tall man’s side and took his hand to let herself be guided into the camp, going through a gate that read Arbeit Macht Frei, carved in iron. Liliana, already fluent in 8 languages by the age of 10, knew what the words meant.
Work sets you free.
As they walked hand in hand, Liliana regarded her father with ingenuous fascination. His grey coat and hat made him look utterly elegant in her eyes; he looked like a movie star, though Liliana knew her father was no actor. He was a scientist, and so she would become one like him, someday.
“Do you know where we are, my darling?”
Liliana just nodded as they kept on walking.
“A lot of people died here.” The young girl said with genuine maturity, looking straight forward.
Her father sighed.
“No, they didn’t die. They were murdered.”
The sound of their footsteps was heavy on Liliana’s ears. Birds chipped in the distance. A plane was passing by, thousands of feet above their heads.
“Murdered by the millions.” Her father specified.
As a reaction, Liliana squeezed quickly her father’s hand.
“Why, Papa? What did they do?”
Her father made a slight nod touching the brim of his hat as they passed a couple of elders that just nodded back without a word.
“Most of them, just exist.” Liliana’s father began explaining, his tone warm, but steady. “The vast majority of the people that died here believed in God in a different way than their executioners. Others didn’t believe in God at all. They were intellectuals, artists, politicians. Others just had a different way of life. They were all innocent. That’s all that matters.”
They walked for a few more meters until they reached the metal door to a decayed-looking building.
“But what’s important now,” Liliana’s father said, as they stopped in front of the door, “what’s important is that they all were killed because of hatred and ignorance.”
He looked down at his daughter, and took her chin in between his index finger and his thumb to make her look him in the eye.
“Come, my darling, I want to show you something.”
He knocked at the metal door. After five seconds, the door opened. An old man allowed them inside. He didn’t say a word.
Liliana noticed her was a wearing glasses, and his shirt and pants looked dirty, as if he’d been looking for things in the dirt for a long time.
Father and daughter walked silently, hand in hand, down a long corridor with dim green lights hanging in its ceiling.
Liliana thought it looked like one of her nightmares. But she didn’t say a thing.
They turned left and finally reached a large grey room, with dozens of people working silently, each sitting in an individual post. All of them wore gloves and white robes.
They walked among them, not one of them paying any attention to their presence.
Liliana noticed they were carefully inspecting items: rings, watches, glasses, bracelets…
Liliana didn’t know how to call what they were doing, and if it was a profession, she certainly didn’t know the word.
When they reached the end of the room, her father let go of her hand.
The little girl complied and focused her attention back to his father.
He just pointed towards the pile of things in front of them.
It was big as a mountain.
Just shoes, tiny, little baby shoes.
Liliana looked back to the men and women inspecting items and writing notes under the light of the lamps.
She turned back to the mountain. She knew. Instantly, she knew.
Her father didn’t even let her ask first.
“You understand, my darling, that this is a crime against Humanity?”
The girl nodded, and she mimicked her father’s dryness in her response.
Father and daughter were looking at the mountain of shame now. There was no need for eye contact between them. Liliana knew what her father was telling her, even without saying a word.
“What would you say if I told you that your Papa could have prevented all of this?”
This time, Liliana hesitated.
“What would you say if I told you your Papa had a way to stop all of this, but he was too weak to do it?”
Her father was looking at her now, his eyes red, his face hard as stone.
He looked back at the mountain. His rage was gone. It had been just a second, but he just wouldn’t let it take control.
“I build a weapon, my darling. A weapon that could wipe out entire cities in an instant and leave buildings unharmed, standing proud and tall. And although my weapon could spare inanimate objects, it could not tell the difference from an innocent and a villain.”
Liliana wanted to leave now. Something in his voice had changed. She wanted to take her father’s hand and go back to the car, tell him she wanted to go home. But home… “home is just a word, Liliana”, he always told her.
“So when the time came that I could put an end to this, that I could kill the villains behind this atrocity, I was weak.”
Through clenched teeth, Liliana’s father swallowed endless pain that would eventually kill him, though neither of them knew, back then.
“I could’ve saved millions. But in the end, I couldn’t bring myself to sacrifice the few for the many. Your father was a coward, Liliana. And this–“ he pointed at the pile, his finger trembling in the air, “this is what happens when men surrender to cowardice!”
And for the first time in her life, Liliana watched as her father cried.
She didn’t say anything. She just let him weep.
Liliana regarded him in silence, both scared and fascinated as her father, a man that had all the answers to all the questions she could think of, sat down on the floor, not minding his expensive suit, and broke down like a child.
She just stood there, and waited, unsure of what to do, confused by not knowing what was expected of her in a moment like this.
Not one of the workers in the facility approached them, or asked them to leave. They just kept to themselves, completely focused on their task.
Liliana finally sat down on the floor, next to her father, within arm’s reach but not touching him.
After a few minutes, he finally spoke.
“Will you promise, my darling, that if you find yourself in your father’s place, someday, whatever the reason, you won’t hesitate?”
It was hardly a whisper.
It began quietly, but with remaking strength, her father’s voice changed from piano to allegretto to regain all the power that she knew he could summon.
It reminded her of her favourite piece: Beethoven’s Symphony Number 7, op. 92, second movement… It began quietly and almost broken, just to rejoice in the wonders of a full orchestra that showed her how powerful pain and sadness could be.
“Will you do what I could not, my dear? Will you be strong enough?”
In her mind, Liliana heard the change of pace and the unmistakable entrance of the timbals.
Liliana Olszak, the only daughter of Professor Tomáš Olszak, would never allow something like this.
And she would think about this conversation every day for the rest of her life.
Even after becoming a doctor. Even after embracing a different nationality from the one she was born in. Even after getting married, and changing her name.
Even after her father died, her husband committed suicide and her son was imprisoned.
She would not fail.
She would not surrender to the cowardice of men.
She would not break her promise.
“I will, Papa. I will be strong.”
Kara felt the increasing heartbeat and heard the overwhelming cry even before she could identify the source.
But the fact that she had focused in those two things out of the million sounds of the city without even trying clearly foreshadowed it was Lena.
It took her approximately 3.2 seconds to reach the DEO’s medbay from where she was while doing her last recon flight of the night.
The babies were crying, probably upset due to Lena’s cries in her sleep.
A mortified nurse looked at Kara, apologising in silence. The hero didn’t have the time to even acknowledge the poor woman's presence.
Lena was tossing and turning in her sleep, her heartbeat off the charts, sweat all over her face. She was crying, saying words Kara couldn’t comprehend.
“Lena. Lena… please wake up. It’s just a dream.”
With a sudden gasp and her fingers holding tight to Kara’s arm, Lena finally opened her eyes and looked at Kara, absolutely confused and disoriented.
Kara was panicking inside, but channeling her Supergirl persona, she spoked as calmed as possible, never taking her eyes away from Lena’s.
“Lena, it’s me. You’re safe. You’re at the DEO. The babies are safe. Whatever you were dreaming, it was just that, a dream.”
Lena looked between Kara and the babies, as if her mind was trying to determine whether or not this was reality.
“I… Kara…” She stuttered.
Kara smiled warmly at her and sat on the edge of Lena’s bed. She caressed her cheek and wiped away a tear with her thumb.
For some reason, that made Lena shiver. And she instantly and hopelessly began crying. Softly this time. Completely awake.
“Hey… no, no, it’s ok– don’t cry…”
A knot of pain formed in Kara’s stomach and she immediately opened her arms to Lena, wrapping her in the red cape, not giving her a second to hesitate.
Lena surrendered to the warmth of Kara’s embrace, and just wept and wept.
The nurse was able to calm down the babies and left the room silently, comically trying to keep the sound of her footsteps to the minimum as she walked away in her tiptoes.
Kara made a mental note to buy Ruth (the nurse) the best cupcakes she could find in town and bring them to her next morning.
Lena was still trembling in her arms when Kara found the courage to push her away, gently, in order to look in her eyes.
“Hey. It’s ok. You’re here. I’m here.”
Lena looked at her with big, wet puppy eyes. Kara almost emitted a cry of pure emotional meltdown seeing that face. Almost.
“Is there something I can do? Do you want me to bring you anything?”
Lena shook her head. Kara kissed her forehead, impulsively, and she immediately regretted the gesture as maybe Lena could interpret that as… condescending?
“Just…” Lena whispered, then shyly, “can you please hold me again? For… for a little while?”
Kara smiled warmly, and nodded.
“Yes, Lee. I can do that.”
The nickname was new, but it slipped Kara’s mouth easily, as if she had called her that a million times before. Lena didn’t protest, she just buried her face in the crook of Kara’s neck and sighed deeply, one hand tightly wrapped around Kara’s nape, the other holding on to the neckline of her suit, letting Kara rock her and ground her and bring her back to the present, where no mother was killing her son and where no daughter was killing her mother.
Kara’s plan was to hold Lena until she calmed down, and either be ready to encourage her if she wanted to talk about it or just dismiss any concerns and be supportive if she wasn’t.
Kara’s plan was not to lose track of time and spend the night in Lena’s bed.
And Kara’s plan was not to fall asleep in her supersuit, with Lena Luthor wrapped around her body.
But you can’t always get what you want. Sometimes, you get what you need.
Beethoven’s Symphony Number 7, op. 92, second movement, blasted through the speakers and resonated through the warehouse, engulfing her in the long kiss of music.
Her father’s old gramophone put to shame any modern technology, and she wouldn’t have her favorite piece any other way. She enjoyed the cracks and the twists of vinyl. It reminded her of life’s little imperfections. It reminded her of the struggle.
She could see clearly when she rewarded herself with moments like this.
She emerged stronger, wiser.
Of course she had heard him approaching, but she did not open her eyes to look at him. She could hear the hum of the contained radiation within his chest even above the passacaglia of the violas and cellos.
“Our source in the DEO just sent word.”
Ah, Beethoven, a light in the darkness. She sighed with gusto as the orchestra approached the final fugato.
“I’m listening, John.”
Metallo cleared his throat and tried to raise his voice just the necessary amount to match the volume of the music.
“The twins were born by Cesarean. Yesterday, at dawn. Apparently they’re perfectly healthy.”
“And my daughter?” Eyes still closed, a hand raised to follow the imaginary notes of the music in the air.
“She’s fine. But it seems the Kryptonian refuses to leave her side.”
“That’s not a problem. On the contrary…”
Percussion came in with a vengeance. Ah, the fireworks. She loved that part.
“Go get Henshaw. We’re going out.”
She finally opened her eyes and stood up to smile at Metallo’s confused look.
She was feeling especially cheerful now.
“I’m a grandmother now. It’s time for a family reunion, don’t you think?”
And Lillian’s favorite Beethoven piece as directed by the genius of Leonard Bernstein: https://youtu.be/J12zprD7V1k
Chapter 10: Eliza – An Interlude
Some people just didn’t understand how love works, or they simply refused to face the truth. But Eliza knew better, she had learned it a long time ago; love is simply an elaborate disguise that pain uses to reach us easily, when our guard is down and we are at our most vulnerable.
All righty. So... this is awkward.
I know it's been ages you guys, and I'm very sorry for not updating before.
Life just happened, got promoted at work, stress, deadlines... You know how it is.
But we're back. Hope there's someone still out there.
It was Eliza who woke them up, at around 5 am, only because she didn’t have any other choice. The babies were hungry, and only one person in the building could take care of that.
Dr. Danvers had actually been up all night.
After the premature birth of the twins, she had begged J’onn to let her stay around to take care of Lena and the babies, just for a few days, just in case there were any anomalies in their physical state. Eliza made her case telling J’onn he wouldn’t be able to find a physician with a better background on human and Kryptonian biology willing to take care of mixed-race newborns. The Martian tried to undermine her for his own reasons, saying they had Alex, but Eliza reminded him that the special circumstances of the whole situation were reason enough to let Alex out of the matter, and just rely on her if she needed help.
J’onn didn’t buy it for a second.
He asked her how she was feeling after finding out her long lost husband was alive and well – mostly well.
She smiled, that Danvers sad but I’m-tough-and-I’ll-be-alright-stop-digging-in-my-emotions-because-I-might-break-down smile he had seen in both Alex and Kara so many times before. And J’onn didn’t push the matter anymore.
Then, he told her that if the special circumstances of the babies were reason enough to pull Alex out of the equation, she shouldn’t get involved either. She was the grandmother, after all.
Eliza had scoffed and said something like nonsense, J’onn, stop worrying and put me to work.
J’onn read the determination in her eyes and something else in her mind (literally) and just complied, inviting her to make herself at home in one of the quarters reserved for staff, just a floor above the sick-bay.
Jeremiah was staying at the DEO too, but on a different floor. Although he could roam free around the building, he was kind of isolated, for now, while government officials had him tangled up in passive-aggressive interrogations and all sorts of psychological tests.
Eliza was kind of grateful for that. They hadn’t talk. A real talk, that is. And she was glad she had Kara, Lena and the twins to focus on. For now, at least.
So at around 1 am, Eliza was trying to refresh her mind by reading one of her old confidential files on Superman’s physiology. And that was when her computer started beeping. It was warning her about Lena’s heart-rate, going up like a rocket. Without second thought, Eliza dropped everything and ran to the med-bay, as fast as she could.
When she was running down the stairs, she heard something very familiar: the sweeping noise of someone flying into the building. The sounds that followed were unequivocal: the swinging of her adoptive daughter’s cape, her boots landing on the floor.
When she finally turned the corner and the med-bay appeared in her sight, they were already wrapped in an embrace that seemed unbreakable even from afar. Kara, in her super-suit, was rocking Lena in her arms. And the twins were crying, just like their human mother, but for different reasons, obviously. The nurse covering the night shift, Ruth, always ready and capable, was already taking care of them while Kara held Lena.
Eliza had to cover her mouth with her hands to stop the unexpected sob that was threatening her otherwise perpetual composure. She couldn’t help the silent tears, though.
The image was so powerful, even in the dim lights of the med-bay and through the crystal walls that allowed her to be witness to it. Seeing them like that, it finally hit her: this was real. The pain, the torture, the unspeakable horrors they all had endured were real, and they couldn’t be wiped out by simply ignoring them.
Some people just didn’t understand how love works, or they simply refused to face the truth. But Eliza knew better, she had learned it a long time ago; love is simply an elaborate disguise that pain uses to reach us easily, when our guard is down and we are at our most vulnerable. If you are attached to someone because of love, sure, it can be good, it can last. Maybe not forever, but of course it will make an impact on you. For a few years, at least…
Oh, but the moment you are bind to someone by pain –pain, not hate; pain because they hurt you, or just because you share equal pain, or maybe because something happened that broke you–, that moment, it lasts forever.
Eliza didn’t know if what bind her to Jeremiah was love anymore. She needed time to figure it out. But she sure knew that the pain between them would be the most unbreakable bond of all, whether she found the strength to let him back into her heart or not. The years lost would cloud their embraces and their shared laughs, even if they didn’t notice. Maybe they could be happy again, maybe they could grow old together and forget about the pain. But, still, at any given moment, a color in the sky, a familiar smell or a mundane phrase would take them back to that second of infinite affliction, echoing through their lives, reverberating through their memories like the faint radio-waves of the Big-Bang that have reached us, here on Earth, even billions of years after the explosion. The fact that you need a tool to see them does not mean they are not there.
Eliza knew this as a scientist, as a wife, as a mother.
Some people just weren’t ready to accept this. Some people want to make love easy, a one-way street in which you mark your own pace. A chimera that is fed to us each and every day through cheesy rom-coms and lame advertisements of perfume. The happily ever-afters that had been shoved down our throats for centuries of patriarchal control, close-minded expressions of religion or simply by utter ignorance.
It’s not that Eliza Danvers didn’t believe in love. And yes, love can be a wonderful adventure and she wouldn’t have it any other way… But.
But still, the cost was too high. Most of the time, it was worth it, but she could see so many people launching themselves blindly into the arms of love with no intention of accepting the consequences of their acts.
This went far beyond romantic love. For example, she was bind to her daughters by her unconditional affection for them, but also by the pain of not being able to reach through the walls they had built over the years. Alex closed her heart to her for a very long time, after her father’s disappearance. Not that she blamed her. But she hand’t get her back up until she joined the DEO and regained a sense of purpose in her life. And Eliza did blame herself for not being able to help her own daughter.
And Kara… She had told her something, that luminous day she arrived in their Midvale home, all confusion and nerves, grasping tightly her cousin’s hand.
I know I’m not your Mom, sweetheart. But you’re safe here.
Safe? Of all the things she could have told her, she chose to say a blatant lie. It didn’t matter that she had believed it in the moment. It didn’t matter that despite not being her birth mother, she would have given her life willingly in order to protect Kara forever.
She had escaped the destruction of her planet, but no child that survives a tragedy of a magnitude like that can be save from their memories. Kal-El had had the easy journey to heroism, despite his struggle with his identity and his heritage. He had no memory of Krypton. In his head, it was all a dream – moving pictures in Kryptonian crystals, words of grandeur and idealism in the confident voice of his dead father resonating through the Fortress of Solitude…
But Kara. Kara remembered everything, every cry for help, every scream, every life that was no more, and through the long nights that Eliza held her after a nightmare, they formed a bond sculpted in sorrow as much as in mutual affection.
Kara, because the damage was too great to bear. Eliza, because she couldn’t take that pain away.
That’s why this made sense.
The Kryptonian hero that saw her planet die, that had memories of the place where millions perished in an instant, millions of light years away from her past, but always reviving the explosions inside her mind. And the heiress to a kingdom of lies, death and destruction, constantly struggling to do what’s right, carrying upon her shoulders a guilt that wasn’t supposed to be hers.
Together, because of pain.
Someone had made an unforgivable act and from that, an infrangible connection had been welded.
It was horrible. It was perfect. It was madness. And it was a fact.
She could see it clearly now, and she wondered if Lillian Luthor had seen it too and used it to her advantage…
Kara Zor-El and Lena Luthor. A perfect match.
Eliza couldn’t tell how far it would go, what implications laid buried under the layers of pain and affection that would tie them together. But she knew the bond between them was real. And yes, it made sense. All the sense there could be in the whole wide world.
And that was why Eliza sobbed. They were all connected, all of them – Jeremiah, Alex, Kara, Lena, J’onn, herself… even Lillian. And no matter what happens, the connection would be there, forever.
After long minutes in which she couldn’t even move, afraid of being noticed by her adoptive daughter’s enhance senses, she headed back upstairs and stayed up all night, drowning her mind in bittersweet memories and long forgotten fears.
When she appeared in the med-bay again, after a few hours, she didn’t let any of this shine through her smile and her caffeine inflated mind. She relieved Ruth from duty, thanking her for her professionalism and discretion.
Lena and Kara were still asleep despite the anxious little sounds the twins were making. Eliza took little Luna from the incubator before the whining became a war cry. Out of the two, she had proved to be the most demanding and vocal. Liam, for now, seemed to be an unconcerned little guy that simply followed his sister’s lead whenever it was time to eat, poop or demand attention.
Eliza approached Lena’s bed carefully with Luna in her arms, wrapped in a white blanket, with a cute little cotton hat covering her head. Lena was sleeping with her back flat against the mattress, her beautiful long hair loose and a little messy, her arms above her head, resting in the pillow in a comfortable position. She was still wearing a hospital gown but Kara had promised to get her a DEO tracksuit or something because, in Lena’s own words, she needed to feel like a person again. Eliza had advised them against regular clothes since the stitches from the C-section would heal better under light materials, but Lena was determined to get back on track as quickly as possible and Eliza knew better than to go against a patient with outstanding willpower.
Beside Lena, there was a tangled mess of golden locks and a red cape covering them both. Kara had kicked her boots off at some point in the night, since they were scattered on the floor a few meters from the bed. Her face was buried in the crook of Lena’s neck and covered by her own hair. And an arm was tightly secured around Lena’s waist.
Eliza smiled silently but quickly shifted back into her Dr. Danvers professional persona. It would be better to do it that way and simply ignore the situation, she certainly didn’t want to make them uncomfortable…
“Rise and shine, girls,” she said softly, trying to wake them up as gently as possible, “I’m afraid there’s some people here demanding your attention and they can get pretty cranky if they don’t get what they want…”
Luna made a point by emitting a high pitched cry.
That seemed to wake Lena up. She was the first one to open her eyes. Kara, on the other hand, just groaned and shifted a little, but didn’t make any further sign revealing intention to wake up. Lena covered her momentarily photophobic eyes with one hand and frowned. Then she rubbed her forehead as if trying to convince her mind to leave the comfortable embrace of sleep… and she finally focused on Eliza and the baby. Seeing the confused look on her face, Eliza smiled apologetically at her while she rocked Luna in her arms, trying to appease the increasingly grumpy newborn.
“I’m sorry, Lena, I wouldn’t wake you up if I didn’t have any other choice. You should rest as much as you can, but… I’m afraid we run out of your milk. They need you now.”
Dr. Danvers’ voice was sweet and calm, but Luna’s cries were now on full throttle and Liam decided it was time to join her sister and create a polyphony from hell.
Lena heard Kara groaning louder by her side. She realized then that Kara’s arm was wrapped around her waist, that they had shared the tiny bed all night, and that Eliza was standing right there. She felt her cheeks burning from the awkwardness of it all, but she didn’t had the time to torture herself with embarrassment. She shook it off by gently removing Kara’s arm, as if it was no big deal, and trying to sat up on the bed.
“It’s fine, Dr. Danvers,” she murmured, voice still hoarse from sleep. “And no more breast pumps, please. I need to do this by myself.”
Lena got in position to receive baby Luna in her arms. Eliza helped by activating the mechanism that made the adjustable base of the bed go up, making Lena sit in a comfortable position for nursing.
Kara groaned louder, but didn’t move. They ignored her. The movement of the bed made her forehead rest against Lena’s shoulder. Her eyes were still closed, apparently.
“As you wish,” Eliza said while Lena finally took Luna in her arms. Eliza recovered another pillow from the other bed inside the med-bay and helped Lena get the baby in a comfortable position. “But remember that from time to time breast pumping can be a good idea, that way you won’t have to be 24/7 available for them and Kara here can take some of the hard work off your back…”
Maybe it was hearing her name, maybe the fact that Luna’s cries came to an abrupt stop, maybe it was the contented silence that replaced them…
Kara woke up, finally. She opened her eyes and looked up, only seeing Lena’s perfect jawline from her angle. Kara was the image of confusion, her eyes half-closed, her lips forming the beginning of a protest. She tried to sit on the bed, just to finally focus on Eliza, then Lena… and finally, her eyes went wider than a full moon.
Lena was breastfeeding a baby. Their baby.
And Kara was… well, on the floor.
Apparently, the Girl of Steel could do some very human things like falling unceremoniously from a bed, given the proper mix of drowsiness and shock.
“I’M OK, I’M OK!” Kara cried anxiously from the floor.
She instantly jumped back to her feet, comically bouncing up and down.
“See? The floor is fine. I didn’t break it.”
Eliza frowned and dedicated Kara a sympathetic smile, taking pity on her daughter, but Lena laughed out loud uncontrollably. Luna lost her grip on her mother’s nipple, so of course she protested. Loudly.
“Oh, I’m sorry, baby girl, I’m sorry…” Lena said trying to reposition her left nipple on her daughter’s mouth.
Kara didn’t say a thing. It was awfully comical to see Supergirl standing barefoot, two feet away from the bed, biting her lower lip, nervously playing with the edges of her cape, and staring… at the ceiling.
Eliza and Lena shared knowing looks, but this time, Lena was able to repress her laughter.
“Kara, I’m sorry. Maybe we should’ve warned you about the baby in the room…”
The fact that Lena was cutting Kara some slack didn’t mean she shouldn’t use a teasing tone…
Kara scoffed, trying to show some confidence. She accomplished exactly the opposite.
“Warn me? Don’t be ridiculous. You’re just doing a natural thing. The most natural thing of all things that are natural. I’m ok with natural things. I mean, I love them. The things. The natural things, I mean. I love them. IT! I love it. Nature! I love nature. Haha. Warn me, you say. Nah. It’s just, you know, I’m giving you guys space. Three is a crowd especially in that tiny bed. I mean, what is that? A toy?!”
Lena sighed and Eliza just watched in awe as the magic happened…
“Kara, come here, please?”
Lena’s voice was soft and firm at the same time. It was a command and a plea. It made Kara melt right before Eliza’s eyes.
Kara took a few steps towards the bed, still looking at the floor.
The same warmth on Lena’s tone made her look up.
“Look at me.”
A reluctant, shy smile appeared on Kara’s face, and Lena reciprocated with a shy smile of her own.
“It’s ok. You can watch, if you want to. It’s not the first time I do this, you know.”
Lena turned her attention to the baby and caressed her tiny cheekbone with her index finger.
Kara was suddenly very aware of the way Luna was sucking on Lena’s breast and the happy sounds she was making.
“Well, it is the first time I’m watching you do it!”
Lena didn’t even bother to turn away from her daughter.
“Sshhh. Just look at her.”
And at last, Kara kind of calmed down and was able to appreciate the sheer beauty of the moment. No one dared to say a word for a few seconds, all three women far too fascinated by little Luna.
For a moment, Eliza thought that if they could hang on to this moment, they could be – they should be alright. If they could only hang on to this preciousness, despite the fact that it was born from something terrible...
“Oh, Rao. She’s so beautiful.” Kara finally whispered. “So um… huh… how… what…”
It was obvious what Kara wanted to ask, so Lena just cut to the chase.
“It’s weird, yes. And I still get very anxious… I was lucky I had Dr. Danvers with me the first time I did it. I was a nervous wreck.”
Kara could only contain her curiosity for a couple of seconds.
“Does it hurt?”
Lena smiled, still mesmerized by Luna. “No, not really.”
“For now.” Eliza said with a smirk.
Kara shoot her a disapproving look and Lena raised her eyebrow looking incredulously at Dr. Danvers.
Eliza raised her hands in a matter-of-fact defensive mechanism.
“Well, I’m just saying, darling, you need to take good care of your nipples, ok? You’re just beginning but I’m gonna write you a prescription for this wonderful ointment that’s gonna keep your breasts nice and soft.”
A very uncomfortable Kryptonian groan echoed through the med-bay. A playful smile began to appear in the corner of Eliza’s mouth and Lena understood immediately. Dr. Danvers ignored her daughter and proceed on with her explicit advise.
“You don’t want any nipple cracks or abrasions while you’re breastfeeding, those are painful, let me tell ya. Also, I can recommend an oil that’s going to help you wipe out any stretch marks from the pregnancy.”
“That sounds wonderful, Dr. Danvers. Thank you. I do have some questions about diet and exercise, if you don’t mind? I know my hips won’t ever be the same, but still… I’d like to get back in shape as soon as possible.”
Kara found something very interesting on the floor, once again. If only there was an emergency on the city or something...
“Oh, don’t call me Dr. Danvers, darling, you’re not one of my students. Just Eliza, please. And consider me your personal physician, from now on, if you’d like that. You can ask me anything.”
“So, about milk leakage–”
“OH, FOR THE LOVE OF RAO!”
Lena and Eliza exchanged perplexed looks as Kara was suddenly very aware of how loud she could be sometimes.
“I’m sorry! I’m so sorry, guys, seriously, I am, it’s just–”
Kara stopped herself the moment she saw her adoptive mother and the biological mother of her children biting their mouths, trying to suppress amused grins.
“You two are doing this on purpose, right? You want to torture me.” Kara complained with an accusatory index finger pointing at them.
Eliza just shook her head and grabbed some of her equipment, knowing it was time to give the girls some space.
“I know you’re not as scrupulous as you want to appear, Kara. Lena is going to need your full involvement now, so deal with it, honey. Perhaps you could start by helping out with your son.” Eliza turned to Lena. “Ready for Liam, sweetie?”
“Can you – can you breastfeed them both – I mean – at the same time?”
“I do have two breasts, Kara.”
Eliza smiled and touched her daughter’s arm gently.
“Can you get Liam for her, sweetie?” There was no hint of teasing in Dr. Danvers’ tone, this time.
Kara just nodded.
“l’ll leave you girls to it. I’ll be downstairs if you need anything.”
Lena nodded and smiled warmly at Eliza, with sincere gratitude.
“Thank you, Dr. Dan- I mean... Eliza.”
Eliza left the room as a hint of hope for the future put a dreamy smile in her face.
Perhaps they could do this. Perhaps there was a more powerful bond than pain. Yes. Hope. She could feel it. Perhaps.
J’onn intercepted Eliza as she walked towards the command room. Her smile disappeared the moment she met the Martian’s eyes.
“We have a problem.” Eliza would have known even if he hadn’t said a word.
“What is it, J’onn?”
“Lillian Luthor. She’s here.”
And that’s when Dr. Danvers knew that her theory about hope was about to be tested.
Chapter 11: Of Gods and Monsters (Part II)
AKA the one where Lillian slays. Yasss, girl, preach!
Plus, we dive into a little hard-core sci-fi.
And of course Kara and Lena continue to bond through The Twins… and uh, stuff.
HAPPY PRIDE MONTH, EVERYONE!
I wanted to do something special since it’s P-R-I-D-E and here it is!
An almost 30k words chapter, people.
I mean, what am I doing? Should I bring this up on therapy? Do I need a hug? Have I been possessed by the spirit of 20gayteen? Should I dig a hole and live in it?
I just couldn’t divide this chapter, it simply didn’t work any other way. Besides, there’s fluff, angst, sci-fi and Alex swearing!
Please, please, forgive any mistakes because my eyes are bleeding. I mean, the moment I finished this one I went mad as in "editing, what is that? suddenly I can’t read lol bye". If you see anything especially horrendous, and I’m sure you will, please let me know and I’ll fix it. Maybe.
Lots of Easter eggs for all of you DC nerds out there. May I recommend cult classic Crisis on Infinite Earths? Nerd alert: it’s so 80s that Supergirl wears a headband!
To acknowledge the elephant in the room: yes, this one has a Mon-El scene. Yes, it’s plot-wise necessary. He’s gonna be around for a couple more chapters but then… you just wait for it. Please bear with me, kids. I know the slow burn is torture but we’re getting closer. Also, fuck canon, James Olsen deserves better and I don’t want anything to do with the egotistical hypocrite creep that they had turned him into on the show.
On a serious note, sadly, a few weeks ago Margot Kidder passed away, she played Lois Lane in the 1978 Superman movie. She suffered bipolar disorder and was an advocate for mental health awareness. Her Lois Lane continues to be my favorite live-action incarnation of the character, along with the wonderful Teri Hatcher. Ms. Kidder was truly a real-life hero. She will be missed.
My crazy cat lady Tumblr: @jennysparksandtheauthority
Be safe, eat your veggies, stay hydrated, take your pills and spread the love.
Eliza had just left the med-bay.
Kara held little Liam tightly in her arms as she approached Lena, sitting on the bed, still nursing Luna.
Without even thinking, Kara had used her red cape to wrap him, even though Liam had a soft white blanket around him and a little cotton hat that matched the one his sister was wearing.
For a second, the image struck Kara, and a painful memory took her back in time and across space: baby Kal-El being introduced in a space-ship by her uncle Jor-El. Baby Kal, confused and alone, escaping his world, leaving behind fire, blood and death.
Chills ran down her spine and she felt dizzy.
She remembered her own journey. Darkness. The terrifying silence. The desperation of knowing no one she knew or loved would come to her rescue. The thought of dying out there in the cold, empty space. His baby cousin would be alone, forever. Her people, her civilization, her family… all extinct.
No, Kara yelled internally, in the vast loneliness of her mind. This baby in her arms was not Kal-El. It was Liam.
Liam, my son.
A child that would be surrounded by love and warmth as long as she, Kara Danvers, Kara Zor-El, existed.
Luna and Liam Zor-El, a hopeful little voice whispered inside her, grandchildren of Zor-El and Alura, heirs to the legacy of the House of El. She felt dizzy with those uncalled for thoughts crossing her mind.
It didn’t matter that she hadn’t asked for them. It didn’t matter that Lillian Luthor had intended for them to have a very different destiny.
“My children”, Kara allowed herself to say that phrase aloud. It was a weak, incredulous whisper.
Lena didn’t hear. Or pretended she didn’t.
Kara was too lost in her own mind to care, anyway. The phrase resonated again inside her head, with invigorating power this time, filling her chest with pride and making her heart beat loud, as if she had shouted it to the sky: my children.
Is this what all mothers talk about? Unconditional love?
Kara looked back to Lena and Luna. Lena had closed her eyes and let her head fall back. She looked exhausted. Her hair was loose and messy. Her skin was paler than ever. Little drops of sweat appeared below her hairline. And yet, somehow, Kara felt a wave of peacefulness washing through her. She couldn’t help but smile as little Luna protested when she lost her grip on her mother’s breast. Lena opened her eyes and held her daughter tighter, her mouth emitting the most lovely soothing sounds.
Kara focused on Liam, again. Sweet little Liam, who despite being second in line to have his breakfast, looked at Kara quietly, with half-opened eyelids, then proceeding to show her the cutest yawn she’d ever seen in her whole life. His eyes appeared grey in the morning light, but Kara noticed that there was a spark of dark blue in his irides. It was too soon to tell how they’d eventually turn out, but Kara couldn’t repress a smile, relishing the moment. Would Liam’s eyes look like hers, or Lena’s? Would Luna’s fair hair stay like that or would it turn darker with time? How will their voices sound when they say their first words? Will they be able to fly with her, by her side? Will she able to teach them and care for them and be there when they jump to the sky? Will she get to see their faces when they fly high to watch the sun rise over the city for the first time?
A tiny voice inside of her still couldn’t believe this, though.
How can I love them so much… so quickly, so irrationally?
Then it hit her. How absurd and lame and domestic this was: Supergirl, alien refugee and superhero, barefoot, holding her newborn son.
Lena Luthor, powerful CEO and one of the greatest minds on Earth, breastfeeding their daughter.
A reality that didn’t exist 48 hours ago was now more plausible than the sun she could feel energizing her skin when she flew up and away, high in the sky.
It should be utterly terrifying. But, somehow, it was not. And that was what ultimately upset Kara.
How can I be so calm about this now?
Luckily, she could ignore all these worries and insecurities and let herself be hypnotized by the cute little sounds of babies and the softness of their skins.
“Hi, Liam,” Kara whispered as she approached the bed. “This is Lena. She’s your mommy.”
Lena’s eyes grew wide involuntarily. So did Kara’s, a second of realization after.
“Oh, too soon? I’m so–“
“No, Kara. It’s alright. They will have to call me something.”
“Ok. One step at a time,” Kara pursed her lips and smiled down at Liam, “how about I just tell you, baby boy, that she’s a scientist?”
Lena raised one of her inquisitive eyebrows towards Kara, but a half-smile gave her away.
“And a badass businesswoman.”
“And a badass businesswoman–” Kara repeated with a smirk.
“Oh, and MIT alma mater.” Lena readjusted Luna on the soft pillow in her lap so she could hold Liam too. “You could also tell him I graduated summa cum laude. And I have two Ph.Ds. And I’m the youngest CEO on the Forbes 400 list–”
Kara chuckled softly.
“Aaaand she’s obviously very modest. Yes, see, she’s awesome.” Kara poked Liam’s little nose as she carefully placed him in Lena’s arms. They were both so tiny, apparently so fragile, that it was easy for Lena to adjust them above the flat pillow resting in her lap.
Luna protested, loudly, as she was moved from the source of her happiness.
“In a minute, love,” Lena whispered to her.
Lena’s voice, charged with affection, did something to Kara’s heart, suddenly beating faster. She let a disconcerted sigh escape her, and as Lena readjusted the babies in her arms, she quickly stole a glance at her. Kara gave thanks to Rao for her Kryptonian skin density that didn’t allow her to physically blush. Her body language, however, was another story.
Kara quickly looked back to Liam so she could focus on something other than Lena.
“So, Liam. I’m your other parent, you know? I’m an alien. You’re part alien too, no big deal. I’m just going to teach you how to catch bullets with your bare hands–”
A pause. After three, four, five seconds…
“It’s true, though.”
A sigh, not amused.
Lena was finally able to align both Liam and Luna, the front of her gown untied and open. After a lot of crying and repositioning, each baby began feeding enthusiastically. For long seconds she just focused on them, watching as this out-of-body experience happened before her. Her nipples ached a little bit, and she was partially grateful that feeding the babies seemed to give her some strange kind of relief, though she was positive that breastfeeding twins ten times a day for approximately the next twelve months wasn’t going to be a walk in the park.
Lena was taken out of her reverie by Kara’s nervous pacing.
“Well I… uh… I should leave you alone…”
“Again with the unnecessary politeness, Kara? Does this make you uncomfortable? Don’t tell me that you’re one of those terrible people that have a problem with public breastfe–”
“No! It’s not that… It’s just –“
“I told you before, you know? It’s just… I feel so silly. It’s kinda weird seeing you do it. And I can’t… I feel useless because I just can’t help with anything.”
Lena regarded Kara with incredulity as the superhero once again tried to avoid eye contact by fidgeting with her red cape.
“Oh. It is weird, isn’t it? Imagine doing it. I’m breastfeeding your bioengineered children, Supergirl. Who I carried. You wanna know weird? That’s the epitome of weird.” Lena’s voice sounded a little too harsh, but there was a hint of mischief that Kara didn’t quite catch. “So no, you don’t get to walk away on me while I’m doing this. You stay here and suffer through the awkwardness with me,” Lena couldn’t repress a playful smirk, “that’s what friends are for,” she added.
Kara was mortified. Again.
“That’s not what I meant, I’m more than happy to–”
“Oh God, would you please relax, Kara? I’m just messing with you…”
“Oh, indeed. Sit with us, please?”
Lena pointed with her head towards the middle of the bed. Her hands were full with happy tiny babies attached to her breasts. Kara smiled shyly and moved her cape out of the way so she could sit within a safety distance from Lena. The CEO had no intention in letting the matter drop.
“Full disclosure, though, and it’s so fitting that I say this with two tiny people suckling from my titties…” Lena raised one of her utterly expressive eyebrows, she was getting used to the absurdness of her new normal. It was kind of satisfying to make Supergirl’s jaw drop, anyway. “If we’re gonna do this, we’re going to see a lot of dirty diapers and some other stuff I don’t even want to think about, so I’m way pass the luxury of embarrassment. I mean, you saw me giving birth to them, with my guts spilled open. So I just… Do you know what I mean?”
Kara smiled empathetically and for the first time, she let herself look at Lena in awe of the resilience of this amazing woman who had been through the unthinkable and still regarded the future with hope. And wit, lots of it.
“Yes, Lena, I know what you mean.”
They smiled at each other, once again enjoying the silence. Lost for a moment in each other’s gaze, both women had the feeling that despite the awkwardness and the insecurities, they could do this, together.
After a few moments, Kara cleared her throat and looked down at the babies. She said something then, out of the blue.
"If I could, I’d do this for you, you know? Anything. I’d take your place in all of this without second thought.”
And Lena looked at her, speechless. Kara tried to lessen the solemnity of her words by shrugging her shoulders, a pained smile in her face.
Lena finally found her voice after a few seconds.
“Well… thank you. But… things are the way they are. I know you’re used to do the heavy lifting for everyone, but…” Lena shook her head as if discarding thoughts she couldn’t fathom in that moment. “This is not a job for Supergirl, anyway. But… I do appreciate you being here, I’m serious. I can’t do this alone, Kara.”
The Kryptonian nodded, repressing with all her inner strength the desire to reach out a put a hand on Lena’s knee.
“And I’m here. And I’ll be here as long as you want me to be. But, please,” Kara closed her eyes with an overdramatic gesture, “just please don’t make me help you with the breast pumping thingy.”
Lena’s gentle laugh echoed through the med-bay.
“Fair enough, Supergirl.”
All seemed right and at peace for a few moments. They shared a comfortable silence while the babies had the time of their lives, as if they were throwing a feast.
“Look at this one,” Lena muttered, amused by Liam’s eagerness.
“Oh, he’s so cute. Are you hungry, little one?” Kara asked, unconsciously high-pitching her voice.
As if he felt called out, Liam’s rhythm peaked for a second, making some very enthusiastic noises.
“Oh my, he’s hungry, he’s definitely hungry!” Kara was more than impressed, “How can something so tiny have so much room inside?”
Lena gave her a look of you tell me!, the eyebrow higher than ever.
“They’re going to have your appetite, it’s a fact. I’m totally fucked.” The young CEO shook her head and Kara scoffed, falsely offended.
“Well, Eliza told me that the good news is the more you give them, the more you produce. You’ll be all right.”
Lena rolled her eyes.
“Easy for you to say. It’s not like I can feed them potstickers and pizza.”
Kara giggled picturing the babies trying to devour her favorite food.
“Not for a while, no. Those are mine and mine only.”
“For now,” Lena added teasingly.
They both felt silent, regarding the babies. None of the two women could help but feel an enveloping peace by looking at them. Pain dissolved in the air, if only for a few minutes. An oasis. No evil, no right, no wrong. Just Liam and Luna. And Kara and Lena.
Supergirl remembered then that her red boots were scattered on the floor, and she quietly stood up to pick them up.
The casualness of the gesture gave her a window to bring up something that was bugging her, but was afraid to ask.
“So… last night,” Kara said while she finished putting her boots on. “You wanna talk about it?”
Lena didn’t turn her gaze from the babies, still mesmerized by them.
“Talk about what?”
Kara approached the bed again, carefully, but didn’t sit on it this time. She just stood closely, her hands on her hips, her back straight. Not in Supergirl mode exactly, more like best friend Kara Danvers trying to be open and receiving.
“You… you had a dream? More like a nightmare? You were screaming in your sleep, Lena. You woke up crying and–“
“I remember, Kara.”
Lena cracked a sad smile and pursed her lips.
“No. Don’t be. It’s just… my mind is fucked up. Can you blame me?”
And there it is again, Kara thought to herself. That fine veil that turns into a smile to hide the pain. If only I could take it all away, Lena. If only I could lift that weight off your shoulders.
“You know I’m here. You can talk to me. No matter how dark your thoughts become, no matter how scary… I’m not going anywhere.”
Kara took a step towards the bed and had to stop herself, once again, for reaching out and touching Lena’s leg, tucked under the sheets.
Lena didn’t look at Kara, instead focusing on some undetermined point in front of her. Her eyes narrowed in confusion, trying to make sense of her dream.
“It was just… a stupid nightmare. When I was captured I had them almost everyday, and they only got worse with the pregnancy,” Lena hung her head, then, her voice trailing off. “I can’t remember much. You were there. And so were these two, but they were all grown up and… well. It didn’t end well, I think.” Liam lost his grip on her nipple in that moment, immediately emitting an anxious cry. Lena repositioned his little head quickly, trying different angles until little Liam’s cries gave way to tiny noises of contentment.
Kara unconsciously derived her gaze, but still spoke, softly, her voice filled with determination and compassion. “You don’t need to tell me everything, Lena, but just know that you can talk to me. Besides, I know a thing or two about trauma, so, I believe I can help.”
“Thank you, Kara. I really appreciate it. But I guess my therapist is going to appreciate it even more once I can let her know I’m back in the city. She’s gonna become a rich bitch at my expense.”
They both smiled, Kara’s heart aching for her, but at the same time, hopeful. Lena’s sense of humor was intact, that was a really good sign.
“Thank you for convincing J’onn to let me make that call to Jess, by the way,” Lena tilted her head in that gesture that had become a language in itself, only reserved for her devotion to Kara. “It felt good to let her know I’m alive… I guess by now she’s installing a new security system in the penthouse and designing a new safety training for the staff.”
“No problem. I know I’m going to be around, but you know Alex will be happy to help with your new security detail, and J’onn said he’s going to assign you two of his best agents, indefinitely.”
“That won’t be necessary. I’m dying to get out of here. With Natasha and Jonathan coming back to lead the team, everything should be fine.”
Seeing Kara’s puzzled look, Lena proceeded to explain herself. “They’re old friends. Nat has known me since forever. And Jon and I met when I was an intern at Wayne Industries. I’m pretty sure you’ll like them. Jon doesn’t talk much, but Nat… She used to be an astronaut.”
“Wow. And she’s going to be you’re new chief of security?”
“That’s Jon’s role. Nat’s going to be the nanny,” Lena added.
It was turn for Kara’s eyebrows to go ballistic.
“The nanny,” the Kryptonian repeated flatly. “A former astronaut is going to be the nanny.”
Lena smiled softly and nodded, “she used to be my nanny. She was also a colonel in the Red Army. Wait until she shows you her Order of Lenin medal. You’ll never hear the end of it.”
Kara scoffed in disbelieve.
“What – I mean – ok – just… You know what? I should know by now you just don’t do things as we mere peasants do. Of course Lena Luthor’s nanny is an astronaut.”
“Very funny, Danvers.”
“I’ll just wait to meet them. Everything I make up in my mind is probably going to be less cooler than reality.”
Baby Luna jerked away from her mother’s nipple and started making little sounds of distress.
“Look’s like someone’s done,” Lena tried to latch her with one arm but it was quite difficult with Liam still nursing on her other breast.
“Here, let me,” Kara said, taking Luna in her arms.
“Careful with her head.”
As Lena tried to focus on Liam and cover herself with the fabric of her gown, she nervously glanced at Kara.
“I think she needs to be burped. Careful. Pick up a cloth from the table. You have to put her head in your shoulder and–”
“Relax, Lena, I’ve done this before. When Kal was born I used to help with this all the time. It was so funny. And it is so rewarding to remind my cousin from time to time.”
Kara put Luna’s little head against her shoulder and tapped the baby’s back gently.
“I think it’s just gas,” Kara enveloped Luna in her cape, as she’d done with Liam before, “let me try something”, she added when the baby was comfortably wrapped against her.
And Lena watched as Supergirl began floating around the room, ever so gently, rocking little Luna in her arms and humming unintelligible Kryptonian rhymes. Lena was speechless. Kara traced gentle circles in the air, making her body swing like a giant comfy cradle for Luna. After a few seconds, Kara laughed gently, and Lena raised her eyebrows at her in confusion.
“There you go, I just felt her fart like a big girl,” Kara smiled, oddly proud.
“Flying is cheating. You know I can’t do that,” Lena said, shaking her head in disapproval, but despite herself she couldn’t help but reciprocate Kara’s smile.
“Oh, you have other skills, Lena.”
Kara kept on rocking her body in the air. She cradled Luna in her arms now the baby had overcome her discomfort, and watched in awe as the little girl drifted peacefully to sleep.
Kara landed on the ground beside the incubator, ever so lightly, and after the softest of kisses to Luna’s forehead, she placed her daughter inside, making sure she was resting on her back.
She turned back to Lena and tried to ignore the look of wonder her friend was giving her now.
“How’s Liam doing?” Kara asked taking a few steps closer to the bed.
Lena smiled warmly and caressed Liam’s little face with the back of her hand. He was still deeply focused in perfecting his rhythm.
“He’s good. He’s so easygoing, for now.”
Kara cracked a half-smile, a sweet memory engulfing her.
“Kal used to be so incredibly calm as a baby. My grandpa Seg-El told me stories about how my father was the quietest kid ever, so perhaps the El boys are just extra chill.”
“What about the El girls?”
Kara’s nose crinkled comically and she pressed her teeth together, in a gesture that was so Kara Danvers and not so Supergirl.
“Well, my mother was an El by marriage, obviously, but she and my aunt were identical twins...” she began, cautiously. “Apparently, my grandpa In-Ze used to call them little n-dok-hash.”
Lena was afraid to even ask.
“That’s Kryptonian for ‘demon’.” Kara shrugged and Lena could swear that if she had her glasses on she would’ve used them to emphasize her pout.
“Well, that’s reassuring,” Lena shook her head and sighed.
“Hey, I wasn’t that bad as a kid! Perhaps Luna will take after me.”
“With my luck? Yeah, sure,” Lena scoffed and rolled her eyes.
“She has your genes too, you know.”
“Oh, don’t remind me!”
Kara’s naive indignation seemed so genuine that Lena couldn’t hold a burst of laughter she immediately regretted when she felt the C-section stitches burning in her belly.
“Hey, hey, are you all right?” Kara asked, visibly concerned when she saw Lena grimacing from the pain.
“Yeah, I’m ok, though laughing feels like someone’s cutting me in half. Worth it, though.”
“Well don’t give in so much to the temptation, you really need to rest, Lena.”
“I know, I know,” Lena sighed and suddenly she frowned and peered up at Kara. “You should go home at some point, you know? You need to rest too and we don’t need you here 24/7. You’ve got an apartment, a boyfriend, a job – a job, Kara! Oh my God, shouldn’t you be working?”
Kara grinned, shrugging it off.
“Relax, CatCo owes me like a thousand days off.”
Lena narrowed her eyes, still not convinced.
“But won’t Snapper – you know, snap?”
Kara crossed her arms above her chest, smiling, picturing her boss losing it for the umpteenth time. “Oh yes, he will yell at me on the phone a few times and tell me that I’m not committed enough to the true calling of journalism, but as long as HR approves my request, it’ll be all right.”
Lena looked down to Liam, she could feel him slowing down, so she followed Dr. Danvers advice and tapped him gently on the back, in case he needed burping. Then, she carefully moved her breast out of his reach, changing his position to her other nipple, just in case he still wasn’t sated.
Kara couldn’t help but look at the ceiling. She really needed to work on being a little more… breezy, about this.
“If we need more time I can always ask for a maternity leave, but that one will be hard to explain–” Kara said in an attempt to stay on the current subject, trying to sound as nonchalant as possible until Lena’s nipple was out of sight below Liam’s little mouth.
“Or I could call my lawyers, and they could do all the explaining for you, save you all the paperwork.”
Kara froze immediately.
“Ah… I guess… we could do that. But–“
Lena misunderstood Kara’s discomfort and felt a disgusting feeling of shame crawling down her spine.
“I’m sorry, Kara. I overstepped. I… wasn’t thinking.”
Kara shook her head, finally turning to look Lena in the eye. The hero took a deep breath and smiled reassuringly.
“No. It’s actually a good idea. It’s just… I gotta get used to thinking like a mother now. I didn’t realize…” Kara let her arms fall to her sides and then she rubbed her forehead, agitation shining through, “of course there’s going to be paperwork and all that. How are we even going to – explain, you know?”
Lena scoffed softly, a compassionate look on her face, glad to see Kara shared some of her concerns.
“When you figure that out, please tell me.”
Silence installed between them, but this one was everything but comfortable. Kara could feel Lena’s tension. So she just tried to comfort her with what, at least, to her, was a certain truth.
“You’re gonna be great at this, Lena,” Kara blurted out, almost unconsciously.
Lena shook her head and held Liam a little tighter.
“Kara, please. I gotta be one of the most horrendous examples of mommy issues in history, coming in second place to Norman Bates.”
Supergirl raised her eyebrows in disbelief and curved her lips in that innocently looking way that, to Lena, was oh so Kara Danvers.
“I really do hope you don’t cosplay as Lillian and kill people while they’re showering.”
Lena smiled, there was no way she couldn’t at Kara’s unprecedented attempt at dark humor.
“You know what I mean,” she whispered.
And when Kara felt the shadow of doubt looming over Lena’s head, she couldn’t have any of it, so she sat down on the edge of the bed again, not minding to ask for permission, and shook her head with a smile to let Lena know this was another thing they had in common.
“Well… regarding parental issues you’ll have to get in line. My parents sent me to outer space, remember? After making very bad choices that led to the destruction of my home planet,” Kara closed her eyes briefly, and then opened them with an impossible combination of amusement and sadness, “and if we move on from parents and take a look at the rest of my family history it doesn’t get any better,” she paused, then sighed. “My sister killed my aunt, I killed my uncle with heat vision… J’onn tells me he is in a coma but he won’t allow me to visit him so, well, I know better – it was self-defence in both cases, and I haven’t thought about it in ages but, well– oh and my adoptive father kinda betrayed me to allegedly protect me from your mother who, by the way, wants to kill me and my cousin… Plus, she made us have twins without our consent, remember?”
Kara was mad with herself the second she fixed her eyes on Lena after her uncontrolled rambling and realized her words were having the exact opposite effect she was going for.
Lena’s eyes were wet with the menace of tears, but she was resisting by biting her bottom lip and looking anywhere in the room, but Kara.
That’s when the Kryptonian refugee realized she was on the verge of tears too, and she mentally kicked herself for choosing this moment to reminiscence the greatest hits of both their dysfunctional families.
Perhaps she could make it better with the pout that she had perfected only for Lena.
“Hey. So… so what I’m trying to say is we don’t have the best of experiences regarding family…” Kara rolled her eyes at her own words, she clapped her hands together and just focused on Lena’s gaze, taking the honesty approach. “And yes, maybe we’ll both suck at this! But we’ll suck together. We’ll be the best worst parents these little pumpkins could have. You and I… we’re just not going to give up, ok? And we’ll love them. And they’ll love us. You’ll see.”
Relief washed through Kara as she saw Lena mirroring her expression of pain and hope and excitement, all mixed up together.
“Kara… thank you. You seem awfully calm about this,” Lena sniffed, not sure if she wanted to cry or laugh, or both at the same time. Kara had a way of making her feel all that at once: excited, confused, invincible… powerless.
“Oh no. No, no. No,” Kara’s eyes went wide with dramatic exaggeration, even if what she was saying was the hard truth. “Nooo, no. NO. I’m not calm. This is me trying not to panic. But you know, I guess I always rely on hope. That was what my house stood for in Krypton. Hope. I’m freaking out, Lena, believe me, but I know, deep down, that we’ll be all right… because… this is – it’s you and me, you know? We make a pretty good team.”
Perhaps it was the meaning behind her words, perhaps it was the emotion of the moment, but Kara finally reached out and put her hands over Lena’s knee in a gesture that was meant for reassurance. Her heart skipped a beat when she realized what she was doing, but started beating again the second Lena seemed to relax under her touch and just smiled brightly at her, even when she still could see tears reflecting in her watery eyes.
“Well, in moments like this I’m grateful for your sunshine attitude balancing my gloomy Luthor approach, Kara,” Lena shook her head in disbelief. Ah, Kara, ever the purest of us all.
Kara felt empowered by Lena giving in to her contagious enthusiasm, so her smile grew wider.
“Ah, c’mon… we can be heroes. A Super–“
“–and a Luthor, I know, I know. God, it’s like the catchphrase of a lame buddy movie…” Lena lamented.
“Well, you came up with it and I like it so you’re stuck with it, missy!”
And laughter echoed again through the room, then followed by swearing as Lena felt the stitches in her belly burning with each gentle shake of her body. She couldn’t help herself, though, and the silent tears dancing around in her eyes turned into the collateral effect of mirth.
“Could you be more of a dork, Kara?” Lena finally breathed when the discomfort passed and there was nothing but a strange notion of warmth in her chest.
“Nope, even if I tried,” Kara smirked. She pointed at Lena, then, “see that? I made you laugh. I’m sorry about the stitches though, but – you know we totally got this.”
Lena just nodded and sighed as she tried to wipe her eyes with the back of her hand, firmly holding Liam with the other.
Kara’s crinkled nose appeared once again and her voice sounded on a higher note as she looked down at baby Liam. “What do you think, baby boy?”, Kara babbled at her son happily, “we’re gonna be just fine, yes, eh us-kah. We’re gonna be fine.”
“What did you just say?”
Kara waved her hands apologetically, suddenly aware that she had spoken Kryptonian without even realizing it.
“Ah, something my mother used to call me… My Kryptonian mother, I mean. Her name was Alura. Eh us-kah. Roughly translated it means my little one.”
Both women shared knowing smiles and for a few precious seconds none of them dared to say anything else. Nothing could be heard in the room but the beeping of the monitors and the comforting sounds of happy baby Liam.
Then Lena, spoke, enigmatically, not taking her eyes away from Kara.
“I love this. Finally.”
“What?” Kara narrowed her eyes in confusion and that little concerned crinkle right beside her eyebrow scar made an appearance.
“Being able to see you as Supergirl and Kara,” Lena replied. “You’re not just one or the other, you’re a wonderful combination of the two.”
Kara diverted her eyes from her friend and opened her mouth trying to find something to say that could compensate for the sudden warmth she felt hearing those words. She failed. She sighed, she ran a hand through her long hair and then, she tried again.
“You know, for a long time… I knew I had to tell you but I was selfish,” Kara mumbled, trying not to hesitate. Lena knew her secret now, but Kara still felt guilt and regret consumed her whenever she thought about all those times she almost told her, but didn’t. “I kept fooling myself thinking I was doing it to protect you,” she continued, a little more confident thanks to Lena’s encouraging look. “Everybody told me your life would be in danger once you knew, but… now I know I liked being just Kara with you. I liked you seeing me as your friend, just Kara Danvers, CatCo reporter–“
“Ace reporter.” Lena corrected with a bright smile. “Besides, there’s at least a weekly attempt on my life on a regular basis, so nothing would’ve changed.”
Kara ignored Lena’s sarcasm, still trying to find the right way to translate her conflicted emotions into words.
“I just – I thought that if I told you I was Supergirl we would lose all that. That you would see me differently and everything would change between us. When people know me as Supergirl, even people I love, after all these years… Alex, James… they expect things from me. I have to be the hero for them, like, all the time. Even if they don’t intend to make me feel like that.”
Lena sighed and nodded.
“I can see why you’d be afraid of our friendship changing. I was afraid, too. I could’ve told you I knew before my mother took me, but I was being kind of selfish as well. Still, part of me thought you had to know. I mean, Kara, you don’t even change your earrings! And that little scar beside your eyebrow, that’s a hard one to miss…”
“I know, I know… but it’s not like I can wear a mask or anything.”
“I’d look stupid. Duh.”
It took all Lena’s strength to repress her inquisitive eyebrows from ricocheting and point out that was a weird reasoning for someone who proudly wore tights and a cape on a regular basis. Lena chose to go in another direction.
“How did the Girl of Steel get a scar in the first place?”
Kara bit her lower lip, her face a mixture of guilt and mischief.
“It happened on Krypton… by human standards I was five years old. I was playing around in my father’s lab and a I fell while running. I ended up bumping my head against the edge of a table.”
“Ouch. How did they even let you play around in a lab? Mother always threatened me and Lex with grounding us for a year if she ever caught us within a ten yard perimeter of her office.”
“Oh, they didn’t. I tricked Kelex into letting me in… He was the – uh, robot, that used to take care of me. Kal keeps one of the same model in the Fortress.” Kara smiled, remembering her mother’s speech on responsibility and precaution when she was tending to her wound. “The scar was so cool that I didn’t want my father to remove it, so he didn’t. My mother said perhaps it was a good idea to keep it, to remind me of the lesson. Of course I could’ve had it fixed at any given moment but… Krypton exploded and now it’s a reminder of a time when I wasn’t invincible.”
Lena was smiling, an unreadable expression on her beaming face.
“The most intriguing part of that story is how a five-year-old tricked an advanced AI. And you tell me you were a well behaved child?”
“I was! Most of the time.”
Lena shoot a look of disbelief in Kara’s direction and then tilted her head, as if realizing something for the first time.
“You know what? I think I lied to myself too, about going along with your Supergirl act, I mean. I value our friendship so much that I liked having you just for me, as Kara,” Lena continued. “I don’t know… I guess it made me feel special or I had some sort of delusion that since you didn’t have to be the superhero with me, I could just make the weight of the world get off your shoulders or something. Even if it was just for a few moments.”
“You did. You really helped me…” Kara hung her head down and swallowed hard. “I was devastated when I couldn’t find you, I –“ Kara paused herself from whatever she was about to say. Then she looked up and put on her brave face, Lena was the one that suffered through the unthinkable, she didn’t need to know about the agony she endured for those long ten months while she was gone. “I’m just glad you’re here now,” Kara murmured, finally.
Lena knew something had changed in the air, but couldn’t quite guess what Kara was picturing in her mind. It was foolish of her to think Kara would open her heart to her again right away. Very soon, Kara would have to go back to her job at CatCo and her Supergirl duties and those who were her loved ones, and Lena would probably be left behind, with the memory of torture and darkness, plus none other than two babies with Kryptonian genes. But it was better not to go down that path… If she could have Kara now, for a few moments, she should make the most of it.
And the truth seemed to be the most fitting thing to say.
“Well. One thing I can say for sure…” Lena’s eyes shined with devotion, and she tried to downplay the meaning behind her words with an overconfident smile. “Supergirl may be the one that gets credit out there, but in here, Kara Danvers, you are my hero.”
Kara laughed, but she was visibly moved. She really wished she could hug her friend to thank her, but that was obviously out of the question.
“Can I ask you something? That has to do with Krypton?” Lena’s voice unsure, a little hopeful.
“Yes, of course. Anything.”
“What’s the word for ‘mother’ in Kryptonian? I’m just curious.”
Kara wasn’t expecting that kind of question but her eyes illuminated immediately.
“Oh. Well. Since family was so important in our culture, there’s a lot of respectful terms and special ways to refer to family. So when you say, for example, ‘my mother’, you say it with what’s called an honorific, a term that could work as a possessive, but it’s reserved only for family.”
It had never been natural for Kara to talk about Krypton. Jeremiah insisted that she should conceal her identity, and it wasn’t until her relationship with Alex solidified that she could bring herself to recount memories of her culture. Kal, or should she say – Clark, was never around. And on the rare occasions he was, he would respond to Krypton stories like they were a fairytale, which only made Kara feel more alienated…
“That’s fascinating. How the social constructs of your society translated into the way you articulate your language, I mean. Amazing.”
But something in the way Lena listened to her, something in the way she asked the question… it just made her dive into the memories, no time to wonder if she would regret it. With Lena, there was no salt in the wound, and Kara just embraced it and rambled on, powered by the way Lena’s eyes filled with awe and wonder.
“Yes. I guess Kryptonian society was very advanced in that regard. If we wanted to live accordingly to our values, we just tried to apply them to every statement of life, including language. So the term for Mom is Éú, which I used to pronounce a little more open, as in Ieiu,”
“Jeju?” Lena’s attempt was not bad, but the vocals fell everywhere.
“Close, yes. You have to let the first vocal clear and open… Ee-eh-ee-ooh,” Kara gently corrected. “So, repeat after me. Ieiu.”
Lena, being a polyglot since childhood, tried to memorize the positions of her tongue within her mouth and listened intently to Kara’s voice.
“Better. You’re getting there.”
Lena repeated the word a few times to herself, trying to find the perfect way for her lips to mimic Kara’s pronunciation.
“So, if I want to say ‘my mom’,” Kara continued enthusiastically, “I would add the honorific possessive, besides the regular possessive, resulting in we Ieiu te. You use it when you’re referring to them when not on their presence, but in the end I just called my mom Ieiu, simply as that.”
Lena nodded and, unthinking and lost in the beauty of the moment, she asked something that made Kara’s smile disappear.
“Would you like Luna and Liam to call you that?”
Lena regretted the question immediately.
“I… I hadn’t thought about that.”
Kara tried to smile, but her lips trembled and her eyes looked lost.
“I’m so sorry, Kara, I wasn’t thinking what I was saying…”
Kara completely ignored Lena’s reaction and after a second she stared at her friend.
“The thought is both pleasant and terrifying.”
Lena wasn’t listening.
“I’m sorry, I shouldn’t–“
Kara raised her hand in the air.
“You really need to stop that.”
Lena paused, confused.
Kara shook her head, frustrated with the situation. Still, her tone towards Lena showed nothing but understanding.
“Saying you’re sorry, all the time. You need to stop, Lena. None of this is your fault.”
“Oh, ok,” Lena considered what she was about to say for a moment, but she shook her head and just went for it. “Can I confess something? I’ve got so many questions about Krypton.”
Lena stared at Kara wide-eyed, trying to repress her excitement. She failed.
“Are you kidding me? Knowing about a distant civilization sensibly more technologically advanced than us? Yes! I starve for knowledge, you know that! During all those months of our friendship, sometimes I just wanted to tell you I knew about Supergirl so I could torment you with all kinds of questions.”
Kara would’ve been a little overwhelmed if all this came from somebody else, but with Lena, she just had no restraint.
“Oh. Well, what would you like to know about?”
“Everything! Tell me everything.”
Kara was beyond amused at her friend’s enthusiasm.
“Uh, well… we need to start with something,” Kara giggled.
Lena took a deep breath, and Kara was kind of scared, for the first time, seeing that perhaps Lena had given this a lot of thought.
“All right…” Lena began, “so I’ve got a request.”
“Mmm-hmm?” Kara just waited.
“If you’re going to speak Kryptonian to them I demand you teach me the language, Zor-El, I don’t want you plotting things with these two behind my back.” Lena finally blurted out.
Kara was in shock for a second, and for multiple reasons.
“What– I would never– I–“
“Kara, the more they know about Krypton and their heritage, the safer they’ll be from my mother and her xenophobia,” Lena explained in all seriousness. “Your culture has to be their culture. And I’d love to learn and share that part of your life with you. So… teach me, please?”
Kara didn’t need any more convincing.
“Ok, ok, I’ll teach you. Ok.”
And there they were, again, both women silent, the room charging up with inexplicable electricity.
“You’re welcome,” Kara smiled and felt the need to look down, eagerly trying to find some inconsequential follow-up, so she could avoid getting lost in Lena’s eyes. She had never felt uncomfortable in Lena’s presence, but this feeling was different. Both pleasant and unnerving. Perhaps it was just the weight of the past few days finally taking its toll on them. “Well”, Kara spoke, “you already know the word for mother–“
“Ha. Yes. How about we start your first lesson with something quite different?”
Lena looked like a child about to enter a fairground ride.
Kara smiled at her, unblinking.
“Aos. Repeat after me, ah-oss.”
Lena didn’t waste time.
“Very good. Aos means baby.”
Kara looked down at Liam, now slowly drifting to sleep in her mother’s arms. Lena repeated the word, softly, looking at him.
“Shar – renth?”
Kara nodded and pointed at her family’s coat of arms, proudly embroidered in her chest.
Lena stared at her, fixated. Kara kept on with the lesson.
“Nzrhueiao. Repeat, shru-eeh-ah-oh.”
The Kryptonian’s smile couldn’t be wider.
“That was perfect, you’re a natural, Lena!”
“So what does it mean?”
Kara was unaware that she had leaned on the bed. She was unaware that she had reached out to Liam when she taught Lena how to say ‘baby’. She hadn’t noticed that her fingers were barely touching her son’s tiny arm, and that protecting that tiny body, there was Lena’s hand, making little circles on the baby’s back. If Kara moved her hand forward, just an inch, she could touch Liam and Lena at the same time.
“It means…” Kara swallowed, unable to look away from the gorgeous combination of green, grey and blue in Lena’s eyes. “It means beautiful,” she whispered.
She could see Lena was holding her breath, she could hear her heartbeat spiking up, she wanted more than anything to bring her hand forward and take Lena’s and feel their son’s breathing flowing through them–
“Um, uh – sorry to interrupt…”
Someone cleared their throat at the door, and Kara jerked away from Lena and the baby to see her sister giving her a puzzled look and showing her best down-to-business body language, hands behind her back, straightened back.
“Supergirl, we need you downstairs.”
Kara, knowing that the best thing to do when dealing with an uncomfortable Alex was to just ignore the situation, smiled at her sister and remained as cheerful as possible. Kara didn’t want to leave Lena’s side abruptly, especially considering the intensity of the moment they had shared. If anything, running away would only make it… weirder.
“Morning, Alex. I’ll be right there.”
Alex looked behind her, nervously, and Kara knew something was wrong.
“Now, Kara. It’s… an emergency,” Alex pleaded.
Lena frowned and looked between the Danvers sisters, intrigued.
“Is everything all right?”
Alex nodded and relaxed her posture a bit.
“Yes, Lena, don’t worry. Just DEO business, nothing Supergirl can’t handle. Ruth and the other nurses are on their way to help you with everything. They will be bringing you breakfast, and please eat everything this time, don’t make me call my mom…”
Alex was a master when it came to diverting someone’s attention by trying to be the coolest player in the room. Lena took the bait, apparently.
“Don’t play the Dr. Danvers card too soon, Agent, you know you guys serve me five meals a day.”
“Noted. See you later, Lena.”
As Kara stood up and directed an apologetic smile at Lena, Alex waved at the CEO and made way for her sister, putting a hand on her shoulders.
“So, what’s going on?” Kara asked when they were out of the med-bay.
Alex directed her toward the stairs, her voice hushed, but firm.
“Ok, listen, I need you to remain calm, be in your best Supergirl behavior and please just let me explain…”
Alex noticed Kara had seen it. Her eyes grew wide with horror, and sparks of red began to appear in the irides of her eyes, as she clutched her teeth and her hands balled into fists.
“Fuck, no! Kara, you dumbass, listen to me!”
“Lillian!” Kara hissed.
There she was, in the middle of the room, walking around as if she owned the building. And no one was stopping her. Lillian Luthor had that unnerving smirk on her face that Kara had come to hate. Metallo and Hank Henshaw walked by her side, and J’onn just stood there, allowing them to walk around the command center as if they were privileged guests.
Alex’s plea was useless.
Hell hath no fury like Kara Zor-El charging towards one Lillian Luthor.
It was the night before Lillian Luthor’s surprising visit to the DEO.
The twins had been born at dawn.
In the evening, when everyone was exhausted and still trying to process one of the weirdest days of their lives, Kara had gathered all her family and friends that were at the building. She told them she wanted to take care of the babies, that Lena was keeping them, and that they had decided to move in together, just for a while, at least until they knew more about their powers, if they had any.
The general shock was evident, but Kara’s enthusiasm was baffling, to say the least… Friends raising babies, it’s going to be so much fun!
Alex was speechless for the first time in ages. James was visibly surprised, but he just said he trusted Kara’s judgement. Eliza hugged her daughter and told her she would be there for her, no matter what. J’onn just nodded and accepted her decision, but his concerned look seemed to be perpetual. Winn hugged Kara and endlessly rambled about always wanting to be an uncle but being still slightly hurt because they had passed on the Skywalker twins opportunity.
And Mon-El… let’s just say, Mon-El didn’t take it very well.
And so James Olsen wondered to himself why on Earth was he playing babysitter to the Daxamite for the umpteenth time.
He sighed as he recalled he wasn’t really doing it for Mon-El’s sake, but Kara’s.
James and Mon-El weren’t friends – not exactly. Kara was the one thing they had in common, but they had learned to tolerate each other and in some twisted, incomprehensible way, Mon-El tended to behave around him.
Which should have been weird, since this was his ex’s boyfriend.
But to James, Kara was much more than that title. He always had trouble referring to her as his ex. She was one of her best friends, his hero and his inspiration for Guardian. So whenever Kara was upset with Mon-El and he just wouldn’t listen to reason, James became accustomed to step in and knock some sense into the Daxamite.
It had happened a lot of times. More than James would be willing to admit. And yes, he knew it was wrong. He knew that the only reason why Mon-El listened to him and not Kara was because he was a man. Because it was obvious that Mon-El was still a sexist dumbass, and although he had changed his ways over time, it just wasn’t enough. Perhaps the damage was too deep – perhaps it was impossible to completely change someone’s mind when they were raised to think that women are just recipients of the male gaze and desire. James had had lots of uncomfortable conversations with Mon-El regarding this and other topics (the one about the history of slavery on Earth was particularly mortifying). Mon-El had apologized multiple times for his behavior and the ways of his people, and James had been content with that. But still, from time to time, there was the occasional inappropriate comment trying to pass down as a joke that turned heads and made eyes roll.
Still, they all tried to educate him. They all tried to be patient and understanding to the point of exhaustion, sometimes. All for Kara’s sake.
Because Kara loved this guy, inexplicably, and well, everybody knows love can be irrational sometimes.
And we all do crazy shit for love.
For Kara’s friends, the craziness was putting up with her fickle boyfriend.
But James, caught in the middle of the storm, had seen the spark between them slowly fading away over the past months. Well, if he was true to himself, he had never seen that spark on Kara’s face in the first place. Not with Mon-El.
When they had their thing, Kara and James, it was different. She used to smile at him like he rocked her world and her eyes would shine with the light of a million suns. Their untimely break-up had hurt a lot, but he reminded himself that Kara would be there for him as a friend, guiding him with her everlasting light. He took comfort in remembering that Kara was a miracle and he had the privilege of witnessing it firsthand.
Things had changed, though.
Now, there was a warmth to Kara that just seemed to go away whenever she was in the same room with Mon-El, as if he was vampirizing her. It was a harsh truth, but James couldn’t lie to himself anymore, that’s how he saw it: Mon-El fed on Kara’s happiness, isolating her, humiliating her in the work-place and in front of family and friends, taking pride on letting the world know she belonged to him, trying to make sure in each and every moment that she never forgot that.
Their relationship was based on his needs and the projection of Mon-El’s untruthful self-image on Kara. He wanted to be a hero because she was one, but instead of rising to greatness, he pushed Kara to lower herself down to his mediocrity, and he always found a way to convince her that she was the one to blame for that. Because she asked too much and he tried so hard. Because she was unfair, because each time he messed up, he guilt-tripped her with I love yous and shed crocodile tears and promised to change. And when he just fucked up all over again, he made up excuses about how he was raised in a bubble in Daxam, how he felt like a victim because his parents had lied to him about reality. He would say he felt like a 16-year-old, emotionally, despite being a well grown-ass man when his stolen Kryptonian pod landed on Earth. That Kara had to teach him everything, and that he made mistakes because that made him feel vulnerable, uncertain, confused.
Poor precious Mon-El, Prince of Daxam, growing up assuming the entire galaxy was the playground for his privilege, incapable of empathy, sleeping with enslaved girls that he left to die on a planet that was his to save. Mon-El, the heir that never was, the man that when the opportunity came to save his people, refused the role because he’d rather make pancakes for Kara. Occasionally.
It was all just a pile of bullshit.
Mon-El was, irrefutably, a lying jackass. James knew it now, he couldn’t ignore it.
Kara was the sun. And Mon-El was a black hole slowly devouring the light from it.
But how can you tell all this to a friend, when you promised you would support them no matter what?
James was conflicted beyond belief.
When Mon-El was threaten by his parents and almost brought back to Daxam, Kara had been determined to stay with him. Theirs was the most short-lived break up in history. Despite all the lying, the hurt, the obvious manipulation. And she was really broken when it seemed like he might leave. She made her choice, and she chose him. And perhaps Mon-El was incapable of respecting her desires, but her friends could.
So James stayed silent. And so did Alex. And J’onn… he just patted him on the back, which was extremely incongruous of him but, then again, he had been complaisant with Mon-El from the very beginning (James would always wonder why he just didn’t read his mind to confirm his identity or why he accepted him into the DEO when he never represented an asset whatsoever). Perhaps Space Dad was blinded by his love for Kara? James should ask him, sometime, but J’onn would never admit he was wrong. Not without seizing the moral high-ground and diverting the question.
He sadly wondered if it was too late to save Kara from the gloom Mon-El had imposed on her. Perhaps, now that Lena was back, things could change. Although the circumstances were pretty dreadful.
He hated to admit that when Kara and Lena were together, he could see in her eyes a glimpse of the same sparkle she used to graced him with. They had that rare connection some best friends have that no one else gets. He used to have that with Kara. And he was a little bit jealous. That, he could admit.
But what Lena had been through, the unfairness of her fate, the uncertainty of the future they faced… that was more than enough to forget his feelings and try to help everyone, as best as he could. Guardian or no Guardian, he couldn’t resist the urge to try to make things better.
And so here he was, once again, approaching a slightly drunk Mon-El sitting at a bar counter.
“I was looking for ya.”
“Well, here I am.”
Mon-El didn’t bother to look at him, he just took a sip of the brown liquor in his glass. James sighed and sat on the stool next to him.
“Is it safe to assume that’s not club soda?”
The Daxamite finished off his glass and gestured for the bartender to bring another round. Still no response.
“Let me guess. Zakarian ale always takes the edge off.”
Mon-El finally turned to James, visibly pissed.
“Did she send you? Because I swear, if she sent you–“
“What?” James shrugged and frowned, his voice a little too loud, fueled by Mon-El’s hostility, “It would just mean that she worries about you. That she cares.”
Seeing that Mon-El returned his attention to his glass, James lowered his voice, trying to remember he was actually the diplomatic one.
“But no. She did not send me.”
Mon-El smiled bitterly.
“So does that mean she doesn’t care?”
“That’s not what I–“
Mon-El laughed. A drunken, sarcastic, short laugh.
“You just don’t know, right? Let me tell you what I think.” The Daxamite’s voice turned low and filled with resentment. “I think she’s back at the DEO playing house with the Luthor.”
“C’mon, man, that’s not fair–”
“I’m sorry, you’re right, dude, it’s not fair,” Mon-El raised his arms and shrugged, his tone turning even more charged with bitterness, "who am I to say what’s fair? Right? I’m just the guy whose girlfriend just had twins with the sister of one of her archenemies.”
He drank the entire content of his glass in one sip, not even bothering to savor the liquor. He left the glass over the bar with a loud, angry thump.
“Oh… and… something else happened, right? Didn’t she tell me a few hours ago that she’s moving in with the Luthor to raise the babies? Oh, I recon she did. So you’re right, Jim, I’m sorry, what do I know about fair?” Mon-El gesticulated to the bartender again, who just shook his head in disapproval. Still, he poured another drink.
“Storming out of the room didn’t help…” James stated simply, no accusation in his voice.
Mon-El didn’t say a word this time, he just stared at his glass. His jaw tightened, and in the half-light of the bar James could swear he was fighting back tears.
James looked down at his shoes, unable to stop a wave of sympathy. If he was in his place, perhaps… Perhaps he would react like this, too.
“Listen, you know how I feel about the Luthors. And I wasn’t particularly fond of Lena,” James pointed out, as amicable as possible, “but Kara was right about her. We didn’t believe her until she could find proof and you know how much that hurt her.”
“That was your problem, not mine. I never had any problem with Lena, I didn’t know her! And Kara gives everybody a chance – look at me!”
James nodded, waiting.
Mon-El shifted in his stool, uncomfortably, passing a nervous hand through his hair and closing his eyes in frustration.
“But – but this – this is insane!”
James watched as the Daxamite stared at his Zakarian ale furiously, and unaware for a moment of his strength, he held the glass too tightly, smashing it to pieces in his hand.
Thankfully, the music and the voices around him covered the sound of shattering glass.
James reached out and grabbed his elbow, gently, simply trying to snap him back to reality.
“Hey, man, I feel ya. This situation is weird and uncomfortable for everybody.”
James let go and Mon-El swallowed hard, covering his eyes with his hands and rubbing them for a few seconds, then resting his forehead on the bar counter, disregarding the shattered glass.
“Perhaps you should trust Kara,” James went on, trying to sound as comforting as possible. Even if Mon-El had never been a friend to him, he could tell he needed one right now. He was willing to be that person, because Mon-El was a flawed guy, sure, but he hadn’t ask for this. None of them had. “Perhaps you can both find middle ground if you just listen to her and see things from her point of view–”
“See, the thing about Kara is that…” Mon-El raised his head, quickly interrupting, with rapid-fire words, “she’s not just Kara. She’s got all this layers to her… She’s human, she’s Kryptonian, she’s Kara Danvers but she’s also Kara Zor-El. Sometimes I think she doesn’t know how to balance them, or even if she wants to do that.”
James was about to say something else but he just waited, sensing the anxiety in the Daxamite’s voice.
“I’m… just me. I don’t wanna be Mike or the Prince of Daxam. I’m just Mon-El, I serve drinks at a bar and I’m great at playing video-games. And I love my girlfriend. And that’s it!” Mon-El kicked his head against the counter and finally looked back at James. A hint of shame shimmered in his eyes, but he didn’t try to wipe the silent tears that ran across his cheeks. “And of course I know I’m not the best boyfriend in the world but, fuck, do I want to be! For Kara! Shit! I’d do anything for Kara.” He sniffed and rapidly wiped his nose against the sleeve of his shirt. James just patiently waited for him to go on.
“I know I’m an asshole sometimes! Shit!” Mon-El cursed as more tears watered in his eyes. He suddenly burst out laughing. James knew it was just out of pure despair. “And perhaps that seems selfish because I have these powers I didn’t ask for. And everybody thinks I should be doing something great with them,” Mon-El shrugged and smile weakly. James certainly never had seen him like this, “everybody seems to have an opinion on what I should do with my life. And I know what you’re thinking, and I know you think I’m a jerk and a waste! But I just wanna live my life. I just wanna be… me. Is that so hard to understand? I mean – am I such a horrible person?”
Mon-El finally let out a deep sigh, his lower lip quivering. He closed his eyes and just breathed.
“No, man,” James simply said after a few seconds of silence, his deep voice pouring out understanding, “that’s only… well, human.”
Mon-El opened his eyes and shook his head, once again. Calmer, this time. Sadder.
“But I don’t get why I am not enough, you know? She’s enough for me. Having her… is the best thing that’s ever happened to me. I just wanna be with her. And I don’t care what we’re doing. If it’s being heroes then ok, fine by me! If she wants to live in Saturn, hey, I’ll do it. I don’t care what we do or where we are, I just wanna be with her all the time. If she’s everything for me, why am I not everything for her?”
James raised his eyebrows and couldn’t mask a disgruntled look.
“Because… man, that’s just not healthy.”
Mon-El didn’t blink, like a deer blinded by headlights, and James sighed, trying to find the right words that could awaken Mon-El from his self-imposed spell.
“Most of us, we…” James smiled briefly and shook his head, trying to find a different approach. He looked Mon-El right in the eyes and tried to sound as collected as possible.
“Ok, listen. You can’t be defined just by the person you love. You have to find yourself, you have to know who you are, find yourself out there. This is a shit crazy world, and you cannot love someone if you just don’t appreciate yourself enough to find out who you really are.”
Mon-El just protested.
“I told you, I don’t need an epic hero journey, I’m happy being a fucking nobody!”
And that’s when James kind of snapped.
“Then admit it to her.”
For a few seconds, both men just held each other’s gaze. After a while, Mon-El’s voice high-pitched. He really didn’t have a clue.
James bit his lip, and just went in for the kill.
“Just say all that to Kara’s face. All you’ve been doing since you arrived on Earth is following her around like a lost puppy and trying to be what she wanted you to be so you could get laid.”
“Hey, that’s not tru–“
“Oh, c’mon, man, the cat’s out of the bag, we can be honest with each other.”
Perhaps it was the way James’ deep voice turned darker at the use of unprecedented sarcasm, but Mon-El didn’t protest again.
“Kara has never heard you say how you really feel,” James continued, firmly, “what you just told me about wanting a regular life? And I think you haven’t told her because you fear she might walk away when you tell her the truth. Because you think she wants to be with you because you want to save the world, like her. And yes, Kara cares. And yes, she wants people to care.” A wave of pure affection passed through James as he recalled all the times his friend had saved his life. All the times he wanted to be like her. Mon-El mistook the pause as an opportunity to defend himself. James didn’t let him. He raised one hand, and gave no respite. “But if you are pretending to be someone you’re not, you’re never really going to find out if she can love you for who you are, Mon-El. And you owe it to her, you owe her the chance of knowing you and loving all of you, flaws and all. That’s love, man. That’s what love is about. And if you keep pretending, if you don’t give her the chance to know how you feel, eventually, it will break you guys apart. There’s no way you can have a future with her without being honest. You know that. Perhaps you didn’t know when you first arrived on Earth… but you know that now, man. She taught you. She didn’t have to, but she did it anyway.”
Mon-El looked appalled, pale. He swallowed hard and James could see him slightly embarrassed, for the first time ever. His mouth formed up words, but it was clear he didn’t know what to say.
“Listen, I appreciate you playing the part of the shoulder to cry on but – don’t take this the wrong way – but why do you care, anyway?” The Daxamite scoffed, trying to sound nonchalant.
“I care because I see myself in you. As someone who’s lost Kara…”
The Daxamite’s eyes went wide and he raised his hands, cutting James off.
“Whoa, whoa, I’m not going to lose Kara!”
James just ignored his reaction and kept on.
“Our circumstances were different, but one day Kara woke up and just didn’t feel the same way I felt about her. It happens, sometimes. It’s nobody’s fault.”
“Again, pal, I appreciate your sympathy but – I’m not gonna lose her.”
It was really something to make the Prince of Daxam uncomfortable, but James could see that something – somehow was getting through to him. Perhaps the uneasiness was the symptom of reason finally kicking in.
James shot a completely honest look at Mon-El.
“Hey, buddy, I’m just saying – you gotta come clean or you gotta let go. For me, it was the latter. And sometimes love is letting go. It doesn’t have to be like that for you. You still have time. Just don’t sleep on it.”
Mon-El nodded, at last, and they shared an uneasy silence for a few seconds. Around them, the voices were fewer and the music was going softer. Closing time was near.
“Now, just… go home,” Olsen stood up from his seat, “take a shower, get a good night sleep. You’re gonna be fine.”
Mon-El lowered his gaze, still not a word. James looked down at the watch on his wrist and thought that, though it was late, it was going to be a long night for him.
“Gotta go, man. Gimme a call if you need anything, alright?”
When he was almost at the door, a voice called back from behind him. The bar was almost empty now.
The photographer turned around. Mon-El looked insecure and hesitant for a second, but then he nodded his head and looked James sincerely in the eye.
“Thank you. I – just… thank you.”
James nodded back. He could see right through him, his struggle, the glimpse of barriers falling. A lost boy turned into a man who didn’t know how to be one. Not that all that justified his actions but… a thank you was a novelty. It was a start.
James Olsen walked out of the bar into the chilling air of the night, feeling uncertain about what the future might bring.
Mon-El had the chance he didn’t have with Kara, and perhaps he would go back to his old ways, but he somehow sensed that at least he would try to be honest to himself. And with her. For once.
He still couldn’t and wouldn’t justify the Daxamite’s ways, but he hoped he had given him reason enough to change. To be brave enough to look for the truth within him, so he could find his place in the world. Something told him that Mon-El wasn’t as happy with his life as he said he was, that he had blinded himself with his obsession with Kara, ending up more lost than found.
With a cry for help coming from a back alley, James was brought back to reality and his combat instincts kicked in. A robbery. He raised his left arm immediately, deploying his Guardian shield and marching towards the disturbing sounds. It didn’t matter that he didn’t have his helmet on or that he might be outnumbered. This was his calling.
And as he shouted for the victim to get to safety and deflected punching blows with his shield, James Olsen knew he was exactly where he was supposed to be.
The moment the security team informed J’onn that an unarmed Lillian Luthor was in the building, asking to see him, he knew she hadn’t come to the DEO without leverage.
Luthor, Metallo and Henkshaw had no weapons on them, no apparent back-up team, and accepted to be meticulously searched. Even Metallo’s kryptonite heart was nowhere to be seen. Lillian made a remark about him being more stable running on Nth metal. That did not reassure anybody.
They were escorted by a DEO team with heavy weapons pointed at them. They didn’t seem to care.
So it was very clear that Lillian Luthor wasn’t there to start a fight.
But she hadn’t come without an ace up her sleeve, either.
Her terms were clear and precise: she wanted to talk to Supergirl, J’onzz and Lena. And if the DEO refused her request or incarcerated her, there would be consequences. But she would only reveal them to J’onn J’onzz or Agent Danvers.
And so the most wanted anti-alien terrorist in the world ended up face to face with the director of the DEO, smirking proudly and taking in her surroundings, like a predator would in their’s prey territory.
J’onn wanted to tear her apart with his own hands, especially after unleashing Medusa and what she’d done to Lena. She knew this, so it made her enjoy every word revealing her bargaining chip, knowing he wouldn’t even dare to touch a hair of her head.
It went like this: Cadmus had planted bombs all over the city. Some were in innocuous places. Some were in schools, work centers, train stations or even hospitals. They were all connected to a complex bioengineered system linked to Lillian’s body. Only she could deactivated it. If her heart stopped beating, they would all go off at the same time. If she made certain gestures, it could activate them, and she would be able to choose which ones to set off, but she wouldn’t reveal how. So, long story short: if anything happened to her, or Metallo, or Henshaw, innocents would die. She told J’onn that she really hoped she wouldn’t have to use that last resort, but that she knew after what she’d done to Lena, Supergirl would need some kind of motivation to have a nice chat with her.
Knowing she couldn’t have anyone’s trust, Lillian explained, she’d show them truth.
And after a few moments of tense silence, with J’onn considering his options, Lillian’s face changed into a gesture of concentration and her eyes went blank for a second. Then, her permanent smirk appeared back in her face. Winn shouted as his monitors peaked with activity.
There had been an explosion on the docks. An abandoned warehouse.
J’onn furiously accused Lillian of being out of her mind, but the Luthor matriarch reassured the Martian telling him it was a calculated detonation, since Cadmus knew no one was there. She was just trying to show him how serious she was.
And, as a goodwill gesture, she added something.
“Go ahead, read my mind.”
J’onn’s blood ran cold. The determination in her voice probably proved that she was telling the truth. He complied, anyway. He wasn’t surprised when he couldn’t see into parts of Lillian’s mind, of course she’d use some kind of technology to block him telepathically. But there were things he could see. And, unequivocally, those things showed him she was telling the truth. They couldn’t risk it, so he ordered the agents to stand down, but watch her every move.
Lillian’s expression grew even more triumphant.
“Told you, I just came to talk,” she looked around and added chirpily, “now, where is the alien and my dear darling daughter?”
And that’s when Supergirl appeared, flying at super speed towards her to put her hand around her neck, lifted her in the air effortlessly, and ready to see the life get choked out of her eyes.
Alex Danvers jumped over the handrail, swearing and shouting behind her sister.
“So much for kryptonian self-control!”
J’onn took a step forward at the same time he raised a hand so his agents wouldn’t take action.
“Supergirl, stand down!”
But Kara wasn’t listening.
“You monster!” Supergirl yelled, her teeth pressed together in anger, her eyes flashing red cracks as her heat vision fired up. Lillian had her hands around Kara’s, gasping for air, but even like that, possibly about to be ended by her archenemy, she only smiled.
“Takes one to know one,” Lillian snapped. “Do what your kryptonian nature dictates you, Kara Zor-El. Come on, prove me right!”
Kara tightened her grip around Lillian’s neck just a little bit, too lost in her own anger.
J’onn’s eyes flashed red.
“Supergirl, stop! She has a mechanism inside her body that could detonate several bombs placed around the city! Put her down, now, or innocents will die!”
Kara turned to J’onn, hesitating for a second, but then a voice behind her made her release her hold on Lillian immediately.
When she looked for the source of that desperate scream, Kara saw Lena holding on to the stairs’ handrail, barely able to stand on her feet.
Lillian’s body made a loud noise as she fell to the ground, Kara just let go of her as if she was a rag doll. Metallo and Henshaw helped Lillian to her feet as she coughed and caught her breath. Despite that, her sardonic smile only grew wider when she saw her daughter calling out to the Kryptonian hero.
Kara rushed to Lena’s side, barely making it in time to keep her from falling.
Lena instinctively threw her arms around Kara’s neck, and before she knew it, she was being carried in strong arms.
“You must be in pain, you shouldn’t be walking yet! I’ll take you back to bed, I got this.”
Kara stopped the moment she felt Lena’s hands cupping her cheeks, forcing her to meet her eyes.
“Get me down there,” Lena whispered only for Kara to hear.
Kara’s entire body tensed up, both from the touch and the plea.
Lena’s voice sounded so tired that Kara knew, in that precise moment, it was the right thing to do. She nodded, and gently flew down back to the command center, Lena safely protected by her arms.
The moment she saw them flying back, Alex motioned for Vasquez to quickly get the wheelchair they had been reserving for Lena. Vasquez ran to get it, while everyone watched silently as Supergirl touched the ground minding her every move, Lena Luthor in her arms, bride style. Supergirl patiently waited making sure Lena was as comfortable as possible. Long, awkward seconds passed while no one dared to speak seeing the looks Lena Luthor was shooting in her mother’s direction. She could easily make hell freeze over.
Lillian, now back on her feet, showed her usual arrogance and made a poor attempt at a compliment.
“My darling girl. Motherhood suits you. You look stunning.”
Agent Vasquez arrived just in time. Supergirl carefully placed Lena on the wheelchair and took a step backwards, checking silently if she needed anything. Lena only had eyes for her defiant mother.
“I look like crap and you’re still are a lousy liar. Just answer me, Mother, what do you want?”
Supergirl stood next to Lena, fists on her hips, jaw tightened. Lillian would’ve made an acid remark about the Kryptonian acting as Lena’s lap dog, but her main focus was her daughter.
“A chance to explain myself, that’s all. And of course I was hoping I could meet my grandchildren.”
“You’re not going anywhere near them,” Supergirl growled taking a step forward.
“Supergirl…” Alex called softly from behind her.
“Oh… already protective, Kara? So you liked my present, then? Now you’re not the last of your kind, I was expecting at least a thank you for saving your race and rescuing the lineage of the House of El from extinction.”
Kara was ready to punch Lillian through a wall, but Alex stepped forward and grabbed her by the arm, gently enough to calm her down, firm enough to stop what she was thinking.
“How did you know that Lena had given birth?” Alex asked, suspicious.
“I’m a very resourceful woman, Agent Danvers.” Lillian sighed and directed all her attention to Alex. “Tell me, how’s Jeremiah? Are you planning on doing any father-daughter activities so you can erase all those years without your daddy?”
Alex scoffed. She clapped her hands together and smiled at Kara. “Ok. Ok. That’s it.” Then, her face turned into pure rage and Supergirl had to grab her by the waist and spin her around so she wouldn’t tear Lillian’s face off with her own hands. “I’m gonna skin you alive, you sick bitch!”
“Alex! Alex, calm down! Calm down. She’s taunting us, don’t you see?” Kara cried while she tried to keep Alex in place. Of course her Kryptonian strength was absolutely superior, but Alex always had been freakishly strong. For a human.
Lillian’s laughter echoed through the room.
“You people are even weaker than I thought. This is going to be so much fun. C’mon, let’s gather all together. There’s a lot of catching up to do.”
Lillian made her way towards the round table, inviting everyone to join her. Every agent in the room looked at J’onn, and the director of the DEO just nodded, given in to the fact that, for now, Lillian Luthor had the upper hand.
J’onn had asked Eliza Danvers to inform her husband of Lillian’s presence, and in that precise moment, the Danvers made their way to the room to be greeted by an over enthusiastic Lillian Luthor.
“Jeremiah! It’s so good to see you, old friend. Please join us.” The Luthor matriarch smiled, turning her gaze to Eliza Danvers. “Glad to finally meet Supergirl’s human mother, Dr. Danvers. I never had a chance to meet Martha Kent, but then again you and I are family now, so this encounter is far more important.”
Disgust and confusion were clear on Eliza’s face.
“What is the meaning of this, Lillian?” Jeremiah rebuked.
“Oh, it’s just a family reunion, you know? We’re just talking.”
“If you’re here for the alien registry–“
Lillian raised her hand, shaking index finger.
“I’m afraid that information has become completely irrelevant in light of recent events. You always liked a good story, Lena, so allow me to take you all through a little briefing of my recent findings.”
Nervous looks were exchanged around the room. Then, J’onn sighed and rested the palm of his hands against the table, never taking his gaze from Lillian.
“You could’ve send a letter. But go on, then. We’re listening,” he said, calmly, finally showing everyone that they could try at least to handle the situation.
Lillian clapped her hands together triumphantly.
“C’mon, don’t look so down, people. Let’s begin!” She gestured for Metallo to hand her something he was holding in a paper bag. “So, Kara, I brought you a present–“ The agents were triggered the moment they saw Metallo going for whatever he had in the bag. Even Alex reached for her gun.
Lillian waved her hands in the air.
“It’s just a book,” she declared.
Metallo gave her a copy of Red Son, with Superman depicted in its cover, wearing a red and grey suit, standing tall above a reinterpretation of the House of El coat of arms that showed a hammer and sickle. Lillian threw the copy on the table in Kara’s direction.
"Since I know you are a fan of Earth's pop culture, I believe you should know what that is, Supergirl.”
“It’s a friggin’ comic book.” Kara retorted, her infuriation sounding almost childlike.
“Not just any comic book. Mr. Schott, care to do the honors? I’m pretty sure you know what this is.”
Winn felt every gaze in the room directed at him.
“Uh… Sure… Um…” he stuttered. “Uh… it’s a graphic novel in which the authors fantasized with the idea of Superman landing on the URSS and becoming Stalin’s favorite weapon of mass destruction.” He looked nervously at Kara. “It’s actually… very good. It has won awards and everything.”
Supergirl scoffed and crossed her arms on her chest.
“I’ve heard of it. My cousin hates it.”
“And he has reason to,” Lillian grinned, nodding her head. “It’s not just a comic book. It tells a crude reality about him – that he’s unstable, dangerous, pliable. That, with certain stimuli, he could become the tyrant we all fear he could be.”
“So is this what you came for, Lillian? You want to open a book club at the DEO?” Alex spat angrily.
“Oh, no, no. I just want to help you understand my point of view. I’m getting there, please, be patient.”
Metallo handed Lillian another object. It was an old newspaper.
“Let’s see… another souvenir. Your cousin’s first front page interview on the Daily Planet. ‘I spent the night with Superman’. They say that was the one that really got Lane the Pulitzer but I don’t know, I always found it too corny.”
“Ok, what are you getting at, Mother? This is far too eccentric even for you,” Lena asked, impatiently.
“I know, sweetheart, but it’s important to give context to what I’m about to say.” Lillian left the paper on the table and turned to Kara, her voice tinged with contempt. “When your cousin did that interview with Lois Lane many years ago, what side of the American way of life was he referring to?” Kara opened her mouth but Lillian didn’t give ground. “What was he really trying to say? Was he trying to defend the American way that put a white supremacist in the White House? Was he talking about the American way that sponsors a law enforcement that kills black people everyday without consequences? Was he alining himself with those who claim we are a force for peace in Washington and then sell weapons in the Middle East to those who are supposed to be our enemies? So, tell me: truth, justice and the American way… does it sound any different from a quote that says: I have the duty to be a fighter for truth and justice? You know who said that, Supergirl?”
Kara remained silent.
“I thought as much. But my brilliant girl knows, don’t you, Lena?”
“Comparing Superman to Hitler is quite a ridiculous reach, Mother,” Lena shook her head and sighed, still trying to figure out what her mother was playing at.
“Oh, is it?” Lillian narrowed her eyes looking at her daughter, then turned to Kara once again. “Supergirl, what happened when you were exposed to red kryptonite? I seem to remember you had so much fun.”
“You’re taking out of context something that I couldn’t control.” Kara blurted out through clenched teeth.
Lillian pointed an accusing finger at her.
“Exactly! All it took was a mediocre man creating a mediocre experiment to turn you into your true self. That’s what Lex and I always feared. It is not xenophobia, it is not hate. It’s preparing for the inevitable. I can even recognize that your heart is in the right place most of the time, Supergirl, but if someone as untrustworthy as Max Lord could affect you by accident… well, you said it yourself, you couldn’t control it. And we both know you and your cousin are the definitive weapons of mass destruction.”
Kara pressed her lips together and laughed, bitterly.
“You’re a hypocrite, Lillian. You’re justifying your actions because you think my cousin and I might turn into tyrants? You’re even more delusional than I thought. After what you’ve done to Lena–“
Lillian raised her voice for the first time since she put a step in the building.
“What I’ve done to Lena is the ultimate sacrifice, Kara Zor-El, and you don’t get to call me a hypocrite when you live your life above us, deciding what’s right and what’s wrong!”
“You have to be kidding me…” Lena murmured as tears of frustration and anger watered in her eyes. She fought them back with everything she had.
Lillian just went on, her fury towards Kara unleashing without constraints.
“You Kryptonians weren’t even here when this world almost collapsed. Those who rose to power had the same arrogance your cousin showed when he proclaimed himself the defender of ideals that don’t even belong to him. No alien refugee stepped up when millions were obliterated, when Humanity had to fight back for its own survival,” Lillian furiously spatted. She looked to J’onn then, her words cutting the air like knives. “Where were you hiding, J’onn J’onnz, when what happened to your people repeated itself on this same planet, uh? The 20th century had plenty of tyrants to choose from, but you didn’t fight against any of them.” She turned to Kara again, not even catching her breath. “And you and Kal-El were thousand of light years away or not even born yet, and still you think you can be better at being humans than us? If that’s not delusions of grandeur, then what is it? If that’s not an insult to our intelligence, tell me, Supergirl, what’s that supposed to mean? What do we humans do when a saviour appears out of nowhere telling us that they know what’s best for all of us? Some follow blindly, some fight back.”
“You’re mad, Lillian. You’re beyond redemption, just like your son,” J’onn snapped.
“DO NOT SPEAK OF MY SON!”
The room went completely silent. The agents and employees of the DEO ceased all activity. Everyone stared at Lillian. Her face was red, a vein popping out of her neck, her eyes burning with fire. And, as if nothing, she cleared her throat, shook her head momentarily, and came back to her arrogant self. It was the creepiest thing any of them had ever seen, and that was a huge statement given that they worked at a place called Department of Extranormal Operations.
“Lex… Lex was brilliant. Lex was a beacon of hope,” Lillian sighed. Then she looked her daughter in the eye, and maybe for the first time since she set foot in the building, she seemed totally honest. “You know it Lena. Remember? Remember him before Superman, before all this? He was your light, as much as he was mine. You know it in your heart… he could’ve been everything.” Lena looked away, unable to give in. She had mourned her brother for so long… Lex was not dead, but the Lex she knew and loved was long gone. Lillian looked back to J’onn, Alex and Supergirl. “You tell me I’m mad. You were the ones that drove the brightest mind on the planet to madness. He could’ve helped millions. He could’ve been our savior. I saw it. I saw him being everything I had dreamed… in another worlds. Another realities. But you people just stripped him away of everything, and then, he had nothing to lose.” She paused, and then shot Kara a cold look. “My son just wanted to find the truth about the nature of Kryptonians, and it is what has kept me going after your cousin sent my darling boy to max and you bewitched my beautiful girl.”
For a moment, Kara could see Lillian as a mother. Not a villain, not a mad scientist, not a xenophobe. A mother who had lost her son to madness and despair. A mother that perhaps saw no other choice but to give in to those things, too, as if they were the only thing biding her to her son.
“Lex made his own choices, Lillian,” Kara spoke, softly. Not a hint of animosity in her voice. “You can fool yourself all you want, but what he did is unforgivable.”
“Unforgivable, you say?” Lillian bit the inside of her cheek and smiled, bitterly. “Unforgivable, funny you say that. Each and everyone of you has done terrible things, and yet you still think you are the good guys,” she turned to Jeremiah and pointed a finger at him. “You. You only escaped because I allowed you to. I knew you would. I was going to let you run away with my daughter, Jeremiah, it was all part of my plan. There was no need to kill my men. Carl, Evan, Dimitri.” Jeremiah took a step back and shook his head, in denial. “You worked with them for years,” Lillian continued, “that must have been very hard for you, but don’t worry, I’ll make sure their families are properly compensated.”
“You’re lying,” Jeremiah snapped, his eyes red with anger, “that doesn’t make sense. Why would you let Lena go?”
“Because I knew she would be safe with you, that you’d bring her here. I didn’t have the luxury of time. When Lena was on the final stages of her pregnancy I made an unsettling discovery… I’ll get to that, don’t worry. The point is, I had to go on a little trip and I didn’t know if I was going to make it back…” Lillian narrowed her eyes, seeing the sincere look of disgust Jeremiah had in his face. She was enjoying it far too much, letting him know he had killed for nothing. “Did you think I was always completely honest with you? Did you think I didn’t feed you false intel? Did you think I didn’t know that eventually you’d try to betray me, again?”
Eliza put a trembling hand over her husband’s shoulder as he looked undoubtedly devastated.
Lillian tilted her head, satisfied.
“You all have blood in your hands, and you know it.”
J’onn rubbed his chin, exasperated. “My patience is wearing thin, Lillian. I still don’t see the point of this non-sensical monologue.”
"Oh, don't get me started on you, J'onn J'onnz, you are the most pathetic and immoral of all of us,” Lillian jabbed, and when J’onn didn’t flinch, she continued, harsher than ever. "You flew a holocaust in your own planet, you're the last survivor of a species that will certainly die with you and yet, you rallied behind Supergirl to fight the Daxamites so their lazy bones prince could stay on Earth to keep playing Ken with her Kryptonian Barbie. You of all people should've done the right thing, you of all people should have convinced Mon-El to go back and fix his planet! Instead, you let Rhea go and you chose to condemn the people of Daxam to perpetual tyranny.”
“You’re twisting the facts,” J’onn clenched his jaw.
“Am I? The facts are just that: facts. I could go on for hours,” Lillian took a long look around her, and then projected her voice, for everyone in the room to hear, “it all evinces a harsh truth about all of you. You don’t put the greater good above everything else. You just wrap yourselves around great words and good intentions and tag everyone that does not share your point of view as ‘evil’. But when it comes to the hard choices, when it comes to self-sacrifice and moral ambiguities and dealing with the consequences of the toughest of decisions, you just can’t cope.” She finally focused on Kara. “And you always decide what’s best for your own interests, you always take the selfish path, the one that benefits your loved ones and makes you survive at the expense of innocent lives. But of course, you always find a way to call your option the right one just because you declared yourselves the good guys.”
Kara held Lillian’s gaze, not backing up a bit.
“It’s clear what you think about us and what we do. But it will never justify what you’ve done.”
Lillian laughed, bitterly, and Kara was taken aback but made sure not to show it.
“I know it doesn’t. But that’s the difference between you and me, Supergirl.” The Luthor matriarch stole a quick glance in her daughter’s direction, and then focused once again on Kara. Her determination was deadlier than ever. “I know there is no rest for the wicked. I know I’ll have no forgiveness, no love. No one will call me a hero even if I save them all. And I will do what needs to be done to preserve us. But you… you could never live with that. That’s why you’re the weakest of all of us. I’ve seen it, Supergirl. The moment you lose the ones you love… you become a god turned monster.”
Lena didn’t know what it was, but something within her told her that her mother was different, somehow. Of course she was the same cruel creature that had done to her the unthinkable, but something had changed. Something had turned even darker.
“What do you mean, you’ve seen it, Mother?” Lena asked. “That’s the second time you say some stupid thing like that.”
Lillian looked at her daughter. Lena could swear she saw hesitation in her eyes. Her adoptive mother had never shown emotions, at least not in her presence. But right now, for the first time in her life, Lena could see something else besides despise burning inside Lillian. And she couldn’t quite place what it was.
“I wasn’t born American. My father was a scientist, he was from Poland,” Lillian began explaining, looking at her hands. “A man of faith and science, as contradictory as it can sound. He created a weapon that could’ve changed history.”
Kara, Alex and J’onn exchanged baffled looks. J’onn raised his fingers, ever so slightly, as if to let them know they should let Lillian finish.
“But he was too afraid to use it, because he couldn’t bear the thought of killing innocents,” Lillian said with a strange mix of sadness and despise. “He would’ve saved millions. He would’ve changed everything. But he couldn’t live with the fact that his weapon would kill the Nazis, yes, but also millions of innocents.”
They all watched silently as Lillian put her hands on the table, her knuckles going white. “So when he had to press the button and just let Berlin burn, he couldn’t do it. And on my 13th birthday he took me to Auschwitz and showed me the consequences of his weakness. And he made me promise something. He made me promise that I wouldn’t hesitate. That I would be strong, if the time came.”
Lillian closed her eyes, then inhaled deeply. When she opened them again, they were cold as ice. “So yes, call me villain, drag my family name, tell me I won’t have peace,” she spatted. “I do know, you idiots. But I’ll do whatever I have to. Just like my son…. Nero, Genghis Khan, Vlad the III, Nicholas the II, Adolf Hitler, Stalin, Mussolini, Franco, Pol Pot, Mao, Brainiac, Superman, the White Martians, Darkseid, Steppenwolf, Thaal Sinestro, Mongul, Vandal Savage, General Zod, Reign, the Dominators, Rhea... the names don't matter anymore, just the means to stop them.”
“You haven’t answered my question, Mother.”
Lillian turned to her daughter, Lena showing no sign of compassion, holding her gaze without fear or empathy.
“You were my ultimate sacrifice, Lena. I knew you’d never forgive me for what I did to you…” Lillian took a deep breath and crossed her hands, as if accepting what was coming. “But every weapon in my power mattered. Every resource I could gather to gain an advantage was necessary, because the enemies of Humanity are always lurking in the shadows, and not just the Supers… I knew I’d lost you forever. That’s how things are meant to be. And I can’t fight it, because I did what I had to.”
Lena shook her head slowly and closed her eyes, anger building up in her chest. If she could stand up, she would have slap her mother’s face a thousand times.
“You are unbelievable, Mother. You are much worse than Lex, at least he didn’t justify his deeds with all this bullshit.” Lena regretted that her words sounded choked up and charged with fury. She just didn’t want to feel any emotion towards Lillian, not anymore.
“So that’s why you came all the way here? To tell us your villain origin story? Very sad, Lillian, yeah, right.” Alex’s sarcasm somehow broke a little of the tension, it was Alex just being Alex even in the most dangerous of situations. “You know, there’s millions of people out there who suffered through war without becoming mass murderers. This bullshit you’re telling us serves you for nothing.”
Lillian grinned at her and shook her head.
“I couldn’t care less about what you or anyone else thinks about me, Agent Danvers. I came here to tell you all this because the game has changed not just for me, but for everyone on this planet. The menaces of all menaces is upon us. And it won’t care if we call ourselves good or bad guys. It’s coming for all of us.”
Everyone waited for a conclusion, Lillian sighed.
“Lena’s right… I’ve seen things. This is my last gift, Kara.”
Metallo handed Lillian what looked like a pen-drive. Lillian threw at Winn, sliding it using the table’s surface. Winn caught it and looked unsure of what to do.
Lillian turned to Kara.
“Our visit to the Fortress of Solitude thanks to your unselfish blood donation proved to be very rewarding. I knew there was technology there that could help me win the war against you, so we salvaged pretty much anything. Information on Kryptonian genetics that your adoptive father so gladly used to help me create your children, Zor-El’s life’s work, Medusa, Kelex, Kryptonian software and technology… That place is like a new library of Alexandria, and it’s been underused.”
“That place belongs to my family and you had no right to step foot on it.” Kara growled.
“See, Kara, despite what you may think, I’m a sentient monster. If a bigger menace came up, of course I could be able to put aside our differences. And that’s exactly what happened. Mr. Schott, would you be so kind as to open the first video file you’ll find on the storage unit I just gave you?”
Winn nervously glanced at J’onn for guidance. The Martian nodded and Winn walked to his computer to plug the device in. He did as Lillian told him, and within seconds, they all were staring at the screens that showed Lillian working at a clandestine lab.
“When we came back from the Fortress, I began working on a parallel project. I knew that the theory of alternate universes was real, and I knew that you had technology that one Barry Allen gave you to walk between Earths. I set up myself to recreate such technology using the data we found on the Fortress, but with a slight improvement.”
The video showed Lillian building something that Kara recognized immediately.
“That’s… a phantom zone projector.”
“Repurposed, yes. The phantom zone wasn’t exactly my main destination. When Lena was on her first trimester, I finally figured out how to visit any dimension emulating the projector.”
“You stole that tech. You’re using Kryptonian devices for your twisted goals!”
“C’mon, Kara, don’t be so naive. It never ceases to amaze me how I’m the villain from your point of view, yet you act surprised each time I use any resources I can to achieve my goals. Don’t you people ever get tired of being so short-minded? Mr. Schott, can you please move on to the next video?”
Winn complied, his hands trembling a little as he navigated through the data.
“And so my journey through alternative realities began. Oh, I went to some weird places. It started out initially as a way to find a weapon that could kill you, tech from other dimensions that I could use against you and others like you. But it became so much more. I found out a lot of things about your people, Kara, about you. But more importantly, I found out a lot of things about the people you surround yourself with.”
The video showed Lillian using the projector at different times, the dates and time-prints on the screen changing constantly. Sometimes she went in alone, sometimes Henshaw or Metallo were with her.
“I visited Earth-1, for starters. It was pretty boring overall but I learned a thing or two from S.T.A.R. Labs… then I went to more interesting places. I discovered multiple realities where your cousin didn’t even exist, and you could understand my surprise when I also found out that my son was the wonderful man I always thought he could be in those worlds. In some of them he was even married to one Lois Lane. Poetic justice, I guess.” Lillian chuckled to herself. “In one specific reality, your cousin was dead. A creature of Kryptonian nature called Doomsday had killed him. I thought it would be a good idea to bring it here, so I started something obviously called Project Doomsday. It wasn’t genetics, Jeremiah. I was trying to recreate the creature here, in our dimension. In order to do that, and to have as much information as possible, I kept on visiting worlds, just short observational trips, while tending to Lena and overseeing Cadmus operations.”
Images from other parallel realities appeared on screen. A multitude of people wearing black, mourning Superman. Newspapers, news shows showing headlines like Superman is dead!, Superman gives his life for Earth…
Kara frowned at the images, not believing what she was seeing.
“Oh, Kara, the tales I could tell. In one of those Earths you were a Nazi overlord, married to a Führer version of Oliver Queen.”
“I wish I was. Look.”
Lillian pointed at the screens where images of Nazi propaganda showed someone called Overgirl, looking very much like Kara, standing beside Oliver Queen. In her chest, the symbol of the Nazi SS instead of the coat of arms of the House of El. Disgust crept up Kara’s spine. The scene cut to both Overgirl and Queen executing prisoners on cold blood taken from a news broadcast that claimed the justice of the Reich had been served. It ended with the anchor making the Nazi salute and yelling Sieg Heil!
“Nazis,” Alex hissed, “I fucking hate Nazis.”
Upon seeing the look of horror on Kara’s face, Lillian continued.
“It took all the strength I had not to nuclear bomb that reality. But it wasn’t my fight. And besides, it just proved that I was right about you. Just like that Red Son comic-book depicting Superman as someone who could become a tyrant, given the proper stimuli, that world showed me a lot of things about you.”
“That has nothing to do with me,” Kara protested.
“You’re right. Other versions of us don’t have to mean anything. But, the more I traveled through dimensions, the more I realized some patterns. Some – let’s say, interferences in between realities. Your loathsome boyfriend, for example… there was a world where he had been discovered by your cousin, not you. And his name wasn’t Mon-El. He was amnesic when he arrived on Earth, so your cousin thought he was Kryptonian because of his powers, so he gave him your house’s name, and add the Mon first because he landed on a Monday! Can you believe that? How idiotic could that be?”
“That doesn’t make any sense…” Winn murmured.
“As much sense as the fact that that is his real name in this reality?” Lillian pointed out. “Anyway, I started to look for those patterns, repetitions, aberrations or echos from other worlds. And in Lena’s last trimester of her pregnancy, I found this. Mr. Schott?”
Winn clicked on the next video.
It showed a busy street from Lillian’s point of view. She made her way through the crowd, then, she turned to a showcase. Her face reflected on it. Magazines and books were on display. She focused in what appeared to be the latest number of CatCo. In its cover, Lena and Kara, brimming with happiness. They were smiling at each other, holding hands. And the headline read: National City’s power couple welcomes baby twins Luna and Liam! Exclusive scoop on the happy event for the L-Corp CEO and our very own Editor-in-Chief.
The whole room at the DEO held their breath.
“You have to be fucking kidding me in the fuckity fuck,” Alex gasped.
Winn was covering his mouth. J’onn let out a sigh of apprehension. Kara wasn’t blinking at all. And Lena looked at her mother with nothing but rage in her eyes.
“You’ve manipulated these videos, you have the resources to do it. You’re fucking with our minds, Mother, I just know. This proves nothing,” Lena reproached.
“I bought a couple of the CatCo magazines, if you want to check them out”, Lillian responded with a tight-lipped smile. Then, she ignored Lena’s wrath, and kept on talking, smooth and conceited as ever. “You can imagine my surprise when I discovered that Earth. Things were quite different there. And it wasn’t just that world. I realized I was just a pawn in the multi-verse when I discovered the twins existed in other timelines.”
Lillian took a moment to look around, satisfied with the shock she encountered on everyone’s face.
“So, I kept going back and forward, studying, learning. Until I couldn’t reach some of the worlds I had visited before,” she added. “Earth-X, the one with the Nazis? It was gone. I couldn’t find its frequency anymore. Not that I’d missed it. But that kept happening with other Earths too. And I’d still be in the dark, if I hand’t encountered the answer by chance. As I suspected, the realities weren’t moving. They were disappearing. And soon, our Earth will suffer the same fate, if we don’t do something about it.”
The tension in the air shifted to awkwardness when Lena’s laughter echoed through the room. She put a hand on her belly, but completely ignored the pain. Kara wanted to reach out to her, but she stopped herself. Lena finally calmed down, and there were tears of frustration in her eyes.
"After all the lies, after all the… terrible things that you've done to me, you think I'm going to believe you?”
Lillian held her daughter’s gaze as she answered, no shadow of doubt in her voice.
“Yes, dear. Because out of all the outcomes, out of all the timelines splitting up and turning heroes into villains and vice versa, one thing remained the same, my darling. You. In every reality. Not good. Not bad. Always just. Always balanced, always impartial. You, Lena, you are the key. You are the constant.”
“The constant of what?” It was Kara who asked the question, now somehow her pose a little more confident, her arms crossed over her chest.
Lillian smiled at Supergirl.
“The constant that could make us win.”
Kara didn’t even blink.
“You’re a murderer. A liar and a psychopath. Why come to us now, after all this time?”
“Haven’t you heard a word I said, Kara Zor-El? I found out about all this two weeks ago. This is way bigger than you and me, this is the beginning of the end, Humanity is facing its extinction.”
“And yet, everything you’ve told us or show us has been just a load of crap,” Alex chirped in.
Lillian breathed in, infuriated. J’onn cut whatever words she was going to say.
“Get to the point, Lillian. Now.”
Lillian pressed her lips together and gave in. She looked J’onn directly in the eye.
“Have you ever heard the name Mobius? Or should I say, the Monitor? Some worlds refer to him as the Anti-Monitor…”
Alex could swear she saw J’onn shiver. That couldn’t mean anything good.
“That’s…” J’onn stuttered, frowning. “That’s just a legend.”
“Oh, no. It’s not,” Lillian retorted.
Upon seeing J’onn’s distress, Kara put a hand on his shoulder, gently squeezing it.
“J’onn?,” Alex asked.
The Martian seemed lost in thought. Then, he cleared his throat.
“Back on Mars, nobody believed it, it was just a tale to scare kids. The rumors said some Green Martians that had travelled across the continuum space-time came back damaged. Mentally unstable. They told stories about it but – no one really believed them. We blamed radiation and other side effects of jumping through realities.”
“I assure you, J’onn J’onnz, the Anti-Monitor is not a legend,” Lillian said flatly.
“They said that it’s a being obsessed with absorbing energy,” J’onn added. “All energy, that is. It hungers for matter across time and space, and apparently it wouldn’t stop until it consumed all energy in all existing Multiverses.”
“He was created by an alien race in a planet called Oa. The guardians of the universe, they called themselves in an unprecedented gesture of humbleness. That was sarcasm, in case you can’t tell.”
“But the Green Lanterns,” J’onn said, “they take the oath to protect all universes. If something like this creature exists, they would stop it.”
“Unless they no longer exist,” Lillian explained. “The Lanterns are dead. All of them. This being is the answer to the real Monitor, a sort of protector of all matter in the universe. The problem is, when the guardians of the universe created it, they accidentally gave life to our little problem, who they called the Anti-Monitor. The guardians and the Lanterns built a jail for him, as big as a planet. But he broke free. And the first world he took was Oa, home of the guardians. He absorbs everything in his path, and then he turns everything into darkness, anti-matter. When the Lanterns appeared to help, they were obliterated, leaving our reality and countless more completely unaware of his existence.”
“How do you know this?” Alex asked, ever the suspicious one.
“I couldn’t explore the entire Multiverse by myself, so of course I sent my men out there. Let’s just say not all of them made it back home. Their beacons did, fortunately. I’ve got spies literally everywhere, Agent Danvers, you should know that by now.” Alex didn’t like one bit the vain smile Lillian dedicated her, but said nothing.
“He’s been successful with a few parallel universes now. And that’s generating disruptions all across time and space and different realities. Those were the echoes or interferences I detected in multiple Earths. Apparently, when he travels between dimensions or annihilates a reality, the radiation of its predatory actions affect people and things all over the Multiverse. Have you started having nightmares, any of you?” Lillian waved her hands in the air, waiting for an answer. When no one said a thing, she sighed. “If they are anything like mine, they will start getting worse, probably. He doesn’t do it quickly though, in order to consume all energy in a reality he drags himself across time, and when he’s ready he provokes a mass-scale catastrophe. It’s been happening for centuries, the signs are there, all scattered across history, but no one was paying attention.”
Alex touched her sister’s shoulder and whispered something.
“If this were true, we would have picked something up. Kara… Your friends in other realities… Oliver, Barry, the Legends – someone would have known something.”
“You don’t get it, Agent Danvers,” Lillian yelled firmly. "We’ve been all busy fighting our own petty demons, too invested in saving the world from the monster of the week to notice a bigger menace lurking in the shadows. The Monitor is like a black wolf hunting in a moonless winter night. The moment it shows itself, it’s the end. No other realities, no other Universes were able to even send a distress call before being engulfed by its darkness. That’s the way he wins. He plays with us like a cat with an agonizing mouse. He changes time and space, he gambles with our reality and shows us terrible possibilities until he chooses to attack and devours us. Quite literally.”
Supergirl uncrossed her arms and put her hands on the table, leaning on.
“If anything of what you’re saying is true… how can we stop him, Lillian?”
Lillian Luthor tilted her head.
“There was an exception. One reality faced him and lived to tell it, or at least to send a message out.”
Lena scoffed, skeptically.
“Do you have proof of that, Mother? Real proof, not this cheap hoax you’ve been selling us.”
A strange smile appeared on the Luthor matriarch’s face, an unsettling mixture of pride and mischief.
“Oh my darling girl, I thought you’d never ask.”
National City. Earth-Y.
June 10th, 2042.
“Welcome back, National City! As promised before the commercial break, let me dive right back into it and introduce you to our next guest, none-other than fellow citizen, best-selling author and journalist, Luna Danvers!”
A round of measured applause sounded in the studio as a young woman approached the stage, dressed in a black fitted blazer, white shirt and jeans. She had long, dark blonde hair and piercing blue eyes that under more muted lights could change to green and even grey, sometimes. She wore brown semi-rimless framed glasses. She smiled at the cameras, but there was a shyness to her gestures.
The host, a beautiful, tall black woman in a red dress, invited her to take a seat.
“Hi, Luna, it is so great to have you back on the show and thank you for making time for us. I know you don’t like TV interviews at all but you always make an exception for us and we feel honored.”
“Well uh – thank you for having me, Sandra, I just like it here because you actually ask me questions about my work, not my personal life.”
“So, Luna, yeah… about that, and please forgive me, but your latest novel is very personal, so I gotta ask. Where did Darkest Before Dawn come from? I mean – it’s been number one on the Daily Planet best sellers list for weeks, critics are loving it, readers are crazy about it… but everyone is wondering, is it all fiction? Because the family on the novel, the protagonists–“
“The Mullens, yes.”
“Yes, the Mullens… uh… you tell this incredibly moving story about this family and others that intertwine with their story, across time – escaping the Nazis, living in Ireland, then migrating to America, how they build their empire, how they are incredibly flawed and how they fall, how some of them turn evil, how some of them become a force for good… I know that I don’t even have to tell you but people say that what you’re actually telling here is the story of the Luthors, the story of your family. Is that correct?”
“You know, Sandra, all fiction is based on some kind of truth. No writer can detach themselves from reality and build a story just at the snap of their fingers. And if someone tells you they can do that, trust me, they’re lying.”
“Oh, I know what you mean.”
“The thing is that, with this novel, I believe some of it poured out of me unconsciously, and I’m not going to deny that there’s a lot in it that’s inspired by stories I heard while growing up. And of course I did some digging and I got in touch with my past a lot, especially while traveling across Europe for research and following in my ancestors steps. But this book is not just about one family. My grandmother’s ancestors were from Poland. Then again, my parents were both adopted, as you know, they never shied away from that, so they had the history of their adoptive families and the biological ones. I just let myself get lost into all that and came up with this microcosmos of clustered clans that populate the novel. So, to answer your question, of course it is inspired by all that. But it’s just not my Luthor side. I hope that readers approach the book with an open mind and enjoy the epic journey I have prepared for them instead of seeing it just as idle gossip.”
“Oh God, no, of course not! The novel is fantastic, and the love stories – they’re engaging, they’re flawed, but beautiful… You’re very, very young, Luna, and critics are praising it as the novel that’s establishing you as the voice of this generation. How do you feel about that?”
“Well, that’s a bit overwhelming. I don’t think I’ve earned that title yet.”
“Has this novel changed you in any way? Has it changed the way you approach life in any aspect? I mean, writing about family sure has to make you reflect a lot, and again, please forgive me for walking into personal territory here, but the material just raises these questions by itself.”
“Oh I don’t mind at all, it’s a good question, and you’re absolutely right, this is, after all, my most personal book yet. It was an emotional journey. But, as you know, my family has always been very private, and it was a struggle because we were always in the public spotlight… but if anything, the process of writing all this has made me appreciate my parents even more and the loving environment I grew up in.”
“And I know I should’t tell you this but damn it, I can’t help it! National City loooves your parents! I’m sorry, I’m a fangirl.”
“Well, I’m a fangirl of theirs too, there’s nothing to apologize for.”
“And of course, journalism and writing is in your blood. I bet they ought to be proud.”
“Uh, well, I guess? They’re my most fearless critics but at the same time they still embarrass me in front of other people telling them about my books and my travels so…”
“Then they are proud, I’m telling you. There’s a lot of sibling stories in the novel, too. And you have a twin brother, right?”
“Yes. A twin and a little sister. I’m another person when I’m with them, I turn into this total goof, even the way I talk changes, it’s like we have a world of our own, and… I wanted to talk about those relationships, because when you read a book or see a movie, usually everything is centered around romantic plots and that just bores me most of the time. For me, my brother and my sister, but my brother especially because we’re twins… they bring out a side of me I just can’t show anyone else. Anyway, my brother, he’s – he’s very private. He might be the only one in the family that has a normal life, actually. By choice, I mean.”
“Ok, we’re gonna respect that but just tell me one thing, did he like the novel?”
“Oh I don’t know, I guess he’ll tell me when I meet him for lunch.”
“I’m sure he’ll like it. And let me know if he doesn’t because I’ll call him and change his mind, ok? Thank you for being with us this morning, Luna, it was a pleasure as always.”
“Again, thanks for having me.”
“That’s author Luna Danvers, National City! Her new epic novel Darkest Before Dawn is available world-wide and I’m telling you, it’s one for the ages, you don’t wanna miss it. We’ll be back in a minute, stay tuned!”
The illusion came to halt as the red light on the cameras turned off.
“Shit, that was so bad!” Luna exclaimed the moment she was positive they were out of the air.
“What are you saying, darling? You were exquisite.”
“Thank you, Sandra, I mean it, but… this is why I don’t do TV. I get so awkward and – fucking nervous.”
The host took the younger woman’s hands in hers.
“Luna, I’ve been on this business before you were a rugrat. You did absolutely fine, trust me. So relax, honey, there’s champagne in the guests area. Suit yourself.”
“Thank you. Again.”
As Luna stood up to just get the hell away from there, an anxious looking production assistant approached the stage. Luna kept walking to the backstage, but she couldn’t help but eavesdrop the conversation with her super hearing.
“The news just took over. We… we are not going back in the air.”
“What the hell? What happened?”
“I don’t know, they’re going live, there’s like some giant, scary looking sand storm coming to the city. Or something like that.”
“They’re evacuating the building, apparently.”
Luna sighed and took her cell out of her pocket, speed-dialling her brother’s number.
“It just never fucking ends,” she muttered to herself.
National City. Earth-Y.
Alan Scott Medical Clinic,
June 10th, 2042.
“Good morning, Mrs. Thompson?”
A young doctor entered the examining room, looking at a report in his hands. Mrs. Thompson was sitting on the exam table. Her two teenage daughters were standing up against the wall, both looking at their smartphones.
Mrs. Thompson took a long look at the young doctor, up and down, taking advantage of the fact that he wasn’t looking up from his papers. Then, she adjusted her cleavage, trying to make it show even more of her generous attributes.
The doctor was in his early twenties. His dark, short length hair was slicked back, and wherever light touched it, it showed sparkles of a dark blonde tone. He was definitely tall and his shoulders were broad and strong, Mrs. Thompson could tell even under his white coat. His eyelashes were thick, perfectly highlighting his big, green eyes, and his jawline was sharp and symmetrical. He was wearing a pair of Ray Ban vintage nerd glasses, but Mrs. Thompson thought that only made him more attractive. He was just a kid, of course, but she could just rejoice in looking at him. Something is better than nothing.
“Oh it’s just miss now, I’m divorced. I mean, it sounds better if I say I’m single again. These are my girls, Laura and Christine. You see, I had them very young, that’s why sometimes people think we’re sisters.”
Liam finally looked up from his papers in time to see Mrs. Thompson’s daughters rolling their eyes and one of them murmuring “Unbelievable.” He smiled at them and sat on a chair right in front of the now blushing Mrs. Thompson.
“They’re here with me for moral support, I hope you don’t mind.”
“That’s fine, Mrs. Thompson–“
Liam smiled sympathetically.
“Ok, Cynthia… I’m Dr. Danvers, I’m going to take a look at your right hand – that’s where the pain is, right?”
“Yes. Oh my, if I’d known such a handsome doctor was going to look at my hands I would’ve got a manicure this morning. How come in all the years I’ve been attending this clinic I’ve never seen you before, Dr. Danvers? You look so young. I bet you’re new.”
Laura and Christine were mortified.
“God, kill me now.”
“Dude, this is so embarrassing.”
They were whispering, but Liam could hear them perfectly without any super hearing. He focused his attention in his patient.
“Uh… no, I’ve been consulting here for a couple of years now but I only take appointments in this clinic once a month. I work at the Luthor Family Children Hospital.”
“Oh… so are you really a pediatrician, Dr. Danvers? I know I look young, but not that young.”
Liam showed a polite little smile at the joke.
“Actually, I’m a neurosurgeon. All doctors from the LF are required to do clinic hours in order to compensate for donations since the Children Hospital is a non-profit organization, even though the Luthor Foundation covers almost everything, we need all the help we can get.”
Cynthia squealed enthusiastically.
“Oh, oh. Neurosurgeon. You hear that, girls? But you’re so young!”
Liam nodded and concentrated on the examination of Mrs. Thompson’s hand.
“So they tell me. Please bend your thumb across your palm. That’s it. Now make a fist. And now I’m going to take your hand and make a stretching motion, just a litt–“
“That hurts, right?”
“You’ve got De Quervain’s tenosynovitis, Mrs. Thompson.”
Mrs. Thompson looked at her hand as if Liam had suggested that they had to chop it off.
“Cynthia… and is that bad? Is it contagious?”
Liam stood up and began to write his report.
“No. There’s nothing to worry about. It’s rather painful, yes, but you’ll be fine. Do you text a lot? Play games in your smartphone?”
It was time for two suffering teenagers to step in.
“All the time.”
“Mostly to stalks us and ask us where we are like aaall the time.”
“She’s like an addict, actually.”
“And don’t get me started on the dating apps–“
Cynthia laughed it off.
“Aw, these two! They crack me up all the time… Everybody’s a little addicted to their devices nowadays, right?”
“Yes, Mrs. – I mean, Miss Thompson – Cynthia, sorry.” Liam pointed at an anatomic painting of the hand, hanging on the wall. “See, in your wrist and lower thumb, there’s two tendons that normally glide smoothly through the small tunnel that connects them to the base of the thumb. We need that to grip and pinch things in our hands. Actually, thanks to this little guy we actually evolved as an intelligent species above others because we could grab things and create tools. That’s how valuable our opposable thumb is. So, when we do all those things day after day in repeated motions we may irritate the sheath around the two tendons, causing thickening and swelling.”
Laura and Christine were now beyond embarrassed.
“Oh my God, look at Mom. She’s drooling.”
“He could be talking about poop and she’d still make that face. Gross.”
“I don’t blame her, though. He’s a hunk.”
“Keep dreaming, sis.”
“Hey, did you notice his tag? It says Dr. Danvers-Luthor, right? Do you think he–“
“God, if he’s got a rich family besides being a doctor we’ll never hear the end of it.”
“He really seems too young to be a doctor, though.”
“Yeah, but those Luthor freaks were like a family of geniuses or something, so…”
“He’s too hot to be straight, anyway, bet he’s gay.”
One of the sisters scoffed. “Aren’t they always?”
There was a knock on the door and another doctor came in, he looked older than Liam, but strangely less confident in his body language.
“Dr. Danvers! Your sister’s calling.”
“I’m in the middle of something here, Sully. Please tell her I will call her back when I’m done with this appointment.”
“Sorry, but… uh. Since you wouldn’t answer your phone she’s called everyone on your staff. She says it’s urgent.”
Liam sighed and shook his head, giving up.
“Excuse me, Miss. Thompson, I should take this.” he apologized. “My sister has never had any respect for boundaries, so why should she start now?”
Cynthia showed him all of her teeth and nodded.
“Hear that, girls? Dr. Danvers here has a sister. We don’t mind if you take the call, Dr. Danvers, that’s so sweet, isn’t that sweet, girls? I bet you and your sister are close.”
Liam scoffed gently and smiled back at his admirer as he left the room.
“We shared a womb, you have no idea.”
He entered his office and answered the phone on his desk, with Luna waiting on the other side of the line.
“Loo, you just saved me from a very mortifying patient but I really need to be done with it, so this better be good–”
“Are you seeing this?”
“Turn the TV on, dude!”
Liam complied grabbing the remote on his desk. The little TV he kept on his office lit up with breaking news. A live feed from a CatCo helicopter showed a strange, gigantic white wave coming towards the city. It didn’t look like water, it was more like a blinding light mixed with dust. No one was really sure of what it was, or so the news were saying.
“Oh, what the–“
“What the hell is that, Loo?”
“I don’t know but it doesn’t look friendly.”
“Mom will know. She’s waiting for us in the lab so get your ass there ASAP.”
“Where’s Ieiu?,” Liam asked.
“Where do you think, genius?”
As Luna said those words, the TV showed how the veteran hero now known to the city as Superwoman, sped up through the sky directly to the wave. Her suit showed the same classic red and blue, but instead of a skirt, she wore pants, and the look was modernized, with enhanced protections in her arms and an armor-looking renovated style.
Liam couldn’t help but smile every time he saw his Ieiu plowing through the skies.
“Oh. I’ll see you there.”
As he hung up, Sully opened the door.
Liam was already taking his coat off and grabbing his motorcycle helmet. He didn’t even let poor Sully open his mouth.
“Hey man, I need a favor, gotta fly home, family stuff has come up. Can you please write a prescription for Mrs. – God, I mean, Miss Thompson? Dexketoprofen, 25 mg every eight hours. Oh and tell her to apply ice to her wrist every four to six hours, and tell their daughters to confiscate her smartphone if they can? And also, can you call upstairs and tell them the city is under attack? Superwoman is out there but we might be going into red alert in a little while, stay sharp. Ok, thanks, Sully, I owe you one. See ya!”
And just like that, he was out of there, leaving Sully alone in his office, wondering what the hell Liam meant by saying he had to fly home. He was a weird guy. Charming. But weird. Very weird.
He sighed as he walked back to the examining room where Mrs. Thompson was about to be very disappointed.
National City. Earth-Y.
L-Corp Building Research Lab,
June 10th, 2042.
It could seem from an outsider’s perspective that she was talking to herself. The screens on her lab burned with data and analysis, and her mind was thinking too fast to even put into words all the variables she was contemplating. She ran from one computer to the other, gazing from the corner of her eye to the TV screens that showed her the inexplicable event advancing toward the city. She was wearing a lab coat, for a change, not minding that her Armani would get wrinkled. She was supposed to be having lunch with her family, but of course some freak supernatural event had to ruin the Luthor-Danvers clan’s plans.
“T, calculate mass and heat,” she said aloud.
“Gathering requested data, Mrs. Danvers,” a female voice resonated through the room, calm and collected, in contrast with Lena’s.
Many years ago, Lena had created an advanced AI using code from the Fortress of Solitude, based on the technology Jor-El and Alura had used to create virtual copies of themselves and some of the protocols for Kelex’s software. It was Kara’s idea, actually. Now it helped her with everything: Kara’s new suit, combat strategy, security, both at home and at L-Corp… and of course her own Battlesuits, perfected with each new version. Kara hated those, but there was nothing she could do about it. They named it Telle, after the Kryptonian god of wisdom. Kara thought that was a nice touch, and she insisted that it should have Cat Grant’s voice, since Lena would never make it into a commercial product, it was too advanced and too complex to let it out in the world. Lena commented that it looked like Kara’s crush on Cat Grant really never faded, and Kara laughed it off saying something like “that was years ago, and you know it. You had a crush on her too”. Lena complied, because she really couldn’t deny Kara anything. She just hoped Cat never found out, because that was going to be a hard one to explain, especially since she was the Godmother of their youngest. Lena could imagine what she’d say, quite perfectly: “So you’re telling me, Luthor, that an AI who works with you almost 24/7 has my voice because Kiera asked you to. That’s both flattering and creepy. Anyhoo, you know my everything is copyrighted. So where are my royalties? I’ll sue you, you know I will.”
When Telle showed her the results of its calculations, Lena gasped in horror.
“That’s – fucking impossible.”
“I ran 3.1 million additional tests and a 7.4 million diagnostics on my systems 1.2 seconds ago to check if the readings are wrong, Mrs. Danvers.”
“You’re saying that thing is basically a black hole.”
“That assumption would be incorrect given that, in order to be a black hole, it would have to have all its characteristics, including that of being in space. It is not a black hole, since it’s not in a black hole’s nature to be within a planet and have the dimensions the phenomenon is showing, advancing towards a city; but, it acts like one, since it’s absorbing all matter and energy in its way, including light.”
Lena didn’t have time to process the implications or call out Telle on its obviousness, as her children entered the room.
Luna threw her arms around her and she held her tight. It had been weeks since they’ve seen each other, with Luna promoting her new book around the country.
“Oh, thank goodness you made it, honey,” Lena said as she kissed her daughter’s cheek.
Liam waited for his turn, opening his arms and smiling at her, ignoring the circumstances for a second.
“Hey Mom… so, lunch is cancelled, huh?” Liam joked. “Where’s the little ndokhash?”
“At school, fortunately. I called Alex so she’s gonna pick her up and make sure she’s fine.”
Luna was taking a look around the lab when something in the screens caught her attention.
“Hey, uh, Mom?” She said nervously.
Liam and Lena looked to the screens as the TV showed something extraordinary. Among the light and dust, a shadowy figure appeared, flanked by what appeared to be two gigantic towers floating in the mist. The towers interchanged rays of electricity between them, and the figure in the middle seemed to be huge, at least three times the size of a regular man. Smaller figures appeared around it, all of them marching forward.
A familiar voice sounded through the comms.
“Lee, are you seeing this?”
Lena sat down in front of one of her computers as Liam and Luna kept looking at the screens.
“Yes. We all are.”
“The kids with you?” Kara asked.
“We’re here, Ieiu,” Luna responded.
“Hey, sweeties,” Lena could sense the smile in Kara’s voice. “I don’t know what that is, but it’s becoming bigger by the minute. You might wanna suit up and gimme a hand, if Mama can spare you.”
“On it.” Liam was already pushing the button that opened the vault where they kept their suits.
“Danvers-Luthor, Liam Jeremiah. Access granted.” Telle’s voice announced as the sensor in the door read Liam’s fingerprints.
In display, they had multiple versions: classic suits, armored suits, anti-kryptonite suits, sun-suits to boost solar absorption… Both Liam and Luna opted for the armored ones, just like their Ieiu had done.
They changed with super speed, and after a couple of seconds, they stepped out of the vault, looking tall, strong, and truly spectacular. The House of El coat of arms shined proudly in their chests.
It wasn’t the first time Lena saw her kids like that, but it always took her breath away.
“Superboy and Supergirl… I’ll never get tired of seeing you in those.”
Lena’s chest filled with pride and love, and Luna and Liam just smiled at her and nodded.
“Telle, open the dome,” Lena commanded.
She had installed that after years of Kara destroying property whenever there was an emergency. She was tired of paying for new lifts at CatCo and repairs on the roof of L-Corp.
Liam and Luna got ready to take off, not before their mother anxiously reminded them of the rules.
“Be careful. Keep your comms open. Don’t do anything stupid. Follow your Ieiu’s lead.”
“Yes, ma’am.” Luna sneered.
“Don’t mock me.”
Lena was serious, but her eyes shined with affection.
They looked back at her.
“Yes, Mom?” Liam waited, knowing what was coming.
They repeated the words back at her and Lena smiled and waved for them to go. Liam and Luna exchanged looks, nodded at each other and took off rapidly, up, up and away.
Lena went back to her computer and opened her comms again.
“Kara, the kids are on their way, they’ll be there in seven seconds.”
It took a few seconds for Kara to respond, but when she did, her voice was faltering and out of breath.
“Tell them to go back!”
Lena looked at the screen to see what was going on. The feed from Kara’s suit only showed blurred images. She was fighting someone. Or something.
“Go back!” Kara cried again.
On the TV, the news anchor was narrating now how their helicopter on the scene had been attacked by what appeared to be “shadowy figures, super beings of unknown nature”. Superwoman was apparently trying to battle them off, but they outnumbered her and the channel changed their feed to a shot from the roof of a building that captured how Superwoman seemed to be surrounded and their helicopter was going down in flames.
“Loo, you take the helicopter, I’ll help Ieiu!”
Lena heard Liam’s voice through the comms, and not even a second had passed when she saw Luna on the screen, catching the helicopter before it hit the ground, blowing the flames away with her freeze breath and bringing it down safely to the ground.
Lena had to cover her mouth with her hand as the feed changed to a Super falling from the sky.
“Oh my God, ladies and gentlemen, Superwoman is falling!” The voice coming from the TV narrated anxiously.
Liam was fighting with the shadow figures, he used his heat vision to get two of them off his back.
“Liam, Ieiu is falling, sector 15, right above Wayne tower!” Lena shouted.
“I see her!” Liam stopped mid-air and speeded with his fists forward to catch Kara in the middle of her free-fall. Lena looked at the screen that showed the camera equipped on Liam’s suit to watch as Kara opened her eyes.
“Ieiu, are you all right?” Lena heard Liam’s voice shaking a little bit.
“For the love of Rao, what the hell are those things? There’s like a million of them.” Kara’s voice sounded more pissed-off than anything, and Lena let out a breath of relief.
“You’re just getting old, Ieiu,” Liam joked.
“Mom? Can you see what I see?”
It was Luna’s voice. Lena focused her gaze on the screen that showed the feed from Luna’s suit.
“Luna. Luna, don’t engage!”
“It’s… it’s huge.”
“I see it, honey, stay away from it!”
Lena pressed a button that allowed her to open a private line with Kara.
“Kara, you need to get out of there, now.”
But Kara didn’t answer back.
The central figure in the mist finally appeared clear to the eye. It was obviously an alien. For eyes, it had blinding lights. His entire face was covered, as was his body, in a massive blue armor. Around it, black energy floated as if it was smoke. He spoke, and his inhuman voice resonated through the entire sky.
“Zor-El. I find you again, at last. You almost destroyed me the last time, but now I am stronger.”
Supergirl and Superboy flanked their mother in the air, the three of them clenching their fists, ready for whatever came.
“I don’t know who you are,” Kara shouted at the massive creature, “but I am the protector of Earth, and you should go back to wherever you came from. We do not wish to harm you, but we will defend ourselves if you try to harm this city or anyone on this planet.”
The creature laughed. It sounded more like a storm than a regular, human laugh. Kara could feel the anger in its voice.
“This is not the first time we meet, Zor-El. You’ll understand, soon. You’ve already met my legion of Shadow Demons. Today, your world will be mine, turned into anti-matter to feed me.”
“Mrs. Danvers?” Telle spoke through its private channel with Lena, but she was far too shocked by the creature’s words. Telle tried again.
“Lena, probability of survival seems to be at 22.3 per cent right now.”
Lena shook her head and looked at the data.
Telle never paused as a human would do when they have to say something dramatic, but this time, it did.
“For the entire planet.”
Lena closed her eyes and began to remove her lab coat.
“What would change those odds? C’mon, T, give me something.”
“You need to join the fight. That would alter the possibility of winning up to 26.2 percent.”
“Not good enough, T.”
Lena took off her heels and began to undress until she was only in lingerie.
“I think the powering source behind the event are those two energy towers. There’s a 89.8 percent chance it could cripple the device if we hit it with the prototype, but the probability of massive failure and catastrophic damage in the city is also at 91.3 percent.”
Lena began climbing up the stairs that would lead her to the opening in the dome.
“Send a message to Alex. Tell her to get away from the city. As far as possible. Tell her she needs to protect my daughter at all costs. Evacuate the building and when everyone’s out put it on lock down. Prepare the canon for remote firing.”
Telle complied with every order.
“The accelerator will be ready to fire in five minutes, thirty one seconds.”
“We need help, we can’t do this alone…” Lena was murmuring to herself, but Telle responded.
“It’s too late to ask for help, Lena, not even the Justice League would make i–“
“No, not like that,” Lena said, a desperate idea forming in her head. “Take all our back-up files from the prototype and broadcast them, in every direction, in every possible way. Are you recording everything right now?” She paused, she was almost there, she could feel the chilling air and the sunlight on her skin.
“Yes, since the incident began,” Telle answered.
“Encrypt all media files and add them to the research. Send all energy readings, all TV feeds. And suit me up, on the fly!”
“As you wish, Mrs. Danvers.”
Lena reached the top of the floor and climbed up the dome. She was freezing, but it didn’t matter. She always enjoyed the view from the top of the L-Corp building, but now she realized this could be the last time she would look at the city. So she had no choice.
“L-Corp Battlesuit XXII, ready. Prepare for emergency deployment. In 3, 2, 1…” Telle’s voice resonated through the room.
Lena took a deep breath and opened her arms widely. She launched herself forward, falling from the building. Not a sound left her mouth as her body shifted in the air and she felt the whooshing sound of metal chasing after her. Mid-air, the suit caught up with her, quickly attaching itself to her arms, legs, upper body and face, until she was completely covered by the green and purple colors of the battlesuit.
“Merging complete.” Telle informed her through the speakers in her helmet.
“Let’s kick some ass, shall we?”
Lena propelled herself forward and up, the suit firing up as she corrected her inclination and flew high towards Liam, Kara and Luna.
“Add the feed from my suit to the files and broadcast everything,” Lena ordered when her trajectory was stable.
“What should my main goal be?” Telle asked.
“Our allies. Other cities. Include interplanetary authorities. The Green Lantern Corps, the Amazons in Themyscira, Atlantis, even the fucking Phantom Zone. Everyone. And alternative realities, too. Use radio waves, the darknet, electromagnetic pulses, gravity anomalies, morse code, I don’t care… just push with everything we’ve got.”
Lena saw it before she could hear it. The massive wave of matter, light, dust, hovering over the city, now closer than ever, eating up entire buildings. She had seen terrible things throughout the years, but this was on another level.
She joined her family in the sky, taking her place besides Kara as the four of them floated in the air, looking at the creature that was slowly coming towards them. The front piece of her helmet moved back to show her face, and she smiled at Kara, despite the circumstances, she just couldn’t help it.
Kara immediately took her hand and quickly squeezed it, and though Lena couldn’t feel her through the battlesuit, the gesture reassured her more than anything.
“Did I miss something?”, she asked.
“Just this weird guy here TALKING US TO DEATH!” Luna shouted at the creature.
“We need to buy some time”, Lena said while she checked data in the smart screen on her left arm. “Telle, how long before the accelerator is ready?”
“Two minutes, fifteen seconds.”
“Uh, Mom… will that work? We haven’t perfected it yet, it’s a prototype…” Liam frowned.
“Telle thinks there’s no other option with possibilities of us winning against that thing.”
“May I remind you, Mrs. Danvers, that firing the canon could potentially destroy the entire city?”
“And if we don’t fire it?” Kara’s voice didn’t show the fear she was feeling for her family, her home, her entire world. She needed to be Superwoman now, she needed to lead without fear.
“Then this being before us will probably obliterate National City, and beyond,” Tell answered.
“There’s another option,” Luna chimed in. “If we’re going to target those energy towers, we can try with our powers first. Liam and I can try to cross our heat visions and blow them up. It’s worked before with huge stuff like that. But Ieiu, you and Mom need to distract the boring dude.”
“What about the army?” Liam asked.
“What army?” Lena looked between all three of them.
“The shadows. He calls them demons.” Kara said shrugging her shoulders as this was only… Tuesday.
“Oh, wonderful.” Lena rolled her eyes and pressed some buttons on the screen. “T, can you deploy all of the L-Corp battlesuits and control them from there?”
“My CPU is currently running at 85 percent capacity. I could do it even if I only had 3 percent to spare.”
“There’s no need to brag. Just do it and help us out with those things.”
Kara grabbed her by the arm and pulled Lena closer to her to whisper something. Their children could hear them anyway, but Kara felt she needed the closeness.
“Lena… are you sure? The suits, you worked on them for 20 years. And the accelerator… you’re putting you life’s work on the line.”
“Everything’s on the line now, Kara.” Lena held her gaze and Kara nodded, slowly.
“I know,” Kara said. And then she looked at the advancing menace and back at her family. It wasn’t the first time they worked together, like this, but something within Kara told her that if someone could win this, it was them.
“All right, people, let’s do this, as a team. El Mayarah.”
Luna, Liam and Lena repeated after her.
Lena’s helmet closed and Kara and her charged towards the creature.
Liam and Luna flew in circles advancing towards the floating towers and punching every Shadow Demon they could.
“Your efforts are useless, Zor-El.”
The creature clenched his fists and pointed them at Kara and Lena. From his arms, purple masses of energy converged in a destructive ray directed at them.
“Magic murder hands, look out!” Luna shouted.
Lena and Kara flew in opposite directions to avoid the ray, but it kept going on a straight line, landing on the top floor of a skyscraper and setting it on fire.
“I see you, Zor-El. All you were, all you could ever be.” The creature kept on taunting.
“Telle, where the hell is our backup?!” Lena yelled inside her helmet.
“Incoming!” Telle shouted on their comms as all the 21 L-Corp Battlesuits that Lena had designed over the years flew in with a vengeance, shooting rockets at the Shadow Demons and giving them some cover.
“Yes! Give’em hell, T!” Liam’s voice shouted through the comms.
The twins finally were in range of the energy towers. They concentrated on one, crossing their heart vision as they finally created one big, blinding blue ray of destruction.
“Is this your offspring? Oh, you foolish Zor-El.” The creature charged up one of his fists to fire at the twins, but when he was about to shoot, Kara deliberately crashed against his arm at full speed, deviating the ray and making him accidentally hit the tower that both Liam and Luna were attacking. It went up in flames.
The creature let out an animal cry of pain that resonated through the sky.
Lena took the opportunity to fire at him with the heavy weapons on her suit. She hit him on the head. It seemed like with only one tower to back him up, he had become weaker. Part of his helmet cracked, and Lena could see that under it there was nothing but light. Unconfined energy: there was no body. No flesh.
“The anti-matter canon is ready if you wish to make use of it, Mrs. Danvers,” Telle announced through the comms.
Lena looked above her to see her children targeting the other tower.
“Mom, don’t! We can save the city! We can win without the canon!” Luna anxiously pleaded.
“I am the Monitor! I am all that exists!” The creature yelled as he grabbed Kara’s cape, who was momentarily stunned by the force of her own attack. The so-called Monitor put his hand around Kara’s neck. Kara choked but could still breath. He wasn’t trying to kill her, but he did want to see her suffer.
“You think you can win because you have a family here? Because you trained them?” The creature breathed. “Look, look what you could do to them in other realities.” The Monitor touched Kara’s forehead, sending visions of dark realities he fabricated for her. To torture her. To bring her to her knees. Kara cried out in agony, and then, her mind was far away, crossing realities, wrapping space and time.
Kara holding a newborn Liam to her chest. The first time Luna called her Ieiu. Kara heartbroken, in an alternate world where Lena didn’t love her, where she became her evil nemesis, no more Super and a Luthor. Pain. Pleasure. Life, laughter, love-making – her tongue in Lena’s mouth, her fingers inside of her. Kara riding a shattering orgasm over Lena’s thighs. The promises, the sensations of body against body, the incredible softness of porcelain skin. Her tongue in Lena’s center, Kara’s life in her hands. Feeling human like it was natural to her, but no weaknesses, only power, because she was in love, in love like never before. Kara collapsing on bed, with Lena still inside her. Happiness. Infinite happiness. The proposal. The birth of the twins. Why was this cruel creature showing her these things? Only to shatter her. Then, infinite loss. Her daughter, looking at her with unspeakable hatred in her bright blue eyes. The agonizing feeling of burying a kryptonite dagger in her son’s chest in a vision where she went mad. Where she had known a sorrow like no other. The overwhelming pain of losing Lena. Holding her lifeless body in her arms. Burying her. Going insane. Kara cried out in pain, an inhuman scream, feeling the effect of a thousand tortures simultaneously. Madness. Despair. “I came to this time to meet your descendants.” Kara heard the voice of the Monitor enveloping her, draining the life out of her. “To see how low you could fall. I encountered your other selves before. Some were strong, they were on their own, they were Kryptonian. You hurt me, you almost killed me, but I’ve killed you before, dozens of times, Zor-El. In this reality, giving up to your human side has made you even more pathetic. Love. So predictable. So easy to bent down. So vulnerable to my infinite power.”
In the distance, reaching her across darkness, Kara heard Lena’s voice crying out her name.
“In another life you lost her, Zor-El, and you became a monster. So weak.”
The Monitor was feeding on her. He was taking away her powers, her mind, her soul.
“In other worlds, I took her from you, even before you knew you loved her.”
She could feel herself slipping away.
“I always enjoy killing you, Zor-El, because you almost ended me once… but taking her away from you, that’s even better.”
Kara felt cold. She felt sorry and ashamed. She wanted to ask Lena for forgiveness. For not being strong enough. For failing her. For dying.
“Now, I will end your offspring, and I will keep on haunting you down, in every reality.”
She couldn’t breath. This was it. The bitter end.
“Ieiu, fight back!”
Her daughter’s voice forced her to find the last remaining drop of strength she had within her, and Kara opened her eyes and shoot a ray of heat vision to the Monitor’s face, as Liam, Lena and Luna launched simultaneous attacks on him.
The Monitor cried in pain and released his hold on Kara. Being almost completely drained of energy, she had solar-flared with that last effort.
Superwoman began to fall to the ground, again, like a fallen angel.
Lena launched herself down, chasing after Kara’s apparently lifeless body. She caught her when the ground was closer than the battle in the sky. Blood came out of Kara’s mouth, and Lena feared the worst.
She landed on the ground with Kara in her arms, everything was ash and desperate cries around her. She gently put Kara on the ground and took her head in her hands, desperately trying to wake her up.
“She’s alive. Barely. But she’s solar-flared,” Lena heard Telle’s voice inside her helmet, but still, she couldn’t help the tears.
“Kara… Kara, please, talk to me.”
Kara didn’t open her eyes, but her voice responded in the faintest of whispers.
“I’m right here, love. Please, stay with me. Nun vot khap."
“I’m sorry, Lee, I’m sorry…”
“No, no, no, Kara, stay with me. Stay.
“This is what we feared. Your readings… you were – right.”
“Love, don’t talk. We hit him. We hurt him pretty bad. You and the kids did it. It’ll give us time. We can learn how to defeat him. I have data now. Knowledge is power. We can do it, darling, you and me, as we always do.”
“I’m sorry, Lee… I… zhao khap rrip, Lena te.”
“No, no, no, Kara! Kara!”
Kara fell unconscious in Lena’s arms, and though Telle was showing her the rate of her heartbeat on the screen of her helmet, Lena couldn’t take how weak it sounded.
“Lena, with Superwoman down, and even though you’ve taken out one of the towers, our chances of winning have fallen down to 5.4 percent, and there’s a high possibility of Superboy and Supergirl perishing in battle.” Telle said, and Lena could tell there was a hint of sadness in the AI’s voice.
“What if we fire the canon?”
“With one tower down, there’s a 99.6 percent probability of stopping the Monitor. It will give the planet an overall chance of survival of 87.3.”
“And the chances of the city?”
“The energy unleashed by the explosion will generate a rate of 95.6 percent of casualties, including you.”
Lena opened her helmet. She breathed in the smell of blood and loss. She looked up, and saw her children throwing punches at the Monitor as the Shadow Demons began to surround them. Half of her battlesuits had already fallen from the sky and those remaining in battle were being taken out by the Monitor’s energy rays.
“Will Liam and Luna survive?” Lena asked, her voice the thinnest of threads.
Telle responded immediately.
“It seems like they have a 90.5 percent chance of survival.”
Lena closed her eyes, tears falling down her cheeks.
“What about Kara?”
Telle paused, even though the AI didn’t have the luxury of time.
“She’s very weak. She won’t make it. Neither will I. My main servers will be destroyed by the electromagnetic pulse after the collision.”
Lena nodded to herself and put Kara’s body closer to hers.
“Have you sent out the data, all of it?”
“Yes,” Telle responded, “and I’m attaching the feed from your suit as we speak.”
“Keep doing that, until the very end. Send out everything you can.”
“Should I alert Liam and Luna?”
“NO!” Lena shouted. “No,” she repeated softly. “They will try to stop us.”
“Noted. You will have to give me the order, Lena. I can’t put in motion a task that will destroy me. You wrote that in my code. Asimov’s three laws of robotics, remember? I can’t self-destruct.”
Lena could swear that if Telle had a face, it would be smiling.
“It’s been a pleasure, Lena Kieran Luthor-Danvers. For a human, you weren’t all bad.”
“The pleasure’s been all mine, goddess of wisdom.”
Lena wiped away her tears and removed the armor from her hands. She touched Kara’s face with her fingers, caressed her cheek, bent down and kissed her forehead, then the tip of her nose, then her lips.
“Zhao khap rrip, Kara. Uldif,” Lena whispered over Kara’s mouth. She looked up to her kids, fighting in the sky. “Please survive for us, my loves. You’re our only hope.” She closed her eyes and held Kara as close as she could. “Do it, T. Target the remaining energy tower and fire the canon. Send that bastard to hell.”
“Of course, Mrs. Danvers.”
The brightest of lights enveloped the entire city, and Lena felt the warmth of Kara’s body engulfing her, as if nothing else existed, as if nothing but Kara’s heartbeat mattered.
And then, the light was all that was, and when it burned out, there was nothing but silence.
The screens at the DEO showed nothing but static.
Lillian Luthor had asked Winn to play the last video on her files.
They all saw the recordings from Lena’s battlesuit. They saw Liam, Luna, Kara and Lena from Earth-Y fighting the Monitor, and failing.
There never was such dead silence in the building.
It was Winn the first one to spoke. He wasn’t exactly tasteful.
“Uh… that’s definitely the stuff of nightmares.”
Alex shot the most murderous of looks at him. He suddenly wanted to crawl into his chair.
After a few seconds, the screens began to show streams of data.
“Whoa, whoa! Look at that!” Winn cried, very grateful that something had come up.
“What is it?” J’onn asked.
“Uh… apparently… uh… I don’t know, it’s too much…” Winn was overwhelmed.
“Blueprints.” Lena explained. “For whatever they used to bring down the source of his power.” She moved herself forward on the wheelchair, focusing on the data. “An anti-matter ray. That’s what she used,” she whispered, finally.
“An anti-matter ray,” Winn stated flatly, flabbergasted. “You’re saying that your… doppelgänger from another Earth, in the future, will invent a particle accelerator capable of acting as a canon that shoots concentrated anti-matter rays strong enough to weaken an inter-dimensional all-mighty, all-powered hungry-for-energy being. Ok. Ok.” He took and deep breath and held Lena’s hand. “Lena – I… God. Will you marry me?”
Lena jerked away from him and Kara growled from behind them.
“I’m sorry, I’m… it’s all too much.” He went back to his computer really, really hoping he could become invisible. It was high-school all over again.
“So…” J’onn, began, slowly. “I don’t think this is a hoax.”
“Why, thank you, J’onn J’onnz,” Lillian retorted.
“He’s practically invincible,” Alex sighed, trying to calm down her speeding heart.
“Once he’s charged, yes.” It was Hank Henshaw’s metallic voice, speaking for the first time. It was strange to hear him without all the… hate. “But he needs time to gather energy. He’s like an enormous mass of concentrated energy, his armor is the only thing keeping him together. He’s a like a walking Big-Bang, ready to happen. But once he gets to a world, the journey leaves him so depleted that he needs time to harvest new energy to be able to devour realities. That’s why he brings those machines, those towers with him. And he’s vulnerable when he’s doing that. Unstable. That’s our chance. Destroy the machines, then destroy his armor.”
“Everything’s in the data the Lena from that world sent us. Readings, formulas, algorithms, even the designs for her battlesuits and new suits for you, Zor-El…” Lillian held Kara’s gaze, intentionally, “…and your children,” she added.
Kara cleared her throat and tried to ignore the look Lillian was giving her.
“So… when?” She said, simply.
“We don’t know,” Lillian replied. “The Anti-Monitor could show up tomorrow. Or it could take him fifty years. We don’t know. No one knows. So you’ll have to be ready. All of you. Including those who will be here once we are gone.”
Kara shivered at Lillian’s words. It was perfectly clear who she was referring to.
“That thing…” Kara thought aloud. “It will target Lena now.”
“Well. Not just Lena,” Lillian smiled, despite herself. “The blueprints for the cannon include your children’s signatures. Lena will materialize it, but it will be Liam and Luna, even you, Zor-El, who will help her design it with their knowledge of Kryptonian technology.”
“It’s all here,” they heard Lena whispering, fascinated, still focused on the data stream. “You’re right, Mother. The blueprints, the tests, the readings… it’s all here.”
“How did you even get all this info, Lillian?” It was Jeremiah who asked the question, somehow still suspicious, Eliza holding his hand for comfort after what they’ve seen.
“NASA has antennas pointing at the sky simultaneously listening to 8.4 million different channels. Lex had a secret facility in Nicaragua listening to 12.3 million channels, currently operated by a Cadmus cell. Our computers culled out the noise and picked the signal up a couple of months ago.” If Lillian Luthor liked something besides being the most intelligent person in the room, it was bragging about her resources.
“It’s a radio transmission!” Winn yelled suddenly, startling everybody. “So simple yet so sophisticated. You did, this, Lena… well, the other you. But marry me, seriously. We would have the most intelligent babies.”
“Winslow!” Kara was about to kick him into the sun.
“I’m sorry, I didn’t realize… yes… that joke was highly inappropriate, given the circumstances… well - anyway, uh…” Winn swallowed hard and tried to find his professional voice. Sort of. “So, the Multiverse shares the same space and we vibrate at different frequencies but if you can find the right frequency you can send a message across dimensions because we all share–“
“The same spectrum.” Lena finished for him.
“Can we send a message back?” J’onn asked. “To know if they’re alive, to know where the Anti-Monitor is now?”
“Well, in order to do that we’d have to know their frequency, and there’s no way we can do that. And for all we know, the events that we’re seeing in the transmission could’ve happened hundreds or even thousands of years ago,” Lillian explained. “The Multiverse shares the same space, but not the same time. It bounces back and forward. There’s no way to know. We could send a message out to everyone, like the one the Lena from Earth-Y sent, but the Anti-Monitor could probably hear it too.”
“Boy, and I thought ‘Interstellar’ was a mind-fuck.” Alex mumbled to herself, but everyone heard her loud and clear.
“Then how did the Lena from that Earth know the frequency of our reality?” Jeremiah insisted.
“She didn’t.” Lena spoke loudly. Then, she lowered her voice. “I mean – I didn’t. She, me. Whatever. I’m positive she must’ve broadcast it to millions of frequencies simultaneously, hoping to reach someone, anyone.”
“So that means that it might have reached other Earths?” Alex ventured.
“Other worlds, even. Other realities,” Lena answered. “If they have the technology to listen, yes.”
Kara took a deep breath.
“So Barry and the others must’ve been warned.”
Lillian nodded and pursed her lips. “That’s plausible. But what’s important now is that we have to be ready. We know he can be hurt. We know a way to attack him. But he knows Lena will be the one to do it. So he’ll come after you, darling.” Lillian looked down at her daughter. “You and the children. In every reality.”
“To keep you from building the canon,” J’onn added.
“Not just that,” Lillian corrected. “He will target Kara and the babies. We saw it in the feed. The canon is the key, but your strength combined with that of your children’s will make him vulnerable to the shot in the first place. Besides, he’s got a personal grudge with Kara, but I don’t blame him for that one.”
Kara narrowed her eyes at Lillian, not believing the nerve on that woman…
The Luthor matriarch turned once again to her daughter.
“That’s why I’m saying goodbye, Lena. The children are yours to raise.”
“What?” Lena couldn’t believe what she had heard.
“It’s only logical,” Lillian smiled. Sadly, for the first time. “I will go back to my research. I will try to find him, before he finds us. You don’t need me. I trust you’ll do what’s right, for all of us.”
“What – you don’t want your superbabies so you can poison them with your xenophobia and hatred?” Kara was losing it. She was yelling at the top of her lungs. “You don’t want them to be Antisupers? You tortured Lena for nothing? You lied, and you violated and you killed only to walk away from your masterplan?”
Lillian looked at the hero, she didn’t even flinch.
“Yes, Kara Zor-El. I’m walking away. That’s exactly what I’m doing.”
“You’re something else, Mother. Your madness knows no equal,” Lena said calmly.
“But I… I would like to meet my grandchildren, before I go. It’s possible I never get to see them again.”
Kara had never heard Lillian Luthor begging. Kara could have never imagined it. But there was that hint in her voice, that never before seen insecurity that sounded like… love? No. Lillian Luthor wasn’t capable of that. Monsters don’t love. Monsters only destruct, and devour.
It was Lena’s voice. Flat. Toneless. Cold.
“I never realized…” Lillian began, “that my daughter would be the key to our salvation. I never really acknowledged your potential, Lena, I was blindfolded, I was so desperate to make Lex successful that I didn’t even look at you. And you were there, all the time, waiting to come out of your cocoon and shine. And now I know it. That my love for you was the ultimate sacrifice, because you’ll never forgive me. That’s how things are meant to be. And I can’t fight it, because I did what I had to.”
Lena just stared at her from her wheelchair, blankly. She tried to stand, slowly. Kara ran to her side to help her, but Lena raised her hand to stop her, and she just let her do it on her own. With certain difficulty, Lena was finally on standing on her feet. She then raised her gown to show her pale skin, and pointed at the stitches across her belly. Everyone looked away. Kara didn’t. She felt like Lena needed her to watch. Lena needed her to be brave enough to stay.
“Look, Mother. Look at what you did to me,” Lena asked calmly. When Lillian failed to comply, Lena tried again. Yelling, this time. Crying. “Look at what you did, you monster! You violated my body! You took away my choice! You destroyed my will to live and you didn’t stop when you broke me, time and time again!”
Lillian said something then, something no one could have expected.
“I love you, Lena. It doesn’t matter if you don’t believe me. I just need to say it, in case it is the last time. I love you.”
Lena walked towards Lillian, slowly, in pain. When she reached her, she almost faltered, and Lillian reached out to help her. Lena grabbed her arm and pulled her mother eye to eye.
“Get out,” Lena whispered. “And if you really mean what you say, if even just one of the poisonous words you spill out of your mouth is true, then never come back. Stay away from us, until your last breath. And the moment your soul leaves your body, if you have anything inside you that remotely resembles a soul, may it never rest in peace, for all eternity, as far from me as you can.”
And just like that, against all odds, without even blinking, Lillian Luthor turned around. Nobody stopped her as she left the building. No one moved until she was out of sight.
Lena almost collapsed to the ground. Kara caught her just in time. She hid her face on the crook of Kara’s neck. She wept, silently, while Kara held her tightly.
No one said anything as Supergirl carried Lena back to the med-bay.
Winn ran to Alex’s side and began to talk as nervous as ever.
“Wow. That was intense family drama there. Though I gotta say, it was quite awesome to watch Lena channeling Lady MacBeth…”
“Are we really going to ignore the fact that Lena and Kara were together in that reality? Like – together, together! That’s wiiiiiild!”
Alex took a deep breath and turned to him. She raised her index finger and grabbed him by the collar with her other hand.
“If you tell Mon-El about this, if you even tell James… my finger will find you and I will kill you with it. Slowly, painfully. Do you understand?”
Winn swallowed hard.
“So keep whatever is going through your weird mind to yourself, and don’t even dare to look in Lena or Kara’s direction. Stay out of my sight, too, got it?”
“Yes, boss… uh…” Winn stuttered.
Alex ruffled his hair and pecked his cheek.
“Good boy. Now go, do your thing.”
Winn ran for his life. Alex just stood there, silently watching her sister carry Lena to the upper floor. J’onn appeared by her side. Alex just raised her hand and shook her head.
“Don’t say it. Don’t even say it.”
And J’onn didn’t.
Kara and Lena finally reached the med-bay, where Ruth was guarding the twins, peacefully asleep. They would probably wake up in a little while, hungry again.
Kara was about to gently put Lena down on her bed, but she stopped when she felt trembling hands holding on tighter around her neck.
“Lena… Lena, please. Tell me what to do,” Kara whispered in her ear.
Lena wiped her tears away with the back of her hand. She looked up, their faces almost touching, Kara’s warm breath reaching the tip of her nose. And so Lena spoke what she needed.
“Please, Kara. Take me home.”
Chapter 12: Maternity Leave
“Where the hell is Danvers?”
As always, Miss Teschmacher was smart enough to point out her superiors’ incompetence by the power of friendly reminders.
“Uh… oh… She’s not coming in."
This one's very short, but then again I always spoil you, so... I mean, how do I even go on after last chapter? Don't worry, I'm kidding, I know exactly how to go on. BUT. You guys know this story is a monster filled with little details and almost everyone's point of view, right? So I'm letting this one out of my system in order to keep going with the main plot. And boy, I think you're going to like it...
Anyhoo, I needed to post something before the season 4 premiere just because.
Updates will become more frequent now that they owe me a hundred days off at work :)
Thank you all for your kind comments and kudos, you guys give me life. This one is my baby, I promise I'll keep going no matter what.
Stay safe, kiddos, love ya to pieces!
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Media Contact: Jessica Chin-Rogers
1077 West Cordova Street, National City CA
L-CORP CELEBRATES THE RESCUE OF OUR CEO MS. LENA LUTHOR
AND REAFFIRMS ITS COMMITMENT TO THE GREATER GOOD
NATIONAL CITY, CA – It is with the upmost relief that we are pleased to announce that our CEO Ms. Lena Luthor has been successfully rescued after a 10-month abduction by xenophobic terrorist group Cadmus.
The mission was carried out three weeks ago by the combined forces of National City Police, the Army and Intelligence Services. For security reasons, this information could not be shared with the public until now.
First, we’d like to thank the hardworking men and women that have bravely brought Ms. Luthor back, we couldn’t be more proud of the courage and determination of our law enforcers and we’ll continue to cooperate and offer our resources to help any way we can in the fight against terror.
Secondly, we’d like to acknowledge Ms. Luthor is in good condition, but she’s been advised time away in order to recover from this atrocious experience.
Ms. Luthor will eventually reclaim her role as L-Corp’s indisputable leader.
For the time being, long-time COO Ms. Samantha Arias will become acting executive director, an unanimous decision by Ms. Luthor herself and our board of directors that guarantees the stability and prosperity of all L-Corp endeavors.
We’d also like to thank our investors, the public and the media in advance: there’s no doubt that this despicable act has shaken all of society, not only the lives of L-Corp employees but everyone who opposes intolerance, violence, fear and hatred.
Under Ms. Luthor’s wing, our company has made a stand for the greater good, and long gone are the times when our name was regarded with suspicion.
When we became L-Corp, we didn’t just change our name: we made a statement to the world, we promised to bring you a brighter and better future.
As a result, we’ve been threatened and attacked, and our very own CEO has had her life on the line, far too many times.
But together we shall prevail.
Ms. Luthor was always deserving of our support and trust, now more than ever, and we’re sure all of society understands the importance of respecting her privacy in this difficult time.
Because, nevertheless, she persisted, and we all will stand with her.
When Snapper Carr finished reading L-Corp’s press statement, he sighed. More like sneered.
It was biased, of course, and it not so subtlety tried to paint Luthor as a Joan of Arc of sorts when the facts were nowhere to be seen. It was just shameless marketing.
Who had done it, exactly? When was she rescued? What was Cadmus trying to achieve by kidnapping her? Where was she now? What about Lillian Luthor, Metallo, all those terrorists still on the loose? Questions, lots of questions, and no one around to find an answer.
He rose his glasses to his temple, rubbed his eyes vigorously, and then proceeded to raise from his seat, apparently calm. Needless to say, he was, obviously, on the verge of a heart attack. The news of the century, the story of the year, and his freakishly talented but proportionally annoying mentee was nowhere to be seen… not to mention that she had to disappear the moment her shady friendship with the Luthor could get them the exclusive of the year. So typical of Danvers, so convenient of her to be late on a day where the world exploded.
He inhaled and took a second to feel the air filling his lungs. Then, he did the only thing that felt right for a man his age in order to face the current circumstances (meaning he yelled, of course.)
Not five seconds had passed when the permanently sunny assistant appeared on the door, heeding Carr’s call the same way an innocent goose is lured by a heartless hunter.
“Yes, Mr. Carr?”
Hands on his hips, Snapper regarded her with surprisingly restrained impatience.
“Where the hell is Danvers?”
As always, Miss Teschmacher was smart enough to point out her superiors’ incompetence by the power of friendly reminders.
“Uh… oh… She’s not coming in. I thought you checked your e-mail every morning, sir?”
“Yes, Miss Teschmacher, I do, because the news never sleep, but I didn’t see anything regarding Ponytail because, is she news?” Eve blinked impassively in the face of the umpteenth performance of unsolicited sarcasm. "No, she isn’t, she works the news and if she had any intention of keeping her job she’d be here right now because the scoop of the year is sliding from our fingers right now, Luthor is back and our only chance at an exclusive is probably distracted chasing a puppy or researching a fluff piece about a community theatre being torn down… So… where… the Hell… is she?”
Teschmacher shook her head, sighing as she took pity on the editor-in-chief, walking past him to take a look at his inbox in his personal computer.
“You should remember to check the spam, sir. It’s probably there because it’s from HR, and you don’t pay attention to anything that’s not newsworthy.”
Carr was about to have an aneurysm watching Teschmacher closing and minimizing the windows in his desktop when she clapped triumphantly and turned the screen for him to see.
“See? Here it is. It’s just an automatic forwarded message from the system to let you know Mr. Olsen approved Kara’s maternity leave…“
“Oh, and she had accrued two weeks of sick time and three weeks of vacation, so she’s going to be away seventeen weeks in total! Mmm, I should consult with Mr. Olsen, we could probably ask Finance to approve hiring a temp in her absence…”
Snapper pressed the palms of his hands against his temples and tried to count to ten, mentally. He only got to three.
“Miss Teschmacher, I repeat, WHAT? Ponytail wasn’t pregnant last week, how could she apply for a maternity leave?”
Eve’s eyes went incredibly wide, but she shrugged her shoulders. Then frowned. Then smiled.
“Perhaps she adopted a kid? It’s personal business, boss, and if HR and Mr. Olsen approved it, that’s all we need to know. I gotta tell you I’m dying to know what’s happened because well, Kara and I are friends. Well, we had lunch together a lot. I mean she’s nice, and though Mike and I didn’t work out I really want them to be happy so if they’ve made a decision– oh, oh, oh my God, do you think we should send them something? Flowers? Sweets? Balloons? Though we don’t know if it’s a boy or a girl or… Oh, God. And they don’t know I know because I only know because I manage Mr. Olsen’s inbox so if I send something perhaps they’ll tell HR because I shouldn’t know… but then again, perhaps Kara hasn’t told me because she knows I’d know through Mr. Olsen so maybe she IS expecting a gift from me or something and now I don’t know if she knows I know or hopes that I do know and so this is making me anxious, Mr. Carr, do you think I should send something? Are you going to send Kara something?”
It’s not like Carr wasn’t listening. He was, he really was. He was a journalist. Mastering his job had meant being a great listener to look into the cracks of the things that people say. But right now he wondered, really wondered what had happened to his life, and if accepting this fucking job at CatCo hadn’t been the worst decision he had made in his whole life, ever.
You will mentor a new generation of journalists, Cat Grant had said to him to lure him into the trap, don’t let the public service we’ve done through the years fall into the grassy hands of unprepared millenials, Lucas, be their guide, be their Edward Roscoe Murrow in this era of McCarthys, though they won’t get that reference unless they do a Wikipedia search or ask Siri, so just tell them you’re going to be their Yoga or whatever (she had meant Yoda, but whatever, indeed.)
“Fuck this,” Carr murmured, loud enough for Ms. Teschmacher to halt her rambling.
Snapper walked to his desk and picked up the phone, “This is nonsense! I’m calling Ponytail right now–“
“Don’t!” Eve yelled, her eyes wide and anxious. That certainly got Snapper’s attention, “if you do that, you might get in trouble, Mr. Carr…”
“What do you mean?” Snapper stared at her, frozen with the phone on his ear.
“Well, she’s on approved leave, contacting employees during such periods goes against CatCo policy and business conduct…”
Carr slowly put the phone back on his desk. He sighed – no, he sneered. He really was going to have to do this without Ponytail. Oh, how he was going to make her pay for it when she came back.
“Nia Nal,” Snapper said, rubbing his eyes, his glasses on his forehead once again… his now shiny, sweaty, stressed out forehead.
“Uh… beg your pardon, sir?”
“Nia Nal. She’s an intern at the Daily Planet. Call Lois Lane’s office, tell her I’m calling that favor she owes me, and that she needs to put Nia in the first plane to National City. She’ll be our backup for Ponytail, no one else will do…”
“But shouldn’t Mr. Olsen approve your request before–“
“Let me handle Olsen. You call the Planet now, Ms. Teschmacher,” and then, he added the most unsettling word one could hear from Snapper Carr’s lips: “Please.”
Eve was able to refrain herself from scoffing at the fact that Carr actually knew that word. Ever efficient, she just turned around and did as was told.
When he was finally alone in his office, Carr sat down in front of his computer, ready to get to the bottom of this Luthor/Cadmus soap opera.
But first, he needed to take care of a pressing matter.
He opened his e-mail, he searched for Cat Grant’s contact, he tapped the phrase “I fucking hate you” and pressed send. He smiled. Briefly.
And only then did he begin to work.