Six months ago…
When the dust finally settled all that was left was Sam’s broken soul, her daughter in her arms the only thing keeping her tethered to this life. Reign, the unwelcomed passenger, had been defeated, not by force, but with a mother’s love.
It had been one of the toughest decisions in Alex’s life. Endangering Ruby went against everything she believed in, but the world had almost ended and deep down she had been certain that Sam would have never hurt her daughter. Though there had been no way in telling how much of Sam had still been alive inside the Kryptonian executor. In the end Ruby had made the decision for her and miraculously the bond between mother and daughter had been strong enough to bring Sam back for good.
The weeks that followed consisted of reparations and healing. Sam was taken into custody by the DEO. There were endless tests and psych evaluations before she was allowed to have visitors. Alex was overseeing it all, as she had made the two Arias women’s well being her responsibility. Nobody argued when Alex decided to move in with Ruby into the house that now seemed too big with half of the little family missing. Kara and Lena helped where they could, but it was Alex who held Ruby tight and told her everything was going to be alright when the nightmares kept her from sleeping.
Sam’s recovery was slow, the psychic trauma so much worse than the physical one. Nobody, but herself, really blamed her for all the destruction and harm her alter-ego had caused. She could only remember fragments of horrific scenes from the times Reign had taken over, but even without context these were enough to leave her ridden by guilt. Seeing how not knowing what she had done plagued her even more, Alex convinced J’onn to let her read the reports of Reign’s atrocities. At first it seemed as if that made it worse, but after a couple of days Sam finally managed to pull herself out of her depression and self-harming thoughts and started to get better. She never said what caused that new resolve to get her life back. Most suspected that Ruby was her biggest motivation, but Alex, who had spent more time studying and talking to the woman than anybody else, suspected it had more to do with the - justified or not - need to make amends.
After going over all reports and evaluations, the District Attorney came to the conclusion that Samantha Arias couldn’t be held responsible for Reign’s actions, so the criminal prosecution was dropped.
Surprisingly after she was assessed fit enough to go home again, it was Sam who was reluctant. So Alex entered the Kryptonite enforced holding cell that had been Sam’s home for the last two months and sat down on the bed beside her. By that time, they were already so in tune with each other that Sam knew what Alex wanted to hear from her and that she would just sit there in silence waiting for her to let it all out. And after a while she did. She confided in Alex about her fear of losing control again, of being alone with Ruby, of hurting her. Alex’s offer to stay with them came without hesitation.
So Sam settled in at home again and with Alex’s help the transition was easier than she had imagined. Alex’s kindness and strength was a calming presence in the Arias’ household. The guest bedroom where Alex had also lived in during Sam’s imprisonment was called Alex’s room now. Breakfasts and dinners were spent together, and having little else to do, Sam loved to cook for “her girls”, often wondering how she so easily had included Alex into that term of endearment. The evenings were sometimes quiet affairs with all three of them lounging on the couch and watching movies, sometimes loudly with a lot of playful bickering over board games, they were a competitive bunch after all, and Sam loved every single one of their evenings as long as they were together.
To further her mental stability, Sam worked relentlessly to learn a Kryptonian meditation technique from Kara. Additionally, she made sure to have a steady daily routine, she ate healthy and exercised a lot. She did everything she could think of to improve and maintain her physical and mental health. Her fear of a relapse never left her though.
After another two months she went back to work as CFO at L-Corp, which allowed Lena who had gone back working full time for L-Corp to indulge her real passion, namely development and research.
With all that had been happening it had been impossible to leave Lena out of the loop, so she not only had learned that Kara was Supergirl and Sam and Reign shared a body, but had also worked closely with the DEO in developing technology to fight and contain a Kryptonian. Using her brother’s research for a good cause had been an unexpected development and left Lena reeling in self-doubt and uncertainty sometimes, but in the end getting her friend back had been worth it.
Almost six months after sort of defeating Reign, Sam sits at the large table in the DEO conference room, nervously rubbing her sweaty hands on her jeans. J’onn, Kara, Winn and Alex are looking at her expectantly, after all she is the one who invited them here today.
She takes a deep breath and decides to just come right to the point. “A couple of month ago I asked Lena and Winn to develop a failsafe system to take Reign out, should she ever re-emerge. They came through and here it is.”
She puts a small device on the table that looks similar to a computer chip.
“It’s meant to be implanted near my brainstem. It contains a dose of highly concentrated Kryptonite surrounded by a metal alloy that prevents it from affecting me unintentionally. There’s also a release mechanism or well, it’s more of an explosive component, which can be activated by putting a numbers code into this control panel.”
She gestures to Winn who shows them the corresponding device.
“It is going to be stored in a safe deposit box here at the DEO. Only Supergirl, the director, and Alex as co-director of the DEO are going to have access to it.” She adds quickly.
“When activated, the Kryptonite is released into the cerebrospinal fluid and destroys the central nervous system irreparably.”
“Which means it’s going to kill you.” Alex is the first to speak up, irritation coloring her tone.
“It’s going to destroy Reign once and for all.” Sam retorts.
“And kill you in the process.” Alex insists, the anger growing in her voice.
“Collateral damage.” Sam shrugs nonchalantly, which only serves to infuriate Alex even more.
“You got to be kidding.” She scoffs and then looks around the room to Winn, J’onn, Kara, but they all avoid her glare.
“And you all support that? It’s insane!”
“If that’s what Ms. Arias wants, we should respect her wishes.” J’onn tries to defuse the situation.
But Alex is having none of it. “Kara, come on, you can’t be serious!” She pleads with her sister.
“Alex, I-I…” Kara stutters helplessly.
“Hey guys, could you please leave us for a moment? I want to talk to Alex alone.” Sam interrupts her.
The three of them stand up and leave the room in a hurry. Before Winn closes the door behind him, the Kryptonian can hear him letting out a sigh of relief.
Her attention is quickly drawn back to Alex who has also gotten up from her chair and is now pacing the room.
She stops to look at Sam and addresses her with a now much softer tone. “Sam, listen, I know you are afraid that Reign will come back, but you don’t have to deal with that alone. I’m here for you, and I’m not going anywhere…”
Despite Alex’s desire to understand and help, Sam’s agitation rises, and she feels the desperate need to explain herself to this woman who has become her closest confidant.
“No, Alex, you don’t know how hard it is for me to keep her away! It’s a constant struggle!” She bursts out while standing up and stepping closer to Alex.
“Every night when I go to bed I’m afraid to fall asleep, because what if she takes over while I’m sleeping? I wake up every morning checking if I’m still me. But the relief when I realize I’m still there is short lived, because then I have to get through the day avoiding everything that could possibly trigger her. I haven’t read the newspaper or watched the news for months. While driving I don’t listen to the radio anymore, just my own playlist. When I’m out on the street I only look straight forward and try not to take in other people. I even count my steps to distract myself.
The meditation with Kara helps, but only for a while. And then it’s back, sometimes to just a subtle drumming in my head, and sometimes my veins burn like acid is running through them. In whatever form, it’s there constantly, lurking somewhere in my mind, this darkness that is calling for me. But I can’t give in, not even an inch, cause I know once I do, it’s going to swallow me whole.”
Sam’s voice grows quiet, the last sentence almost a whisper. It’s a relief to let it all out, to share her biggest worries, but when she looks up and sees the compassion and hurt in Alex’s beautiful face, she knows her friend is hurting for her, and she wishes she hadn’t said anything. There’s no going back now though, so she pushes through, she has to convince Alex about her plan.
“Sure, Ruby and you have helped me a lot these past few months. You anchored me. I feel most like myself with you guys around. But what if that isn’t enough someday? If I lose control for good? What if it happens when I’m alone with Ruby? What if I’m going to hurt her?” She trembles at the thought.
“We both know you would never hurt her.” Alex interjects.
“I wouldn’t, but could you say the same about Reign?” Sam looks Alex in the eyes challenging her to answer the question. Alex avoids her gaze after a few seconds, she knows she’s right.
Sam sighs, hopeful that the other woman sees reason now.
“Look, Alex, I just want to make sure that I never hurt Ruby or you or my friends or anyone. This device…, it guarantees that Reign can be destroyed before I - before she kills someone.”
Sam steps closer to Alex and takes her hands in hers, brushing her thumbs in soothing circles over the auburn haired woman’s soft skin.
“I trust you with my life. I know you will use it only when there’s no other way. I need you to use it before I hurt my daughter.” She pleads.
“So, Alex, please, you’re a doctor and a bioengineer, would you do the operation? Winn can show you the plans where it is supposed to be positioned. Everything has been prepared in the OR, the Kryptonite transmitters are activated to make me vulnerable, so that you can operate on me. They are waiting for us.”
“No!” Alex persists, throwing her hands up in agitation and taking a step back. “I’m not going to implant a kill switch into the head of the woman that I love!”
Sam counters immediately. “It’s my decision and I’m asking you to… wait, what?” Confusion settling in, when finally Alex’s words register.
“Shit, I... this wasn’t how I wanted to tell you. I didn’t want to tell you at all…” Alex’s eyes grow wide and her face flushes with obvious embarrassment.
The spark of hope and happiness that has been ignited inside Sam is immediately smothered by Alex’s reaction.
Alex must have recognized the hurt in her expression, because she backpedals on her words.
“No, I mean, I would have told you eventually, but with everything you have been dealing with these past few months, I didn’t want to burden you with my stupid feelings... Our friendship is very important to me and I didn’t want to make you feel uncomfortable in my presence. You don’t owe me anything and I don’t expect you to…”
“Alex, would you please stop.” She interrupts the agent’s rambling, her voice gentle.
“Yeah, sorry, I… I’m sorry. I shouldn’t have said anything. Forget I said anything.” The auburn haired woman looks down at her feet, still flustered.
“What if I don’t want to forget it?”
Alex looks up at that, surprise coloring her expression.
“What if I have feelings for you too?” Sam dares to say while she steps closer to the beautiful woman before her. She lets her battered soul bathe in the moment, refusing to think about the consequences of what she is about to do.
“You do?” Alex whispers unbelievingly.
In lieu of an answer Sam closes the distance between them and cups Alex’s face in her hands. Leaning in, Sam lingers when their noses touch and they breathe the same air, before she kisses Alex softly. With the touch of their lips, it feels like the remaining shreds of darkness are gone, and there’s only light in her mind, body and soul.
After a short moment of hesitation, Alex reciprocates the kiss, her mouth pressing tightly against Sam’s. When they pull apart Alex cups Sam’s jaw and brushes her thumb over her bottom lip with a look of wonderment.
But then her attention shifts to the table where the chip is laying and Sam sees the agent’s expression turning to one of fierce determination.
Before Sam has time to react, Alex grabs the device and is out of the room.
Shaking herself out of her kiss induced stupor, Sam hurries to the door.
“Alex! Alex, come back! What are you doing?” Sam’s shouts echo through the hallway, but Alex is already gone.