Actions

Work Header

And Sam Makes Three

Chapter Text

Chapter 1

Game night.  Really, this was a thing that adults did?  This whole ‘having more than one single friend’ thing was going to take some getting used to.  The thought was terrifying in how much it actually kind of thrilled her.  When she made the decision to move to National City from Metropolis, she knew things would be different.  Hell, that was the point.  But game night with Kara’s close-knit group of friends was not something she could have expected. 

Still, fun was fun, and fun was something that she had been sorely lacking the last few months.  It was almost shocking how well L-Corp had been doing since the Daxamite invasion.  While she refused to give herself credit in private, Lena’s role in developing the device that forced the Daxamites to retreat had earned her a tremendous amount of personal and professional goodwill.  The increased workload had made moving into the new place that much more difficult to coordinate.  This was the first time in at least two months that she had been able to really, truly just take a night off.  Nerves or no, she was damn well going to enjoy it.

Taking a deep breath and grabbing the bottle of wine she had picked up to bring to the party, she glanced around at the new townhouse they had recently moved into.  It was finally starting to feel like a home, now that all the furniture was in just the right place, and they had unpacked the various photos of the two of them, scattering them about the living area.  There was still some work to be done, but she was proud of herself for having had the bravery to take this leap.  To pursue a broader idea of family.

They got into the SUV together to head out, and all her nerves just sort of faded.  Coming here had been a difficult decision, but for the first time, she felt absolutely sure that this was where she was supposed to be.  This was home.  She grinned, but kept her eyes on the road.  Tonight was going to be fun.  Different, but fun.

As she pulled up to a stop, she turned to her passenger.  “You’re sure you don’t want to come?”

“Ugh, Mom, come on, I have no interest in hanging out with you and Lena and all your old people friends.  Besides, we both know you’ll have more fun without your kid tagging along.  Now if you’re done worrying, Jane is waiting for me.  I’ll see you tomorrow after school.”

Sam sighed, exasperated both at her daughter’s description of people in their late 20s and early 30s as ‘old’ as well as her already well-developed snarkiness.  Like mother like daughter, I suppose.

“Okay babe, well, you call me if you need anything, and please tell Jane’s parents again how thankful I am that they invited you for this sleepover.  Be good.  I love you!”

“Yeah yeah, I love you too, now go have fun and stuff,” Ruby muttered as she climbed out with her backpack in tow. 

Sam rolled her eyes but didn’t take the bait.  She watched Ruby walk up to the door and enter the house, before driving away.  Now, what was Kara’s address again?

                                                  

 “So, what’s the deal with L-Corp and hot lady bosses?”  Alex looked up from her pizza and scowled at Maggie, who just winked and grinned in response.  Kara thought it was adorable how Maggie’s dimples let her get away with just about anything when it came to Alex.  And Kara wasn’t about to disagree with Maggie that Lena and Sam were both certified hotties.

“I think what my frustratingly pretty girlfriend meant to ask was, ‘What’s Sam like?’” Alex clarified, though Maggie’s eye roll made it very clear that was not, in fact, what she meant to say.  “You said she’s Lena’s oldest friend, right?”

Kara beamed at her sister.  She loved talking about her newest friend.  “Mmhmm.  They came up together at LuthorCorp.  Apparently being the only junior—and then senior—executives who aren’t old men is the only way for two annoying workaholics to find a kindred spirit and make a friend.  Well—other than being forced into social interactions by your friendly neighborhood superhero.”  Kara was proud to have gotten a laugh from Maggie at the last comment.

“But she doesn’t know that her newest BFF Kara is a superhero, right?!”  Kara’s forehead crinkled at the overprotectiveness in Alex’s voice. 

“Gah, Alex, you worry too much.  Lena and I might tell her eventually—Lena’s sure that Sam is trustworthy—but no, she doesn’t know I’m Supergirl.  And I’ve already told James, Winn, and Lucy that she’s not in the secret identity club yet, so that topic is off-limits tonight.  Okay, mom?” 

Alex shrugged as if she couldn’t care less that Kara was annoyed—so frustrating—then looked down to pet Gertrude.  How Alex and Maggie came to possess the sweetest little grey and white Italian Greyhound was a story in and of itself.  Maggie had found out about a German Shepard who was failing out of K-9 school because she was just a little too agreeable.  Unfortunately, that was the same day that a terrified stray Italian Greyhound attached herself to Alex on her way out of lunch at Noonan’s.  They had both called each other with the excited news that they had each found Gertrude, the dog that they had wanted to get together, but never had time to go looking for.  Maggie had initially rejected the idea of having a tiny dog out of hand.  Apparently, it would hurt their cred as intimidating bad asses or something, plus the cop had really wanted the cop dog.  But poor little Gert was terrified of everything and everyone other than Alex, at least at first, and Maggie didn’t have the heart to force Alex to take her to a shelter.   So, Gertrude Sanvers officially joined the family.  It had only taken her a few days to stop yelping every time Auntie Kara flew in the window to check on her during the day.

Alex looked up from the pup and asked, “She has a teenage daughter, right?  Is she older?  Married?” 

“Pssh, no, not at all actually.  I mean she’s, ummm, 31 I think?  You should ask Lena about Sam’s backstory—she loves to gush about how incredible and resilient Sam is.  She had Ruby at like 17 or something, and put herself through night school to get a business degree before joining up at Luthor Corp and working her way through the ranks.  Oh!  And I have no idea if she’s seeing anyone, but she’s definitely not married.”

Maggie jumped in, “Ooooo hot new girl in town, we should set her up with Lucy!  Or … James?  If he’s more her speed?”  The detective’s eyebrows raised in question, and Kara just shook her head.  Maggie was incorrigible.

“She’s only been in town for like a month, and she’s got her job and her daughter—I’m not sure she’s looking to date just yet.”  Kara paused, stifling a tiny giggle in her throat.  “Besides, I doubt she has any problem in that arena when she wants to play.”

“Now I’m even more intrigued.  Also, way to dodge the question, Kara.”  Maggie winked, but left it at that.  Kara was pretty sure Sam was bi or pan or something, but that wasn’t important.  Maggie could be such a nosy gossip sometimes, but in the best way.

Just as Kara was junking the now empty pizza boxes, and tossing the dishes in the dishwasher, there was a knock at the door.  Lena was coming straight from L-Corp, so Maggie and Alex had come over early to have dinner with Kara before game night.  They had stopped at her favourite pizza place on the way over from their apartment.  Kara casually glanced over at, and through, the door, seeing James and Winn waiting outside.  Maggie let them in.

“My fave dudes!”  Maggie hugged them both as they walked in, each with a six-pack of beers.  Alex ran over and yanked one of the local craft beers Winn brought, wrinkling her nose at the Corona in James’ possession.  Kara rushed over to console Gert, who was cowering behind the couch at the presence of new people.  Alex had insisted that it would be good for Gertrude to start getting used to bigger crowds of people, but Kara was so worried about the terrified baby girl.  She needed her momma to stay by her side. 

“Sure Alex, please have a beer.”  Winn snarked at his coworker, and Alex immediately raised an eye threateningly.  “I mean ‘sure Alex, please have a beer!’  My beer is your beer, and please don’t hurt me.”

Kara grinned, then caught herself.  She gave Alex a stern look that was ignored.  Alex’s bullying of Winn was really cute most of the time, but Kara worried that Alex took it slightly too far now and then.  Before she could start scolding her sister, Maggie jumped to her rescue.

“So Kara, how are things going at work now that the infamous Cat Grant is back?”

Kara immediately winced and looked cautiously at James, who was settling down on the chair across from the couch.  Fortunately, he appeared to have gotten over his immediate distaste for their boss’s name.  Good, it’s been three months.  I don’t know how much longer I could’ve taken his pouting.

Cat Grant had returned to National City during the Daxamite invasion and had immediately picked up where she left off a year ago.  Kara hadn’t meant to eavesdrop on Cat’s … difficult … conversation with James, but it wasn’t her fault Ms. Grant talked so loudly or always left her doors open.  She had made it clear, in no uncertain terms, that James was going to return to his post as Art Director for CatCo Magazine, and that he was going to stop his late night escapades as the armoured vigilante Guardian. 

How had Ms. Grant phrased it?  Oh yeah…”

---------

“Mr. Olsen, I have failed you.  And for that I am sorry.”

There was no response from James, who was apparently shocked by this new, more self-aware version of Cat Grant, fresh from her walkabout in the Himalayas.

“I should have never made you interim CEO.  That simply isn’t you.  I’m not entirely sure what I was thinking, to be honest, but I suppose I was in something of an unusual fog at the time.  Oh well.  Look, mistakes were made, and I’m here to fix them.”

It sounded as though James was about to say something, but Ms. Grant cut him off.  “Yes.  I am returning as CEO of CatCo, and things are going to change.  I would say that you did your best, but you were simply not cut out for this sort of position.  Except that I’m quite sure you did not do you best.  Being CEO of any company is a full-time job, Mr. Olsen, and especially my company.  What on Earth made you think you could run CatCo during the day and fight crime at night?”

“Respectfully, Ms. Grant, what I do with my time after hours really isn’t your—”

“Oh but it is my business, Mr. Olsen.  Quite literally.  You see, being CEO of CatCo requires focus, creativity, and dedication.  Things that a person cannot cultivate if they’re sleeping four hours a night and rushing off to beat up criminals with a metal shield.  I gave you the keys to a Ferrari, Mr. Olsen, and you filled it with regular gasoline and left it idling in the driveway.”

Kara could feel the temperature drop in the room, and she hoped for James’ sake that he did not try to argue with Ms. Grant.  She said a silent prayer of thanks to Rao when he kept his mouth shut, and Ms. Grant’s tone warmed slightly.

“But this conversation is not about past failures.  It was my mistake to put you into a position where you were not well-equipped to succeed, and so I should not be surprised that you found the position so stifling and unworthy of your—” she paused for emphasis, “—full attention.  This conversation is about course corrections, and the success of our future partnership.”

Kara knew Ms. Grant well enough to know from the tone of her voice, she genuinely wanted to help James.  She also couldn’t help the grin that had broken across her face as she realized that she and Ms. Grant were on the same page about the foolishness of this Guardian business.

“James, I hired you away from the Daily Planet for a reason.  You have a one-of-a-kind eye for the beauty and wonder of the world.  You’re an incredible photographer, but you’re more than that.  I didn’t hire ‘Jimmy Olsen, photojournalist’ to do the same things you did back in Metropolis.  You’re capable of more.  I miscalculated when I thought that more was running the entirety of CatCo, and for that I sincerely apologize.”

There was a brief moment of silence, then James finally spoke up.  “Ms. Grant, I appreciate that.  And … you’re right.  I’m not a CEO—I never was.  I was just too proud to say no when you offered it to me.  But I always knew that wasn’t what I wanted to do.  It’s just …  I need to stand for something more than just taking pictures or framing fashion shoots.  I’m honestly not sure where I fit into the media world anymore.  Guardian … it’s the only thing that makes sense to me.”

Kara was taken aback by James’ honesty, his vulnerability.  Their friendship had been fairly shallow since their blowup after Lena was arrested, and he had never really let her back in after that.  Not that she had tried very hard to mend fences.  And yet, her heart warmed a little as she heard how lost he sounded.  She had always been so adamant that Guardian was a foolish, dangerous idea, but she had never really stopped to ask James why he had gone down the path in the first place.  Leave it to Ms. Grant to see through all the nonsense and get to the heart of someone’s motivations.

“Yes, it is very clear that you’re quite confused when it comes to sense of late.  Here’s the thing.  You need to get back to your roots.  You’re lost.  So here’s what we’re going to do.  I’m going to ask you to trust me when I tell you that things are changing here.  This won’t be the same old CatCo.  I want you back as my art director, but I promise you it won’t be the same old job.  If you find that you don’t believe in the work you’re doing here, that you don’t find the elusive purpose you’re searching for, you can leave.  No hard feelings.  But.  If you’re going to work here, I need you focused on your work here.  No more Guardian.  Leave the crime fighting to Supergirl and the cops.  That is not where you will do the world the most good.  But I promise—you stick with me, and we’ll change the world.”

“I’ll give you a day to think about it.”

---------

James had accepted the offer, and while Kara had no idea how Cat was going to enforce her ‘no Guardian’ policy, she hadn’t seen Guardian on the streets once the last couple of months.  He had been noticeably moodier since then, but he hadn’t quit as art director yet either.  Kara could only assume Ms. Grant was holding up her side of the bargain so far.  And as far as Kara’s work at CatCo was going lately …

“Things have been incredible since Ms. Grant came back.  I didn’t quite realize how much I missed her mentoring, and she’s been a force lately.  CatCo’s got a whole new direction and purpose, and she’s the force behind it all.  Even Snapper is less grumpy lately, though that could have something to do with overseeing an actual newspaper again finally.”  Kara grinned at Maggie, who appreciated the enthusiasm by responding with a bright smile of her own.

CatCo hadn’t completely fallen apart under James’ leadership, but it had certainly taken on his lack of direction.  Ms. Grant had come back with a robust plan to change that.  She had started by purchasing the National City Tribune and bringing it under the CatCo umbrella.  Cat envisioned the former tabloid evolving into not only a reputable source for journalism, but the paper of record for National City.  And Snapper Carr was all in on this vision.  He had never really believed that CatCo Magazine could straddle the line between real journalism and pop culture fluff, and the decreased readership over the last year tended to support his belief.  Now, Kara was working for a real newspaper, just like Lois and Clark, and hadn’t even had to leave the building which had grown to feel like home.

Alex spoke, looking up from her phone.  “Lucy should be here soon, and apparently she’s bringing Vasquez too.”  She and Kara exchanged a knowing look.  Vasquez had been crushing on Lucy ever since she returned to the DEO’s National City headquarters after the Daxamite invasion.

“Well good, then!  Lena and Sam are both are their way, too.  Let’s get this partay started!”

                                                  

Lena was genuinely excited for game night.  She’d gotten a few under her belt now, and she was good friends with Maggie and Winn completely outside of their shared connection to Kara.  She had never let her guard down around this many people before, and while no one knew her like Kara, she had finally loosened up enough to just be her genuine self with the Superfriends.  Besides, she knew that it was important for her to be around people—things were so much harder when she was left alone with her thoughts.  Unfortunately, she was so lost in this particular thought that she nearly ran into the two women standing outside Kara’s apartment.

The shorter of the women greeted her warmly.  “Hey!  Lena, right?  I’m Lucy, and this is Vasquez.  We both work at the DEO with Alex and Kara.”  Ah, the new/old Co-Director of the DEO and … a friend?  Just before Lena could exchange pleasantries, Kara opened the door.  Lena loved this dork so much.  She smiled as if the three people at the door were the most wonderful people on Earth… actually, Kara might genuinely believe that.  Some of the most wonderful anyway.

“Oh good you already met!  Come in, come in!  Everyone else is already here.”  Lena’s brow wrinkled just slightly.  She had meant to arrive before Sam, to help introduce her to the group.  But hey, at least she had Kara.  It was probably fine.

Lucy responded enthusiastically, “Oh yeah, I was just introducing myself and Vasquez to your girlfriend here.”  Lena loved that Kara’s face still lit up anytime anyone referred to them as girlfriends.  The foursome walked into the apartment.

“Vasquez!  I’m so glad you came!”  Lena could tell from Kara’s impressively subtle tone that maybe there was some sort of thing going on between Lucy and Vasquez.

Lucy blushed slightly, before responding, “Yeah, sorry, ey were hanging out in my office this afternoon, and I just figured the more the merrier, right?”  Ey?  That’s a new one. … Ohhh, Vasquez is nonbinary, maybe?  Yikes, I shouldn’t have assumed.

She had apparently been enjoying the back and forth, but Vaquez then finally spoke up for eirself.  “I promise I’ll try not to win all the games, Kara.”  To Lena’s eyes, Vasquez seemed to enjoy a flustered Lucy.  Considering her earliest interactions with Kara, Lena already felt a bit of kinship with the agent.

Then she caught site of Sam and hurried over to her friend.  They hugged tightly, and Lena whispered, “I am so sorry.  I meant to get here before you.  I hope things haven’t been too awkward jumping in with a bunch of people you don’t know yet.”

Sam turned to her with an ‘oh, please’ look on her face.  “Pssh, you know that your girl wouldn’t let that happen.  Besides I’ve been here for like five minutes.”

“Oh fine, be snide.  I’m just gonna go tell Winn how much you love Star Wars, and then good luck with the rest of your evening.”  Sam’s greatest flaw was her complete lack of interest in the Star Wars universe. 

"No no no that’s okay.  Please Lena, do not force that on me.”  Lena snickered, but of course Sam had no idea that she had just made a truly excellent pun.

“I’ll spare you this time, darling, but be careful not to cross me if we’re on opposite teams tonight.”  Sam rolled her eyes as she followed Lena to where Alex and Maggie were setting up Cards Against Humanity.  “So, you met Sanvers and their adorable pup already?”

The confused look on Sam’s face piqued Maggie’s interest.  “It’s the dumb couple nickname Li’l Luthor came up for me and Alex.  Or was that Kara’s idea?  Either way, they won’t drop it, even though Alex and I have both threatened violence against them.  Although—” her eyes narrowed and darted sideways at Alex, “—I suspect that this adorable sap actually likes the name, because her threats haven’t been as menacing as usual.” 

Alex didn’t respond, which was as good as an admission.  Remembering the actual question, Maggie answered for Sam.  “And yes, we met your stunningly attractive friend.”  She winked at Sam, and this time Alex did actually respond, with a swift smack to the back of Maggie’s head.

“Yeah, we met, and yes, I find Maggie’s shameless flirting in front of her girlfriend absolutely delightful.  Sorry, Alex.” 

“No apologies necessary.  I knew what I was getting into when I asked this dummy to move in with me.”  Lena could see through Alex’s fake grimace.  She loved Maggie and wouldn’t change a thing about her.

“Oh cool, so I’m not the only one who moved recently?  Congrats, you two!  How’s it going so far?”  Sam loved stories of happy gay domesticity, so Lena knew that she would hit it off with Alex and Maggie.  And speaking of happy gays, Lena felt an inhumanly strong arm wrap around her affectionately.  As Kara handed her a glass of her favourite chianti, Alex answered Sam’s question.

“It’s wonderful.  We both loved the building I was already living in, so we found a bigger place there, with an actual bedroom and much bigger closets.  We had both only ever lived alone, as adults anyway, so yeah, I mean it was an adjustment at first.”

Maggie butted in, “Don’t undersell it, babe.  I literally tackled her and shouted in her face after the seventh time she insisted that I throw my dirty clothes in the laundry hamper rather than on the floor on my way to bed.  Not to mention our fight over which dog to get.” 

“Whatever, you love Gertrude more than I do.  And yes, okay, there have been growing pains.  But it’s so worth it.”  Sappy girlfriend Alex was the best Alex.  Kara smiled and nuzzled her head against Lena’s shoulder. 

“Aw babe, you’re such a dork.”  Maggie kissed Alex, theatrically trying to make it sloppier than necessary before Alex pushed her away playfully.

“Alright well if the happy couple is done making out, it’s game time,” said Winn.  He, James, Lucy, and Vasquez pulled up chairs, and they all settled in.  Cards Against Humanity had been Maggie’s idea.  She thought it would be the easiest way to get to know the newbies, since this was the first game night for Sam, Lucy, and Vasquez.  Kara had tried to argue, but Lena had backed up Maggie.  Kara didn’t want anyone to feel uncomfortable with the honestly only slightly racy game, but Maggie thought that was absolutely the best way to cut through the tension of meeting new people.  Lena, on the other hand, simply enjoyed the surprise on other people’s faces when they first realized that Kara Danvers was not the naïve puppy dog she seemed.

About an hour into the game, several things became very obvious.  First, Sam, Lucy, and Vasquez fit into the group perfectly.  Lucy and Sam, in particular, had hit it off immediately, as they apparently shared a very particular sort of grotesque humour that drove the rest of the room crazy.  Vasquez was a giggly drunk, and at no point had this been more on display then when ey had confided to Lena in secret that the idea of maybe possibly dating eir boss was terrifying.  Vasquez had then giggled so forcefully that she fell over, and Lena had to make up a half-assed excuse about why she was giggling this time. 

The strangest thing of the night was that Gertrude was oddly intrigued by Vasquez’ giggling fits.  The first time it had happened, the pup’s head shot up, ears piqued in curiosity.  The second time, she had started yapping happily along with Vasquez, and the third time, she got up out of Maggie’s lap and plopped down in Vasquez’.  The two were inseparable for the rest of the night, and Lucy kept shooting heart eyes at them.

Overall, the first expanded game night had been a massive success, and Lena was so happy that Sam had had a good time.  She was the last to leave, drinking water until she was perfectly sure she could make it home safely.  The three of them cuddled on Kara’s couch and gossiped about Lucy’s love life.  Apparently she and James were still hooking up on occasion, but it was obvious to everyone that she was also fostering a crush on Vasquez. 

“I just worry that the whole boss-employee thing might make it impossible,” Lena suggested.  “They seem to have a real spark, and a genuine relationship usually requires a certain lack of pressure to grow organically, yes?” 

Kara made a pretty persuasive argument that it wouldn’t have any real bearing on things.  “Actually, J’onn was more Vasquez’ boss than Lucy.  They’ve divided their duties as director really well, and both are thriving in their roles.  He handles the coordination and training of agents and missions, while Lucy handles administration, legal, and public relations—which is to say, making sure no one figured out the DEO exists.” 

“So Vasquez is just an agent, not like … a lawyer on the side?  Meaning she really only reports to J’onn?”  Sam was clearly rooting for her new friend Lucy to find love.

“Yup!  I mean, being out in the field was definitely in Lucy’s toolbox, especially since she and Alex have become better friends and started sparring together.  But fieldwork is still definitely not her expertise.  I can’t really picture a situation where Lucy and Vasquez’ feelings for each other would make work more difficult.”

“So what you’re saying is that we should play matchmaker?”  Lena recognized the mischievous glint in Sam’s eye, and knew better that to try to argue.  Instead, she deflected.

“Yes, well, we will have to discuss that on another occasion.  I need my beauty sleep, and so does my CFO.”  She looked at Sam pointedly.

“Oh oh fine, I can take a hint.  I’ll just see myself out so you two kids can get all naked together.”  Lena chuckled at the bright red colour of Kara’s face.  One would think she’d be used to Sam’s teasing by now, but no, Kara still got flustered every time.  Which was great for Lena—flustered Kara was so endearing, and her girlfriend had become immune to Lena’s own teasing now that they were shagging on the regular.  

Lena decided to just go with it, and wrapped her arms around Kara, melodramatically grabbing her ass as she kissed her deeply.  Lena mumbled a goodbye to Sam in between kisses between Kara, who she could tell was torn between ripping Lena’s clothes off and controlling herself to give Sam a proper goodbye.  In the end, her better angels won out, and she separated herself from Lena, blushing even more brightly.

“Lena!”  She turned and walked towards Sam, who was at the door now.  “Sam, thanks so much for coming.  If you’re in, I have no doubt that everyone else will welcome you as a regular member of the Su—game night crew.  Did you have fun?”

“Yes, dummy, I had fun.  Lucy’s really cool, and I can’t wait to convince Gert that I’m not going to try to crush her with my heels.  Definitely pencil me in for the next game night.  I’ll see you both later, okay?”  They all hugged, and Sam headed out.  Closing the door behind her, Kara narrowed her eyes at Lena.

“Now.  Where were we?”

Chapter Text

Chapter 2

Sam gave Jess a nod and a smile as she walked by her desk on the way into Lena’s office.  Most of Sam’s staff had already gone home, but Jess rarely left the office before Lena did.  Sam had a strong suspicion that Jess was secretly a bodyguard in addition to being an executive assistant, but Lena insisted that this wasn’t the case.  Still, if Sam was a betting woman …

Lena didn’t make any effort to acknowledge Sam’s presence as she walked into the office.  She was slouched back in her luxurious office chair, pushed back from her polished white desk and facing away towards the corner of her balcony, her tablet in one hand and stylus in the other, taking notes furiously.  Leaving her to it, Sam walked deliberately over to the far wall, where Lena kept her liquor in the matching white credenza.  There was no way Lena didn’t register the sound of Sam’s heels walking across the office, but she still didn’t move.

Great.  She’s in another mood.  In some ways, Lena was the happiest and most well-adjusted Sam had ever seen her.  In others, she was every bit as withdrawn, cold, and tightly wound as in her darkest days.  It would appear that Lena was well into one of the latter dispositions this evening.  It wasn’t just the work; even if Lena was deep into some enthralling business deal or new project, she would normally have greeted Sam with a warm smile and pleasantries.

Let’s just see what I can do about this.  She poured them each a glass of scotch and sauntered over to the desk.  Sidling between Lena’s chair and the desk, she used her heel to spin Lena around to face her.  She plucked the tablet from her hand and held out the glass of scotch.  Several muted expressions crossed Lena’s face—confusion, frustration, exasperation, and then resignation.  She took the glass, took a sip, and then looked up at Sam, tilting her head in a look of forced curiosity.

“What’s your deal, lady?”  Sam knew it would take some coaxing to get Lena to open up, but she always went bold with her conversation openers.

“Just trying to finish cleaning up the mess that was made of this proposal by one of the med tech teams, so that I can get to my real priority for the night.”  Oh.  

“Sweetie, it’s been three months.  You haven’t found anything.  Why are you still letting Lillian haunt you?” In the chaos of the Daxamite invasion, Lillian’s cyborg henchman had broken her out of DEO custody, and they hadn’t been heard from since.  Lena had thrown a copious amount of her personal time into investigating and tracking her down.  She had roped in Winn and Alex at the DEO and Maggie at the NCPD, she had even reached out to some contacts with the FBI.  All of it had turned up exactly nothing.  But still she kept trying, and Sam couldn’t help but worry her about it.  It seemed like Kara shared her worries, but neither of them wanted to talk about Lena behind her back.

“Sam, she’s dangerous.  Not just to the world, to aliens everywhere.  But specifically, to me.  And the ones I love.”  Something about Lena’s voice told Sam there was more to it than that.

“Did Lillian threaten Kara in some way?  Why would she do that?” 

Lena hesitated just slightly, but enough that Sam knew it meant something.  “No, not exactly.  I just … she’s never been okay with my sexuality.  She’ll never accept me openly dating a woman, much less a woman she would consider so far below my station.”

There was more to it than that.  “Okay, well your mom’s been a lot of things, but willing to risk her freedom over a grudge against her daughter hasn’t been one of them.  She’s all about that alien genocide megalomania.  She’s a true believer.  Surely, she wouldn’t risk all of that just to go after Kara.”

Lena’s face showed full and genuine emotion for the first time since Sam had entered the office.  Full fledged terror wrote itself over all her features, then she immediately took control back from the fear, her face back to its usual casual mask.  “No, you’re right.  That’s not all.  Though I wouldn’t put it past her.”  She paused, sighing as she finally seemed to decide to let Sam in a little.  “She knows that I work with Supergirl sometimes.  After the thing with the Daxamites, I think she has finally given up on the idea that I might come around to the family hobby of alien-hating.  I am pretty sure that I am no longer safe from her machinations, and I have no doubt she’ll eventually try to use me to get at Supergirl and the DEO.  It wouldn’t surprise me at all if she figured out that Kara’s sister works there.  There’s too much at risk for her to remain at large.”

“Okay.  I get that.  And I don’t blame you for being afraid for your safety or Alex’s or even Supergirl’s.  Lillian is capable of anything.  But you’re a CEO and a scientist.  An engineer, on occasion.”  She shot Lena a small grin, trying to lighten the mood.  Ineffectively.  “You’re not a private investigator.  Or a bounty hunter.  Or a human bloodhound.  Let the DEO and the FBI do their jobs.  I know you—you feel obligated to be the one to catch her.  Why?  Why take on this burden?”

“She’s my mother!  That makes her my responsibility.  I’m done letting her hurt people.  I’m done cowering in fear of her.  Done playing the prey.  I’m the hunter now.  I’m the Luthor in charge.  I won’t ever let myself be manipulated or threatened by her again.”  There was a cold but quiet fury in Lena’s voice.  Sam wondered if Lillian wasn’t the only ‘her’ that was haunting Lena.

Lena sighed again, coming down from the brief emotional high.  “Besides.  No one knows her like I do.  The DEO and the FBI will try their hardest, but I don’t have any faith that they’ll find her.  I’m not even sure I will, but I know her better than anyone.  If she’s going to be caught, it’ll be by me.”

Sam took another sip of the scotch, slowly.  She surveyed Lena’s face, and to her credit, Lena didn’t flinch away from her gaze.  Sam leaned in and placed a hand on Lena’s knee.  “You know that I’m just worried about you, right?”

Lena nodded, then chewed on her lip a little.  She was trying not to get emotional.  Sam continued, “Lee.  You’ve built an incredible life for yourself.  You’re doing good for the world.  Your company has never been more successful, and you’ve never been more beloved by your community.  You have freed yourself of that awful family, and you’re madly in love with the brightest beam of sunshine on the planet.”

That produced a real smile, and Sam knew she was on the right path.  “I know you think that the best way to protect it all is to track down your mom.  Bring her to justice.  But … I don’t know, has it occurred to you that maybe your obsession with bringing her down might be the real threat to your happiness?”

“Sam. I … Look, I know that I can get wrapped up in this, and that I tend to get more emotionally withdrawn as a result.  Kara’s complained about it too, trust me.  But … I have to do this.  I’m really sorry if you don’t like that, but I’m not giving up.”

She knew when to give up an argument with Lena.  There was more here, maybe having to do with Rhea and the Daxamites, and regardless, this obsession was not healthy.  But Sam let it go, for now.  “Okay.  Just—” she entwined her fingers with Lena’s, “—know that we’re here to ground you.  Don’t shut us out.  Please.”

Lena nodded, then withdrew her hand.  “Now, I actually really do have to clean up this mess before I can head home.  Thanks for checking on me, and tell Ruby her Aunt Lena says, ‘hey girl hey.’”  There was just a hint of playfulness in Lena’s voice, and Sam felt reassured, if only a little.

“I will.  You know she’s still bugging me to have Lena—she refuses to call you aunt anymore, it’s too childish—introduce her to Supergirl.  The girl is tenacious.”

“Just like her mother.  But I’ve made no promises!  I’ll see what I can do.”

Sam opened the door to leave, then turned back to her friend.  “Hey Lee, you know I love you, right?”

The tiniest hint of surprise and hurt formed on Lena’s face at the genuine concern in Sam’s voice.  She pursed her lips and then answered, “I know.  Of course I know.  And I love you, too, okay?  I’m so happy that you and I are finally back in the same city.  Truly.”

Sam smiled, trying to keep any sadness out of it, then turned and left.

                                                  

Lena did what she could with the proposal and sent it back to the project leader for revisions.  She’d been distracted ever since Sam left.  Her friend had the most annoying talent for getting in her head.  She wasn’t trying to push Sam—or Kara—away.  But neither of them could understand this.  Hell, Lena didn’t fully understand it.  She just knew that she had to find Lillian.  It was the only way she would ever be free of her past.  And it was the best way she could atone for the hand she had in the devastation caused by the Daxamites.

Kara and Sam had their traumas, especially Kara.  But neither of them had demons like Lena.  She wasn’t about to force hers upon them.  Still, they were right, to an extent.  Lena had to find Lillian, but she didn’t want the difficulty of the task or her focus on its importance to hurt the relationships she had managed to build.  She had worked too hard to build this new family of hers to lose it in her fervor to bury the old one for good.

Fortunately, she knew just who to talk to about this, picking up her phone and dialing.  “Hey Alex, you have an hour or so free to grab a drink tonight, just us?”

“Uhh, hold on just one sec, Lena.”  The phone was briefly muted while Alex presumably conferred with Maggie.  “Yeah, I can swing that.  Where should we meet?”

 “Does my place work for you?  I’m not really in the mood for a crowd, you know?”

 “Yeah sure thing.  Text me the address, and I’ll be there in, like, thirty minutes?”

 “Sounds great, Alex.  I really appreciate it.”

Lena packed up her tablet and slipped her heels back on, then walked out the door.  Jess looked up as the door opened, and Lena smiled at her.  “Alright Jess, time to go home.  Give Tali a scratch behind the ears for me.”

“Yes ma’am.  Let me just put in the call for your car, and I’ll walk you out.”  Jess grabbed her things and met Lena at the elevator.  “You and Ms. Danvers have plans tonight?”

“No, actually, I’m grabbing a drink with her sister tonight.”

“The agent with the stick up her butt?”

“Yes, Jess, and for your own safety, don’t ever let her hear you say that.”

“I’ll keep that in mind.”  Lena could never quite tell when Jess was being serious or playful, and she really enjoyed that about her assistant.  Kept her on her toes.  The elevator opened on the lobby.  She said goodnight to Jess, who was going down to the parking garage where her car was parked. 

She got into the back of the car and instructed the driver to take her home.  On the way she texted Kara to let her know that she was hanging out with Alex tonight, and asked her for a bit of privacy.  Lena knew her girlfriend would be a little suspicious, but that was better than Supergirl flying in unexpectedly, as she often did.  This wasn’t a conversation she wanted Kara to overhear.  She would worry too much, or maybe get the wrong idea.  Her phone dinged as Kara responded quickly.

[7:02 p.m.]   Okay.  Is everything okay?  Can I sleep over tonight, after you're done having mysterious hangouts with my sister?

She typed out a quick response.

[7:03 p.m.]  I’d like that.  I’ll let you know when Alex heads out.  Bring me a treat?

Kara responded with smiley face, thumbs up, and purple heart emojis.  Lena grinned.  My girl and her emojis.  She thanked the driver and let herself out of the car once they pulled up to her apartment building.  Once in her apartment, she brought up an app on her phone, selected one of several jazz playlists she had, and the ambient music began playing quietly through the speakers strategically built into each room of her penthouse for an immersive experience.  She’d turn it off or change it when Alex arrived, but for now it fit her contemplative mood.

She quickly walked into her room, then her closet.  She threw off her heels and undressed, then pulled her hair up into a messy bun before slipping into a pair of purple leggings and the grey National City University sweatshirt she had stolen from Kara back when they first started dating.  Checking her phone for the time, she padded barefoot into her kitchen and warmed up some leftover pasta.  She had to eat quickly before Alex got there.

And so of course, she had just barely scarfed down her dinner when there was a knock at her door.  Alex was one of a very small group of people who could access this floor without the concierge having to call up for her permission first.  Still, she checked through the peephole just to be sure, then welcomed Alex inside with a brief hug.  She had only been to Lena’s apartment a couple of times previously, and never on her own.  Still, Lena was sure the agent had surveyed and memorized the layout of the place on her first visit, and Alex didn’t hesitate before turning to the right and walking through the dining area to go settle in on Lena’s couch.

“Old fashioneds?” Lena offered.  Alex shot up from the couch and walked back over to wear Lena was still standing by the liquor cabinet.

“Actually, how about you just point me to the bourbon and ingredients, and I’ll take care of that.  Trust me.”  Lena shrugged and gestured to the liquor cabinet.  Who was she to argue with Alex’s confidence in her cocktail-mixing skills?  She grabbed some sugar cubes and an orange from her kitchen, and Alex shouted out, “Oh, and do have any club soda?  Trust me on this, just a splash really rounds out the flavour.”  Lena grabbed the club soda as well, and brought everything over to the bar.  Alex had found a whiskey she liked, along with a couple of glasses, and quickly got to work.  Lena was impressed with the speed and precision of Alex’s hands; she didn’t even stop to measure anything.  The woman was clearly well-practiced.

They took their drinks and settled in on the couch.  “Thanks for agreeing to see me last minute.”

“Sure, Maggie was looking for an excuse to take Gertrude for a run tonight anyway, and I was not in the mood.  So, what’s up?”

“You mean, why did I call you out of the blue and ask you to grab drinks with me despite the fact that we’ve never hung out just the two of us?”  Lena raised an eyebrow playfully, then took a sip of her delicious drink.

Alex shrugged, smiling just slightly.  “Yeah, it was a little unexpected, I suppose.  But you wouldn’t have asked to hang just us for the first time for no reason.  I figured it was important, and you know, I’m here for you or whatever.”  Alex had loosened up so much since she apparently decided that Lena was, in fact, good enough for her sister.  Even still, the agent couldn’t seem to just let herself throw out that message of support without making a face.  It was cute.

“I truly appreciate that, Alex.  The thing, I’ve got this problem I’ve been struggling about, and I’m not sure Kara or Sam would really understand.  But you might, and even if you don’t, I suspect that you might have some good advice.”

Alex took a sip, then gestured for Lena to go on.  “Shoot.”

“So, you’re aware that I’m conducting my own investigation to track down my mother, right?”  Alex’s body language indicated surprise.  Her grip on her glass tightened slightly, and she leaned in a bit as she her blinking increased.

“I mean, I knew you were looking for her.  Given the lack of any leads between your search and those being conducted by the DEO and the FBI, I figured you had dropped that a while back.  You’re still searching?”  Whether intentional or not, Lena could detect the incredulity in Alex’s voice.  Great.  Everyone thinks I’m grasping at straws.

“Yeah.  It’s something that I … fuck, I just can’t let it go.  I have to find her.  I have to be free of her.  Let me ask you this, and Alex, please forgive me if I’m out of line or if it hurts to discuss this.  Aren’t you still looking for Jeremiah?” 

Lena was sure that Alex was trying not to let her emotions show, and the agent was the only one of their friends who was anywhere near as good at it as Lena.  So she knew the weight of her question by the visible storm cloud over Alex’s countenance.  She didn’t answer immediately, taking a long sip of her drink.  When she did respond, her voice was noticeably tighter.

“Yeah.  Of course, I am.  I’ll never give up on finding my dad.”  Lena moved closer, hoping she wasn’t crossing a line as she placed a hand on Alex’s knee.

“I know.  And I’m sorry.  I’m not at all trying to compare my mother to your father.  But you have some idea what I’m going through.  What I am trying to understand is how you keep it from taking over your life?  How do you just … continue to be normal?  How do you not feel the urge to spend every hour of the day looking for him?”  Lena knew that she was failing in her efforts to keep the desperation out of her voice.  She withdrew her hand and took another sip.

Alex responded more quickly this time.  “I can explain, but I doubt my strategy is going to work for you.”  Lena’s brow furrowed in confusion, but Alex didn’t make her wait for an explanation.  “Time.  My dad has been some version of missing and/or on the run for like fifteen years now.  And even disregarding that I believed he was dead for the first 12 or so years of that, I’ve had a couple of years now to process everything.”

Alex stood up.  “Refill?”

You’re damn right.  “Yes, please!”

Alex continued her explanation as she walked, so Lena followed.  “When I first found out my dad was alive, and that Cadmus was holding him, I literally left town for over a month to go chasing him.  It turned up nothing, Lena.  Then there was the whole Myriad thing, maybe you heard about it.”  Lena nodded—it was kind of a major story when an entire town falls under alien mind control.  “Anyway, I had to get back here quickly, and then my focus was on Kara.  She nearly killed herself ridding our planet of some of Krypton’s most dangerous criminals, and if I hadn’t been there to save her, she would have died.”

Lena felt like her heart stopped.  Kara had never told her that story.  She turned away, knowing she couldn’t hide the shock on her face.  How could Kara have never told me she nearly died.  She told me about the red kryptonite incident—why not this?  Lena felt a hand on her shoulder.

“I’m sorry.  I didn’t realize Kara hadn’t told you. I, err, may have overstepped here, but hey since the cat is out of the bag…”  Lena turned back to face her.  “I’m sure she just didn’t want to frighten you, okay?  Please don’t be too harsh on her.” 

Lena paced around the bar so that she was on the same side as Alex, and then slumped back against it, facing the windows.  National City was so beautiful at night, in large part because of the danger Kara was constantly putting herself.  Well … as much danger as a nearly invulnerable person can be in.  Alex followed her lead, turning slightly to lean back against the bar. 

“Anyway, that wasn’t even my point.”  Lena’s concern for Kara had briefly distracted her from the purpose of this conversation, but Alex brought her back to the inner conflict that was tormenting her.  “It took a traumatic experience for me to realize that I can’t just put my life on hold indefinitely until I found Dad.  Kara needed me.  The city needed me.  Ignoring everything and driving myself insane didn’t do anything to get my dad back.  And over time… it just made me less myself.  I lost sight of what matters most, and that’s not what Dad would’ve wanted for me anyway.”

Lena turned her head.  Alex was looking at her with concern.  Which was … unusual.  “Top me off and let’s head back to the couch.”  Fresh drinks in hand, they sat back down.  Alex slouched back, placing her booted feet up on the coffee table and looking at Lena to be sure that this was okay.  Lena rolled her eyes and nodded.

“She’s really under your skin, huh?”  Lena nodded, despite knowing that was only a half truth.  “If you’re looking for advice on how not to let it consume you, all I can tell you is that you have to really analyze what is most important in your life.  And even then, it’s crazy hard.  When Dad rescued Kara and Mon-El from that site your mom was keeping them, it all came rushing back.  I went from keeping tabs on various google alerts and sources on a weekly basis to spending at least an hour or two each night, again.  One new piece of information, and I was obsessive again.  It. Isn’t. Easy.”

Lena was honestly surprised by how reassured she felt.  So she wasn’t just a soulless Luthor monster who found it easy to ignore those she loved because of her obsession with … righting past wrongs.  Alex went through this too, albeit under slightly different circumstances.  Suddenly, she found herself feeling peculiarly vulnerable.

“Alex, I. I am so scared that I’m going to lose her.  Drive her away.  But I can’t drop this. …  I just can’t.”

“I’m assuming you mean Kara?  She’s the one you’re scared of losing?”

Lena could feel the blush on her face.  “Yes, of course.  I mean, I’m not looking to gush about my love for your sister, but … I’ve never felt this way about someone before.  She’s my priority.  But,”  Lena paused, collecting her thoughts.  “I know I haven’t been as attentive lately as I should be.  My focus has been on finding my mother.  Sam says I’m haunted, and I think that’s right.  I just … I feel like I can never have the life I want, never give Kara the life she deserves, as long as Lillian is out there.  Hanging over us like the sword of Damocles.”

Alex snorted at the reference.  “Yeah okay, wow.  Look, Lena, I can’t tell you what to do about Lillian.  I can tell you that if L-Corp, the DEO, and the FBI can’t find her in three months of searching… you’re not going to get anywhere on your own any time soon.  I’m not saying drop it; just, whether you put in an hour once a week or once a day, you’re likely to make the exact amount of headway.”

That made a certain amount of sense, but it didn’t solve the guilt and fear and unease that regularly coiled up in Lena’s gut and turned her to ice.  Sensing her hesitation, Alex jumped back in.  “Look, also I have to do the protective big sister thing.  If you love Kara, make her your priority.  She deserves your attention way more than Lillian does.  If you lose yourself to this obsession—whether it’s revenge or genuine protectiveness over Kara or something else entirely—you’re going to hurt her.  And I don’t think you want that any more than I do.   I’d hate for the next time I come over here be to kick your well-dressed ass.”

The threat brought a smile to Lena’s face.  “Yeah yeah yeah, if I ever give you a reason to kick my ass, I’m sure I will welcome the violence.  Hurting Kara is the absolute last thing I want to do.  I guess that’s why I’m talking to you.  I’m really scared of the path I’ve been on ever since the Daxamites.”

Alex considered for a second, then offered, “It sounds like there’s more going on here than just bringing your mother to justice.  Have you talked to Kara about this?  Or Sam?  It’s cool that you came to me with this, but they know you a lot better than I do.  Hell, the DEO has a therapist if that’s more your speed; you wouldn’t have to worry about jumping through hoops and changing stories to keep Kara’s secret.”

“Kara’s actually suggested that.  And we’ve talked about how I’m feeling.  She gets a lot of it.  More than anyone she’s knows about all my insecurities and trust issues, and I feel like those are still near the heart of all of this.  But it’s such a twisted knot that it’s easier to focus on the surface issue, Lillian.  Like if I just get her, the knot will unravel enough to address everything else.”

Alex didn’t respond but didn’t avert her gaze at all either.  That was somehow comforting, like there was no pressure for Lena to spill her guts any further, but Alex didn’t have anything to add on top of it.  “You’re right about priorities though.  Maybe talking to this DEO therapist might help with that.  Maybe.”  She wasn’t really sure about that, but she felt powerless to escape this black hole that was tugging at her.  She had to try something.

“Alex, thank you.  Truly.  You didn’t have to open up to me about this, hell you didn’t have to come over.  I just … had a sense you might have some idea what I was going through, even though I only feel like I understand maybe half of it.  And … from now on, we’re a team on the ‘finding our parents’ front, okay?  I mean, I guess it’s totally possible that Jeremiah isn’t with my mother anymore, but he probably would’ve contacted you by now, right?”

Alex nodded.  “I won’t pretend to understand everything going through Dad’s mind.  Speaking of priorities, his are definitely twisted.  But I agree, he’s probably still with Cadmus, and if we find one of our parents, we’ll have a good shot at the other.  So yes, we can be a team I guess.”  Alex chuckled.  “I really never thought I’d say that.  Kara brings the oddest people together sometimes.”

“That she does.  Your sister is a strange and incredible person.  And speaking of her, I promised she could sleep over tonight, and I’ve kept you away from your adorable girlfriend and dog for too long now.”

“Are you kicking me out, Luthor?  So you can have sex with my sister?  Is that really how you’re playing this?  I could just start the ass-kicking now.” 

Lena grinned, and before she realized what she was doing, she wrapped Alex in the sort of tight hug she had only ever given Kara, Sam, or Lex.  Alex tensed at first, then reciprocated.  “Seriously Alex.  Thank you.  This meant a lot.”

“Yeah yeah, sure thing kid.”  Lena shot her a skeptical look.  “What?  I’m pretty sure I’m older than you, right?”

“By like a year, maybe.”

“Exactly.  And I’m at least five years older in terms of emotional maturity, so I can call you kid all I want.  I’ll stop as soon as you can beat me in a sparring match.”

“Ugh.  Whatever.  Get out of my apartment Agent Danvers; your work here is done.  Get home safe.”  As the door closed behind Alex, Lena cleaned up the apartment and then texted Kara to get her sexy butt here ASAP.  They could talk in the morning, but for now, Lena was all talked out.  She had something else in mind.

She heard the swoosh of her balcony door opening just as she was getting the ropes and red lamps out.

Chapter Text

Chapter 3

Kara had been working as a reporter for nearly a year now, and she finally felt confident in her work.  If she could pull it off, this series would be the crowning achievement of her young career.  The first anniversary of President Marsdin’s Alien Amnesty Act was fast approaching, and Kara had pitched a series of investigative articles discussing what life was like for aliens living in National City since the passage of the executive order, and the subsequent passage of a similar state law in California.  Snapper had been intrigued with the idea, even if he framed his enthusiasm with a constant string of skeptical jabs about her lack of ability to develop sources not named Luthor or Super.

Even Ms. Grant had gone out of her way to encourage the story, calling Kara into her office to discuss the series and what Kara hoped to accomplish with it.  She was sad to say that as a reporter, she answered mostly to Snapper and had much fewer opportunities to talk to Ms. Grant.  At least about work—she was always available when Kara needed advice, whether personal or Supergirl-related.  But Ms. Grant was intrigued by this story, for some reason.  Kara had no idea why, but she could only assume it meant that she was on the right path, journalistically speaking.  And so, she had set out with maximum zeal.

She would find a way to work in Supergirl if her own perspective made sense to the story, but truthfully, the Act hadn’t really changed much of anything for her.  Her Kara Danvers identity was a good one, and she had no intention of living openly as Supergirl anytime soon.  It would only put her loved ones in danger.  So, her first search for a search brought her to the alien bar.  She guessed she could find several sources there, and as she started getting some personal stories of aliens living in National City, the story angles would develop organically.

She surveyed the bar, looking for familiar faces.  The crowd was pretty sparse, which was unsurprising given that it was only three in the afternoon.  But she did recognize a particular blue face posted up at the bar.  She walked over and took a seat next to him.  “Brian, right?”

He turned to Kara, and his initial scowl shifted immediately into a dopey smile.  “Hey there beautiful, do I know you?  If not, I’d like to.”  Kara did her best to mask her disgust as his eager flirting.  The forehead ridges and pronounced, beak-like nose of his pale blue face may have initially appeared threatening, but his smile broke the effect.  He did have nice teeth, though. 

“Kara Danvers, I’m a reporter with the National City Tribune.  If you’re not too busy, I’d like to talk to you for a bit.  Would you mind talking to me on the record?”  Supergirl and her friends had crossed paths with Brian a few times in the last year or so.  He was sort of a degenerate gambler whose only legitimate talent seemed to be getting into trouble.  Kara doubted how good a source he might be, but at minimum he should have an interesting story and might be able to point her to some other sources.

“Buy me a drink, and I’ll tell ya anything you wanna know, sweetheart.”  Kara signaled to the bartender, J’onn’s friend M’gann.

 “Hey there, Kara!  I didn’t know you and Brian were friends.”  M’gann’s tone was light and playful.

“I’m actually talking to him about a story I’m working on.  Would you mind getting him a glass of whatever he wants, on me?”

“Sure thing, hon.”  Brian eagerly ordered something Kara wasn’t even sure she could pronounce, and she ordered a club soda for herself. 

“So then, Brian, tell me: where are you from?  How did you find your way to National City?”

Brian told her his story, in a painfully slow and rambling fashion, with regular breaks to hit on Kara.  He was an Aloi who came to Earth to avoid some gambling debts.  Once he got here, he went ahead and picked up some new gambling debts.  The one halfway relevant part of his story was that he found himself involved in all these shady dealings because he struggled to find a real job.  As a refugee, even after the Amnesty Act made him a U.S. citizen, he didn’t have any applicable skills to find anything more than a minimum wage job.  And the local In-N-Out apparently wasn’t looking to hire an Aloi, even as a janitor.  Kara truly felt sorry for him, even though he creeped her out.  Fortunately, he seemed to genuinely enjoy sharing his story with her.  Once he had given her the names and contact information for some of his friends who might be willing to share their stories, she thanked him and stood up from her seat.

She checked with M’gann before leaving the bar, but the Martian didn’t want to share her story on the record.  She was really nice about it though, and Kara left her a really good tip.  After all, M’gann was a much, much better bartender than Mon-El had ever been.

                                                  

The story was going great.  Kara still had over week to submit her pieces and have them ready for publication the week of the anniversary, and she had already interviewed over a dozen sources.  What’s more, she still had what she thought would be one of her best sources, a vice president at L-Corp, to interview soon.  Today she was following up on a construction worker who was friends with a few of the contacts Brian had given her.  He was a Valeronian, which sounded familiar to Kara.  She’d had to check with Winn, who reminded her that her first official fight as Supergirl was with a huge butthead of a Valeronian, named Vartox.  Fortunately, Ontor was much nicer that Vartox.

He was kind enough to invite her into his home for the interview, even though she had offered to buy him coffee or even dinner.  She just hoped he would be the final confirmation she needed to make this aspect of her story ironclad.  Several sources had told her that Edge Global Realty, the largest real estate company in the larger National City area, was enforcing a string unofficial policy against hiring aliens.  And it wasn’t just Edge Global, but all of the contractors they worked with regularly—construction companies, furniture manufacturers, electricians, HVAC installers, etc.

He lived in a third-floor studio apartment on the southwest side of town.  He welcomed her in and was nothing but warm.  The place was shabby, but he offered her a seat at the small table between the kitchenette and the living space.

“Mr. … sorry, I guess I don’t know your last name.”

“Ontor is fine, really.”

“Okay then, Ontor.  You work in the construction industry, right?”  Kara didn’t want to prompt him—if Edge really was discriminating against aliens, she was sure Ontor would bring it up himself.  Plus, you never know what interesting avenues an interviewee might take the conversation when you keep your questions vague.

“You could say that.”  Ontor’s voice was gruff and tired, but gentle.  In some ways, he reminded her of J’onn.  “I do a lot of odd jobs, mostly construction-related, but beggars can’t be choosers, you know?” Kara made a sympathetic face, not at all disingenuously.  But she didn’t say anything, hoping he would continue.  And he did, though he sighed first.  “When I first came to this planet, I made my way in a small town a couple of hours south of here.  It was small enough that I could pass off as human, and no one dug too deep into my identity to see that it was fake.  I made a decent life there, and the people there were good, but I was never really happy.  I guess I’m just a big city boy at heart.”

Kara smiled at him, and he smiled in return.  “So, when the president signed that amnesty act or whatever, I thought it was my lucky day.  Finally, I could be a real citizen and get a job under my real name.  Have a bank account.  Actually save some money.  And finally, I could move to the big city.”  The thrill in his voice was obvious, but it was also tinged with pain and disappointment.

“But things didn’t work out quite like you had hoped when you got here, did they?” 

“No ma’am, they did not.”  He sighed again, then stood up.  “I need a drink if I am going to tell this story.  Can I get you anything?”

“Thank you!  I’ll take a glass of water, if you really mean it.”  She made sure to smile—she was here for a story, and she was sure this guy wouldn’t want her pity.  But she did genuinely feel bad for him.  She could already guess where this story would go.

He handed her a glass of water and sat back down across from her.  “So I get to town, and I register.  Get my new identification and everything.  Take in some of the sights.  Find this place, best I could afford at the time.  Told myself it was temporary, until I could find a good construction job.  I figured, guy like me, I should have no problem finding something.  I mean, I’m not Supergirl strong or nothing, but I can lift a hell of a lot more than a human.  And I’m a lot less likely to get hurt on the job.”

Kara could vouch for that.  She remembered how strong Vartox had been, and how difficult to defeat.  “But after the fifth or sixth application that didn’t result in any kind of interview or anything, I started to get suspicious.  So, I ask around a little.  I had a couple of contacts when I moved into town, and I went to a bar where a bunch of construction dudes would get beer sometimes.  That’s when they break it to me.”  He paused, trying to keep from getting too angry.

“There’s this rich asshole, Edge, who basically controls the industry here in the city.  And apparently, he doesn’t like non-humans.  I mean, I guess me being a citizen doesn’t necessarily mean I got a right to work.  I don’t know much about human laws, but I guess that was my mistake.  This dude is apparently stopping any construction companies that do business with his company from hiring any openly alien workers.  And that’s like all the big companies.  I’ve barely been able to get by since then.”

He paused to take a sip of his beer, then went on, voice full of frustration.  “I get odd jobs here and there.  Enough to get by.  Construction gigs with smaller companies that aren’t working with Edge, mostly.  But it’s all at-will stuff, cash business.  Never anything permanent.”

Kara couldn’t pretend not to be devastated by this story any more.  A tear slipped down her cheek, but she quickly looked down and wiped it away.  Hoping he didn’t notice, she tried to keep her best professional reporter face on.  Sympathetic, but not overly so.  She could tell he saw the slip in her façade though.

“You really care don’t you?  I mean… damn that probably sounds rude, huh?  I’ve never really talked to a reporter before, I guess I was expecting someone… well I don’t know, but not you.  You really do have a good heart, don’t ya girl?”

“I hope so, Ontor.  I’m really sorry that the city hasn't been what you had hoped.  What Edge is doing is wrong.  I just wish there were legal protections in place for good guys like you.  I’m sure you’d be great at this construction stuff, and we all know National City could use more people like you.  With all the fights Supergirl gets into with superpowered villains and creatures and what not, I’m sure there’s always a need for construction.”  She set her notebook down, and reached a hand out, placing it on top of his.  “I really hope that this story can help to fix this.  I wanna do what I can.  If I can expose Edge for his bigotry, maybe more people will stand up to him.  I just want you to know that you sharing your story will help, even if only a little.”

“I appreciate that, Ms. Danvers.  I really do.  I’m grateful to be here, to be a citizen.  I really do love this city, but this shit is hard.  And it ain’t just work either.  I got a friend, he was mugged a while back.  The mugger said all kinds of hateful things about him not belonging here—he doesn’t look quite as human as I do—and he really beat him up.  He had a few cracked ribs and a black eye.  The NCPD didn’t do shit about it either.  Apparently the cop who took his report treated him like he was making the whole thing up, kept asking him whether he was in a gang or got into fights.  Then he never heard back from the cops.  They didn’t do anything, couldn’t be bothered with the plight of non-humans.”

“That’s awful, Ontor.  That should never happen.  Look, it’s completely fine if you don’t feel comfortable with it, but do you think your friend might want to talk to me about that experience?  If you want to give me his name and contact information, I can reach out, or if it’s easier, you could just take my card and ask him to reach out?”

“Sure thing, Ms. Danvers.  I’m pretty sure Landock would like to share his story—nice that someone is doing something, even if the cops won’t.  I’ll give him your card and make sure he calls you.  It’s really great that you’re telling our stories.  Pretty young human like you, I’m sure you could write about anything.  Nice to know we’ve got allies out there.”

Kara wished she could be honest with him; Ontor seemed like a genuinely good guy.  She’d check with Lena and see if there was any way she could help him get a steady job somewhere.  In the meantime, his friend Landock might have a good story, and that might open up another avenue of investigation.  If his story checked out, she’d see if Maggie would give a quote about NCPD handling of crimes against aliens.  She’d also clear it with Snapper first, but she wanted to reach out to Edge Realty.  She doubted they would comment—likely the policy was “unofficial” and nobody at the company would be stupid enough to admit to it—but she wouldn’t be doing her due diligence if she didn’t try.

As she got up, she thanked him for talking to her.  She gave him a card, and promised she’d let him know when the article was going to run.  She wished him luck, and then headed out.

                                                  

“Darling, of course, I’ll do whatever I can.  I know that L-Corp works with a number of construction contractors, and I will be sure that we talk to them about their hiring policies.  I have zero interest in working with companies that discriminate.  We’ll be sure to find a place for this Ontor.”  Kara loved Lena so much.  This was exactly the response she knew that she would get.  “Oh!  And I’m so glad that you have enough to expose Edge.  He’s a despicable piece of human garbage.  I’d give you a quote, but I know Snapper won’t run quotes from your girlfriend anymore.”  Ignoring the brief spark of bitterness at the mention of Snapper, Kara responded by jumping on top of Lena and kissing her for a good three minutes.  Then she helped her girlfriend up, smoothed her clothes, and smiled brightly at her.  She loved to lavish unexpected affection on Lena.

“Thanks for the help, creampuff.  I’ll talk to you later!”  She chuckled at Lena’s inability to form words, kissing her goodbye and then sauntering out of the office to go find Sam and her VP of finance.  Sam’s office was on the floor below Lena’s, on the other side of the building.  She said to meet her in the conference room just next to her office.  Kara went down the stairs and across the floor and found the conference room without much trouble.  Kara’s feet halted of their own volition.  The woman waiting for her, sitting across the conference room table from Sam, was stunning.  

Kaziah Dox was relatively human-looking, save for her beautiful seafoam-green skin.  She was short, maybe 5 foot 2 or 5 foot 3, with extremely straight, almost silky, light blonde hair cut in a cropped style just a tiny bit shorter than Alex’s.  Her hair parted far to the right of her head, and she currently had the right side of her hair braided tightly against her scalp.  In contrast, the left side flowed down effortlessly, framing her face and slight but defined jaw in an asymmetrical way that Kara found entrancing.  Her shadowy eye makeup made her brilliant amber-yellow eyes seem almost as though they were lit from behind her irises.  And holy wow, those cheekbones.  Kaziah was well-dressed, in a dark blazer and skinny trousers, with a shimmery gold top.  Her style was somewhere between Sam’s more masculine suits and Lena’s over-the-top feminine dresses.  On her forehead, just above her perfectly sculpted eyebrows, were three white circles in a nearly flat triangular pattern.  They clearly marked her as Coluan, the same species of hyper-intelligent, synthetic-organic hybrid beings as Supergirl’s old nemesis Indigo.  Kaziah’s markings were larger and softer than Indigo’s red circles, almost like flat, shimmering pearls decorating her forehead.  But if Sam vouched for her, Kara felt sure that Kaziah was much less murdery than Indigo.

Realizing she had been standing outside the room for far too long, Kara blushed and walked in.  Both Sam and Kaziah stood to greet her, and Sam introduced the two. 

“Kara Danvers, meet Kaziah Dox.  Kaziah is my star in the finance department and helps out here and there with tech projects throughout L-Corp as well.  She really is the best of us.”

“Oh please, Sam, you flatterer.  I am pleased to meet you, Ms. Danvers.”  Kaziah’s voice was melodic yet flat somehow.  Sonorous, but spoken with so little intonation. 

“Oh please, call me Kara.  It’s a pleasure to meet you also.”  Kara shook her hand enthusiastically, then the three of them sat down, with Kara at the head of the table between the two L-Corp nerds.

“Kaziah, has Sam talked to you about the story I’m looking to write?”

“Indeed she has, Kara Danvers.  You are writing a sort of retrospective on the impact the Alien Amnesty Act has made on the lives of non-human refugees living in National City.  It is my understanding that my own story may be helpful in this endeavor.”

Kara was a little thrown by the stiffness with which Kaziah spoke but responded quickly.  “Yup, exactly!  So, what is your story?  Let’s start with how you came to National City, and then we can talk about whether the amnesty act has led to any changes in your life.”

“Certainly. I came to Earth 82 years ago, fleeing the tyrannical government of my planet Colu.  My clan opposed the rule of the tyrants for a number of reasons, and we elected to leave, though not all together.  Personally, I left because I am a pacifist, and I found the violence on my planet unacceptable.  As you can imagine, I was disappointed to find that Earth was no different.”  Kara understood completely.  She had also found herself disappointed in humanity’s brutality and violence on a number of occasions.  And she hadn’t had to live through World War II.

“I considered leaving Earth and continuing to search for a planet occupied by a people who had grown beyond the influence of their baser evolutionary instincts.  But my ship was damaged.  It took me time to repair it, and during that time I was adopted, more or less, by a village near where my ship touched down.  They showed me the inherent proclivity towards kindness that is so emblematic of many of your species, and that was enough to convince me to stay.  I found my way to the Himalayas and lived among the monks there for the majority of the 20th century.  Then everything changed for me when humanity finally began developing computers.”

Kara was enjoying the story but felt the need to move it along a bit.  “Wow, that sounds incredible, Kaziah.  I actually have a, uhhh, friend who spent some time in the Himalayas herself.  She had nothing but good things to say about their yurts!  But, jumping ahead a bit, when did you move to National City?”

“Ah yes, I suppose I may have strayed from the path a bit there.  I moved to National City quite recently, in fact.  Two months and seventeen days ago, to be exact.”

“So you came around the same time as Sam, right?  Were you working for Sam back in Metropolis before that?”

“Why yes, I was.  Samantha has been my closest friend in recent years and working with her has been a true privilege.  However, I have only been employed by this company for approximately a year.  Prior to Lena Luthor taking over LuthorCorp, I am quite certain my presence would not have been welcome.  Unlike Ms. Luthor, her brother’s hatred for non-humans was quite pronounced.”  Kara had expected some anger from Kaziah when she spoke about Lex’s bigotry, but her tone never changed.  If she was angry, she didn’t show it.  Kara thought she was quite odd, but in a cute way?

“Yes, Lena is a definite improvement over Lex.  So what were you doing before Sam hired you?” 

“I worked at my own financial consulting firm.  You see, there are few things I enjoy more than numbers and calculations.  I’ve been told that this is considered highly unusual in American society, but I am who I am.  I’ve tried my hands at theoretical physics and various engineering endeavors, but ultimately, I find the most pleasure just crunching simple numbers.  Or, what I consider to be simple anyway.  I’m told that handling the finances of major companies in the United States is actually quite complicated for most humans.  Which is bizarre, to be frank, but I am aware of the intellectual shortcomings of the human brain.”  Kaziah paused, as if realizing that she had committed a faux pas.

“I apologize; that probably sounds arrogant or condescending.  That was not my intention.  I admire humans quite a lot.  I was simply stating a fact.  I do not fault humans for being less intelligent than Coluans.  My people have a higher intellect than most known species in the universe.”  Again, her tone did not change, but Kara could tell from her facial expressions and body language (which were still more muted than she would expect) that Kaziah was legitimately concerned that she had caused offense.

“Kaziah, it’s no problem.  I understand what you meant, and I didn’t take any offense.  You were telling me about how big a math nerd you were—you had your own company?”  Kara caught Sam grinning at them, out of the corner of her eye.

“Ah yes, thank you, Kara Danvers.  Yes, I had my own company for several decades.  I was, of course, not the public face of the company.  I formed it with several humans I had grown to trust.  I performed most of the work, while they interacted with the clients.  It was approximately five years ago that we began consulting on a project-by-project basis with Samantha’s finance department at LuthorCorp.  My coworkers spoke highly of Samantha, and so I investigated her.  Suspecting that she would accept me, and that we would get along very well, I sought her out on a dating app.”

Kara’s eyes went wide, and she glanced back and forth between Sam and Kaziah.  Sam laughed at her shock, but Kaziah’s face remained neutral, save for the slightest of grins.  “You asked Sam out on a date?!”  Kara couldn’t even try to maintain her professionalism after that revelation.

“Easy there, Kara.  Yes, we went on a date, but no, we didn’t have any kind of romantic relationship.  I can tell you all about it another time, but that’s not important for your story.  The point that Kaziah would have gotten to eventually—” Sam made a face at Kaziah, and Kara thought she could see a smile in Kaziah’s golden eyes, even though there was not one across her lips.  “—was that we became friends, and I made every effort to work with her company as often as possible.  Once Lena was in charge of LuthorCorp and promoted me to CFO, my first act was to call Kaziah and see if she wanted to come work with me.  Fortunately for me, she trusted my faith in Lena and her new direction for the company and agreed to become my vice president.  And since the Alien Amnesty Act passed, she has been able to live openly as herself for the first time since she left the monks.  And you deserve every good thing life throws at you, Ziah.”  The affection that Sam held for Kaziah couldn’t have been more obvious, and Kara made a mental note to pump Sam for information later.

“That is correct.  I greatly admire President Marsdin and those like her who have devoted themselves to building an inclusive society.  My life has improved tremendously since the Act, and its corresponding statute in California, have passed.  Moreover, I am proud to work for a company like L-Corp.  Under Ms. Luthor’s leadership, we have been a passionate advocate for alien rights, and L-Corp employs more non-humans than any other company in the United States.  Ms. Luthor and Samantha are true allies.”  Kara was still weirded out by the dual nature of Kaziah’s voice, so lovely sounding but so monotonous.  She knew that she could not hear the sentiment in her words, but Kara believed she could actually feel it.

“I’m pretty proud to call them my friends, too,” Kara responded and smiled broadly at the Coluan.  Nothing at all like Indigo.  I hope I get an opportunity to know her better.  Kara had the quotes she needed but found herself hesitating to bring the meeting to a close.  Sam was so very cute in how she gushed over Kaziah.  Kara couldn’t stop staring at her friend’s bright smile and the way her body lit up.  Sam was so expressive with her emotions, and it was one of Kara’s favourite things about her.

But she had a story to write, and she still needed to interview Maggie before she could get moving on the series.  “Well, Kaziah, I’m so very happy I got to meet you.  I would love a chance to chat again, off the record—your story sounds incredible.”  Kara found herself wishing that Sam knew about Supergirl; assuming she and Kaziah eventually proved themselves trustworthy, she was sure that the conversational possibilities would open up even further once the Coluan understood that she was Kryptonian.  Heck, if she spent too much time with Kaziah, she would probably figure it out on her own—Coluan advanced intellect and what not.  Oh well.

“I believe I would very much enjoy that, Kara Danvers.  I assume that you are indicating our conversation is coming to a close?”

“Seriously, it’s just Kara.  And yes, I think I have enough for my story.  But it really has been a pleasure.”  They shook hands again, and Kaziah left the room.  Sam stuck behind to chat.  “Okay, you’re going to have to tell me so much more about her, and soon.  What’s with the whole emotionless thing?”

“That’s a story for later, Kara; I’m sure we should both get back to work soon.  But don’t think I didn’t notice how captivated you were by her.  Ziah’s gorgeous, huh?”  Sam’s voice was teasing, and Kara knew she should try to pretend, but she found herself agreeing without meaning to.

“I mean holy wow she’s … well, she’s stunning.  Sam, I was literally stunned when I first saw her.”  Sam laughed raucously, and Kara might’ve blushed if she wasn’t so focused on how much she liked Sam’s laugh.  “Yeah, I get it.  Lena has the hots for her, too, but she’ll never admit it.”  Kara felt her face drop a bit, but immediately caught herself and smiled again.  Jealousy was still a new experience for her, but it wasn’t like she could be upset at Lena for appreciating Kaziah’s beauty.  She wasn’t that big a hypocrite.

Sam was laughing at her again, clearly sensing the inner turmoil.  “Shut up, Kara’s brain.  You and Lena are fine—there’s nothing wrong with admiring the beauty of other people, even if you two are monogamous.”  If?  “Hey, if you’re not busy tonight, let’s grab drinks, just you and me.  I can fill you in on the rest of Kaziah’s story, and you can tell me how your reporting is going.”

“You don’t have to get home to Ruby?”  Kara knew immediately that she would take Sam up on the offer but didn’t want to seem too eager.

“Nah, she’s studying at a friend’s house until later.  I’ll have a couple of hours to kill after work before I need to go pick her up.  Come on!  You know you want to.”  Sam’s sing-song delivery was delightful.  Kara was helpless.

“Yes!  I mean, yeah, okay, cool.  I’ll text you when I’m done with work, and we’ll take it from there?”

“You’re damn right, we will.  I’ll even talk to my boss about maybe letting me step out a bit early—I’m sure if I explain that I’m grabbing drinks with a gorgeous blonde, she’ll understand.”  Gorgeous?!  Kara felt like her brain had completely shut down, and she pushed her glasses back up her nose and giggled nervously.  “Easy there, Danvers.  Anyone ever tell you that you’re like the easiest person in the world to fluster?”

“Hey!  That’s not fair; I’m not that bad.”  Sam’s skeptical look said otherwise, and Kara conceded defeat.  She just wanted out of the situation so she could find her bearings again. 

Sam grinned, but took pity on her.  She wrapped Kara up in a warm hug, telling her that she’d see her soon before letting go.  Then she turned and ambled out of the conference room without looking back.

Rao, I know far too many amazing women.  How did I get so lucky?

Chapter Text

Chapter 4

“Kara, seriously, you’ve never been here?!”  Sam was baffled.  She was new to the city, a busy CFO, and a single mom, and she had already found her way to the Con at least half a dozen times.  Then here was Kara—a stunning bisexual who was not only dating National City’s most powerful lesbian, but whose sister was also gay—who had never even heard of the city’s lesbian bar.

She and Kara were leaned up against the bar, facing towards the dance floor.  Sam had slammed her drink down on the bar and turned to face Kara in shock when the blonde confessed that this was the first time she had been to The Con.  Kara was now blushing under Sam’s incredulous gaze, and Sam softened just slightly.  Ugh, I have such a weakness for soft girls.

“Lena, Alex, and Maggie have failed you, Blondie.  You are so lucky that I’m here now.” 

Kara perked up at that.  “That’s definitely true!  But please no more ribbing me about not knowing about the bar.  Yes, I get it I’m a bad bi.  But I just … I don’t really go out a lot!  If we go out, we usually go to the alien bar, but more often we just hang out at my place or Alex and Maggie’s.”

Sam sighed dramatically before giving Kara the side eye.  “Excuses, excuses.  But fine, I’ll drop it.  We’re coming here more often from now on, though.  I love it here.  Now let’s go grab a booth so we can chat.”

She walked off, leaving Kara to follow her to the booth she selected, towards the corner of the bar, on the other side of the dance floor.  She stopped and gestured for Kara to enter the booth first.  Sam prided herself on being a gentleman.  Then, on a spur of the moment whim, she sidled in next to Kara rather than sitting across from her.  The priceless look on Kara’s face was instantly worth any possible awkwardness. 

“So, did you just not really date before you met Lena, or what?”  She knew that Kara was dying to ask more about Kaziah, but now Sam was curious. 

“I mean, no, not really?”  Sam could feel her eyes go wide.  If Kara and Lena weren’t so adorably in love, Sam would’ve already made a move on the quirky blonde.  How was it that she didn’t have suitors asking her out left and right?  Or maybe they were asking but she wasn’t interested?  If she was waiting for the perfect Lena Luthor to come around, Sam couldn’t exactly blame her.

Clearly Sam’s shocked face prompted Kara to explain further.  “I mean I went on a couple of dates every now and then.  James and I even almost kind of started dating, right before I met Lena.  I just … I don’t know, Sam, it just wasn’t something that really grabbed my attention?  My closest relationship has always been with Alex, and I just never really vibed with anyone like I do with her, at least no one that I might feel romantic about or anything.  Ugh now I’m rambling again.  Sorry I always do this—”

“Oh please, Kara, like you don’t know how damn cute your whole flustered babbling thing is.”  Kara blushed again, and Sam hoped she wasn’t laying it on too thick.  Or rather, she was absolutely trying to lay it on thick, but she hoped Kara didn’t misinterpret her intentions.  “So… you just weren’t really interested in dating?”

“Yeah, no… I guess not.  I mean, I had crushes!  But after the initial, like, awkward getting to know a person thing, my interest always waned, and that’s not fair to people.  I found joy in other things, other sorts of relationships, and for … reasons … I couldn’t find the same joy in dating.  Until Lena.”  Reasons, huh?

“I guess I understand that.  I don’t exactly date a lot myself.  Or … I mean, I guess I do date a lot, but I don’t really do relationships.”  Sam hadn’t meant to reveal that, but it had just sort of come out.

“Why is that, if you don’t mind me asking?  You’re such an incredible person—I know we haven’t known each other long, but I can already see that you’re a wonderful and supportive friend.  And mom!  Oh… is that why?  Cuz of Ruby?”  If Sam didn’t know any better, she’d have thought Kara was fishing for something.  But she did know better.

“Ruby is part of it, sure.  My heart belongs to her first and foremost, and between her and work, I don’t think I really have the bandwidth to commit myself to that sort of a partnership.  I have all the love and support I need from friends like you and Lena, so the only thing really missing is sex.  So, I date, and as long as I’m upfront about what I’m looking for, that usually works out great.”  She winked at Kara, never passing on an opportunity to fluster her.

“Well as long as you’re happy.”  Kara chewed on her lip, unsubtly weighing whether to ask something.  “Still … I mean it’s clear that you have some history, though. Like with—” Lena?  Sam hoped she wasn’t about to ask, “Kaziah?” Oh good.  They’d talk more about Sam’s history with Lena eventually, but she was definitely not ready yet.

“Caught onto that, did you?”  Kara grinned, apparently proud that her journalistic instincts had steered her correctly.  Sam resisted the urge to roll her eyes and instead smiled back.  “That’s a complicated back story.  Ziah’s a complicated woman.  I guess maybe I am, too, if I’m being honest.  But no, I was being honest when I told you that she and I never had any kind of serious romantic relationship.”

“So what was it then?  Was she just … like a sex buddy?”  Sam could tell Kara was resisting the urge to giggle a little.  It was delightful how innocent Kara seemed sometimes, even though Sam was sure she and Lena got up to plenty of racy activities in private. 

“Something like that.  Kaziah doesn’t really form romantic attachments.  In fact, she doesn’t exactly experience emotions the way you or I do.  You’ve seen Person of Interest, right?”

Kara’s face broke into a smile, and she butted in, “Oh!  She’s like Shaw, isn’t she?  I could tell something was unique about her, well several things seem unique about her, but the intonation of her voice was just so … steady?  But not in like a bad way!”  Kara grabbed and squeezed Sam’s had, not wanting her to think she was insulting Kaziah.

Sam squeezed back.  “It’s okay, Kara.  It was very obvious you didn’t exactly find Ziah off-putting.”  She smirked at the pink that rose to Kara’s cheeks, and noted with intrigued curiosity that Kara didn’t move her hand off of her own.  “But yes, Shaw is the easiest analog I can suggest for Kaziah’s personality.  Much less violent and murdery, though.  I think Ziah experiences emotions, they’re just dulled and well … expressed differently.  She definitely experiences affection, curiosity, empathy, and interest.  She just doesn’t wear her emotions on her sleeve, and she doesn’t really emote the way humans do.  I thought it was because she’s like an organic supercomputer or whatever, but she insists that not all of her people experience emotion the way she does.” 

A flash of something like recognition danced across Kara’s eyes, but she didn’t say anything.  This wasn’t the first time Kara gave off an “I have secrets” vibes, but Sam never pushed her on it.  The mystery just added to Kara’s appeal, and Sam was dead set on getting to know her better, to earn her trust. 

“The thing is, Ziah’s also aromantic.  She doesn’t do romance.  Isn’t interested in forming those sorts of connections.  Fortunately for me—and others, I assume—the girl is definitely not asexual.”  Sam couldn’t keep the desire out of her voice.  “She’s easily the best lay I’ve ever had.”  Kara blushed again, and glanced quickly at Sam, eyes half-lidded.  Then she got awkward and withdrew her hand, which Sam would guess she had forgotten she had left resting on Sam’s.  Interesting.  Sam filed the reaction away for later pondering.

She waited for Kara to collect herself and respond, curious how the younger woman would try to play off the sudden awkwardness.  Kara kept her gaze firmly in her lap, where she fidgeted with her hands for a good ten seconds.  Then she asked, tentatively, “So, is that like a regular thing?”

“What, me and Ziah fucking?”  Sam couldn’t resist poking Kara a little, and the blonde peeked back up with wide eyes.  “Oh please Kara, I know you and Lena get up to all sorts of fun, how is it that you still get so adorable and nervous when I talk about sex?”

“Pssh!  No I don’t!  Sex is great!  I love sex!  I’m sure you are great at sex… I mean, oh Rao-er god, I … I didn’t mean, I’m not.  I mean I’m sure you’re really good at sex and Kaziah too, but I didn’t mean to be all … gosh, I’m so awkward, I can’t even pretend.  Please don’t make fun of me.”

Sam laughed out loud, not even trying to hold it in.  “Oh yeah, Kara, you’re way cool when it comes to talking about sex.”

“Sorry!  I promise I’m very sex positive, I just.  I guess I’m still getting used to being around people who talk about it openly.  The Danvers never really talked about sex stuff around me and Alex, and Alex was in the closet for so long, I guess she sort of buried the topic deep in her mind.  You and Maggie—and Lucy sometimes—are the first people I’ve hung out with you are so open about it.  Which is great!!  Really, it is.  I’m just getting used to it.”

Sam just looked at her, smiling warmly.  Kara was such an enigma, one that Sam was so curious to puzzle out.  Kara returned her gaze, growing more confident and less nervous.  “I’m not embarrassed of sex—Lena and I have the most incredible sex, really.  Not that I have a ton of experience to compare it to.  Ugh.  I just … don’t want you to think I’m judging you, or that I’m some sort of stick in the mud.”

“Oh don’t worry about that, Blondie.  I’m well aware that you are far from dull.”  Sam finished off her drink, looking down as she casually dropped, “But I’d be lying if I didn’t say the thought of you covered in mud wasn’t enticing as hell.”

“What?! I …”  Kara chuckled almost maniacally, clearly thrown off by Sam’s brashness.  “Sam!!  You can’t just… does Lena know that you’re such an obvious flirt?  I mean… you’re worse than Maggie.” 

Realizing she might have pushed it just a little too far, Sam was quick to reassure Kara.  “Oh believe me, Lena is well aware.  And I promise, I wouldn’t flirt with you so openly if I wasn’t sure Lena was fine with it.  She’s my best friend—I would never, ever do anything to hurt her.”  She reached out her hand slowly, waiting to see if Kara would pull back.  She didn’t, and Sam’s hand rested soothingly on her knee.  “Or you, for that matter.  If I make you feel uncomfortable, I can definitely tone it down.”  She hoped she wouldn’t have to—Kara was so fucking cute, and flirting with her was one of Sam’s favourite pastimes.

“No!” Kara blushed again, clearly not meaning to have responded so emphatically.  “I just mean, no, it’s fine.  I like it; it’s fun.  I’m just not used to it, and I also would never want to hurt Lena.  Just another thing I’m still getting used to, I guess.”

“I get it.  And I’m glad I don’t have to stop.  But if you’re worried about it, you should talk to Lena.  Communication is the absolute most important thing in a relationship, especially a loving committed one like you’ve got with Lena.  You shouldn’t just take my word for it.”  Kara nodded, and Sam hoped she would take the advice.

“Now, let’s get another drink.”  Sam grabbed Kara’s hand and pulled her back towards the bar.

                                                  

Kara was glad she couldn’t get drunk off of human booze.  She could only imagine the kind of hangover Sam must have this morning.  Lena had called to see how their date was going (she had playfully insisted on calling it a date, presumably just to mess with Kara), and Sam took the phone.  After explaining how delightful Lena’s girlfriend was, she had indicated that she had to go pick up Ruby, so they were calling it a night.  Lena had immediately insisted that she could take care of Ruby, and they should stay out as late as they wanted.

Kara had protested, but Lena and Sam ignored her.  They ended up staying out till nearly midnight, and Kara had had to drive Sam home.  Lena was waiting, having already put Ruby to bed, and Kara passed out in Lena’s car on the way home.  She didn’t even know which home until she woke up the next morning in her own bed.

And so, she found herself getting a later start to her day that usual.  Fortunately, her first appointment wasn’t until 10, when she was grabbing coffee with Maggie so that Kara could interview her about the NCPD’s handling of crimes against aliens.  As she walked in, she saw that Maggie had beaten her there and ordered her what she hoped was a white chocolate mocha.  “Good morning, L’il Danvers!”  She hugged Kara warmly, and both sat down.  “I hear you had quite the night with Lena’s overly attractive bestie.”

Ignoring the quip, Kara responded pleasantly.  “Rao, Maggie, it’s a good thing I can’t get drunk at a normal bar.  Or not exactly normal—how come you never told me about the lesbian bar?  No, you know what, I’ll bug you about that later.  The point is, Sam can drink.  I’m not entirely sure that she couldn’t drink Alex under a table.”

“Oh please, no one can outdrink my girl.”  Maggie’s pride in Alex’s drinking skills was really cute, actually.

“I don’t know, Maggie, you weren’t there.  But yeah, it was a later night than I’m used to, save for the occasional Supergirl mission.  How was your night?”

“I had a late shift, then helped Alex and Vasquez apprehend a rogue alien.  And no, don’t worry, we didn’t need your help.  But hey, that’s enough with the pleasantries—you’re here to talk to me about how the NCPD is mistreating aliens.”  She said it flippantly, but Kara could feel the rough edge in Maggie’s voice that said she wasn’t entirely joking.

“Maggie come on now—I know I was uh overly passionate early in my career—”

“Early?  In your lengthy eleven month career as a reporter?” 

Kara glared at her, then continued.  “Yes fine, whatever.  But I have a better idea of what I’m doing now, and I’m not looking to just rip the NCPD to shreds.  You know me better than that.  I work side by side—well I mean not literally, but still—with you and your fellow officers all the time.  But I have multiple sources now who are claiming various forms of discrimination or at least lack of due diligence and care by the NCPD on alien-related issues.  I need the NCPD’s side of this, and I trust you to be honest with me.”

Maggie sloshed around her coffee in its cup, then sighed and set it down.  Looking back up at Kara, she said, “I know, Kara.  Sorry for being defensive.  Shit is hard enough for the police in this town, and the last thing we need is being vilified in the press for being anti-alien.”  Kara gave her a look, and Maggie threw up her hands.  “Fine!  Yes, I know.  I’m with you—I’ve been the one standing up for aliens all along, just ask Alex about the first time I took her to the bar.”

Kara hadn’t heard this story and was almost curious enough to be distracted from her purpose.  But then she pulled out her recorder and notepad, and asked, “Okay then, as long as we’re on the same page here, what can you tell me about these allegations?”

Maggie was still pretty defensive at first, and it wasn’t until she and Kara came to an agreement that Maggie’s identity would be kept anonymous that she really opened up.  Snapper hadn’t technically given Kara that authority, but she hoped he wouldn’t scold her too much for it. 

Maggie admitted that there were several stations where rumours of discrimination were poorly kept secrets.  It was a minority opinion, but there were more than a few cops whose sympathies lay with Cadmus, especially after the widespread destruction caused by the Daxamites.  The invaders had targeted the police specifically, and almost everyone had a friend who was injured or killed by the Daxamites.  Good cops understood that not all aliens were like the Daxamites, but even some of the ones who weren’t openly anti-alien couldn’t help but be affected by the experience.

She wasn’t surprised that an officer had treated the alien who was mugged as if he was making the whole thing up.  It did really piss her off, though.  Maggie didn’t have a ton of power as a detective, but she and others did what they could to try and encourage greater transparency and less biased policing.  Personally, she couldn’t believe the rampant hypocrisy from some of her peers.  She knew at least three cops personally who were huge Supergirl fans but nevertheless treated the poorer or less human-looking aliens of National City like second-class citizens.

Off the record, Maggie told her that she was really happy Kara had enough to cover this side of things.  The NCPD could never get better if there wasn’t enough pressure to stop with the discrimination.  Kara knew how difficult this was for her—Maggie was a police officer through and through, and it wasn’t easy admitting that something you believe in so strongly has major flaws that need to be addressed.  

They had finished the interview and walked outside, towards the lot where Maggie’s car was parked.  Kara placed a hand gently on Maggie’s arm to stop her, and she turned to face her.  “Hey, I really appreciate you going on the record here.  I didn’t realize that there were already steps being taken within NCPD to address some of these allegations.  I think I can really tell a story here that is going to help your goal of improving the department without disparaging them.  My story will be so much better thanks to you.”

She hugged Maggie, and when the detective pulled back she was smiling.  “I get it.  And you’re welcome.  Sorry I was kind of a shit about it at first.  It’s just hard.  But you’re right: things have to change.  Life is hard enough for these refugees without the NCPD making it harder.  And I’m proud of you, L’il Danvers.  Supergirl does a lot of good for this city, but so does Kara Danvers.”

Kara nearly teared up but instead hugged Maggie again.  “Ouch ouch ouch, too much love, L’il Danvers!”  Kara released her immediately and apologized profusely.  Maggie was so awesome; Kara couldn’t believe she had ever disliked her.

“Seriously, Maggie, thank you.  This is the last part I needed, and I’m sure this series is going to be a huge deal.  Do a lot of good.  It means a lot to me that you’re proud.  I gotta head out now, but I’ll check in on Gerty this afternoon, okay?”

Maggie gave her a joking salute, then turned back to her Kara.  Grinning, Kara walked off in the other direction.  CatCo was only a few blocks over, and it was a beautiful day.

                                                  

“Look, Ponytail, I’m not gonna bullshit you.  Anti-alien violence and alleged NCPD discrimination, coming out of the shadows, assimilation—these are all good pieces.  I can run them.  But the workplace discrimination piece ain’t cutting it.  You basically spent the whole piece praising L-Corp and vilifying Edge Global, and I can’t run that.  Especially not when it’s written by the girlfriend of L-Corp’s CEO.”

“What?!”  Kara knew she was going to have to fight for it, but the workplace discrimination piece was the one she felt most passionately.  She refused to let Snapper dismiss it out of hand.  “I have eight different sources.  None of them are Lena.  I knew what I was doing.  This is a story.  It’s an important story.  Aliens in this city are living in poverty because Edge has a stranglehold on the construction and real estate industries and are blatantly refusing to hire aliens.  We have to tell this story.”

“You could have a hundred sources, and it would still look like bias!”  Snapper’s stupid growly voice and stupid scowly face were intimidating when she had first started, but Kara had learned recently that he could be worn down.  Fortunately, she didn’t have to, not this time.

“Bias?  I didn’t realize that facts could be biased.  When did this happen, and why did no one tell me?”  Snapper was facing Kara, and as a result, his back was to the door.  So, he had been oblivious to Ms. Grant slipping into his office.  He turned, scowl deepening.

“Oh great.  Because of course you had to come stick up for your golden girl.”

“Orrr I own the building and the paper, and I can do whatever the hell I want, Lucas.  Like, take a stroll through the offices of the newspaper I own.  Like, order you to run a well-written, excellently sourced piece that is going to be a huge success for my paper and a vital story for my city.  You’re a smart man, surely you didn’t forget that?” 

Kara made sure she didn’t grin openly, but she loved when Ms. Grant did this.  Would she have rather won Snapper over herself, without Ms. Grant stepping in?  Sure.  But seeing the overly serious Snapper get sarcastically cut down to size by the Queen of All Media was one of Kara’s favourite things in the whole world.

It was also a rare occurrence.  Kara could tell that Ms. Grant trusted and valued Snapper, despite his abrasive demeanor, because she mostly tried to give him autonomy to run the Tribune how he saw fit.  Having worked for him for a year now, Kara understood what a gift Ms. Grant had given her by bringing Snapper in as her boss.  She kind of hated the man, but she had learned so much from him.  

But he was wrong here, and both she and Ms. Grant knew it.  They both also knew he wouldn’t give in without a fight.  “You may own the building.  You may own the paper, even.  But I’ve got the final say on editorial decisions.  We’re making progress on building the reputation of this paper, but even Cat Grant must know how it will look if a former tabloid runs a fluff piece glorifying L-Corp for pro-alien policies written by the CEO’s girlfriend.”

“Oh yes, god forbid our reporter with the best access to L-Corp and its employees do some digging and find a great story.  I read the piece pretty thoroughly, but I must have missed the part where Ms. Danvers interviewed Ms. Luthor personally and then opined at length about the beautiful and glorious work being personally done by Ms. Luthor herself.  Did you get a different copy than I did?  Because the one I read was well-sourced and based on facts, comparing hiring policies by two of National City’s biggest companies.”

“Whether or not Lena Luthor was personally involved in the piece is irrelevant!  Danvers is clearly painting a pro-Luthor, anti-Edge—”

The facts paint a pro-Luthor, anti-Edge story.  Ms. Danvers was simply doing her job.”

“You know, Ms. Danvers is actually still here.”  Snapper glared at her, and Ms. Grant rolled her eyes sarcastically.

“Yes, Kara, we were aware.  I can smell the tacky perfume from here.”

Kara frowned, but pressed her point.  “My point is that I can defend my own work.”  She turned to look at Snapper.  “Which is good work.  National City has been through a lot the past year, and the Alien Amnesty Act has had a huge effect on so many of its residents.  This series could make their lives better.  It could push entities like the NCPD and companies like Edge Global to do better in the future.  It sheds a light on people who are only just recently being allowed to come out of the shadows.  This is the best thing I’ve ever written.  I believe in it.  Ms. Grant clearly does too.  So, stop being your normal stubborn self and do the best thing for your paper.”

Kara did her best not to cringe—she knew she had probably overstepped and that Snapper was about to rage at her.  Except that he didn’t.  There was no break in his grumpy demeanor, but Kara thought she could see the struggle leave his body.  Ms. Grant subtly winked in her direction.  Then he spoke up.

“Fine.  The series will run Monday through Thursday, and we’ll run the work discrimination piece last.  Hopefully the first three will build up enough goodwill that the last one doesn’t ruin us.”  Kara could hear the resignation in his voice, but she wasn’t one to gloat.  Ms Grant was though.

“Ah well, I knew you’d see reason eventually.  I did hire you for a reason, and it certainly wasn’t your cheery attitude.  You know how to run a newspaper, even if you need a little push every now and again.”  She stood from where she was leaned against the wall.  “Now.  I have a media empire to run.  Good work, you two.”

Chapter Text

Chapter 5

It was odd how normal it felt to have people over to her penthouse.  Everything seemed normal.  The lights of the city gleamed through the darkness outside her massive windows, as usual.  Music was playing softly throughout the apartment even though the local news was playing (even more softly) on the TV in the living room.  Lena had a glass of excellent scotch in her hand.  Her eyes lit up as they always did when they drifted across the beautiful minimalist painting Kara had created for her.  It drew inspiration from a double date they had gone on with Alex and Maggie, when Alex had first dyed her hair purple and Lena and Maggie had gotten tattoos.  Silhouettes of the four of them stood in differing poses in front of the backdrop of a gorgeous sunset, each framed by their own distinctive colour.

What was unusual, historically, is that all four of them were now occupying Lena’s penthouse together.  Sounds of laughing and conversation filled the space.  Lena and Kara were leaned against the bar.  Maggie and Alex were sitting at the dining table, but their chairs were turned facing Lena and Kara.  Lena had her arm around Kara’s waist and pulled her close for a soft kiss before turning back to the room.

“My girlfriend the ace reporter, everyone!”  Lena gave the joking toast, raising her glass of scotch.  Kara’s Alien Amnesty Act series had been a wild success, giving the National City Tribune its best sales and biggest subscription bump since the CatCo purchase.  Better still, Snapper Carr had been forced to admit that Kara was perfectly capable of reporting on L-Corp without any bias hurting the final product.  Lena was quite proud.

“You’ll be coming for Lois Lane’s Pulitzer any day now, L’il Danvers.”

Alex elbowed her girlfriend.  “You better not let Lois hear you say that.  She’s pretty damn competitive.”  Lena was vaguely aware of Lois Lane, having lived in Metropolis all those years, but she hadn’t actually met the renowned journalist (and wife of Superman).  But from the actual look of anxiety on Kara’s face, Lena had to assume Alex was not exaggerating. 

“Yes well, Pulitzer or no, I’m just glad you exposed that bastard Morgan Edge and his gross anti-alien worldview for the entire city to see.  I just wish I could have been there to see the look on his face when that final article dropped.”  Edge was an arrogant, creepy misogynist, but Lena hadn’t realized that he was also a Lillian Luthor-level bigot on top of that.  Not until Kara’s investigation.  She wouldn’t be shocked at all to discover that some portion of his considerable wealth might be going to fund Cadmus, but she hadn’t had time yet to really dig in on that angle in her continuing search for her mother.

“Sounds like you really hate the guy, L’il Luthor.  There a history there?”  Maggie’s detective instincts were usually sound, but were a bit misplaced here.  There was no history, per se, just Lena’s hatred for her mother spilling out to others like her.

“No, not really.  I’ve run into him on a number of occasions, and our companies have done business.  He’s a massive piece of shit, but he knows what he is doing with his business empire.  I had invested in a number of his companies and ventures prior to Kara’s investigation, but I’ve since moved those funds around to more worthwhile investments.  Mostly I just can’t stand the amount of oppression and terror that continues to be propagated by these powerful, small-minded fucks like him and …”  Lena’s words trailed off, but Alex finished the sentence for her.

“And your mom.  It’s okay, Lena.”  She smiled at Alex in thanks, but found it odd that Kara hadn’t taken part in the conversation.  She turned to her girlfriend and immediately noticed the crease in her forehead—a sure sign of frustration.  Kara’s head was turned slightly away from the other women, towards the living room. 

Her eyes flashed in concern, and she said softly, “Lena, I think you should turn up the TV.”  The four of them heeded Kara’s suggestion and walked briskly over to the living room area, where Lena turned up the volume.

“Speak of the devil,” Maggie scoffed.  Edge was on the screen, speaking live from the Luthor Children’s Hospital.  Lena’s body stiffened.

“What is that scumbag doing in my hospital?”  They listened as he was talking about Lena’s lead dispersal device that had scared off the Daxamites, ending the invasion.  She bristled as he called it a ‘bomb.’  All her old doubts and guilt began swirling again in the back of her mind.  Edge explained that there was an outbreak of lead poisoning that was affecting children all over the city.

Kara’s hand wrapped her own up tightly.  They stood in silence as Edge squatted down next to a sick boy in a wheelchair and leveled his accusation.  Lena was furious—he had chosen his location strategically, and now he was blaming her for poisoning those kids from the hospital to which she had given so much time, energy, and donations.  

Lena let go of Kara’s hand as she began walking towards the door.  “I’ve gotta get down there.”  Kara stopped her.

“Hey, I’ll fly you there.  We’ll get there faster, maybe you can confront him.”  Kara’s voice said that she didn’t approve of such a confrontation, but her girlfriend knew her well enough to know that the best thing she could do right now was support her.

“Fine, love.  Thank you.”  She turned back to Maggie and Alex as Kara super sped into her Supergirl uniform.  “My home is yours, stick around as long as you like.”  Then they were off.

The flight was short, and they landed in a nearby alley were Kara could change back to her civilian clothes.  Lena could see the press dispersing, but fortunately they didn’t notice her as she and Kara slipped in through the front doors of the hospital.  They headed towards the intensive care wing where the children were being treated.  As they neared, Lena caught sight of a familiar face.  Kara noticed her, too.

“Sam?” Kara asked.

Lena followed up with, “What are you doing here?”

Sam turned as they walked over to her, her arms crossed and an expression of pure worry darkening her soft features.  Her voice was weak and heavy with concern.  “Hey.  Ruby had a friend over to our place tonight, Luke, and he collapsed maybe an hour or two ago.  I rode along with the paramedics.  His mom just got here.”

Lena reached out to support her friend, placing a hand on Sam’s elbow.  A thought flashed through her mind before she could stop it.  Did I do this?  Then Sam continued.

“And I just saw Edge’s stunt, too.  This whole thing is awful.”  She looked straight at Lena, and her body language said everything.  Sam didn’t think Lena should be there.  Sam knew she was there looking for a fight and did not approve of any such confrontation right now.  Sam also knew, like Kara, that she had no shot of deterring Lena.  “Lee.  Fuck this guy; we all know that this wasn’t you.”

But Lena’s focus was on a different voice, just down the hall.  Edge.  Suddenly she was stalking past Sam, her whole body now animated by her anger.  “Where the hell do you get off?!”  She stopped right in front of him, but he ignored her, handing a thick stack of papers to the nurse beside him.  As the nurse walked off, Lena struck her most intimidating pose, standing straight at her full height and crossing her arms.  She could tell that Sam and Kara had caught up and were now standing behind her.

“That was me, paying the end of the medical expenses at your hospital.”  His facial expression and stance reeked of self-satisfaction and gloating.  Lena resisted the urge to punch him in his smug face.

“So this is what your revenge looks like?”  Lena was trying her hardest to avoid the possibility that while Edge was clearly using this to his advantage, the lead poisoning might still, in fact, be her fault.  Instead she focused on the likelihood that this was all a stunt, as Sam had suggested, aimed at retaliating against Lena and Kara for the National City Tribune piece.

“Have you ever heard of the colonial effect, Lena?”

“If you’re talking about British-occupied India, then yes, I fucking know what the colonial effect is, Edge.”  She wasn’t about to play his childish games.  “Oh sorry, did I deny you the opportunity for a long-winded speech about unintended consequences so that you could pretend you’re better than the rest of us?”

“Yes well, Lena, crassness aside, this is on you.  You wanted to be a hero so bad, ya didn’t care who you hurt.  And now people are going to die.”

"You’re a toxic predator.”  Lena couldn’t keep the venom out of her voice, even while keeping control over its volume.  Fortunately, Kara jumped in to defend her.

“Even if this were all true, Supergirl and a team of federal agents worked with Lena on that device.  They would be just as much to blame—you can’t pin this all on her.”

Edge’s cold eyes danced with menace and faked mirth.    “That’s the official story, sure, but that tech was all Luthor.”

“You’re a bottom-feeder.”

“But I didn’t poison children.  That was all you.”  As he turned and walked off, Lena couldn’t move.  What if he was right?  It was Lex’s design.  She had barely had a few hours to redesign and appropriate it for their purposes, even with all of Winn’s help.  What if she had miscalculated?  What if it really wasn’t as safe for humans as she had thought?

She could feel Kara’s arm around her, turning her back towards where the children were being treated.  Her whole body felt tight, rigid.  She thought Kara and Sam were talking, but she couldn’t even try to pay attention.  She did her best to turn her attention to the children, to see how she could help, but even still, she couldn’t stop the wave of depression from watching over her.  I might’ve caused all this.

                                                  

Sam was worried about Lena.  She had never seen her so shell-shocked as last night at the hospital, and she didn’t look much better this morning.  They were meeting in Lena’s office to formulate a plan for dealing with Edge’s accusations.  Kara had just walked in to join them, and Lena had barely registered her appearance, offering a quiet hello and a chaste kiss on the cheek without ever actually changing her expression.  Sam could tell just from looking at Kara that she was just as worried.

“So, Snapper and Ms. Grant are refusing to let me cover this.  They don’t think I can be objective.  Just expect that you’ll have Brad Groves trying to contact you for quotes.  But that just means that I’m here for you, whatever you need.  Full on girlfriend mode.”

Lena barely acknowledged her.  Sam stepped up to face her, placing a hand on each arm.  “There could be hundreds of possible explanations for why these kids are getting sick.  Edge is ruthless, Lena, you know that. He’s—”

Kara interrupted her, appearing from where she had been standing behind Sam.  “He’s manipulating people, to get revenge on me.  This is on me, not you, sweetie.  This is because of my article.”  Sam felt a pang of sadness for Kara, who was clearly feeling guilty about all of this.  It wasn’t her fault either—this was on Edge.

Suddenly Lena awoke and shouted, “But what if it’s true?!  Okay?”  She paused, her eyes wide and darting between Sam and Kara.  “I told y—Supergirl that I could adapt this device, but I only had so much time to do it.  It was a difficult project, and my head was absolutely not in the best place right then, between things with my mother and Gen—Rhea.”  Lena practically spat the name.  “I thought it was safe for humans, but if it wasn’t?  What if I miscalculated?”

Sam leaned in, trying to reassure her increasingly erratic friend.  “If you hadn’t been able to adapt the device, if you hadn’t used it, the Daxamites might’ve killed or enslaved everyone.  You saved all of us.”

“Maybe.”  Lena’s head dropped, the fight leaving her again.  “You’re at least right that we don’t know anything yet.  And that we can’t just take Edge’s word for it.  We’re going to go over all the information he claims to have, and L-Corp is already running tests on the device to try to determine one way or the other whether it could have been the cause of this.  Sam, we’ll work with the NCPD on this, whatever they need.  We have nothing to hide, okay?”

“I think Maggie is taking point on this, since it falls into the Science Division’s purview.  So, we at least know that the NCPD side of the investigation won’t be manipulated by Edge.”  Bless you Kara, and your sister’s girlfriend.

“That’s great news!  Really encouraging.”  She smiled at Kara before turning back to Lena.  “Now, you just have to keep your head up.  We believe in you.”

Lena didn’t respond this time, and Sam could see her putting up walls again, retreating within herself.  She broke free of Sam’s touch and began walking back towards her desk.  “I’ve got to get ahead of this, if possible.  This is a public crisis.  I’m stepping back from L-Corp while this investigation is ongoing—Sam, you’ll be in charge.”

Sam shook her head as she stepped up to the desk, trying to keep her blossoming frustration under control.  “Lena, no.  We need you.  We need you to help with the research, at least.”  She was terrified of what Lena might do with nothing but free time to dwell on her feelings of guilt.  Her mind needed to be focused on something productive.

“Sam, I’ve hired good people here.  Brilliant minds.  They’re more than capable of picking apart what Winn and I did with the device and resolving the scientific and technological questions at issue here.  If I’m involved, I could be accused of, of covering things up, or even profiting from the sick.  This cannot be about me, and we cannot give the people of National City any further reason to doubt our integrity or their own safety.  Helping people has to be the focus.”

They were interrupted by shouting outside the office.  The three of them rushed to the door, with Kara positioning herself protectively in front of Lena and Sam.  There was a man outside the office yelling at Jess that he needed to see Lena Luthor.  The assistant (or bodyguard) was adeptly keeping him back from the office and trying to convince him to leave.  The man’s eyes narrowed as he recognized Lena.

“It’s okay, Jess.”  Lena stepped closer to the man.  Sam could tell that both Jess and Kara were standing at attention, seemingly ready to spring into action if the man made any move towards violence. 

“You need to answer for my son!  You know he stopped breathin’?  They had to put a tube down his throat.  My boy is 12 years old.  He is supposed to be laughing, outside playing, not stuck in some hospital with the doctors telling me they don't know how to fix him.”  His voice was thick with emotion, loud but not yet to the level of screaming.  “You rich people, you think you can do whatever you want, that we don't matter.”

Lena didn’t respond.  She just stood there, listening.  Sam knew her well enough to know that she had convinced herself she deserved this verbal abuse.  Lena looked down slightly, trying to keep tears from falling from her obviously watery eyes. 

“My son matters,” the man insisted.

Lena’s response was so quiet, so tentative.  “I am sorry.”

He immediately blew up at her, yelling, “You're sorry?!”  Kara stepped protectively in front of Lena.  Jess grabbed his arm and began pulling him back as a security guard came forward to help her.  But the man kept shouting.  “You're gonna answer for what you did to my son!  For what you did to all of them!”  The security guard then removed him, under Jess’ watchful eye.

Lena was still standing, but her whole body had collapsed.  Sam had seen a lot of sides from Lena, but this was a new side to her.  She looked hollowed out.  Kara moved to hug her, but she stepped away from the contact and turned to Jess.  “I want you to coordinate a press conference outside in the plaza, as soon as possible.”

“Yes ma’am.”  Jess sat back down behind her desk and picked up the phone.  Kara and Sam led Lena back into her office.

“Lena, you can’t hold a press conference, especially not outside.  There are bound to be more angry people just like this guy out there.  What if one of them gets violent?”  Sam could tell that Kara was terrified for Lena, but it was equally obvious that Lena’s walls were fully up now.  Sam wasn’t sure that even Kara could break through right now.

Fuck Morgan Edge.  Sam felt a surge of hatred flow through her.  Two of the best people she knew were sitting here consumed with guilt over something neither of them likely had anything to do with, all because Kara had the temerity to point out how awful this douchebag’s hiring policies were. 

Lena had walked over and dropped herself onto the couch.  Sam pulled Kara back towards the door, speaking softly.  “Kara, you’re not going to get through to her.”

Kara glared, then her eyes softened.  “I know, but I can’t just be quiet about it either.  I won’t let her get hurt because I made an enemy.  He’s going after her because she’s my girlfriend.”

“Baby girl, I’m sure it is more complicated than that.  But you need to get it through your thick skull—you both do!—that this is not your fault.  This is on Edge.  So stop it with the guilt.  We’ll get him.  For now, why don’t you and Lena go to her private bedroom down the hall and try to calm down a bit.  Let her prep for this press conference.  I’ll come get you both when it’s time.”

Kara pondered that for a few seconds.  “No, you should stay with her.  I’m going to go see if I can get Maggie to coordinate a few plain-clothes officers at the press conference.  If I can’t stop Lena from doing this, I can damn well do whatever it takes to make sure she’s safe.”

“Okay, you’re right.  That’s a good plan.  I’ll text you the time of the press conference.  Even if you can’t officially attend as Kara Danvers, reporter, you should be there for moral support as Kara Danvers, girlfriend.”

“Thanks, Sam.”  Kara pulled her into a warm hug, and Sam was momentarily distracted by just how firm Kara’s arms felt.  Then she was walking over to Lena to explain where she was going.  As the blonde left the office, Sam went to go sit down beside her best friend.

“I can’t talk you out of this, can I?”  Sam looked into Lena’s eyes hopefully, despite knowing it was a foolish hope.  The brilliant green eyes were distant, unfocused.  Lena lifted an eyebrow slightly and shook her head.

“I figured.”  Sam did some mental calculations and elected to give humour a shot.  “You know that girl fucking loves you right?  I mean, I know that Jess is your secret bodyguard and everything, but Kara looked like she was about ready to tackle that guy and kick his ass if he got any closer to you.”  She thought she saw a tiny smirk, but couldn’t be sure.  So, she went on.

The press conference was set for an hour later.  In that time, Sam continued to make jokes about Kara’s insanely buff arms and Jess’ imagined background as a Navy SEAL.  Lena never really engaged, but she did come out of her shell enough to prepare some remarks.  Kara didn’t return or respond to Sam’s text about the time of the conference.

As they headed downstairs, Sam tried to give Kara a call.  She trusted that she would show up but was worried about the radio silence.  Kara didn’t answer.  They were met outside by an angry mob, looking for a scapegoat to bear all of their pain and fear.  Security led them to the podium, and Sam scouted the crowd for Kara’s telltale blonde ponytail.  She thought she saw Maggie and Alex moving around, casing the crowd, but Kara was still nowhere to be seen.  Bizarre.

And then Lena was giving her speech, as well as she could with the interruptions from the crowd.  Sam could tell that she was trying to project some semblance of control over herself, to give the people some form of reassurance.  But anyone who really knew Lena (so like … pretty much just me and Kara) could see that she was barely holding it together up there. The slight quaver in her voice as she poured her heart out about how hard she had worked to earn the faith of the people of National City.  The brief pause before she confessed that it broke her heart to think that she might have lost that faith.

Lena was just in the process of explaining that she would be stepping down until the investigation was complete when gunshots rang out.  Everything was suddenly a blur.  Sam was the only other person near Lena’s podium, and she dropped to the floor. The shots had already ceased as she looked up towards the podium. Lena was gone.  Sam pushed herself up onto her knees and looked around.  Supergirl had Lena in her arms, and it looked like Maggie was arresting someone.  As additional police came into the area, Supergirl flew off with Lena.  Assured that her friend was safe, Sam assessed herself.  She wasn’t in any pain, and she didn’t see any blood.  Good.  Guess I didn’t get shot.

She tried to find Maggie or Alex, but they had apparently already left, probably with the shooter.  So instead, she texted Lena.

Looks like you have a guardian angel.  Call me NOW.

Sam also texted Kara to ask her again where she was and to let her know that Lena was safe.  She couldn’t believe that Kara hadn’t shown up.  And it was beyond lucky that Supergirl had miraculously appeared in time to save Lena.  None of it added up.  But before she could give it more thought, her phone rang.

“Lena!  That god you’re okay.  Where are you?”

There was a brief moment of silence before Lena answered.  She sounded like she had been crying.  “I … I’m safe.  Are you okay?”

“Yeah, I’m fine.  Lena, you need to lay low right now.  Where are you?  Can you meet me at my place?” 

There was another pause, then Lena told her that she could be there in five minutes.  “Okay, I’m heading there now—it’ll be probably about fifteen minutes from my end.  You have a key, just go ahead and go inside.  Ruby won’t be home from school for another couple of hours.”

“Okay.  See you soon.”  Lena hung up, and Sam took off towards the parking garage.  She hurried to her SUV as fast as she could and navigated the short but traffic-heavy drive back to her townhouse just west of downtown.  Her chest was tight with worry the entire drive back, and she shouted Lena’s name the minute she walked through the door.

Sam found her in the kitchen.  Lena had apparently found time to change, as she was now wearing her favourite grey National City University sweatshirt that Sam was pretty sure used to belong to Kara.  Lena’s hair was pulled up into a bun, and she had the sleeves of the sweatshirt pulled up around her elbows.  For some reason, Sam’s eyes caught on the baby hairs on the nape of Lena’s neck, that hadn’t been long enough to be pulled into the bun.  Lena looked so fragile, so innocent, and Sam thanked all the gods that might be out there that she was safe.  But she also looked completely disoriented, staring off into space before she registered Sam’s presence.

The two ran to each other and hugged tightly.  Sam was reluctant to let her friend go, and it felt as though Lena shared the sentiment.  So, they just held each other, glad to be alive.  Eventually, Lena pulled away.  She walked a few steps, then halted and turned halfway back to Sam.  She looked around, as if just noticing where she was, and then she gazed distractedly at her hand as she said, “Someone just … someone just tried to kill me.  I shouldn’t be putting you and Ruby in danger.”

It was just like Lena to be worrying about her and Ruby right now.  Sam’s heart was heavy with love and concern for this beautiful woman.  “Maggie arrested the shooter.  Besides, no one will be looking for you here.  You’re safe.  Now, please drink some water.”  Sam held out the glass she had pulled from the cabinet and filled up at the fridge expectantly. 

Lena took the glass of water, but not without protesting, “You could have been shot!—” her voice broke over the word, “—You shouldn’t be hiding me.” 

“Lee.  Jesus fucking Christ.  You’re my best friend.  The person I love most in this world other than Ruby.  Of course I’m going to protect you.  I’m not taking no for an answer.”  Their eyes met, and Sam could see the resignation visibly wash over Lena as her body relaxed just a little.  So, she decided to push a little.  “I don’t want to worry you any further, but have you heard from Kara?  She completely fell off my radar after she left your office.  Is she okay?”

Lena startled, then collected herself.  Sam wasn’t sure how to interpret that.  “Yes, she texted me before the press conference.  And she was the first person I called after Supergirl flew me away.”  She paused to give Sam a tiny smirk, which would have been a good sign if her eyes weren’t still so haunted.  “You were the second, of course.”

“Okay, but where has she been?  Why wasn’t she there?  Why isn’t she here now?”  None of Kara’s behaviour made sense to Sam.  If Lena was her girlfriend, she wouldn’t leave her side right now.  She didn’t enjoy feeling like this, but she was pretty pissed at Kara for disappearing.

“Sam.  Don’t go there.  She was with Alex and Winn during the press conference, trying to work through the documentation on the children affected by the lead poisoning.  She can’t just sit around while I mope—Kara has to do something, and it’s killing her that Snapper took her off the story.  Plus, I think she feels guilty about Edge, and she’s extra motivated to fix this.”

Sam could’ve sworn she saw Alex at the press conference, and it still made no sense to her that proving Lena’s innocence would take priority over physically being here for her right now.  But for Lena’s sake, she dropped it.  “Fine.  But she should be here.  Please, tell her to come soon.  I need to go back to L-Corp, keep things running and check on the progress of our scientists with your device.  I don’t want you to be alone.”

“Okay.  I’ll let her know.”  Kara responded almost immediately to Lena’s text, which again was odd, since she had been ignoring Sam’s for several hours now.  But she agreed to come over ASAP.  Lena insisted that she would be fine on her own for a few minutes, and Sam reluctantly decided to go ahead and leave.  They hugged again, and Sam pulled away just far enough to gaze into Lena’s eyes, their arms still wrapped around each other.

“I love you.  So so much.  You don’t deserve any of this.  And we’re gonna make it through.  I believe in you.  Don’t let Edge get to you.”  Lena nodded almost imperceptibly, and Sam kissed her forehead.  “Let me know when Kara gets here, or I’ll worry.”  With Lena’s promise that she would do so, Sam turned and walked out the door.

                                                  

It took Kara over an hour to make her way back to Sam’s place.  She wouldn’t leave the police station until Maggie could tell her for sure that the shooter was just an angry parent, and not someone hired by Edge or even Lillian or Lex.  Kara wasn’t ruling anything out at this point, not with Lena’s life on the line.  But there was nothing. 

Then Winn had insisted that she come to the DEO.  He was taking this almost as hard as Kara and Lena were, since he had worked with Lena on the device.  He was motivated to prove that they were not the cause of the children getting sick.  L-Corp had possession of the device, and there was no way to release it into the DEO’s custody.  But Winn had hacked into their servers to monitor the progress of the testing and investigation at L-Corp.  Kara knew that Lena wouldn’t mind, so she didn’t give him any grief about the hacking.  From what he told her—what she understood of it anyway, she wasn’t as fluent in tech talk as Winn and Lena—there was something like a ten percent chance that the lead dispersal device was the cause of the outbreak.  Which was promising, but Kara wasn’t comfortable with that.  Ten percent was still enough that the public could blame Lena.  She needed to be sure.  One hundred percent.

As she flew over to Sam’s, she wished she had more information, better news for Lena.  She hated that she had been away even for a couple of hours, but she needed to be there for the shooter’s interrogation.  Supergirl’s mere presence really helped sometimes.  She looked around to be sure no one was watching before she touched down on Sam’s front porch, changing quickly before opening the door.  Everything looked much the same as when she had dropped Lena off.  She hadn’t really moved from the kitchen area and was still wearing the sweatshirt and black leggings she had changed into on the brief pit stop at Kara’s after the left the scene of the shooting.

The difference was that her hair was down now, a thick, dark cloud framing her face and shoulders.  Also, she had a full glass of wine in her hand.  Lena had already drank most of the bottle in front of her.  Lena didn’t move from the stool where she was seated, but turned her head back to look over at Kara as she entered the room.  Kara asked, “Are you here alone?  Where’s Ruby?”

Lena’s response came out slowly, words slurring noticeably.  “Yup.  Sam’s running my company.  Ruby’s at a friend’s.”  She paused to survey her wine glass before taking another sip. 

“I really wish you would come home with me.  I’d rather have you in my bed than sleeping on that couch while I hover over the house all night.”

“Yes well, I can’t exactly explain that to Sam.  She made it very clear that she would kill me herself if I left this house, so here I will stay.”  Kara frowned, but walked further into the room.  “What news from the front?”  Lena asked the question nonchalantly, as if this was all a joke.  Kara was instantly terrified.  She had seen Lena drunk before, but never like this.  She sat down on the stool next to her.

“Nothing yet.”  She left it at that, not wanting to elaborate and further darken Lena’s mood.  Unfortunately, drunk Lena was still as perceptive as ever.

Her eyes rolled over to face Kara, and they were glazed and foggy.  Lena raised her eyebrows and smiled sarcastically as she said, “You know, you’re terrible at hiding things from me.”

Kara did her best to lighten the mood but felt as though she was walking on eggshells.  “At some point you’re going to have to stop lording it over me that you figured out my secret identity almost immediately.”  She put a hand on Lena’s knee.  “We haven’t given up.  We’re not done, not by a long shot.  Until we know for sure, I will turn over every rock, ev—”

“Just stop,” Lena muttered, waving a hand at Kara in protest.  Her head was resting on her other hand, propped up from the surface of the kitchen island.  Lena looked defeated, and it broke Kara’s heart.

“You are the strongest person I know.  Why aren’t you fighting?!”  Kara couldn’t keep the frustration out of her voice.  She didn’t understand.  This wasn’t her Lena.

Lena’s posture remained lethargic, but her voice raised as she turned her head back towards Kara.  “Because I did it!” she snapped, the guilt on her face mixed with incredulity.  “I fucking did it,” she whispered again, as if confirming it.  “You know, all I ever wanted to be was good.”  Lena was mocking herself now, her voice full of sarcasm and self-hatred.  “My whole life I was a pariah.  First, I was never good enough for Lillian, never Luthor enough… always a reminder of my father’s infidelity.  Then my brother was arrested, and I was nothing but a goddamned Luthor, as far as the world was concerned.”

Lena took a breath, and Kara tried to move her hand from Lena’s knee to her back.  But she shrunk from the touch, and Kara felt as though her heart had fallen through the floor.   “Then I let in the Daxamites, opened the whole world up to an alien invasion.  Let myself be manipulated by the first mentor who came along and offered me the praise and affection my own mother always denied me.  And finally, I did one thing, one thing, that was good, and now I’m a monster who poisoned children.”  Lena chuckled darkly.  “Even Lex Luthor never did that.”

Kara was frozen.  She had no idea what Lena needed from her right now.  “Anyone who knows you knows that you would never—”

“Maybe I’m the same.”  Lena interrupted, continuing her train of thought.  Her voice was weaker now, starting to strain under the weight of her emotion.  “People are sick.  It’s my fault.”  Her voice nearly cracked.

“Lena!  There’s still a chance it wasn’t you.” 

“I know that you … believe … that … everything is good, and kind.  And that is one of the things that I love most about you.”  For the briefest moment, Lena’s face was pure adoration.  Then the sadness took hold again.  “But that’s not the real world.  In the real world, my name’s Luthor, and everything I do hurts people.”  She finished off the glass before adding, almost as an afterthought, “Hey!  You know, it's, it's in my DNA, okay?  So, please, just, just, just stop.”  Lena nearly broke into tears as she whispered ‘please,’ but she managed to keep going.  “Stop believing in me, okay?  I am not worth it.”  And then she did burst into tears, because Kara had set the wine glass down, wrapped her girlfriend up, and flown her over to the couch, where she was now holding her tightly.

Lena’s body was wracked with heavy sobs, and Kara held her tight despite a couple of attempts to free herself.  Maybe Lena didn’t believe she was deserving of love right now, but Kara was going to give it to her anyway.  She had no clue what to say, so she just held her.  Stroked her hair and let her soak the shoulder of Kara’s sweater. 

Kara had no idea how much time passed before the sobs slowed and the tears began to dry up.  But then Lena was asleep in her arms, tired out by the events of the day, the wine, and the sheer weight of her emotions.  Kara gently laid her head down on the pillow that had been left for her on the couch and got up slowly so as not to disturb her.  Lena’s face was red and blotchy from the crying, and there were dark smudges under her eyes from where her mascara had run.  She was still the most beautiful sight Kara had ever seen.  I love her so much. 

She hadn’t realize how much Lena was still weighed down by her issues with her mom and the things that had happened with Rhea leading up to the Daxamite invasion.  She thought Lena had finally worked through those issues, but clearly they had just as powerful a hold over Lena’s mind as ever.  For once in her life, Kara felt so powerless.  She could drop Edge on a boat in the middle of the ocean.  She could don her uniform and proclaim from the heavens how good and pure and remarkable Lena Luthor is.  She could shower Lena in all the love and adoration she was capable of.  But she had no idea how to fight this monster.  No idea how to protect Lena from herself.

She wrapped a blanket around the sleeping figure of her girlfriend, then leaned over and kissed Lena’s head as softly as possible.  “I love you so much,” she whispered.  “I’ll never give up on you.  Ever.”

Chapter Text

Chapter 6

It was late when Sam got home.  The first thing she saw when she walked in was Kara, sitting at the bar hunched over a laptop.  In the semi-darkness, the blonde looked so small, and Sam could see the worry written all over her.  Any previous frustration Sam had with Kara fell away.

“Hey,” she said, softly.  She continued walking into the room, turning to gaze down at the couch where Lena had passed out.  Sam heard Kara’s soft, “hey,” come from behind her, but Sam’s eyes stayed on her best friend.  Even in her sleep, Lena looked troubled, her brow her furrowed and her arm splayed out uncomfortably over her head, as if she had been tossing and turning.

“You know, I've known Lena a long time, and I've never seen her like this.”  Sam moved back to the kitchen and glanced towards Kara, whose focus was back on the screen of her laptop.

“Me either.”  Kara’s voice sounded haunted, scared.  “She wants everyone to think she's so tough.”

Sam was a little thrown by the tone of Kara’s voice, so she tried some levity.  “Yeah, but we both know she is mush on the inside.”  Sam pulled some papers from her bag and sat down next to Kara.  “Hey, if you wanna go home, get some sleep, I’ll be here for the rest of the night.”

Kara looked up, and while she smiled, it was a slight and sad smile.  Nothing like the beam of sunshine that would normally grace her gentle visage.  “No, that’s okay.  I’m not gonna be able to sleep tonight anyway.  I’m worried about bad dreams.”

Sam froze, images springing into her mind unbidden. 

Her face and body suddenly covered in dark symbols... 

Feeling suddenly so very dark, as if she was an entirely different person...

A cloaked figure standing over her, talking about the day coming soon, when she would reign... 

The absolute terror that seized her as she screamed out…

Sam shook her head, trying to shrug the memory of the nightmare off—she needed to focus on Lena right now.  Kara was watching her with nothing but concern in those bright blue eyes.  Sam explained, “Nightmares are a thing I’m familiar with, especially lately.  Don’t worry about it.  So, what are you working on.”

“I've just … been trying to skim through public records to get info on the families affected.”

“Oh! Maybe I can help with that.”  Sam reached over and opened her own laptop, pulling up a map of the city.  “The medical team at L-Corp was able to secure the addresses for all the sick children.”

Kara perked up a little, leaning in closer to Sam so she could look.  “So, what happens when you connect the Xs?”

Sam sighed.  “Nothing, the movies lie.” She glanced back at Kara, who was studying the map intently.  Only a few inches of space separated them.  “You would think, when something like this happens, those affected are from a specific area, but these kids are from all over the city.  Ruby’s friend Luke lives down the street from us.  But then there are two kids who live—” she pointed at the map, “—across the city and go to Burgon Country Day.  And then there's another one who lives all the way in Edgemont.  I’ve just … been staring at this, trying to make sense of it.”  She shook her head in frustration, fearing that it was another dead end.

Kara’s face scrunched up, and Sam couldn’t avoid how adorable it was.  “There's gotta be some way these kids are connected.  Social media, school records, bank statements, maybe there's a link?”

Now there’s an idea.  “Bank statements.  Let's follow the money.”

“Yes!  I'll make a call.”  Kara pulled out her phone, but Sam put a hand on her arm to stop her.  Kara’s skin was warmer than Sam expected.

“No need.  I'm on it.”  Sam typed away at her laptop for a few minutes, then turned the screen towards Kara.  “Tada!”

“How did you?” Kara let out a sharp breath then giggled warmly.  “I can see why Lena is so effusive about your skills.”

Sam winked at her playfully.  Kara leaned in again, searching the bank accounts on Sam’s computer.  Then she pointed at the screen.  “Delaney's Dumpling Truck.”

She shot Kara a quizzical look.  “A food truck? What about it?”

“Well, Luke's dad and another mom went there on the same day a couple of weeks ago, October 21st.  I don’t know, maybe … maybe it’s just coincidence?”

Then Sam noticed it.  “No.  Hold on.”  She pulled up other accounts, going through several of them before reaching her conclusion.  Kara realized it nearly at the same time.

“They were all there, on that same day.” 

There were totally on the same page now.  Sam turned to smile at Kara and tensed in surprise.  She had forgotten how close Kara was sitting, and their noses had nearly touched when Sam turned her head.  Her eyes widened, but she immediately turned back to focus on the screen.  She had no idea if the moment had registered with Kara.  “Could it be something in the food?” She did a quick Google search that brought up a flier for a food truck promotion on October 21.  “Oktoberfest at Frances Park.”

“Could be something there.”  Sam thought Kara’s voice sounded slightly different, but she could be imagining it.  “You wanna check it out?  Lena drank a whole bottle of wine—I doubt she’ll be up any time soon.”

“Definitely.  I’m driving.”  Kara got up and checked on Lena one last time, wrapping the blanket tighter around her.  Then she followed Sam closely out the door. 

There was a good five minutes of silence as they drove towards Frances Park.  When Sam would glance over at Kara, she seemed lost in her thoughts.  Then suddenly, she whispered, “I’m scared I’m losing her.”

Sam was driving, so she couldn’t react as strongly as she wanted to.  Kara sounded broken.  Lost.  She hadn’t know her for all that long yet, but still, it felt impossible—wrong, even—that Kara Danvers could sound this way.  This wouldn’t do.  Not at all.

“Hey!  Look at me, Blondie.”  Sam kept her eyes on the road but waited until she saw Kara’s chin rise and turn in her periphery.  She looked over just long enough to catch those gorgeous, but now infinitely sad, sapphire eyes and hold them with her own for a few seconds.  “You’re not going to lose her.  We’re not going to lose her.  Lena has survived a hellish childhood, an oppressive workplace for several years, Lex’s betrayal, multiple attempts on her life, the shit her mother keeps putting her through, and whatever the hell happened with that Daxamite bitch.  It’s amazing she’s been as strong as she has been—there’s only so much a person can go through before they break.”

She could hear Kara’s sniffles next to her, and she reached out her hand, taking Kara’s.  “But hey, she’ll heal.  Sometimes a person needs to break, needs to hit rock bottom, before they can really face their demons and start to grow.  We’ll figure this out.  And then we’ll be there for Lena.”

“Sam.  I know how difficult it is for her.  Those walls were so hard to get past—her trust issues run so deep.  She once told me that you, me, and Lex are the only people she’s ever really trusted.  We’re the only people she’s ever just allowed herself to be completely herself around.  And one of us completely betrayed that trust.  One of the three has tried to kill her multiple times.  I can’t even fathom that.”  Kara was crying now, softly.  “But she got past it.  She didn’t let Lex destroy her.  Lena is the strongest person I know—if Alex went crazy, tried to commit murder, tried to kill me—I would fall apart completely.  I’m not sure anyone could put me back together.  But not Lena.” 

She went quiet, but Sam had a feeling she wasn’t done yet.  She held onto Kara’s hand that much tighter, until she could speak again.  When she did, her voice was hollow.  “I guess … I just … I thought she was unbreakable.  I could tell something shifted again after Rhea.  But still, she continued growing, making friends, letting Maggie and Winn in slowly.  Even Alex!  I knew she was struggling, but she kept trying.  Should I have done more?”

“Kara.  Sweetie, no.  This isn’t on you.  I’ve been worried about her, too.  But you know how she is.  She was determined to fight this in her own way, on her own, and this was … I don’t know, the final straw.  I see how much you love her, how well you treat her.  Like I said, I’ve known Lena a long time.  And I’ve never seen her this happy before.  This comfortable in her own skin.  That’s you.  You’re a remarkable person, Kara Danvers, and I have a feeling you’re the best thing that’s ever happened to our girl.”

Kara cried a little louder, but Sam hoped these tears were a little happier, at least.  She pulled to a stop near the park and turned to the beautiful crying woman in her passenger seat.  She had taken off her glasses once she started crying, resting them in her lap, and Sam marveled at how different her face looked without them, bolder and more vivid.  Yet somehow oddly familiar for a reason Sam couldn’t quite place.  Kara turned to face her as well, and Sam took her other hand so that she had a firm grip on both.  “We’re going to get her through this.  We’re going to get each other through this.  I can’t promise everything will be okay, but I can promise we’re in this together.  I’m not going anywhere, and I promise Lena isn’t either, okay?”

Kara’s lips parted and spread into a small smile.  It was a tiny difference, but a lovely one.  Sam reached up and gently wiped a tear from her cheek with her thumb.  “Now, how about we find out what the deal was with this park?”  Kara nodded and squeezed Sam’s hand before turning to exit the SUV.  Sam paused just a moment before doing the same.  She felt like a spark had danced from Kara’s hand to her own just then.  Later, Sam.  Control yourself.  You can fawn over Lena’s girlfriend after we’ve saved Lena.

Sam surveyed the park.  It was huge, with various rides, amusements, and small shops and food trucks, plus a natatorium and a roller rink.  They began walking, side by side, down the sidewalk towards the natatorium.  Kara had calmed down and was walking with some measure of purpose, but her arms were still crossed and her voice still frustrated as she said, “So many vendors and rides out here, it could have been anything.  For all we know, it's gone.”

A thought struck her as her eyes took in the large stone and plastic sign for the natatorium.  “Unless it wasn't something outside.”  She nodded her head towards the building, and they walked up to a side door.  Sam tried to open it, but it wouldn’t budge.  “It’s locked,” she hissed, then turned to check the next few doors along the side of the building, hoping to get lucky.  She heard a strange noise behind her, almost like the sound aluminum makes when you crinkle it in your hand.  Turning, she saw that Kara had the door open.

“Uh.  Sticky hinge.”  Kara was already walking inside, so she couldn’t see the look of pure incredulity Sam shot at the back of her head.  As she followed, she noticed that the metal panel over the lock between the two doors was crumpled.  Okay then.  She caught up to Kara, walking the length of the pool, but before she could comment on the … unusual … method of entry, Kara began reminiscing.

“Eliza used to bring me to a place like this.” 

“Eliza?  That’s your adopted mom, right?” 

 “Yeah, she’d take me every Tuesday and Thursday.  Alex never joined us—she preferred the ocean to the pool.”

Sam smiled wistfully.  “My mom used to take me to the pool too, at least when I was younger.  Except my place was, uh, Mondays and Wednesdays.  Shit, we used to love swimming.  Every kid loves swimming.”  She tilted her head to look into Kara’s eyes teasingly.  “Well, except Alex apparently.”

But Kara had stopped, staring out distractedly at the pool.  She pulled down her glasses just slightly, looking over the top of them with narrowed eyes.  Then she pushed them back up her nose, leaving her hand on her chin pensively.  “I'm gonna test the pool.”

Sam found herself again looking at Kara quizzically, only to have Kara miss it as she knelt down by the pool, grasping for something in her bag.  “You're gonna test it?”

Kara turned her head to look back at Sam and explained, “You remember Winn, right?  He works with Alex at the DEO?”  Sam nodded, thinking of the fun little nerdy guy from the game night.  “Well he used to work at CatCo, and he still helps me on stories sometimes.  Tests stuff, lab work—that sorta thing.”

“That's a good friend to have,” Sam offered, her curiosity not entirely satiated.  Kara swept a small black wand-like device through the water, then pulled out her phone and plugged the device in before dialing a contact.  Sam didn’t realize she meant they were doing this here, on the spot.  Why is Winn still at work this late?  Did that device just transfer all the relevant data directly to the DEO?  Sam didn’t realize that the DEO had tech like that, much less that they just freely loaned it out to reporters on a ‘just in case I need to do some testing on the fly’ basis.  As was becoming a pattern with Kara, there was something deeper going on here that Sam wasn’t in on.

“Winn?” She paused for his answer.  “I'm gonna send you a water sample from a public pool.”  If Winn was taken aback by the randomness of Kara’s statement, it didn’t show on Kara’s face at all.  She stood as she explained that she had a hunch about the water maybe being contaminated.  She waited while Winn apparently ran some tests.

“Is it lead?”  Winn’s response was loud enough that Sam could hear it, even if she couldn’t make out the words.  Kara asked, her voice raising a little, “What?”  There was more speaking from the other side, then Kara asked, “What does that mean?”  As Winn explained, Kara’s body somehow simultaneously relaxed in relief and tightened in excitement.  Good news, then.  “So, it wasn't the dispersal device.”  A statement, not a question.  Sam placed a hand on her own chest, feeling the tension she had been carrying begin to loosen its hold over her.  Kara looked up at the ceiling and breathed an audible sigh of relief, then thanked Winn before hanging up.

Kara took a step closer, grabbing Sam’s arms excitedly.  “It wasn’t Lena.  Someone put a dangerous chemical in the pool, that combines with water to mimic the properties of lead.  With enough exposure, someone would show the exact same symptoms as lead poisoning.”

Sam’s brow furrowed as she looked back at the pool.  “How?”

“I—” Kara started to respond before her face crinkled in thought again, as she faced towards the far wall of the large room.  Then she grabbed Sam’s hand and said, “Come with me.”  They walked over to the large doors of a storage room set into the wall, and they opened on a large stack of maybe 40 or 50 dark blue plastic buckets with bright red lids.  The labels read “ACRE LEE CHEMICAL”

Kara pulled out her phone again, this time putting it on speaker.  It rang several times before Lena picked up.  “Hello?”  She sounded groggy and a little hung over.

“Lena?  Sam and I are at this pool and all the kids who got sick have been here.”

Still groggy, and now frustrated, Lena snapped, “I thought I told you to stop.”

“Creampuff, it wasn't you!”  Creampuff?  Really, Kara?  Sam was amazed by how quickly Kara’s entire demeanor had shifted.  The brightness, the joy, the optimism—they were all back.

“What?”  Lena’s voice was higher, clearly.

“There's a synthetic chemical … when it touches water it becomes toxic to the body.  It mimics the same symptoms as lead poisoning.”  Kara’s eyes were locked on Sam’s as she spoke, and they were as vivid a blue as Sam had ever seen.

“Well, how … how did it get in the swimming pool?”

“It's in the chlorine containers!  They've been using it instead of chlorine.  Sam and I are gonna try to track down the manufacturer.  Acre Lee Chemical.”

“Acre Lee Chemical?”

“Yeah, you know it?”  Sam and Kara exchanged a look.

“No,” Lena responded, then she repeated the denial much more quietly.  “No.  … Thank you.  Both of you.”

“Lena, please don’t—” Sam began to speak, but Lena hung up.

“Shit.” 

“Yeah, that name definitely meant something to her.  We have to get back there before she does something stupid.”  They nodded to each other, then rushed back to Sam’s SUV.

                                                  

At this time of night, there was no one really around—but at least the doors were still open.  As she rode the elevator to the top floor, she traced with her finger the smooth surfaces of the gun in the pocket of the olive-green moto jacket she had thrown on over her tank top.  It felt wrong to be wearing Kara’s sweatshirt while she did this. She had called a car service under an alias, and had it pick her up several blocks away from Sam’s townhouse.  She also had it drop her off several blocks away from her destination.

As she exited the elevator, she checked for security cameras.  Seeing none, she abandoned the baseball cap and sunglasses she had obscured her face with and stepped into Morgan Edge’s office.  She might still be a little drunk, but full-on unfeeling, calculating Luthor had taken over at this point.  She wasn’t an idiot.

The office was mostly dark, but Edge was seated at his desk.  He looked up as she entered.  ”Lena.  You look horrible.  Those sick kids really got you tied up in a knot, huh?”  She’d wipe that arrogant smirk off his face soon.  Lena was almost surprised at how little she felt right now.  She was numb to anything other that her cold intention.

She responded succinctly, “Acre Lee.”

“Acre what?”  He stood and walked around his desk as he feigned ignorance.  “Acre Lee … Acre Lee, that's where the coyote gets all the stuff that he's gonna use to kill the roadrunner from, right?”

That’s Acme you fucking idiot.  “It's a company you own.  I remembered it from due diligence before I invested in your buildings.” Her voice sounded sardonic and harsh, even in her own ears.  “Established in 1982.  Manufactures hydrogen gas and sodium hydroxide.  And also simple chlorine used for swimming pools.” She paused for emphasis.  “Acquired by Edge Global seven years ago.”

Edge had settled back onto the side of his desk.  The change in his face wasn’t obvious, but it was there.  He was shaken.  “I'd have to check my records, you know.”

Let me help you then, you sadistic little shit.  “You used it to poison kids in swimming pools in order to drag my name through the mud.”

He grinned, chuckling slightly.  But his eyes betrayed him—he knew he was caught.  “Come on.  That's it?  That's what you're bringing?  That's what you got?  I say you did it, you say I did it?” He stood up, moving into her bubble of personal space.  “I expected better out of you.”

She reached into her pocket and pulled out the pistol, aiming it right in his smug face.  Her expression never once changed.  Edge inhaled sharply, and the best he could respond with was, “Now that's a disappointment.”

Lena’s voice was monotonous now.  “When that mom shot at me, I knew she was doing the right thing.  Because whoever was responsible for this, they deserve to die.  No trial, no jury.  Just erased from the world.”

“You need help, Lena, cuz you're not, you're not thinking clearly.”

Aren’t I?  “I'm thinking like a Luthor.”  Whatever, I’m done with the speeches now.  This ends here.  She began to tighten her finger over the trigger, but in that instant, she felt a sharp pain to the back of her head.  Everything went black.

She was jostled awake by the feeling of the ground moving under her and a loud noise like a big engine.  She had no idea how much time had passed, but as she gained her bearings, she found herself strapped in to the wall of the large open tunnel of what she guessed was a cargo plane.  She unbuckled the straps and stood up, trying to shake off the disorientation she felt.  Fuck, I hope I’m not concussed.  She walked over to a porthole across from her and looked out.  They were still in the National City area, as she could see downtown in the distance. 

She chided herself briefly for not noticing whoever had snuck up behind her and knocked her out.  Then she did the only sensible thing and pressed the panic button on the watch Kara had given her.  Confident that Supergirl would show up momentarily, she looked around, trying to figure out why Edge would have put her here.

Lena’s heart immediately sank when she discovered the rows of large yellow barrels marked with “ACRE LEE CHEMICAL.”  They were lined up at the back of the plane, right in front of the hangar door.  Fuck.  Edge was going to poison even more people—the only thing she couldn’t quite figure out was whether he was going to try to pin it on her (unlikely) or just crash the plane once the chemicals were dropped into the bay, killing her in the process.  She wasn’t sure where they were headed, so she snuck towards the cockpit, only to find that the plane was being piloted remotely.  Looking out, she surveyed the geography to try to get a sense of where she was going.  That’s when she noticed the reservoir approaching.  Fuck. 

Not only did the reservoir provide water to thousands of homes, part of it was also partitioned off as a recreational area.  Cold Lena Luthor was gone now, replaced by the real Lena.  The one who was now deathly afraid for the lives of the people this plane was about to poison.  She heard a noise behind her, and as she rushed back towards the barrels, she saw the hangar door opening.  Then the plane began tilting ever so slightly upward. 

“No no no no no,” she shouted at no one in particular.  She rushed forward, grabbing a long metal pole nearby.  The barrels were all bound together on a pallet by thick straps.  She stuck the pole through a metal ring in a strap hanging off the barrels, driving it down into an indention in the floor of the plane.  Then she held it down with all the strength she could muster, praying that Kara got there soon.

Fortunately, her prayer was answered in mere seconds, as a red-blue blur shot through the hangar door and landed behind her.  “Lena!”  Supergirl surveyed the room, and then pulled the switch that operated the hangar door, closing it.  Lena smiled brighter than she had in days.

She rushed towards Kara to hug her but was tossed back against the wall as the plane took a step downward dive.  “Kara!  The barrels are treated to dissolve in water!  If the plane crashes, they'll poison everyone.”

Kara responded immediately, stepping over to the front-center of the plane—Lena assumed it was more or less right between the wings.  Then she flew up to the ceiling and began pushing on the top of the plane, trying to force it back up from its steep angle.  She shouted to Lena, “Strap in!”

Lena could see the strain coursing through Supergirl’s body as the plane’s descent slowed, but didn’t quite stop. 

“I'm hoping I can get them to blow the engines!” Kara grunting.  Lena wasn’t sure she could do that without breaking the plane apart, but she didn’t have any better idea.  If the engines blew without destroying the plane, Kara would have full control.  The plane shook as one of the engines blew, but then the plane began to creak as the metal above Kara’s hands began to crumple and crack.  Without warning, the plane shattered into two pieces where Kara had been pushing.

The force had unbuckled Lena’s strap, and she screamed as she fell back towards the cockpit.  The fall knocked her breath from her, and her whole body felt the force of the two sides of the plane struck each other.  Supergirl had caught the inside edge of both pieces, but Lena could see the struggle of holding onto both threatening to break her.  Kara shouted down to her. “I can't hold both!”  Her voice was full of terror.

Lena realized why she needed to hold both—the chemicals were in the other section.  As the knowledge dawned on her, resignation washed over her.  Finally, it was over.  She could atone for her actions.  She hadn’t poisoned these kids, but she had brought the Daxamites.  She had turned a blind eye to the increasing depravity of her mother and brother when she was younger.  She knew what she had to do.  What Kara had to do.  “Save the chemicals!  Not me.”

She responded immediately and angrily.  “Lena, no!  I'm not gonna drop you!”  Meanwhile they were still dropping.  The wind roared all around them, but she knew Kara could hear her words.

“Kara, you have to let me go!”

“NO!” Kara redoubled her efforts, and their descent slowed significantly.  But again, it did not stop.  “Lena!  I can’t do this.  I can’t live without you!  I know you feel like you deserve this, but you don’t!  If you won’t do it for yourself, do it for me!  I LOVE YOU!”  She grunted, and it hurt Lena to see Kara in some much pain, both physical and emotional.  “Climb, Lena!  Climb!”

Lena felt paralyzed, trapped between the powerful forces at war in her heart.  Her guilt versus her love for Kara.  But as she looked up at the goddess who loved her, the choice became obvious.  It wasn’t even a choice at all—her body began moving.  She grabbed onto the netting of straps along the side of the wall and began to pull herself up towards her girlfriend’s powerful figure.

Kara shouted down encouragement, “You can do it!  Come on!” But Lena could hear the heaviness of her breath and the shrieking of the metal as the weight of the plane resisted her pull.  Lena’s whole body ached, and her arms felt like jelly.  “Come on!  Come on, you can do it!”  Their descent began to pick up speed again, and Kara shouted, “You have to jump, now!”

So Lena did.  She used all the energy she had left and threw herself upward toward Kara.  She immediately dropped that side of the plane and caught Lena with her newly freed hand.  The immediately began to move upward as Kara was relieved of the extra weight.

The exhaustion and emotion took over then.  Lena had no concept of what was going on around her, all she could focus on was the warmth and strength of Kara’s hand.  She had no idea how much time passed or what exactly Supergirl did with the broken plane full of dangerous chemicals.  But she never let go of her hand.

                                                  

When Kara and Sam had gotten back to Sam’s place, she had asked Sam to stay there in case Lena came back.  Kara went off to wake up Alex and Maggie and enlist their help in tracking down Lena, but she had barely even taken off when she got the signal from Lena’s panic button.  After saving her and leaving the husk of the plane with some DEO operatives, Kara had dropped Lena back off at Sam’s. Then she tore off at maximum speed towards the offices of Edge Global Realty.  She was driven by pure rage and disgust, and it was less than a minute before she blew through the window to his office.  Her eyes were hot with fury, and the unusually unflappable Morgan Edge cowered before her, however briefly.

Then she took a breath, shook off the heat in her eyes, and glared at him.  “Poisoning innocent children for your vendetta against Lena Luthor?  That’s even lower than I expected of you, Edge.”

He finished pouring himself a drink before turning to her, his usual slimy smirk on full display.  “You know, I sold Acre Lee Chemical over two years ago.”

“Convenient.”

“And besides, I heard they found the guy.”  It had only been a little over an hour—Edge must have planned to have a fall guy, just in case.  “Yeah … some crazed, lone wolf, former Marine or Air Force.  Had a bone to pick with the Luthors.”  He paused, gloating.  “It's too bad he killed himself.  We could have brought him to justice.”

“Hmm.”  She paused too, her voice filled with sarcasm and judgment.  “Too bad.”

“You know, I was thinking.  He must have really hated her.”  Edge emphasized the word, and it was clear to Kara that “he” actually meant Edge, not the man he no doubt murdered and framed for all this.  “Tell me, Supergirl, do you ever wonder what that feels like?  That kind of … hate?  Because I don't think you're capable of it.”

Kara got right in his face, and her voice was like steel.  “You have no idea what I am capable of.”

She was almost thrown off by his ability to keep his cool.  Very few people could do so in the face of an actually pissed off Kryptonian.  “Is this about me now?  You can’t have me arrested—you’ve got no evidence.  What are you gonna do, dump me on a cargo ship in the middle of the ocean?  What a hassle.  I don't know what kind of hippy-dippy justice you practiced on your planet, sweetheart, but this is the real world.”  It took all of Kara’s willpower not to uppercut him through the window.  “It's dog-eat-dog out here.  Now, if I had an enemy, I'd crush her without mercy.”  He paused, making it very clear which her he was talking about.  “Let's say, for instance, I was your enemy, hmm?  The thing for you to do right now would be to kill me.  But you capes, you don't have what it takes.  Do you?”

Nope.  He pushed her too far, and she snapped.  She grabbed him by the collar of his shirt and had him hanging out through the hole in his wall before he could blink.  The glass he dropped didn’t even have time to fall and shatter on the ground until several seconds after she completed the move.  To his credit, he didn’t shout, though she could tell that his breathing had quickened, and his heart rate had skyrocketed.

Still, it was only one single moment of weakness.  She pulled him back in and tossed him down on the floor.  Then she stood over him threateningly and warned, “Keep pushing, and we’ll see just what I’m capable of.”  As she turned to leave, he couldn’t resist trying to get in the last word, even though Kara was pretty sure he had pissed himself.

“Yeah yeah, you can leave the way you came in.  Oh!  Where should I send the bill for—” He gestured to the Supergirl-sized hole in his office wall, “—this?”

She didn’t even turn as she muttered, “Fuck off,” before propelling herself back out into the early morning air.

                                                  

Sam had texted Kara immediately after Supergirl left an exhausted and disoriented Lena at her doorstep.  It took her about twenty minutes to come back from wherever she was with Alex and Maggie, and in that time, Lena did her best to explain what had happened.  She said she had gone to Edge Global to confront him, and Sam did her best not to berate Lena for doing something so stupid. 

Lena had just finished explaining that she had somehow managed to get a signal out through a headset radio left in the empty cockpit and that Supergirl had flown to her rescue, when Kara rushed in through the front door.  She didn’t even stop to look around, rushing towards Lena on the couch as if she could just sense her presence.  Kara lifted her girlfriend in the air as if she weighed nothing and hugged her tightly.  Sam smiled warmly as the two of them just held each other for several minutes.  Lena whispered something in Kara’s ear, but Sam couldn’t tell what.

She poured the three of them a glass of red wine, deciding that despite the very late hour, they could all use it.  She settled down onto the couch, and she and Kara formed a big warm cuddle pile with Lena in the middle.  None of them were in any huge rush to keep talking, so they just enjoyed each other’s presence for several minutes.  Then Lena spoke up.

“I need to say thank you.  You wouldn’t let me give up on myself, even though I tried really hard to make you, both of you.”  Lena’s mood was improved, but she was still very obviously harbouring some guilt.

Sam changed the subject.  “Well, I think that Kara and I made a pretty good team.”

“Uhhh, more than pretty good, if I do say so myself.”  Kara raised her glass, and Sam clinked hers against it.  They caught each other’s eyes for the briefest of moments, and it sent a jolt of … something … through Sam’s body. 

Lena giggled at them but wasn’t willing to let go of her little speech.  “Still, I need to apologize.  I was so blinded by my own pain and guilt, I tried to throw everything away tonight.  I tried to push you both away.  I’m lucky either of you is even talking to me right now.”

Sam plucked the wine glass from Lena’s hand and placed it on the coffee table.  Then she intertwined her fingers with Lena’s.  She saw Kara do the same with Lena’s other hand.  “Lena.  We are family.  We love you.”  She reached over with her other hand and thumped the exposed skin of Lena’s hand.  “You can’t get rid of us so easily.”

“Ow!” Lena yelped, before Kara jumped in.

“That’s right!  And while I have it on my mind—” Kara locked her eyes onto Lena’s, “—you need a serious break for a little while, and speaking of family, I have an idea.”  Lena and Sam both looked at her expectantly, waiting for her to elaborate.  “Buuuuuuuuuut we can talk about it in the morning.”  Her eyes shifted to Sam.  “For now, I’m taking this one home and putting her to bed before you get her drunk again.”

Lena chuckled but didn’t argue, and Sam just shrugged in resignation.  It had been a very long day and as grateful as she was to be on this couch with these two amazing women, she couldn’t pretend she wasn’t ready to pass out herself.  “Okay, you promise you’re good to get her home?”  Sam wasn’t sure if Kara had driven or not.

“Yeah, I’ve got it!”  She didn’t elaborate, and Sam was too sleepy to press the issue.  She hugged Lena again, then kissed both ladies on the cheek as she saw them to the door.

Chapter Text

Chapter 7

The sound of her phone ringing saved Sam from yet another nightmare, all darkness and violence.  Her heart was still pounding, and she was soaked in sweat.  She blinked her eyes and shook her head to clear the fog away.  The sun was warm behind the window curtains of her bedroom.  Pulling herself up to a seated position, she reached over to her nightstand and unplugged her phone from its charger cable.  10:57 a.m.

Sam hadn’t expected to get a call from Lena so soon—she’d figured that Lena and Kara would probably sleep until at least the early afternoon.  But no, here she was, calling her bright and early—ish.  Sam called her back.

“Good morning.”

“Hey you, how ya feelin’?”

“Hung over as fuck, you?”  Sam smiled—Lena sounded hangover, but jovial also.

“I confess, I figured you’d be sleeping for another several hours.”

“Yes well, I’m dating the human embodiment of the energizer bunny, so that wasn’t really an option.  I do actually have a reason for calling, though.”  Oh?  “You remember how Kara was saying last night that I need a break?”

“Yup!  I take it that she spilled the beans on what she had in mind?”

“She did indeed, and she has made it very clear that I have no freedom to say no.  She, Alex, and Maggie have all arranged to take the next week off, and the four of us are going to go visit Eliza in Midvale.  I know it’s completely last minute, but can I trust you to take care of my work at L-Corp while I’m gone?  I’ll make sure the Board is informed, and Jess will be able to help you with anything at all—but Kara’s right.  I need to get away for a while.  I’m terrified of the place I found myself last night… I can’t keep going on like this.  I need to figure some things out.”

“Lee, of course.  Of course.  Take whatever time you need.  Hell, I wish I could go along with you.”  I’d love to see where Kara grew up.  Oh fuck me, come on Sam.  “I’ve got L-Corp.  In fact, I forbid you from taking any business calls while you’re in Midvale, okay?  Make sure the Board knows that, and that any pressing business should be taken up with me.”

“You always take such good care of me, darling.”

Sam couldn’t end the call without bring it up.  “Just … hey, can we talk when you get back?”

“Is something wrong, Sam?  I don’t have to go.  Not right away, anyway.”  Lena sounded concerned.  It was a relief that the cold edge was mostly gone from her voice again.

“No no no.  It can wait.  In fact, some time to think about what I wanted to say would probably be good.  You focus on rest and relaxation.  Seriously.”

“Okay.  If you’re sure.  Kara’s packing for me right now, and we’re flying out this afternoon.  I doubt we’ll be gone for more than a week, though.  You know how stir crazy I get.”

Sam chuckled.  “I do, indeed.  Such a workaholic.  But we’ve always had that in common, haven’t we?”  She paused.  “Hey, tell Kara I said thanks.  This is a great idea, and it makes me so happy how much she cares about you.”

Lena was silent for several seconds.  When she responded, she sounded a little surprised.  Or confused, maybe?  “Of course, Sam.  And I know you care about me too, okay?  We’ll talk when I get home, but please please don’t hesitate to call me in case of emergency.  Promise?”

“We’ll see.  I’m pretty great at emergencies.  You take care of yourself.  Love you, Lee.”

“Love you, too.  Bye.”

                                                  

The trip had been interesting, to say the least.  None of the other three ladies had ever flown on a private jet before.  Alex didn’t make much of it, but Maggie spent half the flight giving Lena shit for how rich she was.  She kept opening compartments and snooping around, claiming she was trying to figure out where they kept the caviar.  Lena had feigned exasperation, but secretly thought it was hilarious.  She had always thought the jet was overly pretentious, but hell if it wasn’t useful sometimes.

Kara, on the other hand, had complained more than once that the jet was far too slow.  “What even is the point of flying if you’re going to do it so slowly?  It’s so much more fun when you can feel the wind in your hair anyway.”

“Darling, loading you up with all our bags and the three of us in your arms would not only be highly uncomfortable, but conspicuous as hell.”  Kara’s face had scrunched up in that adorable way it did when she knew Lena was right but didn’t want to admit it.

But they had made it to Metropolis just fine, and then driven the hour to the coastal suburb of Midvale.  Eliza had welcomed them all with open arms, and Lena had to admit that the house where Kara had spent her teenage years was beyond adorable.  In fact, the whole town was quaint as hell.  Lena still felt the weight of everything they had left behind in National City, but she knew, deep in her gut, that this had been the right choice.

Now it was a couple of hours later, and it felt like she and Kara were completely alone in the world.  After eating a late dinner and catching up briefly with Eliza, Kara had insisted that she be able to take Lena for a starlit hike in the woods.  It was dark, but where the trees were so thick that they blocked out the moonlight, they used the flashlight apps on their phones to light the way.  For maybe thirty minutes, they simply made small talk and walked in silence, just enjoying each other’s company.  Then they were deep enough in the forest that it felt as though they had left civilization behind, and suddenly, Kara pulled her to a stop and led her over to a large smooth rock in a clearing awash with moonlight. 

Kara’s eyes sought permission, and as Lena nodded, Kara reached under her knees and around her back and lifted Lena into her arms, softly flying them into a comfortable seated position on top of the rock.  As they looked up, Lena was captivated by the ephemeral patch of dark starlit sky, framed by the shadowy patchwork of trees surrounding the clearing.  For several minutes, they just sat there, Kara’s hand on the small of Lena’s back, as the two of them took in the peaceful sights and sounds around them.

“Darling, this is gorgeous.”  Lena said it distractedly, still gazing in wonder at the tranquility of this place. 

Kara’s voice came softly from just behind her.  “This was my favourite place when I first arrived on Earth.  I would come here to escape the overwhelming sounds and smells and sights of human civilization.  To clear my head.”  Kara paused.  “It’s where I came when my sadness and loss became too overwhelming to keep hidden from the Danvers.  Where I came to remember my parents.  My people.  All that I had lost.”

Her voice broke, and her hand tensed against Lena’s back.  “I … Coming here, communing with the natural beauty of this world, gazing up to the sky where I came from… it always helped me, eventually.  I could always find peace here.  I hoped that maybe it could do the same for you.”

Lena faced her girlfriend and was stunned.  Kara’s dazzling sapphire eyes were replete with emotion.  Lena found herself lost in them.  This entrancing, amazing goddess of a woman loves me so very much.  After everything I’ve done to keep her out, to scare her off and drive her away—and her response is to spirit me away to this beautiful place.  She is my protector.  She believes in me. 

So why can’t I believe in myself?

The sobs overtook her before she could realize what was happening and just as quickly, Kara wrapped her up again.  Lena felt herself lifted into Kara’s arms again, and she cried against her shoulder for what felt like an eternity.  But Kara’s warmth encircled her, grounded her.  She needed this emotional release, but she never lost herself in it.  The two of them were together in this moment.  As she opened her eyes, she lifted her face so that the first thing she was the blue of Kara’s eyes again.  She smiled at Lena and kissed the remaining tears from her cheeks.

And that is when Lena noticed that they were hovering together in the air, just above the canopy of trees.  The night sky around them twinkled with the tiny sparks of the stars, but nothing compared to the glint of love in Kara’s eyes.  Despite the initial anxiety that leapt into her chest at realizing how high up she was, Lena laughed out loud.  Just as with her tears, she felt filled by the sudden wave of joy and pure ridiculousness. 

Kara waited until the laughter faded away, just gazing into Lena’s eyes curiously.  “So … you gonna tell me what’s so funny?”  Her voice was light and playful, and Lena grinned and kissed her, a light peck on her lips.

“I was so caught up in crying that I didn’t even realize you had carried me into the air.  How absurd is that?”  She giggled again, but Kara just looked at her like she was an adorable puppy doing something odd.  “Let’s sit back down, love, so we can talk.”  Kara smiled softly and nodded.  The descended slowly and Lena reached out and plucked a leaf from a branch on the way down. 

After Kara placed her back on her feet, Lena knelt down and curled her legs under her.  Kara sat nearby, facing Lena with her legs stretched out so that they just grazed Lena.   She had no idea where to even begin with the thoughts swirling around in her mind.  She took a deep breath, and nothing came to mind.  Fuck it, I’ll just start talking and find my way into it. 

“So I … I’ve never told you this, but it’s something that has come up in a number of conversations with my therapist.  I wasn’t hiding it from you… exactly, but I just, I wanted to get a handle on it first.  I wanted to try to understand it, to own it, before I was willing to open up about it.”  Lena gulped.  “I was wrong about that.”

Lena placed her hand on Kara’s thigh, just above the knee.  She watched her hand as she drew soft circles on Kara’s warm skin, then looked back at her girlfriend.  Her partner.  “I love you so damn much, you know that?  I worry that I don’t tell you enough, and especially that I don’t show it enough.”

Kara made as if to protest, and Lena shushed her.  “No, love.  You have to let me say my piece now.  I’ve been trying to fight my demons on my own, to prove myself worthy of the love you show me every day.  Like … if I couldn’t figure my issues out on my own, I wasn’t good enough for you.  I think I see now how stupid that was.  How prideful.”  She stopped to collect her thoughts.  “You … you are my heart, Kara.  You reveal things to me that I never knew about myself.  You believe in me because you really see me—even though I keep trying to hide.  I should have realized a long time ago that if I truly want to grow as a person, to decipher what deep dark issues haunt me, I should have trusted you enough to let you in entirely.  I guess what I’m saying is that I trust your judgment, trust that you see me even when I can’t quite see myself.”

Now Kara’s eyes were the ones filling with tears, and Lena laughed before scolding her.  “Nope, not allowed.  You can’t start crying or I’ll start again, and we’ll be here all night.”

Kara laughed, grinning wildly at her.  “Oh, do you have somewhere to be Ms. Luthor?”

Lena grinned back at her, then pursed her lips and scrunched her nose in a look of faux admonishment.  Then Kara blinked rapidly, and her brow crinkled, as if struck by a sudden thought.  “So—what was it that you’ve been keeping from me?”

Keeping from her?  What— “The thing you’ve been discussing with Dr. Letamendi?” Kara clarified.  Ohhhhh, right!

“Oh that.  Yes.  I … I feel lost.”  Kara looked confused, so Lena tried to elaborate.  “Like … all the time.  In fact, I’ve felt lost my entire life.  Whatever moral compass or inner purpose that drives you, I feel like I’ve never had that.  Maybe it has something to do with losing my mom at such a young age and being dropped into the quagmire that was the Luthor family.  But … for as long as I can remember, I just haven’t really felt like I knew who I was supposed to be.  I’ve just always sort of … unquestioningly defined myself—my goals and expectations—based on external influences.”

She wanted to get Kara’s input, eventually, but she was on a roll now, so she kept going.  “The Luthors didn’t exactly envelop me in warmth and encouragement when they adopted me.  Lex tried, but he had his own things going on and his own struggle to meet our parents’ expectations.  Their world was so foreign to me as a child, and no one would tell me where I fit in.  And it certainly never felt as though I had the safe space to ask.  So, I kept my head down.  I tried to be like Lex.  I tried to pick up on what Lillian expected of me through context clues.  I was just … never encouraged to figure out who I was … and I, I guess I just molded myself into the best Luthor I could be.  Tried to never think too hard about it.  Ultimately, I could never tell if I was good enough, if I was who I was supposed to be.  But at least being a Luthor taught me how to project all the confidence and control I didn’t feel on the inside.”

“Lena?”  Kara asked tentatively, not wanting to interrupt without Lena’s permission.

“Thoughts, darling?”  Lena smiled brightly, welcoming the insight.

“That all makes so much sense to me.  You … there’s this look you would get sometimes.  In those rare moments when all your walls are completely down, and you do something or say something that is just so Lena.”  Kara’s voice warmed in adoration at her name.  What is she talking about, though?  I feel the most lost in those moments, like the ground is suddenly gone from underneath me, and I have no idea if I can fly or not.  Kara’s eyes glittered as she blurted, “Yeah, kinda like that look!  It’s like when I recognize you at your most true self, you get all confused.  Like you don’t get how amazing and strong and stupid sexy you can be with all your walls down.”

Lena chuckled nervously.  What Kara said lined up some with the revelations Lena had been sorting through, but it was still really hard to believe.  “Kara … I really don’t know who I am without my walls—my Luthor identity and upbringing.  Even now, when I feel the most like myself, and I’ve found the most happiness and fulfillment I’ve ever experienced.  Even now, I’m still defining myself by my Luthorness.  I’m just—”

“Doing the opposite of what you were raised to!” Kara’s face immediately turned red.  Lena guessed she hadn’t meant to butt in like that.  She laughed affectionately.

“Yes, quite.  But love, I just … even if I have some idea now what the source of my identity crisis is, what my true struggle is underneath all the depression and mommy issues and unwillingness to trust people …  I don’t.  I don’t know.  What do I do about it?  How do I move forward?”

Kara reached her hands out, waiting for Lena to reciprocate.  Lena wrapped her fingers around Kara’s, squeezing softly.  “I don’t know the answer to that Lena.  But I’m here to help you figure that out, and I’m not going anywhere.  And it occurs to me that maybe you’ve never really asked the most important question: what do you want?  Who do you want to be?”

Lena smiled at her, then let go of her hands, leaning back on her forearms and gazing up at the sky.  She sighed, enjoying the coolness of the night air.  Well.  It’s a start.

Chapter Text

Chapter 8

It had been a very lazy day.  Kara had no clue when the rest of the house got up, but she and Lena hadn’t left the combination guest room/office (that had formerly been Kara’s) until nearly 1 o’clock in the afternoon.  They had clearly both been exhausted still from the stress and late hours of the Edge plot, and they had barely removed their hiking boots and pants before collapsing in each other’s arms and passing out on the bed.  They must have slept nearly thirteen hours.

Alex and Maggie were out on the second-story deck, each already with a beer in hand.  They were sitting on the wicker loveseat, with Maggie curled up into Alex’s side.  Kara grinned at how cute they were together, but she and Lena kept walking downstairs.  As if she could sense the couple’s late rising, Eliza was in the kitchen, having already started making them some breakfast (for lunch, Kara quipped in her head). 

“Eliza, I know it’s already after noon, but could you point me to the coffee?”  Eliza scolded Lena to go sit down next to Kara, and she would handle it herself.

“You’ve been through so much, dear, you’re here to relax.  Now, do you prefer a darker or lighter roast?”  Lena timidly requested the darker as she moved back over to Kara.  This was her favourite version of Lena, dressed simply in pajama pants and a tank top, her hair in a messy ponytail, and with no makeup but the remnants of the eyeliner and mascara she was wearing when they passed out last night.  Just ambling awkwardly around Eliza’s kitchen trying not to be a burden.  Kara’s face ached slightly from how big her smile had become. 

As Lena caught sight of said smile, she rolled her eyes but grinned widely.  The brunette pulled the chair next to Kara closer so that she could press her side against Kara’s as she rested her hand on Kara’s knee.  Kara tilted her head and kissed Lena warmly, letting her lips linger and not really caring too much if Eliza saw them.  Lena still tasted vaguely of Kara’s toothpaste.  Lena just kept smiling as Kara pulled away, and she leaned in and whispered, “I love you,” into Kara’s ears, causing warmth to fill her entire body.

“Alright you two lovebirds, Lena’s coffee is ready.  Omelets are nearly done, too.”  She sat the jade green coffee mug down in front of Lena and turned back to the stove.  They ate quickly (Eliza clearly hadn’t forgotten how much food Kara could consume), then went upstairs to shower and dress.  Kara was pleasantly surprised to find that shower sex in her childhood bathroom was every bit as exciting as she could have imagined.  By the time they came back downstairs ready to face the day, it was already the middle of the afternoon.

Eliza, Maggie, and Alex were all hanging out in the downstairs living room.  As they walked in, Maggie shouted, “Finally, the sex bunnies are up and about!”  Alex elbowed her, but couldn’t stop herself from laughing.  Kara tried her hardest not to blush, but based on Maggie’s reaction, Lena had just winked at her or something.  Kara turned to her girlfriend with her nose scrunched in disapproval.  But on the inside, she was smiling as brightly as ever.  She and Alex were home.  With their girlfriendsPlural!

Eliza resolved the not unpleasant awkwardness in the room by standing and looking at each of them with eyebrows raised.  As if to say, ‘you girls are too much.’  Maybe.  Then she turned to Lena as she reached down to grab Maggie’s hand to pull her up.  “Alright, daughters: you stay here.  Daughters’ girlfriends: you’re coming with me.”

Maggie just shrugged and went with it, but Kara spoke up.  Not that she didn’t trust Eliza, she just wanted to be sure Lena didn’t have to suffer a single moment of discomfort on this trip.  “And where are you taking my girlfriend, Eliza?”

“For ice cream, dear, and I’m not taking no for an answer.”  Kara could see the look in Eliza’s eyes.  She really wasn’t taking no for an answer.  Kara caught Lena’s eyes, and Lena just smiled at her.  Kara breathed a sigh of relief.  She’s fine with it.

“Alrightey then, I mean I happen to like ice cream, but Alex and I are clearly on our own here.”  Kara really put some pout into her voice.  She loved the local ice cream shop to which Eliza was no doubt taking them.  But she actually did need to talk to Alex, so this worked out.  Plus, it was really cute that Eliza wanted to reach out to Maggie and Lena.  She knew Lena could use a mother figure who wouldn’t hurt her for once.  Lena kissed her goodbye before following Eliza and Maggie out the door.

“I hope Maggie doesn’t drive Mom crazy.”  Kara turned back and grinned at her sister. 

“Hey, she’s your girlfriend.  I’ll be curious if Eliza will be able to get Lena out of her shell.” 

“Yeah well, I’m sure Maggs will help with that.”  Kara grinned.  That was definitely true.  “Speaking of, how is Lena doing?”

“I think she had a major breakthrough last night, but she’s still got a long road ahead of her.  She’s finally dealing with her problems and finally letting me in, and that’s what really matters to me, you know?”

“Yeah I get it, I know she’s been pretty on edge ever since the invasion.  I can’t even imagine what she felt like if she actually believed she had poisoned those kids.  By the way—” Alex pulled Kara down on the couch next to her and wrapped an arm around her shoulders, “—I don’t think I’ve told you yet how proud I am of you.”

Kara glanced sideways at Alex.  “Proud?”

“Yeah, I mean, if it had been Maggie, I probably would’ve killed Edge.”  Kara winced.  “Didn’t think I’d hear about the damage to Edge’s office, didya?”  Kara prepared herself for stern talking to, her shoulders tightening in anticipation.  Instead, Alex squeezed her shoulder and reassured her, “Kara, relax.  I meant it.  And I would have murdered him.  And I’m proud of you for limiting yourself to property damage.”

Kara sighed, knowing she had to fess up.  “Alex, I … I came dangerously close.  Lena could have died!  And even though she didn’t, he broke her.  This was the last straw, and she completely fell apart in a way I’ve never seen before.  Couldn’t even believe was possible.”

Alex scooted a little closer.  “I mean, but that’s why we’re here, right?  Lena will find her footing—she’s a badass.  Just don’t tell her I said so.”  Kara chuckled, then Alex withdrew her arm.  “Wait, what do you mean you came dangerously close?!”

She refused to meet what had to be a harsh glare from Alex.  “I … ummm, I might have …”  Kara sighed.  “Fine, I dangled him out the window.  For a split second, not even that, I thought about letting go.”

“Kara!”  Alex’s voice wasn’t scolding, but she was clearly disappointed.  “Kara, look at me.” Kara did.  “Look, I just confessed to you that I would’ve killed him.  Maybe I would have.  This is definitely a double-standard, but it’s also nothing new.  Supergirl cannot ever be a murderer.  You can’t even give anyone this kind of ammunition to call you a murderer.  Kara!  You know this!  Not for me!  Not for Lena!”

Kara stood up, unable to contain her own energy.  “Alex!  I know!  Like I said, it was a momentary lapse in judgment, and as soon as I realized what I was doing, I stopped.  He just.  He told me he’s going to keep trying to kill her!  He made it very clear, and I just reacted!  I can’t help how fast I move.”  Her fists were tight at her side.  She felt ashamed of what she did, but she wasn’t sure how she could have stopped it.  What, did Alex expect her to be able to be coldly rational when the people she loved were threatened?

She was trying to calm down enough to turn back to Alex and apologize when she felt Alex’s arms around her shoulders, coming together around her collarbone.  Alex’s chin rested on Kara left shoulder.  “Hey. Hey,” she said softly.  “I’m sorry.  I get it.  Really I do.  I shouldn’t have blown up at you—you know how I am when it comes to keeping you safe.” 

Kara turned around and rested her forehead against Alex’s.  “I just … when it comes to the people I love, I’m going to get emotional.  I’m going to react.  And he fucking got away with it, Alex.” 

“I know, sweetie.  But we’ll get him, I promise.”  Alex pulled back and smirked slightly.  “Did you scare the shit out of him, at least?”

“Eww gross, Alex.”  Kara paused for comedic timing.  “Pretty sure he peed himself, though.”

“Well there’s that, then,” Alex retorted wryly.  Then she walked into the kitchen.  Kara followed her, suddenly remembering what it was she had actually wanted to talk about.  Immediately, her whole body stiffened in nervousness.  And a little guilt, if she was being honest with herself.

Alex continued to the kitchen, where she pulled another beer from the fridge.  Kara hesitated, then asked, “Hey Alex?  Can we talk about something?  Something, umm, maybe kinda awkward?” 

Alex turned with an eyebrow raised in curiosity.  Kara looked away, crossing her arms apprehensively.  “Give me a sec, and I’ll meet you out on the deck, okay?”  It was a bright, sunny day, and Kara wanted to enjoy it.  Plus, it might give her some courage. 

Speaking of courage …  Kara sped into her room and grabbed the bottle of Aldebaran rum, then returned to the kitchen to mix it into a glass with a couple of ice cubes, diet coke, and a splash of cranberry juice.  Drink in hand, she walked at human speed up the stairs and out onto the balcony.  Alex was leaning on the white railing, looking out towards the ocean.

Kara sat down at the table and waited for Alex to notice her.  The purple in her hair really did suit her.  It was cut a little shorter than it had been when she had first dyed it, and it was straight today.  It moved delicately in the light breeze, and the sun really brought out the different shades.  Taking a sip of her beer, Alex turned back to Kara and took a step before noticing Kara’s drink.  “Okay, what’s going on?” 

Kara took a sip.  “Liquid courage?  Sit down.  I need your advice.”  She fiddled around with the straw in her glass, not quite sure how to start.  Then it hit her.  “Hey!  You know how Maggie can sometimes be all flirty and stuff with our friends?”

Alex’s nose scrunched in surprise.  “Uh, yeah, I guess so.  Why?”

“Does it bother you?”

“I mean, I guess it did at first.  But that was more because it was my first relationship, and I was kinda insecure.  Plus, I’ve never been a big flirt myself, so I didn’t really understand.  Now I get that Maggie is just a flirt; it’s part of her charm.  I know that she wants to be with me, not anyone else … the flirting doesn’t really have anything to do with it.  And besides, I know that if she thought it actually hurt me, she would stop in a heartbeat.” Alex smiled.  “But it’s fun for her, and I find it pretty cute actually.”

Kara processed that.  It was helpful, but … I’m not sure that’s exactly my situation.  I’m not sure Alex will understand.  “So, you don’t mind because you don’t think she’s actually interested in any of the women she flirts with?”

“Yeah, I guess so?  I hadn’t really thought about that much—it hasn’t come up.  I mean… Maggie’s with me, she’s not interested in anyone else.”  Kara continued sipping on her rum and coke.  Alex wasn’t quite getting it.

“What if she did?  Er, was, I mean?”

“Are you asking me how I would feel if Maggie was in a relationship with me but had feelings for someone else?  Kara … I don’t know.  I guess she’d have to figure out what she really wanted.  But yeah, it would hurt.  It’d probably hurt a lot.”  Alex looked at her quizzically.  “Why do you ask?  Do you think Lena is interested in someone else?  Did she cheat on you?!”

Alex’s face darkened, and Kara hastened to correct her.  “Alex, no!  She would never do that to me.  That’s not what this is about.  I really was just curious.”  She fiddled with her straw again, then finished off her drink.  “So … the last few times I’ve been alone with Sam, she’s been really flirty with me.  And I’m not really sure how to feel about it.”

“Does Lena know?” 

“I think so?  I haven’t really had a chance to talk to her about it yet.  But Sam seemed pretty confident that Lena was fine with it.”

“So, what’s the problem then?  Why does it make you uncomfortable?”

“I don’t know … I mean, no, it doesn’t make me uncomfortable.  Not like that.  I don’t think … well, I mean I don’t know, maybe she is like Maggie and she’s just naturally flirty.  But I haven’t really noticed her flirting with anyone else like she does with me.  Maybe a little with Lena, but even that feels different.  Ugh, I’m not making any sense, am I?”

“Not exactly, no.”  Alex sounded confused, and Kara looked up at her.  Alex’s eyes searched her for further understanding.

“Give me a sec.”  Kara grabbed her empty glass and Alex’s empty beer bottle and was back with refills in seconds.  “So I just … Alex, I think I really like it?”  Alex’s eyes widened.  “I mean, Sam is awesome and so much fun to be around, and yeah, she seems to have a cruel love of making me flustered, but even that is kinda fun?  I just … feel good when I’m around her, and I think the flirting is part of that.”  Kara signed, her head turned down towards her glass.  She lifted her eyes just enough to look at Alex.  “Does that make me a terrible girlfriend?”

Alex took a while to respond, considering her words.  “Kara, I’d be lying if I said this didn’t worry me.  It sounds like a solid recipe for someone getting hurt.  So, you think Sam might actually like you, like you?”

“I mean… I don’t know for sure.  It could be all in my head.”  Kara honestly really wasn’t sure.  Heck, I could be completely full of myself here.

“But you … I mean, Kara, do you have feelings for her?” 

Kara gasped.  “No!  Alex, I love Lena.  I love her so so much.  I’ve never felt like this before.  But … I mean I feel something for Sam.  She’s been a wonderful friend to me since we’ve started getting closer.  I feel such a bond with her.  And … yeah, she’s absolutely gorgeous.  That’s obvious to anyone with eyes.”  Alex’s eyes narrowed, and she chewed on her lip nervously.  “But Alex, I would never do anything to hurt Lena.  I’m certain Sam wouldn’t either.”

“Then why bring it up?  Why’d you even ask me?”  Kara felt bad—Alex seemed so uncomfortable with this conversation.

“Alex, I’m sorry.  I didn’t mean to make you uncomfortable.  I don’t know … this whole thing is confusing, and I didn’t know who else to talk to.  You’re my rock, you know?”

Alex blinked rapidly.  “Kara, I’m sorry.  Yeah, this is weird, and not something I expected to hear coming from you.  But you’re right.  I’m always here for you.  Even when I’m weirded out, okay?  I never want you to feel like you can’t talk to me.”  She stood up and walked over to hug Kara, who stood and met her halfway.  They grabbed their drinks and walked over to the railing again.  Kara could feel the bright rays of sunshine fueling her, filling her body with warmth and strength.  It was reassuring.

“I don’t really know what to tell you, though.  I’ve never exactly had the problem of having feelings for two women at the same time, if that is what’s going on here.” Alex turned and looked into her eyes.  “The best advice I can think to give you is that it sure seems like you need to talk to Lena about this.”

“I know.  I just … worry about the timing.  She’s been through so much, and I brought her here to relax and heal.  We had such a wonderful moment together last night, and I just … I’m worried.”

“I get it.  But do you really think you can keep avoiding the subject without her noticing?  You think you can be fully helpful to her with this weighing you down?  I really feel like honesty is the best policy.  You two can work it out together.”  She’s right.  As usual.

Kara put her arm around Alex’s waist.  “I love you.”

“Love you, too, you big dork.”  Kara gave her the side eye.

“So … what awful teenage stories do you think Eliza is telling them?”

Alex blushed.  “Oh god.  I don’t want to know.”

                                                  

Lena had been fairly quiet on the short drive to the ice cream parlor, while Maggie engaged with Eliza from the back seat.  She and Maggie normally got on quite well, but Lena was still in a mood from the previous night.  She didn’t feel particularly talkative but wasn’t looking to be standoffish either.  She was perfectly content enjoying Maggie’s efforts to dig all of Alex’s childhood secrets out of Eliza.

Besides, conversations about childhood always made Lena a little uncomfortable, as they inevitably led to people asking about her own.  So, as they exited the car, Lena subtly changed the subject before the discussion could progress to that point.  “Now, Eliza, I recognize that you are a world-renowned chemist and xenobiologist, but I just must know: what do you do for fun around here?  Besides taking your daughters’ partners for ice cream, of course?”  She opened the door for Eliza and Maggie.

“Well Lena, you know, this is a first for me.  My daughters have never been the biggest daters, and they’ve certainly never brought anyone home.  However, you two play your cards right, and I might consider making it a semi-regular thing.”  She smiled softly.  Lena liked that about Eliza.  She had strong opinions and, Lena suspected, ever stronger emotions, but you wouldn’t necessarily know it from her behavior.  She was all soft expressions and a calm exterior.  Similar to Lillian in some regard, but in a wholly different, less sinister way.

She took their orders.  Maggie went with rocky road, while Lena chose chocolate chip cookie dough.  Eliza went with a simple cone of cookies and cream.  As they received their orders and Eliza paid, she continued answering Lena.  “As for what I do for fun, my studies are a big part of my fun.  Particularly when Kara or her cousin bring me new alien artifacts or samples to test and figure out.  It’s my career yes, but also my hobby.”

They all sat, Lena next to Eliza, and Maggie across from her.  “Yeah yeah, we get it.  You Danvers girls are giant geeks!” Maggie chided.  “But what do you do for actual fun?”

“Come now, Maggie.  Just because she doesn’t race motorcycles in her free time, doesn’t mean Eliza doesn’t have fun.”  Lena raised an eyebrow at Maggie.

“Says the woman who builds gadgets or whatever in her free time.” 

“Now now, you two.  It’s against the rules to fight over ice cream.  I do actually know how to have fun.  I often enjoy painting in the sunlight, with a nice cup of chamomile tea.”  Eliza’s voice was so pleasant; Lena legitimately couldn’t tell if she was being facetious or not.

Apparently Maggie felt similarly.  “Damn, Mama D, I can’t even tell if you’re joking.”

“I’m a woman of mystery, girls.  Keep that in mind if you ever think about hurting my girls.”  Eliza couldn’t keep the smirk off her face this time.

Lena jumped in.  “I’m inclined to believe her, Maggs.  Eliza, did Kara pick up painting from you, or did that pre-exist her trip to Earth?”

“I suppose I’ll have to take the credit for that one.  Thought I confess, Kara is much better at it that I am.  She was always a natural.  I remember the first time I found her painting.  It was a few months after she came to us, and she was finally starting to get used to being on Earth and dealing with her powers.  She was still so sad and withdrawn at that time.  I had been painting in the sunroom with the windows open to the autumn air, but I got pulled away into a lengthy conference call.”  Lena had a feeling she knew where this story was going.  “When I came back to my canvas, there was Kara.  She had finished the painting, a landscape—sunset over a small lake beside some mountains, as I recall.  The landscape itself was better than anything I could have accomplished, but it was the change she made to the sunset that was so captivating.  It was all deep reds and lavenders … Superman had told us that Krypton’s sun was a red giant, but it was different seeing it myself.  But that’s how vivid Kara’s was.  It felt as though I were actually seeing a sunset on Krypton.  It brought a tear to my eye.”

Lena felt as though her heart might burst.  She could just picture a 13-year-old Kara painting something brilliant, her sad eyes scrunched in focus.  She understood perfectly how Eliza felt.  “It’s remarkable how amazing a person Kara is despite the tremendous tragedy she has experienced.”

Eliza nodded, smiling.  “But enough about me.  I want to get to know you two.”  Lean and Maggie exchanged a look.  “Maggie, what made you want to be a detective?”

“Yikes, well I’m warning ya, Dr. D, this is a rough story.” Eliza nodded to show that she could handle it.  “Okay, well you’ve been warned.  I grew up in a tiny Nebraska town.  My dad was a sheriff when I was a kid.  I was always fascinated with his job.  For as long as I can remember, my dad treated me like his little trainee.  Taught me how to study the ordinary details everyone dismissed.  He always used to say, ‘The key to most mysteries is in the mundane.’”  Maggie took a breath, and Lena worried that maybe she was struggling to continue.

Eliza asked, “So, you just wanted to be like your dad?”

“Hah,” Maggie muttered sardonically.  “No.  Not really.”  She breathed out heavily.  “Um, so when I was fourteen, I told a girl at school that I liked her, and my parents found out.  I came home that day, it was winter, and my dad was there with a suitcase, and he told me to get into the car.  And we drove in silence.  And I just stared out the window looking at the icicles on the trees, and I was terrified to say anything, but finally I said I said, ‘Papi, what did I do?’  And then he just looked at me with such contempt and said, um, ‘You shamed me.’  And then he pulled up to my aunt's house and left me there with my suitcase.  That was the last thing that my father said to me.” 

Oh Maggie. Lena reached under the side of the table and put a hand on her knee.  Eliza reached out and put her hand on top of Maggie’s on the table.  Eliza spoke first.  “The only thing shameful about that story is how your father treated you, Maggie.”

Maggie sighed, then chuckled softly.  “Hell of it is, I know that.  Doesn’t make it hurt less.  Doesn’t heal the scars he left.  But the truth of the matter is, I wanted to become a cop just to prove that my gay ass could do it better than him.  Wasn’t till I got older that I moved past all that and realized I really love detective work.  And nowadays it’s even more interesting when Alex calls me for help on stuff.”  She paused and winked slyly at Lena.  “Less so when your other daughter gets involved, though.”

Lena jumped to Kara’s defense, asking sarcastically, “What?  Is Supergirl making your job too easy these days, Detective Sawyer?”

“Girls!  What did I tell you?” Eliza scolded playfully.

“Geez, okay mom!” Maggie quipped in response.

“And Lena, did you always want to be a CEO?  I’m guessing not?”  Shit.  Lena had been so caught up in Maggie’s story, and then in making fun of her, that the Luthor childhood conversation had snuck up on her before she could redirect. Shit shit.

Eliza sensed her hesitation.  “Sweetie, it’s okay, we don’t have to talk about it—”

“Nope. Nuh uh, come on now L’il Luthor.  I gave my sob story.  It’ll be good for you to share yours.  I promise, we got you.”  Maggie interrupted Eliza, but her voice was full of confidence and support.

Inspired by her talk with Kara the previous night and with Maggie’s willingness to share her own troubled childhood, Lena decided to go for it.  “Honestly, Eliza, I didn’t have any choice in the matter.  I’m an engineer and a scientist at heart.  Business has never been my thing.  But I was raised a Luthor.  I was groomed to have a role at LuthorCorp.”

Lena chuckled.  “Though, I’m sure Mother never expected that her hateful views would result in Lex arrested and her in hiding and me becoming CEO and leading the family company in a completely different direction.  Small victories.  Anyways … I’m sure you’ve already heard plenty of horror stories about the evils of my family.”

“Oh come on, L’il Luthor, it’s not like anyone lumps you in with them anymore.”  Maggie offered.  Lena thought that was rich.

“Says the woman who arrested me for breaking my mother out of prison.”  Lena had long since let that go, and she and Maggie were good enough friends now that she felt she could get away with the wisecrack without hurting Maggie’s feelings.  Not that Eliza knew that.

“You did what now?!”  Her eyes were wide in shock, and Lena suddenly couldn’t stop laughing.  Maggie immediately joined her, and Eliza looked at them both like they were crazy.  Which only made them laugh harder.  Lena was sure they were making a scene, but she couldn’t stop.  She laughed until her ribs ached from the effort.

Eliza waited patiently for them to calm down.  When they finally did, Maggie didn’t even acknowledge her question, instead turning to Lena and joking, “Damn Luthor, you’re never gonna let me live that down, are you?”

“Of course not.  The North remembers.”  Maggie’s brow furrowed, and Lena remembered that Alex hadn’t gotten her into Game of Thrones yet.  “Ugh, Maggie.  If Kara and I come over too, will you finally give in to Alex’s insistence that you watch Game of Thrones?”

“Ugh, why do you keep trying to force this geek shit on me?!” Maggie knew just how to push her buttons. 

“It’s ultra violent, gory geek shit, and you would fucking love it.”  Lena’s eyes grew wide, and she turned to Eliza.  “Apologies, Eliza, for the rough language.”  Lena felt embarrassed that Maggie had goaded her into her casual talking shit voice—dropping an f-bomb in front of Kara’s adopted mom was absolutely not part of the game plan for this little retreat.

Eliza laughed softly.  “Lena, I raised Alex.  I’m used to whatever salty language you wanna throw at me.  Don’t censor yourself on my account.  As far as I’m concerned, it just means that I’ve made you feel comfortable.”  Lena smiled brightly at that.  Eliza was just about everything Lena had ever wanted in a mom.  She was almost jealous of the Danvers sisters.

Eliza continued, looking back and forth between them.  “I didn’t realize that you two were such good friends.  It’s really great that you four girls have formed this little family of yours.  Alex and Kara are as happy as I’ve ever seen them.  I’m so happy they have you both in their lives.”  Lena tried really hard not to tear up.  Eliza stood up and nodded towards the door.  But as both Lena and Maggie stood and walked forward, she stopped them both, wrapping an arm around each and pulling them in for a hug.

“Listen.  I don’t know what the hell is wrong with your parents.  I’m angry on your behalf for what you’ve both had to go through.  You’re both lovely ladies, and you deserve better.”  She pulled back, smiling brightly.  “No pressure, but if either of you need a mom, I’m here for you.  All I ask in return is that you love my girls with everything you’ve got.”

“You’ve got a deal, Dr. D!” Maggie beamed.  Lena nodded enthusiastically in agreement. 

“Wonderful!  Now let’s go see what trouble they’ve gotten themselves into.”

                                                  

In hindsight, Lena should not have been surprised that spending time with Eliza in Midvale wouldn’t really be much different from spending time with Kara and Alex in National City.  The five of them were back in PJs, curled up under blankets in the Danvers living room with popcorn and wine.  Movie night.  Eliza had never seen Get Out, which was just wrong.  Maggie had insisted on it.  But then Kara had insisted on Ghostbusters (the one with Kate McKinnon, obviously) as a chaser.  Maggie insisted the ending of Get Out was a plenty happy note to end the night on (because of course Maggie would find the murder of all the creepy white people a happy ending—actually, Lena kinda agreed, in a fascinatingly morbid way).  But Kara had been adamant that they needed to end the night on goofiness, so here they were.  Lena was sure it had nothing to do with Kara’s massive crush on Kristen Wiig.

It was a perfectly, wonderfully relaxed night.  Kara was the sort of person who really acted out the tension and stress she felt during horror movies or thrillers, and she spent the entirety of the first movie in wrapping herself in various positions around Lena and hiding her face against Lena’s shoulder, chest, or lap.  It was the most adorable thing Lena could imagine, and one of her absolute favourite things about Kara.  She wasn’t the only one either; she caught both Alex and Eliza glancing over at Kara’s antics with bright smiles at least once each.

After Get Out, they all took a breather.  Pee breaks, emotional processing, etc.  Kara took Lena by the hand and led her silently up to Alex’s old room, which had these large windows that opened like doors out onto the first floor roof.  As they walked out into the chilly night air, Kara explained,  “Alex and I actually shared this room for the first few years I lived here.  At first, she and I were really close.  Her presence helped me deal with my sadness, and I think she was just generally kind of fascinated with the alien girl who was suddenly forced into her life.  Eventually, we stopped getting along so well, and I moved into what had previously been Jeremiah’s study.”  Her voice grew softer at the mention of his name, and Lena wrapped her arms around Kara.

“But Alex and I would come out here a lot back then.  Better view of the stars here, at least for the unaided eye.”  Lena stepped around so that she was in front of Kara, and gripped Kara’s hands in her own, arms down at their sides.  She stood up on her toes and kissed Kara softly.

“I didn’t realize how much it would mean to me to see your childhood home, Kara.  I’m gaining all these tiny and remarkable little details and insights into who you are and what has shaped you since you came to this planet.”  She bit her lip and marveled at the reflection of the stars in the deep blue of Kara’s eyes.  “We’ve been here for a day, and I already feel like I know you so much better than I did before.  Darling, thank you for bringing me here.”

Kara didn’t respond.  She simply took Lena’s hands and wrapped them around her own waist, then wrapped hers similarly around Lena.  Her intentions were clear, prompting a wide smile on Lena’s face.  Kara pulled Lena flush against her, and they began swaying to imaginary music.   As Lena sighed into her girlfriend’s familiar scent, their bodies lifted gently from the shingles of the roof.

If Lena had stopped to think about it, she might have scoffed at how the moment was the sappiest, most romantic thing she had ever been a part of.  But Lena’s mind was completely off.  She was fully in the moment, living in the sensation of Kara’s warmth contrasting with the nippy breeze of the late autumn night.  All the tension was gone from her, and she felt completely safe and secure.  Lena didn’t know if she’d ever felt this light.

“Be less adorable, you two.”  Alex’s voice pierced through the moment, and they dropped suddenly the few inches back onto the roof.  “Sorry to interrupt, but it’s Ghostbusters time.”  Kara grinned at her sister, and Lena hid her slight disappointment.  She had no idea how long they had been floating there, but she felt as though she could’ve been happy in that moment forever. 

They walked back downstairs in comfortable silence, Kara and Lena walking hand-in-hand.  Eliza and Maggie were waiting with fresh popcorn and more wine.  Maggie joked, “Alright L’il Danvers, this movie better be as funny as you say.  Otherwise I’m definitely gonna pass out on top of your sister after this glass of wine.”

Alex dropped down on top of her.  “Oh no, that would be just soo terrible.”  Maggie made a goofy face and then pressed a quick kiss to her lips.

“Ugh get a room, you two,” Lena quipped as she sat back down in her spot on the couch, Kara already pressed in tightly to her side.  They all settled back in, and Kara started the movie.  She had already made Lena watch the movie a couple of times, but Eliza and Maggie seemed to enjoy it just fine.  However, by the end of it, Lena and Eliza were the only two left awake.  Maggie and Alex were both snoozing upright, leaned against each other.  Kara had settled her head into Lena’s lap halfway through the movie, and at some point, Lena’s soft strokes through her hair had lulled the beautiful alien to sleep too.

As the credits rolled, Eliza caught her eye.  They smiled at each other, and while Lena knew that the older woman was beyond joyful to have them all in her home, to see her girls this happy, there was also a well of sadness under that smile.  My mother has caused so much pain and suffering for so many more people than just me.  Yet here is Eliza, still a shining, strong beacon of support for her daughters and their loved ones.  Still a pillar of the scientific community working to make the world a better place.  Lena didn’t know how to say it out loud, but she tried to convey all the admiration and appreciation she had for Eliza into the smile she gave her.  Eliza nodded as if she understood, at least partially.

Then she stood up and gently shook Alex and Maggie awake as Lena did the same for Kara.  “Time for bed girls.”  She grinned, adding, “Unless you’re just dying for a living room slumber party tonight.”

They all went their separate ways and retired for the night.  Laying there next to Kara, Lena’s mind wandered to and fro at the conversations and experiences she’d had in Midvale so far.  She couldn’t be sure exactly how long she lay awake, quietly pondering.  But one of the last thoughts she had as she drifted off felt earth-shattering, in the best possible way.  Perhaps I don’t need to bury my old family to build a life with my new one.  Maybe I really can just let it go.

Chapter Text

Chapter 9

Ruby was spending the weekend out of town for a vocal competition with her school choir, so now was the perfect time to get some answers.  Sam was trying not to collapse under the weight of her freak out, but she needed answers.  Desperately.

The night Supergirl had saved Lena from Edge’s plane, after Lena and Kara had left her home, she had gone up to her bedroom and begun to undress.  As she untucked her shirt and began unbuttoning it, she heard something metallic fall and bounce on the wood floor.  Reaching down, she found something bizarre and terrifying on the floor: a crumpled metal shard.  She picked it up, holding it between her thumb and index finger, and she started as she realized it was a bullet.  Or it used to be.  Dropping it in shock, she reached for her blouse.  There was a perfectly round hole in it that she hadn’t noticed until now.  She reached back for her blazer.  Matching hole.  What the fuck? 

It was really fortunate that she was exhausted, but she had no logical explanation.  Resolving to figure it out in the light of day (hey, maybe it’s a sleep-deprived hallucination), she had set the bullet on her dresser and gone to bed.  It was still there the next morning.  And she still had no explanation.  She did her best to focus on work; she had to, since Lena was out of town.  She had wanted to talk to Lena when she got home, but that was about Kara.  This was a whole other thing to discuss, and she had no clue where to start.  Would Lena think she was crazy?  Would she muddy the waters with the other conversation, which was ultimately so much more important?

Sam really tried, but she was really struggling by Friday night.  She was cooking dinner for her and Ruby, and—on a whim—she had thrust her hand into a boiling pot of water.   She didn’t recoil.  She kept the hand in the scalding water for a good twenty seconds.  As she pulled it out, she was astonished by the impossible.  Her hand was completely fine, not a single blotch, welt, or burn.  Not only that, but she hadn’t felt any pain; the water had felt pleasantly warm.  She’d have laughed if it wasn’t so damn eerie.

Thoughts raced through her head.  I have … powers now?  Am I an alien? A … what was it called … metahuman?  Why now?  I’m 31; why hasn’t this ever happened before?  Am I invulnerable?  Like Supergirl?  Can I fly, too?

The rest of her night was spent with Ruby, which had distracted her enough to keep her from falling off a cliff in conspiracy theories.  After Ruby had gone to sleep, she had gone outside to see whether maybe, just maybe, she could fly.  Turns out, she could not.  She had then stayed up until nearly 2 a.m. googling aliens, metahumans, latent powers, developing abilities in your thirties, government experiments … anything that could make sense of this.  Ultimately, it had only confused her further.

So now, she was on a mission.  The drive took her a little under four hours, but she had finally reached the small town where she had spent the first 17 years of her life.  It was early afternoon, and Sam wasn’t sure whether she hoped her mom—Patricia—was home or not.  As she got out of the SUV, she was flooded with feelings of nostalgia.  The slight incline of the green grass hill.  The large bushes mostly obscuring the front porch of the nondescript two-story house.

As she walked slowly up the hill and onto the porch, she noticed the same wicker chair set was still there all these years later.  As she stopped in front of the door, she hesitated again.  Do I really want to do this?  No, came the quick response, but you need answers.  She knocked.

Patricia’s voice answered immediately, as if she were in the next room, and it sounded exactly as Sam remembered it.  “Coming.”  As she came into view, Sam felt so strange about seeing her again.  She looked quite a lot older than when Sam left, but still had those same thick-rimmed dark glasses.  When Patricia caught sight of her through the glass door pane, she stopped suddenly, just for a moment.  It was understandable that she would be surprised—Sam hadn’t been here in fourteen years.  Then she opened the door, and Sam said the first thing that came to mind.

“Hi Patricia.”  Her adopted mom didn’t answer; she simply smiled that half smile of hers, then pursed her lips and moved aside to let Sam in.  Patricia began walking towards the den.  Sam followed.  The silence was uncomfortable as hell.  Patricia indicated that she should take a seat on the couch and told her quietly that she would go make some tea.  She shuffled off to the kitchen without looking at Sam again.

It was five minutes or so before she reentered the room with a tray carrying a pitcher of iced tea and two glasses.  She sat it down on the dining room table and began pouring the tea.  She still hadn’t looked at Sam since she entered the house, not even as she handed her a glass of tea.  As she poured her own glass, she asked, “So it's just you? You didn't bring, um...”

“Ruby?” Sam finished pointedly. 

Patricia finally turned to her, but continued to stand by the table.  She drew a sharp breath before replying, “I've never met the girl, so I don't think you should expect me to keep her name straight.”  Oh right. Thanks. Bitch.

Sam shook her head in disbelief.  “Well, you kicked me out for having her. I didn't think you'd want to meet her.”

Patricia walked forward to take a seat across as she responded, “No, you ... you made your choice. You had to know that there would be consequences.”  There was no regret in the woman’s voice, which sounded almost scolding.

“I was a kid,” Sam whispered, her frustration coming out.

“You know as well as anyone that the moment you become pregnant, you're not a kid anymore.”

“So I didn't deserve a support system?!  Married adults have children all the time.  They need their parents.”

Patricia shook her head.  “I would have just been a crutch for you.”  She stood as said that, then walked back to the table.  Her voice didn’t show it, but Sam could tell the conversation was becoming uncomfortable for her.

“You were my mother!”  Sam couldn’t believe it.  She hadn’t changed a bit.

Patricia turned back from the table, her eyes flashing angrily.  “And I always wanted what was best for you!”

“So you just let me leave?!”  Sam stood.

“That’s not what I wanted to have happen, at all.”  The emotion was starting to seep into Patricia’s voice now.

Sam released a long breath, closing her eyes as she asked, “Do you know how hard it was for me to come here?”

“Well, then why did you?”  Her voice was cold again.

“You’re unbelievable.”  Sam couldn’t look at her.  She shook her head and took a step back.  “Some things have been happening.”  Sam glanced up to see that Patricia had removed her glasses.  “I guess I was just wondering if … growing up, uh, if I ever did anything strange?”

“Well, what do you mean by ‘strange?’"

“I don't know, did I fall—like, fall—and not get hurt?  Did I ever lift anything really heavy?”

She shook her head as she replied, “No.”  She turned again to take a few paces.  “No, nothing like that.”

“Nothing?!”  There had to have been something.  This couldn’t have just come out of nowhere.

“No!”  Patricia turned back to face her again.  All her movement—was she nervous?  Hiding something?

Sam looked down at her feet, sighing.  “Okay. Uh ... well, maybe you could help me find something out about my birth mother?”  She felt like she was grasping at straws now.

“Well, why do you want to know about her?”  The glasses were back on.  Seriously?

“You know what? Just forget it.”  She waved her hands dismissively and turned to leave. “Sorry I bothered you,” she spat as she walked away.  Then she stopped.  Fuck it.  Without turning to face her mother, she explained,  “I was at a press event. …  Someone had a gun and got off a few shots, but no one was hurt.” Now she turned, fixing her eyes on Patricia’s.  “I got home, and I found a hole in my coat.  Found a little piece of metal.”  She indicated with her hand, holding her finger and thumb as she had a few days ago when she first picked it up off the floor.  She couldn’t keep the emotion, the fear and frustration, out of her voice anymore.  “A bullet.  It was completely flattened.  I got shot, and it didn't puncture my skin!  I got shot, and I didn't feel it.”  Her eyes were brimming with tears now.  “How could I not feel it?  Patricia!  What is happening?!”

Patricia had been avoiding her gaze again.  But now she looked straight at Sam, pulled off her glasses again nervously, then said, “Follow me,” and turned to walk away.  They walked in silence out the back door and around the house to the rickety old shed almost tucked away in the surrounding trees.  They entered, and Patricia turned on the light.  They walked in, and she gestured towards a large object covered in a nondescript beige tarp.  Sam had a feeling she knew what was under there and didn’t hesitate to step forward and pull the tarp away.

She revealed something distinctly alien.  It was a pod-like spaceship, roughly the size of a small sedan.  It was almost fish-like, with a snub nose in front of a round pilot’s compartment, with three large fins in the back.  The whole thing was a sleek charcoal colour, with faded brownish red accents.

“You asked about your birth mom.  I lied.  I didn't adopt you.”  Sam withdrew her gaze from the ship, turning back to her mother.  “I found you.  In this.”

Sam stared at her incredulously.  This was the answer she had been looking for; the answer that part of her had expected.  But she couldn’t wrap her head around it.  She looked back at the ship.  “I ...”  She shook her head, exhale slowly as she closed her eyes.  “I... I just... I—I don't understand.”  She continued to blink rapidly, in shock.

“I didn't, either.  I didn't know where you were from or who left you in this thing, or why.  And you just, you looked so damn helpless—” Patricia paused, looking down, “—that I took you home.”  She looked back at Sam as she said ‘home,’ and there was still love in those eyes. 

But that didn’t change the fact that she had kept this secret all these years.  “Were you ever gonna tell me?”

“I swore that I would tell you when you turned eighteen.  But you were gone by then.  And I thought, ‘Well maybe, maybe that's better.’  That you would be better off out there on your own without knowing.”

“That I'm an alien?” Sam finished.

“Sam.  I just wanted you to have a normal life.”

She turned and examined the ship.  There were some strange symbols—alien writing, perhaps—just behind the cockpit.  As she gently glided her hand over them, they lit up red.  At the same time, the readout in the cockpit came to life in the same red lighting, and a thin, pale, aquamarine crystal rose out of a panel just in front of the cockpit.  It was maybe ten inches long, and as she pulled it out from the panel it faded to an inky black.  The moment she grasped it, she felt something course through her body.  Like energy, but not quite.  Like her body had a realization that her mind hadn’t caught up to yet. 

I’m an alien.  I always have been.  Am I like Supergirl?  Or more like the Daxamites?  Where am I from?  How can I find out?  How do I tell Ruby about this?  Thought after thought, question after question, raced through her mind.  I won’t find my answers here.  But this—she gazed down at the black crystal—might show me the way.  It felt almost as though it were beckoning her forward, directing her on a path.

She had only been there for maybe twenty minutes.  And she was very clearly not going to be repairing any burned bridges.  So, she said her stiff goodbyes and warned her mother not to move the ship.  “I’ve got to figure some things out, but this is key.  No more secrets.  I deserve to know who I am.”  She walked to her SUV and drove off. 

Part of her felt like it was crazy, but she just sort of … followed her gut on where she should be going.  She drove west and at some point the crystal began pulsing with greenish white light, faintly at first but with increasing brightness as she approached her destination.  It had taken her out into the desert, and as she turned onto a narrow dirt path, the crystal lit up fully, no longer pulsing.  It looked exactly as it had when it had first popped up from the ship.  Suddenly her engine shut off, seemingly of its own accord.

Sam pulled to a stop, confused.  The sun had long since faded away into the night, but the moon was full and bright, with not a cloud in the sky.  There was nothing here.  But again, she followed her instincts, turning off the path and walking away from her SUV.  She walked a few hundred yards when the brush cleared out, and a large spot of bare, dry earth spread out before her.  The crystal began pulsing again, more strongly this time.  She kept walking, the warm sun baking down on her. 

As she stopped, the crystal flashed brightly, then the earth shook around her.  The ground in front of her began to crack and crumble, and she fell back, onto her ass.  What the fuck have you gotten yourself into here, Sam?  Giant pointed columns, almost like stalagmites of stone and sand, began to erupt from the ground, shooting hundreds of feet in the air and criss-crossing at odd angles.  The structure that began to form was massive, maybe six or seven stories tall and at least twice as wide.  What is this?

Sam approached and found what she assumed was a door.  It was made of the same stone as the structure, but there was a clear outline of a door or a panel that was twice as tall and wide as she was.  It responded to her touch by splitting down the middle and sliding apart.  As she entered, she found herself in a cave-like tunnel that was dimly lit by an ambient light that seemed to come from nowhere.  Here and there, scattered across the walls of the tunnel and embedded in random outcropping of stone were glowing red … gems?  Lights?  She couldn’t be sure. 

The tunnel was maybe 50 yards deep, then it opened into a vast chamber.  She looked around in wonder as she entered it.  The lighting was still dim here, but she could make out the ceiling so high above her—it appeared to be formed by the criss-crossing of the giant columns forming the structure.  The back of the room featured a large raised podium with a central staircase made of dark obsidian steps.  In the center of the room, tilted towards her, was some sort of raised sigil, in the same obsidian stone and roughly the size of a coffee table.  It was the exact shame oblong pentagonal shape as Supergirl’s crest, but with a very different shape at its center.  It looked terrifyingly like a human skull with its mouth wide open.

Okay, now I’m starting to get creeped out.  Do I come from some sort of alien death cult?  Because I did not sign up for that.  She walked around and found that the back of the sigil was a desk-sized panel.  In its center was a circular hole perfectly sized to hold the crystal vertically, so she inserted it.  The crystal lowered into the panel mechanically, locking into place with maybe half its length sticking out of the hole.  The panel lit up in red lights and the same strange symbols from the ship.  Woah.

Sam looked around the room to see if anything else had activated, and that’s when she saw that she wasn’t alone.  A cloaked figure, all in black, stood between the sigil and the entrance.  Or rather a hologram of a cloaked figure.  The same figure from my nightmares?  Under the hood, Sam could finally see the figure’s face, a human-appearing woman with dark eyes.  She was beautiful.  As Sam walked towards the hologram, she spoke.

“You’ve come.”  She said it as if it was inevitable.  Her voice was clear and regal, with an almost British-sounding accent.  She spoke, however, with very little emotion.  It was a little unnerving. “I imagine you have questions.  I have answers.”

“I’ve seen you,” Sam muttered, continued to walk closer.  “In my dreams.  What are you?”

The hologram of the woman didn’t move at all.  “Science.  Magic.  Information.  Your friend.”  Friend, huh?  Sam felt conflicted about this woman.  Part of her didn’t trust the hologram, but another part felt as though she recognized the voice of an old friend.  Focus Sam.  Questions now, sort out your feelings later.

“What is this place?”

“This is your fortress.  A piece of your world, the dead planet Krypton.”  Sam gaped at the hologram, as everything clicked into place.  So I am like Supergirl.  Kryptonian.

She began to circle the hologram, working through her thoughts aloud.  “I always knew I was different, but I always thought … it was because I was adopted.  But ... it wasn't.”  She stopped directly behind the hologram, which continued to face forward.  Sam took a few breaths, processing this revelation.  “I'm like Supergirl.”

“You are so much more than that.  You are a culmination of centuries of work, a being designed for one purpose: to execute justice.”

“I'm a hero?”

Finally the woman turned, her face tight with concern.  A beam of light hit her just so, and oddly, it gave her the appearance of being more solid.  It also accentuated a detail Sam only just now noticed, that same crest on the woman’s chest, about half the size of Supergirl’s crest and all in a silver outline.  The woman cautioned her, “They will not call you a hero.  They will call you ‘Worldkiller.’  They will try to contain your power, but they will fail.  You will show no mercy to those who oppose you.  Your justice will burn the world of man.”

As the woman spoke this dark omen, Sam’s heart dropped out of her chest.  She went from elation to horror in under three seconds.  Her chest felt tight, and everything in her wanted to reject what this woman was saying.  Except for that one tiny voice in the back of her head, like a dark version of herself, whispering that it was all true.

“No!  I'm not … a Worldkiller.”  She whispered the terrifying moniker.  “I'm not, I’m not a Worldkiller!  I have a life!  Beloved family and friends. … I have a daughter.”

“Your offspring was an unfortunate error. Your powers were supposed to manifest when you came of age.  She delayed the realization of your destiny.”

Alright, now I’m pissed.  “She is not an error!”

“You will soon forget her. You will soon forget all mortal trappings.”  

It’s true.  You know it’s true.  That voice was getting louder.  Sam’s chest tightened further, the fear threatening to overwhelm her.  “No. This can't be right.”

“It is time for you to emerge.  It is time for you to become Reign.”  The tightness in her chest erupted into white hot pain, and she felt paralyzed.  Like her body was be compressed in and exploded out at the same time.  She felt as though she couldn’t breathe.  She screamed in pain, collapsing to the ground.  And then the darkness consumed her.

Chapter Text

Chapter 10

Saturday was unseasonably warm, so the five of them decided to head to the beach.  Alex was so excited about teaching Maggie to surf.  If was fortunate that Eliza had kept Alex’s old wetsuits from when she was a teenager; Maggie managed to fit into one of them, and Alex spent a good chunk of the day making fun of her for it.  Alex and Maggie even convinced Eliza to join them, despite not having surfed in years.

Lena and Kara, on the other hand, were dressed in casual attire.  Kara was in jeans and a large navy, knitted wool sweater, while Lena was in a flowy, deep red high low belted dress under a leather jacket.  They had no interest in surfing, just in enjoying the sand under their feet, the smell of the ocean and the salt in the air.  From the minute they had hit the sand, Kara had kicked her sneakers off, and Lena had followed suit once the fivesome had laid down some blankets and arranged their cooler and other items just so.  Kara had looked so radiant in the midday sunlight on the beach.  It was like Lena could almost see the solar radiation radiating power and warmth throughout her body.  It was breathtaking and sexy. 

Now, Lena and Kara were laying back, side-by-side with their shoulders and upper arms touching, just taking in the bright blue sky.  Pushing herself up slightly so that she could look at Lena, Kara asked, “Hey, do you wanna go for a walk along the beach?”  Lena reached up and put a hand on Kara’s cheek.  “Of course I do, darling.”  Kara put her hand over Lena’s, then pulled it softly from her cheek and kissed it.  Then she stood and helped Lena up. 

At first, they walked in silence, holding hands and appreciating the steady crashing of the waves.   But Lena could only contain her curiosity for so long.  She had a feeling Kara had something specific on her mind.  “Kara, love, is there something you’d like to talk about?”

She glanced over just enough to see Kara’s face scrunch a little.  She’s nervous.  Lena squeezed her hand encouragingly, and as they continued their stroll, Kara asked a question that took Lena completely by surprise.  “Did you and Sam ever date?”

The question stopped her in her tracks.  She looked at Kara quizzically.  “Where on Earth is this question coming from?”  She wasn’t upset, just confused.  Caught off guard.

“I promise I’m going somewhere with this.  But I don’t know, I just have a feeling.  Before me, she was the only person you really had in your life, who really knew you and who had earned your trust.  Plus you’re both so hot, just like wow.”  Lena raised an eyebrow at her stuttering girlfriend.  “You’re right, so not the point.  But still.  Like I said … just a vibe, I guess?”

Hmmm.  Lena chuckled, then took Kara’s hand again and continued walking.  “Yes.  We dated.  For almost a year.  When we first met, she was skeptical of me.  Didn’t trust the Luthor with the silver spoon in her mouth.  But she captivated me instantly, and I worked my ass off to prove to her that I wasn’t what she thought.  We hooked up a few times, but it was more than that.”

Lena swallowed hard.  She hadn’t really had to face the failure of that relationship in a long time.  Never since she had become the person she was today.  “I … I fucked it up pretty royally.  I made sure our relationship stayed a secret.  I wouldn’t even let her tell Ruby.  It was hard enough learning to let someone in, and even though I wanted to, I never quite let Sam in until much later, when we were just friends.  But the thing that really terrified me was Mother.  I had no idea what consequences I might face if I was publicly outed as a lesbian.”  This time it was Kara who squeezed Lena’s hand reassuringly.

“I was awful to Sam.  We were desperately in love, but I wasn’t mature enough to handle that.  And I definitely wasn’t ready to be anything like a mother figure to Ruby.  Eventually, Sam couldn’t take it anymore, and she broke it off.  She said she deserved better, and she was absolutely right.”  Lena teared up a little.  She loved Sam so much.  She was her dearest friend, and the guilt over how badly she hurt Sam still pained her tremendously.

Lena stopped them, turning to face Kara while releasing her hand.  She looked down, crossing her arms.  “Kara, I was awful.  I really hurt her.  It’s been years now, and things are great between us, but … I’ve never really faced what I did to her.”  Lena just stood there, looking at her feet, waiting for Kara to comment on how awful she was.  Instead, Kara place her index finger under Lena’s chin and raised her head until they were looking at each other.  Then she kissed her.  Lena didn’t know why should be surprised.  Kara was such an angel.

“We’ve all done bad things in the past, Lena.  No one is perfect, and you’ve been through more than most in your life.  The important thing is that you and Sam were able to forge ahead anyway, and now you’re in a place where you would never hurt each other.”  Lena glanced away from the confident belief beaming from Kara’s baby blues, then breathed in and out before turning back and facing her.

“You’re right.  It still hurts, and I still feel like I should talk to her about it, even if we’re past it.  I’m a different person now.”

“I’m sure she would appreciate that.  But we’ve got more to talk about right now.”

They started walking again.  “Indeed.  So why are we delving into my past love life?”

“I guess I’m curious about Sam.  Also now I’m just more curious about your past with her.  How were you two able to get past the break up?”  If Kara had ulterior motives, which would be unusual for Kara anyway, they did not show on her face.

“I … we … time, mostly.  I think that’s the answer.  We were both decently high ranking employees at LuthorCorp, and neither of us really fit in that well with our peers in the company.  So, it was hard to avoid each other.  And we just … genuinely cared for each other.  Despite all the hurt feelings and the confusion, it was hard for all the little things we liked about each other to not come bubbling to the surface when we interacted.  Eventually, she snapped at me.  Blew up over how the relationship ended and how I treated her.  She did it because she wanted to be friends, because she couldn’t imagine her life without me in it.  But we couldn’t do that until I faced what I had done and apologized.  So, I did.  And it took time to repair the damage, but eventually we built something stronger than what we had when we were dating.  Before I met you, she and Ruby were my family.  My only family, even if I hadn’t realized that yet.”

Lena sighed.  “I still worry, though.”

“About?”

“Well, have you noticed that Sam doesn’t really do relationships?  I worry … ugh this sounds narcissistic, but the timing is right.  I worry that I’m the reason.  That I hurt her so badly that she didn’t want to risk it again.”

“That’s certainly possible.  But Lena, that’s on Sam.  Not you.  You’ve apologized.  The two of you have moved past it.  If the experience is holding her back from letting herself experience true love again, then that’s a problem she has to work out for herself.  It’s a point of growth, sort of like how you’re struggling to overcome your issues caused by your own past.”

“Darling, you’re not worried that I might leave you for Sam, are you?”  Lena didn’t think that was it, but she still wasn’t sure where the conversation was going.

“No!”  Kara stopped and looked at Lena firmly.  “No, Lena. Definitely not.  I absolutely trust you, and I get that you and Sam are just friends.”

“So then, what are you getting at here?  This feels out of nowhere.”

Kara got really awkward all of the sudden, turning away and pacing as she fiddled with her hands.  “I …  Rao, okay. So—”

Lena interrupted.  “Darling, it’s fine.  You don’t have to be so nervous.  Here—” she gestured to a nearby outcropping of rocks.  “Let’s sit.”

They sat, and Kara tried to explain.  “Umm, you know … it’s just that Sam is really flirty with me.  Have you ever noticed that?”

Lena had noticed it, and she found it curious and unusual.  But she had been going through her own shit and then the stuff with Edge popped up, and she hadn’t given it much thought.  Much less talked to Sam about it.  Still, as she sat there pondering it now, it didn’t bother her, not really.  Kara was adorable and sexy and fun, and Lena had flirted with her relentlessly back before they started dating.  Putting some pieces together, that raised some possibly concerning questions about Sam’s intentions, but Lena knew deep down that Sam wouldn’t do anything to hurt her.

“Yeah, I’ve noticed it.  Kara, are you saying that Sam is making you uncomfortable?  Because I’m sure she doesn’t mean—”

Kara cut her off.  “Leeeeeeena, no.  I mean.  I know Sam wouldn’t intentionally make me uncomfortable.  I’m also pretty sure she wouldn’t intentionally hurt you.  I guess I’m just kinda curious.  Like … is that just who she is?  Is she just overly flirty with everyone she starts to get comfortable with?”

“No.”  Lena confirmed.  “She really doesn’t.  I almost never see her flirt unless she’s trying to pick a woman up.”  She was a little anxious about where this conversation was going, but she also genuinely wanted to deal with whatever appeared to be troubling Kara.  “Which I guess raises some interesting questions, huh?”

Kara giggled.  Lena couldn’t quite tell if it was nervous giggling or something else.  Kara responded, tentatively, “Lena?  Am I a terrible girlfriend if I kinda like that she flirts with me?”  Kara looked genuinely worried, and she reached out and took Lena’s hands as she asked.  Which really helped, actually.  Kara was very clearly signaling that all she cared about was protecting Lena and discussing how they each felt about this … development.

“Darling, no.  Sam’s an incredible flirt, and she’s a delightful friend.  I’m not at all surprised that you would enjoy her attention.”  Lena thought about it, realizing something.  “It’s actually … really cute?  Does that sound crazy?”  Kara shook her head, smiling brightly at Lena.  Lena took a breath and admitted what was on her mind.  “Kara, I think she has a crush on you.”

Kara gaped at her.  Clearly she had not expected Lena to be so blunt.  Then she blushed furiously.  “You think she …  I?  Pssh.  What?”  Sputtering Kara was the absolute most adorable Kara.  Lena kissed her silly.  Kara went with it, but when Lena pulled away, she seemed even more flustered.  “Ummmmm.  I’m not complaining, but what was that for?”

“You’re just thoroughly adorable, darling, and I couldn’t help myself.”  Lena winked, and this time it actually appeared to help calm Kara, at least a little. 

“So, you don’t hate me?”

“Kara, I love you.  You know that.”

“I love you, too.  So so much.  That’s why I’m not really sure what’s going on here.”  Kara’s conflict and confusion were evident in her voice and body language.  Lena felt conflicted too and more than a little hurt, now that she knew what was going on with Kara.  But … she didn’t want Kara to feel bad about something she couldn’t help.

“Love.  It’s okay.  Sam has a crush on you, and it makes you feel weird, probably confused, right?”  Kara nodded.  Now for the hard part.  “Do you have any idea why it might make you feel that way?”  Kara thought about it for a little while, and then just looked at Lena, lost.  “Could it be because you maybe have a tiny bit of a crush on her, too?”

“Ummm what now?”  Kara’s voice sounded approximately three octaves higher.  “I mean.  No.  I love you.”

“Of course you do, darling, but what does that have to do with whether or not you have a crush on Sam?”  Now that she was starting to get a sense of what was going on, Lena couldn’t resist messing with Kara a little.  Plus it helped her to avoid letting her mind race forward and think about all the possible outcomes and challenges that could come out of this revelation.

“I just … I thought that was how it goes on Earth.  I mean, if I love you, and I’m committed to you, I’m not supposed to crush on anyone else, right?”  Kara seemed nervous and confused and completely unsure of herself.  So, Lena scooted closer and put and arm around her.

“Kara.  Did you choose to like that Sam flirts with you, or did it just happen?”  Kara rolled her eyes, since the answer was obvious, but still, she shook her head.  “No, you didn’t.  We can’t help how we feel.  If, as I suspect is the case, Sam likes you, she can’t help that.”  Lena drew a sharp breath, more than a little afraid of her next point.  “Just like you can’t help it if you have feelings for her too.”

Immediately, Kara had turned to her and pressed her forehead to Lena’s.  They just sat there like that for maybe a minute, then Kara kissed Lena’s forehead and searched her eyes.  “I’m here.  With youTogether.”  She doesn’t want to hurt me.  She’s just as scared as I am.  But yeah. Yeah.  We’re in this together.

Lena nodded, blinking back a few tears.  “I know.  I believe you.  I’m just scared.” 

Kara started at that.  “Scared of what?”

“Kara, I …”  Lena hated feeling insecure.  But she wanted to be completely honest with her girlfriend.  “Sam is so much warmer and more open than I am.  She doesn’t have all this emotional baggage that she’s trying to work through.  I know that you love me, but I just—”

“But nothing!”  Kara shouted, taking Lena’s face into both hands.  “Sweetie.  I love you.  All of you.”  She gestured widely at everything around them.  “I brought you here because I want to help you with your baggage, not run away from it.”  Lena felt reassured, but the doubt was still there. 

Almost as if she could see it in her eyes, Kara continued.  “Look, we’re being completely brutally honest here, with each other and ourselves, right?”  Lena nodded once, and Kara exhaled sharply.  “Okay.  Okay … so then, yeah.  I think Sam is an incredible person.  She’s gorgeous.  She’s a wonderful friend and a wonderful mom.  She’s quickly become one of my closest friends, and she’s your family.”  Kara bit her lip and looked away for a second before focusing on Lena again.  “Yes.  There’s something there.  A spark.  I don’t know.  But!  I’m not going to leave you for her.  Not ever.  You’re Lena forking Luthor.  You’re my Lena.”  Kara kissed her, firmly and passionately.

Lena smiled at her, weakly.  “And you’re my Kara.  Maybe I’m just scared of change.  I feel like I just started to figure out my way forward, how to be me.  And the partner you deserve.”

“You already are.  Sure, you’re growing.  And that’s great.  But I am growing too!  We’ll grow together.”

“Ugh.  I love you so much, you know that?”  Kara grinned at her.  “You know… what you said about Earth customs.  It’s not unheard of.  For people to have feelings for multiple people at the same time, that is.  Sometimes even multiple relationships at the same time.”  Kara seemed shocked by that.  “Was it not like that on Krypton?”

“Oh!  No. …  I mean, no that’s not why I’m surprised.  On Krypton, I’m not sure, but I don’t think couples were the exclusive form of romantic relationships accepted by society.  I mean, I was only thirteen when I left—my concepts of love where naïve and romanticized fairy tales really.  My parents were a couple, I assume exclusively, but I remember being aware of other family formations.  “I just … from everything I’ve seen on Earth, people pair off.  I’ve never even heard of, like, a three-person marriage.  And everyone always gets so up in arms about cheating and jealousy and—”

“Yeah, it’s a fraught subject, darling.  We humans haven’t quite figured it all out yet.  But I promise you there are people out there who do actually make it work.  Various forms of non-monogamy work for different people—not everyone is cut out for pairing up in a monogamous couple for their entire lives.”

“Oh.  Well cool.  But.  I don’t know that that is for me.  For us.  I don’t know how Sam fits into this.  But we’ll figure it out together.  Okay?”  Kara’s eyes looked so worried, searching Lena’s for agreement, for reassurance.

Lena kissed her, smiling into Kara’s mouth.  “Okay.  Stronger together, right?”

Kara chuckled.  “Right.”

“Well okay then.  We’ll figure it out.  No rush.  I know that it’s scary.  And maybe a little weird.  Or a lot weird, I don’t know.  As long as we keep talking to each other, we can do anything together.  I love you.”

Kara stood and helped her up again.  They hugged each other tightly, then kissed again.  “I love you, too.”  Then a mischievous look crossed Kara’s face.  She looked around the beach, then closed her eyes.  What’s she doing?  She’s … listening?  Oh!  I see what’s on that dirty mind of yours, Supergirl.

Kara pressed herself against Lena, her arms encircling her waist.  She leaned in and whispered into Lena’s ear, “There’s no one around.”

Instead of responding, Lena pulled away just far enough that she could launch herself into Kara’s arms, tackling her to the sand.  Kara kissed her passionately, pushing her leather jacket off her shoulders as her kisses traced down Lena’s jaw and neck.  Lena thought about teasing her a bit, but she could feel the desire flowing through her body, hot and thick.  So she did the opposite of teasing, reaching down with both hands to unbuckle her belt and lift her dress all the way over her head. 

Lena loved the way Kara’s eyes gazed all the way down her nude form, hungrily.  She smiled, then got back to kissing her girlfriend thoroughly.  Her hands began removing Kara’s clothes indiscriminately.  She wanted her.  Now.

                                                  

They had stayed a couple more days, and each was every bit as relaxing and affirming as the first several.  Today, they were going home, and it felt right.  Lena felt like she was ready to face the world again.  She was standing by herself on the deck of the Danvers’ house, finishing off her third cup of coffee.  She’d never really spent this much time in a place like this, and she took in the quiet scenery one last time.  It was remarkable how different she felt, like she’d cocooned on the flight over and had slowly but surely broken free and spread her wings.

Her reverie was broken as Kara came up behind her.  “Hey babe, you ready to go back to National City?”

Lena grinned, but didn’t turn.  Kara came to a stop just behind her, wrapping her arms around Lena’s waist, and looking out over her shoulder.  Lena responded, “You sure we can’t just stay here forever?”

“Well, I mean you’re rich, right?  We could probably make it work, but I’m not sure Supergirl is all that needed here in Midvale.”

“I guess you’re right.  But let’s come back here more often, okay?”  Lena leaned her head back and pressed it to Kara’s.

“Whatever you want, pineapple.  I’m sure Eliza would love that.”  Kara’s voice was just so warm and kind. 

Lena sat the mug down on the railing and faced Kara.  Seeing her face in the mid-morning sunlight struck a chord in Lena, and before she could think about it any further, she blurted out, “Hey, what if we moved in together?”  Kara crinkled her nose in surprise but smiled broadly.  Lena didn’t wait for answer, plowing ahead with her thought.  “I mean … we’ll have to figure something out.  Your place is wonderful, and I would never want you to give it up, it’s absolutely darling.  But it’s definitely too small for both of us.  I guess … what if we just keep both our places, but they’re like … both ours?  That could totally work, I mean, if you wanted to?”

Realizing that she was babbling like Kara, Lena stopped herself, blushing slightly as she waited for an answer.  Kara smirked.  “Wow, Lena, that’s just a really big commitment, you know?  I don’t know if I’m ready—” seeing Lena’s face start to drop, Kara interrupted herself, exclaiming loudly, “—Of course I’ll move in with you, dummy!  You’ve got to let me redecorate your place, though.  It’s beautiful, but it isn’t exactly homey.”

Lena was so excited.  “Anything you want!  I want my place—our place—to feel like you.  We can discuss any changes you think would be good.  The only area where I must put my foot down is my favourite painting—if we move it, it has to be to somewhere more prominent.  Otherwise it stays where it is.”  Kara laughed loudly—Lena knew that she adored how much Lena loved her painting.  “And you can keep half your wardrobe at my place, including a spare Super suit, or I could always my you some new clothes to keep there.  Do you have some room for a few of my things and some of my clothes at your place?”

Kara looked at her like she had asked a stupid question.  “I will make room silly.  I want my home to be your home.  And I want to spend every night in bed with you.  Wake up to your beautiful face every morning.  Whether that’s at the penthouse or the loft, who cares—because both will be our home.”  Kara looked positively radiant, and Lena thought she might explode from happiness.  She jumped into Kara’s arms and kissed her passionately. 

Then she picked up the empty mug and before Kara could realize what she was doing, she leapt onto Kara’s back.  “Now carry me back inside so we can tell the fam our happy news!”

Chapter Text

Chapter 11

It was a beautiful day, and Kara was beyond happy to be spending the afternoon with these beautiful people.  There had been nothing that needed DEO attention today, and so she, Alex, Lucy, and Vasquez had headed out for a late lunch and drinks.  They had all piled into Vasquez’s Jeep.  Because the top was off, Vasquez and Lucy had been forced to shout to continue flirting with each other, and it had taken all the effort they had for Kara and Alex to not laugh their heads off.

As they walked into the alien bar, Alex gave her a look that said this had become a fairly regular thing whenever the two were together lately.  Kara didn’t understand why these two dummies didn’t just go on a date already.  They were so adorable.  Topics over lunch ranged from mundane DEO gossip to a recap of Kara and Alex’s recent Midvale adventures, and throughout, the two were exchanging looks and finding any excuse for little touches. 

Almost as if she couldn’t take it anymore, Alex asked, “So Vasquez, you seeing anyone?”  Vasquez looked at her like she was crazy, and Alex just grinned impishly in return. 

“Danvers, I don’t see how that’s any of your business, but no, I’m not seeing anyone.”  Lucy had to have already known this, but Kara thought she saw a glint of relief (maybe excitement) in her eyes anyway. 

Alex was quick to come back with, “Would you like to be?”  Kara couldn’t believe how brazen she was being, winking at Lucy when Vasquez looked down at eir lap in embarrassment.  Lucy kicked Alex under the table and glared at her.  Then Vasquez spoke up again.

“And with that, I need to go take a piss.  Danvers, since you’re so keen on getting to know my personal business, would you like to come along?”  Kara honestly wasn’t sure if it was because she felt bad or because she wanted to continue her antagonism, but the whole table was a little shocked when Alex calmly answered, “Sure,” and got up to follow Vasquez to the restroom.

But then Kara was focused on the task at hand.  “Lucy!  This has gone too far.  You ask that agent out right away!”  She kept her voice stern but friendly.  Lucy’s eyes narrowed.

“Look here—” Lucy dropped her voice down to a whisper solely to call Kara “Supergirl” then continued in her normal speaking voice, “—you don’t get to order me around.  Especially about how I handle my crushes on overly attractive agents.  I’m your boss, not the other way around.”

“So you admit that you like em!”  Kara didn’t even pretend to care about Lucy’s scolding.

“Of course I like em!  Anyone with eyes can see that!  I know it.  Ey know it.  But neither of us has made a move, and there’s a reason for that.  You think I don’t wanna pull em aside and push em in a back room in the DEO somewhere and just kiss em silly?!  But I’m eir boss!  I know that ey like me back.  I know that it’s mutual.  But I still don’t want to feel like I’m coercing anything.  Or making em feel awkward or uncomfortable.  So, until ey make a move, I just can’t Kara.” 

“Oh Lucy, you precious angel.  Has it ever occurred to you to just, I don’t know, talk to Vasquez about it?  Maybe tell em exactly what you just told me?”

Lucy made as if to argue, then stopped.  A look of incredulity spread across her features.  “I’m an idiot, aren’t I?”

“But you’re a very cute one.  Also, I’m pretty sure Vasquez is a fan of how much you are a cute idiot.”  Kara paused for emphasis, making a flirty face at Lucy.  “Plus, I’m pretty sure Alex is having this exact same conversation with Vasquez right now.  She never takes this long to pee.”  The blush was immediate, and Lucy’s eyes widened as she thought about it.

Then Kara felt a hand on her shoulder and turned to see that Alex was back.  “Hey Kara, you wanna grab a drink at the bar real quick, I’m not sure what I want.  Might need some help, you know, over there.” Kara beamed at her, then caught sight of Vasquez sitting down next to Lucy.  She stood up, winked knowingly at Vasquez, then followed Alex away from the table.

Alex ordered a whiskey and coke, and Kara figured what the hell, so she ordered an Aldebaran rum and coke herself.  “Those two are impossible.”

Kara grinned again, before responding, “Sweet, adorable, impossible dorks.  At this rate, we’re all gonna be in relationships before too long.”

Alex snorted.  “Only if it turns out James and Winn have been secretly dating this entire time.  Now those two are impossible.”

“At least Winn’s not moping over Mon-El anymore.  I even caught him making heart eyes at a cute blonde woman who was here a couple nights ago.”

“Good for him!  We’ll see if he ever has the courage to actually ask her out.  Oh hey, why don’t you see if Sam and Lena wanna play hooky this afternoon and join us?”

Kara completely failed to hide the look of panic that crossed her face.  She hadn’t been in a room with Sam—much less with Sam and Lena—since she and Lena had discussed the elephant in the room.  Which now felt like an even bigger elephant.  A ridiculous one with extra ears and bright pink skin.  Sensing her anxiety, Alex tilted her head out of curiosity.  “Are you going to spontaneously combust in front of me?  Is this about what we discussed in Midvale?”

Kara nodded.  Her stomach was working into knots.  Alex pushed, just a little.  “Sweetie, what’s going on?”

“Nothing!  Alex, really.  But maybe something?  Or the possibility of something?  I don’t know.  I don’t know!  But Lena and I are in the best place we’ve ever been, and I feel like we just need to keep talking about stuff.  And I have no idea how to act like a normal person around Sam, but I don’t wanna have any kind of a conversation with her until I’m sure how Lena feels about it.  And how I feel about it?  Ugh.  I don’t know, Alex.”  Kara was sure she sounded as lost as she felt, and part of her just wanted to live in her love bubble with Lena and not think about all the complicated confusion that was the butterflies in her stomach when she heard Sam’s name.

Looking up, Kara became very worried about Alex’s face.  There was something there, beyond worry.  Beyond confusion.  But then it was gone, and she smiled reassuringly.  “Kara, as long as you and Lena are good, you really shouldn’t let whatever freak you out like this.  You and Sam are friends, right?”  Kara nodded.  “And Lena and Sam are friends, right?”  Kara nodded again.  “So, focus on that.  It doesn’t have to be weird.  And if it does get weird, would it be the worst thing in the world to clear the air rather than dance around it?” 

Kara considered that, and Alex directed her attention back to the table.  “I mean looking at these two.  I get that it’s completely different, but everyone could see that there was something there.  And they would’ve just continued ignoring it.  And for what?!”  Alex shook her head.  “Now look at them.”

Kara did.  They were in a bubble of their own.  It almost didn’t look any different than their previous flirting, except it was like something intangible had just shifted into the correct place.  As she turned back to Alex, she realized that she was smiling again.  “You’re right.  Look, it’s me—” Kara pointed at her own face, “—SuperChillGirl.  So, let me ask you: is it crazy if I’m kinda okay with Lena buying me a bunch of new clothes to keep at the penthouse?”

Alex very dramatically placed a hand to her chest.  “Oh my.  The penthouse.  Ooo lah lah.  I forgot you were a fancy lady with your fancy sugar momma and your fancy penthouse now.”

Kara glared.  “Aleeeeeeeeeex.  Stop it!  I’ll sick Lena on you and make her buy you new clothes.”

“I have all the clothes I need, thank you very much.”  Alex’s voice dropped off as her attention turned to the alert on her phone.  “Welp.  The thorough mocking you so desperately need will have to wait.”  She turned and shouted towards the table, “Hey lovebirds, duty calls!  Gotta head back to the DEO.”  Vasquez glared in response to the ‘lovebirds’ comment, but Lucy grinned from ear to ear.  Alex turned back to Kara.  “No need for Supergirl on this one.  Low level threat.  But can you handle the tab?  I’m sure Lena’s given you the platinum card by now, right?”  Alex stuck out her tongue before hugging Kara. 

Kara didn’t hug her back, and then shouted at her as she followed Lucy and Vasquez out the door, “I’ll get you back for this!”

                                                  

Meanwhile, Sam and Lena actually were playing hooky, over at The Con.  Lena clearly hadn’t forgotten that Sam wanted to talk when she was back from her vacation, and she had been bugging her for the last couple of days.  Sam hadn’t really had time to think too hard about whatever was going on between herself and Kara, what with all the ‘oh right, I’m an alien’ freaking out.  Not to mention she couldn’t remember how she had gotten home from her mom’s house.

But finally, Lena had confronted her in her office with a change of clothes and forced her to leave the office for the afternoon to come to the bar.  So here she was, drinking a beer and checking out a table of women nearby, completely unsure where to start with talking to Lena.

“What’s that Sam?  Oh!  Why yes, thank you for the congratulations on moving in with Kara.”  Sam pulled her eyes back to where Lena was standing next to her.

“Geez, you and the girl go on one vacay together and now you’re snapping at me.  I thought suburbia was supposed to relax you.”  Sam didn’t mean to fight with her.  She sighed.  “Lena, I’m sorry.  My head is all over the place right now, and I’m not handling it well.”

Lena touched her elbow, gently.  “Hey.  I know.  I can tell.  It’s part of why I thought it was important that we talk.  There’s no pressure here, no judgment.  Let me help.”  Sam tried to smile but could tell it wasn’t very convincing.  “Come on, let’s go sit down.  You want something to snack on?”

“No, I’m fine with my vodka.”  They sat down across from each other, and Lena fixed her with the goofiest look Sam had ever seen on her face.  Her eyes narrowed, but then the laughter took over.  It washed over her like a soothing wave, untightening every joint and tight spot in her body.  As it subsided, she took in a deep breath, held it, then released it. 

“Thank you.  I needed that.  You always know the right thing to say.  Or not say in this case.  I’m sorry I’m all out of sorts.”

“Sam.  It’s fine.  Are you okay?  I thought I had an idea what’s been on your mind lately, but I’m beginning to worry that there might be something bigger going on—talk to me.”  Lena’s voice had gone from soothing to concerned.

She was in no way prepared to have the alien talk with Lena right now.  So, she jumped to the first thing that came to mind.  “Kara!” She blurted out, searching Lena’s face for that initial reaction she hid from most people.  There was only compassion there and, curiously, understanding.  Now Sam was the one distracted from the alien topic.  Where is she going with this?

Lena smiled.  “So I was right.  Well then, you’ve really got to stop worrying, love.  Everything is going to be fine.  Now.  Tell me why talking about Kara has you all in knots?”

Does she know?  Am I that obvious?  Sam was thrown off by Lena’s demeanor, but she trusted her friend.  Still, that didn’t make any of this less complicated.  “Lena. … Actually!  You were right before.  I never congratulated you, and I should have.  Moving in together is a huge step, and I am so happy for you and Kara.”  Sam couldn’t help but think about how much Lena had grown since she and Sam dated—this sort of commitment would’ve turned her into an ice sculpture back then.  Based on the ever so slight cloud that crossed Lena’s face, she couldn’t help thinking about it either.

“Sam, that means a lot to me, but it’s not really what’s been on your mind lately, is it?  Hey—” Lena placed a hand over Sam’s, “—it’s okay.  Really it is.  I know you’re happy for me and Kara.  I also know that you’re my best friend and that you would never hurt me.  Now.  Tell me what’s on your mind.”

Oh she definitely knows.  Does that mean Kara knows?  Surely it does.  Sam hadn’t talked to Lena about this yet, but she had wanted to.  She had gotten past the point where she could try to be subtle around Kara anymore, and Lena deserved a conversation.  “I never could hide anything from you, could I?”

“Nope.  Now spill.”

“Fine.  I like your adorable girlfriend.”  Blunt and funny, that’s the way to start this.  I hope. 

“No kidding.”  Lena’s voice was as wry as her expression. 

“I wanted to tell you, to talk to you about it.  But everything blew up.  Everything with Edge—including me and Kara teaming up to try and prove your innocence—and then you and Kara were gone.  And I wanted to give you both your space!”

“Hey hey hey,” Lena interrupted.  “I know.  You told me we needed to talk before I left.  Hey!  No blame here.  You didn’t do anything wrong.”

Sam knew she hadn’t, but Lena was right that she was worried it would look that way.  “How did you know?  Did the flirting make Kara uncomfortable?  Shit.  It did, didn’t it?  I tried to read the room, and I made it very clear that I would stop if she wanted me to, but… shit.  Does she hate me?”

“No, Sam.  She doesn’t hate you.  Neither do I.  And I know because Kara told me, yes, but not because you made her feel uncomfortable.”  Sam’s stomach did flip flops, because there was really only one other reason Kara would have brought up the subject of Sam’s flirting with her.  “Look, this is really confusing for me.  For Kara, too.  But I think it’s something we all need to be talking to each other about.  So, I’ve been trying to talk to you since I got back.”

Sam winced.  “And I’ve been avoiding you.  Sorry about that.”

“It’s fine.  We’re here now.  And I’m not letting you leave until we get some stuff out in the open.”  Lena paused to get the attention of the waitress walking by and asked for two more drinks.  “Now.  Tell me more about your feelings for my girlfriend.”

Sam loved that somewhere along the way, Lena had picked up some Sam-isms.  But the nitty gritty of this conversation required a slightly defter hand.  “First, some ground rules.  We both promise to be honest, even if it is hard, okay?”  Lena nodded.  “Okay good.  Also, this subject is stupid delicate, and I do not want to hurt you.  If I say something that hurts you or that you don’t understand or if you need me to stop everything and explain something further … stop me.  Okay?  Don’t just let something go.  I don’t want any misunderstandings if we can avoid it.  We need to be on the same page.”

“I agree.  And I’ll do my best.  Like I said, it’s confusing and there’s no avoiding that some of this will hurt.  I’ve got my insecurities—I mean, fuck Sam, you of all people know I do.  But I promise.  I want to have a frank, open conversation with you.”

Sam nodded as she took a deep breath.  “Okay.  So I guess first I wanna know what you’ve told her about me, about us.  Does she know that you and I were in a relationship?”

“Yeah, we talked about it in Midvale, before we talked about you.”  Sam had follow up questions, but she would come back to them.

“Does she know that I’m poly?”  Sam wasn’t a hundred percent sure she deserved that label, given that none of her current long-term relationships were romantic in nature.  She and Lena had been purely platonic best friends for years now, and she and Kaziah were purely sexual.  Sam couldn’t remember the last time she’d even considered a serious romantic relationship.  But that’s the label she had used all the times she and Lena had talked about it, so that’s what she stuck with.  It’s not like she could ever really see herself in a long-term monogamous romantic relationship.

“No, we hadn’t quite gotten to that yet.  Besides, that’s your story to tell, not mine.  You talk to her about that when you’re ready to.  I explained to her that despite what she had apparently picked up from the media, not all hu—people find monogamy fully satisfying, and it isn’t weird for her to find herself attracted to another person even though she is completely in love with me.” 

“Attracted to another perso—oh.  Oh!”  Kara Danvers. Is. Attracted. To. Me.  Sam had a feeling that the attraction was mutual, but it still made her giddy to have the confirmation.  “Lena?” she asked tentatively.  “Honesty, right?”

“Yes, Sam.  Honesty.  It’s not as though you could hide it from me.  My very intentional insinuation that Kara is attracted to you very clearly lit up your entire face.”

Sam blushed, and she could feel it from her feet to her face.  Then something occurred to her.  “Hey Lena, how are you feeling about all this?”

Lena took her time answering.  She took another sip of her drink, and her face was indecipherable, even for Sam.  “I’m still not entirely sure I have an answer to that, honestly.  You know me—my first response was self-doubt and pain.  But I’m as happy as I’ve ever been.  Midvale set me free.  I’m still working on me, but whatever rock bottom I hit after Edge, I’ve started moving on from it.  I love her, Sam.  We haven’t even been dating a year, but I know in the core of me that Kara and me is a forever kind of thing.  And you know me well enough to know how fucking crazy it is for me to feel that, much less admit it.”

Sam did indeed know how remarkable this was, even if she was able to keep her mouth from dropping to the floor—if just barely.  Lena smiled, and it was a Kara-level sunbeam of happiness.  “I love her, Sam.  And she loves me.  And all we want is to be happy together.  Everything else is secondary.”  Ouch.  So I’m secondary.

“No no no!  Sam!  I didn’t mean it that way.”  Lena must have realized immediately how she took that last sentence.  “Hey!  I’m not trying to say that our friendship is secondary to my relationship with Kara.  Or even that whatever does or doesn’t or might exist between you two is secondary either.”  Lena placed a hand on hers again, so Sam looked back at her, searching Lena’s eyes for answers.  Those pale green irises were full of nothing but love, and Sam believed her.

“Okay.  Then what did you mean?”

“I just meant that Kara and I are solid.  I’m not second-guessing us.  I genuinely believe that she and I can do anything, that nothing is going to get in the way of us.  Not my insecurities, not any other issues that may find us over the years, and not the fact that she thinks you are—which word did she use?—oh yes, ‘gorgeous.’”  Lena rolled her eyes dramatically at Sam’s grin.  “Does that make sense?”

“That totally makes sense.  And that’s amazing, Lena.  So mature. I’m … look, please please don’t take this the wrong way, okay?”  Sam waited for Lena’s impatient nod before continuing.  “I’m really proud of how much you’ve grown.  Since you absolutely wrecked everything when we were dating with all of your insecurity and fear of commitment and inability to handle, you know, all of this.”  Sam wiggled her body to make it very clear she was teasing.  “Seriously.  Kara has been so good for you, yes, but you’ve done this yourself.  For years, I was worried you would never find this kind of happiness, this … comfort.  And you absolutely deserve it.  Things didn’t work out between you and me, like that, but I never stopped wanting this for you.  Believing that you deserve happiness.”  Sam looked down at her glass again.  “And I’m sorry if my hots for your girlfriend complicate that.”

“Yeah, well.  That’s life.  It’s complicated.  I was well aware of that fact before you started flirting with Kara.  Which … maybe we should talk about that now?”

“Straight to the point then.  What do you want to know?”  Sam found herself oddly excited by where the conversation was going now.  She dared to allow herself to dream.  Where was Lena taking this?

“You like Kara, right?  What does that mean?”  Lena held up her index finger, her other hand going to her temple as if struggling with a thought.  “Let me put it this way.  You haven’t—and I’m well aware it is none of my business unless you want to share, and I’m not judging you at all—but you haven’t been in a serious relationship since you and I were together, right?”

“You want to know whether I just want to add Kara as a notch on my belt, is that what you’re asking?”  Sam didn’t mean to sound so defensive, but there was an old wound there that Lena was picking at.  “Sorry.”  Lena raised an eyebrow skeptically.  “No really, I am sorry.  It’s … you’re right, I don’t want to talk about it.  But no, that’s not it.  I like Kara.  I care about her.  In a way I haven’t felt since …”  You, she left unsaid, and Lena didn’t call her on it, knowing full well what she meant.

“Okay.  Good.  Because let me be clear: that is my priority.  Kara’s heart.  I will do anything to protect it.  To protect her.  And I trust you.  I’ve known you and loved you and trusted you for so much longer than I’ve known Kara.  So, I know that you won’t hurt her.  Not intentionally.  If nothing else, because I know you know that it would break me.  And there are few things in this world—maybe nothing—that I trust more than I trust you not to break me, Sam.”  Lena’s voice broke just a little, and it affected Sam.  She loved Lena so much.  There were still some old wounds from long ago, but Sam always found it remarkable that Lena was capable of trusting her like this.  Of loving her like this.

It’s what made Kara that much more remarkable, in addition to being an adorable sexy ball of sunshine who was constantly surprising and mysterious yet somehow, discordantly also so earnest and straightforward.  Kara had won Lena’s heart so quickly.  Kara had been the catalyst behind so much growth in Sam’s best friend.  It was extraordinary. 

“You’re right, Lee.  You’re my family.  I love you.  And you’re making it very clear to me that she is your family.  I would never hurt her.  I … I really like her.  And I’m a little sorry for that.  I didn’t want to get in the way of your bubble of happiness.  You have no idea how much joy getting to know Kara has meant for me, just as your best friend.  Seeing how she has changed you, unlocked so much of the wonderful Lena locked away beneath all your walls.  I wanted nothing more than to just be here for you both and support your happiness as a couple.  But it’s more than that.  How I feel when I’m around Kara is more than that.  And I couldn’t just ignore it.  That wouldn’t be fair to me, or to Kara, or to you… even if I was capable of it.” 

Their eyes met, and Sam was sure then that they understood each other.  Sometimes that was all it took between them.  “Lena, I can’t pretend I don’t have feelings for Kara anymore.  And I don’t think you would want me to.  But your happiness is so important to me.  I’m not going to ask the two of you to open up your relationship, even if Kara does like me back.  But I don’t want to lose either of you.  My feelings for you changed over time; the same can happen with Kara.”  

It hurt Sam so much to say that, because she knew she meant it.  She was nursing a massive crush on Kara, and in another world… maybe they could have explored it.  Maybe it could have been magical.  But Lena was family.  So now Kara was too.  And she wouldn’t do anything to muddy the waters. … Not unless everyone was completely in.

“Sam.”  Lena paused, struggling with her words.  So unlike Lena.  “I … I’m not sure I want that.  I’m not sure Kara does either.  I … she … I love her.  I want her to be happy.  There’s a spark between you two, and I think that could make Kara happy.  But it’s something you two should talk about.  And if necessary, something the three of us should figure out together.  But … just.”  Lena looked up, then took a deep breath.  “Don’t dismiss it out of hand.  Kara and I haven’t.  We haven’t talked about it in depth yet, because I wanted to see where your head was at.  If there was really something here to talk about.  And clearly there is.”

Sam chuckled, and Lena joined her.  Sam threaded her fingers into Lena’s and held her hand tight.  “Lena Luthor, are you saying that you and your girlfriend might have room in your relationship for something more?  With me?”

Lena still looked fragile, but positive.  “I’m saying let’s talk about it more.  I’m saying maybe.  I’m saying … let’s all get on the same page and figure out where we go from here.  Like I said, I just needed to know where your head was at, but as far as I’m concerned, whether your friendship with Kara has the room to grow into something more is between you and Kara.  I can’t decide for her.”

“Okay.  Well … if I have your blessing, I’ll talk to her about it soon.  What’s important to me is that we all stay honest with each other.  No hiding from difficult feelings.  No secrets.”  Sam thought she saw Lena wince, but she must have imagined it.  Lena’s gaze was firm and resolute.

“I promise.  You’ll have to talk to Kara to find out if she’s in too.”  Sam nodded, then smiled.  “You two continue to surprise me, ya know?”

“Oh darling, you have no idea.”  Lena winked at her, and holy shit did Sam suddenly want to have some idea so very badly.  So, of course, she changed the subject.

“That’s enough heavy talk for now, don’t ya think?  Let’s get another drink, and I can tell you all about Ruby’s choir trip.”  But Lena wasn’t looking at her.  Her eyes were fixed firmly on her phone, and Sam could see the wheels spinning in Lena’s head.  Then a mischievous grin spread across her face.

“Actually, darling.  I have to go.  Do a … thing.  Elsewhere.  Without you.  Might I suggest that you go for a walk.  Think about all this.  It’s such a nice day out.”  Sam was suddenly suspicious, but Lena’s intentions, devious or not, were hidden behind a massive grin.

“Lena, what the fuck?”

“Language!  So uncouth, Samantha.  All I’m saying is that something urgent has come up that I simply must attend to.  And I have a feeling that you would really enjoy it if you went for a walk.  Enjoyed the … sunshine this afternoon.  Maybe around that park over by the zoo?  That’s only a few blocks from here, right?” 

Lena was being beyond weird, but Sam knew better than to question further.  She had no plans on going back to work, not in these casual clothes anyway, and a walk didn’t sound half bad.  She had a lot to process.  Plus, now she just had to know what the fuck Lena was getting at.

“Fine.  I’ll play your little game.  You better not let me down with this.”

“Don’t you trust me?”  Lena’s grin was downright impish now.  Sam shook her head.

“You’re an ass.  And I love you.” 

“Love you too, darling.  Bye now.”  With a wink and a giggle, Lena was off towards the exit.  Seriously, what the hell?

Chapter Text

Chapter 12

After Alex, Lucy, and Vasquez bailed on her, Kara wandered out of the bar a little aimlessly.  It was a gorgeous afternoon still, and she wasn’t ready to head home.  After wandering for a bit, an idea struck her suddenly.  Before she flew off to her destination, she shot a quick text to Lena.

[3:39 p.m.]  Hey you!  Alex Lucy & Vasquez bailed on our afternoon hang, so I’m on my own now.  Feeling strange, like wanderlusty but wo the wanting to travel part?  I know that makes no sense.  Anyways, hope your day’s going great.  I’ll be around the park for awhile if you decide you wanna take a break from work ;)

Without a further glance at her phone, she found a back alley, changed into Supergirl, and leapt into the sky.  She put out a few fires on the way—one literal and the others metaphorical—but found herself back in Kara Danvers mode, walking up to the park, maybe forty minutes later.

When Kara was feeling pensive, she liked to get lost in the clouds as far away from people as she could get.  However, when she just wanted to be present in the moment, to lose her conscious self to the delights of life on Earth, the park was where she loved to go.  It was the perfect mix of nature and civilization.  She would soak in the sun, feed the ducks, people watch, or just get lost watching the ambling flight of a butterfly.  Sometimes people would be playing music or kicking a soccer ball around or even a couple of times she’d gotten to watch an actual game of Quidditch.  This place was magical—always so varied and beautiful and entrancing.  Later on, she might look back on this day and find the park magical for other reasons.

At some point she glanced at her phone and noticed that Lena had responded to her. 

[3:43 p.m.]  Finally had a chat with our darling Samantha.  It was quite interesting to say the least.  You two definitely need to talk and soon.  Please, don’t be afraid to be honest with her about your feelings.  I think from now on we should all put everything on the table.  Sam agrees.  But I’ll support you no matter what.  Just follow your heart, love!  I’ll call you after work.

What?!  Kara moved off the path she was walking so that her sudden halt didn’t bother anyone walking behind her.  Her thoughts were spiraling a mile a minute, and it felt like the butterflies that would occasionally occupy her gut had spread to her entire body.  Before her mind could run off in five different directions of imagination, she texted Lena back. 

[3:45 p.m.]   What did you talk about?  What do you mean follow my heart?  Lena!!!

She was sure that her response didn’t make much sense, but she needed more information and was too excited or nervous or something to make her words go together the right way.  Fortunately, Lena replied almost immediately.

[3:47 p.m.]  She and I talked about the flirting between the two of you.  A little bit about the conversations you and I had in Midvale.  And some other stuff that I’m excited for you to find out for yourself, but are not mine to tell you.  Seriously!  Talk to Sam.  Be honest with her about your feelings.  As long as you’re just enjoying the afternoon anyway, maybe see what she’s doing right now.  Maybe the fates will align for an adorable walk and talk at the park.

Kara again could not form words, so she sent a string of emoji back in return.  Even though she knew Lena would absolutely not respond to nothing but emoji.  She would just smile at her phone in that adorable way she did.  Lena once told her that long emoji texts like this were the message equivalent of Kara’s real life flustered flailing.  Only now did Kara finally understand how true that was.

She started walking again.  Be honest about your feelings.  Follow your heart.  This was all getting so real so quickly.  She took some deep breaths as she continued up the path.  The distance in Midvale had been so comforting.  She and Lena found this wonderful bubble where their foundation was solid, and they could, from a safe distance, contemplate this unknown that was both thrilling and terrifying.  The fact that she was madly in love with Lena and also giddily attracted to Sam didn’t seem contradictory or mutually exclusive in that abstract consideration.  They could imagine some fantasy world, some fairytale, in which she and Lena lived together happily forever while Kara also explored whatever new wonders might come with Sam.  The possibilities were endless, but safe.  They weren’t pressing.

Now she felt pressed.  Because Lena and Sam had talked, and the potential was still there.  Things hadn’t blown up.  And now there was an expectation of further conversation, between her and Sam.  About feelings.  Scary feelings.  Wonderful feelings. 

Kara also felt pressed because she missed Sam.  They hadn’t talked or hung out since that night spent investigating the natatorium.  She knew that they couldn’t hang out again without having this conversation.  It was out there.  The elephant was too large and loud and attention-grabbing to avoid any longer. 

It really did seem fated that this was the thought crossing her mind when Kara saw her.  Because Sam was every bit as attention-grabbing as the metaphorical elephant of their unspoken feelings.  She stood there on the path, maybe 50 feet ahead of Kara, with a curious look on her face.  She appeared to be searching for something.  How have I never noticed how tall Sam is?  Is she taller than me?  Kara was used to being the tallest woman in their group; it should have stood out to her that Sam was even taller.  But she felt like she was noticing it for the first time ever.

Not quite ready to announce her presence, Kara took in all of Sam’s appearance.  She was surprised to see Sam in casual attire on a weekday afternoon.  She was wearing a light grey tank top, the thin straps of which accented the straight, smooth line of her collarbone.  The sun radiated warmly off her bronzed shoulders, and Kara felt the sudden urge to know what the skin of Sam’s shoulder tasted like.  Oh, Rao.  The tank top didn’t quite meet the top of her black skinny jeans, not when she was standing straight, and there around her hips was the most adorable part of her outfit.  She had apparently been wearing a forest green plaid button-up earlier, but out here in the warmth of the park, she had taken it off and tied it loosely around her hips.  It was like a completely different side of Sam than Kara had ever seen. 

Then their eyes met, brown recognizing blue.  Kara waved shyly.  As she walked towards Sam, a couple of things became obvious.  First, Lena had clearly told Sam to be here—she was the “fate” at work.  Second, whatever nerves and worries were haunting her mind, her body was not conflicted in the least.  She could feel the warmth of excitement blossoming through her.  Sam walked right up to her and came to a halt to stand in front of Kara, close enough that Kara could smell fragrant fruity notes of her shampoo.  She could have reached up and kissed Sam right now without taking a single step forward.  Yup, definitely taller than me.

“Kara Danvers!  What a wild and crazy coincidence that I would happen to find you here this afternoon.”  Sam’s wicked grin hid (or tried to hide) a general sense of nervousness that Kara could read in her body language.

“Hi Sam!”  Kara didn’t even try to hide the anticipation in her smile.  “I’m gonna go out on a limb here and guess that a little bird suggested you go for a walk in the park?”

“Okay well now I’m going to think of Lena as a little bird forever, thank you for that.  I’m guessing you mentioned to her that you would be in the park?  Unless … Kara Danvers, did you use your girlfriend to covertly get me here yourself?”  Kara’s eyes widened, and she stuttered out what was meant to be a denial but probably sounded more like nonsense.  Sam cut her off slyly, “Damn, that would’ve been kinda hot.”

This did nothing to help Kara’s flailing.  “Sam, it’s really not fair when you do that to me.”  She tried to adopt her best pout but wasn’t quite sure she nailed it.

“Oh, I know.  But it’s so much fun.  Plus, it helps me fight my own nervousness.”  Sam grabbed Kara’s hand and pulled softly.  “Wanna go for a walk?”  Kara nodded and started walking, hand-in-hand with Samantha Arias.  She was a little surprised by Sam’s frankness, admitting to her own nervousness.  It was almost soothing.

“So, what else did the little bird tell you?”  Kara wanted to get a sense of where they were starting this conversation before she jumped into any admissions she couldn’t take back.  Also she needed Sam to keep talking so that Kara didn’t become fixated on the feel of their hands intertwined together.  She felt as though there was electricity flowing from Sam’s hand into her, in the best possible way.

“No no no, that’s not important right now.  Maybe later.  For now, let’s just keep it simple.  How’s your day been?”  Simple.  Okay.  You can do simple, Kara.  They were walking slowly, casually.  Just two friends catching up, enjoying the park together.  Two friends, just casually holding hands.  Simple.

“Things were pretty dead at the DEO, so I met up with Alex, Lucy, and Vasquez for lunch and drinks.  Then things got undead at the DEO, so they abandoned me.  And it was such a gorgeous day that I wanted to hang out in the park.  So here I am.”

“Have those two dummies finally started dating or what?”

Kara bounced excitedly, accidentally squeezing Sam’s hand in her enthusiasm.  Rather than get awkward about it, she focused on her answer.  “No!  But also yes!!  Alex and I basically cornered each of them separately to tell them they were being dumb.  Then we went off on our own.  They were looking pretty cozy right before Alex stole them away for super secret black ops stuff.”

Sam turned her head just long enough to flash a smile at Kara.  “So, which knucklehead did you take, Lucy or Vasquez?”

“Lucy.”

“That cutie?  Did she go with the whole boss excuse routine?”  Kara grinned.  All this time being nervous about maybe possibly having this conversation with Sam, and it was like she had completely forgotten why she wanted to have the conversation in the first place.  Sam was so fun.  Had already become such an important part of their lives.

Of course she did!  She was all ‘we both know what’s going on, but I’m her boss and I don’t wanna make the first move so I’m waiting on her, but she hasn’t made a move and so she must think us dating is a bad idea.’”  Blah, blah.  And I was just like, ‘hey why the heck are you telling me, tell her.’  All they need to do was talk to each other openly about what they wanted and what they were afraid of.”

Sam elbowed her gently without halting their ambling pace.  “Hey, you know that’s good advice that would probably apply to other situations.”

“You know, I was actually just thinking that myself.”  Kara grinned but kept her face forward.  “Something you want to share, Samantha?”

Sam snorted.  “Oh, that’s how you wanna play it, Blondie?  Fine.  I’ll be the brave one.”  She drew a steadying breath before continuing.  “Since me holding your hand while we walk is apparently too subtle.  And my regular flirting with you is apparently too subtle.  And the obvious chemistry between us is apparently too subtle.  I guess I should tell you that I have a massive crush on you, Kara Danvers.” 

Kara knew it was coming, and still her stomach immediately began flipping and flopping in the best and worst sort of anxiety.  She wasn’t exactly sure which direction she wanted to take the conversation, so she decided to take her own advice and just be honest.  “Cool.  Cool cool cool.  So, here’s the thing.  Do you wanna talk first about how the feeling is mutual or about how I have a girlfriend I love more than the world and who also happens to be your best friend and also your ex-girlfriend, now that I’m thinking about it?”

“I’m sorry, but all I could hear you saying was that you like me, and I’m really sorry if I kinda tuned the rest out for a minute.”  Kara felt a sudden lightness in the woman next to her and wondered what all had been weighing her down.  “Something something something, girlfriend, love, complications, is that it?”

“That’s the gist, yeah.”  Kara could feel the ramble coming on but was powerless to stop herself.  “I’ve never been in love like I am with Lena.  It’s amazing.  Being with her changes my entire perspective on life, like everything is more vivid and beautiful and warm.  I was just starting to get the hang of that, of being in a serious relationship for the first time, and then you came along.  And nothing changed with Lena, if anything my feelings for her have grown since meeting you.  But I can’t stop thinking about you.  About how your brazenness puts me at ease even as it drives me up a wall.  About how incredible your mind is.  About the smell of your shampoo when we stand too close.  About that spark when you took my hand that night in your car.”  Kara sighed, a little frustrated.

“What am I supposed to do with that?!  I barely know how to have one relationship, much less two, even if Lena isn’t completely freaked out by it.  I don’t know what to do with all these feelings, especially when I know you have them too.  It’s not like we can just keep being friends and ignore it.  I mean … I don’t know how you and Lena did it, dated for so long then somehow transitioned into being best friends.  I don’t know if I could do that.  But you and I aren’t dating.  We’re friends!  Except that spark has always kinda been there the whole time we’ve been friends, right?  I’m not crazy about that?” 

Kara silently thanked Rao that Sam understood a rhetorical question when she heard it and didn’t try to interrupt while Kara caught her breath.  “And so Lena and I talked about it, and it’s confusing to me and a little scary but it isn’t something I can run from.  And it isn’t something she wants me to run from.  But I have no idea what that means, or what we all do about it.  I’m just trying to be honest here, and I’m rambling on and on like I always do when I have a ton of feelings I don’t quite understand.  And there’s just no … there’s no example here.  No movie I can watch or fairy tale I can read that will help me understand how I can feel this way, much less how we can turn these feelings into something good for all of us. I just—”

Now Sam did interrupt.  “Breathe, Kara.  Breathe.  I get it.  Honestly, I could’ve let you keep going for a while because you’re so damn cute when you get like this.  But how about I try to reassure you instead, yeah?”  Kara rolled her eyes, but playfully.  “There are examples out there if you know where to look, maybe not in fairy tales or rom coms—which side note, is bullshit, but that’s a rant for another day.  But I promise you, being in love with multiple people is not this weird, unheard of thing.  Monogamy’s actually a fairly new concept if you think about the long history of human civilization holistically.’  She stopped their progress, turned to Kara, and placed both hands on her shoulders.  “Let’s sit here on this bench, and you let me ramble a bit, okay?”

They sat on a nearby bench.  Sam sat close but not so close that it was distracting.  She had a flirty but contemplative expression on her face, as if she was trying think of the most salacious way to start whatever it was she wanted to say.  Then she shrugged, so slightly it had to have been just for herself, as if unhappy with the options she had come up with.  Instead she leaned in slightly, almost conspiratorially.

“What if I told you that there are a ton of people out there who don’t see romantic or sexual relationships as all that different from familial or friend relationships?”  Kara’s nose crinkled in confusion.   “Just go with me here.  It’ll make sense.  You’ve grown really close to your adopted family, right?”  Kara nodded.  “I’ve seen how you and Alex are.  You love each other so much—you’re each other’s rock.  You’d do anything for each other.  And you love Eliza too, right?” 

Kara considered, trying to get ahead of Sam’s logical train but failing to do so.  She nodded again.  “Right!  And it’s more or less the same sort of love you hold for Alex—as opposed to the sort of love you feel for Lena, I mean.  Kara nodded almost subconsciously, seeing what Sam meant.  “But the fact that you love Alex so very much doesn’t preclude you from having a similar love for Eliza.  They aren’t mutually exclusive.  In some ways, because you all love each other, it only strengthens those bonds.  And it’s the same with your friends!  You love each of them in similar, but subtly different ways.  In different measures and for different reasons.  But you never run out of that sort of love either.”

Now she saw where this was going, and Kara felt her whole face brighten with the recognition.  Sam smiled in return.  “You’re saying my love for Lena doesn’t preclude me from experiencing a similar love for someone else.”  Kara blushed as she realized what she had just said.  “Or you know, like.  Attraction.  Whatever.” 

She was sure Sam would tease her about the flub, but she didn’t.  She just winked.  “Yes, that’s what I’m saying.  I’m also saying that all these ideas about monogamy, jealousy, possessiveness—it’s all a bunch of nonsense brainwashing by society.  Which isn’t to say that some people don’t find happiness with one major romantic relationship in their life.  But as far as I’m concerned, that’s unnecessarily limiting.” 

Sam ran a finger through Kara’s hair.  “Take you for example.  You’re super duper in love with Lena, and it’s just about the cutest thing ever.  But that doesn’t stop the butterflies in your stomach when I play with your hair, does it?”  The boldness of Sam’s words was intoxicating, and she was 100 percent right about the affect her hand was having right now.  “I’ve noticed the couple of times your eyes lingered on my lips, even if neither of us acknowledged it.  I’m guessing you’re as curious to know what my lips taste like, feel like, as I am about yours.”

It took all of Kara’s willpower not to nod enthusiastically, or instead just interrupt Sam’s speech by tackling her and getting the answer to that question.  Rao, how does she do this to me?

“My point is … none of that has anything to do with Lena.  It doesn’t detract from your love for her.  It doesn’t make you any less attracted to her.  You are capable of more—your love isn’t limited in that way.  So why should you have to ignore these feelings?  Pretend you don’t want to kiss me?  Or worse, feel bad for that desire?”

Sam’s hand was still playing with Kara’s hair, sending tiny shockwaves through her body.  “I get that maybe this is a new concept for you, something you haven’t really seen reflected in society.  Our society kinda sucks in that way.  Always trying to put limits on love.  But I promise you plenty of people out there experience the same thing you’re feeling right now, and build happy, if unconventional, lives around multiple romantic and/or sexual relationships.  I’m one of those people.”  Sam paused, momentarily almost mournful, sad.  “Or … I’d like to be.”

Kara really wanted to wrap Sam’s face in both her hands and tell her that she was deserving of all the love in the world.  Instead she settled for stroking Sam’s elbow softly.  That got an even softer smile in return.  “I promise my ramble is almost over.  I guess what I’m trying to say is that this isn’t really as complicated as you think it is.  I like you, Kara.  I really like you.  If you weren’t with Lena, I would’ve asked you out the first night we met.  But you are with Lena, and I would never hurt Lena.  Which is why once it became clear that what I feel for you isn’t just attraction, hell it isn’t even just a little crush or anything—I knew once I figured that out, that I would need to talk to Lena.  And to you.  Communication is vital.”

Kara was vaguely aware that they were closer to each other than when they first sat down.  “Okay so then what did you and the little bird discuss?”  She felt a little bit of Supergirl confidence seeping into her at this point, and thought the new nickname for Lena was too delightful to just let go. 

“Probably a lot of the same stuff you two discussed in Midvale.  She wanted to know how serious my feelings were, and I wanted to know how Lena would react to my feelings.  I was terrified that she would be hurt, even though she already knew that I’m poly.”  Kara hadn’t heard that word before, but context clues were sufficient for her to decipher it.  “I didn’t even let myself hope that maybe there was a possibility you and I might be able to date.  I just knew I needed to be honest with Lena and check in on her feelings.”

Sam paused, her eyes watery but joyful.  “Do you have any idea how happy you make her?  I don’t know how much you two talked in Midvale, or what’s in the water there, but she came back so much braver and stronger than when she left.  She knows the love you two share is unshakable, and she just wants you to be happy.  For me to be happy.  I think if we find some happiness in each other, Lena would be overjoyed with that.  Did she say anything like that to you?”

The last line was almost whispered, and Sam’s eyes were so close to Kara’s own.  She could feel—taste—Sam’s words as much as she could hear them now.  She found herself answering in a whisper as well.  “Something like that.  We agreed that whatever happens, it doesn’t detract from our relationship.  That we love each other.  And that I should talk to you about my feelings for you.  I think all three of us should talk, and soon, but …”  Sam’s eyes were still fixed on hers, even though both were gazing at the other through heavily lidded eyes.  “She told me to follow my heart.”

Kara could almost feel Sam’s lips on hers as she answered, “And what does your heart want, Kara?”

“I—”

Their lips met, and Kara couldn’t say who had crossed that final tiny distance.  The kiss was soft and gentle.  Tentative.  Just a first taste.  Just breathing each other in.  Their lips couldn’t have been joined for more than a few seconds, but Kara’s face pulled back in a daze.  As if she had been lost for hours in the most pleasant park in the city, just her and Sam.

They locked eyes again, faces not quite so close but still leaning into each other.  Kara became aware that Sam’s hand had gone from her hair to her shoulder.  Kara’s eyes fluttered down to Sam’s lips, which she now knew—knew—were oh so kissable.  The corners of Sam’s mouth were lifted ever so slightly, in a smirk somewhere between teasing and dumbfounded.  Kara had no idea what to say next and all that came out was a soft, “Okay.”

Sam’s hand moved back to her hair, and this time Kara shuddered visibly at the shocks it sent through her.  Her face immediately warmed in a wild blush, and Sam chuckled.  “You’re so easy, Blondie.  This is gonna be fun.”

Kara couldn’t even pretend to be exasperated.  She just sighed happily.  Then her stomach got jumpy again.  “Are you busy tonight?”

“I’ve gotta go pick up Ruby soon, and then we’ve got dinner and homework and hanging out, but why don’t you and Lena come over to my place around 9, for a nightcap.”  Sam’s grin went from giddy to sultry so immediately that Kara almost gasped.  “And by nightcap, I mean a drink.  Not sex.  In case that wasn’t obvious.”  She winked, fully aware that Kara would never have interpreted ‘nightcap’ that way.  Not so soon, anyway.  “The three of us can talk, figure out where we go next.  What everyone is comfortable with.  What happiness looks like for each of us.”

The glee was back, flooding her body with warmth.  “Little Bird and I will be there.”

“You’re not gonna let that go, are you?”

“Nope!  Too cute!” 

Sam grinned, but didn’t admit the obvious truth that Kara was right.  She asked, “Walk me to my car?” 

“I’d love to.”

Chapter Text

Chapter 13

Lena was back at the office, but still in her casual clothes.  Jess had orders that she was not to be disturbed.  She preferred to project a certain image at work, but she hadn’t wanted to change and hadn’t wanted to head home yet either.  Trying to focus on her work, get some things done.  Trying not to check her phone too compulsively.  She did a pretty decent job of it, keeping herself distracted until she heard the characteristic swoosh of Kara’s cape as she came to land on the balcony.  Lena knew her girlfriend well and expected that she’d show up as soon as she left Sam.  She got up from her desk and met Kara on the balcony.  “Supergirl!  To what do I owe the honour?”

Kara rolled her eyes, then rushed forward and picked Lena up.  Lena shouted and giggled in surprise, reveling in the warmth and strength of Kara’s hug.  She could feel the joy radiating off of Kara.  “Put me down!”  Back on her feet, she narrowed her eyes at Kara.  “My my, Supergirl, so enthusiastic.”

“Lena!  Stop it with the Supergirl stuff.  It’s just us, you goof.”  Kara couldn’t stop smiling,  Lena couldn't resist teasing her.

“Well, did you run into anyone at the park?”

Kara turned and gaped at Lena, as if surprised she was still sticking with the charade.  “You know full well exactly who I ran into at the park, Lena Keirnan Luthor!  Enough with your games!”  It was quite the sight to be scolded by Kara in full Supergirl regalia, hands on her hips and everything. 

“You’re middle-naming me?  I try to have a little fun, play a little matchmaker, and that earns me the middle name?”  Lena knew she was using humour to keep herself from thinking about the tightness of her chest, to keep her heartbeat from giving her anxiety away to Kara’s super hearing.

“Oh please, you know your middle name is beautiful.”  Kara paused to kiss Lena’s forehead.  “Matchmaker, huh?”  Kara looked right into her eyes, and her face shifted.  “Lena, tell me what’s going on in your head right now.”

Welp.  I tried.  “Kara, really it’s fine.  I’m just nervous, okay?  I was trying to hide an escalated heartbeat.  The anticipation, I think, of hearing about your afternoon.”  She wrapped her arm around Kara’s waist.  “I love you.  I want to hear about how your conversation with Sam went.”

Kara’s eyes were back on hers, searching.  Lena smiled widely, trying to reassure her.  She knew that her anxiety was merely a physiological response, a reaction to the unknown.  But she meant it.  She was dying to know how it went.  “Kara!  Seriously, you’re going to kill me with anticipation.”

The worry wasn’t completely gone from Kara’s face, but she took Lena at her word.  Nerves apparently overtaking her, Kara blurted out, as if all one word, “Lena-we-kissed-and-it-was-really-good-but-I’m-not-sure-if-it-was-okay-are-you-okay-I-already-screwed-up-didn’t-I-oh-no-oh-no—”

Kara’s stream of consciousness was interrupted by wild laughter.  Given that they were the only two people on the balcony, Lena had to assume it was her own laughter.  As her mind caught up to her body's realization of just how hilarious the whole thing was, she tried to speak.  “Kara. … Kara, I …”  Lena gave up, waiting for her laughter calm before trying to speak again.

“Kara.  You’re fucking adorable.  I love you so much.  Thank you.  That was just what I needed.”  Kara looked like she couldn’t decide between being happy that the ice was broken or angry that her girlfriend was laughing at her.  Lena nodded her head towards the balcony door, and Kara followed her inside the office, where they cuddled up on the couch.  Lena began stroking Kara’s hair as she asked, “So you just couldn’t resist the temptation of those soft Arias lips, huh?”

At this point, Kara was too busy floundering in her own awkwardness to worry any further about Lena's feelings.  Lena just kept playing with Kara’s Supergirl curls as if she hadn’t said anything inflammatory, preventing Kara from getting up from the couch.  The best reaction the blonde could muster was throwing her hands out dramatically as she sputtered, “You said follow my heart!  And she was leaning in, and it was all really romantic, and she smelled so nice, and Lena her lips were just … Rao!  It just happened.  Just felt right.  But it was just the one kiss!  Just one brief, soft kiss.  But sweet.”  Kara craned her neck so she could look at Lena in the eyes again, and Lena smiled, hoping to signal to Kara that she hadn’t done anything wrong.  “Promise me you’re okay with that.”

“I promise.”  Lena felt no hesitation.  It was uncomfortable listening to her girlfriend talk about kissing her best friend, but otherwise it sounded beautiful.  She was surprised to find that she didn’t even have to try—she was genuinely happy for them.  “I’m assuming you actually talked to each other at some point—tell me about that.”

“Well … it turns out you're actually a pretty great matchmaker.  She told me how she feels about me, helped me feel more comfortable with the whole loving you but also liking her thing … and I told her how I feel, too.”  Kara’s head was back on Lena’s shoulder, but Lena could tell from the volume of her voice that she was back to being timid and unsure of herself.

“I’m proud of you, love.  I know how nervous you were about having that talk.”  Lena kissed the top of her head.  “So, where did you leave it?  What’s the plan?”  She felt stupid phrasing it that way, like Kara was giving Lean a report on some mission she and Sam were on.  She didn’t really know how else to phrase it, though.  Uncharted territory and all.

“Are you okay with going over to Sam’s around 9?  So that the three of us can talk?”   That's fast, Lena reacted.  But it made sense.  Better not to leave any murky areas, especially early on.  “I just want to be sure that we are all comfortable, that we’re on the same page.  As much as I enjoyed kissing Sam, I hated worrying the whole flight over here that maybe I had overstepped a line or done something that might hurt you.”

“I love that you worried about me, darling, but really you’re doing okay.  I could’ve been more specific in my text messages to you, but I was trying to be coy about Sam meeting you in the park.  I had imagined that there might possibly be kissing involved, if everything went just right.”  Kara sighed happily, and Lena grinned.  “How about you and I grab some takeout, and we’ll watch a couple of episodes of Grace and Frankie before we head to Sam’s?” 

Kara didn’t even have to say yes.  She just stood up and beamed at Lena.  After sticking her head out the door to tell Jess to go home and watching to be sure she made it to the elevator, Lena skipped over to Supergirl’s waiting arms.  “You know, that raises the question: when are you going to tell Sam about all this?”  Lena traced the outline of Kara’s family crest on her chest as she asked.

“I mean … we’re in agreement that we can trust her with that, right?”  Lena nodded firmly.  She would’ve told Sam ages ago, but it wasn’t her secret to tell.  “So, soon.  Probably not tonight.  We’ve probably got enough to discuss as it is.  But soon.  You don’t think it’ll scare her off, do you?”

Lena could hear the concern in Kara’s voice, making it clear that she was already invested.  The thought honestly hadn’t even occurred to Lena that it would be a problem.  “Darling, I doubt it.  I can’t make guarantees, obviously, but hell, for all we know she’s already figured it out.  She’s almost as smart as I am.”

They took off, but not before Kara glared at her.  “She’s brilliant, but she doesn’t have all the same background knowledge you did when we met, plus she hasn’t really interacted with Supergirl at all.”

Lena shrugged in Kara’s arms.  “Honestly, darling, who wouldn’t want to date Supergirl?”  Date.  It was the first time Lena had admitted that Sam and Kara dating was a possibility.  “We’ll just play it by ear, okay?”

Kara dropped Lena off at the loft, before heading out to grab their dinner.  It was always faster when Supergirl got the food.  Lena turned on the TV and grabbed their favourite cuddling blanket out of the linen closet while she waited for Kara’s return.  She smiled as she surveyed the apartment.

The only major change was the desk Lena had set up on the other side of the half wall delineating the living area from the bedroom area.  That was the compromise she and Kara had established—Lena couldn’t always avoid late work nights, but she promised that she would bring work home with her when that was the case.  Lena also had her own clothes rack against the window of the room, in keeping with the adorable eccentricities Kara had established here long before Lena became a part of her life.  They had a closet and a dresser, but Kara insisted that the racks added to the ambience.  Lena couldn’t really disagree.

 Lena settled on the couch just as Kara reappeared at the window.  Kara smiled brightly, arms full of Chinese food, and Lena greeted her.  “Welcome home, darling.”

                                                  

To the extent Lena had harboured any fear or nervousness, she could see as they walked up to Sam’s front door that such concerns were misplaced.  To her credit, however, she hadn’t expected that her casual reference to the loft as ’home’ and ‘our place’ would be a major turn on for Kara.  Sex with Kara was such a grounding experience for Lena.  Something about Kara’s touch soothed every raw nerve in Lena’s being.  Not the everyday touches—her hand in Lena’s, her arm around Lena’s waist, her hair on Lena’s shoulder—but the overwhelming touch of Kara’s body, her presence, surrounding Lena.  Filling her.  Pressed against every part of her body.  On top of her.  Inside of her.  Kara filled her, not only with pleasure but with strength.  Everything was right in the world when Kara made love to Lena.

Grace and Frankie forgotten, Kara had insisted that they re-christen every surface of ‘our home,’ and Lena felt as though she could conquer the world.  Just before they knocked on the door, a whim overtook Lena.  She pressed Kara firmly against the wall of the entryway, catching her eyes in an intense look for the briefest of moments before her lips were on Kara’s again.  Kara stifled a moan, and Lena grinned mischievously into the kiss.  “Ready for this?” she whispered in Kara’s ear, producing the faintest shudder.  Kara pushed her a few inches back and fixed her with a look that was both full of desire and scolding.  “What?  A little playful energy can only be a good thing for this sort of conversation, trust me darling.  Now—” she stepped back, suddenly appearing fully calm and collected, “—should we knock?”  Kara rolled her eyes, but her smile said yes.

Sam welcomed them in warmly, but Lena recognized a glint in her eye that suggested she might have been near enough to the door that she overheard some of that.  Lena winked at her, just in case.  Seeing a bottle of wine and three glasses already awaiting them at the bar, Lena took the lead.  “You two go sit, I will bring the wine.” 

She had her back to the couch for only a moment, but she turned to find that Sam and Kara had very conspicuously left the middle seat open for her.  As she set the wine glasses down and began pouring, she fixed them both with a look that made it clear they were being ridiculous.  “You know, I really don’t have to play hallway monitor here in the middle.” 

That’s when Sam broke into a smile.  “You’re really, actually okay with this, aren’t you?” 

Lena rolled her eyes.  “That would appear to be the case, yes.”  She squeezed Sam’s knee as she took her seat in between the two.  “You know me so well.”  She took a sip of her glass, and the others followed her lead.  The silence was surprisingly comfortable.  Lena sat her glass down on the coffee table, then put a hand on a knee on either side of her.  “So!  What are we going to do about this?”  She squeezed their knees on the word ‘this.’

Kara appeared to be waiting on Sam.  If Lena had to guess, she was doing her best to defer to the other two since she was the one who potentially stood to be dating both of them.  So like Kara to try to make sure everyone else was comfortable first.  But Sam jumped in, eager to prove how not weird she was being.

“Actually, now that you mention it, I was kinda hoping to ask your girlfriend out on a date.”  Kara immediately got all giggly, and Lena smiled at her.  She is so precious.  Then a thought occurred to her, and she glanced over at Sam.  Sure enough, Sam was looking at Kara with the same sort of adoration.

“Kara, darling, should we take it from your delightful giggling that you would like to say yes to Sam’s proposition?”

“Yes,” was the whispered reply.  “But umm … I don’t know.  How do we do this?  Should there be some ground rules?”  Lena turned her gaze to Sam, who was the closest thing to an expert Lena had on open relationships. 

Sam took her cue, grabbing her wine and standing to face Lena and Kara.  She slipped smoothly into casual Sam presentation mode.  “You know, personally, I’m not a huge fan of rules.  And knowing Lena fairly well, I’m guessing she probably won’t be either, not once we get the hang of things.  Assuming … actually, you know let’s start there.” 

Sam paused for a sip of wine, and while her eyes remained on Sam, Kara’s hand slipped into Lena’s.  “Let’s be sure we’re all going into this with the same expectations.  I feel like probably we’ve each already had a version of this conversation, but not all together like this.  I’ll start.”  She licked her lips.  “When I say that I want to date Kara, I mean that I want to see if there’s a chance for a romantic—” her eyes shifted nervously from Kara to Lena, “—and hopefully sexual, relationship with Kara.  Something possibly serious, possibly long-term.  If it works out that way. There’s a spark here, and I want to chase it wherever it leads.”

This was one of Lena’s favourite things about Sam.  She was so skilled at cutting through the bullshit and just saying what needed to be said.  It took a little bit of a weight off Lena’s shoulders as she chimed in next, releasing Kara’s hand so she’d have full range of motion as she spoke.  “And I want you both to have the freedom to explore ... that, without feeling any sort of guilt or like you’re betraying me or something.  I just … don’t want to be left behind, and I don’t want to—”

Lena stopped because she didn’t feel like she had any good way of phrasing what was on her mind.  Kara retook her left hand in both of hers, nodding in support.  “Fuck.  I don’t know how to phrase this is a way that doesn’t sound insecure and possessive, so please understand that I’ve got my insecurities mostly under control.  My thing is ... I don’t want to mess up what I already have.  Obviously, relationships change and grow, and I want that, but I cannot, cannot lose either of you.  Does that make sense?”

“Of course.”

“Yeah, totally.”

Lena hadn’t quite meant to get that raw and honest that quickly, but Sam and Kara’s instant agreement was soothing.  Her gaze shifted to Kara, who nervously murmured, “Yeah, same, I guess?  Umm.  I want to find out what this spark between me and Sam is.  If—” she looked at Lena, tightening her grip on Lena’s hand, “—if there’s a chance that Sam and I could have something even a little like what you and I have, I want to find that out.  But!”  She looked at Sam.  “Lena is my world.  I mean so is Alex, in a different way.  But my priority is Lena.”

            She stood up, talking her way through her feelings.  “Maybe that changes over time, I don’t know, but … I can’t, I won’t hurt her.  I want to see where you might fit into my life, where I might fit into yours, but that is with Lena.  Not to her exclusion.” 

Sam settled down next to Lena, closer than she had been before.  Lena could see the impish glint in her eye.  Oh no, where is this going?  She put her arm around Lena, and the left side of her mouth quirked upward as she asked Kara, “Just so I’m sure, you’re not saying that you want me to date you and Lena, as like ... a package deal, right?”

Kara nearly choked on her wine.  Lena didn’t even know that was possible.  “No!  I mean—” she glanced back and forth between Lena and Sam, a little confused, “—if there’s something going on between you two, I’m not gonna get in the way of that or anything.”  Lena couldn’t keep the grin off her face as Kara twisted herself in knots, trying not to say the wrong thing.  Then Sam busted out laughing, pulling away from Lena.

“Kara! Your face is everything.  I wasn’t actually suggesting that.  Lena and I are much better as friends; I think we’re both in agreement on that.”  Lena nodded with Sam, even though some tiny voice in the back of her head had some lingering questions regarding that subject.  “I just wanted to be sure.  The way you said ‘with Lena’—I didn’t know if you were proposing a threesome or what.”

Lena chuckled as Kara blushed wildly.  Exactly as Sam had surely intended.  Lena flashed her a scolding look while waiting for Kara to respond. 

“Oh!  No.  Gosh, Sam.  I just mean.”  Kara’s face was still bright pink.  Lena wished she could see the visuals going on in her girlfriend’s head right now.  “I meant ... Lena and I just moved in together.  We’re in a great place.  I’m not giving up on anything with her, even though I want to explore things with you.  That’s what I meant.”

“Totally!  I think we’re all in the same place then.  Kara and I want to take a shot on seeing if our relationship can be something sustainably more than friends, but no one wants that to detract from the beautiful thing you two have going here.  Right?”

Lena nodded, and Kara did the same.  Something about the way Kara's boundless blue eyes looked at Sam struck a chord with Lena.  She felt her chest tighten ever so slightly, just one pang.  Then it released, and she felt a sort of warmth replace it.  Her girlfriend looked at her best friend with such affection.  Lena's breath caught in her throat as her mind flashed back to Midvale, and then Metropolis.  She’d experienced so many unexpected and wonderful things with these two—what was one more?

“Kara, come sit back down.”  Lena stood as she said it, wiggling her eyebrows suggestively.  Kara took the hint, sliding in nervously next to Sam.  Sam grinned, then reached her hand up behind Kara towards Lena.  She grinned in return and gave Sam the requested high five.  Kara almost looked put off by this display, muttering, “Holy wow, you are such dorks.”

Lena snorted.  “Hey, you’re the one who likes us.”

They cuddled up together like they had so many times in the past few months.  Only now there was a different context.  Sam’s hand on Kara’s knee meant something.  Lena topped off their glasses.  As she leaned back onto the couch, Kara shifted so that her back was leaning on Lena, and her knee rested on Sam’s leg.

After a sip, Sam turned back to the topic at hand.  “So, I’m thinking about Kara’s question about ground rules.  Is that what we want, rules?  Like … how we interact with each other, what sorts of things everyone is comfortable with, and what sorts of things we think are important that we all talk about?”  Kara looked confused, so Sam elaborated.  “For example, some people in Lena’s position don’t want to hear about what their girlfriend does with her other partner.  Or some have a no sleepovers rule.  Stuff like that.” 

Lena could feel her brow furrow.  Sam was right; she didn’t like rules.  Sam doesn’t have any right to tell me how I interact with Kara.  “That sounds so harsh and restrictive.  That’s no way to build a genuine relationship with someone … why do people agree to something like that?”

Sam shrugged.  “It’s not my bag of tea, I’ll tell you that.  But for some people, it’s the best way of dealing with nagging insecurities and jealousy issues.  Or a way to try to protect existing relationships.  Some people swear by it.  Personally, I’d rather not do it that way.  I don’t want to hurt you, Lena, or make you uncomfortable, but I don’t really care to deal with some artificial ceiling on how far my relationship with Kara can progress.”

Lena was surprised how relieved she felt.  The idea of trying to tell Sam what she and Kara should or shouldn’t do together felt so wrong, so artificial.  Like taking something beautiful and twisting it into something shameful. 

Apparently seeing a similar reaction on Kara’s face, Sam replied, “Okay, no rules.  So then … I guess we just treat me and Kara like anyone would treat a couple of people who start dating.  The only—”

Kara’s body jerked slightly, and Sam and Lena startled.  “Leeeeeeeeeena, now is not the time for tickles.”  Lena grinned, realizing what happened.  Her hand had been absentmindedly stroking Kara’s side, and she had hit that one spot just to the left of the small of her back. 

“Sorry, darling.  I didn’t do it on purpose.”  She winked at Sam from behind Kara’s head, as if to say ‘I’ll teach you about that spot later.’

Sam chuckled.  “You two are charming, you know that?  And Kara is ticklish?!”

“No, she isn’t!” Kara protested.  “Sam!  You were saying that we should just act like two people normally would when they start dating?  Even though, you know, I’m in a committed long-term relationship with my live-in girlfriend, the beautiful and powerful Lena Luthor?”

“Oh Kara has jokes now, too?  Okay then.”  Sam couldn’t stop smiling, and Lena felt such joy at seeing her friend’s happiness.  Sam ventured, “There’s no reason things shouldn’t develop more or less like they would if we were both single.  The difference—and it’s a big one, especially since Lena and I are so close—is that Lena deserves to be kept in the loop.  This can’t work unless we’re all completely honest with each other, about how we feel, what we mean to each other, et cetera.”

Lena agreed, mostly.  “That sounds a lot better, but also I don’t want either of you to feel like I am entitled to know every single little private personal thing that comes up between you.”  She felt comfortable enough to speak her thoughts as they occurred to her.  “It’s like … Alex and Kara have a super close relationship, but there are still boundaries, things that are just mine and Kara’s, that Alex doesn’t and shouldn’t know about.  I don’t see how this is any different.”

Sam smiled broadly.  “I knew you’d catch on to this quickly, Lee.  I agree 100 percent.”

“I think so, too!” Kara chimed in.  “I just … I also think it’s important not to keep things from each other without a good reason.” 

Sam leaned back, wine glass in hand.  “Just know that establishing and navigating those boundaries can be—probably will be—tricky.  It’ll take a lot of work from each of us, and we absolutely can’t do it unless we keep the lines of communication open.”

Shit.  A thought struck Lena, and it filled her with worry for Kara.  “We’re going to run into trouble with how public we want to be with this.  We should figure out how we’re going to tell people, but also … I mean, I’m a public figure, at least in National City.”  Sam winced, seeing where she was going with this.

“You’re worried about rumours, huh?  If people see me and Kara out on a date, that’s going to make it look like she’s cheating on you.” 

Lena nodded, chewing her lip nervously.  “Give me some time to think about that.  We may need a fucking media strategy.”  Which is ridiculous.  Lena wasn’t sure she saw a way around it, though.  “What about Ruby and Alex?”

Kara tensed, and Lena wondered how much thought she had given to Alex's reaction.  Sensing her hesitation, Sam spoke up.  “Ruby already knows that you and Kara are together.  She’s already met Kara and knows that we’re friends, that we hang out.  I don’t see any reason to tell her anything, at least not at first.  If she asks a more specific question about the nature of our relationship, I’m fine with being open about it.  But we can cross that bridge when we get there.  How do you feel about that?”

Kara nodded slowly.  “I think that makes sense.  I’m not sure it’s so simple with Alex and Maggie.  Or any of our friends really.  I’m not ashamed or anything, but I have no idea how they’ll take it.  They might think we’re a bunch of weirdos.  But I mean … what’s our other option, just pretending we’re nothing more than friends during group hang outs?”

“I hate that idea, for the record.”  Sam sighed.  “But your concerns are valid.”

Kara sat up, turning so that she could look across at both Lena and Sam.  “Maybe … I don’t know.  Alex already knows some stuff, and if it comes up, are you both okay with me just being honest with her?”  Lena and Sam nodded.  Kara breathed deeply.  “But if she doesn’t ask … maybe I’ll wait until—”  Kara’s nose crinkled.

“It’s okay, Kara.”  Sam put a hand on her shoulder.  “Honesty, remember?”

Kara looked at Sam guiltily and asked, “Until after a few dates maybe?  I don’t want to rush into anything, and I don’t want to jinx it either, but we don’t know for sure where this is going.  We could have a terrible date and decide we actually should just be friends.”  Sam frowned just a little, but her eyes still sparkled.  “I mean!  I don’t think that will happen!  Heck, I wouldn’t even be considering something like this if I didn’t feel strongly, but I just.  We should … I don’t know, be reasonable about it?”

Sam rolled her eyes playfully.  “Blondie, that’s fine.  That’s what I would’ve suggested anyway.  Let’s be sure we have something to tell before we go telling everyone.”  Kara slipped her hand onto Sam’s, intertwining their fingers.  Then she took Lena’s hand in her other, searching her eyes to check in.  Lena smiled, and pulled Kara’s hand up so she could kiss it.  She wanted Kara to know that she was not just okay—she was happy about all of this.

Then Kara yawned, and loudly.  Sam and Lena both laughed, then Sam stood.  “Excellent point, Kara.  I don’t know about you two, but my boss made me skip work this afternoon, and I’ve got a lot to catch up on tomorrow.  Need my beauty sleep.”  Lena scowled at her, then grinned.  Kara stood and pulled her up beside her. 

“Wow Sam, you haven’t even asked Kara out yet, and you’re just gonna kick her out like that?  Smooth moves.”

Sam stuck her tongue out.  “Oh please, I’ve got moves you haven’t even heard of.  And I don’t need tips on how to ask this one out.”  She shifted her gaze to Kara, who grinned shyly.  “We’ll talk soon, yeah?”

Kara nodded, then Sam led them to the door.  She and Lena hugged tightly, and then Sam turned to Kara.  They both glanced at Lena, eyes searching her for, not permission, but maybe comfort.  Acceptance.  Lena just smiled at them and rolled her eyes, then they kissed each other goodbye.  Kara bounced a little in happiness, and Lena kept a hand on her to make sure she didn’t actually float off the ground.

“Get home safe, lovelies.”

“Good night, darling.”

Chapter Text

Chapter 14

Sam couldn’t remember the last time she’d been this nervous about a date.  Probably because she didn’t really date, per se, but also because … it’s Kara.  She had played into her usual cockiness when she asked Kara out, but inside she was all butterflies.  It was such an odd feeling.  And now it had taken over her again as she got dressed. 

She had debated outfits for nearly an hour last night.  She had finally settled on a look she felt good about.  Black leather pants perfectly paired with even darker black suede over the knee wedge boots.  A thin, long-sleeved deep plum top that perfectly accented her cleavage without being over the top, under her grey wool herringbone trench coat.  She was wearing her hair down, but with it tucked behind her left ear to show off her favourite dangly gold earrings. 

Sam was picking Kara up in about 40 minutes and was in the process of finishing her makeup when Ruby walked in.  “Mom, you look so pretty!  And you smell so nice … does someone have a date?  Is that why Mrs. Queller is ‘hanging out’ with me today?  You know, I am fourteen.  I don’t need a babysitter.”

Sam shot Ruby her heaviest side eye.  “First of all, being fourteen is not a point in your favour.  I was quite the terror at your age.  You’ll just have to suck it up.  And don’t pretend you don’t have fun with Mrs. Queller.”  She turned back to her mirror to finish touching up her mascara.  “Second, no I don’t have a date.  I’m just hanging out with Kara.”

“Is Lena going too?”  Sam didn’t sense anything suspicious in Ruby’s tone.

“Nope, just me and Kara.  Lena is hanging out with her friend Winn.  She wouldn’t tell me what they were up to, except to say it was ‘some serious geek shit,’ and so obviously I had no interest in joining.”  She turned back to Ruby.  “And hey!  What did we agree to when it comes to swearing?”

Ruby sighed, having answered the question countless times already.  “They’re fine and normal and just words, but I still can’t use them around teachers and other adults unless I have your permission.  Yes, Mom, I remember.”

“Good.”  The doorbell rang, and Sam stood, grabbing her coat and purse.  Ruby followed her out of the room.  She welcomed Mrs. Queller inside, then addressed Ruby.  “I’ve gotta get going kiddo.  Gimme a hug.” 

Ruby hugged her fiercely, then added, “Yeah yeah, have fun on your not date.”  Yeesh, maybe she does suspect something.  Sam’s only response was to roll her eyes.

“I left money for takeout, but Ruby should be fine on her own for lunch.  I’ll stay in touch and let you know when I’ll be home.”  Mrs. Queller nodded, and Sam headed out to the garage.  As she closed the door behind her, the butterflies struck up again.

                                                  

The butterflies had only intensified as Sam parked outside Kara’s building and took the elevator to her floor.  By the time she reached Kara’s door, she felt as though her heart was in her throat, and she paused before knocking, to collect herself.  It’s just a date.  It’s just Kara.  You’ve hung out before, no big deal.  Stop freaking out, dummy.  You’ve got this.  Still nervous, but more bearably so, Sam knocked on the door.  And then all the butterflies were driven out by the image of the radiant figure who greeted her.

Kara was in a bold red A-line dress under an adorable pale pink (nearly white) moto jacket.  She was wearing cozy black tights that sheathed her long legs all the way down to a pair of simple black ankle boots, with a short, chunky heel.  Her golden hair was pulled back tightly on top into a ponytail in the back, but the majority of her hair cascaded down beneath, decorating her shoulders and back in a curtain of perfect curls.  Her bright pink lips looked outrageously kissable.  As Sam realized that she was staring, with her mouth agape no less, she blushed wildly. 

Moving to recover, she said, “Holy shit Kara, you look incredible.”  She caught Kara blushing as well as Sam moved in to hug her.  Having regained her poise, Sam lingered as she pulled back from the hug, just long enough to have Kara wondering if she might kiss her, but not quite long enough for Kara to take the initiative and do it herself.  Not yet, Blondie.  Something to think about as the day progresses, though.  “Ready to go?”

Kara’s eyes lingered on Sam’s lips then snapped back up to her eyes as Kara replied with a grin, “Let’s do it!”  She closed and locked the door behind her, and Sam took her arm as they walked to the elevator.  “So, where are we going?”

“I’ll explain in the car, Kara,” Sam sung, playing on the similar sounds of ‘car’ and ‘Kara,’  As they reached the SUV, she opened the passenger side door for Kara, earning herself a joking, “Such a gentleman.”  Sam grinned like an idiot as she walked over to the driver’s side and got in.

Once on the road, Sam glanced over at Kara and asked, “So, have you ever heard of escape rooms?”  Kara’s nose crinkled in bewilderment.

“Umm, no?  Should I have?”

Sam smiled and answered, “Yes, you definitely should have.  But I’ll take pity on you and explain, since an escape room is the first stop on our date.”  It was stupid, but Sam loved calling it a date.  “An escape room is a sort of team puzzle-solving adventure.  We’ll be locked in a room decorated to fit a theme with a backstory, and we’ll have a certain amount of time to try to escape from the room by solving a series of puzzles and riddles.  If you solve the room before you run out of time, a hidden door opens and lets us out.”

Sam continued glancing over as she explained and could see the excitement growing across Kara’s face.  “And if we don’t solve the room in time?”

“Then you won’t win the prize!  It’s quite obvious that you and I make a pretty good team, so I’m not worried.  But if we don’t solve it, you’ll never learn what sort of prize I have planned for you.  And I’ll probably have to end the date there.  So, no pressure.”  Sam smirked, but didn’t look over this time.

“So, you won’t tell me what the prize is?”

“Nope.”

“Well, at least if I get frustrated with you, I know how to get out of the date early.”  Kara’s tone was teasing, but Sam’s heart sunk just a little.  Kara would get the prize if they won the room or not, since the prize was the next stop on their date.  Even still, Sam reached over and put a hand on Kara’s thigh, mostly to reassure herself. 

“I’m pretty confident it won’t come to that.  I’m very datable.”  Kara’s finger began tracing along Sam’s hand softly.

“I’ll be the judge of that.”  They pulled into the parking lot of the large warehouse-like building.  The giant red and white sign above the front doors read ‘National City Escapes’ in a bold font designed to evoke a maze. 

As they walked towards the door, Sam explained, “Usually they require you to have a team of four to seven people, but I scored us a private room for just the two of us.  They warned me that it could be that much more challenging without extra teammates, but we can handle it, don’t you think?”

Kara smiled brightly, answering, “We do make a great team, after all.”  They were welcomed in by a tiny woman with bright red hair and way too much energy.  She explained that the room they would be solving was a vampire’s crypt. 

“This terrifying creature of the night has been stalking the sleepy town nearby for thousands of years.  You two are the latest vampire hunters—”

“Slayers!” Kara corrected her.  The redhead grinned and nodded enthusiastically.

“Yes, definitely.  As I was saying, you two are the slayers who have decided to end the vampire’s reign of terror once and for all.  Many who came before you have died in their attempts, but it’s possible that they have left behind valuable objects that could assist you in your endeavor.”  She paused, her eyes getting wide.  “If you don’t slay the vampire in the allotted time, you will still be allowed to exit the crypt, but you may not come back fully human.  I’m not sure the vampire could resist turning two awesome slayers such as yourselves.”

Kara hadn’t stopped grinning since they entered the building, and now she took Sam’s hand and squeezed it excitedly.  The redhead continued, “You’ll have forty minutes to solve the room.  Some of the puzzles will be mental, some physical, and some may be a combination of both.  Some puzzles are red herrings meant to distract you from your task, if you can complete the protective glyph, it will allow you to pick up extra time.  You get one free hint if you need it.  You can receive further hints after that, but they will cost you two minutes each.”

Looking at them both with eyebrows raised, she asked, “Any questions.”  Sam turned to Kara with the question in her eyes.  Kara shook her head.

“Nope!  We’ve got this.”  Sam squeezed her hand.  Then the redhead led them back into the building, past several doors, until they settled on one that was decorated with painted on bars.  “Here we are.  Once you enter, the timer starts.  The lights in the room will flash and you’ll hear an alarm at the 30-minute mark, 15-minute mark, and 5-minute mark.  Ready to go?”

Kara and Sam nodded in unison.  “Have fun you slayers!”

As the entered the room, the door clicked shut behind them.  The room was amazing.  It was a dark room lit by candles, with shimmering smoke or fog covering the floor.  The fog seemed to be glowing with a faint but haunting white light.  The floor, walls, and ceiling gave the appearance of light grey stone, and the central chamber was a square room framed by large arches from floor to ceiling.  Three of the archways opened to short, wide steps leading into raised side rooms.  A raised ornate pillar stood on both sides of each set of steps.  On the back wall of the room to their right was a large, elaborate coffin, and Sam was already sure that was their way out.  The room to the left featured two rectangular openings built into the wall, each with a skeleton in repose.

“Where do we start, Blondie?”  Kara gave her a look that said, ‘follow me,’ and led her to the right.  She has the same idea about the coffin that I do.  On either side of the coffin were raised stone tables spanning the length of the wall.  Tucked into the left corner of the coffin room was a lightweight stone thing, like a rectangular plate with randomly stacked triangles on top of it. 

“I bet this is part of the protective glyph!” Kara gushed.

“Could be.  Let’s leave it for now, get a full understanding of the room.”  There were two boxes, one on either side of the coffin, but Sam tried them and they wouldn’t open.  They crossed the room to check out the skeletons.  Each had a cross resting on its chest and a stake by its hip.  “Bingo.  We’ll be needing these, obviously.”  She grabbed a stake and handed the other to Kara.  “By the way, we’re agreed that I’m Faith and you’re Buffy, right?”

“Obviously.  Just don’t try to make me rob any hunting supplies stores.”  Kara continued examining the bottom skeleton.  “There’s a scroll here!”  She unrolled it and read the words on the thick, yellowy parchment.  “Arch upon high, for the stars you seek are worth the reach.”  Immediately Kara and Sam looked up, examining the ceiling.  The frame of the arches stood out, so it was possible that something could rest on the lip of the frame.  Kara kept looking while Sam wandered back to the coffin side of the room.  She noticed something fixed to the arch on the side facing the coffin.

“Kara, I think I found it.”  She hopped to try to grab the object, which came loose at her touch and fell to the ground.  Sam momentarily lost it in the fog and bent down to search the floor with her hands.  Kara did the same, and they smiled at each other when their hands accidentally brushed.  “Got it!  It’s some sort of jewel I think.”  She held the small red ruby in her hand, but had no idea what to do with it yet.  She picked her stake back up, and they went back to the skeletons. 

As they walked away from the coffin, Sam was startled by the creepy growl that emitted from behind her.  “Shit!”  She jumped a little, and now Kara was laughing at her.  Sam glared at her in faux outrage.  “I’m gonna slay the hell out of that little shit.”

Kara paused at one of the pillars, something catching her eye.  “The bat flies above the wealthiest,” she read.

“That’s helpful,” Sam muttered.  “How do we know which dead guy was the wealthiest?”

“There are only two of them, let’s just search both.”  They did so, with Kara returning to the bottom skeleton while Sam worked around her to examine the skeleton at the top.  Sam was briefly distracted by the warmth of Kara’s body less than an inch from hers, and on a whim, she pressed herself into Kara’s back, pretending to be leaning in to look more closely at her skeleton.  Kara didn’t react except to subtly press back into Sam, and it shot a warm tingle through her body.  Then Kara reached out, finding another scroll.

“To break the curse, you must plunge.  No duh, scroll.  How else would you kill a vampire?”

Seeing the opportunity for a joke, Sam began listing alternative methods.  “Fire, sunlight, decapitation, force them to drink holy water … would you like me to go on?”  Kara turned suddenly so that they were facing each other. 

She seemed surprised by the proximity of their faces and took a sharp breath before looking up at Sam and whispering, “Ha ha, you’re so funny.” 

Sam wiggled her eyebrows and replied, “I really am, aren’t I?”  Kara rolled her eyes, then gestured for Sam to return her attention to the task at hand.  It was a real struggle not to just kiss her instead.  Sam found herself loving that she had several inches on Kara right then.  She was probably only maybe an inch taller than Kara, but her wedges created just the perfect height difference. 

Tearing herself away from that thought, Sam kept looking.  There were several candles, one of which was much larger than the others and red.  Otherwise, there was just the cross, scattered pieces of bone, and a hammer.  “I found a hammer, but I’m not seeing any bats.”  Both skeletons had several strings of garlic cloves,  and several stakes in addition to the ones Kara and Sam had taken.  She didn’t see how any of that would help right now.  

Giving up on the skeletons, Sam turned to the final raised room, which she had been carefully avoiding up until this point.  Not because she was scared of how creepy it was.  Not at all.  It featured nothing but a bare wall, on which was written in blood, ‘Fools were we to think that even the Earth’s finest vampire hunters could slay the Night’s King.’  Avoiding the blood-stained wall, Sam turned to one of the pillars framing its arch.  It had writing as well, which she read aloud.  “Holiness holds no power here and riches are little better.”

“Riches again?” Kara called out.  She hadn’t given up on the skeletons yet.  “Sam!  The one skeleton has a plain wooden cross, but the other has this shiny ornate silver one.  Maybe he’s the richest?”

“Maybe!  Did that lead you to the bat?”

“Nope!  Still nothing on that front.”  Kara wandered back to the coffin.  “Hey, doesn’t it seem suspicious that the floor is covered in fog?”

“Kara, you beautiful genius!  Let’s feel around on the floor and see if we can find anything.”  Daring to get a little closer to the wall, Sam knelt on the floor and began moving her hand around.

“I found a hole!  A small one!  Oooh, several actually.”

“Awesome!  Hey Kara, catch!”  Sam waited until Kara looked over at her, then tossed her the jewel.  As it flew through the air, the lights flashed and the alarm sounded.  Remarkably, it didn’t distract Kara from catching the jewel.  “Nice catch!  See if it fits in one of the holes.  Looks like we’ve got thirty minutes now.  Don’t forget we’ve got that glyph thingie to solve if we want extra time.”

“It fits!  Guess we need two more jewels.”  Kara sounded a little disappointed, as every step forward just seemed to open up more puzzles. 

Sam stood back up and looked for more writing on the other pillar on her side of the room.  “The heart rules even kings.”

“Did you say ‘heart?’  I think I saw a heart somewhere. …  Yes!  Sam, this red candle by the skeleton has a heart shape on it!  Do you see any other red candles?”  They both started looking.  Sam found one with a crown on it, on one of the two smaller pillars in front of the blood-stained wall.  Kara found the other two over by the coffin, one with a cross and the other with a bat.  “I found our bat!”  Kara’s voice was full of glee as she carried the candle back to the room with the skeletons.  She looked around for where she was supposed to put it. 

Sam watched her, pausing in her activities as she savoured how adorable Kara looked playing slayer.  Then something caught her eye.  “Kara, try putting the candle in the sconce on the wall behind that pillar.  Wasn’t that the pillar that had the words about the bat?”

Kara literally hopped over to the scone, and the candle fit perfectly.  “Now who’s the beautiful genius?” she shouted at Sam.  Look for more sconces!”  There were two sconces by the pillar Sam had just left.  She muttered, “The heart rules even kings,” then placed the heart candle in the sconce to the left of the pillar and the crown candle in the sconce to the right of the pillar.  Kara placed the cross candle by the pillar that talked about holiness.  But nothing happened.

They looked around, disappointed that they didn’t get any kind of reaction from the room.  Fortunately, Kara found a fifth candle that they had missed.  “It’s got a diamond on it.  Did any of the pillars say anything about diamonds?”  They looked at the remaining pillars, but none had writing on them.

“Kara!  There’s a sconce over by where the jewels go.  That must be it!”  Kara hurried over to the sconce, on the wall to the left of the coffin, and placed the candle.  This time, the reaction was immediately.  A yellow light from the ceiling illuminated the box under the sconce, and Kara was able to open it.  Sam came up behind her, putting her hands on Kara’s hips as she looked over her shoulder into the box.  There was a blue jewel and another scroll.

Kara placed the jewel in its corresponding hole in the ground, while Sam read the scroll aloud.  “’We gave our life to chain the Night’s King, but to kill him you need our blank weapons.’  There’s a blank there that we have to figure out, I guess.  It goes on, ‘Van Helsing’s simple silver—”

“The silver cross!” Kara blurted, excited again.

“’—Harker’s blank with three blank, the bloodied blank of Morris, and Reinseld’s hammer.  The black chest will be the crucible, where all will be blank in darkness.  Then destroy blank rules even kings.’  Okay so, we have the cross and the hammer.  We just have to figure out Harker and Morris’ weapons.”

“And probably it’ll open the black box and give us the last jewel!  Harker had something with three somethings—what do we have three of?”  Sam had an idea and strolled back to the skeletons.  Sure enough, only one of the strings had three cloves on it.

“Garlic is also the tiniest bit effective against vampires, B.  Got three of ‘em right here.”  Sam did her best to emulate Faith’s weird Bostonian accent from the show, and it earned her a giggle from Kara. 

“So what goes with garlic cloves?”

“No clue.  What else gives us a context clue?”  She returned to the scroll.  “Ah!  Morris’ weapon will be bloodied.”

“Did any of the stakes have blood on them?”  Kara asked as she began checking them.  “Ah hah!  Bloody stake!”

“Hey, what if the first blank is just like ‘necklace’ or ‘string?’  Maybe we have everything now, if the string with the garlic cloves is Harker’s weapon.” 

Kara brightened.  “Let’s try it!”  They turned to find that the light above the black box had turned on, and they raced each other back to it.  Sam opened it, and they put the hammer, the cross, the string of cloves, and the stake inside.  For a brief moment, they thought something new had happened, but it turns out it was just the flickering lights and alarm to let them know that they had fifteen minutes left. 

Without evidence of any other change in the room, Kara shut the box.  A noise came from inside, and when it stopped, they reopened the box.  Inside, the weapons had been replaced by the final jewel and a big ass stake.  “Yesssss!” Kara exclaimed, then wrapped Sam into a quick hug on her way to deposit the final jewel in its hole.

The three holes lit up in red, blue, and green, forming a perfect triangle.  Then Sam was nearly hit in the boob by the sudden opening of the small trap door on the front of the coffin.  She screamed in surprise, and Kara was at her side startlingly fast.  Fortunately, they were both too distracted by what the trap door revealed for Sam to dwell on how embarrassed she felt.

Inside was an impossibly lifelike human heart, still beating and bloody.  Sam lifted the newly acquired stake in her hand.  “Alright B, who should do the honours?”

Kara took her hand and smiled coyly.  “All you, Faith.”

“I do love slayin’ some vamps.  You know me well.  Don’t worry, B, I’ll protect you from the Night King.”  Sam said it dramatically, slipping up a couple of times on the accent.  Then she raised the stake up, and drove it dramatically into the heart, just like Faith would have.  She felt it slide through the heart easily, and something clicked on the other side.  She reached the door of the coffin and pulled.

It came open, spilling bright white light into the room.  Kara and Sam both shouted in victory, facing each other grabbing each other’s hands.  Letting the moment take over her, Sam leaned down and kissed her fellow slayer.  Unlike their first kiss, this one was rough and excited and passionate.  Sam released one of Kara’s hand so that she could cup her cheek.  She pulled back, and then finished the kiss with several smaller pecks.  Then they were just standing there, smiling at each other.

Sam felt that she could’ve been happy spending the rest of the date just standing here, losing herself in the clear blue sea of Kara’s eyes.  But her date had certainly earned her prize, so Sam turned slightly and gestured to the opening hidden in the coffin.  “After you.”

On the other side was another hallway like the one through which they entered the room.  There were signs on the wall congratulating them and pointing them to the exit.  As they came back to the front desk, the redhead was waiting for them.  “Congrats, slayers!  You took out the Night King!  And with nearly thirteen minutes to spare!”  She reached under the desk.  “Here!  Your official ‘we escaped’ certificates.”  She handed them each a cheesy certificate stating that they had escaped the Vampire’s Crypt with 12.7 minutes to spare. 

“We did it, Sam!”  Kara twirled her certificate dramatically.  “Now!  I was promised a surprise.”  Sam grinned but turned to the redhead and thanked her.

“Congrats again!  Hope you’ll come try one of our other rooms soon!”  Sam led Kara outside, and the blonde took her hand again. 

“Saaaaaaaaaaam.”

“Oh yes, of course.  A prize.  Well, I guess you were pretty good at that puzzle room.  Plus, you’re kind of a good kisser.  I suppose you’ve earned your prize.”  They were back at the SUV, and Sam moved in close so that Kara’s back was pressed against the passenger side door.  With the sudden proximity, Kara’s face had gone from impatient to something else entirely.  Nervous, but hungry.  And not for food.

Sam couldn’t resist teasing her a little more.  She leaned down slowly, lifting Kara’s hair with her hand so she could whisper into Kara’s ear.  “For your prize,” Sam paused, and ran her tongue seductively up the side of Kara’s ear.  She could feel Kara’s body tense and shudder slightly, and her hand grabbed Sam’s other forearm tightly.  She almost considered giving up the misdirection and just suggesting that they go back to Kara’s place.  But it was only their first date, and Sam was determined to get it right.  She sighed into Kara’s ear and whispered again, “For your prize—” she stepped back from Kara, releasing the tantalizing tension between them, and smiling as she finished in a normal voice, “—I’m taking you to the zoo.”

Kara’s face fell just slightly, clearly having fallen into Sam’s trap and hoping that she had something sexier in mind.  Soon enough, Kara.  Soon enough.  Then she smiled brightly.  “You’re an awful tease, Sam.  I’ll get you back somehow.”  Kara put her hand on the door handle, but before pulling it open, she turned her head back over her shoulder and added, “Who told you that I love the zoo?”

“A little bird,” Sam responded slyly.

Chapter Text

Chapter 15

“I was not nearly drunk enough for that shit show.”  Day drinking was a new experience for Lena, but so far, she was enjoying it.  She had refilled their drinks and was walking back to her couch, where Winn waited for her. 

“Ex squeeze me, but Jar Jar Binks is not a shit show.  How wude!”  He smirked as Lena handed him his drink and took her seat on the other end of the couch.  Her eyes lingered for a second on the new throw pillows Kara had picked up, and she smiled.  The pops of purple, deep royal, and pale blue really brought some life to the room and matched perfectly with the purple rug.  Winn continued, “I still can’t believe you’ve never drunk watched the prequels.”

“As a general rule, I try to avoid the prequels as much as possible.”  Given that they just quoted their way through The Phantom Menace, she doubted that Winn believed her, but he didn’t call her on it.  “Ready for Attack of the Course Sand?”

Winn snorted, choking a little on his drink.  He coughed loudly for several seconds, then glared at Lena.  “Are you trying to kill me?”

Lena gazed by dryly and answered, “You know what’ll really kill you?  Sand.  It's coarse and rough and irritating—”  

“And it gets everywhere.” Winn joined her in saying the line.  “Yeah yeah, shut up.  Let’s start the movie.”  They were both much tipsier for this one, which was really good.  Attack of the Clones was easily Lena’s least favourite Star Wars movie.  Still, goofy fun was just what she needed today.

She was really happy for Sam and Kara, and she couldn’t wait to hear how the date went when Kara got home.  But that didn’t make it easy.  Jealousy and insecurity are things that don’t go away just because you decide they should.  She was thankful for Winn’s friendship, and this had been a genius idea for a distraction.  Not that he knew she was in need of one.  Lena had asked him to hang out, and this was the first thing that he had suggested.  Such a Winn suggestion.

As the opening crawl filled the screen and the Star Wars theme boomed over her surround sound speakers, she glanced over at Winn.  His eyes were firmly fixed on the screen, mouth moving slightly as he read the words he had surely seen ten or twenty time before.  The dork had worn a black Star Wars t-shirt.  Lena wondered what he would think when he found out that Kara and Sam were dating.  If he would judge the three of them.  She felt confident that James would.  Alex might at first.  Maggie would probably think they were all awesome.  But Lena really wasn’t sure she could predict how Winn would react.

The thought did, however, bring a question to mind.  “Hey, Winn?  Kara tells me that you’ve been making heart eyes at a lady patron of the alien bar.  What’s the story there?”

Winn’s eyes widened, and he tore his eyes from the shimmering silver ship floating over the clouds of Coruscant.  “Uhhh yeah, that’s kind of a thing, I guess.  Her name’s Lyra, and she actually saved me from a couple of alien bullies.  She kicked their asses all over the bar.  It was like a scene from Buffy the Vampire Slayer or something; she’s got killer moves.  Anyways, we started talking, and eventually she asked me out.”

“Oh precious Winslow Schott, Jr.—ever the damsel in distress,” Lena teased.  “So, where’s Buffy from?”

“Lyra!  And she’s from Starhaven actually.”  He said ‘Starhaven’ as if it were some sort of magical place.

“Ooooo, so I’m not the only one dating an alien anymore.”  Lena cocked an eyebrow at him.  “You are dating now, I assume?”

“Yeah,” Winn sighed happily.  “She pointed out that I owed her my life, so I had to agree.  Things actually started off kinda rocky.  She wasn’t big on the date part of the evening and took me back to her place before dinner arrived.  Then she didn’t return my phone calls.”

Lena frowned.  “I know, right?  I mean, that night was great, but a one-night stand was really not what I was looking for.  So, I confronted her about it next time I saw her at the bar.  I explained that I had a great time, but that I really wanted to get to know her better.  Take her out for a real date.  But it kinda hurt that she ignored my calls.  Turns out, she thought sex was all I was after.  ‘An experience’ was the way she phrased it.  Apparently I’m the first human she met who was actually open to dating an alien.”

Lena’s brow furrowed, and she bristled a little.  Technically, almost no one knew that Lena’s girlfriend was an alien—secret identity and all—but she still hated the narrow-mindedness of so many people.  If she were publicly dating Supergirl rather than Kara Danvers, she would have no problem proudly showing the world that she loved her alien girlfriend.  “Knowing you, you probably swept her off her feet and showed her that she’s wonderful just the way she is?”

“Well of course I did!  I took her to a fancy restaurant, and Lena, holy cow she was so gorgeous.  But there were only humans there, and a lot of people stared as we walked in.  I felt so bad, but I was determined.  I told her the problem was them, not her.  And as the night went on, she really came out of her shell.  We’ve gone out a few times since then, and I really like her.  She’s more adventurous than me, and every time I see her is more fun than the last.”

“That’s wonderful, Winn.  I’m so happy for you.  So how come you haven’t mentioned her before?”

“I mean, the first date was right before everything happened with Edge, and you and I haven’t really had much time to catch up since then.  How are you doing, by the way?”

The movie continued to play in the background, with Anakin and Obi Wan interviewing Padme about the attempt on her life.  But neither Lena nor Winn was too concerned with pausing it.  Lena smiled warmly at her friend.  “I’m quite wonderful, actually.  I had no idea how restorative it could be to just get away from everything.  Midvale was so peaceful.  Beautiful in its idyllic way.”

She took another sip.  “I feel more comfortable in my own skin than I’ve ever felt.  And things with Kara are so great.  I never knew that I could have a love like this.”  Fixing him with a look that made it obvious his change of subject hadn’t gone unnoticed, she added, “When do we get to meet this Lyra?”

Winn shrugged nonchalantly.  “Probably soonish.  I’m kinda surprised we haven’t all run into each other at the bar already.  But maybe we can plan something in the next week or two, like a double date?”

“I’m sure Kara and I would love that.”

“And hey, I’m really glad that you’re doing better.  I’d really rather neither of us get so far down a dark path that we crack and turn into our parents.”  Lena laughed darkly, thinking of how close she had come to murdering Morgan Edge in cold blood.  Of all people, only Winn really understood that very real fear, the danger of that path.

“I almost did, though,” she responded softly.  She looked up from her glass, and Winn’s eyes were soft and understanding.  “When I found out that Edge had poisoned those children in an attempt to frame me, I went to his office.  I disguised my face and brought my gun.  I fully intended to kill him that night.  I was so caught up in my own darkness and despair and insecurities about becoming like Lex, that I nearly put myself on the path to doing just that.”

“What stopped you?”  There was no judgment in his voice, only compassion.

“Edge’s henchman got the drop on me and knocked me out.  I … I’m worried I really would’ve done it, Winn.  Kara saved me from Edge, but coming to terms with what I had almost done was really rock bottom for me.”

“Sometimes you’ve gotta hit rock bottom.  You know you can always talk to me about this stuff, right?”

“I know.  I’m lucky to have you as a friend.  As much as I love Kara, and Sam, they can’t understand.  What it is to struggle with a dark legacy.  To wonder if your bloodline is cursed or if your genes are just … wrong.  But I think I’m on the right side of it now, maybe for good.” 

“I think you are, too.  And for what it’s worth, you’re one of the best people I know.  Very few people could ever be good enough for Kara, and you’re one of them.”  The conversation was interrupted by a loud crash over the speakers, and they both jumped slightly.  Winn glanced at the TV then said, “Now hush, or we’ll miss the death sticks conversation.”

“God forbid we miss that piece of stirring dialogue,” Lena scoffed.  But she settled further into the couch anyway and turned her attention back to the movie.  You know, now that I think about it, I wonder if I could build a functional lightsaber.  Why hasn’t that thought ever occurred to me before?

                                                  

“Sam, they’re so so cute!  I love them!”  Two giant sea otters had just slid down the light incline of the shallow stone pathway that formed a slide between two of the pools of their enclosure.  Otters were absolutely Kara’s favourite creatures on Earth.  These two had squealed happily as they slid, pawing playfully at each other.

They had started at the aviary and then snaked their way around the zoo path into the rainforest area where the otters were.  Kara hadn’t let go of Sam’s hand until they reached the otter exhibit, where she had released it in her squeal of excitement at seeing all of their adorable little faces. 

Kara turned back to Sam, who had followed right behind her to the railing of the exhibit viewing platform.  There were a few other people around them on the platform, but Sam had eyes only for her.  They traded smiles, and Sam draped her arm casually over Kara’s arm before asking, “So, otters are your faves, huh?”

“I’m that obvious, huh?”  Kara didn’t think she had stopped smiling since they got to the zoo.

“You are, indeed.  But you’re right.  The critters are pretty cute.  Not half as cute as you though, Blondie.”  Oh Rao, I’m in trouble.  Kara wasn’t quite sure what she had expected from this date.  She knew it was likely to be fun, given how much she enjoyed spending time with Sam.  But she had not at all expected that she would be so completely swept off her feet.  On an impulse, she pushed up on her toes and kissed Sam softly.  Just a small one.  She caught Sam off guard, though, wiping the flirty grin off her face.

“You should be careful with all the flirting you do, now that I can retaliate in good conscience.”  They were walking again, but Kara hoped Sam would rise to the challenge in her voice.  

“Oh no, what?  Are you going to kiss me again?  Because that sounds truly heinous, Kara.”

“I’m considering it.  For now, I’ll settle for you telling me what your favourite animal is.”  Solving a puzzle together had been so much fun and the best possible ice breaker.  She already felt so comfortable and safe with Sam, and it was only their first date.  But she appreciated the choice to come to the zoo even more.  Not only did she love animals, but she and Sam basically had hours to fill with conversation.  Kara’s main desire was just to get to know Sam better.

“I don’t know that I really have a favourite, honestly.  I hope that you won’t judge me too harshly.”  Sam rubbed Kara’s thumb with her own.  “This is actually my first time at the zoo.  Any zoo.”

Kara stopped them, pulling Sam so that she was facing her.  She felt so bad for Sam.  “This is your inaugural zoo visit, and you didn’t tell me?!  Sam!  Not okay.  You may have planned this date, but I am in charge now.  I’m going to show you the world! …  Of the zoo.”  Sam grinned at her, and Kara suddenly felt self-conscious again.  “And as for your favourite animal, you can tell me before we leave.  I’ll even go into the snake house with you, if you really want to.”  She did her best not to shudder at the thought.

“Alright then, Lady Zoo Master, where to next?”

“That’s the beauty of the zoo!  It’s very intuitive.  The path is basically a big circle through all the animal exhibits.  We’ll keep going through the rainforest area, see what we else we can see here, then move on to the next part.  Gotta stop for a snack at some point though, I’m starving.”  Kara blushed a little, realizing her insane metabolism wasn’t exactly ladylike.  Or even easy to explain to someone who didn’t know that she’s Supergirl.  Maybe that wouldn’t be a problem for much longer, though.

“Buying my girl a snack at the zoo is totally on my bucket list, so that works out for both of us.”  Kara nearly tripped at the phrase ‘my girl,’ but Sam’s grip on her hand steadied her.  She glanced over, and Sam didn’t give away any self-doubt or embarrassment about calling Kara that.  It was a little presumptuous, to say that on a first date.  But Sam’s cockiness was a huge part of what drew Kara to her.  Besides, Kara really liked the sound of it.

“Kara, what the fuck is that?”  She followed Sam’s line of vision to the large pig-like creatures resting by the water among the trees. 

“Oh!  Umm, I think those are tapirs, maybe?”  She led Sam over to the plastic panel attached to the railing.  “Yup!  Tapir, see?”  Sam made a show of brushing up against Kara while she leaned in to read the information about the tapir.

“Yeah, this one’s not as cute as the otters.  What else ya got?”  Sam wrapped an arm around Kara’s shoulders as they continued down the path.  “Is this okay?”

Kara reached up and briefly squeezed Sam’s hand, now on her shoulder.  “More than okay.”  She wasn’t sure exactly what was next, but she knew the leopards couldn’t be too far away.  She guessed Sam would love them.  “Oh hey look over there!”  She pointed to the now swampier water where she could see snub noses and raised eyes of several alligators sticking out of the water.

“Holy shit that monster is massive.”  Sam pointed at the one gator out of the water.

“Have you ever seen an alligator before?”

Sam looked at her like she was crazy.  “Uhh no, why would I have?  First time at the zoo, remember?  You think I grew up wrestlin’ gators or something?”  It occurred to Kara that she didn’t know all that much about Sam’s childhood.

“Actually, I have no idea.  We’ve never really talked much about your past.  So, that’s a no on gator wrestling.  Where did you grow up, Samantha Arias?” 

Sam’s face went distant for a moment.  “Well, you already know I’m adopted.  I never knew my birth parents.  Patricia never even told me where they were from.  I grew up in a tiny town several hours north of National City, right on the edge of the national forest.  No gators there.  Maybe some geckos, but they’re not great for wrestling.  Anyways, it was all terribly boring, and I left when I was seventeen.”

“No pressure if it’s too personal or its too soon, but … I’m guessing you and your mom aren’t on good terms?  Have you talked to her at all since she kicked you out?”

Again, there was a disconcerting pause, and Kara worried about pushing Sam.  Her heart ached at the thought of how her mother treated her when she got pregnant, even if Kara only knew the basics of the story.  “No,” murmured Sam.  “I closed that door behind me and never looked back.”  Kara stroked her hand along Sam’s arm as they continued to walk down the path.

“Sweetie, I’m sorry.  And I’m sorry I brought it up.  You’re amazing, and Ruby is pretty great, too.  It’s your mom’s loss.”

Sam tensed slightly.  “You really think I’m amazing?”

Oh come on, really?  Kara looked at her incredulously.  “Uh, duh.  You’re pretty much one of my favourite people.  But don’t let it go to your head.”  Sam looked behind them, the pushed Kara gently to the side of the path.  Kara’s breath caught in her throat as Sam stepped into her space.  Sam’s hand traced gently up her shoulder and around the back of her neck, under her hair.  It sent the most wonderful shiver down her spine.  Sam’s other hand was on Kara’s hip, pulling her closer.  Kara’s pulse sped up in anticipation, as Sam’s eyes met hers.

There was a subtle pain Kara could see hiding behind her dark irises, but they shone with a strength and warmth that thrilled Kara.  Sam’s face was a beautiful picture of appreciation and desire.  Kara didn’t even bother to look around as Sam leaned in—she could hear that there were no people near them right now.  Not that she particularly cared if anyone saw them.

Sam’s lips were firm but soft, moving over hers gently at first and then with increasing pressure.  Kara’s breath caught again when Sam’s tongue brushed the top of her bottom lip.  She tightened her grip around the small of Sam’s back as she opened her mouth a little wider to welcome Sam’s tongue with her own.  She had to stifle a slight moan as Sam’s fingers scratched pleasantly against her neck.  For a moment, she completely lost herself to Sam’s lips, to the feel of her tongue in her mouth.  The subtle taste of her breath mingling with Kara’s own.  It was wonderful.

Kara sighed as Sam ended the kiss.  “Wow,” she whispered.

“Yeah,” Sam replied.  The stood there, foreheads pressed together, and held each other for another minute or so.  Then Kara took Sam’s hand again and kissed her sweetly on the cheek before leading her back down the path.

“Come on, you’re gonna love the next exhibit I think!”

“What’s next?”  The genuine curiosity in Sam’s voice warmed Kara’s heart.

“If I’m remembering correctly, the leopards.”

Sam’s grip tightened on Kara’s hand.  “Kara Danvers, they’ve got giant kitty cats?!”  Kara grinned and nodded.  “Well let’s fucking go see them then!”

                                                  

Shortly after the leopard enclosure, they had found the zoo’s Mexican grill, which had surprisingly delicious tacos.  Kara had eaten seven of them, and Sam teased her relentlessly.  Then they had made their way through the zoo, checking out tigers and bears, hippos and rhinos, and the birds of prey exhibit.  They had just passed the chimps, the baboons, the lemurs, and then the cheetahs, and were now approaching the area Kara knew housed the giraffes.

Kara felt bad about it, but her attention had not been fully on the animals, even though she felt like she was still doing a good job playing tour guide to Sam.  The problem was that she couldn’t stop thinking about that kiss.  Kissing Sam was so different than kissing Lena.  With Lena, it was like coming home.  Kissing Lena made her feel whole and right and alive.  Their chemistry was fluid and powerful.  Inevitable.  With Sam, it was … electric and raw and enticing.  Kissing Lena was powerful like the ocean, boundless and all-consuming.  Kissing Sam was powerful like a lightning storm, rough and fierce.

Kara could still feel that spark dancing under her skin, and part of her wanted to find the nearest dark corner and have Sam try that ear thing again.  However, they had just reached the giraffe enclosure, and Sam saw one of their heads pop up over the wall.  She stopped dead in her tracks.

“Sam?”  Her eyes were full of wonder, and it took a moment for her attention to come back to Kara. 

“I didn’t know there would be giraffes here.”  Her voice was gentle and childlike, in the most adorable way.

“Yeah, most big zoos do, silly.  Come on, let’s go see them.”  The walked around the path and up the stairs to the viewing platform.  Kara was loving how in awe Sam was.  She had found the big cats beautiful, and the chimpanzees fascinated her.  Nothing affected her so profoundly as seeing the top of the giraffe’s head pop up over that wall, though.  She’d never seen Sam’s face so full of wonder.

They walked all the way up to the corner of the platform, and Sam remained silent.  Kara stood just behind her, hand on Sam’s arm.  There were at least four or five giraffes in the large enclosure.  Two of them were near the viewing platform, and Sam’s attention was firmly on the shorter of the two.  Then Kara saw it.

“Sam,” she whispered.  “Look over here.”  Sam followed her gaze over to the baby giraffe that had just wobbled around the corner.  Her reaction was priceless.  Kara had no idea that Sam was capable of squeeing, but there was really no other word for the adorable sound that came from her.

“Kara, she’s amazing!  They all are.  I don’t even … I don’t have words.  They’re so—” Sam paused, her eyes never leaving the giraffes.  “Majestic.  That’s the only word I’ve got.”

She leaned in and whispered, “You know, they’ll let you feed them.”  Sam immediately spun around to face her, face alight with pure glee. 

“Really?!”

“I think it’s like five bucks each, but yeah.  Come on!” Kara took her hand and pulled her around the corner to where the feeding area was.  Sam insisted on paying their $5 each, and then they were inside the little fence, where the giraffes could poke their heads over and accept shoots of leafy plants.  Suddenly, Sam was shy.  There was only one giraffe looking for handouts right now, but he was definitely interested in Sam.

“Go on, say hi.  He seems hungry.”  Sam reached out the plant tentatively, and the giraffe lowered his head until it was less than a foot from Sam’s hand.  Then his tongue shot out and wrapped around the shoot, smoothly yanking it from Sam’s hand and straight into the giraffe’s mouth.  It was long and black and prehensile.  Kara worried that it would’ve freaked Sam out, but she seemed fascinated.

“Hey fella.  Hi.”  Her hand was still out, and even without another tasty treat in it, the giraffe leaned back down.  Kara kept her distance, enjoying the sight.  Sam looked so small and whimsical next to the towering neck and odd face of the giraffe.  This was going to make a great painting later.  She captured a couple of quick reference photos on her phone.  Sam and the giraffe hung out for another five minutes or so, and she gave him another few plants.  As she turned and walked back to Kara, her whole body seemed more relaxed than it had been all day.

“Made a new friend, did you?”  Sam’s smile was wide and toothy and perfect.

“Giraffes are my favourite.  No question.  Kara, that was amazing.”  She took both Kara’s hands.  “I would’ve never come somewhere like this without you.  Never gotten to experience that.  Thank you.”  Kara searched her deep brown eyes.  They were practically dancing.  Kara didn’t quite understand why yet, but this had clearly meant a lot to Sam.  She was so excited to learn more about this enigmatic, entrancing woman.

They spent another hour or so at the zoo, blissfully enjoying each other’s company and the sights and sounds of the elephants, the gorillas, the zebras, and the kangaroos.  Sam adored the koalas but not in the same way she connected with the giraffe.  Mercifully, Sam elected to skip the snake house.  As they walked out of the zoo, Kara could feel the butterflies return to her stomach.  I’m not ready for this to be over yet.

“Hey Sam?”  They were walking through the parking lot, each with an arm around the other’s waist.  Sam turned her head to the side in curiosity.  “Would you … do you wanna grab some dinner before I head home?”

“We’ve been together for hours, and you’re not tired of me, huh?  Guess I’m doing something right.”  Kara grinned.  Sam had definitely been doing something right.  “I could eat something light, but aren’t you still full from the three hundred tacos?”  Kara tried her best to glare, but she couldn’t quite muster it. 

She smiled instead and coyly admitted, “Umm … yes?  I’ve got kind of a crazy metabolism.  Surely you’ve noticed it before.”

“You love your food, but I didn’t quite realize how much of it you can put away, I guess.  But hey, I’m not complaining.  Definitely don’t mind dating a lady who can eat.”

They had reached Sam’s SUV.  “Dating, huh?  So you’re saying you want to go on another date after this?”

Sam rolled her eyes.  “Blondie, this is the best date I’ve ever been on.  You’re incredible, and it’s pretty obvious the chemistry between us is insane.  If you’re in, I’m in.”

Kara smiled, then pulled Sam in for another kiss.  Not like the earlier kiss.  Simple, straightforward.  A promise of more to come.  “I’m in.”

                                                  

Dinner was nice and relaxed.  Wine, pasta, and plenty of footsy under the table.  The sun had barely set fifteen minutes ago when Sam pulled up to the downtown building that housed Lena and Kara’s penthouse.  Kara had had the most wonderful day, and it left her with nagging questions.

“Sam?”  Kara looked down at her hands in her lap, not sure exactly what it was she wanted to ask.  Or rather, she knew exactly what she wanted to ask, but wasn’t sure how.  Or if it was too soon.

“Hey Blondie.” Kara glanced up, and Sam fixed her with a knowing look.  She reached out a hand and intertwined it with Kara’s.  “Something on your mind?”

“Yeah,” Kara admitted.  “But I’m not sure if I should say anything.  Not yet.”  Kara’s stomach did a flip flop.  She wished she were as brave as Sam when it came to this stuff.

Sam’s thumb rubbed soothingly along her own.  “You don’t have to tell me anything you don’t want to, but I will remind you that all three of us agreed to stay honest and talk to each other.”  Kara traced her other hand over the back of Sam’s.

“Yeah, you’ve got me there.  Fine.  I want to ask you something.  And I am super worried that it’s too soon or that I’m getting ahead of myself or trying to I don’t know, like—”

“Kara!  Don’t worry about it.  You’re not gonna scare me off by asking me a question.  I promise.”  Kara checked, and Sam’s eyes backed up her statement.

Kara collected her thoughts with a deep breath.  “So … I had a wonderful day.  And I want more wonderful days.  With you.  But I’m still kinda scared.  And I guess I’m just wondering … I mean, really Sam, how do we do this?”  She squeezed Sam’s hand.  “Let’s say … I don’t know, what, do we become girlfriends?  I just have two girlfriends?  And that really doesn’t bother you?  What will Ruby think?  Ugh. I know, I’m rambling, and you’re gonna tell me it’s cute and stuff, but don’t do that right now.  Just … Sam, this is wonderful, I just don’t see how it works.”  Kara felt embarrassed, but all her worries had just sort of poured out of her mouth without really trying.

Sam sighed.  “Well, first of all, yes.  You’re getting ahead of yourself.  But I get why you’re freaked.  It was one thing to talk about it; it’s another to actually do it.  But hey, let me ask you this.  Do you think this is real?  Or that it could be, in time?”

Her answer was immediate, before she could overthink it.  “Yes.”  She smiled, even though she was conflicted.  “You and I could both feel that today.”

“Okay.  It’s a first date.  A really great one.  Sure, the stakes are higher because of … everything.  Because of Lena.  But we don’t have to go defining things just yet.  Just know that when we do get there, it doesn’t detract from what you have with Lena.  Calling me your girlfriend doesn’t make her less your girlfriend.  Ruby will deal.  Especially when she’s sees how happy you make me.  I didn’t raise my daughter to have all the standard heteronormative monogamous expectations society expects of us.” 

Sam cupped her hand around Kara’s cheek, pulling her head up so that their eyes met.  “All I can tell you is that we’ll figure it out together.  All that really matters is you, me, and Lena.  And my daughter.  As long as we’re all happy and good, it doesn’t matter if people think we’re weird.  Okay?”

Kara felt her doubt melt away into Sam’s warm touch.  “Okay.  Sorry I freaked a little.  It’s kinda scary how perfect today felt.  I … I really like you, Sam.”

Her face lit up in the brightest smile, forcing a smile to Kara’s own face as if by magic.  “I like you, too, dummy.  Let’s do this again soon?”

Kara giggled.  “Very soon.  But I can’t bring giraffes for every date, as cute as you were with that one.  I’ll text you tomorrow?”

“Sounds like a plan.”  Kara felt the warmth start low in her gut and spread through her body as Sam leaned in to kiss her goodnight.  As their lips met, everything felt every bit as electric as the kiss in the park.  One of Sam’s hands was in her hair, but the other traced over her shoulder to her neck and then slowly down her collarbone and chest.  Agonizingly slow, but in the best possible way.  Kara whimpered softly into Sam’s mouth. 

Sam didn’t pull away but her lips moved from Kara’s so she could tease, “Someone’s excited.”  Kara placed her hand on Sam’s chest, just slightly above her left breast as if she was going to make a move, then playfully shoved her back a few inches.

“Oh just you wait until you see me excited, Samantha Arias.” 

“Such a tease.  But I can be patient.  Tell Lena I said ‘hi,’ okay?”  Sam leaned in for one last lingering kiss.

“I will.  ‘Night Sam.”

“See ya soon, Blondie.”  Kara got out of the SUV and headed inside, texting Lena to let her know she was walking into the building.  She felt so fidgety as she took the elevator to the top floor.  Her phone vibrated just before she stepped out of the elevator.

            I’ll have a glass of wine waiting.  Can’t wait to hear all the details.

Kara let out the breath she had apparently been holding in and opened the front door.  Lena was pouring the wine as she walked in.  She was in a pair of simple black underwear, a sky blue camisole, and her silk robe wrapped loosely around her.  Kara stopped in the entryway and just enjoyed the sight of her girlfriend for a long moment.

“See something you like, darling?”

“You know you’re absolutely gorgeous, right?”  Kara walked over and wrapped her arms loosely around Lena’s neck. 

Lena kissed the side of Kara’s arm before replying, “Well, I had some idea, yes.  Come to bed with me?  We’ll catch up on the day and cuddle?”  Kara grinned. 

“I think I’d love that.  How’s Winn?”  Kara grabbed her glass of win, intentionally leaving the bottle behind.  Lena could hold her liquor but Kara could tell from her very careful steps that she’d probably had plenty today.  She moved at normal human speeds, preferring to savour all the little daily moments of time she spent with Lena. 

“He’s great, actually.  The blonde at the bar’s name is Lyra.  Sounds like they’ve been dating for a little while now.  He seems genuinely happy.”  Lena pulled back the covers and let her robe slip off her shoulders before getting into bed.  Kara placed the wine glass on her nightstand, then removed her jacket, boots, tights, and dress. 

As she undressed, she said “That’s wonderful!  I’m so happy for him!  Did you two have fun?”  Then she removed her bra and slid into bed beside Lena.

Lena sat her own glass down on her nightstand and traced her finger over Kara’s bare skin.  Up her arm, softly along her collarbone, then gently over the curve of her breast.  “Darling, you can’t just climb in to bed topless after a long day of drunk Star Wars and expect me to continue talking about my day.”

Lena’s touch sent waves of desire through Kara’s body, but she knew that it was important to talk first.  “As tempting as that sounds, I think we can both control ourselves for at least a little while.  Don’t you want to hear about my date?”

“I do, but. You. Just. Taste. So. Good.”  Lena punctuated each word with a soft kiss along Kara’s collarbone.  Her mouth hovered tantalizingly over Kara’s nipple for just long enough that her back arched a little, unconsciously yearning for Lena’s soft lips.  Then Lena pulled back and grinned mischievously.  “But sure, darling, tell me about your date.”

“Leeeeeeena you’re so mean to me!”  She fixed Lena with her best pout, but immediately grinned when Lena rolled her eyes in response.  “Ugh fine, I’ll forgive you, but only because I’ve had such a wonderful day with your best friend.”

“Oh swept you off your feet, did she?  So, where did Ms. Arias take you?”

Kara narrowed her eyes playfully.  “As if you weren’t the one who told her I love the zoo!”

“I’ll admit to knowing about the zoo, but she wouldn’t tell me what genius idea she had for before the zoo.  She was quite proud of it, so you absolutely must tell me about it.”  Kara caught Lena’s gaze, and the two exchanged a wordless conversation.  Kara’s eyes searched Lena’s for assurance that she was genuinely interested and that this wasn’t too much for her to handle.  Lena’s eyes gave that assurance, with an added glow of unaffected curiosity.

“I love you.”  Kara kissed Lena deeply.  The taste of red wine perfectly suited Lena’s lips and tongue, and it wasn’t the first time the thought had crossed her mind either. 

“I love you, too, darling.”  Lena put a hand to Kara’s cheek.  “Kara, it’s alright.  I know you’re not going anywhere.  I know that you love me.  Stop worrying, and tell me about the magical place Sam took you.”

“Okay, but I do love you, and I’m constantly loving all the little ways in which I love you.  Just so you know.  Now.”  Kara looked at Lena with wider eyes, intentionally drawing it out to tease her.  “Sam took me to an escape room!  We got to play slayers and work our way out of a vampire’s crypt.”

The traded notes from the day for the next thirty minutes or so, but Kara could tell Lena was fading.  And she wasn’t quite ready for sleep just yet.  Still, there was one other thing they needed to discuss.  “Lena, I think I need to tell her that I’m Supergirl.”

“What changed your mind?  You know I’m onboard already, but I’m curious.”

Kara took Lena’s hand.  “I … this could be real, Lena.  But we’ll never know until I let her in on this side of my life.  And ultimately, I care about her.  She deserves to know, and I don’t want to hide anything from her anymore.”  

“Do you want me to be there when you do?”  Kara smiled softly.  She felt so lucky to know that Lena was always on her team, even in this. 

“No, I think I’ll tell her the next time she and I get some time alone.  I don’t want her to feel ganged up on if it takes her by surprise.  And—” Kara hesitated, just for a moment.  She didn’t want Lena to feel left out.  “I … it’s kind of a special moment for me and her, you know?”

“Perfectly understandable.  Kara, please don’t feel bad about wanting moments with Sam.  You’re dating now.  Yeah, that’s fucking weird right now, but that’s because it’s new.  You’re supposed to have nice moments together, as a couple.  I want that for you, okay?”  Kara was kissing Lena before the question was out of her mouth. 

“Lena, you’re amazing and wonderful and I can’t believe how lucky I am to have you in my life, but also I really really want to get you naked right now.  How does that sound?”  Lena’s wicked grin and raised eyebrows were all the ‘yes’ Kara needed.

Chapter Text

Chapter 16

“Li’l Luthor, how is it you know literally all the best brunch spots in National City?  Every time I’m sure you’ve taken us to all of them, you pull another one out of your ass.”  Lena raised an eyebrow at Maggie’s curious choice of phrase.

“I assure you, detective, their source is decidedly more glamourous than that.”

“I don’t know, dat ass is pretty damn glamourous.”  Maggie winked just as Alex elbowed her in the ribs. 

“You’re incorrigible, Maggie.”  Before Kara had gotten home from her date last night, Maggie had texted Lena about the possibility of going to brunch.  Lena knew the perfect place, Oddfellows, which had just opened in the last month and had a nice patio space that was dog-friendly.  Lena needed some Gertrude in her life. 

Gerty still refused to sit in anyone’s lap but Alex’s, but she at least let Lena walk her in from the car.  Lena leaned under the table and waved a piece of sausage towards Gert.  She tilted her head, maybe considering it, but then she just shivered at Lena and refused to move.  “Gertrude, why do you hate me so?”  She tossed the piece of sausage to her anyway.  Meanwhile, Kara was scarfing down her third omelette to her right.  Alex, Maggie, and Lena had already finished their meals and were enjoying the restaurant’s bottomless mimosas.

Alex talked down to the tiny pup in her lap.  “Gertrude, Lena is nice enough to give you table scraps, and you won’t even go see her.  That’s so rude.  Your mommies never give you table scraps.”  She shrugged at Lena.  “She’s a tiny little coward, but I love her.”

“I still love her, anyway.  But I’ll convince you to love me back someday, Gert.”  Lena turned to Maggie.  “Any interesting cases at work lately?”

Maggie swallowed the generous sip of mimosa in her mouth before replying.  “Actually the most interesting thing I’m working on lately is a joint NCPD-DEO investigation Alex and I are spearheading.  It started with a few unsolved murders that we slowly began to realize were connected.  Low level criminals at first.  Wounds consistent with either alien tech or powers.  Once I realized these murders were all committed by the same killer or killers, I got permission from my superiors to work with the ‘FBI’s alien division’ and roped Alex in.”

“What sort of wounds?  How do you know the killer is alien?”  Lena was always skeptical when the authorities’ first assumption when it came to strange or unusual sorts of violence was aliens.  She trusted Maggie and Alex, but there were far too many in power who shared Lex and Lillian’s unfounded bias and applied it to every possible situation. 

“Burns consistent with either laser guns or heat vision.  Broken necks and crushed skulls without evidence of much further injury, indicating superhuman strength.  The most recent killing was a group of gang members.  Bunch of vicious killers and drug dealers, all of them armed.  It was clear from the crime scene that they had used their guns, including semi-automatics, against their attacker, but the only blood or other DNA found on the scene was all matched up to dead gang members.  Whoever killed them walked away without a scratch.”

Alex jumped in.  “We haven’t come close to finding the killer yet.  Nothing to go on that we need Kara for yet, but when we finally catch up to these killers, this is going to be something for Supergirl to handle.”

“But Kara Danvers is covering the story for the National Tribune.”  Lena smiled softly—Kara’s mumbled the statement through a mouthful of omelette.

“Sounds gruesome.  Do you have any idea what the motive is, or how you might catch the killer?” 

“It’s pretty clear that we have a vigilante on our hands.  All of the victims are criminals, or at least alleged criminals.  Rapists.  Abusers.  Gang members.  But they only attack under cover of night.  There are never any witnesses.  I have no idea how to catch this person.”  Alex’s voice was tense.

“Hell, I’m not even sure I want to catch them.”  Alex cut her eyes at Maggie, her face tight with frustration.  Clearly this was an ongoing argument between them.”

Kara responded scoldingly, “Maggie, these victims are all terrible people, but we can’t condone a superpowered vigilante playing judge, jury, and executioner.  The kind of person who could do this, even to monsters like that, isn’t someone we can allow to operate in National City freely.  That’s not what Supergirl stands for, and it’s not what the NCPD stands for either.”

“Kara, I know.  But … look, I believe in the system as much as anyone, or I wouldn’t be a cop.  I can’t pretend that there aren’t massive flaws.  Most of these victims either escaped punishment for their crimes or got off light.  Each of them should’ve been locked away forever, if you ask me.”  Alex and Kara were both giving her a look of concern.  Maggie shrugged.  “All I’m saying is that I’m not mourning their loss.  Yes, I’ll do my job, and I’m doing everything that I can to catch the killer.  But I have trouble seeing the murders committed so far as anything but a net good for the world.”

Based on what she had heard so far, Lena tended to agree.  This wasn’t the first time she and Maggie’s more nuanced views of justice had come into conflict with the more black and white perspectives of Kara and Alex.  She did agree with Kara on one point though.

“I’m not going to complain about fewer rapists and murderers in the world, but Kara’s right.  This vigilante is focused on criminals right now, but how long until there’s collateral damage?  And can we ever really trust someone who is capable of this sort of violence?  This sort of ruthlessness?”

“Exactly!”  Alex startled Gertrude with her sudden passion.  “That’s what I’m concerned about.  This sort of extrajudicial justice, if you want to call it that, can only be trusted in the hands of heroes like Supergirl.  Who understand the cost of life.  Struggle with the morality of violence and the use of force.  And who are willing to work with the authorities as much as necessary.”

Kara blushed.  The admiration in Alex’s voice filled Lena with warmth and pride.  Supergirl wasn’t perfect, but no one could question her morals, her goodness.  Kara was a beam of sunshine and a beacon of hope, and it always cost her when she was forced to make the tough calls. 

“Yeah yeah, calm down Danvers.  The last thing we need is Supergirl to get an ego.”  Kara threw a piece of egg at Maggie.  “Hey, that is assault of an officer!  I could arrest you right here and now, Li’l Danvers.”

“Wouldn’t that be a sight?” Lena joked.  “But I thought we agreed that there would be no more arresting of the good guys, Detective Sawyer?”

Maggie rolled her eyes dramatically.  “You’re never gonna let that go, are you?  Fucking Luthors and their grudges.”  Her voice was jovial, and Lena laughed. 

“Arrest my girlfriend, and I’ll show you a grudge.”

“Shut it, you two.  Lena, you’ve got the check, right?”  Since they had grown a little closer, Alex had no trouble treating Lena like a walking ATM when they all were out together.  It was something that Lena secretly loved.  She couldn’t say why, but it felt somehow familial to her.  Like Alex understood and appreciated Lena’s desire to take care of those she cared about, even in little things like paying for brunch.

“Of course I do.  I assume that means you’re ready to head out?  Because I could hang out here drinking mimosas for the rest of the day.”

“Woman after my own heart.  Where’ve you gotta be in such a hurry, Danvers?”  Maggie poked her girlfriend teasingly.

“Oh, nowhere.  It was just starting to feel like I needed to separate you two.  Be good, and we can hang out as long as you want.”  Maggie scoffed, then saluted Alex mockingly. 

“Good, because I’m desperate to know how cohabitating domestic bliss is treating these two lovebirds.”

Kara practically jumped out of her seat.  “Maggie!  It’s the best thing ever!”  Gertrude whimpered at the outburst, and Alex stroked her head soothingly.  “I mean … it’s actually not all that different.  We were sleeping together most nights anyway.  But it just feels so much more … official?  I know it’s dumb, but I loooooove it.”

Lena tried to hide the grin Kara’s enthusiasm forced to her face, but Maggie caught her anyway.  “Luthor, you’re such a sap.  You love it just as much as she does.  I haven’t seen it yet, has she completely Kara-fied the penthouse yet?”

“Christ, you have no idea.  Darling, would you care to list off the many improvements you’ve made?”

Kara put her arm around Lena and leaned in closer.  “Well, there’s the throw pillows on the couch.  I added in some blues to the black and purple colour scheme and painted a sky blue line on the accent wall, just under the TV, to match.  I got a couple of smaller fiddle leaf figs for the two big pillars that frame the windows in the living area.  Comfier outdoor chairs for the balcony.  New duvet and pillows for our bed, plus I painted some flowers onto our bedroom wall.  A bunch of other little things.  The only room I left alone was Lena’s home office, since that’s still all her space.”

“She did give me some beautiful plumerias for the office though.”  She kissed Kara’s nearby cheek.  Lena couldn’t put into words how much moving in with Kara had meant to her.  Not without earning Maggie’s mockery at least.  She felt as if she had a home for the first time in her life.  Not just a place where she lived.  A home.

“And all you got was a desk at the loft?”  Alex scratched behind Gertrude’s ears as she asked.

“I’ll have you know that I’ve made plenty of upgrades at the loft.  New sheets, better wifi, a couple of larger art installations that I never had the wall space for at the penthouse.  And a few other things that are none of your damn business, Alex Danvers.”  Lena flashed her most devious grin.  Alex’s face crinkled.  Lena loved messing with Alex, who hated it when Lena made reference to her and Kara’s sex life.

“How many times do I have to threaten you with my pinky finger, Luthor?”

“Well, Alex, unless your pinky moves faster than the world’s most powerful Kryptonian, I’m feeling pretty safe considering I’ve got that Kryptonian locked down.  Thanks in no small part to the things I can do with my own pinky.”  Kara blushed as red as Lena had ever seen her, and Alex groaned loudly.  Maggie, on the other hand, nearly fell over laughing.  Once she collected herself, she and Lena exchanged an overly dramatic high five.

“Get it, Li’l Luthor!”  Alex fixed them both with glares, but that only made them laugh harder.  “You know, Alex is pretty great herself, and with more than just her pinky.”

“Oh?”  Lena raised her eyebrows and leaned in theatrically.

“Nope!  I mean, yes, I’m very skilled, but no, our sex life is none of your business.  And not something I’m particularly eager to discuss with my little sister.”

“Babe, you gotta loosen up.  Li’l Danvers you don’t mind, do you?”

“I … no no, don’t get me involved in this.  Ugh.  I just.  I mean sex is beautiful, and no one should be ashamed of the ways in which they express their sexuality and … oh Rao … I just mean, if Alex doesn’t want to talk about sex, she shouldn’t have to.” 

“Fuck me, I need another mimosa.”  Alex caught the attention of a nearby waitress to indicate they would need another carafe.  Meanwhile, Maggie and Lena exchanged conspiratorial grins, looking expectantly at Kara.  Before Alex turned back, she rolled her eyes and grinned too.  Lena sighed and took Kara’s hand.  I love this woman.

                                                  

“One date, and you couldn’t wait any longer to get me alone in your apartment, huh?”  Sam had been a little surprised when Kara had suggested hanging out at her place in lieu of a second date.  She was trying not to let the “I have something to tell you” part of the request bug her, but her chest felt a little tight anyway.  She just hoped that Kara and Lena hadn’t decided this was all too much for them.

Kara took her hand, clearly working through her own set of nerves.  “We’ll just … I … let’s see what you think of what I have to say before you decide whether you want to continue to be alone in my apartment.”  Well, that’s ominous.

“Cool.  That’s not worrisome at all, Kara.  May as well spit it out.”  She dropped Kara’s hand and took a couple of steps back, crossing her arms.  “What’s going on?”

“No.  Sam … it’s not like …”  Kara swallowed and took a step toward her.  “I … I’ve been keeping something from you, but I don’t want to hide it anymore.  I trust you.  You deserve to know.”  Sam could feel her eyes narrow and her head tilt slightly to the side.

“Well … that’s less scary than what I was imagining in my head.  What’s up?  Just tell me, I’m not gonna judge you or anything.”  It wasn’t as if Sam didn’t have her own secrets that she absolutely wasn’t ready to share with Kara or anyone.

“Okay.”  Kara released a loud breath.  She took two more steps into Sam’s space and placed her hands on Sam’s hips.  “Just … promise me you won’t hate me?”

Sam blinked several times and smiled.  “Blondie, I’m not sure that’s possible.”  Kara smiled back, then looked up to collect herself.

“Okay.  Okay.  So, the thing is … I’m Supergirl?”  Oh holy shit, of course she is. Holy shit!  All the weird stuff about Kara that had confused Sam all this time suddenly made so much sense.

Sam couldn’t resist.  “Is that a question?”  Kara was so shocked that her eyes practically became plates.

That’s your response?  Rao, Sam, you’re nothing if not consistent.”

She winked at Kara.  “Thanks, Supergirl.  You know, my daughter is a huge fan.”  Sam wrapped her arms around Kara’s lower back.  “So, I’m dating a superhero?”

“You’re dating a superhero, yes.”  Kara’s everything was awash with relief.  She had clearly been worried that Sam would be pissed at her.  Holy fuck.

“Kara!”  Sam pulled back a little, her mind putting the pieces together.  “Last year, when you disappeared on Lena right before you too started hooking up, that was Supergirl stuff, wasn’t it?”  Kara’s face flushed with guilt.  “And you hadn’t told her you were Supergirl yet, so you had to tell her that garbage lie, right?”

“Yeah,” Kara whispered.  “She told you about that?”

“Kara, sweetie, I’m her best friend.  Back then I was her only friend.  Who else would she talk to about you?  I warned her against dating you for quite a while because of that.”  Kara’s face became the most adorable pout.  “Hey!  Obviously, she ignored me, and now I understand why.”

Kara’s Supergirl.  Supergirl is an alien. … Like me.  What if I’m like her?  Suddenly Sam really wished that she hadn’t lost the crystal from her pod.  That she could remember what happened that night.  But maybe Kara could help.  She turned away from Kara and walked across the room to the window.  She gazed out as she thought.  Kara trusts me.  She’s a Kryptonian superhero with a heart of gold.  Who works with a black ops covert organization that studies aliens as its full-time mission.  If anyone can help me …

Suddenly Kara’s hand was on her shoulder.  “Sam?  What’s wrong?  Is it … Are you mad because I lied?”

Sam reached back and put her hand on Kara’s, still on her shoulder.  “No.” she whispered.  “I just …”  She turned around, pulling Kara hand down to rest around her waist.  She put her hand behind Kara’s neck, playing with her hair.  “I have a secret of my own, actually.  One that scares the shit out of me.  Because I don’t understand it.” 

Kara’s eyes filled with concern, and she held Sam tightly, waiting for her to continue.  Sam’s breath came out ragged as she released it.  “Kara … I think I’m an alien, too.”  Her brow furrowed, not in frustration or anger, but worry.

“What do you mean ‘you think?’  You don’t know?”

“Everything I told you was true.  I was adopted at a very early age by Patricia, but I never knew where I came from.  I didn’t really care either, until about a month ago.”  She pulled away, feeling the need to pace a little as she told her story.  “You weren’t at the press conf—oh shit.  You were at the press conference, weren’t you?  You saved Lena.”  Another lingering question about Kara answered.  “Thank you for that.  She’s lucky to have you. … I hope I can be that lucky someday.”

She smiled brightly at Kara, not yet ready to dream that they could have that kind of future together.  “But anyway, you saved Lena … but she wasn’t the only one in the line of fire.  I got so caught up with our investigation—and if I’m being brutally honest, with the enticing little sparks that were flying between us—to notice.  I got shot, Kara.  After you and Lena left, I found it.  The crushed bullet that couldn’t penetrate my skin.”

Kara’s face flashed with fear when she realized that Sam had been shot, even if it hadn’t hurt her.  “Sam!  I’m sorry.”  Kara’s eyes filled with tears.  “I … I was so focused on protecting Lena.  I should’ve …”

“Baby, no.”  Sam had Kara in her arms in an instant.  “I get it.  Lena was in danger.  You and I were both freaking out about her.  The shooter was aiming for her.  You made a snap decision and did what you had to do.  Do not feel guilty about that.”  She could see that her words did nothing to assuage the guilt swimming in those watery blue eyes.  She kissed away the tears on Kara’s cheeks, then kissed her firmly on the lips.

“I’m still sorry, Sam.  Even though you’re okay.  I … I’ll always protect you whenever I can.  You mean a lot to me.  I’m so sorry that I was so focused on Lena.”  Kara kissed her back.  “But you’re bulletproof?”

Sam pursued her lips, considering.  “I don’t really know.  That’s the first time anyone’s ever shot at me, but I didn’t grow up impervious.  I’ve broken a few bones.  Gotten my share of cuts and bruises.  This is the first time this has ever happened to me.  I … I’ve got no clue what’s going on.”

She turned towards the kitchen.  “Where’s Lena keep the booze?”

Kara was initially surprised by the request, then chuckled.  “Well … at least we know you don’t have a Kryptonian metabolism or constitution.”

“Wait, you’re saying human booze doesn’t do anything for you?”

“Yeah no, sorry.  I misled you a little on that front.”  Kara walked over to the cabinet further from the kitchen.  “Scotch or wine?”

“I think this is a scotch sort of conversation.”  Kara poured her a glass.  “Rocks, please.”  She grabbed a few cubes from the freezer and added them to the glass before handing it to Sam.  She took a sip, then sat down on one of the stools around the table forming Kara’s kitchen island. 

“While you and Lena were in Midvale, I took a trip to see Patricia.  It … didn’t go great.  But she did finally open up about where she found me.  She’s got my pod—spaceship, whatever—in her shed still.  I don’t know what kind of alien I am or where I’m from, but I’m definitely not from Earth.”

Kara sat down next to her.  “And you’ve been keeping this to yourself ever since?  Have you tested your powers?  It’s weird that they manifested so late in life, but we can totally figure ou—”

“That’s the thing, Kara.”  Sam took another sip, feeling more than a little bitter.  “As far as I can tell, I don’t have powers.  My first thought was that maybe I was like Sup—like you.  But I can’t fly.  Can’t shoot lasers from my eyes—”

“Heat vision!” Kara corrected then blushed.  “Um.  We call it heat vision, not lasers.”

“Lah dee dah.” Sam grinned at Kara jokingly.  “Well, I don’t have heat vision. And—” Sam unbuttoned her pants, winked at Kara, and then pulled them down to her knees,  “—I’m definitely not invulnerable.”  There were several cuts on her right thigh, in various stages of healing. 

Kara’s hand was immediately on her thigh.  “Sam!  Why?”    

“I had to be sure.  I’ve tried a couple of times, under different circumstances.  Whatever protected me from that bullet isn’t working anymore.  And I have no clue how to activate it or whatever.”  Sam squeezed Kara’s hand before placing it back on the table.  She pulled her pants back up and buttoned them.  “That’s not the only thing.  Prior to the bullet, I was having nightmares.  A burning planet.  My skin covered in dark glyphs.  A woman in a dark cloak with a skull-like face, telling me I would ‘reign.’  It was terrifying.  I’ve continued to have those nightmares, but ever since I visited Patricia, I’ve also noticed other strange things.”

Sam avoided Kara’s eyes, fully aware of the worry she would find there.  “I’m missing time, Kara.  Little bits here and there.  Mostly at night.  I think I’m eating more?  It’s not something I’ve done consciously, but I noticed that food was disappearing from my pantry and refrigerator much more quickly than usual.  At first, I thought maybe Ruby was snacking more often, but she insisted that wasn’t the case.  So, it had to be me.  Maybe during the blackouts.”  She threw back the remaining scotch in her glass.  “Kara, the first blackout was after I found that pod.  When I touched it, it lit up in red, and there were some of those same glyphs on its hull.  There was also some sort of crystal that came out of it, about this—” she gestured with her hands, “—long.”

Kara stood and walked away.  She grabbed a notepad and pen and came back, hastily writing something down.  “The glyphs you saw, did they look like this?”  Kara held out the pad, and Sam’s eyes went wide.

“Yes!  Kara, that’s what I saw.  What are those?”

“Kryptonese.  Sam, this is my language.”  Kryptonese?  But then why aren’t I like Kara.  Am I not Kryptonian?

“These are like the symbols in my nightmares.  And on my pod.  So … am I Kryptonian?  Why aren’t I like you?”  Another thought occurred to Sam, and before Kara could respond, she added, “Hey, what does this say?”

Kara blushed.  “It says … I mean, it roughly translates to ‘Hey, pretty lady.’ It was … uh, it was the first thing that came to mind.”

“Jesus, Kara, you couldn’t be more adorable if you tried.”  Sam kissed her.  “Seriously.  I’m like crazy into you, in case you were wondering.”  Kara’s already pink cheeks brightened to a loud red.  “So, I mean, I can’t be Kryptonian, right?  You and Superman are the only ones—oh, and that Zod dude that Superman defeated—and all of you have the same powers.  Were you born with those?”

“No.  My powers come from yellow sun radiation.  I’ve experienced them once as a child when I visited a planet with a yellow sun, but I didn’t have them full-time until I came to Earth when I was thirteen.”  She paused, thinking.  “Your pod sounds Kryptonian.  The glyphs are Kryptonese, and our technology was primarily crystal-based.  But yeah … if you were Kryptonian, you should have the same powers as me.  And you should have gotten them as soon as you were exposed to the yellow sun.  I have no idea what is going on.”

Shit.  Welp.  So much for that.  Then Kara surprised her.  “But we’ll figure this out, together.  I promise.  You deserve to know where you come from, Sam.”  Kara had one hand on Sam’s thigh, right over the self-inflicted cuts, and the other was rubbing her back gently.  “Would you be willing to come into the DEO?  Let them run some tests?”

Sam thought about it, leaning over and resting her head on Kara’s shoulder.  “I’m scared, Kara.” 

She felt Kara’s hand stroke her hair reassuringly.  “I know, sweetie.  But you can trust them.  They can help you.  I won’t let anything happen to you.”  Sam pulled her head up enough to look Kara in the eye.

“Let me think about it, okay?  Give me the holidays to consider my options.”  Kara nodded.  “And … for now, can this stay between us please?  I haven’t told Lena yet either.  Hell, I only told you because you’re fucking Supergirl, and I figured you might know what’s going on with me.”  Kara’s nose scrunched up. 

“Okay.  But please don’t make me keep this from her too long?  I love her, and I don’t like keeping secrets from her.  Plus… I know she loves you.  She would want to know.”  Sam nodded.  Kara was right, but she just wasn’t ready yet.

“I get it.  I really do.  I don’t like keeping this from Lena.  From Ruby.  But I need to figure this out for myself before I start letting people in.  Letting people run tests on me.”  Kara put her arm around her.  The warmth and strength of her grip was soothing.  Sam sighed.  “Not to jump from one heavy topic to another, but speaking of the holidays … you’re having a party, right?  How are we gonna handle that?”

She searched Kara’s face.  Sam could see conflict, a mind at work.  She waited patiently.  Finally, Kara spoke, in the softest, most precious voice Sam had ever heard.  “I really like you.  I … Lena was great after you dropped me off.  So excited to hear about our date.  I think she was mad at you for not telling her about the escape room—her curiosity nearly killed her.”  Sam giggled.  “I need to talk to her about a few things, and I don’t know, maybe I should hold off on that until you’re ready to let her in on your stuff.  But … what you and I have is real.  I’m sure of that.  I don’t want to hide from it.”

“So …”

So, I’m not going to go announcing that we’re dating, but … I’ll talk to Alex about it.  And you and Ruby are of course invited.  I don’t want to pretend.  Let’s just hang out.  Be natural … if that raises questions, so be it.  We can answer them as they come.”

Sam frowned.  “I’m not … unopposed to that idea.  You know I don’t like hiding.  I’m just trying to think about whether to explain things to Ruby beforehand.  Or maybe just don’t bring her to the party, that way I don’t have to worry about getting her home by bedtime.  I hate how much I am hiding from her right now.  But …”

“You don’t know how she’ll take it.  And you want to protect her.”

“Yeah.”  Sam’s heart warmed at Kara’s empathy.  “I don’t know.  One other thing for me to figure out over the holidays.  But you’re sure that Lena is okay with us?  She seemed remarkably enthusiastic the couple of times she and I have talked about it, but I still worry about her.”

“Come on Sam, you know her maybe better still than I do.  If she is determined to hide something from us, we probably won’t know.  But.  I believe her.  I believe that she is genuinely …”  Kara trailed off, a slight smirk on her soft lips.  “What’s the word?  Compersion?”

Sam felt her face break out into a broad smile that matched how she felt on the inside.  “Kara Danvers, have you been reading up on polyamory?”

“Maybe a little.”  Fuck me, she’s so cute.  “I figured, if I’m going to do this, I should do it right.  Everything is all new, and I don’t want to mess it up.  We didn’t have words like polyamory and monogamy on Krypton, but I don’t think relationships were so strictly regulated by societal expectation like they are on Earth.  I don’t really remember.  Everything I’ve learned about relationships has mostly been on Earth, and I see now that a lot of the messages I’ve received have been toxic.  So … I’m doing my own research.”

Sam giggled, then put a hand on both sides of Kara’s jaw.  She peppered her face with kisses until Kara was giggling along with her.  “You are amazing.  I am so happy to know you, to be able to experience this with you, whatever this turns out to be.  You’re an absolute sweetheart, Supergirl.”  Kara beamed at her.

“Oooooo ooo, can I see you in the suit?!”  Before the words were out of her mouth, Sam felt a sudden draft of wind all around her.  She blinked once, and there was Supergirl standing right in front of her.  Sam played it cool, fixing a sultry look on her face and walking slowly towards Kara.  She paced around Kara, checking her out thoroughly.  Then she placed an arm on Kara’s bicep as she finished her circle, stepping in tantalizingly close to the superhero.  “This—” Her hand traced from Kara’s bicep over her shoulder and down to the sigil imprinted across her breasts, “—is just incredibly sexy. Did you know that?”

To Sam’s joyful surprise, Kara didn’t turn into a sputtering mess.  Instead, she leaned in confidently and whispered, “Oh, I’m aware.”  A shiver shot down Sam’s spine.  Was the flustered Kara Danvers charm all an act?  I want to find out.

Sam closed the distance between their faces and teased, “Someone’s cocky.”  Kara’s arms were around her before she could blink, and she heard a slight whimper release from her own mouth.  Holy shit.  Usually Sam was the one making girls whimper.  Just before she kissed Kara, she murmured, “This is going to be fun.”

Chapter Text

Chapter 17

December 23 came so much quicker than Kara had expected, but here it was.  Eliza’s flight got in just after lunch, and Kara’s first step was to get her set up in the loft, where she was staying for the three days.  Then they were off to the penthouse to start preparing for the party.  Kara had already decorated both the penthouse and the loft to the nines, but there was still dinner to prepare.  Lena came home from work early to lend a helping hand, and Alex and Maggie had showed up an hour or two later with Gertrude, cookies, and egg nog ingredients.

“Holy shit Li’l Danvers, you weren’t playing around on these Christmas decorations.”

“She never has, Maggie!  From her very first holidays on Earth, she’s always embraced the traditions and the décor.”  Eliza loved to tell that story, but Kara always worried a little about anything that would bring up memories of Jeremiah.

“Uh duh.  Winter solstice celebrations are among my favourite things about Earth.  Christmas.  Hanukkah, solstice, Kwanzaa, new year’s … they’re all wonderful.  As is the idea of decorating your home and celebrating the end of the year with friends and family.  There was nothing like that on Krypton.”

As the sun slowly set over the city, the five of them put the finishing touches on the spread for the party, and then Kara and Lena went to go change just before people were supposed to arrive.  It took a tremendous amount of willpower for Kara to not immediately take Lena’s elaborate patterned beaded dress right off of her when she saw Lena in it.  But people were starting to arrive, so she settled for a deep, passionate kiss.

Before long, Sam, Winn, Lyra, James, Lucy, Vasquez, and J’onn had all filled out the open space of their living area, mingling and laughing and talking.  Kara and Sam had hugged tightly, sharing a look as they tried not to linger for too long.  With Eliza around, they had agreed that it wasn’t quite the right time to let people in on the fact that they were dating.  Not only was it a lot of pressure on Sam, meeting the mom, but they wanted people to have fun.  No need to burden them with misunderstandings, fraught conversations, or distracting questions. 

Even so, Kara needed a moment along with her.  “Here, let me take your coat.  I’ve got something to show you really quick in the bedroom.”  She and Lena locked eyes, and Lena knew to cover so that no one would disturb them.

Pulling her in and shutting the door behind them, Kara found herself shoved against the door roughly as Sam locked her lips in a tight, hungry kiss.  Kara wrapped her arms around Sam’s waist and kissed her back with equal fervor.  Then she supersped out of Sam’s grasp before they could lose track of time.  “I got you something!”

“And here I was hoping you were just looking for an excuse to kiss me with all your friends and family just outside.”  Kara’s face got warm, and she felt at a loss for words all of the sudden.  Sam just laughed.  “I kinda feel like that will never get old.”

“Ugh.  Hopefully at some point, I’ll build up an immunity to your antics.  And … yeah, I really wanted to kiss you, but that’s not why I brought you back here.  I got you a present, but not anyone else because this isn’t a gift-giving sort of party.  But I wasn’t sure if I was going to see you in the next couple of days.”  She held out the small box wrapped perfectly in bright red paper with a green stick-on bow.  “Open it!”

They sat down together on the edge of the bed, and Sam carefully unwrapped the box.  Pulling off the lid, she drew the watch from within.  It was a rose gold watch with a black leather band.  The face was a shimmery pearl, and on the back of the watch, “S + K” was delicately inscribed inside a heart.  Kara had worried that it would be cheesy, but Lena had assured her that it was cute and really sweet. 

“Kara, this is gorgeous.”  Sam trailed her finger along the watch’s edge.

“It’s not just a watch.  So you pull the crown of the watch—did you know it was called that?—out, you can wind the watch.  You know, as you do.  But, if you push the crown all the way in and hold it for three seconds, it will signal me.  In case of emergencies.  That need Supergirl, obviously.  Lena has one too, but hers is a more Lena style.” 

When Sam’s eyes moved from the watch to Kara’s face, they were watery.  She wrapped Kara in a fierce hug, then surprised her by kissing her on the tip of her nose.  Kara giggled in delight.  “Babe, this is so sweet.  Thank you so much.  You … a lot about my life scares me right now, but you make me feel safe.”  That’s all Kara really wanted—that was the thought behind the gift. 

“I’m so glad you like it.  And … you are safe.  I care about you, and I won’t ever let anything happen to you.”

“Now I feel like a jerk because my gift isn’t half as good.”  Gift?  Kara’s eyes widened in surprise.

“You didn’t have to get me anything, Sam!  I mean … it’s still early.  I wasn’t even sure we were at the gift-giving stage of our relationship yet, but now that you know I’m Supergirl, it was important to me that you have that watch.”

Sam put a finger to her lips.  “Hush now, Blondie.  Of course, I got you a gift.”  She pulled a thin rectangular box out of her coat pocket, wrapped in simple navy paper with a thin red ribbon and bow.  Kara couldn’t unwrap it nearly as gracefully as Sam had, and she basically just tore the paper off in one fell swoop.”  Inside was a dangly gold necklace with an ornate otter charm, beautifully detailed and with tiny sapphires for eyes.  Kara could help the yelp that came out of her.

“I love it, I love it, I love it!  Sam, this is precious!”  She gestured for Sam to put it on her, then rose to go look at it in the mirror.  “When I look at it, I’ll always think of our first date.”  Sam wrapped her arms around Kara from behind.

“That was kinda that point, dummy.”  Kara twisted her neck enough to give Sam the side eye.  Then she grinned and turned all the way around to face her. 

“Thank you.  I love it.”  She kissed Sam softly.  Her breath tasted like cinnamon, and it was kind of driving Kara crazy.  She wished they had more time alone.  This time, though, Sam was the one who pulled away.

“Hey, I thought about it, and I’m going to take you up on the offer to go into the DEO for testing.  After Christmas Day.  And … I’m going to tell Lena about everything.  She deserves to know, and I’d kinda like to have both of you there when we figure out what the hell I am.” 

Kara pulled her close.  “We’re going to figure this out.  I’m glad you’re telling Lena—we both want to be here for you.  But for now—” Kara sighed, really not wanting to leave it there, “—we have to get back to the party before people get suspicious.”

“Wouldn’t want that,” Sam teased.  “Come on, let’s do it.”  Sam was wearing her new watch already, but Kara slid the necklace down into the top of her dress.  Just for tonight.  Besides, something about feeling it pressed against her skin was both soothing and electrifying. 

They reentered the party just in time to see J’onn wresting control of the music from Winn.  Hall and Oates’ Jingle Bell Rock began playing over the apartment’s speaker system.  Knowing it was better to get it over with, Kara pulled Sam over to where Eliza was chatting with Maggie and Alex.  “Eliza, I’d like you to meet Sam Arias.  She’s Lena’s best friend who just moved to National City a few months ago.”

“Hello dear, it is so nice to meet you.”

Kara was worried that Sam might feel awkward about meeting her Earth mom, but if she was, she certainly hid it behind a brave face.  “Eliza!  I’ve heard so many great things.  How was your flight?”

“Is there any such thing as a good flight?” Eliza asked wryly.  “But it was fine.  Anything to come see my girls.  And their girls.”  She added this last line as Lena walked up and put an arm around Kara’s waist.  “Lena, Kara was just introducing me to your friend Sam.”

Lena’s grin was devious and not nearly subtle enough for Kara’s taste.  “How wonderful!  Has Sam told you about her best girl?”  Kara shot Lena a sideways look that was hopefully more subtle than it felt.  Eliza looked at them both curiously.

“She’s talking about my daughter, Ruby.  And no, Lena, we hadn’t made that far into the introduction.”  Suddenly Alex was in the mix as well.

“Oh good, Mom, you met Sam.  Now!”  She addressed the gathered crowd.  “Everyone grab some nog.  But be warned!  This is not you grandmother’s recipe—well, Mom, yes, it is your grandmother’s recipe, but you all know what I mean.  This is highly potent, intoxicating deliciousness.”  Sam did not need any further excuse to extricate herself from the awkward conversation Lena seemed determined to tease out with Eliza. 

J’onn walked over with a full mug of egg nog.  “You know, I’ve lived on Earth for 300 years, and I’ve never had egg nog before.”  Kara turned to him incredulously. 

But Eliza beat her to the response.  “Well then, J’onn, you’re in for a serious treat tonight.”  He took a sip, and his brow furrowed ominously.  Then he smiled brightly, in that Space Dad way that Kara so loved.

“This is unlike anything I’ve ever had on Earth!  For some odd reason, it reminds me of home.  I will definitely be sticking with the nog for tonight.  Do people really only drink it around the holidays?”

Lucy overheard the conversation as she was walking by.  “You know what happens when you have too much of a good thing!  Egg nog is best enjoyed as a seasonal treat.”  She clinked her mug to J’onn’s, and the two gave each other a curt nod.  “Director.”

“Director.” 

“Dorks,” came the whisper from behind her as Alex returned to her side.  Lucy, having made her way over to the dining table where Vasquez was seated with Gertrude in her lap, called back to Kara. 

“Kara, you gorgeous talented painter girl, please come here.”  Kara excused herself from the conversation with J’onn and Eliza and walked over.  Vasquez and Lucy were studying the painting she did for Lena.  “This is really amazing, Kara.  We just assumed you did this, please correct me if we assumed incorrectly.”

“No, this is one of mine.”  Kara loved sharing her art with her loved ones.  “This is a representation of one of the first double dates we went on with Alex and Maggie.  When Alex first dyed her hair, and Lena got her tattoo.”

“The colours are so vivid and distinctive.  And don’t think I didn’t notice the hint of a cape you’ve got going there, Kara.”  Vasquez dropped eir voice to a whisper when discussing the cape, looking to be sure no one was listening.

“It’s okay, Vasquez.  Everyone here knows about Supergirl, except Lyra, and come on, she knows about the DEO, about J’onn, about Winn’s work with Supergirl … I’m pretty skeptical we’ll be able to keep the secret from her.  So, why worry about it?”

Lucy was skeptical.  “I don’t know why you even bother pretending to try to maintain a secret identity, Kara.  How many people know now?  I’m surprised Alex hasn’t murdered you.”

“Hey!”  Kara took a lot of precautions to hide her identity from the world at large and specifically coworkers at CatCo and the Tribune.  “It’s just that our friend group has grown the past year.  You tell me how I’m supposed to keep my identity a secret from people who are regularly hanging out with me and a bunch of DEO people.  Once you know the DEO, it’s hard not to see that the blonde superhero they work with and the blonde friend they hang out with are one and the same.”

Lucy shrugged, conceding the point.  Vasquez seemed to understand, though.  “You don’t have to tell me twice.  It’s your secret, not mine.”  Gertrude pushed a nose under eir hand, trying to solicit pets.  “I just had no idea you were an artist, in addition to a superhero, singer, and journalist.”  Kara blushed at the ‘singer’ reference.  She had caught Vasquez covertly listening in on a number of occasions when Supergirl was absent-mindedly singing during flight.

“Gah.  I don’t know.  I just love painting … it was the first thing I learned to do that soothed me after I came to Earth.  The fact that people seem to like my work … that’s just the cherry on top.”  As they conversed, Kara had turned so that she was still facing Lucy and Vasquez but could also survey the entire party.  The sight of all her friends and family, gathered together amid the warm holiday décor in the home she shared with Lena filled her with a sort of overflowing and joyful serenity.  She could have stood here, watching the interactions, for the rest of the night and feel completely fulfilled.  Except that she noticed something concerning.

J’onn’s eyes had flickered between Kara, Sam, and Lena several times since Sam arrived.  Her chest tightened slightly with each new glance, increasingly accompanied by an unmistakably worried look on his face.  His mind-reading abilities did not work on Kryptonians, but he could hear Lena’s thoughts loud and clear.  She couldn’t really be sure if he could hear Sam’s.  But Lena’s were enough.  He knows.  She shot off a quick message in the group text shared between Lena, Sam, and herself.

            Don’t freak out, but J’onn knows Sam and I are dating.  I didn’t think about his mind-reading abilities.  Sorry!  I trust him not to spill the beans tonight, but I’ll need to have a conversation with him soon.  Just didn’t want you caught off guard if he gave either of you a weird look.

Sam checked her phone immediately then shot Kara an “oops” sort of look that was too cute to be taken all that seriously.  Kara shook her head reassuringly.  It really wasn’t a big deal.  It just caught her off guard.  What is Space Dad going to think about all this?

                                                  

Sam was trying very hard not to feel overwhelmed by the anxieties of keeping her and Kara’s secret while mingling with Kara’s adopted mother and father figure, one of whom could literally read minds.  The nog was helping.  As was Maggie Sawyer’s company.

“You’ve gotta be shitting me.  Screw finance or whatever, did it ever occur to you that you should’ve been a detective?”  Sam had been explaining how she and Kara figured out that the lead poisoning was caused by Edge’s deliberate actions rather than an aftereffect of Lena’s dispersal device.  She’d only hung out with Maggie and Alex a few times, but she and Maggie had already established a rapport.  Probably because they were both unabashedly gregarious and pushy.

Alex was a tougher nut to crack, and it worried Sam.  Kara had mentioned that she had told Alex about her early feelings for Sam, and that the conversation had been a bit strained.  She wondered if that influenced how Alex interacted with her, how she thought of her as a person.  She was playing it cautiously, hoping to get close to Maggie in order to slowly work her way into Alex’s good graces.  That strategy had worked pretty well for Lena after all.

“The thing is, I had some pretty great help with that investigation,” Sam reminded Maggie, warmly.  A smile rose to her lips unbidden as she remembered those brief lingering moments with Kara, the ways in which their shared concern for Lena had worked together with their blossoming mutual attraction to create such an atmosphere of closeness.  “It’s wonderful that Supergirl has such a strong team to rely on in her superheroing, but I’m pretty sure she was always going to be great at it, all on her own.”

“Well, I’d like to think that’s just me and Danvers rubbing off on her, but you may be right.  She’s pretty awesome.”  Something like suspicion glittered behind Maggie’s soft brown eyes, but in a way that made Sam feel safe.  Maybe it was just the dimples.

“Actually, Kara and I have been pulling detective capers since high school.”  Alex had been fairly silent since Sam walked over, and her voice was welcome but a little surprising.  She still found Alex’s face undecipherable, but ever the optimist, she saw this as an opportunity.  Both to learn more about Kara and to interact with Alex.

“Is that right?  What was it like suddenly having an alien sister dropped in your lap?”

Alex’s eyes narrowed as she considered the question, almost as if she was thinking on a deeper level about Sam’s motivations for asking.  Sam was quite sure that Alex could only grasp a couple of her intentions, but deep down, she felt herself motivated by the desire to know how different her life might have been if she had grown up with a sister, or even just the knowledge that she was an alien.

“Well … I guess you could say we went through a few different stages, Kara and I.  When she first arrived, she was thirteen and I was almost sixteen.  A significant age difference, even when you are the same species.  At first, I found her so fascinating—a real life alien living in my hope.  But she was so sorrowful.”  Alex released a sad breath.  “She had lost so much at such a young age, and I had to learn to temper my intellectual curiosity in order to really look after her mental wellbeing.  That was when we first bonded.”

Alex ducked her head back towards the kitchen.  “Come on, I need more nog.  We’ll keep talking.”  It wasn’t until they were in the kitchen that Sam realized Maggie hadn’t followed them.  Oh shit.

“I went through a short period when Kara joined me in high school where I had settled in with the popular kids, and I was an absolute shit to Kara.  She didn’t exactly make it easy though.  She had just started to feel comfortable on Earth by then, and she was in no mood to put up with my shit.  Or anyone’s for that matter.  You should have seen the disdain she had for schoolwork.  Math and physics were too backwards and primitive, and history was utterly uninteresting.  It was actually a murder mystery that drew us back together.”

Sam could just picture a younger, less mature Kara Danvers scoffing at these backward humans and their underwhelming grasp of science and technology.  She felt the grin break out across her face as her imagination explored the concept of teenage Kara.  “She had an impulse for heroing even then, huh?”

Alex nodded wryly.  “The first boy she had a crush on was murdered by the town sheriff.  Kara wouldn’t stop until she figured out who did it and why, and as we worked through it together, the animosity between us eroded.  It was like we slowly remembered what we had liked about each other when Kara first came to live with us.”  She paused, glancing slyly over her mug.  “Not too different from how you described your own investigation with Kara.”

Sam raised an eyebrow at Alex’s subtle tone but didn’t offer any verbal response.  They had drifted towards the corner of the apartment nearest the entryway, by the liquor cabinet, and there was currently no one in their immediate vicinity.  Alex’s voice dropped in both tenor and volume, as she added just a hint of steel to it.  “Look, I don’t know what is going on between you and Kara, but I trust that if and when there’s something to tell, she’ll tell me.  The idea that there’s some way for you to fit into what she and Lena have is, frankly, baffling to me, but also not my business.  Just know, even when Kara and I were at each other’s throats in high school, I was fiercely protective of her.  I trust her judgment, but I’ve spent my entire adult life looking after her.  Tread carefully, and do not hurt her.”

Unsure exactly how to respond, Sam simply nodded.  It wasn’t her place to try to explain to Alex what was going on between her and Kara, and she wasn’t sure she could explain her own feelings of protectiveness for Kara without revealing that.  Still, she could reassure Alex in another way.  “Look, if you trust nothing else, just know that Lena is my family.  I’ve never seen her as happy, as fully herself, as she is with Kara, and I would never do anything to endanger that.  And for what it’s worth, I wouldn’t hurt Kara.”

“Good.  Because confusing relationship dynamics aside, I really like you, Sam.  I’d love to get to know you—and Ruby!—better, and soon.  But Kara is my first priority.”

“I’d like that.  And I think you and Ruby would get along great, as long as you don’t mind her picking your brain about everything Supergirl.”  Alex chuckled, and Sam decided to push her luck.  “Since we’re maybe, kinda, sorta starting to be friends now … I have to ask.  Who wears a camo turtleneck sweater to a holiday party?”

Based on stories from Lena, Sam expected a retort that contained a barely concealed reference to the sorts of violence Alex was capable of, but Kara’s sister surprised her yet again.  “I’d like to see you try to match purple hair with the standard holiday-themed colours.”  Then Alex threw back the rest of her nog, winked, and walked away.

                                                  

Lena was well-practiced in the art of hosting a party, and she was careful to make her way around the party, going from group to group and giving each person a measure of consideration and attention.  As she did so, she noticed James Olsen taking the occasional photograph.  Lena could find no rhyme or reason to what moments and scenes he chose to capture as the night progressed.  But he was the expert.  Unfortunately, he appeared to have noticed her noticing him, and she abruptly found her in conversation with the very large photographer.

She didn’t quite no how to feel about James.  Kara had been very upfront about how often she and James had argued about whether or not Lena was a beautiful, kind person trying to do good or a deplorable sociopathic murderer hiding in plain sight.  She guessed that he had warmed to her since she and Kara had been dating, but it was hard to forget his unwillingness to give her any benefit of the doubt.  She knew that Kara had never quite been willing to fully repair that relationship because of how he felt about Lena.

“Ms. Luthor, your home is lovely.”  Lena force a smile to her face.

“Thank you, Mr. Olsen, but given that you’re good friends with Kara, and you’re in our home for a friends and family holiday party, I think probably ‘Lena’ should be just fine.”  She paused, then catching him slightly off guard, asked, “Would you prefer ‘James’ or ‘Jimmy?’”

He stiffened, and she could tell he hadn’t expected her to put him on his heels so easily.  Yes, I’m quite skillful, Mr. Olsen, and you’re in my home, after all.  “I uhhh … thought I left Jimmy behind in Metropolis, but who even knows at this point.  You can call me whichever.”

Lena hated when people did that.  It’s not up to me to decide what to call you.  She began analyzing her options for escaping this conversation, which was already super awkward after only a single exchange.  No obvious avenue presented itself.

“So, have you tried the famous Danvers egg nog?”  Lena couldn’t stop herself from looking pointedly down at the glass of scotch in her hand. 

She made a face before answering, “Um.  It’s tempting I suppose, but I think I’ll stick with my scotch.”  At this point, she hoped the overt discomfort between them would scare him off.  But apparently James Olson was bad at reading the room.

 “I uhh, I just wanted to say I’m sorry.  For everything that happened with Morgan Edge.  I may have had my problems with you in the past, but trying to frame you like that was despicable.”  Trying to frame me?

“Yes well, trying to murder me via cargo plane wasn’t great either.”  Lena was trying to remain civil, but James was just so tone deaf.  It seemed clear to her that he only tolerated her because the rest of the group did.  This effort to sympathize with her felt categorically forced.  But at least he had given her a worthwhile topic of conversation.  “Morgan Edge is a sociopathic cockroach.  Unfortunately, that doesn’t exactly distinguish him from the majority of his powerful white male cohorts.  They’re all the same.  They act like bullies—and in Edge’s case, turn to murder—because underneath it all, they’re scared to death of a powerful woman they can't control.”

James didn’t quite seem to know what to say to that.  He fiddled with his camera awkwardly, then offered, “Yeah, well, hopefully the cops can actually catch him before he’s able to try anything like that again.”  He shrugged awkwardly, then made a beeline towards where Winn and Lyra were conversing.  Lena breathed a sigh of relief.  Catching sight of Vasquez and Lucy playing with Gertrude over by the TV, Lena headed that way.

As she got closer, Gerty hid behind Vasquez’s leg.  “Awww, it’s okay little Gert, Auntie Lena isn’t going to hurt you.  I just want to scratch you behind the ears.  You like that, don’t you?”  Lena gave the pup her best baby voice, but Gertrude’s only response was to shiver at her.

“Still hasn’t warmed up to you, huh?”  Lucy’s voice was light and cheerful, but sympathetic.

“Nah.  So far, I’ve only seen her truly comfortable around Alex, Maggie, and Vasquez.  You’ve got a gift there.”  Vasquez nodded.

“I don’t know what it is either, but this precious angel is so afraid of the world.  I don’t know what trauma she’s survived.  But I say just give her time.  She’s around you and Kara often enough that surely she’ll let you in sooner or later.”  Lena sat down next to Vasquez.  Lucy was standing in front of the TV facing them.

“Hey, can I ask an extremely awkward question?”  The query was directed at Lucy, but Lena glanced sympathetically at Vasquez as she asked. 

“You can ask, and then we’ll see whether I feel like answering, yeah?”  Lucy grinned at her like it was a dumb question that she didn’t mind at all.

“Fair enough.”  She glanced over at James.  “You really dated that guy?  Has he always been so wooden and awkward?”

Vasquez snorted into a laugh that ey tried but failed to contain.  Lucy glared at em.  “James is … yeah, I’m not making excuses for him.  If he trusts you, he can be a genuinely sweet and caring guy.  But like Kara’s cousin, he can be rigid, to his own detriment.  Not to mention overprotective.”

“Kara told you they almost dated, right?”  Vasquez seemed genuinely concerned. 

“Yes, she told me.  But given how she currently feels about him, that’s genuinely difficult for me to imagine.”  Kara made it seem like James, along with Winn, had been her closest friend during her first year as Supergirl, a vital resource who supported her and imparted wisdom.  But the falling out had been brutal.  For as long as Lena had known him, she definitely couldn’t see whatever prior version of James Kara had described.

“Well, Kara broke it off with him basically right when you came to town.  And he was besties with Superman.  So, I don’t know if it’s the Luthor thing or the fact that Kara was really really not subtle with her crush on you… but he was never going to like you.” 

Lena looked for confirmation from Lucy.  She sighed and explained, “Fuck, man.  I don’t like talking shit about James.  He really is a good guy deep down, but I can’t pretend he hasn’t seemed sorta lost the last year or so.  I wasn’t here for whatever went down between him and Kara when shit blew up with you and your mom, but yeah, he doesn’t let go of grudges easily.”

As long as they were shooting the shit about James, Lena had one more burning question to ask.  “So … did you ever think there was something between James and Winn?”

Vasquez spit out a mouthful of water.  Gertrude was so startled that she shot across the room in search of Alex.  Lucy immediately shouted at em, “No!  We are not talking about this.  No.  You hush!”

“Babe!  Come on, Lena totally sees it too!  Those two are endgame.”  Vasquez’s voice was beyond enthusiastic, and it only made Lucy groan harder.

“Look, all I’m saying is … if this whole Lyra thing doesn’t work out, we need to get to work on this.  Has James ever dated a boy before?”  Lucy rolled her eyes at the both of them, before moving in closer, determined not to be overheard. 

“No, he hasn’t!  But—” Lucy’s voice dropped to a full whisper, “—I always kinda wondered with him and the big guy, you know?”  Lena’s eyes went wide.

“Oh my god, Lucy!”  She leaned in further.  “Does James have a thing for Supers?”  They all burst into laughter, drawing looks from the rest of the room.  Oh shit, I’m a little drunk.  “You two are fun as hell, you know that?”

Vasquez punched her jovially.  “Fuck yeah, we are!  Of course we know that.  You’re not too bad yourself.  You know, for a Luthor.”  Lena narrowed her eyes, fixing Vasquez with her coldest Luthor stare.  “Yikes!  Luce, I think Lena just froze my heart with her eyes, you better check her for alien tech, Director Lady!”

The three of them burst into laughter again, not even caring that everyone was staring.

                                                  

As the evening began to wind down, Eliza insisted on karaoke.  Kara had prepared for this eventuality and brought out the machine and hooked it up to the penthouse’s speaker system.  Sam was beyond curious who would be brave enough to have a go, and what song they would choose.

Kara played the host, standing with the microphone and her cued up playlist of holiday karaoke tunes.  Everyone else was seated, a good audience.  Eliza, Lena, and she were crowded onto the smaller couch, while Maggie, Alex, Vasquez, and Lucy packed the larger one.  The others had pulled up stools and chairs from the dining table and bar.  Adorably, Winn was sitting in Lyra’s lap, though maybe that was part of the reason he was the first to volunteer.  As Kara handed off the mic, she came and perched herself on the arm of the couch beside Sam, stretching her arm across the back of the couch to rest a hand on Lena’s shoulder.  In the process, Kara’s arm also pressed again the back of Sam’s hair ever so subtly, and she grinned at the contact.

Winn’s rendition of the Michael Bublé’s version of Santa Baby was so soulful—and fine, I’ll admit it, sexy—that it couldn’t be funny.  In the abstract, the idea of Winn singing the song most famous for Marilyn Monroe’s scandalously seductive performance for JFK was objectively ridiculous, and therefore, hilarious.  But the dude could sing.  He made it his own, even throwing in a few subtle moves.  After he finished, the crowd went wild.

Kara took back the mic, but before she could ask who was next, Vasquez popped up, depositing Gertrude into Alex’s lap.  “Feels like we could use a change of pace, so that no one has to actually try and follow that.”  Ey whispered in Kara’s ear, and Kara’s face instantly lit up in excitement.  She nodded enthusiastically at Vasquez and pulled up the song.  Ey was not kidding about the change of pace.  Eir handling of Ludacris’ Ludacrismas was far from perfect, but what ey lacked in rap skills ey more than made up for in charisma and confidence.  Shit, is every one of Kara’s friends talented?  Sam resolved that she was definitely not participating.

Unfortunately, Kara had other ideas.  As she got up to take the mic back from Vasquez, she tapped Sam on the shoulder and gestured for her to join her.  “Uhhhh nope.  No way, Kara.”

“Saaaaaaam, just come here.  I have an idea.”  Before she could react, Lena shoved her up off the couch, giggling wildly.  The room was quiet, wondering what Kara had in mind.

“Everyone talk amongst yourselves, I just have to convince Sam to do a song with me really quick.  It’ll be worth the wait, I promise!”  Sam shot Kara a death glare, but the blonde was indomitable.   She pulled Sam into the corner and explained in a hushed voice what she had in mind.  “You know NSYNC’s Merry Christmas, Happy Holidays like the back of your hand, right?”

Sam’s eyes went wide, her mouth falling open.  “Kara, no!” she hissed.  “I mean, yes, of course I know it like the back of my hand.  But I am not a singer, and I’m not about to embarrass myself in front of all your friends.”

“Samantha,” Kara scolded.  “No one will judge you.  This is all in good fun.  Plus, it will be soooo cute.  If nothing else, Lena will love it.  Don’t you wanna do it for Lena?”  Kara turned her puppy dog eyes on Sam, and she knew she was screwed.  Sam knew she shouldn’t have had that glass of wine after all the nog she had consumed.  She couldn’t believe she was actually considering it. 

She sighed loudly.  “Fuck it.  But only because I’m too drunk to resist how adorable you are when you pout.”

“Yay!  Okay, this will be easy.  I’ll take the JT parts, you take the JC parts, and will sing the choruses together.”  That actually sounded super cute, as much as Sam hated to admit it, and she was a little relieved since the JC part was a little more in her range.  Oh well, Kara and I will both look stupid together, and it’ll be a fun bonding experience.  Whatever.

“Okay, got it.”  Kara smiled that brilliant smile of hers, and Sam was powerless against Kara’s ability to fill her with joy.  They moved to the machine, and there was the briefest sensation of moving air as Kara magically pulled a second mic out of the ether.  Super speed is so cool.  As the music started, everyone’s eyes shifted to her and Kara, and Sam didn’t her best not to shrink under their rapt attention.

Kara had the opening line of the song, and Sam was so stunned that she missed her “Merry Christmas” that was supposed to immediately follow Kara’s line.  What the fuck?!  Conflicting sensations warred in Sam’s chest.  Kara’s voice was angelic, and it filled Sam’s heart with admiration and love.  It also caused her chest to tighten in anxiety, because there was no way she could possibly match Kara’s ability.  Shit shit shit.  Fortunately, she was fast on her feet and unwilling to back down from a challenge.  Fuck it, I’m in it now anyway.  No backing down.

Sam just barely avoided missing her cue for the first verse.  She nearly faltered again when Kara unexpectedly came in with the background harmony halfway through the verse.  But she made it through as best she could, and by the first chorus, Kara had her arm around Sam’s shoulders, steadying and encouraging her.  Lena’s bright smile helped as well. 

She pulled away from Kara’s arm so she could take in the whole effect of Kara’s verse.  She was incredible, and Sam wondered if Kara wasn’t some sort of literal goddess after all.  As much as she loved NSYNC, if given the choice, she was sure she would choose Kara’s voice over Justin Timberlake’s.  She was so busy admiring Kara that she missed the first line of the chorus, and Kara shot her a look.  Sam smirked in response but was immediately back in it.  They made it through the rest of the song without further incident, and by the end, Sam didn’t feel so self-conscious anymore.  As the final notes played, she whispered in Kara’s ear, “Thanks for making me do this, Blondie.”

As she sat back down, Lena smirked at her.  “Somehow I just knew when Kara pulled you aside that it would be NSYNC-related.  That was adorable, by the way.” 

“Yeah well, it’s hard to say no to your girlfriend, as I’m sure you’re aware.”  They laughed, and Sam was surprised to hear Eliza laughing along with them.  Sam felt suddenly awkward, like maybe the ease she and Kara had around each other gave them away to Eliza.  But nothing on the older woman’s face gave her any concern, so she banished the worry from her mind.

Next up was J’onn’s very drunken rendition of Hall and Oates’ Jingle Bell Rock (the third time that night he had forced the song upon everyone).  It was really bad, but in a cute dad sort of way. 

Lena’s rendition of She & Him’s Have Yourself A Merry Little Christmas worked really well, in part because Lena’s tiny bits of accent added a sultry layer to it that had Sam more than a little turned on.  Not to mention the fact that she pulled it off with the same amount of self-assurance with which she did most things in life.

James might have been the biggest surprise, not for his talent but for his choice of song.  He offered a passable take on Wham!’s Last Christmas, a choice that Sam respected the hell out of.  She hadn’t figured James for an 80s music buff, but she’d also had all of two conversations with the man.

Eliza’s performance was subdued but sweet.  She chose the Amy Grant version of Hark, the Herald Angels Sing.  Sam noticed Kara tearing up as Eliza sang, and it filled her with warmth.  Lena noticed it too and wrapped Kara’s hand up tightly with her own.  The three of them, and most of the rest of the room, clapped wildly as she finished.

By then, people were starting to crash a little, and Sam thought that Alex would be the final singer of the night.  Her choice was so out there that Sam had to google it.  She had never heard of the Swedish rock band The Hives, and the fact that Alex knew Cyndi Lauper had teamed up with them for this strange original Christmas song, Christmas Duel, told Sam a lot about Alex’s personality.  And she absolutely killed it.

No one volunteered to follow Alex, and several people got up to start cleaning up in preparation to go home.  “Hold on!  Just one more song, please.”  Kara’s sweet voice froze everyone in their tracks, and they all took their seats once more.  As the music queued up for Mariah Carey’s All I Want For Christmas Is You, Lena put her arm around Sam.  Prior to tonight, Sam would’ve thought the idea of taking on Mariah’s classic Christmas ballad for karaoke was a truly terrible idea.  Then she realized that Kara’s superpowers included an astounding vocal range, and so she had to prepare herself    for the powerful emotions she was sure Kara would stir up inside her.  She and Lena shared a brief look before turning their attention to Kara.  A look that said, ‘We are both such garbage for this beautiful woman.’

It was even better than Sam expected.  She had not been ready.  Kara was completely unsubtle about the fact that she was serenading both Lena and Sam.  Her eyes never left them, and they fixed on Sam’s eyes specifically nearly as much as they did on Lena’s.  Fortunately for them, with Lena and Sam sitting so close together, everyone else in the room was free to assume they were watching a cute romantic moment between the couple hosting the party. 

For Sam, however, it was something entirely different.  It was the moment when she first really began to believe that this new construction of the relationships between herself, Kara, and Lena could actually work out.  Would actually work out—and in a way that would enrich each of their lives.  Lena’s arm didn’t leave Sam’s shoulders through the entire song, and Sam could feel the contentment and bliss radiating off of her as she took in the sights and sounds of Kara sharing her love, through song, with both of them.  She wished the song would never end.

But of course, it did, as all things do.  Sam blinked back tears and squeezed Lena’s hand before she pulled her arm back from Sam’s shoulders.  Her thoughts stayed with Kara’s performance, and how it affected her, even as people began saying their goodbyes and leaving.  She offered to stay and help Lena clean up while Kara flew Eliza back to the loft.

Once they were alone, Sam spoke softly to her best friend in the world.  “Lee, I’ve gotta tell you something.”  They were standing together at the sink, washing dishes in tandem.  Lena glanced over once, catching Sam’s eyes, but otherwise continued with her task and waited for Sam to continue.  “This is going to sound crazy.  Maybe less crazy than it would’ve sounded when we first met, but still.”  She took a breath.  “I … am an alien.”

Lena’s eyes shot to Sam’s face immediately, hands dropping the cup they had been rinsing.  She turned and moved slightly away from the sink, eyes never leaving Sam’s.  She didn’t bother hiding the emotions stirring behind her eyes.  Sam witnessed a troubling cocktail of confusion, shock, betrayal, anger, and concern pass over Lena’s face.  Sam just waited, knowing her friend would eventually come to a considered answer.

Finally, Lena asked in a thin, cautious voice, “How could you never tell me?”  Fuck.  It had never occurred that Lena would take it that way, jump to that conclusion.  Her body carried her forward, wrapping her arms around a suddenly very stiff Lena.

“Lee, no.  No!  I haven’t …  I didn’t …”  She pulled back, placing a firm hand on each of Lena’s shoulders.  “I didn’t know until about a month ago.  I wouldn’t—couldn’t—have kept this kind of secret from you all these years.  I promise.”  Lena’s features softened, and concern won out over the other emotions displayed on her face.  She wrapped her arms around Sam.

“Darling, are you okay?”  Sam let herself fall into Lena’s embrace, which had always been a place of comfort for her.  She ran her fingers through the soft and sleeks strands of Lena’s ponytail.  After a minute, she breathed out all the tension in her body and took a step back.

“I’m … getting there.  At first, I was terrified.   I hid from it.  I was scared to tell anyone, to even acknowledge it was real.  But then when Kara told me she was Supergirl—”

Her voice drifted off, and Lena finished the thought for her.  “You felt safe enough to talk about it without someone who would understand.”  Lena paused, clearly thinking about what she wanted to say next.  “So … how did you find out?  How is it that you’ve lived all these years without knowing?”

“Patricia hid it from me.”  Sam couldn’t keep the anger from her tone.  “I came to Earth as a baby in a pod, and she covered it up and lied to me my entire life.”  Sam explained about her discovery of the bullet that couldn’t penetrate her skin and the journey into her past that she took while Lena was away.  Then she detailed the nightmares, her own attempts at figuring out if she had powers, and the discussion that she and Kara had shared about her mysterious connection to Krypton.

“So, you don’t have any idea why you were invulnerable at the shooting but not at any time since?”

“Not a single one.  And that’s why I’ve agreed to let the DEO run whatever tests on me.  I need to know.”  They were both leaned up against the side of the kitchen island facing the kitchen, with no space between them.  Lena softly reached over and pulled Sam’s head down to rest on her shoulder.

“Sam, I’m sorry you’ve had all of this force on you so suddenly.  But Kara and I will be here with you through it all.  We’ll get you those answers—if the DEO can’t figure your heritage out, then L-Corp will.  I promise.”  Sam closed her eyes, giving into the comfort of Lena’s shoulder and reassuring words.  “You’re not alone in this.”

They both started at the sound of the balcony door opening, and as they turned to face her, Kara added, “No, you’re not.”  They walked around the island and met Kara, and the three of them embraced each other.  Kara kissed Sam softly, then Lena.

“You’re gonna take the next couple of days to enjoy the holidays with Ruby, and then we’ll set up a time to go into the DEO, right?”  Sam nodded.  “Lena, you’ll come with us?”

“Of course I will.”  Sam could feel her eyes tear up as she thanked whatever gods existed for the presence of these two women in her life.  She had spent so much of her life feeling isolated.  Her against the world, just trying to make ends meet to give her daughter the best life possible.  She wasn’t quite sure how she had found her way into this incredible, unorthodox family, but she treasured it.  Treasured this moment.  Whatever scary unknown faced her with all these alien questions, she knew that she could rely on Lena and Kara.  That they would be her rock.

“This last month has been tough for me, and I couldn’t have gotten through it without you both.  I definitely couldn’t face what is to come without you.  I’m so grateful for you.”  She held back tears, collecting herself so she could add, “I love you guys.”  The three of them hugged tightly again as Kara and Lena returned her sentiments. 

“Let me fly you home.  I’ll bring you your SUV tomorrow, I promise.  But you’re in no shape to drive right now.”  Sam smiled and nodded.  She’d never flown with Supergirl before.  She turned to Lena and shared a look of love and gratitude, then kissed her cheek goodbye.

“Alright then, take me home, Supergirl.”  Kara took her hand before turning to Lena.

“I’ll be right back, okay.”  Lena grinned and nodded.

“Get my best friend home safe, Supergirl, or there will be hell to pay.”  They all laughed at that, then she and Kara were out onto the balcony and then into the air.  Sam was so filled with love for Lena and Kara that flying barely phased her.  It seemed like hardly any time passed before Kara deposited her onto her front porch.

They held hands, facing each other.  “Happy holidays, Supergirl.”

Kara leaned in, whispering, “Happy holidays, Ms. Arias,” before locking her lips with Sam’s.  The kiss was deep and meaningful, cut through with all the emotion of the evening.

“Talk to you soon?”  Kara nodded, and they exchanged one last soft peck of goodbye.  Then Kara was gone in a flash, and Sam was off to bed.

Chapter Text

Chapter 18

Danvers family Christmas was wonderful as always, despite an added layer of tension this year.  It was the first year that their family time would include Maggie and Lena, but Kara had insisted on having a few hours with just the three Danvers women.  She and Lena had discussed it, and Kara needed the time to have an honest conversation with Alex and Eliza about her relationship with Sam.  Maggie and Lena were having breakfast together at the penthouse and would meet them at the loft before lunch.  Maggie, Alex, and Eliza had all expressed varying levels of confusion and resistance to the idea, but ultimately all had agreed, realizing it was important to Kara and Lena.

They had been at the loft for thirty or forty minutes already, drinking coffee and opening presents.  Kara was in the unicorn onesie Alex had gotten her the year prior, and Alex and Eliza were in pajama pants and matching cutesy holiday v-neck t-shirts that Eliza had bought.  They had all agreed to leave the majority of presents to open when Lena and Maggie joined them, but there was a weird vibe of anticipation in the air despite the genuine laughs and love expressed during the present opening.

Finally, they were all sitting on the floor of Kara’s living room, around the coffee table.  Alex broke the tension.  “Kara, is there something you wanted to talk with us about?”  Kara could feel her face betray the apprehension she felt.  “Is it about Sam?”

Kara’s nose crinkled.  She could never hide things from Alex for long.  Eliza, however, was deeply confused.  “What about Sam?”

Kara drew in a deep breath, then released it.  “Sam and I are dating.”  If Alex was surprised, she hid it remarkably well.  Eliza, on the other hand, couldn’t look more shocked if she tried.

“Honey, I’m not sure I understand.  What about you and Lena?  You live together—you’re building a life together.  You seemed just so happy together back in Midvale!  And last night…” Eliza drifted off, her brain working at full speed to wrap around the concept.

“How does Lena feel about all of this?  Kara, she’s been through so much this past year, you really think she can handle whatever the hell this is?”  Alex’s voice was pure skepticism.

Kara could feel the frustration boiling up inside her already but tried her hardest to keep a level head.  “Alex, no.  Lena and I talked it over, just like you said we should.  We talked it over a couple of times in Midvale, and several more times back in National City.  We each had conversations with Sam about it, then all three of us had a no holds barred discussion together.  We didn’t … this isn’t a whim, or something I decided on without so much care and thought.”

She turned her gaze to Eliza.  “Things are great with Lena, Eliza.  The best they’ve ever been, actually.  Couldn’t you see that at the party last night?”  This gave the older woman pause, and Kara could see that Eliza had observed last night what Kara believed was blatantly obvious to anyone who knew Lena and Kara.  They were beyond happy, madly in love, and joyfully building a life together.

Alex was still struggling with it.  She didn’t say anything further, but it was all over the tension in her face.  Kara guessed that had more to do with her own preconceptions about love than it did with her personal experiences with Lena and Kara.  If anyone had been around them long enough to know how solid they were in their relationship, it was Alex. 

“Kara, sweetie, is this some sort of Kryptonian thing?”  Eliza had moved past confusion into a genuine attempt to understand now.

“No—I mean… I think that the concept of romantic or sexual love was probably not limited only to couples of two in Kryptonian society, but I was too young …  Honestly, I don’t really know.  Lena and Sam both explained that while rare, polyamory is not unheard of in human society, and much of the reading I’ve done on the subject recently has confirmed this for me.  But for me … when you know that something is right, you just know it.”

Now Alex did speak up.  “And you’re not worried that this could screw up your relationship with Lena?  At all?”

“We are solid, Alex.  I would’ve never ever considered this if we weren’t both fully sure of the foundation we have as a couple.  And I’m even more sure of it now that Sam and I have been dating for about a month.”  She sighed, worried that she wasn’t going to get through to Alex.  “Look, feel free to ask her about it when she gets here.”

“But you have to admit that this is strange.  Complicated.  Risky.”  Kara was okay with Alex pushing, because she knew that was just her overprotectiveness at work.  She knew that Kara was happy with Lena, and she was afraid that Kara was putting that in jeopardy for something Alex didn’t understand.

“It turns out love is worth the risk.”  Kara’s voice was steady, her belief in what she and Sam shared resolute.

“Love?”  Eliza’s question was light, almost ethereal.  “You’re in love with Sam?”

“I …”  Kara’s face blushed.  She hadn’t even quite admitted this to herself yet.  “I think so.  It’s still early, and we’re taking things slowly.  But this is real.”

“And … sweetie I’m sorry if I’m a little old fashioned, but I mean, what does a future look like with … two girlfriends?  I mean … you can’t marry both of them, can you?”

“Eliza!”  Kara was blushing furiously now.  “I mean … Lena and I haven’t even discussed anything like that yet.  None of us are worried about that far in the future right now.   But we’ll figure it out together.”

“What about Ruby?”  Alex’s voice was still tight.

“We haven’t told her yet, but Sam’s not afraid to.  Ruby’s a bright kid, and Sam’s very intentionally raised her in the least traditional ways possible.  It’s a conversation we’ll have with her soon, probably.”

Alex sighed, but her face had softened.  “Was a Super dating a Luthor not complicated enough for you?  You just had to go and add non-monogamy to the mix?”

Kara smiled at Alex, not even bothering to retort.  “It isn’t something I chose, not exactly.  I …  I mean, I—we—chose to give this a shot, despite the complications.  But I couldn’t help falling for Sam, nor she for me.  It just happened.  Love is funny that way.  And once we had all talked about it, talked it to death really, it felt wrong to try to deny what our hearts were telling us.”

“So, did Sam figure out the Supergirl secret on her own, just like Lena?”  Alex was getting snarky, which Kara knew was a good sign.

No, for your information, I told her.  But it immediately made sense to her when I did, and she accepted it immediately.  Gave me crap for keeping things from Lena last year, actually.  I guess they talked a lot about me while Lena and I were working our stuff out.”

Eliza reached out for Kara’s hand, and she gave it to her.  “You’re sure that Lena isn’t just going along with this because she loves you?”  Kara smiled softly.  It moved her deeply how much concern Eliza had for Lena.  She had bonded with Lena so much over that week in Midvale. 

“I’m sure, Eliza.  But like I told Alex, feel free to talk to her yourself.  I’m sure she wouldn’t mind going for a short walk with you later today so that you can talk, just the two of you.”  Kara reached out and took Alex’s hand as well.  “I need the both of you to know that I am happy.  We are all happy.  Lena and Sam were family long before I met either of them, and we all love each other, in various ways.  None of us would do anything to hurt each other, and we put a lot of thought and communication into this before we did anything.”

“If you’re happy, I trust you to build your life however you see fit, dear.”  Eliza stood, seeking a hug.  After they embraced, Eliza added, “I’m sorry if I seemed judgmental.  I really do just want to understand.  And for you and Lena to be just the happiest.”

“Come here.”  Alex wrapped her in a hug too.  “You know, I had a chat with Ms. Arias last night.”  Kara’s eyes widened, then immediately narrowed.  Sam hadn’t mentioned it.

“Alex, you didn’t threaten her, did you?”

“Me?  Threaten someone?”  Alex faked shock.  “I actually really like Sam.  I’d like to become better friends with her.  And I told her as much.  I also told her that I don’t know what is going on between you two, but that you’re my priority.  And she better not hurt you.  It was a pretty standard big sister chat, honestly.”

Kara rolled her eyes and made a mental note to ask Sam about it.  “But you’re okay with this?  I know you just want to protect me, but I need you to believe that this isn’t something you need to protect me from?”

“I can’t pretend to understand it, Kara.  But I respect it.  I respect that you and Lena and Sam can figure out for yourselves what makes you happy and what you can handle.  Just know that Maggie is going to bug and tease you about it forever.”

Oh Rao, she’s right.  “Speaking of Maggie and Alex—we should all get dressed before they get here, in can we decide to go out to the park or something.”  Kara paused.  “Thank you both for understanding, or at least for supporting me.  I love you so much.”

“We love you, too, sweetie.”

“Yeah we do!”

                                                  

Kara’s breast was cozy and soft beneath Lena’s head.  They were cuddled together tightly in bed, after what had been the best Christmas of Lena’s life.  The warmth radiating from Kara’s body matched the warmth that filled Lena’s soul.  She thought to herself that it was very likely she would never tire of the feel of Kara’s skin against her own.

“How did your conversation with Eliza go?”  Lena also loved the duality of the sound of Kara’s voice when she had one ear pressed to her chest.  Such an intriguing sensation.

“A little uncomfortable at first, but overall it went well.  You know, I’ve never really walked around the neighborhood before.  It was quite pleasant, especially in the cool air.  You know she just worries about us, right?”

“Oh, I know.  I think she thinks we’re all a little crazy.  But all she really cares about is our happiness.”

“Yes it is.  It was truly touching how much she cares about me.  In the short amount of time I’ve known her, Eliza has been so much more of a mother to me than Lillian ever was.  Once I explained to her that because I love you so much, I want nothing more than for you to be as happy as possible, I think she started to get it.  Learning to think of love as something that isn’t a limited commodity takes time, but …  I don’t know, it helped when I explained that the overwhelmingly powerful love you feel for her and for Alex doesn’t have any effect on how much love you have to give me.  Just give her time.”  Lena traced her hand along Kara’s hip and upper thighs as she spoke, eyes closed so that she could better appreciate the pure sensation of touching Kara’s body.

“At least Maggie is firmly in our corner.”  Lena giggled.

“Oh please, I always knew Maggs would be cool about it.  Deep down, she’s super into all the kinky and unorthodox shit.  Especially when it comes to ladies loving ladies.”  Lena halted the meandering movements of her hand and squeezed Kara’s hip bone lovingly.  “Darling, thank you.  This was the best Christmas of my life.  I … you and Eliza, and even Alex in her own way, make me feel like part of the family.  The only family I’ve ever been proud to be a part of.  Honoured really.  I love you so much.

She heard the sound of Kara turning off her bedside lamp, and she felt the room fade into darkness.  Kara shimmied her way down further into the bed, lying all the way down.  Lena lifted her head, moving it to her pillow without moving away from Kara’s body.  She could feel her lids growing heavier over her eyes.

“I love you too, creampuff.  And so does my family.  Merry Christmas, Lena.”

“Merry Christmas, Kara.”  Lena barely whispered the words before sinking into a peaceful slumber.

                                                  

Sam’s Christmas had been pretty standard for the Arias household.  Christmas movie marathon in PJs all day on Christmas Eve, complete with copious amounts of hot chocolate, a break for the full lineup of traditional Christmas foods for lunch that left them with enough leftovers for dinner and two meals on Christmas Day, another break for gingerbread house construction, and the opening of one present each just before bed.

This year, Sam had gotten Ruby a Supergirl pendant—a gold chain with a simple gold House of El sigil.  Of course, she couldn’t explain the House of El to Ruby, not yet anyway.  But she did hint at the possibility of maybe meeting Supergirl one day soon.  She thought Ruby might literally explode from excitement.

But the two-day break spent with Ruby wasn’t all great.  Sleep, or lack thereof, was becoming an increasingly challenging problem for Sam.  The nightmares were getting worse, and there were several long periods of time late at night and early in the morning that Sam knew she was awake for but had no memory of.  She was starting to feel increasingly more tired during the day.

She and Kara had exchanged texts over the last three days but hadn’t seen each other since the party.  Ruby had actually asked specifically why Lena and Kara hadn’t come to see them on Christmas.  Sam had explained that Kara and Alex’s mom was in town, and that Kara and Lena were spending the day with Eliza, Alex, and Maggie.  That satisfied Ruby, but in the back of Sam’s mind, she couldn’t help wondering what future holidays might look like.

Now, Sam and Lena were back to work at L-Corp the day after, and L-Corp was working on something big.  The week prior, the National City Tribune had published an expose by Kara that detailed from numerous sources a new policy by the property management side of Edge Global to deny housing applications by aliens.  L-Corp would use this to take a strong stand against Edge.  Secretly, part of Sam wished that Lena had been successful in killing Edge, if not for the pesky trouble of trying to get away with murder.

Lena had waited until after the holidays so that the announcement would not fly under the radar.  Tomorrow morning, Lena would hold a press conference, accompanied by a released statement on behalf of the company, to denounce the ongoing anti-alien practices and discrimination by Edge Global and to explain that L-Corp would no longer do business with Edge or any company associated with him.  Sam was more than a little worried that Lena and Kara’s continuing public antagonism would only increase his desire to kill one or both of them, but Lena and Kara both assured her that they weren’t afraid of him.

And who was she to argue with Supergirl.  Speaking of which, she had a few minutes free, so she called Kara.  She picked up on the second ring, and Sam offered her a sultry, “Hey you.”

“Hi Sam!”  Kara’s cheeriness even radiated through the phone.  “How was your Christmas?”

“Same old, same old.  Ruby had a good time, and that’s what matters.  She actually asked after you and Lena.”

Kara giggled.  “Did she really?  Do you think she’s starting to catch on?”

“Nah.  She’s suspicious of how much you and I have been hanging out alone lately, but she hasn’t put two and two together.  Mostly because she thinks you and Lena are such a cute couple.  Oh … um, so … I may have promised her that there was a decent chance I could possibly arrange a chance for her to meet Supergirl someday soon.”  Sam winced slightly, hoping that the vague promise wasn’t too brazen of her.

“I’m sure I could find a way to arrange that.  You’re going to owe me one, though.”  Sam hadn’t realized that Kara was capable of slipping sex into her voice, but holy shit was Kara’s insinuation nakedly obvious.

“Kara Danvers are you soliciting sexual favours?”  The phone went silent, and Sam could just imagine Kara’s face turning beet red.  “Because I’ll do that for free, you just have to ask.  But—” Sam hated moving off this topic, but she didn’t know how much time Kara had to talk, “—I do have something a little heavier I needed to talk to you about.”

Kara’s response was immediate and full of concern.  “What’s up?”

“The nightmares have been getting worse.  So is the missing time.  I’m really starting to get scared now.  Do you think the three of us can head to the DEO sometime in the next two days to run those tests?  Will there be someone available?”

“Alex is going to help run the tests, but I’ll check with her tonight about her schedule.”  Sam’s face dropped into a half frown.  She was still kind of intimidated by Alex after their conversation at the party and Kara’s explanation of how Alex reacted to the news that Sam and Kara were dating.  “It’ll be fine!  I’ll have to explain what’s going on with you though—is that okay?”

“Alex is your best alien biology person, isn’t she?” 

“Yes.  Xenobiologist, actually.  She’s also a decently trained doctor, and one of the DEO’s best field agents.  Look, I know she’s a lot, but she will take good care of you.  I made it very clear to her what you mean to me.”  Sam’s chest tightened, again worried about Alex’s disapproval of their unorthodox relationship.  But she believed Kara.

“Okay.  Feel free to tell her everything, and let me know when we can do it.  The sooner the better.”

“Sam, I know you’re scared.  I’m sorry it feels like things are getting worse, but we’ll figure this out.  I’m here for you.  Alex will be too.” 

Sam nodded and released a heavy breath.  “I know.  We will.  Thanks, Kara. And …” she hesitated just a second before asking, “Do you think afterwards we can talk about how much I really just want to be able to call you my girlfriend already?  And how we’re going to talk to Ruby about it?”

She heard a sharp release of breath on the other side of the line.  Her question had caught Kara off guard.  Kara’s voice returned, softer this time.  “I want you to be my girlfriend, too.  We’ll definitely talk about it, and about Ruby.  But your health and mental wellbeing come first.”  Some background noise, maybe a voice, interrupted Kara.  “I have to go now, but I’ll text Alex, and I’ll let you know when she’s available.  I’ll let Lena know, too.”

“Sounds good.  Bye, Kara.”

“Bye, Sam.”

                                                  

The sun had already set by the time that Kara made it over to L-Corp.  She and Lena had both had busy days, so this was the first opportunity Kara had to go see her girlfriend.  She needed a quote about L-Corp’s controversial press release that had dropped yesterday in response to Kara’s expose on Edge Global.  Her piece had been damning, and for once, Snapper had actually appreciated her passion.  Everyone from Ms. Grant on down had been so complimentary the past week, and it only added to the joy and fulfillment Kara had found from the holiday developments with her family.

Lena had spent all of today meeting with the board of directors, investors, and various other business partners to discuss the ramifications of the announcement and put together a strategy to ensure they followed through.  Knowing that Lena had already had a long day and would likely be bringing work home with her anyway, Kara had decided on a whim to grab a coffee from the cute little coffee stand just outside L-Corp that Lena loved so much.  She was a little surprised that they were still open, but she simply thanked Rao for her good luck.

Sam was in Lena’s office when Kara arrived, and she greeted them both warmly.  “Sam, if I had known you were gonna be here, I would’ve brought you a coffee, too!”  She handed the cup to Lena.  “The usual.”

“Thanks, darling. I need this.”

“No worries on my account, Kara, I was actually about to head home.  Are we still on with Alex first thing tomorrow morning?”

Kara nodded enthusiastically, correcting “That we are, and Lena is taking—”  Just then, Lena dropped to the ground, foaming at the mouth as her body went rigid.  “LENA!”  Kara had Lena in her arms and was out the balcony door and into the air in less than a second.  Immediately she hailed Alex on the nearly invisible earbud communicator she always wore tucked into her left ear.

“ALEX!  Tell me you’re still at the DEO!”  Kara couldn’t control how loudly and desperately she shouted.

“I’m here, Kara.  What happened?”

“I think Lena’s been poisoned.  Alex, you have to save her!  I’m almost to you!”  She flew straight into the DEO through the balcony, not even bothering to put her feet on the ground until she placed Lena carefully on the gurney Alex was rushing towards the balcony with. 

“What happened?”

“Someone must have poisoned her.  Alex, I think it was the coffee I brought her.  You have to save her!”  The tears were already flowing down Kara’s face.

“200 milligrams phenobarbital, stat,” Alex ordered to the two DEO medics who had followed her.  She placed a breathing mask over Lena’s face.  “Two liters of saline, run it open.  I want a radial artery line now!”

One of the medics was measuring Lena’s vitals and noted, “Blood pressure, 70 over palp. Pulse is 30 and falling.”

Alex looked Kara dead in the eye.  “I need to know what poison he used.”  Alex didn’t have to explain who she meant by ‘he’—she and Kara had already come to the same conclusion about who had poisoned Lena.

Kara’s mind raced.  “I-I-I don’t know.  She collapsed almost immediately, and there was a white foam in her mouth, and her body went rigid.”

Alex lifted the breathing mask just enough to smell Lena’s breath.  “Almonds.  That’s cyanide!  Get me 300 milligrams sodium nitrite in her IV stat!  We’ll need to follow that up with 12.5 grams of sodium thiosulfate.  Kara, how long has it been?”

“I flew her straight here, Alex!  Can’t be more than two or three minutes!”  Kara knew she was practically screaming, but she couldn’t help it if she tried.

“Okay, I need you to carefully use your breath to induce a mild hypothermia.  We need to slow down her circulation to prevent the spread of the poison while we get the antidote into her system.”  Kara responded immediately, chilling Lena’s body with her icy breath.  “That’s good, Kara.  Stop!”

After a few minutes, the monitor showed that Lena was stabilizing.  Her vitals returned to something close to normal.  “You saved her,” Alex assured Kara.

Kara wrapped her up in a tight hug, using the minimal amount of effort necessary to ensure she didn’t crush Alex.  “No.  We did.”

“Let’s move her to the medbay.  Kara, we’ll need to keep her overnight to keep her oxygenated and monitor her cardiac function.  I understand if you want to stay with her.”

Kara nodded, wiping the remaining tears from her face.  She followed Alex and the medics as they pushed Lena’s gurney into the medbay and got her set up in one of the permanent beds there.  The danger having passed, she remembered Sam and immediately pulled out her phone.  Sam didn’t answer, so she sent a text instead.

[6:48 p.m,.]   Lena is okay.  Edge poisoned her.  I think it was in the coffee.  Sam, this is all my fault.  But she’s okay.  Alex saved her.  They’re keeping her overnight at the DEO.  I’m going to stay here with her.  I can bring you in if you want to see her, but I know you’ve got Ruby.  Don’t feel like you have to come.  Please give me a call when you get a chance.

As she typed, she wandered out of the medbay and into the main chamber of the DEO.  One of the many screens in the room was on the local news.  Kara was jarred out of her concern for Lena by the breaking news the reporter was practically shouting about.  As she faced the TV, her chest tightened.  The screen was showing the same several-second clip on replay, a dark figure flying straight into the top floor of the Edge Global building, followed by a flash of red light and then a body thrown from the window all the way to the ground below.  The dark figure then flew out again but paused in the air just long enough to burn a distinct shape into the side of the building with what was unmistakably heat vision.  The chiron at the bottom of the screen read in bright capital letters:

MORGAN EDGE MURDERED

Chapter Text

Chapter 19

“Alex!  Get over here now!”  Thinking Kara was calling from the medbay, Alex sprinted in that direction, stopping and changing direction as she realized Kara was in the main chamber.  “I think we found our alien killer.”

Alex watched the video once, then turned to a nearby agent.  “Get Director J’onzz and Winn Schott in here ASAP.”  She turned back to Kara, already texting on her phone.  “I’m texting Maggie to come in, too.  This is the first time we’ve ever caught the killer on camera.”

Why Edge, though?  “I thought this vigilante only went after violent criminals?”  Kara was thinking aloud, still shocked by what she had witnessed.

“Yeah, because attempted murder isn’t violent at all.”

“But how would the killer have known?  Do you think Edge has put out hits on people other than Lena?”

“Would that really surprise you?  Besides, the killer is clearly an alien, and Edge’s anti-alien policies are widely known now, thanks to you.  Kara…”  Alex chewed on her lip, processing through something.  “Is the killer Kryptonian?”

Kara had been thinking hard about that also.  “It sure looks that way, but …  Alex, I’ve never seen a Kryptonian with red heat vision before, not even that brainwashed bizarro clone that Lord created.”  She turned towards the balcony as J’onn flew in.  He had Winn in his arms.

“J’onn picked me up in the middle of dinner, so this better damn well be—” Winn stopped talking abruptly as he looked at the news stations displayed on multiple screens.  “What the hell?”

Alex quickly began issuing orders.  “Winn get all the footage of this murder as you can—find me the best quality video.  I need you to get us the best images of this killer you can.  Get me a clear image of that design carved into the building, as well.”

“On it.”

She turned to J’onn.  “We think the killer is Kryptonian, but Kara says she’s never seen a Kryptonian with red heat vision.  It’s usually a whitish blue.”

“I’ve never seen this, either, but I agree, by all other measures, it sure seems that we’re dealing with a Kryptonian.  Do you think this is the same killer you and Detective Sawyer have been pursuing?”

“You’re damn right it is.”  Maggie was stalking towards them, clearly winded.  “Also, can I just say ‘good riddance?’”  She and Alex embraced briefly, then she turned to Kara.  “How’s Lena?”

“She’s resting.  I got her to Alex in time.”  Kara’s mind hit on a troubling idea.  “Hey … the timing here is really odd, isn’t it?  Lena gets poisoned, almost certainly by Edge, and less than an hour later, he’s brutally murdered by the alien killer?”  Alex and Maggie wore matching frowns.

Maggie spoke first.  “That is … weird.  Yeah.  But I have trouble imagining what connection there could be between the vigilante and Lena.   Sometimes coincidences do happen.”  Kara wasn’t so sure, but she didn’t have any kind of explanation either.

“Guys?”  They all gathered around Winn’s workstation.  “This is the best I could do with the available footage.  Here is our killer.”  The still image was as large as Winn could get it without further blurring the picture.  The figure appeared to be a woman, all in black, with a dark cape flowing around her as she floated in the air.  Her head was only partially turned towards the camera, and it was too blurry to make out any features.  She may have been wearing some sort of mask.  Her hair was also dark and pulled into a severe ponytail.  The most distinctive feature was the red glow in her eyes, visible even from whatever distance was between the camera and the Kryptonian.  Because Kara was almost sure that this woman was Kryptonian at this point.

“Not much to go on, other than demonstrating our killer is a woman with darker hair.”  Maggie’s voice was full of disappointment.

“Yeah, that’s all we’ve got on her.  But!”  He pulled up a different image.  “It’s too dark to see the design burned into the building, though I’m sure we’ll have a clear image in the morning.” Wincing at the looks Alex and Maggie shot him, he explained, “Calm down, I’m not going to make you wait.  I played with a few different filters aaand—” He gestured towards the image he had just pulled up.  The background was faded into a nearly all grey landscape, but the symbol stood out in a bright magenta. 

Kara gasped.  It was clearly a Kryptonian sigil, shaped just like the House of El sigil.  But the design was unlike anything she had ever seen.  It was like a skull caught with its mouth open in the most sinister laugh.  It sent an unpleasant shiver down her spine.  Suddenly, she felt a powerful urge to act come over her.  She couldn’t keep standing here wondering who this Kryptonian was.

“I need to get out there.”  Alex turned to her in surprise.  “I’m going to try to get Ms. Grant to meet with Supergirl.  I don’t want any doubt in the public’s mind about whether I might have been the one who murdered Edge.”

“Okay, that make sense.  Just stay in contact.  We’re going to keep working on leads to track down this Kryptonian.”  Alex gripped Kara’s bicep tightly.  “And be safe.  If the killer is willing to do something this public now, there’s no telling what she might do.  She might even come after you.”  Part of Kara wished she would.  But the confrontation would come in good time.

“Okay, I will.  Please, keep an eye on Lena for me.  Let me know when she wakes up.”  Alex nodded, and Kara quickly changed and walked out to the balcony, already dialing Ms. Grant’s cell phone.  She had never actually used this number, assuming that it was provided to her solely for emergencies.  She silently thanked Rao when Ms. Grant answered.

“What is it, Kara?  Shouldn’t you be coming into work right now?  I assume you’ve seen the news.”

“That’s what I’m calling about, Ms. Grant.  Supergirl wants to meet with you, on the record.”

“I’m in my office.  I assume she can get here in the next few minutes?”  Ms. Grant’s voice made it very clear that ‘she’ meant ‘you.’ 

Kara sighed, tired of playing this game.  She answered softly, “I’ll be there,” then hung up and took off into the sky.  Ms. Grant was waiting for Supergirl on her balcony. 

“Any leads on Edge’s murderer?  I’m assuming they’re not on your side?”  Straight to the point as ever.  Supergirl leaned on the balcony edge, releasing as much of her tension out as possible in a long exhale.

“Not much.  We believe she is Kryptonian, and that she is responsible for several other unsolved murders over the past month or so.  But there’s something strange about her, that I haven’t figured out yet.  I intend to do some research tonight.  If you want more information on the investigation of the previous murders, reach out to Detective Maggie Sawyer of the NCPD.”

“What can you tell me about those previous murders?”  Ms. Grant had that tone in her voice—the one where she knew she was onto a big story.

“Like I said, talk to Detective Sawyer.  She can give you more information than I can, if she’ll talk to you.  All I can tell you is that her previous MO has been to kill only violent criminals.  Rapists, abusers, gang members…  Personally, I have no doubt that Edge fits easily into that company, but I’m not sure how the killer would have known that.”  She turned to Ms. Grant.  “It’s important that the public knows this wasn’t me.”  Her eyes fell to her feet as the guilt blossomed in her chest.  “I know that it’s been a long time since … the red kryptonite incident … but it’s important.  This killer is dangerous, and we don’t understand her.  The last thing we need is public distrust of Supergirl interfering with the investigation or any attempts I make to stop her.   The city needs Supergirl to be a beacon of hope right now.”

“Supergirl … I get that you’re still weighed down by the guilt from tossing me off this very balcony.  It’s one of the reasons that you are a beacon of hope.  You were drugged.  Unable to control your worst impulses.  Most people would accept that they weren’t responsible for their actions in that state.  But not you.  No matter how many times I tell you that I’ve forgiven you, you still carry it with you.  It both burdens and strengthens you.”  Kara finally looked back up at her.

“You’re right, of course.  The city needs Supergirl right now.  You need to find this killer, even if—” she drew in a sharp breath and made a devious face, “—you certainly won’t ever catch me among those mourning Mr. Edge’s death.  You let me worry about your public image.  You focus on the task at hand.”

Supergirl’s voice was steady, more confident, as she replied, “I will.  Thank you.”  Kara was so grateful to have Ms. Grant back in her life.  Her advice always cut into some hidden reserve of inner strength that no one else seemed to be able to bring out in Supergirl.

Ms. Grant smiled at her, then turned to go inside.  “Now shoo, Supergirl.  And don’t worry—” her voice turned suddenly wry, but she didn’t turn back towards Supergirl, “—I’ll cover for you with Snapper, if need be.”  Kara rolled her eyes but grinned softly.  Back to work.

                                                  

As Kara returned to the DEO from her trip to the Fortress of Solitude, she felt exhausted by the magnitude of what she had learned.  Not that she had found much.  Alex and J’onn approached her immediately.  “Kara, Lena’s still sleeping, but she’s recovering nicely.  Did the Fortress give you anything Alura couldn’t?”

Her mother’s hologram had very little information on the Kryptonian sigil.  She had explained that it was a symbol that had widespread usage among the old polytheistic religion that was the ancient ancestor to modern Raoism.  That made sense to Kara, who vaguely recalled seeing the mark, or something like it, on a school trip to the ruins of Old Krypton.  However, the hologram was not programmed with any further information, stating only that most of the ancient texts and cultural traditions had been destroyed.

Assuming that the odds where not exactly in favour of the killer being a millenias-old ancient Kryptonian religious zealot, Kara had visited the Fortress of Solitude to see if the holograms of her father or her uncle Jor-El might have more information.  Zor-El’s hologram would state only that it was not programmed with access to information on the sigil.  Kara had argued with the hologram for several minutes, and she was deeply unnerved by the answer it continued to give.  It wasn’t saying that it lacked the information, but rather that it couldn’t access the information.  Kara didn’t realize that had been possible with these holograms, which were meant to be deep sources of knowledge to be used as tools to aid and to guide Kara and Kal-El. 

Fortunately, Jor-El apparently had no such blocks on his hologram.  She explained what she had learned from him.  “So, the sigil did originate from ancient Krypton, but it was repurposed in modern Krypton by a dangerous cult of fanatics.  They had somehow procured, or maybe just maintained over the centuries, portions of the old religious texts that predated the Book of Rao.  They believed that the sigil was the mark of a coming dark god.  They called the god Reign.  Reign and a cohort of so-called Worldkillers were supposedly destined to cull weakness and injustice from the universe, starting with Krypton.  Paving the way for an enlightened imperial rule by Kryptonians over the rest of the known universe.” 

Alex and J’onn were justifiably alarmed by this revelation, but Alex was nothing if not a skeptic.  “So, we’ve got a Kryptonian religious nut who somehow survived Krypton.  Big deal.  You beat down Superman, I don’t see how our killer is going to be any trouble when you get ahold of her.”

“Alex, it wasn’t just a religious belief.  This cult was led by scientists.  They were fanatics, yes, but they’re weren’t … they weren’t just sitting around worshiping the embodiment of the sun, okay?  They believed Reign would be a being that resulted as the pinnacle of Kryptonian evolution.  Except that they weren’t going to wait around on evolution.  They took matters into their own hand and began developing biological creatures—weapons—that they called Worldkillers.  In the final days before the destruction of Krypton, the cult’s leaders were captured and were awaiting trial.  I don’t know what happened to them, or whether their experiments were successful.”

The terrifying question in Kara’s mind was whether they were facing a Kryptonian, a member of this cult, or instead had the cult managed to actually create a Worldkiller before Krypton’s destruction?  Clearly J’onn saw the dilemma clearly as well.  “Could that be the reason for the red heat vision?  Could we be dealing with a Kryptonian superweapon rather than just a Kryptonian person?”

“That’s what I’m afraid of.  But I’m also tired of playing hide and seek.  It’s been over a month, and the body count is growing.  The longer we wait, the more people will die.”

“What do you propose?”  J’onn sounded concerned.

“On my way back into town, I burned the House of El sigil onto the roof of the CatCo building.  Now we just have to monitor it and see if she rises to my challenge.”

“Kara!  Are you sure you’re ready for this?  If she is a Worldkiller or whatever, you might be walking into a confrontation you aren’t prepared to face.”  Alex’s body was rigid in fear for Kara’s wellbeing.

“I don’t have a choice.  We’re getting nowhere with the investigation.  Someone has to do something, and I’m the only one who can.  If I feel like I can’t handle it, I’ll run.  We can regroup, and J’onn, Kal, and I can come up with a strategy to fight her together.”  Kara put her hands on Alex’s shoulder.  “But you have to watch over Lena for me.”  Alex’s brow was still furrowed, but she nodded ever so slightly.  “Now, I need to go tell Winn to keep an eye on the roof of CatCo.”

It was just after 9:00 p.m. by this point, and they were all resigned to it being a late night.  A few news organizations with helicopters had picked up coverage of Supergirl’s symbol on top of CatCo, but a couple hours passed before Winn approached her.  “Kara, the Kryptonian responded.  She’s on the roof of CatCo.”

Kara did not respond, walking past Winn and Alex towards the main chamber.  Towards the balcony.  From behind her, Alex’s voice was tight and strained.  “Hey!”

She didn’t look back, responding only, “I have to go.”

But Alex was persistent as always.  “Hey!  Not like this!”  She grabbed onto Kara’s arm, and Kara turned to face her.  Listen to me!”  Alex’s eyes were wide and full of terror.  “With all the love in your life right now, all the people who care about you and your career going so well … I know that you've been embracing your humanity more than ever lately.  And I’m so proud of you, but for right now, forget that.”  Alex’s eyes narrowed slightly, and her voice turned to steel.  “Be cold.  Be Kryptonian.  I don't know why, but this thing really scares me.”  All the fear and emotion seeped back into her voice.  “So, please, be alien.  Be Supergirl.”

Kara nodded.  She kissed Alex on the forehead, then centered herself with her breath.  Her entire body tensed as she gave herself fully to her Supergirl persona.  Then she took off for CatCo.  Three helicopters circled the building, shining spotlights onto the roof where the dark figure stood in wait.  Supergirl landed about ten feet in front of her and surveyed her foe.

The Kryptonian killer was slightly taller than Kara and dressed in a full bodysuit.  Without a spotlight shining directly, Supergirl could not make out all the details, but she could tell there were various leather and metallic accent pieces to the suit.  Across her chest was the cult sigil, also in shades of black, and she wore knee-high black leather boots and intimidating metallic black gauntlets.  A matching small black pauldron covered her right shoulder.  Close up, Supergirl could tell that the inside lining of her cape was actually a dark blood red and was also somewhat shorter than Supergirl's own.  And yes, she was wearing a mask.  It was an intricate black mask apparently of the same metallic material as her gauntlets, with various stylized cut outs and subtle horns that formed a sort of crown where the mask ended and her dark hair began.  Her pitch black smokey eye makeup blended the features around her eyes back into the mask, creating an even more haunting effect as the red glow of her irises glinted out from the darkness.  Her lips were also black, and it appeared that the bottom half of her ponytail was pulled tightly into some sort of rough metallic sheath that ended in an ominous point.

Some part of Kara sensed a familiarity coming from the killer, but Supergirl quickly buried that sentiment.  Then she asked coldly, “So what are you supposed to be, the Devil?”

Her foe’s voice was husky, with a metallic edge to it.  “The Devil isn't real.”

“Then who are you?”

Neither of them had moved yet.  “I'm from the time before fathoming.  Born to cleanse the scourge and deliver the awakening.  I am Reign.”  Shit.  Definitely a Worldkiller.  The Worldkiller, apparently.

Supergirl kept any worry out of her voice.  “How did you get here?”

“I survived Krypton's death.  Sent here upon its destruction.”

“If that's true, then where have you been?”

Reign took a step towards Supergirl, explaining simply,  “Dispensing justice.”

“By terrorizing people? Killing people?”  Supergirl could not keep the disgust from her voice, even as she was aware that Reign’s victims were all deserving of some form of punishment.     

Reign turned to look out over the city, facing away from Supergirl, demonstrating her lack of concern with the potential threat Supergirl posed.  “This world is mired in injustice and violence.  Too many have eluded judgment.  And so few of these humans are willing to do what is necessary to overthrow the corrupt society you have allowed to fester.”  She recited the word ‘humans’ with such disdain and mockery.

Supergirl put a clear threat into her tone.  “I'm not gonna let you hurt anyone else.  Surrender now before I make you surrender.”

Reign turned back to her, a smirk displayed across those dark lips.  “So full of hubris.”  She began pacing slowly towards Supergirl as she spoke, stopping with only a couple feet’s distance between them.  “Just like the righteous Kryptonians who feared my makers.  Worshiping false gods as they watched our planet suffocate by shame and burn from memory.  Stand down, or I will make you join them in their purgatory.”  Reign’s voice was even more threatening than Supergirl’s had been, but the hero wasn’t about to back down.

“I'm not going anywhere.”

Reign briefly looked down from Kara, and her tone sounded almost disappointed.  “Then I will dispense my justice on you.”

“Take your best shot.”  As the words left her mouth, Reign was on her in a heartbeat, flying into her at full speed and carrying her off the roof.  Supergirl couldn’t free herself from Reign’s grasp so she settled for pummeling the Worldkiller’s head and upper body with blows.  Seemingly unfazed, Reign continued pushing her with full force until the broke through they walls of a nearby skyscraper.

Fortunately, it was late enough that the floor appeared to be empty, but Supergirl barely had time to scan the room for civilians before Reign’s drove her into the ceiling of the room, crashing her skull painfully through the fluorescent lighting.  As blindingly bright sparks flowed down around them, Reign’s attacks came like lightning all around her.  Punches intermingled with scratches and tears and forceful grabs.  She was so much more vicious than Kal had been when they fought.

They traded blows as they continued floating down the length of the room they had burst into, until Reign threw her to the ground.  Dodging a kick meant for her jaw, Supergirl was up on her feet in an instant, and the fight became more like a ferocious boxing match.  Punches were met with blocks and parries, and Supergirl could focus on nothing more than Reign’s next move.  If a normal person were watching the fight from the side, they would see nothing but a black, red, and blue blur.  Their harsh breathing and grunting pierced the silence of the room.

Supergirl caught Reign under the chin, propelling her back just enough that Kara could raise herself up into the air, intending to drive her fist down across Reign’s face.  However, she was too slow, and Reign sped around the blow.  As Supergirl turned to face her, Reign’s hand came to her throat.  She slammed her forearm down onto Reign’s to break the hold, and then grabbed her forcefully, spinning a couple of times before flinging Reign across the length of the room’s very long conference table.  She leapt to bring another blow down on Reign, but she met her in midair, driving them both straight up and through the roof of the building.

Their fight and momentum carried them out, across the bay.  The crashed onto the hull of a large cargo ship, in the midst of several massive shipping containers.  Before she could get her bearings, Reign was gone.  Looking around wildly for the anticipated sneak attack, Supergirl was caught off guard as the front of the ship began to raise out of the water, sending the shipping containers flying back towards her.  The sheer weight of them momentarily stunned her, but she caught her breath, shoved them roughly out of her way, and took off towards the front of the boat.

She collided with Reign at top speed, driving them back towards the city.  Shit.  Supergirl had hoped to stay out of the city, but she had lost her bearings on the cargo ship.  That momentary concern about the wellbeing of the citizens of National City was a distraction that cost her.  Reign regained control of their scrum and drove Kara down, slamming her thunderously through the concrete of a street below.  The force of the collision created a crater and sent several nearby vehicles flying. 

As she pulled herself up, Supergirl could hear the screams all around her.  She and Reign continued beating each other senseless amid the rubble, and it was getting harder and harder for Supergirl to block and parry the Worldkiller’s strikes.   She could feel water falling on them, but she didn’t have time to worry about a busted main.  Reign continued pummeling her and driving her back until she was down on one need, completely winded.  Strangely, Reign walked away from her, casually, as if she was barely affected by the many blows Supergirl had landed.

It was only then that Supergirl noticed the crowd surrounding them, and in particular, a young girl hiding behind and overturned car, looking as if she might try to run to Supergirl.  “NO!” she shouted with all her might.  “Get back! Back, stay back!”  She was back on her feet, and while she could sense Reign coming back behind her, she continued focusing her attention on the people. “Please! You have to run!”

Supergirl barely registered the swooshing sound from behind her when her head exploded into a bright white light of agony.  She collapsed to the ground, completely disoriented.  As she pushed herself up onto her hands, she could feel something wet on her forehead and in her hair.  She touched her hand to the substance and nearly collapsed again as another bright shock of pain flashed through her skull.  Her hand was covered in something red and thick and sticky.  Blood.  How?

She heard Reign toss whatever heavy object she had crashed into the back of Supergirl’s head.  I have to get out of here.  Have to run.  Promised…  She pushed herself up and off the ground as quickly as she could muster at this point, but Reign caught her by the cape and slammed her back down.  Reign allowed her the time to get back to her feet and then came at her with a surprisingly slow punch.  Supergirl blocked it, but Reign immediately struck her across the face with her left arm.  Off guard, Supergirl couldn’t stop Reign from grabbing her and delivering a knee to her gut that doubled her over in a shocking amount of pain.  Just as she was pulling herself back into a standing position, Reign grabbed her again, grinned ruthlessly, and headbutted her.  Everything went hazy as Supergirl collapsed to the ground again. 

She could still hear the myriad noises of the chaos around her, and she certainly felt the force of Reign’s kick, straight down onto her torso.  Supergirl was fairly sure that several of her ribs were broken, or as sure as she could be for someone who had never suffered a broken rib before.  Still, she had enough energy to pull herself back up to her knees and shake the cobwebs from her head.  She sensed Reign’s makeshift weapon coming at her head again, but was able to block it this time.

Turns out it was several pieces of rebar still connected to a large slab of concrete, forming a large, incredibly heavy club.  Supergirl acted immediately, pushing all of her remaining strength into wresting the club from Reign’s grasp and using the upward moment of her standing motion to spin the club around and bring it back under Reign’s chin, sending her flying away.

As she climbed over the pile of rubble caused by their collision into the street from above, Supergirl could barely make her way up and could barely stand at the top of the pile.  Some part of her deep subconscious still sensed that she needed to escape, but she was utterly incapable of coherent thought at this point.  Her brain barely registered it as Reign approached her again, this time dragging a flaming car door beside her. 

Reign threw the door at her like some sort of bizarre flaming frisbee, and Supergirl moved to jump over it.  But her legs wouldn’t respond, and the door cut them out from under her, sending her spinning up into the air.  Expecting to feel the cold hard concrete welcome her to unconsciousness, Supergirl was stunned by the hot force that collided with her chest and sent her flying up in the air and away from the fight.  Reign’s heat vision drove her back and onto the roof of a building.

Supergirl couldn’t move.  She couldn’t feel her legs and felt nothing but pain from her abdomen up to her head.  She could hardly even breathe.  She heard a thud nearby, followed by the words, “I'm going to kill you.”  It was a statement, not a threat.

Supergirl did what she could to push herself back onto her arms and look up at Reign.  She knew her body was about to give out on her, but she would not give up.  “You don't … You don't scare me.”  Her voice betrayed the extent of her injuries.

Reign stood confidently over her, fixing her with a look of pity.  Again, something deep down inside of Kara felt the oddest sense of familiarity.  Before she could dwell on it, Reign whispered down to her, “You're no god, just as I'm no devil.  All I am is truth.”  She wrapped a hand around Supergirl’s throat, pulling her up and forcing a sharp groan as further agony washed over Supergirl’s body.  “And judgment.”  Reign walked her over to the edge of the roof, carrying her easily with one hand.  “And death.  And I will reign.”  As Kara dropped into the air, plummeting down towards the pavement below, the darkness took her.

Chapter Text

Chapter 20

Sam jolted awake out of yet another nightmare, hyperventilating as her heart raced.  Sunlight, dimmed only slightly by the curtains over her windows, flooded the room with a soft yellow light.  Immediately, Sam’s thoughts went to Lena.  She couldn’t remember anything that happened after Kara flew away with Lena.  She immediately looked around for her phone.  The first thing she noticed was Kara’s text.  Okay, so Lena is okay.  Sam breathed a heavy sigh of relief.  But why did I black out?

Ruby burst into Sam’s bedroom, face full of concern.  She jumped onto Sam’s bed and hugged her tightly.  That was when Sam realized how sore she felt.  What did I do while I was blacked out?  “I heard you scream.  After last night …  Mom, what’s going on?”

Wait, what about last night?  Instantly, her chest tightened as she worried about all the terrible things she might have done without realizing it.  But she knew she had to put on a brave face for Ruby, had to try to figure out what was going on.  “I’m sorry,” she whispered, still catching her breath.  “I … I just had another nightmare.”

Ruby pulled away a little, kneeling on the edge of Sam’s bed.  “Why didn’t you tell me you were going to work late yesterday?  Usually, you call Ms. Queller.”  Reading the confused look on her face, Ruby quickly course-corrected.  “Not that I need her any time I’m home alone!  As I’ve been telling you constantly. …  I just, with everything that happened with Supergirl, I couldn’t sleep, and then you got home so late, and you were so dazed.”

Without thinking, Sam immediately asked, “What happened to Supergirl?!”  Her chest was tighter than ever, and her heart began to race again.  Please be okay, please be okay, please be okay.  Ruby’s brow furrowed in confusion, and she bounced over to where the remote was perched on the other nightstand.  The TV lit up, and Ruby switched to local news.  The anchor’s voice spilled into the room.

“… stunned by the terrifying and brutal defeat suffered by Supergirl at the hands of this mysterious woman in black, just hours after the unidentified woman murdered Morgan Edge. …”  Sam stopped listening, taking in the visuals.  Supergirl squaring off with a woman in all black, the violence starting on the roof of CatCo and eventually coming to a halt in the middle of a street a few blocks over.  An image passed over the screen, and Sam immediately shut the TV off, feeling as though someone had driven a white hot blade through her heart.  Supergirl—Kara—lying unconscious in a crater of rubble, broken and bleeding.  She looked dead.  Tears filled Sam’s eyes, and she immediately did everything she could to hold them back.

Ruby can’t know.  Stay strong for her, Sam.  Get your shit together.  Ruby asked, “How did you miss this last night?”

“Ruby, sweetie, I’ve gotta tell you something that’s really difficult to hear.”  Ruby’s eyes widened.  “Last night … Lena was poisoned.  I wasn’t working late, it’s just that Kara and I had to get her to the hospital.  She’s okay, now, I promise!  But … we were both so freaked out, I accidentally left my phone at work, and then I was so focused on Lena that I didn’t really think about anything else until it was late, and we knew she was okay.  I am so sorry if I scared you last night, or if I made you feel bad when I got home.  After dropping back by the office to get my phone, I was exhausted and came straight home.  I barely even remember getting home, sweetie.”

Sam could tell from her body language that Ruby believed her fully.  “But Lena’s okay?”

“Yes, she’s okay.  I’m going to go visit her right after I drop you off for school.  Speaking of which, you need to go get ready.”  Ruby nodded softly, then jumped off the bed and left the room.  Sam’s phone was immediately in her hands, calling Kara.  Come on, come on.  Pick up, Kara.  Be okay.  No answer.  She hung up and tried Lena.  This time, there was an answer.

“Sam, where are you?”

Sam sighed in relief.  “Lena, you’re okay.  Thank god.  Please tell me Kara is okay, I’m just seeing the news about last night.”

There was a heavy pause on the other side of the line.  “Sam …  It’s not good.”  Lena’s voice was raw and cracked—she had been crying a lot.  Sam’s tears were back, and this time she couldn’t keep them off her cheeks.  “She’s in critical condition.  That monster beat her within an inch of her life.  I woke up maybe an hour after they brought her back to the DEO.  She had three broken ribs, a skull fracture, and massive internal bleeding.  Their best surgeon operated on her, and she’s been under the yellow sun lamps ever since.  Her body is healing, but far too slowly.”  Lena released a pained breath.  “She’s in a coma, Sam.  Alex says they’re not sure whether she’ll come out of it.  You need to get to the DEO immediately.”

“I … fuck, Lee, I can’t remember anything from last night.  How could I have missed this?  She has to be okay.  She has to.”  A thought occurred to her.  It was a long shot, but Sam would do anything.  ”Lena!  I think I might know someone who can help her.  But I’ll have to explain how I know Supergirl.”

“Sam, I trust you.  Kara trusts you.  If there’s a tiny chance this person can save our girl, do whatever the fuck you have to.  Get on it, I’ll text you the address for the DEO and let them know to let you in.” 

“Okay.  I’ll be there soon, Lee.  I love you.”  Lena hung up without a further word, and within a minute, Sam got the text with the address.  She dialed another contact in her phone.

Yes, hello Samantha.”

“Thank god you answered, Kaziah.  Something terrible has happened, and I need a huge, huge favour from you.  Hell, I don’t even know if it’s something you’re capable of, but I have to ask.”  Sam was trying not to sound frantic but knew she was failing. 

“Samantha, you have but to ask.  You are one of my dearest friends, and I will do whatever I can to help you.  What is the matter?”

“I … I’ll explain that in a minute.  Hey so, you’re like kinda sorta part computer, right?”  Sam really hoped the question wasn’t rude.

“That is an oversimplification but not terribly inaccurate in the larger scheme of things.  Why do you ask?”  Ziah’s voice was always so flat—Sam couldn’t tell over the phone whether she offended or even annoyed by the question.  Bu Sam trusted Ziah to call her out on any sort of misunderstanding or unintentionally shitty statement.

“Would it be possible for you to interface directly with a person’s brain to check on the neurological functioning?”  Sam crossed her fingers.

“Yes, it is.  I have a Coluan device that would allow me to interface directly with a person’s mind through the synthetic portions of my own brain.  What purpose would such an endeavor serve?  Who are you looking to help, and from what fate?”

“It’s Supergirl.  I’m … I’m kind of dating Supergirl.” 

“Samantha, I am so sorry.  I saw the news, but I had no idea that you and Ms. Danvers had become involved.”  Because of course it took one meeting for Kaziah to figure out Supergirl’s identity. 

“She’s in bad shape, Ziah.  Lena and I are barely holding it together.  They’re doing what they can to heal her body, but it’s her mind I’m worried about.  She’s in a coma, and they aren’t sure if she’ll come out of it. By interfacing with her mind, do you think you can help her find her way home, so to speak?” 

“I cannot say for certain, but I am willing to try.  The brain is a tricky thing, Samantha, and I’ve never actually explored the mind of a Kryptonian before.  But I will do everything I can for her.  You have my word.”

“Thank you, thank you, thank you.”  Sam held on tight to the glimmer of hope Kaziah was giving her.  “You and I are taking the day off, boss’s orders.  I’m about to drop Ruby off at school, and then I’ll come get you and bring you to Supergirl, okay?”

“I am at your service.  I will be ready.”

                                                  

After hanging up with Sam, Lena turned her attention back to Kara.  She looked so fragile in her hospital gown, face still bruised from the fight.  She was not covered by any sheet or blanket, so that as much skin as possible was exposed to the solar radiation that was fueling her healing.  Lena stroked Kara’s hair slowly, not caring about the uncomfortable heat of the lamps on her arm and hand.

She started when she felt a hand on her shoulder.  Lena hadn’t noticed Alex slip into the room.  She brought breakfast.  “You’ve got to eat, Lena.  I know you’re worried about Kara, but you’re still a patient here, too.  Your body is still recovering from the poison—you have to eat.”  While Lena wanted to argue, she knew that Alex was right, so she accepted the paper bag of … breakfast tacos? … with a thankful look at Alex.  “Sorry, I sent Winn for breakfast and didn’t think to make a specific request.”

“Alex, it’s fine.  Come sit with me, please?” Alex checked Kara’s vitals, then sat.  Between bites, Lena whispered, “Thank you.  For saving my life.”

“It was Kara as much as me.  She got you here within minutes.  But you know I can’t let you die, Luthor.  She loves you too much.”  Lena knew Alex well enough by now to know when she was holding back her emotions.  She put a hand on Alex’s, and Alex squeezed hers in return.  They both turned back to Kara.

“I just talked to Sam.  She might know someone who can help Kara.”  She took another bite.  “Her name is Kaziah Dox.”

“Why does that name sound familiar?”

“She was one of the sources for Kara’s first article about Edge’s anti-alien discrimination.  She works with Sam at L-Corp.  She’s Coluan, and I’m guessing she might have some fancy tech that will help her go into Kara’s mind and bring her back to consciousness.”

“Oh fuck no.”  Alex stood, angry.  “I’m not letting one of those Brainiac things go anywhere near Kara in this state.”  Shit.  Lena had forgotten that Alex had prior experiences with a Coluan that were less than pleasant.

“Alex, Kaziah is a good person.  I’m aware that—Indigo, was it?—was as horrible as Kara made her sound when she told me about her, but surely you’re not going to paint an entire people in a certain light because of one bad apple?”  Alex leaned back against the wall and crossed arms but didn’t say anything.  “Kaziah is one of Sam’s best friends, and she’s been an exemplary employee at L-Corp for years.  Kara liked her quite a lot.”  Lena sighed.  “Besides which, you’ve already told me that the DEO has nothing else that can help Kara, and I’m not about to turn away help that could possibly save her.”

Lena and Alex stared at each other, waiting to see who would break first.  Finally, Alex rolled her eyes and shrugged as she pushed off from the wall.  “Fine, but if she tries to hurt Kara further, I will kill her.”  Lena knew it was no idle threat, but if anyone tried to hurt Kara further, Alex would be hard pressed to beat Lena to the murder scene.  Fortunately, Lena knew they had nothing to worry about with Kaziah.

“That won’t happen.”

Alex seemed like she was headed out of the room, but then she paused.  “Why didn’t we hear from Sam until this morning?  Everything was broadcast live last night; how could she have taken so long to learn that Kara was in danger?”

Lena wasn’t about to share her darkest suspicions, not until she was sure.  She couldn’t do that to Sam.  And she could hardly even admit it to herself.  What if Sam is Reign?  Lena covered for her.  “She was with Ruby all night.  After I was poisoned, she just wanted to unplug and get away from the world and be with her daughter.  She didn’t see the news until this morning.”

Alex still seemed suspicious, but it was a believable cover story.  She didn’t press further.  “Just let me know the second they get here.”

                                                  

“I will use nanites to form a connection with Ms. Danvers’ neural pathways.  I can interface directly with the agents to form a connection with her mind.  The problem is that her skin is invulnerable—”

“It’s actually not right now.  Not yet.”  Lena’s voice was sorrowful and worried as she interrupted Kaziah.  Sam put a hand on her friend’s back.  Lena stiffened, causing Sam to look down in concern.  Lena did not return her gaze, but she did relax into Sam’s hand.

Kaziah turned to Alex.  “I leave it to your expertise Agent Danvers.  I have nodules that are normally strategically placed just above the temples and in the center of the forehead—they inject the nanites through the skin and bone.  If there is some concern that Kara’s invulnerability may return before we are finished, it may be better to introduce the agents through her ears, but it will take longer for the nanites to reach the correct parts of her brain.  They will also be more difficult to withdraw.”

Alex considered.  “Go ahead with the nodules.  If her invulnerability comes back enough to push them out of her head, we’ll just have to remove the nanites through her ears.  But if there’s a chance we don’t have to do that, let’s go for it.”

“I cannot promise this will be painless, but the worst part is the insertion, which she will obviously be unconscious for.  As I explained to Samantha, I cannot promise that I will be able to bring her back to consciousness, but I can monitor her neural health and attempt to interact with her subconscious in order to restore her.  Furthermore, I can give you a live analysis of my interactions with Ms. Danvers’ mind as I interface.”  Kaziah fixed the three women with a confident, reassuring gaze.

Alex glanced as Lena, then at Sam, seeking agreement.  Then she sighed heavily and commanded, “Let’s do it.”  Kaziah pulled her equipment from her bag and began to gently but firm place the nodules on Kara’s head.  Once they were in place, she stood stiffly to the left of Kara’s bed and closed her eyes.  A small blue light flickered into life on each of the nodules, and the three orbs on Kaziah’s head lit in a corresponding, but much softer and hazier, white glow. 

Several minutes passed while they waited on pins and needles.  Sam kept catching strange looks from Alex, who had been acting really weird towards her ever since she arrived at the DEO.  Lena was also more withdrawn than usual, but Sam didn’t think much of it.  Lena often became colder and more reserved when faced with overwhelming emotions.  Alex though—Alex worried her.

All morning, Sam had been trying to avoid the thought that threatened to consume her and drive her down into a dark place from which she feared she would not escape.  There were many high-resolution images from the fight, and even with the dark mask and eye makeup, it was hard for Sam not to see the resemblance.  To let her mind drift to the timing of her blackout last night and the soreness she had woken up to.  Maybe Alex saw it, too.

Fortunately, Kaziah broke the tension.  “The good news is that her mind is active and alert.  The bad news is that she feels trapped and is very angry about it.”

“She wants to wake up, but doesn’t know how?”  Lena’s voice had the slightest tinge of hope in it now.

“That is more or less correct, yes.  I will continue to interface with her and try to unlock whatever is trapping her in her own subconscious.  I will also look for any signs of brain damage or other neurological issues.  I cannot say how long this will take.  I will alert you if and when her awakening is imminent—you will need to be prepared if she goes into shock as she comes out of the coma.”

Accepting that it could be a long time before Kara woke up—and refusing to consider any other possibility—Sam resolved herself to know, one way or the other, whether her fears were true.  It terrified her to think about what she, or at least her body, might have done, but if her suspicious were correct, she needed to know, and they needed to prevent her from hurting anyone else.  She turned to Alex.

“Alex, we’re not doing Kara any good standing around in her room.  Can you run those tests on me now?”  There was a silent agreement between the two, and Sam could see it in her eyes that Alex shared her concerns.  Alex nodded her head towards the door, and Lena stood to follow them.  “No, Lena.  Stay with Kara.  Just in case she wakes up sooner than expected.”  Sam was terrified of being alone with Alex, of discovering this potentially awful truth about herself without the support of her best friend or her girlfr—Kara.  But Kara needed Lena, and Lena needed Kara.

Once out of the room, Alex said only, “My lab is two floors down.”  They walked in cold, uncomfortable silence until they were in the elevator, then Alex whispered, “Did you do this?”  She wouldn’t look at Sam, and her voice was rife with tension.

Guilt flooded Sam’s body, and she struggled to keep her legs from shaking.  “I don’t know…  I … that’s what I’m afraid of.  That’s why we have to do this now.  It’s why you can’t let me leave this building until we’re sure.”  Alex nodded curtly.  They walked out into her lab as the elevator doors opened.

Alex handed her a hospital gown and gestured towards a privacy curtain nearby.  As she changed, Sam felt the sudden urge to try to break the tension.  “So, you were a doctor before you joined the DEO?”

Alex didn’t bother to look at her, but mercifully answered the question.  “Yeah.  I was gonna be a researcher, so I had a job in Seattle for a while.  And then, as it turns out, I needed a little more action than just a microscope and an Excel spreadsheet.”

Sam walked out towards Alex, who was standing beside a large machine.  “Sorry if I don’t take any of this well.  In addition to being scared out of my mind about what we’re about to learn, I really hate hospitals, being sick, needlesHate tests.”

From the look of surprise on her face, Sam got the sense that Alex had at first assumed that Sam was always Reign and had been manipulating them for some nefarious purpose.  Being vulnerable about her fears had apparently—hopefully—dispelled any such thoughts from Alex’s mind.  For the first time, Alex gave her a slight smile.  “Well, MRI's don't hurt.”  She gestured for Sam to lay down on the small bedlike cushion stretching out from the mouth of the MRI machine.  “First things first, you’ve been having blackouts and missed time.  I want to confirm that there’s not some more … ordinary … explanation.”

“Okay.”  Sam was even more nervous now.  She hadn’t considered that it could be something non-alien-related.  As her heart rate spiked, she nervously blurted out her thoughts in a stream of consciousness.  “My symptoms.  Memory loss, headaches … this could be really bad.”  She took a deep breath.  “Like, brain tumor bad.”

Alex looked down on her, eyes softer than they had previously been.  “You know what else causes memory loss?  Caffeine withdrawal.  Yikes.”  Sam rolled her eyes, but the joke helped.  “Sam, we're gonna find out what's going on, and when we do, we're gonna deal with it.  Whatever it is.”  Sam tried not to think about the implications—imprisonment at the DEO, having to face a loved one she tried to kill, maybe being put down if necessary—of that ‘whatever.’

She heard Alex’s steps walk away from her, and shortly thereafter, she felt herself being pulled back into the machine.  The MRI was almost painfully loud, and Sam felt as though she was in there for hours.  Then suddenly she was back out into the bright fluorescent light of the lab.  She looked over and saw Alex behind a wall with a glass window.  She held up her index finger, asking Sam to give her a minute.

Eventually, Alex walked back over to her as an image of Sam’s brain popped up onto a nearby screen.  “So, what do you see?”

Alex’s eyes were firmly on the screen.  “Nothing.”

“Is that a … good thing?”  Of course it isn’t, idiot.  It means the only other explanation is that you’re a murdery alien who tried to kill the woman you love.

“It just means that whatever's causing the blackouts isn't showing up on the images.”  Alex’s face was tighter than before, but there was still a glint of compassion in her eyes.  “But that doesn’t prove anything conclusively, okay?  Let me take some blood.”

Sam whispered, “I'm afraid of needles.”

“It's really not that bad.  I'm gonna make it painless.”

“Can you go quick?”  She looked away.  Some all-powerful evil alien I am.

“Okay.”  Alex made quick work of drawing Sam’s blood.  “See?  Painless.”  She walked away to go run the bloodwork.  Sam followed her, and Alex began asking additional questions.  “So, you came to Earth in a Kryptonian pod?”

“I think so?  Based on how I described it, Kara was pretty sure.  It had Kryptonese writing behind the cockpit that lit up when I touched the hull, and it produced a long crystal that Kara insisted was a piece of Kryptonian tech.”  Sam shivered.  “Can I put my clothes back on?”

“Yeah sure.  We’ll probably try to run some field tests next to see if we can activate any sort of powers.  You’re welcome to do that in a gown if you really want to, but clothes would probably be more comfortable.”  Sam didn’t bother making a face because Alex’s attention was firmly on her equipment.  As she began to put her clothes back on, Alex continued questioning her.

“But you’ve never had any of the typical powers we associate with Kryptonians?  You can’t fly?”

“Nope.”

“Super strength?”

“None.”

“Invulnerability?”

“Just that one time.”

“Okay, tell me about that.” 

Sam frowned.  Didn’t Kara already tell her?  “I was standing near Lena at her press conference, after Morgan Edge accused her of poisoning children.  When the shooter opened fire, Kara saved Lena, but I was apparently hit by a bullet.  I didn’t realize that at the time.  I dropped to the ground the minute shots rang out, trying to avoid getting shot.  I checked myself for any pain or blood, and there was nothing.  I didn’t think anything of it.  But then, when I went to bed that night, a crumpled bullet fell out as I untucked my shirt.  I found a bullet hole in my blazer and shirt.”  She shrugged.  “The bullet would’ve hit me about right here—” she pointed to the right side of her lower abdomen, “—if my skin hadn’t magically stopped it.  But that’s the only time it’s ever happened, as far as I know.”

Alex looked up from her computer, her face tight with thought.  “How can you be sure?  Have you tried to—”

“Yes,” Sam snapped.  “I mean, not with a gun, but I’ve cut myself many times, under many different circumstances.  During the day.  At night.  While watching a really scary movie—I wondered if fear might trigger it.  It didn’t.  One time I was really pissed off because of an argument at work, and I tried then too.  Every time, the only result is that my thigh got another painful cut.”  She paused, a memory suddenly leaping to mind.  "Wait!  Actually there was one other time.  It was a day or two after I was shot.  I was pretty freaked, and on a whim, I stuck my hand in a boiling pot of water.  It felt pleasantly warm.  No pesky third degree burns or anything."

“Okay … I’ll probably want to test that myself.”  Alex’s tone was apologetic.  “What about heat vision?”

“Nope.  No super speed either, if that was your next question.”  The questions were getting old now, and Sam just wanted answers.

“Okay.  Sorry.  And you had no idea you were alien until your mom showed you the pod?”

“None.  She would never tell me where I came from.  I just assumed my parents were murderers or something.”  Maybe they were.  Maybe it runs in the family.

“Can you remember what nights you’re missing time from?”

“Not specifically.  Other than last night, obviously.”  Her heart sank again as she thought about last night. 

“That’s unfortunate.  I wish you had kept track—I could have checked to see if your blackouts lined up with the murders we’ve been investigating.  That we now know were almost certainly Reign.”  It was the first time either of them had said the name. 

“But it looks like that might be unnecessary.”  Alex’s voice was cut through with shock.  “Come here.”  Sam’s heart leapt to her throat.  Wait what?  She walked over to Alex, standing behind her to gaze at the dual monitors of her computer.  “I pulled your DNA from the white blood cells in one of your samples.  Your DNA is double helix, meaning you definitely aren’t Kryptonian.  They have triple helix DNA.  Whatever you are, you’re much closer to human than Kryptonian.”

“Okay, but what about the blackouts?  My pod?  Alex … when I woke up this morning, I was sore.”  Sam knew it.  Knew she had to be Reign.  Nothing else made sense.

“Sam!”  Alex turned to her, gripped her shoulders firmly, and looked her right in the eyes.  “I’m telling you, you’re not Reign.  You can’t be.  Your body isn’t physically capable of the sort of powers she has.  Besides, you said yourself you don’t have powers.  Except that one time.” Alex sighed.  “I’m really sorry that I don’t have any actual answers for you.  I can’t explain the bullet or the blackouts or the pod.”

Sam felt like she had been hit by a freight train.  Her mind didn’t want to accept it.  She had found an answer, and however horrific that answer was, it was almost preferable to the unexplainable unknown.  And now Alex was telling her that her answer was impossible.  She was back at square one.

But it wasn’t me that hurt Kara.  It wasn’t me.  Tears began streaming down her face.  She slumped, and Alex caught her in a warm embrace.  Her compassion only made Sam fall apart more.  She sobbed, “I thought it was me.  I thought I killed her.  I thought I was the cause of her pain.  I thought …”  She shook her head, but the sobs wouldn’t stop.  “Alex.  I thought I had somehow beaten the woman I love into a coma.”  She couldn’t form any more words.  Alex continued to hold her, and several minutes passed until Sam calmed enough to step back from the warm arms holding her steady.

“It wasn’t you.”  Alex smiled at her genuinely.  “It wasn’t you.”  Sam nodded.  “I’ve got some more tests I want to run on your blood, and you should come in again in the future so we can try to figure out what’s going on with you.  But you’re not Reign.”

Chapter Text

Chapter 21

Kara hadn’t been expecting anyone, so it was quite the surprise when she opened the door of the loft to see who had knocked.  “Kaziah?  Hi!  What are you doing here?”  Kara hadn’t seen the Coluan since their interview, but she was every bit as strikingly gorgeous as Kara remembered.

Kaziah’s musical yet uninflected voice still caught her off guard, though.  “I am here to help you, Kara Danvers.  May I come in?”

“Of course!  Come in!”  As she closed the door behind Kaziah, she added, “And remember, it’s just Kara.”  Kaziah nodded curtly.  “So … what is it exactly that you think I need help with?”

Kaziah began inspecting the loft, analyzing vases of flowers, throw pillows, the walls themselves.  “I am here to check the health of your neural pathways and hopefully, to help you escape this coma.”

“I’m sorry, coma?  I’m at home.”

“This is not your home, Kara.  This is the physical manifestation of the place in which your consciousness feels most comfortable.”  Kaziah glanced to her right, into the bedroom space.  “It is apparently also a manifestation of the central conflict in your mind that prevents you from waking up.”

Kara followed her gaze but saw nothing out of the ordinary.  “If I’m in a coma, how are you here?” 

“Coluan technology.  I am interfacing directly with your mind.  Samantha brought me here once the DEO determined that they could not pull you out of the coma.  You suffered extensive injuries from your battle with Reign.” 

Kara looked at her curiously.  She was sure that Sam hadn’t revealed her secret identity.  However, Sam had warned her that Kaziah was brilliant far beyond even the most outstanding human minds, so it wasn’t a huge surprise that she had figured out Kara’s identity.  Heck, it’s possible she had even sensed Kara’s Kryptonian physiology in some way.  Either way, she didn’t press it further. 

Then she thought further about what Kaziah said, and images of the battle flashed through her mind.  She could briefly feel the pain of her injuries all over again.  The fracturing of her mind as she finally passed out.  “No.  No no no.  This can’t be happening.  She’s still out there.  People are dying.  I have to wake up.”

Kara rushed to the door—though not at super speed, oddly enough—and tried to open the door.  It would not yield to her.  She pulled at it with all her strength, and nothing happened.  “What is going on?!”

“You must remain calm.  You cannot escape so simply.  First, we must find a way to work through your mental crisis.”  At this point, Kaziah’s stillness was really rubbing against Kara’s nerves, as everything inside of her screamed to do something.  She stalked over to the windows that opened to her balcony and tried those.  Still nothing.  She tried to punch through the glass, and it repelled her as if it was the strongest glass of all time.  What the hell?  Kara growled in frustration. 

She felt a hand on her shoulder and tensed, her frustration flowing through her.  “As I said, Kara Danvers, this is not the way you will escape.”

Kara blew out a loud breath, releasing some of her frustration with it.  “If you know that I’m Kryptonian, you may as well call me Kara Zor-El, at least in private.  Or, you know, just Kara.”  She turned, and Kaziah’s eyes were full of understanding and compassion.  For the first time, Kara noticed that the orbs on her forehead were glowing with a faint shimmer.  It only added to her beauty.

“Why am I stuck here?”

“Your body is no longer in critical condition, but it is healing very slowly.  I have also ruled out any neurological problems.  As far as I can tell, the only thing keeping you here is you.”

“But I’m the one who is trying to get out of here!  This doesn’t make any sense.”  Her frustration continued to build.

“I am concerned that your battle with Reign has left you with a crisis of identity.  Correct me if I am wrong, but you have never been defeated like this, have you?”

“No.”

“Is there something in particular about Reign that caused you to question yourself, your core identity?  Anything that resonated in you?”

Yes.  But … I can’t explain it.  It doesn’t make any sense.  “I don’t know.  She’s Kryptonian, but not.  At times, it felt like I was fighting a dark mirror image, but …  she felt familiar.  Not to Supergirl, but to Kara.  I can’t explain it.  I did my best to ignore it during the battle, to stay firmly in Supergirl mode.  But she beat me anyway.”  Kara felt lost.  Maybe that was what kept her here.

“Do you often compartmentalize yourself into these separate personas—Kara Danvers vs. Supergirl?” 

“Yes.  But I have to.  It’s important.  My secret identity is important.  Wearing glasses and putting my hair up is a crap disguise, as most of my friends have pointed out.  So, I have to maintain separate mannerisms, habits, and … just … yeah, personalities, I guess.  Completely different mindsets.  That way it never occurs to anyone that Kara Danvers looks a lot like Supergirl.  They appear as completely separate people.”  Kara thought about it more.  “But I have to do that so much less these days.  Everyone I spend my free time with knows.  To them, I’m just Kara Zor-El.”

“Has the compartmentalization ever bothered you?”

“Umm … yeah, I mean of course it has.  Usually only when I’m in a really dark mood, but sometimes it just—pretending to be two different people, each with aspects of myself but nothing fully like the real me, can be exhausting.  But I handle it.  Because I have to.”

“Do you?  Have you ever really questioned that?”

“Never.  I can’t … I have to.  To keep my loved ones safe.  To live the life I want to be able to live, outside of Supergirl.”

“I would suggest that maybe you should consider it further.  You are likely right about the danger to your loved ones, but that is likely a problem for which you could find a solution.  And I am not so sure you are correct in your assumption that the knowledge you are Supergirl would prevent you from living your life.  But that is for you to decide—I do not believe it is fully relevant to your current predicament.”

Kaziah stood and again looked to the bedroom space.  “Your subconscious created this space.  It is trying to open your eyes to the nature of your conflict.  Tell me, do you really not see anything out of the ordinary in this loft?”  Kara’s brow furrowed.  She really didn’t.  Still, she decided to look around.

Everything was perfectly in place, tranquil in the soft white-blue glow emanating in through the windows.  She walked around, touching surfaces.  Nothing seemed strange to her.  The cabinets were glowing with the warm yellowy light that made up the entire wall behind them.  An old Audrey Hepburn move played silently on her TV.  I must have been watching it before Kaziah arrived.  Kara looked down, and she was wearing perfectly normal clothes.  A soft loose-fitting, lavender t-shirt under a warm oversized cardigan, with brown tights and house shoes.  Normal.

She pushed her glasses up her nose and continued her search in the bedroom space.  Here too, nothing struck her as unusual.  The warm red glow filtered through the window, creating a sense of coziness in the geometric shapes along the rounded wall behind her bed and the faux rock façade along the far wall.  The white ridged materials of her bedsheets were perfectly made.  The wide, circular, panoramic windows gave her a beautiful view of Argo City.  Again, she gazed down at her outfit, and again, found it perfectly usual.  Her Supergirl uniform was pristine, all the damage caused by Reign gone.  She smiled brightly at the raised House of El displayed prominently on her chest.

Looking back at Kaziah, she emphasized, “I don’t know what my subconscious could be trying to tell me.  Everything is normal.”

“The sharp contrast between the two halves of this loft does not strike you as odd?”

Kara looked back and forth.  Yes, the shift between the lighting and décor on either side was stark, a sharp contrast.  But it had always been that …  Wait.  “Krypton is dead.  My bedroom is gone.  It shouldn’t be here.”

“Precisely.  Whatever happened in your battle with Reign, it has fragmented your mind between the two personalities you’ve cultivated so painstakingly.  This is purely speculation, but I believe you have to find a balance, a wholeness of self, if you are to wake up.”

Kara stepped forward, considering Kaziah’s words.  Only now that it was pointed out did she see the absurdity of her mind’s creation.  She was wearing her human attire but could still feel the weight of her cape behind her.  Kara took another step forward, feeling self-conscious, like the pretty girl in her apartment would think she looked ridiculous.  “How do I even do that?”

“Well, if it is motivation you seek—” Kaziah stood and stepped closer to Kara, softly placing a hand on her cheek, “—I am waiting outside, just next to your bed.  I would very much like to see you open your eyes and smile again.”

Kara giggled bashfully as her face heated up.  Even in her mind, overt flirting flustered her.  She walked away, so that she could collect herself.  “As nice as that sounds, I don’t think it’s a motivation issue.  I don’t understand what I’m supposed to do.  How to do it.”

She turned to face Kaziah again, only to find her eyes closed.  Then the popped open and she said, “Ms. Luthor would like me to give you a message.”

Kara’s heart leapt.  “She’s here?  You can talk to her while you talk to me?”

“Correct.  She wanted me to say that she loves you, Kara Zor-El.  You are her favourite person.  She wants you to come home to her.”  Kara’s mind shifted to the first time Lena had said those words, just before Supergirl went to fight Rhea.  Before the lead dispersal device sent the Daxamites away.  They had been through so much together since then.  Kara looked around.  This isn’t home.  Neither of these places are.  Not anymore.

Lena is home.

Suddenly, she and Kaziah were standing in the penthouse, decorated still in the festive holiday décor.  Kara no longer felt lost.  Kaziah smiled at her and said, “I should have guessed that Ms. Luthor would be the key.  I hope to be better friends with you both after this.  Your love is a powerful and beautiful thing.  Now, I will leave you, but you must prepare yourself for reality reentry.  There will be an object left by your mind to help you get through the door—probably a house key or something similar.  Find it and use it.” 

She again stepped into Kara’s personal space, this time placing a hand on each of Kara’s elbows.  “This symbolic gesture represents your mind preparing itself.  I believe the door should open regardless, but if you are not properly prepared, you could go into shock.  Some people die immediately.”  Kaziah kissed her on the forehead.  “I shall see you soon, Kara Zor-El.”

Then she was gone.  Kara smiled softly, then began searching the apartment.  She found the key waiting for her on her nightstand.  Key in hand, she walked out and around into the entryway.  A bright white line shown through the seams between the door and its frame.  Kara stopped in front of the door, took a deep breath, and inserted the key in the keyhole that had manifested on the inside of the door.  It opened, and she walked into the white light.

                                                  

“She is coming to,” Ziah announced to the room.  Alex and a medic prepared for any potential shock.  Then Kara’s beautiful blue eyes shot open.

“Kara!”

“Kara!”

“Oh my god, Kara!”

All three of them shouted at once, then they all rushed to her bed.  None of them cared about the heat from the lamps.  Alex took Kara’s hand as Lena and Sam peppered her face with soft kissing.  A couple of times, Lena and Sam’s frantic kisses caused their heads to bump together, but neither of them were at all bothered.  The room filled with the gentle melody of Kara’s giggles, and finally, Lena and Sam pulled back enough to just look at her.

“Hi,” she whispered, looking each of them in the eyes then gazing over to Alex and squeezing her hand.  Tears began to well up in Sam’s eyes, and she softly placed a hand on Kara’s cheek.  She glanced over and exchanged a relieved look and a small smile with Lena.

Kaziah’s voice came from behind her.  “Welcome back to reality, Kara Zor-El.”  Kara turned her head and smiled brightly, then winced at the pain of moving her head.  “Thank you for your help, Kaziah.  But I might not have come if you had told me how painful reality would be.  Alex, what all is injured?  I need to know which parts of my body to avoid moving until the sun lamps finish their work.”

“You’ve got a skull fracture that is partially healed, three broken ribs, a hairline fracture in your right forearm that is almost fully healed.  Oh, and a spinal fracture.  Most of the internal bleeding and organ damage has healed already.”

“Is that all?”  Sam’s heart soared at Kara’s lighthearted joking. 

Lena seemed equally moved, at least enough that she felt comfortable scolding Kara.  “If you weren’t still injured I would punch you right now, Kara Zor-El Danvers.  Promise me that you’ll never put me through this ever again!  I thought I’d lost you.  I cannot lose you.”  Tears streaked down her face, and she glared at Kara in the most sentimental way possible.

“Cream puff, all I can promise is that I’ll try.”  Kara sounded guilty, but they all knew that Kara would never stop being a hero, with all the danger that came with it.  Sam exhaled, then turned to face Alex and Lena both.

“Listen, I need to take Kaziah home, and then I’ve got to pick up Ruby from school.  So, I’m going to have to leave soon.  Is it possible I could get a few moments alone with Kara?”  Alex immediately nodded.  She knew what Sam was going through, and the kind of emotions that threatened to overwhelm her.  Unfortunately, Lena was much more hesitant, looking at her suspiciously.  Kara looked at them both, confusion all over her place. 

Sam walked around the bed and put a hand on Lena’s arm, leaned in, and whispered, “I’m not Reign.  Talk to Alex outside.  Please, Lee, I need this moment.”  Lena briefly looked at her in shock at her words, but then nodded slowly.  She kissed Kara softly on the lips, then turned and followed Alex out of the room.  Kaziah went also.

Pulling a chair close so she could sit right up next to Kara, there was less than a foot of space between their faces.  Sam gripped Kara’s hand hard and stroked her hair with the other hand.  Her eyes traced Kara’s face lovingly.  There was only a shadow of a bruise left around her left eye, and her golden hair masked whatever scabbed over wound was still present on the back of her head.  Ultimately, her face—the strong jaw, soft lips, adorable nose—looked the same as always, and yet, at the same time, she looked somehow more fragile.  Maybe it was just in Sam’s head, but suddenly she found herself sobbing again.

“Sam, sweetie, it’s okay.  It’s okay.  I’m okay,” Kara consoled.  Sam just heaved tears into her shoulder for a while.  When she finally looked back up at Kara, her face felt sore and swollen.  And looking back at those bright blue eyes, the words just slipped out.

“Kara, I l-love you.”  Her eyes grew wide.  She hadn’t meant to say that right then.  But Kara just smiled her dazzling smile.  She reached up her left hand and placed it firmly on Sam’s cheek.

“I love you, too.  I’m sorry I worried you.”  Sam smiled sadly, then felt her lip quivering again.

“It’s not … You didn’t …  Kara—” Sam’s voice dropped to a whisper, “—I thought I had killed you.”  Kara’s eyes narrowed in confusion, and her nose crinkled in that delightful way.  “I …  After you left with Lena…  I blacked out.  I woke up this morning with no memory of anything from last night.  I thought …  I saw the picture of you, broken on the concrete, and I thought …”  She couldn’t finish, as tears continued to fall from her eyes. 

Sam half expected Kara to recoil from her, but there was only concern on her features.  Sam drew in a deep breath, then let it out slowly.  “But I didn’t.  It wasn’t me.  While you were out, Alex ran some tests.  I hardly believed it, but she is sure that I’m not Reign.”  She looked away for a moment, trying to slow down her racing mind.  “We still have no fucking idea what I actually am, but at least I’m not the one who did this to you.”

“Sweetie, of course you’re not her.  She … she is heartless.  Merciless.  Of course you’re not her.”  Kara rubbed her finger across Sam’s knuckles, then caught her gaze.  “Kiss me.”  Sam immediately did as she was told.  She leaned down slowly, careful not to hurt Kara, and captured her lips softly in her own.  The kiss was a very still one, and they simply breathed each other in.  Suddenly Sam felt grounded again, like for the first time all day she didn’t have to worry about everything falling out from beneath her feet.

Sam pulled away less than an inch, her eyes on Kara’s lips.  Not daring to look up at her eyes yet.  “I …  Kara, be my girlfriend.  Please?”  She registered the movement of Kara’s face as she kissed Sam again, just a peck.  Then she glanced up at Kara’s eyes.  There was mirth and love and passion in equal parts dancing around behind them.

“I thought you’d never ask.”  She grinned wryly.

Sam’s heart fluttered.  She felt her lips break into a wide smile.  “Is that a yes?”

Kara rolled her eyes, and that was all the answer Sam needed.  “When I can get out of this bed, we need to tell Ruby.”

“We will.  I think it should be all three of us, though.  Does that make sense to you?”

“Yeah, that feels right.  I know you need to head out soon, but I’ll talk to Lena about it today.  She can text you after we’ve talked.”

Sam felt as though a massive weight had lifted from her shoulders.  Then she winced as she remembered.  “Umm … Kara?

“Yes?”  There was a hint of concern in her voice.

“I … may have told your sister that I love you before I told you.  Don’t be mad at me?”  Kara immediately laughed, then groaned. 

“Sam!  You can’t make me laugh right now; my ribs haven’t healed.”  She caught her breath, still grimacing a bit at the pain.  “Are you okay?  She didn’t threaten you again, did she?”

Sam snorted.  “No.  This was after she told me I wasn’t Reign.  I was kind of a mess, and she was really good to me.  It just sort of slipped out as I cried all over her.”

“That sounds very girlfriendy, Samantha.  Someone got ahead of herself.”  Sam felt her whole face light up at Kara’s joke.  She really was going to be okay.  Sam kissed her again, this time cautiously slipping in some tongue.  As she pulled away, she and Kara shared a goofy look. 

“Thank you for being okay.  I’d echo what Lena said, but I know you have to do your hero thing.  It’s what I signed up for when I asked you to be my girlfriend.”

“Oh, you mean like a minute and a half ago?”

“Yeah, that time.”

“Oh, okay.”  Kara stuck out her tongue, and now Sam’s face was beginning to hurt from all the smiling.

“I’ve gotta go, but I’ll try to come back later tonight, after dinner.  I can trust Ruby home alone for a couple of hours.”  She traced patterns on Kara’s forearms.

“What are you going to tell her?”

“I already told her that Lena was poisoned, so I’ll probably just tell Ruby I’m visiting her.”  She hated lying to her daughter, but Supergirl wasn’t her secret to share.

As if she could read the conflict on Sam’s face, Kara said, “Someday.  Someday we’ll figure out how to tell her that I’m Supergirl.  I can’t promise it’ll be soon, but I promise that we’ll keep talking about it going forward, okay?  It’s just … she’s a teenager, and even the best of them aren’t particularly trustworthy.”

“Jesus, Kara, you don’t have to tell me that.  I’m the one living with one full-time.  I get it.  I don’t blame you, and I would never ask you to expose yourself.  But sure, we can talk about it.”  She smirked.  “Girlfriend.

She stood and looked down at Kara mischievously.  “Now, I have to go.  You heal up, because there are certain—” she leered very intentionally at Kara’s body, eyes tracing her from foot to head, “—things I would like to do to your body very soon.”  She couldn’t resist a little flourish.  Sam winked at Kara, then turned and walked out of the room without another word.  Always leave them wanting more.

                                                  

When Lena returned to Kara’s room, she felt as though she was a different person than when she left it.  She and Alex had engaged in a very thorough discussion about Sam, and it had taken Lena quite a while to accept that her oldest friend was not, in fact, the monster who had nearly killed her partner.  Too much evidence added up to that conclusion.

Sam’s past had always been mysterious.  She never got sick, not as long as Lena had known her.  Then she discovered she was an alien.  She had regular nightmares involving Kryptonese and dark cloaked figures.  Blackouts, time missing that she couldn’t explain.  And the most recent such blackout had perfectly coincided with the battle between Reign and Supergirl.  Even their appearances were similar.  Same height and build at least.  Between the mask, heavy makeup, and red eyes, it was hard to say conclusively that they were the same.  Nevertheless, how many coincidences had to add up before she had no choice but to jump to the only logical conclusion?

The only glaring hole in the theory was Sam’s lack of powers.  But if Sam was Reign, it was clear to Lena that Reign was some sort of other personality.  Maybe even some sort of parasite.  Maybe the powers only activated with the change in personality.  These were the thoughts that had spun through Lena Luthor’s mind as she had sat in silence by Kara’s comatose body.

Then Alex had told her it was physically impossible.  And Lena could tell from Alex’s body language earlier that she harboured the same suspicions as Lena.  She believed Alex would not be easily won over, and while Lena was a scientist in addition to an engineer and businesswoman, she had no training in biology or medicine.  She trusted Alex’s expertise.  Despite the dark voice in the back of her mind whispering that there were too many coincidences, Lena chose to hope for the best for Sam.  She was family, after all.

There were still a lot of unsolved questions about Sam, but she and Kara and Sam would figure them out together.  Kara was alive, and Sam was not possessed by a violent alien murderer.  Hence the lighter spirit she took into Kara’s room after Sam left the DEO with Kaziah.

“Hey there, beautiful.”  Kara smiled up at her but didn’t move her head.  She only flexed her fingers to indicate that she wanted to hold Lena’s hand.  Lena sat down beside her and intertwined their fingers.  “How is my foolish hero feeling?”

Kara pouted, but Lena just raised her eyebrows in response.  The question stood.  Kara debated putting on a brave face, then she sighed and looked sadly at Lena.  “I’ve never felt like this before, Lena.  It feels like everything hurts.  How do humans live with such frailty?”

“We run away from fights when we know we’re beaten, for starters.”  Lena couldn’t keep the anger out of her voice. 

“I get it, you’re pissed that I didn’t try to escape.  For the record … I did try once.  But—” she squeezed Lena’s hand tightly, “—I survived.  I’m here. You haven’t lost me.”

Lena’s eyes flashed with frustration and fear.  “You have no idea how I felt.  I woke up, and they were operating on you.  On Supergirl.  I didn’t even think that was possible.  I’d never even considered that it might be necessary.  You’re supposed to be indestructible.”  Lena’s voice broke, and she struggled to hold back tears.  “I’ve never worried too much about all the danger you place yourself in, because you’re supposed to be unbreakable.  It broke me to see you like that.  Unconscious on the surgeon’s table while they sewed up your head and operated on your arm.  I completely fell to pieces, Kara.”

Kara released her hand and reached up to stroke Lena’s tightly set jawline.  “Creampuff, I came back to you.  I’m so so sorry.  But I came back.”  She smiled softly.  “You want to know how Kaziah helped me?”

Lena took Kara’s hand back in her own, kissed it, then placed it back down on the bed, where she continued to hold it tightly.  “Sure, love.”

“I was torn between my two selves.  Kara Danvers and Supergirl.  In some ways, I always have been, but something fractured when Reign beat me.  I think it was because of what Alex told me before I flew off.  She told me I had to be Supergirl.  Purely, coldly Kryptonian.  If I wanted to have a chance against Reign.  She was wrong.”  A deep sorrowful look flashed across Kara’s face, but it passed quickly.  “Anyway, I ended up in a dreamlike version of the loft, but only one half was the loft.  The other half was my bedroom on Krypton.  I didn’t even notice anything was off until Kaziah pointed it out.”

“So, you couldn’t wake up because the two sides of you were in conflict?”

“I don’t know.  Maybe.  Something like that.  But that’s something I’ve gotta figure out for myself, and it’ll probably take time.  What I realized in there, what got me out, was that neither place was home.  Not really.”  Kara’s blue eyes sparkled as she gazed lovingly at Lena.  “You’re my home, Lena.  You’re the reason I came back.”

This time Lena could not stop the warm tears from coming.  She leaned over and kissed Kara as passionately as she dared, concerned about reopening her head wound.  “I love you, Kara Zor-El.  You’re my home, too.”  She kissed Kara again, suddenly incapable of getting enough.  She needed Kara’s lips on her, the taste of her lips and mouth, the feel of their breath flowing in and out of each other.  The feeling of home.

Lena couldn’t say how long they stayed like that, locked into each other and completely oblivious to anything else.  As she pulled away, Lena finally breathed out the rest of the tension she was holding.  “Lena?  There’s something else we should talk about.”  One look at Kara, and Lena was sure it was about Sam.  She wondered whether Kara saw the face of her lover in the features of the woman who beat her half to death.  Except that the look on Kara’s face was a happy one.

“What is it, darling?”

“She’s … my girlfriend?”  Kara was clearly nervous to see how Lena would react, which Lena found ridiculous, frankly.  She had been on board and supportive of Kara and Sam’s relationship from the beginning, and she always knew that their relationship would become more official eventually.  Honestly, Lena was surprised it took this long.  But that didn’t mean she wasn’t concerned.  That nagging voice in the back of her head was quiet, but it hadn’t left.

“Did she …  Kara, did she talk to you about what happened to her last night?”  She tried to phrase it as a question, not an accusation.

“You don’t really think Sam could be Reign, do you?  It’s Sam.”  She knew exactly what Kara meant.  The Sam she knew could never do these things, even with powers.  But she was pretty sure Sam had no say in the matter, if she was Reign.

“I … am trying extremely hard not to think that.  If not for Alex’s conclusions about her bloodwork, I would find it nearly impossible to believe that Sam wasn’t Reign.  Same height and build.  A mysterious Kryptonian past.  The blackout last night that perfectly corresponded with the timing of Edge’s murder and your battle.  A history of blackouts that roughly correspond with the period of time Reign has been murdering criminals.”  She didn’t think Kara had really thought about all of the evidence, and sure enough, her face clouded over.

Lena continued, “It’s … a lot, Kara.  A lot of coincidences, and if she isn’t Reign, we still don’t have any explanation for what she’s going through.  Or even what she is.  I trust Alex.  Trust the science.  But I cannot pretend that there isn’t a voice in the back of my mind that won’t stop asking the question.”

“Lena, she’s not capable of it.”

Lena’s heart filled with compassion and appreciation for Kara’s belief in Sam.  “Believe me, I know.  You forget, I’ve known her a lot longer than you.  Of course Sam isn’t capable of this.”

“You think someone is controlling her?  Or … that Reign is a separate personality?”  Lena nodded.

“But like I said, I trust Alex’s conclusions.  Still … until all of this Reign stuff blows over, until we stop her, I won’t be able to silence that voice.”  She stroked Kara’s hair.  “But I genuinely hope there’s a completely unrelated explanation for the odd goings on with Sam.  I am terribly happy for you both.  I can’t believe you were nervous about telling me.”  

“I know you love her.  Please, trust that you know her.  And if somehow Alex is wrong …  We have to save her, Lena.  We have to.”  Kara’s face was pure Supergirl in that moment.  Lena nodded.  She would try her damnedest.  “When I’m healed up, she wants to tell Ruby.  All three of us.”

That made sense.  She wondered how Ruby would take it.  The girl had always been curious and open-minded.  This might not phase her in the least.  But it was important she saw that all three of them had entered into this consensually and that they were all happy.  “Of course.  I’ll let Sam know that I’m in.  You just focus on getting healthy.”

“I’ll try.  Hey, Lena?”

“Yes, Kara?”

“What is Alex doing?”  Kara sounded as though she had already guessed, but Lena wanted to downplay it as much as possible.  She knew Kara would feel a responsibility to help.

“She and J’onn are thinking out contingency plans on how to handle Reign.  They’re looking at all options.  They’ve been in touch with your cousin as well.  But do not worry about it right now.”  Lena fixed Kara with her sternest look.  “Your back should keep you in that bed for another day at least, I would guess, but I won’t have you making your injuries worse by doing something foolish again before the lamps are done restoring you.”

Conflict raged behind Kara’s eyes, and then she tested her ability to pull her body up into a seated position.  She immediately gasped in pain and gave up.  Lena frowned at her.  “Okay.  You’re right.  I can’t help, even if I want to.  But I want to talk to her.  Can you go see if she might have some time to talk?” 

“I’ll see what I can do.  The medics are nearby, just shout if you need anything.”  She kissed Kara softly.  “I love you, darling.”

“I love you, too.”

Chapter Text

Chapter 22

Kara had fallen asleep again, so Lena had gone to find Alex and see how things were going in their plans for Reign.  She glanced at her watch and realized she hadn’t eaten anything since the breakfast tacos Alex brought her.  She found Winn before she found Alex, so she asked him, “Hey, what’s a girl gotta do to get some dinner around here?”

Winn glanced around, then at the clock on his computer screen, and offered, “I’ve got some time; wanna run down to the food court on the ground floor of the building?”  Lena nodded.  On the way, they discussed the DEO’s plans for Reign. 

“How are the anti-Reign contingencies developing?”  She had trouble imaging what the DEO could do if Supergirl was no match for the Worldkiller.

“J’onn’s enacting something he’s calling the ‘Sundown Protocol.’  Apparently, he had a super secret DEO contingency plan in place in case Superman ever got tired of the whole good guy routine.  Crazy right?”

Lena didn’t think it was crazy at all, but she had a fairly conflicted history with the Man of Steel.  Sure, she had basically saved his life when Lex nearly killed him, but he had never really let go of his prejudices against her last name.  He had never displayed anything but begrudging respect for her place in Kara’s life.  And she didn’t quite trust his holier than thou mindset or the speed with which he jumped to very black and white conclusions.  She could understand why J’onn wanted a contingency plan in place.  “It doesn’t hurt to be prepared.  And it isn’t as if this is the first time a new Kryptonian has popped up on Earth threatening violence.”

“I guess that’s a fair point.”  Lena knew about Winn’s crush on Superman, but now wasn’t the time to tease him about it.  “Anyway, we’ve got an arsenal of red sun grenades, sound bombs, kryptonite darts, and more … the problem is that there isn’t enough kryptonite to go around.”

“Why not?”  If the DEO couldn’t be trusted to keep the world’s kryptonite storage safe, then who could?

“Superman took it all.”  Of course, he did.  Wynn saw the look on Lena’s face, so he explained further.  “He used to work with the DEO, I guess early on after J’onn, you know, stole Hank Henshaw’s identity, but they had a falling out over a giant deposit of kryptonite in a meteor that crashed out in the desert.  Supes had been destroying any kryptonite he found on Earth, but J’onn wanted to hold onto it.  At the time, General Zod had already proven to be a threat, and J’onn worried about other Kryptonians popping up.  But Superman didn’t trust it in the hands of the government.”

Lena could understand that, at least, but destroying the kryptonite obviously wasn’t the answer either.  She started formulating some ideas of her and filed the thought away for later consideration.  Winn continued, “Your mom stole a chunk of kryptonite two summers ago and used it to create Metallo.  After that, J’onn and Superman reconciled, and he agreed to turn over the DEO’s stores to Superman.  I never heard what Superman did with it, but apparently he destroyed it.”  While talking, Winn followed Lena to the sushi place where she bought her dinner. 

As they walked from the sushi place, Lena said softly, “I might have a solution to that particular problem.  As I’m sure you can guess, Lex went to great lengths to gather as much kryptonite as he could find.  I was able to track down nearly all of his known stores and keep them out of the hands of my mother.  That’s probably why Cadmus had to steal from the DEO.”

“So … you’ve got a secret store of the only material in the galaxy that can kill your girlfriend?”  Winn was shocked; she could read it all over his face. 

“Yes well, can you imagine anyone better suited to safekeep it than someone who would literally die before letting harm come to Kara?”  Winn seemed to soften at that point.  They waited to pick the conversation back up until after Winn bought some Chinese food.  They sat at a small table away from the center of the food court, where no one could listen in.

“I’m telling you about it now, but I trust you can keep this a secret until I’ve had an opportunity to discuss it with Kara.  Please, Winn?” 

“I will, but that conversation needs to happen like right after we eat our food, okay?  I trust you will do the right thing here, and I don’t have to tell you how fucking dangerous Reign is.” 

“You certainly do not.  I’d rather not go through an emotional wringer like the past day ever again, thank you very much.  For the record, I was also able to recover some kryptonite from a few of the crashed Daxamite ships.”

She did not disclose that her team found more than just green kryptonite among those ships.  There were multiple chunks of raw kryptonite, yes.  But the Daxamites had also developed a wide array of kryptonite-based weapons—daggers, swords, a couple of spears, and twenty grenades that released aerosolized kryptonite gas.  There were also multiple shards of synthetic red and silver kryptonite.  Lena had these all locked away in the most secure and secret place she could possibly devise.  Only she had access, and she had been working on her own to study the kryptonite and understand its bizarre properties, especially the synthetic colours.

“My stores should be more than enough to build any anti-Reign weapo—” She was cut off by a quiet alarm tone from Winn’s phone.  He looked down at it, whispered, “shit,” and then pulled Lena up to rush over to the nearest television screen.  Reign’s face filled the screen, and they had clearly walked up in the middle of a soliloquy. 

“… baffles me how you humans have allowed the worst of your kind so much free rein to act on their worst natures.  How you coddle violence and hatred and oppression.”  The camera pulled away, and Lena could see a badly beaten man at Reign’s feet.  It looked like she had broken into a news station and forced them to broadcast her message to the city.  “You look away while evil men rape, torture, murder … your society grows fat on the greed of the corrupt.  This apathy will no longer be tolerated.”

Behind the mask, Reign’s face tightened into an expression of righteous disdain.  “So far, I have gone after only the worst of you.  The unpunished criminals whose violence forfeited their lives.  This will continue, but there will no longer be any mercy for those who seek to interfere.  Supergirl and I could have been allies, but her pride was too great.  Now she is dead.  There can be no mercy for those who look away or enable injustice.  I will purge this world of evil.  I will bring justice.  I am here to help.”

In a gruesome act of violence of her own, Reign burned away the man’s skull with her heat vision, then glared directly at the camera for a brief moment before flying away.  She’s declaring a war on crime in National City.  And corruption, whatever she means by that.  Lena couldn’t help but admit that Reign’s goals resonated with her on some level.  But her means went too far.  She was a cold-hearted murderer, whatever lofty ideals she held.  And she had nearly killed Kara.  Something Lena could never forgive.

                                                  

By the time they got back up to the DEO, Lena found Kara awake again, with Maggie and Alex talking her down from trying to get out of bed.  Lena reacted immediately.  “Kara Zor-El Danvers if I catch you out of bed, I will kill you myself!”

Kara’s eyes grew wide as she registered Lena’s presence, and she settled back into her bed.  Maggie smirked and shot Lena a congratulatory wink.  “Damn, Li’l Luthor, you’ve got it on lock.” 

“You’re goddamn right, I do.”  She came to a halt beside Kara and stared her down. 

However, Kara was nothing if not persistent.  “Lena, did you see?”  Lena nodded.  “She’s out there.  She’s dangerous.  And she’s expanding her range of targets.  I can’t just sit here.”

“That is exactly what you’re going to do.”  She looked up at Alex and Maggie, who were both enjoying the show.  “Can I have a minute with the stubborn Kryptonian, please?”

“Don’t go too hard on her,” Alex chided.  “She’s still healing.”  They walked away, Maggie saying something that caused Alex to chuckle.  Lena pulled up a chair and turned back to Kara, face making it clear that she was deadly serious.

“A dead Supergirl won’t help anyone.  Can you even walk yet?”  From Kara’s face, it was immediately obvious that the Kryptonian had no idea.  “Exactly.  I know you want to help, but for now, you have to trust J’onn and the DEO to contain Reign.  They’re working on a plan, that I’m probably going to help with.”  Now it was Kara’s turn to be concerned.

“Help in what way?”

“That’s what I need to discuss with you, darling.”  Lena took Kara’s hand.  “Winn explained that Superman destroyed all the kryptonite the DEO had.  Kryptonite that could’ve be useful against a rogue Kryptonian Worldkiller.”

Kara interrupted her.  “You’ve got some, don’t you?”

“Of course, I do.  One of my first actions as interim CEO was to track down every single cache of kryptonite Lex had and secure it.  It is safe.  And I will make it available to the DEO, if you think that is a good idea.”  Kara’s face was difficult to read, even for Lena.  She traced Kara’s knuckles softly with her thumb. 

“Why didn’t you tell me?”

Lena gave the question some thought rather than spitting out her first thought.  “When should I have told you?”  Kara frowned.  “Kara, it just hasn’t come up.  This is the first time that the subject has ever been relevant.  You know I wouldn’t hide this from you.”

Kara swallowed.  “Yeah, I do.  Sorry.  Kryptonite is a sore subject.”

“That’s why I wanted to talk to you.  I think that it is safest with me.  Superman will destroy it if he gets it, and if he knows I have it, that will only make him hate me more.”  Kara opened her mouth to argue, but Lena cut her off with a look.  “Fine!  Not hate.  But he already doesn’t think I’m worthy of you, and this will only convince him further.  He’s sees the world as black and white.  Please, love, we cannot tell him.”  Kara gave no answer, but Lena could tell from her facial expression that she wouldn’t fight her on this.  “As for the DEO, how do you think they will react when I tell them I have kryptonite?”

Kara gave it some thought.  “Alex is gonna be made at you, but she trusts you.  J’onn  … I can’t really say.  He may want to take it off your hands.”

“I won’t allow that.”  Lena was emphatic.  “And I need you to back me up on that, darling.  I don’t trust the government with the only thing in the world—other than Reign, I guess—that can kill you.” 

“I agree.”  Kara looked worried.  “I never told you, but the president ordered the Daxamite ship destroyed before I could get there to save you.”  Kara’s hand tightened on Lena’s.  “I was able to get you out in time, and then Kal destroyed the cannon while he was under the influence of silver kryptonite, but … I’ll never quite trust the governments of Earth again.  President Marsdin is someone I admire and like tremendously, but I believe she made the wrong call in that moment.  We’re together on this.  The kryptonite is safest with you.”

Lena breathed a sigh of relief.  She believed firmly that she was right, but she had feared she might have to fight Kara on this point.  It was soothing to know that they were on the same page.  “Okay.  I’ll go get Alex and J’onn, and we can all talk about it in here—are you up for it?”

“I can handle it, Lena.  Thanks for looking out for me.”  Lena texted Alex.

[6:03 p.m.]   I can help you with your anti-Reign countermeasures.  Please grab J’onn and meet Kara and me in her room.

It took maybe five minutes for Alex and J’onn to show up, both looking equal parts concerned and confused.  “You rang?” Alex asked sardonically.

“Indeed I did, Agent Danvers.  I hear that you lot could use some kryptonite right about now.”  J’onn was as stoic as ever, but Alex immediately glared daggers at Lena.  Lena met her glare with a warm smile.  “Now, Alex,” she chided, “Before you yell at me, yes, I have kryptonite, and no, I won’t tell you where it.  It is safe.  Supergirl trusts that it is safe, and that should be the final word on the topic.  That said, I will provide the DEO with all the kryptonite it needs to fight Reign.”

“I’m sorry, that was supposed to make me not yell at you?”  Lena knew she was playing a dangerous game with Kara too injured to protect her from Alex’s … exuberance. 

“Alex, calm down.  Ms. Luthor is offering us help.”  Lena could tell there was more going on in J’onn’s head, but she was glad for his support.

“I do have a few stipulations about the use of my kryptonite.  First, any kryptonite that is not destroyed will be returned to me after the threat from Reign has passed.  As much as I trust you and Lucy, and the current leadership of the DEO, I don’t feel comfortable with any government entity possessing a material whose sole purpose is harming Kara and those like her.  This is a temporary loan, and Supergirl will ensure that any remaining kryptonite is returned to me.”  Lena glanced over, and Kara nodded emphatically.  It was more golden retriever than attack dog, but it was also really cute, so Lena couldn’t complain.

Alex had long since learned that arguing was pointless when Lena and Kara presented a unified front, so she just sighed in frustration and snapped, “Fine.  How quickly can you get it to us.”

“Do you need it tonight?  If it can wait until tomorrow, I can better arrange for a safe transfer by people I trust, but if you need to start getting outfitted before then, I’ll see what I can do.”

“We don’t have any imminent plans yet, but we are working through a plan for a trap I intend to set for Reign tomorrow.  I’m no Supergirl, but I can hold my own against Kryptonians, and if all else failed—” he shimmered with a red light, “—she can’t harm what she can’t touch.”  He smiled lightly at Lena.  “Tomorrow works.  And I trust you would be willing to consult with us on developing the best ways to weaponize kryptonite against Reign.”

“You’re goddamn right, I will.  That bitch hurt my Kara.”  Lena hadn’t meant for her voice to be so … fierce, but it just sort of came out.  She wouldn’t let anyone hurt Kara.  Not again.  Lena got up and followed them out, turning to give Kara a look that made it clear she’d be right back.  “Hey, Alex, can I talk to you for just a second?”

Alex waited up while J’onn kept walking.  Lena wasn't quite sure how to say what she needed to say.  “I …”  She could feel her eyes watering as she tried to compose her feelings.  “I know that you’re sure Sam isn’t Reign.  But.  When you go after her … please don’t kill her.  Not unless you have no other choice.  If there’s even the tiniest chance that my friend is hidden away in there…  I can’t lose her.  Kara can’t lose her.  Please, Alex.”

They held each other’s gaze for a solid minute.  But Alex nodded, then after thinking about it for a couple of seconds, moved in to hug Lena.  “I really don’t think it’s her.  But I get why you’re worried.  I promise.  We’ll do what we can to take her in alive.”  Lena breathed a sigh of relief, not realizing how much tension she had been carrying. 

“Thank you.  Is there somewhere I can sleep here tonight?  The chairs in Kara’s room aren’t exactly the comfiest.”  Alex chuckled.

“Yeah, give me some time, and I’ll come find you.” 

“Thank you, Alex.  For everything.”

“That’s what family is for.”  Alex turned and walked away as Lena’s entire heart melted in her chest.  Family.  She smiled brightly and wiped the tears from her eyes, then headed back to see Kara.

                                                  

As the team returned from their encounter with Reign, Lena could tell Reign had beaten them again.  Several agents were injured, including Alex.  She had an arm around J’onn, who was supporting her so that she didn’t put any weight on her right leg.  Her short purple hair was askew, and she kept trying to get it out of her face.  Lena couldn’t help but notice that she seemed more annoyed by the hair than the leg.  “Alex!  Alex!  What happened?  Are you okay?”  She chased along the party as medics and doctors rushed forward to take the injured to surgery, as necessary. 

“It all went to shit, Lena.”  A doctor came by and helped Alex onto a gurney.  Lena followed along with J’onn as the doctor took Alex for x-rays.  Lena was afraid to speak.  J’onn looked as defeated as she had ever seen him.  Alex, on the other hand, looked at though she might throw her gurney against the wall.  She was barely containing her anger.  They waited a few minutes, then the doctor came back with the scans.

“Agent Danvers, your tibia is more or less snapped in half.  We’ll need to get you to surgery right away.”

“What’s the recovery time?”  Alex’s voice was tense.

“At best, you’re looking at three months.  Could be as many as six.”

Alex slammed her fist against the gurney.  “Fuck that! Lena, you can get me some fancy L-Corp robot whatever that will have my leg good to go in the next few days, right?”  Lena considered it.  L-Corp had long since scrapped Lex’s old weapons programs, but they had been making advances in robotics and medical technology.  As CEO, she wasn’t sure what all was being created off the top of her head, but she was sure they had something that could help.

“I’ll look into it.  I’m almost certain I can help.  But in the meantime, you should absolutely have surgery.  Anything L-Corp has is likely more of an external fix.”  She placed a hand on Alex’s shoulder, worried about how much pain she must be in just then.  Alex simply nodded, and after confirmation with J’onn, the doctor and a medic took Alex away to prep her for surgery.

Lena turned to J’onn.  “What happened?  I thought we were prepared for her?”  J’onn blew out a frustrated breath and led her out of the examination room.  Lena had gotten the DEO the kryptonite as promised, and they had spent the majority of the day putting together what should have been an overkill arsenal for taking down a Kryptonian.  She gave Alex a pair of Kryptonite swords, and the other agents were outfitted with kryptonite dart guns and a couple of aerosol grenades each.  Lena didn’t fully understand all the powers that J’onn’s Martian DNA granted him, but she had been led to believe they were extensive.  She couldn’t fathom how the team had returned looking this demoralized and defeated.

“This Worldkiller is more than Kryptonian, it would seem.  She shrugged off the sound bombs and kryptonite like it was nothing. Alex did some damage with those kryptonite swords you loaned us, but the wounds barely seemed to phase Reign.  And it cost Alex her leg.”  He paused, clearly feeling that he had failed in his self-appointed role as Alex’s protector.  “Supergirl and Superman would have been completely incapacitated by what we threw at her.  I’m honestly terrified that we don’t stand a chance here.”  J’onn’s usually gruff voice was uncharacteristically weak.  He usually held his human form while working in the DEO, but it appeared he couldn’t even be bothered with it right now.  Everything about his body language spoke to a man at the end of his rope.

Lena was unaccustomed to feeling terror but hearing J’onn admit his own fears filled her veins with ice.  And not the empowering Luthor ice she was familiar with.  “The other agents were able to get Alex away from her, while I fought her one on one.  I managed to avoid her blows by allowing her attacks to phase through me, but I wasn’t fast enough to land any of my own, once she had a chance to analyze my tactics.  We only survived because you had the foresight to create a concentrated liquid form of kryptonite.  I used my invisibility to catch her by surprise and inject it directly into her jugular.”

She was almost scared to ask.  “What happened to her?”

“I’m certain that if I injected that much kryptonite into any normal Kryptonian’s bloodstream, it would kill them in minutes.  With Reign, it incapacitated her for mere moments.  But it hurt her enough that she fled.  At best, I think we’ve earned ourselves a few days to regroup and recover.” 

Lena considered the implications of J’onn’s words.  We’re all fucking screwed.  ”Okay, I’m going to go update Kara.  If I have your approval, I’d like to conduct some more intensive research into the kryptonite, to see if I can modify it in a way that will be more effective against Reign.  I’d like to also work with Winn to improve his anti-kryptonite gear for Kara.” 

“That makes sense to me.  I’ll inform Agent Schott.”  It meant a lot to Lena how much J’onn respected her, and her ability to help the DEO in this fight.  She continued holding his gaze, sensing that there was more he wanted to say.  Finally, he broke down and confessed, “The most disorienting part of this is that she tried to reason with us.  Once she realized that we weren’t actually bank robbers—that we had baited her and were prepared for her with anti-Kryptonian weapons—she gave us a chance to leave.  She couldn’t care less about us.  Said we weren’t a part of her mission.  But if we stood against her, she would show no mercy.”

J’onn’s fully red eyes were more expressive than she would have assumed.  She could see his fear, along with a healthy amount of conflict.  Reign was unlike anything he had ever faced before.  Lena couldn’t really think of an appropriate response, but she didn’t think that was the point.  J’onn simply needed someone to whom he could confess his fears and concerns, so that he could go on being the steadfast leader they all needed right now.  Lena was happy to provide him what he needed.

“After I talk to Kara, I’ll head to L-Corp and see what we’ve got that can help Alex improve her recovery time.  I have a feeling you’ll be needing your best agent in the fight to come.”  Lena made a mental note to call Maggie as soon as she was done talking to Kara.

“You’re welcome to return here to sleep for the night, Ms. Luthor, if you want to stay near Kara.  I expect she should be up and about by morning.  In fact, if I had to guess, I would expect that you will have trouble keeping her in her bed once you tell her about Alex’s injury.”

“You leave that to me.”  J’onn smiled warmly at her.

“You are a strong person, Ms. Luthor.  Kara is lucky to have you.  And as much as things seem bleak right now, I feel more confident knowing we have you on our side.  You’ve been an invaluable ally to the DEO.”  They exchanged a brief, and only slightly awkward, hug. 

“Take care of yourself, J’onn J’onzz.  We’ll get through this.”  

“Indeed we will.  Goodnight, Ms. Luthor.”

Chapter Text

Chapter 23

Kara was glad to finally be free of that bed.  The first thing she had done when she was able was shoot straight up into the sky until she could see nothing but clouds beneath her.  She had needed that moment to just leave everything behind and get away from the incredible stress of the past three days.

Of course, she couldn’t avoid the stress for long.  None of them could.  Kara looked over at Lena.  They had just parked in Sam’s driveway, but they both needed a quiet moment to prepare themselves.  Sam had invited them for dinner, but the true purpose of the evening was to tell Ruby that Sam and Kara were in a relationship.  Kara’s nerves were on fire as her brain imagined all the ways things could go wrong tonight, but she suspected tonight was a welcome distraction for Lena.

Cadmus had dropped their first video since the Daxamite invasion early that day.  As it turns out, having a nearly all-powerful alien flying around murdering people was a pretty good propaganda tool for an anti-alien terrorist group.  Cadmus painted Reign’s targets, the literal scum of the Earth, as the tragic victims of anti-human violence.  Nevermind that a few of Reign’s victims were not human.  To top it all off, Morgan Edge was the poster child of the video, which ended with a call to arms for all humans who wanted to take a stand against “the tyranny of the alien invaders.”  When it rains, it pours.

Lena reached over and kissed Kara lightly on the lips.  “Good luck,” she offered, only half joking.  When they rang the doorbell, it was Ruby who answered.

“Hey Lena!” she exclaimed as she hugged Lena.  Kara received a similar greeting.  “Mom’s in the kitchen.”  The followed her inside. 

“Hey cuties!  We’ve got probably thirty minutes until the tenderloin is ready, and I just put the diced sweet potatoes in the oven.  Pour some wine, and we’ll hang out in the living room.”  She eyed Ruby.  “How’s that homework coming?”

Ruby groaned.  “It’s all finished.  Except for geometry, but that’s easy.  I’ll knock it out after dinner.  I want to hang out with Lena and Kara.”  Kara’s stomach fluttered a little—she hadn’t realized that Ruby liked her all that much.

Coming around from the kitchen, a glass of wine in hand, Sam glanced from Lena to Kara, her eyebrows raised in question.  Kara nodded once, too nervous to muster any further movement of her head.  Sam turned her gaze back to Ruby.  “Well that’s fortunate, since the three of us were hoping to chat with you about something.”

Sam joined Kara and Lena on the couch, sitting on Kara’s right.  She and Kara exchanged a look, neither of them quite sure where to start.  Ruby looked at her mom with a look of utter confusion.  A full minute of awkward silence passed, and then Kara heard a derisive snort from her left.

“What your mother and Kara are clearly too ridiculous to just say is that they are dating.  Each other.”  Ruby’s eyes grew wider.  Lena turned to Sam and Kara and scolded, “There, I broke the ice.  Will you both chill out and stop being massive weirdos, please?”

Sam grinned wryly back at Lena.  “Thanks, jerk.”  She focused on Ruby and cleared her throat.  “Yeah so… like Lena stated oh so eloquently, Kara and I—”

Kara jumped in, exclaiming excitedly, “We’re girlfriends!” as she intertwined her fingers with Sam’s.  Sam smiled at her impulsiveness, and Lena chuckled. 

Ruby’s voice was soft, at first.  “But … what about you and Lena?”  Kara grinned, and took Lena’s hand into her left.

“We’re girlfriends, too!”  She glanced at Lena, who simply shook her head in faux exasperation.  Kara hoped she wasn’t making things even more awkward, but she couldn’t think of a better way to approach this.  She loved these women, and she didn’t see the point in tempering that to ease Ruby into it or some such.  It was important that she saw this as normal and happy and good.

“Okay?  So … what you guys are like a throuple now?”  What the heck is a throuple?  She looked to Sam for clarification and was met with an openly mocking grin.  Instantly, Kara’s eyes narrowed, and her nose crinkled.

“Sam!  Don’t make fun of me.”  She turned back to Ruby.  “What’s a throuple?”

“Oh, it’s like a couple, but three people.”  Kara laughed at herself.

“Duh, because of course it is.  Sorry, that’s kinda obvious, huh?”  Ruby joined in her laughter.  

Sam explained, “Ruby, we’re not a throuple.  Although, I think the technical term for what you’re describing is a triad.”  She took a sip of wine, and Kara tried not to think too hard about how sexy it was when Sam explained things.  “I’m with Kara, and Kara is with Lena, but Lena and I are friends, the same as we’ve always been.  Does that make sense?”

“Yeah, sure, I guess.”  Ruby grinned mischievously and muttered under her breath, “I don’t know why you wouldn’t wanna date Lena though.”  Kara could feel her eyes widen in surprise, and Lena nearly choked on her wine. 

Feeling impulsive, Kara leaned in conspiratorially and whispered, “I know, right?”  That earned her a wide smile from the teen.

Sam cleared her throat again, eager to move the conversation back in a slightly more comfortable direction.  “Honey, I just want you to know that this doesn’t change anything.  Lena and I are still best friends, and Lena and Kara still live together and love each other very much.  The only difference will be that Kara might be around more often, sometimes without Lena.  And sometimes I might need to call Mrs. Queller on nights when Kara and I wanna go out on a date—”

“Why can’t I just hang out with Lena when you and Kara go out?”  She smiled expectantly in Lena’s direction, but then her face clouded.  “Wait a sec …  I knew it!  That time you hung out with Kara—you said it wasn’t a date!”  Sam winced, and Kara and Lena both laughed jovially. 

Sam glared at them, then said, “I’m sorry, Rubes.  That was our first date, and we weren’t necessarily sure how things were going to go.  I didn’t want to tell you until I was sure there was something to tell.  Does that make sense?”

“Yeah, but I’m just saying, you’re a bad liar.  I knew something was going on the whole time.”  Kara found Ruby’s self-satisfied tone pretty endearing, actually.

“This is what you get for raising your daughter to be perceptive, open-minded, and inquisitive, darling.”  Lena couldn’t resist teasing Sam.  As the two of them traded playful barbs, all Kara could think of was how comfortable this all felt.  How right.  She prayed a silent thanks to Rao.  This was exactly the sort of normalcy that they all needed right now, even if it was only a brief respite before they had to face Reign, Cadmus, and the rest of the world again. 

Kara was brought out of her reverie when Sam asked Ruby, “Do you have any questions for us?”  She had considered several potential questions that Ruby might ask while she was preparing for this conversation—Isn’t this just cheating?  Is Lena really okay with it?  But who will get married to whom?  Etc.  You know, the basics.  Heck, she had even prepared for something along the lines of ‘are you going to adopt me?’  (The answer was no, Kara absolutely wasn’t prepared for that.)  But the only question Ruby had for them completely took Kara by surprise.

“Are you out about this?  I mean … if I’m talking about Kara in conversation with a friend, can I call her your girlfriend?”  Even though she was baffled, Kara smiled brightly.  Ruby had skipped right past all of the uncomfortable ‘ew what even is poly?’ sort of questions and jumped right into questions of how she could help support their relationship.  Sam really had raised a good kid, despite her constant complaints that teenagers were all monsters.

“Sweetie, we have nothing to hide.  Just know that some people might think that this is weird or even wrong.  Lena is pretty well known in this city, and people might recognize Kara as her girlfriend. But all you need to worry about is that Kara, Lena, and I are all happy about this.  There is never anything wrong or bad about love, okay?”  Ruby nodded.  “And if anyone bothers you about it, let me know immediately.”

Ruby’s eyes fixed on Kara’s, and her face shifted into an unexpectedly stern expression for a teenager.  She pointed her index finger at Kara dramatically.  “I’m cool with this, but you better not hurt my mom.”  She glanced over at Lena.  “Or Lena!  I’ve known them both longer than you have.  Don’t mess with me.” 

Lena snickered, but Sam was quick to reprimand her daughter.  “Rubes, I love your enthusiasm, and thanks for protecting my honour or whatever, but if you talk to Kara like that again, you’re going to be in trouble.”  Ruby didn’t respond, but she pointed her finger at Kara one last time for emphasis.  “And on that note, I’m going to go check on dinner.”

Before long, they were all seated at the four-person table off to the side from the kitchen.  Kara sat between Lena and Sam, as usual, and across from Ruby.  Dinner was truly excellent, but Kara was so glad that she ate before she came over.  Otherwise, she would’ve definitely been left hungry.  They were all in agreement that Supergirl was too heavy a secret to burden a teenager with.  Not to mention a rabid Supergirl fan like Ruby.

Dinner conversation was lively and comfortable, if skewed a little much in favour of the goings on at Ruby’s high school.  Kara took something of a backseat.  Lena, Sam, and Ruby all got along like they’d been having dinner like this together for years—because they had been.  Kara was the newbie here and was entranced by the interactions among the other three.

Kara was so spellbound that Ruby’s sudden radical shift in conversation topic caught her completely off guard, and she dropped her half-eaten slice of tenderloin back onto her plate.  She must have looked like an idiot right then, with her mouth agape, eyes wide, face red, and only have holding onto the fork in her hand.  Then Sam answered, and Kara was able to slightly recover her composure.

Ruby had asked, in deceptively casual fashion, whether Kara would be sleeping over sometimes now.  Accustomed to Ruby’s subtle method of interrogation, Sam was completely unfazed.  She simply swallowed the food in her mouth, turned to Ruby, and answered, “Maybe. …  Probably.”

            Lena gave Sam and Kara a knowing look, and retorted, “Definitely.”  Kara’s face heated up again.  She and Sam hadn’t discussed this yet.  They hadn’t even had sex yet, though Sam had been dropping entirely unsubtle hints that she would be very unhappy if she had to hold out much longer.  Personally, Kara hadn’t thought far enough ahead to anticipate the question of sleeping arrangements.  She hated the idea of Lena having to sleep alone, but the idea of spending all night sleeping comfortably cuddled in Sam’s arms thrilled her.

Sensing the conflict in Kara’s soul, Lena put a hand on her thigh.  She explained to Ruby, “It isn’t something the three of us have discussed yet.  We’ll talk about it, but between you and me, kiddo, I think it’s a pretty safe bet Kara might be around some mornings.”  Sam smiled and nodded.  Kara was so happy that her girlfriends were so good at soothing her discomfort when she found herself in awkward situations.

My girlfriends. Kara felt her whole body brighten.  She’d had never thought of Lena and Sam collectively as her girlfriends before.  It was wonderful.

Ruby smiled at her.  “Well, whatever you decide, just be sure you bring your phone charger.  I’m not sharing.”  Kara giggled.  A phone charger was not something that would’ve ever occurred to Kara as a potential source of conflict. 

“You’ve got a deal.”  Kara caught Sam smiling widely at her out of the corner of her eye.  This was going to work out just fine.

                                                  

The sun was setting gently over the horizon, but it was still plenty light outside.  Kara checked to be sure Ms. Grant was alone in her office before she dropped down onto the balcony and waited to be noticed.  Ms. Grant’s eyes cut over to the balcony almost immediately, and what followed was the strangest and possibly most beautiful thing Kara had ever seen.  Cat Grant, the self-appointed Queen of All Media—always the epitome of poise and never in a hurry for anyone—literally pranced out to meet her.  She paused right in front of Kara, halting as if considering whether to indulge in a brief moment of sentimentality and emotion, then pulled Kara into a warm embrace.

“I’m so glad you’re okay.”  Kara didn’t know if Ms. Grant would ever stop surprising her, but she kinda hoped not.  Her mentor’s genuine expression of care did more to heal her than both of the days under the sun lamps combined.  As she stepped back a pace from Kara, she cleared her throat and resumed the full presence of the Cat Grant.  Kara couldn’t help but smile knowingly.

“Thank you for covering for me with Snapper.”  Cat had told him that Kara had rushed to the scene of the battle between Supergirl and Reign and had been injured by a flying piece of rubble tossed aside by one or the other of the superpowered aliens. 

“That was nothing.  Believe it or not, I think you actually earned a good deal of respect with him for rushing into the thick of things all to get a story.  Just remember that when you come back to work in the next couple of days, you’ll need to wear a brace or a soft cast or something on your left wrist long enough to sell the cover story.”  Even now, Kara could see the concern hiding behind Ms. Grant’s stoic façade—suddenly Kara felt bad that she hadn’t tried to get in touch with her sooner.

“Ms. Grant, I’m so sorry!  I should have tried to let you know sooner that I was okay.  I mean I was in a coma for most of the first day, but I could’ve at least sent you a text once I woke up.  I didn’t realize you would worry so much.”  Kara tried not to be obvious in her fishing for an admission from Ms. Grant, but as usual, she was not as subtle as she tried to be.

“As if, Supergirl.  You’re too important to this city, and I’ve put too much time into developing your brand, for it to all end in tragedy at the hand of some leather clad murderer in a stylish cape.”  Stylish cape, really?  But Kara could see the glint behind her eye that betrayed the depth of her affection for Kara. 

“Uh huh.  My brand.  That’s definitely why you hugged me just now.  And you know, Ms. Grant, when it’s just the two of us, you can just call me Kara.  I think we’re past pretending like you don’t know.”

Cat rolled her eyes and waved Kara’s suggestion off like it was nonsense.  “I invented that name; I think I’ll use it when I damn well please.  Kara.”  She threw it Kara’s given name with a healthy amount of playful derision in her voice.  Turning away slightly, she added softly, “And I suppose, if you don’t ever tell anyone about it, you can call me Cat.  But only when it is the two of us.”  She gave Kara a quick, but stern, side eye for emphasis.

Kara smiled widely.  “Well, it’s still better than Keira.”  She was pleased to draw a snicker from Ms. Grant.  “Have I mentioned how glad I am that you’re back in National City?”

“I believe that was either the fourth or fifth time you’ve mentioned it, in fact.”  A faint smirk danced along Cat’s lips.  “I do make excellent company—at least for people who are not, for example, the walking personification of white male privilege.  So, I’ll allow you your enthusiasm.”  She gestured for Kara to follow her inside, but Kara had an idea what she wanted, so she beat her to it.  Before Cat could take three steps, she had a glass of brandy in her hand, and Kara was back in her spot by the wall of the balcony.

“Still know me so well, don’t you, Kara?  Ms. Teschmacher has managed to avoid getting herself fired for over a year now, which is a record for any of my assistants not secretly moonlighting as superheroes.”  She drew out the ‘s’ slightly in that way she always did.  “But she’s no you.”

“It’s amazing I lasted as long as I did, given your proclivity for threatening to fire employees you find out are moonlighting as crime fighters.”

“Yes, well, you were an actual hero who also managed to be excellent at her job—at least when you weren’t disappearing in the middle of the day.  And even then, you never let anything slip through the cracks.  Mr. Olsen on the other hand … made a mess of both the CatCo and the vigilante gigs.  You’re hardly comparable.”  Kara almost felt bad for James, but she couldn’t help the thrill that shot through her at Cat’s praise.

Cat’s features softened.  “I never apologized to you for that.  Everyone needs a refuge, a place where they can unwind and fit in and … well, you more than anyone deserve that.  I should never have expected that you would be better served by being Supergirl full time.  I’m sorry I threatened to fire you.”

Kara had never expected this apology from Cat.  She had been so frustrated that she forced her into that decision.  It was so unfair and flew in the face of so much of the advice Ms. Grant had given her previously.  Part of her had hoped even then, that she could trust Cat with her secret, and it hurt to realize that she absolutely couldn’t.  “We’re long past that now, but I appreciate your apology.  It means a lot.”

Cat made a grand sweeping gesture with her free arm, somehow managing not to jostle her glass one bit.  “And look at how you’ve grown since then.  Earth’s preeminent hero, cohabitating with National City’s previously most eligible in the closet lesbian—with a Romeo and Juliet twist to spice it up—and you’re really finding your legs as a reporter on top of all that.”  Cat sighed, as if scolding herself for continuing to be so open.  “I realize that this is all quite out of character for me, but I hope you’re also aware that Supergirl’s secret identity would be the biggest scoop of my long, illustrious career.  You know, just in case you ever think about crossing me.”  She raised an eyebrow to emphasize the playful threat.  “I’m proud of you, Supergirl.”

Kara felt the tears in her eyes immediately.  “Ms. Gr—Cat—you’re not allowed to make me cry, that’s not fair.”  She wiped her eyes.  “But thank you.  I wouldn’t be here without you.”

“Fair point,” Cat snarked.  “So … what’s the word on this Reign person?  Have you got another story for me?  I promise I’ll share the byline with Kara Danvers this time.”  A ridiculous thought passed through her mind.  A good story?  Like Supergirl dating Lena Luthor and her best friend CFO?  As effusive as Cat was being right now, Kara didn’t have any idea how she would react to that particular news.  The best she could offer was an updated profile on Reign.

“I do actually have more information on Reign, and I’m willing to work on it with you if you think there’s a story there.”  Cat nodded for her to go on.  “She is … of Krypton, but not exactly Kryptonian.  She’s basically a Kryptonian superweapon created by a fanatical religious cult as the pinnacle of Kryptonian evolution, meant to be a god who would purge the universe of so-called injustice. … By murdering bad people, I guess.”

Cat frowned and blinked her eyes rapidly, processing that information.  “Well.  As disturbing as that all sounds, I don’t think the readers are going to particularly care about Reign’s back story.  I suppose if you wanted to write something on the ethics of her whole schtick, means vs ends, punishment vs rehabilitation, something along those lines … there might be something there.  But nothing that interests me.”  Kara was hardly surprised.  Cat rarely wanted to jump in on anything but the particularly sensational stuff.

“However, I do have a suggestion for your other job.”  Cat’s contemplative tone piqued Kara’s interest.  “You say she’s targeting the worst in society, more or less, correct?  Murderers, rapists, gang members … I’m just thinking aloud here, but if you need a little extra firepower next time you take her on, there might be a few superpowered baddies who might be willing to join you if it means avoiding having their faces melted off by a Kryptonian god of death or whatever.”  Kara groaned, seeing where Cat was going with this.  “I hear Leslie managed to escape prison.  Don’t suppose you might know where she’s hiding out, do you Supergirl?”

“Seriously?  How many times has she tried to kill you?” Cat started to respond as if she didn’t realize the question was rhetorical, but Kara cut her off.  It was amazing how much bolder she was with her mentor now that everything was out in the open.  “Nope.  No.  My point is … she’s deranged and violent, and the only person she hates almost as much as you is me.  Even if I did trust her to help me in this fight, what makes you think she would ever work with me?”

“I believe I already explained this, Kara.  She’ll work with you because it increases her chances of not being brutally murdered.  If I had to guess, I’d say she’s laying low right now, but I hired Leslie almost solely based on how brash she is.  Give her one of your stirring Supergirl speeches and point her in the right direction at the right time.  When have I ever steered you wrong?”  Kara couldn’t really argue with that last point.

“I’ll think about it.  We’re still considering a variety of options, plus Reign's been laying low for a couple of days.” 

Cat shrugged.  “What do I care?  It’s just the fate of the world we’re talking about here.”  Kara shook her head in exasperation.  “Just let me know if I can help.  And Kara …”  Cat had started to walk back into her office, signaling an end to their little chat, but she turned long enough to ask, sardonically, “What’s a girl gotta do to get a dinner invite to the Danvers-Luthor penthouse?”  She winked (winked?!), then walked inside without another word.

Chapter Text

Chapter 24

“I forgot to mention this because you distracted me earlier with your cleavage, but this wine is excellent.  Did Lena discover a new brand she likes?”  Sam smiled mischievously at the earlier incident.  Kara swore she didn’t do it intentionally, but Sam wasn’t buying it.  Kara Danvers didn’t just spread her arms wide along the edge of a table, lean forward slowly, and ask “How is it?”  Not to mention her voice didn’t sound that husky normally, and she rarely wore the sort of top that would’ve given Sam such an enticing view.  Needless to say, the wine had been forgotten until now.

As Sam walked back to the bed, glasses and wine bottle in hand, she smiled softly at the slight wobble in her gait.  It had been a fun couple of hours.  Sam stopped and set the wine down on the nightstand, then stepped back to admire the picture of beauty before her.  Kara had thrown on a loose sweatshirt (and nothing else) after they had dried off from the shower.  That had led to round three, and Kara was still wrapped up in the only remaining sheet on the bed, right where Sam had left her.  Her exposed shoulder almost glowed in the cool moonlight, which also had the wonderful effect of perfectly illuminating the curve of Kara’s hip under the sheet.  Then she made a pouty face, and Sam nearly fainted on the spot.

“Saaaaaaaaam, I know the wine is good, and I’m really hot and stuff, but I need you to come cuddle me right nowwwwww.”  She briefly considered doing another lap around the bed, to appreciate Kara from all angles and make her wait a bit longer, but she supposed she had teased Kara enough for one night already.  Setting her glass down beside the bottle, she leapt into bed.  Kara’s hair was still damp and smelling of fresh shampoo as Sam kissed her forehead.

“I get up for one minute to grab the wine, and you already missed me?”  Maybe Sam wasn’t quite done teasing her for the night.  Kara nuzzled her head into Sam’s chest.  The shirt she had given Sam to wear was insanely soft, and Kara’s nose felt so nice.  Comforting.

“And what if I did?”  Kara moved even closer and looked up innocently from Sam’s chest.  Sam couldn’t keep the damn smile off her face.  Fuck me, she is so adorable.  She gently traced the outline of Kara’s jaw.

“That wouldn’t be so bad, I suppose.”  Sam leaned down and kissed her softly.  As she pulled away, Kara had a curious look on her face.  “What is it, babe?”

“Hmmm?”  Kara’s eyes snapped back up to Sam’s.  “Oh!  I was just thinking … am I allowed to talk about our sex life with Lena?”

“Oh, you precious dummy.”  Sam knew Kara would be annoyed, but she couldn’t stop the laughter from coming out.  Kara immediately huffed, and her face scrunched up.  Sam’s smile grew wider.  “Kara, you really need a better frustrated face.  Yours is too adorable, and I can’t take you seriously.”

Kara’s eyes narrowed even further.  “You!  I!  …. Grrrrrr, Sam that’s not fair.”  She exhaled loudly.  “I don’t know!  You’re the poly expert—why is it so crazy that I would ask you that?”

Sam shrugged.  “You’ve got me there.  Look, as far as I’m concerned, unless I specifically ask you to keep something between us, you can talk about anything you want with Lena.  Including all the incredible sex we have together.”  Kara blushed wildly.  “But … I’m pretty sure Lena remembers most of my moves, and I’d be pretty shocked if you were to tell me you two haven’t tried that whole floating thing that was so amazing.”  She grinned wickedly as she spoke, and Kara literally fell over, groaning in mortification.

“Kara Danvers, you are not uncomfortable talking about sex.”  Kara peaked up at her from her face down position on the bed.

“Not normally!  It’s just the effect you have on me!  But … that floating thing was pretty great, right?”  Kara bit her lip.

“Babe, seriously, you rocked my world with that move.  Dating a superhero definitely has its advantages.”  Sam leaned back into a seated position on the pillows against the headboard and picked up her glass of wine.  “Now, stop flailing and come cuddle me.”  Kara was curled up under Sam’s arm, leg wrapped across her thighs, before Sam could blink.  She chuckled.  “I wonder when I’ll start to get used to that.”

“It took Lena about a month, I think… but no pressure.”  Kara’s tone was jovial, but Sam didn’t like the way the comment made her feel.

“See, now, that is something that is generally not a good idea.  Even though you were joking.”  Those bright baby blues looked up at her curiously.  “Competition isn’t healthy for any of us, okay?  I know that’s not what you were going for, but just … be careful, Kara.”

“I get it.  And I’m sorry.  I’ll pay more attention to how I phrase things in the future.  I know this isn’t a competition—I’ve got more than enough love to go around.”  Kara occupied her hand by tracing soft patterns across Sam’s abs.  It almost tickled, but not enough that she wanted Kara to stop.  “So, umm … I talked to Lena about the possibility of a sleepover at your place.”

“Uh huh.  And she was every bit as understanding and encouraging as we both knew she would be?”  Kara’s hand movements had become jerkier since she mentioned sleepovers.  Sam still didn’t understand why Kara was so nervous about this.  Lena’s a big girl; she can handle sleeping alone once a week or so.

Kara sighed.  “Yes.  She was.  She was wonderful and awesome and really excited for us, and basically told me to shut the hell up and stop feeling guilty about something that should be a happy thing.”

“You know, your girlfriend is pretty damn smart.  Also great with the advice.  Maybe you should listen to her.”  Kara rolled her eyes, but her hand movements had relaxed.

“I know… it’s just.  It’s a lot of change.  Really fast.  And … I guess my brain is just playing catch up a little, you know?”  Sam sat her wine back down, then took Kara’s hand into her own.  Their eyes met.

“Kara, it’s okay.  As amazing as it will be to wake up with your astonishingly strong and soft limbs draped all over me and to get up and make you the most delicious breakfast of your life … I promise you, we don’t have to rush into anything.  But I also think you should trust Lena and trust yourself.”  Sam pulled Kara’s hand up to her lips.

“Thank you for being so patient with me.  I know that this whole poly thing has gone pretty smoothly for us, but it’s been an adjustment.  And you’ve been right there supporting me the whole way, even though your life has been pretty crazy that whole time.”  Kara stretched up and kissed Sam passionately.  A wave of warmth and affection flooded Sam’s chest and arm.  Kara pulled away a few inches and asked, “You have any advice for how to get over my anxiety about this, my very wise girlfriend?”

“If this is really a thing for you, we can wait.  I mean … we can keep dating, keeping getting comfortable with the arrangement, but hell, things are pretty far along already.  And we’ve figured it out, all three of us.  You and I, we’ve already been through you almost dying, saying ‘I love you,’ sex for the first time, telling my daughter… even meeting your adopted mom, kinda.”  Sam squeezed Kara’s hand reassuringly.  “Honestly, baby, I think you’ve just gotta take a leap of faith.  And trust that we’ll all work through any complications just like we have so far.”

“And if that first night alone is too hard for Lena?”  Sam loved how much Kara loved Lena.  She couldn’t have imagined a better partner for her best friend.  Shit!  I should tell her that!

“Hey.”  Sam pulled her arm out from behind Kara and then wriggled down until they were face to face.  Sam nuzzled her nose against Kara’s.  “I love how much you love her.”  She kissed Kara on the forehead, then on the tip of her nose, then on the lips.  “But I promise you, you’re worrying too much.  Lena wants this for us, and she’s going to be fine.  But if it helps, you can call her before bed.  Tell her you love her and tell her goodnight.  Whatever you want.  And then you can call her again first thing in the morning.”  Kara smiled sheepishly, and Sam could tell she was getting through to her.  “I know Lena.  You know Lena.  We know that she will tell you if she has any trouble being apart from you for a night.  Hell, she’ll tell me too.  We’ll talk about it.”  She kissed Kara’s left cheek.  “It.”  Right cheek.  “Will.”  Right temple.  “Be.”  Forehead.  “Fine.”  Left temple. 

Kara started giggling after the right cheek, but she made no effort to stop Sam.  They kissed each other again.  Sam slipped her just a little bit of tongue, drawing a hiss of surprise and arousal from Kara.  They stared into each other’s eyes, and Kara smiled widely.  “I love you.”

“Love you too, Kara.”

-----------------------

With the wind in her hair and Kara’s powerful arms holding her tight, Lena almost felt as if she could leave all of her worries back on the ground.  No Reign or Cadmus.  No board meetings.  No lingering questions or doubts about trusted friends.  Just Lena and Kara and the gorgeous oranges and pinks of this brilliant West Coast sunset.

Kara had surprised her in her office a few minutes ago and insisted on stealing her away.  She wouldn’t tell her where they were going, but Lena had to admit—it already felt incredibly romantic.  Kara had even swept her off her feet.  Now, as Kara began her descent towards the roof of a building on the west side of downtown, Lena saw what she had in mind.

Towards the western side of the roof, Kara had set up a small, two-person table.  It was decorated with a white and red checkered tablecloth like a quaint Italian restaurant.  Two red chairs awaited them, along with a bottle of wine and two glasses.  Three large candles stood at the center of the table, and at least twenty more formed a sort of loose ring a few feet back from the table.  For after the sun went down, Lena assumed.

Kara set her down next to one of the chairs.  “Pour yourself a glass of wine and enjoy this view.  I’ll be right back with dinner.”  Kara grinned, kissed Lena, and then was off again.  Lena could’ve sworn that the bottle was unopened when Kara set her down, but now the cork rested neatly on the table beside it.  She grinned as she poured herself a full glass, then walked towards the edge of the building.  The view really was gorgeous.  There were no other large skyscrapers obstructing the view of the rest of the city, stretching out all the way to the Pacific Ocean.  She pondered the recent events in her life as she enjoyed the wine and gazed out at the edge of the North American continent.

Fortunately, Kara was back with bags and bags of food in under five minutes, banishing any further thoughts of Lillian Luthor from Lena’s mind.  She moved at superspeed, and there were five Italian dishes plus two salads on the table before Lena had walked all the way back.  Kara started to walk around the table to embrace Lena, then paused.  “Oh wait!” 

She blurred out of view again and returned in seconds.  Her Supergirl outfit had been replace by a tight-fitting sheath dress with a halter neckline, a slim keyhole in the front, and an open back.  The dress was a royal blue that almost perfectly matched Kara’s eyes, but it was flecked with white and a light green.  Her elaborate Supergirl curls were suddenly up in an adorable but simple updo behind her head, revealing the dangly silver earrings she was wearing.  Her green heels matched the flecks in her dress.  If Lena didn’t know any better, she would’ve guessed Kara had gone shopping with Cat Grant. 

“That’s better,” Kara teased, wrapping her arms around Lena’s waist and pulling her into a deep kiss.

“Careful, darling, right now I’m more interested in eating you than all that delicious food you brought us.”  Kara laughed, then faked a scowl. 

“Ms. Luthor, who do you take me for?!  You’ll have to take me on a proper date if you want to see what’s under this dress.”  Lena waggled her eyebrows at Kara, pretty sure she could have that dress off of her right now if she really wanted to.  Keeping a hand on the small of Lena’s back, Kara led her to the table and pulled out a chair for her.  My girlfriend, ever the gentleman.  As she sat, Kara quickly lit all the candles around them.  The sun wasn’t completely gone over the horizon, but the sunlight had dimmed enough that the lit candles really added to the ambiance of the date. 

“My, my, Ms. Danvers, you are full of surprises,” Lena joked, before getting more serious.  “Kara, this is all so lovely.”

“I knew you’d like it.”  Kara practically glowed.  “It’s been crazy lately, and we haven’t really had much time for romance since we left Midvale.  It was long past time I whisked you away from everything for some alone time.  This is probably my favourite view of the city.  Perfect for a date with my fancy Luthor girlfriend.”  Kara winked at her.

“You’re not usually so saucy, love.  Let me just say that I love it.” 

“Good.  Now, to the important stuff.  I got plenty of food for myself, but you’re welcome to any single dish you want or you can pick at all five before I polish them off.”

“Believe me, darling, I’ve learned the drill by now.”  Lena started with the salad.  “Well, I’d like tonight to be wonderful, so let’s avoid the topics of conversation swirling around in my head before you brought the food.  Why don’t you tell me some more stories about your early days as Supergirl, before I came to town?”

A shadow passed over Kara’s face.  “No no no, darling.  Sorry!  We’ve discussed what happened with your aunt plenty, no need to go back there.  Just … tell me about some of your random adventures, you know?  Like who is the weirdest villain you fought in your first year as Supergirl?”

“Pssh.  Take your pic: a weird mirror clone of myself or Winn’s creepy toy-obsessed dad?”  Kara mumbled the words out through multiple bites of food, but Lena was more than fluent in Kara-speak at this point. 

“Well, I’ve already heard stories about the Toyman straight from Winn, so let’s go with the clone.” 

“Cat named her Bizarro, though she never really explained why.  Weird name, right?”  No weirder than Supergirl, to be honest.  “Anyway.  Maxwell Lord experimented on and murdered six innocent girls before he got what he wanted out of the seventh.  He got his hands on a strand of my hair and used my DNA to modify this poor girl.  Brainwashed her too, nearly lobotomized her.  At first, she looked identical to me, but her powers were the reverse of mine.”

“So she breathed fire?!”  That must have been quite the sight.  Suddenly the scientist in Lena came out.  “Did you use your freeze breath against her fire breath?  What happened?!”

Kara giggled.  “If you’re thinking a tiny storm broke out where our breath met, then I’m sorry to disappoint.  No such luck.  There was, like, a little cloud, I guess?” 

“You’re aware how erotic that sounded, right?”  Lena focused her voice as if reading from the pages of a romance novel.  “And then, it was like a tiny storm arose in that warm place where our breath met, and I could feel that spark travel all the way down my body.”  Kara’s eyes widened, maybe as wide as Lena had ever seen them.  Then she choked on her food as her face burned red.  “You alright there, love?”

Kara cleared her throat.  “Lena, we’ve talked about this.  You can’t startle me with sexy stuff while I’m eating!”

“Hey, you said it, not me.”  Lena flashed her most innocent smile.

“Oh please, you twisted what I said and then used your sexy voice!”  Kara’s nostrils flared as she protested vehemently.

“Kara Zor-El, my voice is always sexy, as you well know.”  Kara rolled her eyes but was also smiling too brightly to really pull off the exasperated act.

Anyway … we tried kryptonite on her, but it didn’t phase her.  It just … I don’t know, it corrupted her or something?  Her skin turned white, like a greyish white, and it got all dry and cracked.  And her eyes turned black, and she got even angrier and more out of control than she already was.”

“So how did you stop her?”  Lena was legitimately curious, because this Bizarro sounded almost more terrifying than Reign.  Reign was a murderer, but at least she was mentally stable.

“J’onn had the idea to reverse the ionic charge in kryptonite.  It created a sort of blue synthetic kryptonite, and Alex was able to take her down with a laser gun powered by the stuff.”  A spark of an idea blossomed into Lena’s mind, and she pulled out her phone to make a note of it, so she wouldn’t forget later.

“What happened to her?”  Lena hoped they had saved the poor girl. 

“We cryogenically froze her until Alex could develop a way to correct her DNA, restore her humanity.  I check in on her every now and again.  She couldn’t remember her previous life, but she has a very good therapist and has made some real progress.  She goes by Lizzie now.”  There was a sadness to Kara’s voice, and Lena could hardly imagine how Kara must have empathized with this girl.

“And Max Lord just got away with murder and human experimentation?  At least you chased him out of town.”  Lord was far too much like Lex for Lena’s taste, what with his anti-alien crusade and mad scientist tech.  Plus, he was exactly the sort of smarmy jackass that made Lena want to pull her hair out.

“I didn’t chase him out of town.  But no, we never had any evidence of his crimes.  He was thorough in cleaning up his mess.  We held him without due process in the DEO for a while, but we all ultimately decided that that’s not who we are.  In the end, J’onn wiped his mind of any knowledge about the DEO or Supergirl’s identity and planted the idea in his head that he desperately wanted to move his company to Gotham.”

“Ooo, smart move.  I hear that bat vigilante likes to really rough up his villains.  Maybe he and Lord will get into it eventually.”  Kara chuckled, but it was clear that Lord was a rough subject for her, so Lena jumped to the next story.  “What’s the biggest crisis you’ve averted that I haven’t already heard about.”

“Did I tell you that I stopped a nuclear missile once?”

“I’m sorry, what now?  I could’ve sworn you just said nuclear missile.”

“Yes.  Lena, it was terrifying.  The ICBM nearly got to the city.  I stopped it just in time.”  Lena could see behind Kara’s eyes the remnants of the terror she felt that day burning faintly like the embers of an old fire.

“Who launched it?  How did you stop it?”

”Indigo.”  The contempt in Kara’s voice was palpable.  “I told you about her involvement with Non, but I never told you about when she first showed up on Earth.  She was a prisoner in Fort Rozz but didn’t show herself until right after Astra died.  She pretended to be a human computer hacker at first, until she popped out of Winn’s computer in her true form and tried to murder us in the loft.”

“Wait, what?  You said she’s Coluan like Kaziah, right?”

“She is nothing like Kaziah,” Kara spat.  “But yes, she was Coluan.”

“Okay well that’s weird to me, then.  They all have different power sets?  Because Kaziah definitely can’t travel over the internet, and as far as I know, she can’t shapeshift.”  Lena’s natural curiosity piqued again.

“Well, I’m pretty sure Indigo couldn’t shapeshift, though she could stretch her body.  I think the human appearance was just a computer avatar.  But yeah, I guess they are different.  I don’t know a lot about Coluans, except that a few of them agreed to act as supercomputers for Kryptonian society.  I suppose different Coluans have different sorts of synthetic-biological anatomy and programming.  I mean … they certainly look very different.  And one of them is sweet and helpful while the other was a genocidal maniac.” 

While Kara was talking, Lena took several more bites of the shrimp pasta dish, before Kara could finish it off.  Lena would ask Kaziah more later, but she wanted to hear more about Kara stopping the ICBM.  “So, how did attempted murder in your living room turn into a nuclear attack?”

“She slipped into a nuclear facility maybe a hundred miles from National City through a general’s cell phone.  I tried to stop her, but during the fight, she subdued me long enough to launch the missile.  I tore off after it, but I had no clue how to stop it.  I tried pushing it off course, but it corrected itself.  I had the dumb idea to use my heat vision, but fortunately James vetoed that suggestion.”

“You were communicating with James while chasing down an ICBM?”  Lena was legitimately shocked.  She knew that Kara and James had been closer in the early days, had almost dated, but it was still so weird to imagine them working together on Supergirl stuff, given how shallow their relationship had been since Kara and Lena started dating.

“Yeah, he was kind of the only member of Team Supergirl at the time.  Winn was still sore about me rejecting him, and I refused to work with the DEO because I was pissed at J’onn.”  When she thought he killed Astra.  “But I had to give in and call the DEO to help solve the problem.  I’m stubborn, but not so stubborn that I would endanger the city.  J’onn was able to give me the kill code for the ICBM, and I got into the missile’s on-board computer and entered the code just in time for it to drop harmlessly into the ocean.”

“Kara.  How is it that a nuclear missile was within seconds of demolishing National City and this is the first I’m hearing of it?” 

“The DEO worked with the government to cover it up.  They claimed the bright light people saw over the city was just a rocket shot out into space to take supplies to the international space station.”  Lena scoffed.  That was a shit excuse.  Didn’t even make sense.  Lena was amazed by what the average person would believe.

They had finished dinner by now, so Kara got up and gestured for Lena to follow her.  She took a seat on the ledge of the building, and Lena sat down next to her, bringing the wine with her.  She trusted that Kara wouldn’t let anything happen to her, and the wind wasn’t bad at all.  She leaned her weight against Kara’s side, and they both gazed out at the horizon as they continued their conversation.

“Do have a nemesis?  Superheroes have nemeses, right?  I mean your cousin certainly had Lex.”   Kara stiffened. 

“Either Lex or Zod, I guess.  As for me, I can’t really claim Lillian, because she’s your nemesis.  So the only obvious candidate is Livewire.”

“That’s the meta that escaped from prison last year, right?  After we had started casually hanging out at your place on the regular?”  Lena glanced over to see that her own smile was mirrored on Kara’s face.  It felt like a lifetime ago that they were both still so insecure that they didn’t trust each other with almost anything.  But couldn’t help themselves from acting on their overwhelming attraction to each other.

“Yeah.  Though technically, she was broken out of prison against her will.”

“Well, we’ve all been there,” Lena joked.  Kara snorted a short laugh out in response.

“That was actually the third time I’ve faced her.  She was the first really personal foe that I faced off against as Supergirl, only about a month after I revealed myself to the world.  I also … kind of created her.”  Kara’s brow furrowed.  She clearly didn’t like Livewire, but Lena could also see that she carried some guilt there too.

“How so?”

“Well, she used to be just a normal, completely insufferable jerkface.  Leslie Willis was a shock jock that Cat had mentored for years.  Around Thanksgiving, she suddenly decided to create a vendetta against Supergirl.  She criticized me for being a girl scout and took a lot of potshots about my sexuality, or lack thereof.”  Lena’s eyes widened.

“What?!  But Supergirl is so incredibly sexy, how could she even…”  Leslie Willis clearly had some serious taste issues.

“She wasn’t entirely wrong—she did say I gave off something of a ‘sapphic’ vibe.  I actually kind of think she’d be impressed if I told her I’m dating two powerful female executives.”  Lena was grinning mischievously, and Kara promptly chided, “She also suggested I have tentacles for genitals, so wipe that look off your face.”

Lena’s mind briefly flashed to that one erotic story that had so captivated her a few months ago, but she gave away no reaction on her face.  “So how did she go from asshole to arch villain?”

“After she went after Supergirl, Cat demoted her to weather reporter.  She was in the CatCo copter during a thunderstorm, and they got struck by lightning.  I caught the helicopter, but then I got struck with lightning too, and it sort of transferred energy from me into Leslie somehow.  We still don’t really understand the science of it.  But when she woke up from a short coma, she was suddenly made of living electricity.  Or something like that.” 

Lena poured herself another glass of wine, polishing off the bottle.  “At first, the only thing she cared about was killing Cat.  Supergirl stopped her several times, and now she hates me every bit as much as Cat.  Maybe more.  As far as nemeses go, she’s awful.  The complete opposite of me.  Snarky, angry, completely irreverent.  Not to mention amoral.  She doesn’t care about anyone or anything but herself.”  An embarrassed look crossed Kara’s face, but Lena allowed her to pretend that she hadn’t noticed Kara grip the other side of the ledge two hard and crumble a piece of the concrete in her hand.  “Later, right before all the Myriad stuff, another metahuman Siobhan Smythe, helped her escape from DEO custody.”

Kara made a face somewhere between grumpy and mocking, drawing Lena’s attention.  “There’s another story there!  Spill it.”

“Siobhan was a nemesis of a different sort.  James wasn’t the only guy I almost dated but then didn’t.  I also had half a date with Cat’s formerly estranged adult son Adam, just after I managed to get her to rekindle her relationship with him.  That’s when Bizarro happened, and I called it off.  Cat was pissed, so she hired a second assistant to punish me.”

“Siobhan Smythe.  Which is an excellent name, by the way.  I had a brief fling with a Siobhan while I was studying abroad.”  Lena bit her lip subconsciously, and Kara raised an eyebrow at her.

“Yes, well.  This Siobhan was a backstabbing, selfish mean girl.  Who also dated Winn briefly, before she developed shouting powers and tried to murder Kara Danvers.”

“Christ, your life was a soap opera even before I came to town.”  She could tell Kara wanted to protest but knew she couldn’t.  “I can’t help myself, darling.  I have to ask.  Is there a member of the Grant family you haven’t had a crush on at some point?” 

Kara’s face did that adorable scrunchy thing that indicated she was flustered and irritated at the same time.  “I did not!  Ugh.  Fine.  Whatever.  But technically his last name is Foster.”  She elbowed Lena playfully in the ribs.  “Back to Livewire.  She and Siobhan teamed up to go after Cat and me.  Though Leslie was after Supergirl, and Siobhan was after Kara.  Fortunately, Barry was in town.”

The Barry Allen?!  He was in our dimension for once?”  Lena still teased Kara about disappearing after Lena got Lillian arrested and then making up a shitty excuse to cover up for it.

Kara chose to ignore the insinuation, too excited to share her adventure with Barry.  “Yeah!  That was actually when we first met.  He accidentally breached into our universe and kinda got stuck here.  But the timing was fortunate, because he really helped me out with Livewire and Siobhan.”

“Why didn’t she go back to the DEO?  Why risk putting someone with those kind of powers into a prison ill-equipped to contain her?” 

“Barry helped outfit National City’s maximum security prison with countermeasures to keep metahumans’ powers under control.  They’ve had mixed results, and since then we’ve developed new policies at the DEO.  Aliens and metahumans who can’t be trusted in a regular prison are still kept prisoner at the DEO, but we’ve established a sort of military tribunal to give them their due process.  Livewire’s guilty of multiple counts of attempted murder, so she’s serving a life sentence now.”

Lena finished off the rest of her wine, then traced the contours of Kara’s body under that exquisite dress.  She wasn’t going to be able to resist the temptation much longer.  Then Kara turned suddenly, a smile back on her face.

“Oh!  I almost forgot!  We need to invite Cat over for dinner at the penthouse soon, or she’s going to get cranky with me.”  Cat Grant in her home was not something Lena had ever expected to endure, but she’d do anything for Kara. 

“Fine, but you had better be right about her being better in private than she seems in public.  How did you get from Livewire’s life sentence to ‘we should invite Cat over?’”

“Oh, I was just talking to her the other day—that’s when she subtly hinted at wanting an invite—and she suggested that maybe I should try to work out a deal with Leslie to get her help against Reign.”  Lena leaned back in surprise.  Based on what Kara had just told her, Livewire didn’t sound like someone she would feel at all comfortable being out in the world.  How could they ensure that she wouldn’t be a bigger threat to Kara than to Reign?

“Not to question the Queen of All Media, but that sounds like a fucking stupid idea.  I don’t want you to put yourself in any more danger than you’re already in.”  Kara wilted a little under the strength of Lena’s concerned gaze.

“I’m not thrilled about the idea either, but I haven’t thought of anything better yet either.  But Reign conversations are off the table for tonight.”  Kara grabbed Lena’s hand and placed it on the inside of her thigh, just below where the hem of her dress ended.  “Don’t think I haven’t seen the way you’ve been looking at me all night.  What are you going to do about it?”

Part of Lena wanted to argue some more about Cat’s Livewire suggestion, but Kara’s thigh was so warm and inviting.  Her hand began slowly inching its way upward, completely of its own accord.  Lena gave into her urges, leaned in, and bit Kara’s jaw, just below her ear.  As her hand slipped under Kara’s dress, she pushed in closer so that her lips brushed Kara’s ear.  “Take me home Supergirl, or I’ll undress you right here on this roof.”

Chapter Text

Chapter 25

Kara could hear the bickering long before she reached the correct cellblock.

“Nice tiara,” Leslie sneered.

The voice that answered her was controlled and husky, with an overly proper tone and enunciation.  “Let’s have a guard remove it, and I’ll show you what I can do.  It would be such a delicious pleasure to bring you to your knees and writhe in pain.”  Holy wow sexual tension.

Livewire laughed wildly.  “Do you always have to talk like that?”

“At least I don’t sound like an illiterate mean girl.”  Gayle Marsh hit the final ‘t’ of ‘illiterate’ with force. 

“Yeah okay, Regina George.”  As Supergirl came to a halt in the hallway directly between their cells, she could see Psi glaring daggers at Livewire.  The tall, thin woman somehow managed to still look imposing in the simple black prisoner’s uniform of the DEO.  The so-called tiara Livewire was mocking was a thin black metal band that set on Psi’s head, the edges of it disappearing into her thick blonde hair.  It was a neural dampener to keep the psychic from using her fear-based powers.  Kara legitimately could not tell whether Psi wanted to kill Leslie or screw her.   

Supergirl couldn’t resist the obvious taunt.  “You know, if you two ask nicely, I might see about setting up a private room for a conjugal visit.” 

Leslie rolled her eyes, while Gayle merely shifted her glare up to Supergirl and muttered, “Boo,” sardonically.

“Hey there, barbie girl.  You come here just to make jokes?”  Supergirl breathed in, then out.  She came here to negotiate, so she knew she was going to have to resist Livewire’s verbal jabs.  She faced Leslie, arms crossed, holding her whole body tight so she could better control her reactions.

“Actually, I have a proposition for you.”  Supergirl looked to the side and gritted her teeth.  “I’m here because I could use your help.”

Livewire’s mouth fell open.  “My help?  I loathe you.”  She practically growled the word ‘loathe.’ 

“Look, I know that you’re allowed to watch the news and keep up with what’s going on in the world.  I know you know about Reign.” 

“I know enough to know that she gave you the ass kicking you so richly deserve, Blondie.  I’m surprised you can still walk straight after that.  How’s it feel to know you’re not the baddest bitch around anymore?”  Supergirl didn’t take the bait, didn’t even flinch.  Leslie’s taunting couldn’t hide the thin layer of fear underlying her words.  She understood more than she was letting on.

“She’s murdering criminals in National City.  Like you.  How long do you think it is before she figures out that the DEO is housing some of the most dangerous criminals around?  Help me stop her, before she comes for you too.”

Livewire stood and paced towards the transparent cell wall separating her from Supergirl.  “She beat the shit out of you.  Far as I can tell nearly killed you.  If you think I’m up for a beat down like that just cuz ya said ‘pretty please,’ honey, you haven’t been reading my psych evals correctly.”

Kara knew she had to push.  “I’m not asking you to fight her alone.  I have a plan.  And we won’t be alone in this.  I learned my lesson the first time.  It’s going to take a powerful team to bring her down.”  Livewire flipped her off and turned away.

“At least hear me out.  And there could be something in it for you.  I have read your psych evals, and I know that you’re making progress.  Sure, you’ll never be an upstanding member of society, but I know you’ve been working out your anger issues.  If you help me with this—and don’t screw us over in the process—we can talk about reducing your sentence, allowing you a bit more freedom, and maybe even early parole someday.”  Livewire had taken her seat, but Supergirl had her attention.

“Fine.  But I make no promises.  Tell me your fuckin’ plan.  And it better not involve those two incompetent men who tried to ‘save’ me last year.”  Supergirl couldn’t keep the grimace off her face.  She could definitely promise Leslie that wouldn’t have to worry about Mon-El or the Guardian bungling this mission. 

“Deal.”  She fixed Livewire with her firmest Supergirl stare.  “But first, there’s one major condition.  You have to swear your word to me, and if I don’t believe you 100 percent, I can’t use you for this.  You’ll rot in this cell till you die, Leslie.”

“I hate it when you call me that!”

“Fine!  Livewire.  My plan revolves in part around Cat Grant, and you have to swear to me that you will not kill her.”

“Cat Lady’s back in town?  Why didn’t anyone tell me?  I would’ve sent her a card.”  Livewire looked at her nails theatrically, as if pondering a difficult quandary.  “So … you’re telling me that you’ll protect me from Reign, give me early parole, and all I have to do is not kill the Queen Bitch of National City?  Can I at least fry her a little?  Just make her whimper?”

Supergirl considered her response but was distracted by the creepy sing song voice coming from behind her.  “"Sing a song of sixpence.  A pocketful of rye.”  Supergirl turned to face Psi and nearly jumped as she found her unexpectedly standing right in front of the glass.  “Four and twenty naughty boys baked into a pie.”  Her face was completely blank as she chanted.

“The fuck is she going on about?”  Livewire didn’t sound too concerned.

“The maid was in the garden, hanging up the clothes.  When lowly came a blackbird and pecked off her nose.”  Suddenly Psi’s face jerked in Supergirl’s direction, and they looked eyes.  “Give me that deal.  I will help you defeat this Reign.”

Supergirl’s eyes narrowed, and she took a step back.  Psi was always so unnerving.  “Uhh, thanks but no thanks.  I need Les—Livewire.  I don’t think scaring Reign is how we’re going to beat her.”  Psi’s face shifted to a look of disdain, and she rolled her eyes dismissively before walking back to the small bed in her cell.  Supergirl faced Livewire again and raised her eyebrows.

“If there’s a single person in the world I hate more than you, it is Cat fucking Grant.  But killing her ain’t worth dying for.  Or staying in this shitty black site prison for the rest of my life.  I can’t promise to be nice to her, but you have my word, I won’t kill your precious ‘Ms. Grant.’”  Livewire lifted her voice an octave as she said ‘Ms. Grant’ in a gratingly mocking impersonation of Supergirl’s own voice.  “Now tell me your plan.”

                                                  

As Kara walked out of the DEO’s primary West Coast prison, hidden away in the old desert base just outside National City, J’onn confronted her.  “Agent Thompson informed me that we had an unexpected visitor arrive to see Livewire.  I take it this means you’re going forward with the plan?”

Kara nodded, sensing a Space Dad speech coming her way.  “I know you’re inclined to give people the benefit of the doubt.  I don’t disagree that some people deserve second chances.  But you, of all people, know how dangerous Livewire is.”

“I know, I know.  But we don’t have a better plan.  We’ve been talking ourselves in circles, and the longer we wait, the higher Reign’s body count rises.  And this was Ms. Grant’s plan, in a sense.  I wouldn’t put her in danger unnecessarily.”

“I trust you, and I will follow you if you think this is our best shot.  But I must confess, I am worried.”  It meant the world to Kara that J’onn put so much trust in her, even after she had already lost to Reign once.  She still had to clear the whole thing with Ms. Grant, though.

“I’m a little worried too, J’onn.  But If we're gonna win this thing, we have to take risks, and this feels like a risk worth taking.”  They had walked back to the main command center of the base during their conversation, and suddenly Kara felt overwhelmed by a wave of nostalgia.  She stopped J’onn, who faced her again.

“Okay, so I love the downtown base, and I have no desire to move back in here.  But we do have some good memories here, right?”

“And more than a few terrible ones.”  Kara thought back to J’onn being locked up in this base, and then he and Alex being taken away to be given over to Cadmus.  She shuddered involuntarily. 

“Good point.  Let’s get out of here.”

“Sure thing, Supergirl.”  J’onn shifted back to his normal Martian self, and the two of them took off together to head back to National City.  Once in the downtown center, she waved him off as he continued to the DEO but she broke off to drop down on Ms. Grant’s balcony as CatCo.  Cat was in the middle of a conversation with Snapper Carr, dressing him down for something in that subtle snarky way that Cat did.  Supergirl settled against the balcony and enjoyed the show.  She didn’t even bother listening in with her super hearing, because half of Cat’s performance came from her body language and facial expressions and Snapper barely said three words anyway.

After a few minutes, Snapper sulked away, but not without noticing Supergirl on the balcony.  She waved sarcastically at him, even though she was sure he had no clue that she was being sarcastic, since he didn’t know that she was Kara.  She was so busy sticking her tongue out at the back of his dumb bald head that Cat was able to make it out onto the balcony before she noticed the older woman’s presence.

Very mature, Supergirl.”  Kara jumped a foot into the sky and just hung there, glaring at Cat.

“Don’t do that!”

“You’re the one that was so distracted by your childish antics that you didn’t notice the very loud clicking of my Jimmy Choos come up beside you.  Don’t you have super hearing?”  Kara set her feet back down on the balcony.

“Point taken.  He’s just such a jerk sometimes.”  Kara tried and failed to keep the petulance out of her voice.

“Of that, I am well aware.  He’s also an excellent journalist, and you’re learning a lot working with him.  So, toughen up, Kara Danvers.”  Cat shook her head dramatically.  “I assume you’re here for a reason other than making faces behind your boss’s back.  Because you really could’ve done that in the offices of the Tribune, in your normal work attire.”

Kara’s whole face contorted.  “I … he … ugh, Ms. Grant!”  She took a deep breath and got herself under control, suddenly embarrassed at having let her emotions get the better of her in front of her mentor.  “I did come here for a reason.  I took your advice.”

“Ohhh wonderful, you’re finally upgrading your work wardrobe?  I can set up a meeting with my personal shopper—”

“No!  Cat!  Not that advice!”  Cat’s body slumped in a theatrical show of disappointment.

“A pity.”

“I meant, I think I’m going to use Livewire to help with bringing down Reign.”

“Oh good.  But I’m never calling Leslie by that silly name.  If she’s going to insist on being Supergirl’s nemesis, she really should’ve let me name her rather than trying to do it herself.  So uninspired.”  Cat stopped and caught the look on Kara’s face.  “Hmm.  What aren’t you telling me, Supergirl?”

Kara sighed.  This was the part she had been nervous about all day.  She figured she could get Livewire to agree, and she was about 70 percent confident that that Supergirl would convince her not to hurt Ms. Grant.  But she had no idea how Cat would react to the plan.

“Soooo, let me just start by saying that I would never let anyone hurt you.  You know that by now, right?”

Kara.”  Cat’s voice was low and commanding.  “Spit. It. Out.”

“I want to have Leslie pretend to escape and then come after you in order to draw out Reign!” Kara blurted. 

“Oh, is that all?”  Kara legitimately couldn’t tell if Cat was completely unfazed or if this was the driest of dark humour.

“Really?”

“Oh sure.  I think it’s a great idea to let a superpowered woman out of supermax alien prison to come pretend to attack me, especially given that her one driving goal in life over the past three years has been, you know, murdering the both of us.”  Cat’s eyes blazed at Kara.

“This was your idea!” Kara squeaked.

“I said you should use Leslie against Reign.  I did not suggest you turn her loose on me.  I’m quite sure you can see the difference.”

Kara put her hands on her hips.  She wouldn’t do this unless Cat was on board, but she wasn’t ready to give up on convincing her just yet either.  “I wouldn’t go through with this if I wasn’t sure I could protect you.  Livewire has been making progress.  Seeing a therapist.  Dealing with her anger issues.”  Cat’s eyes narrowed suspiciously, but she allowed Kara to continue.  “I made her swear that she wouldn’t kill you.  And I wouldn’t even consider using you as bait unless I believed her.  And I don’t believe that woman easily, as you of all people should know.”

Cat shrugged and nodded.  “I told her that if she helped us with this, she could have a little bit more freedom at the DEO meta prison and that we would consider reducing her sentence some, pending continued good behaviour.  She still won’t be getting out any time soon.  And I’ll be there, in wait.”

“So, how does Reign factor into this?”  That Cat was even asking the question was a good sign.

“The DEO weakened her in their last battle against her.  They couldn’t bring her in, and ever since, she’s gone back to the shadows.  Carrying out her war against crime in secret.  We need to draw her out again, and what better way than with a very public confrontation between a known powered criminal and the most famous person in National City?”

“See now I know that you’re trying to butter me up.  Not that I’m not the most famous person in National City, because let’s be clear, I am.  But I know for a fact that you don’t see it that way.  What with the whole, cohabitating with Lena Luthor thing.  Speaking of …”  She looked at Kara suggestively.

Yes, Lena would love to have you over for dinner, sometimes soon, but do not change the subject right now.”  She slipped the Supergirl steel into her voice.  “Livewire will very publicly come after Cat Grant, and Reign won’t be able resist coming to punish Livewire.  When she arrives, she’ll be ambushed not only by Livewire, but by Supergirl, Superman, and the Martian Manhunter.”

“Oooo the big guns.  Sounds like you’re finally taking this threat seriously, Kara.  Good.  Your cousin isn’t bringing Lane with him, is he?”

“You’re going to have to let that go someday, Cat.  I know you think Kal has a nice butt or whatever, but you’re going to have to accept that they’re married.”

“I still think it’s weird that you call him Kal—”

“It’s his name!”

“It was his name for maybe two months of his life, Kara.  You’ve already explained this to me.  His name is Clark Kent.”

“Well I don’t have to call him that.”

“Oh yes, because you’re a fancy Kryptonian with fancy Kryptonian names for everyone.”  Kara was 90 percent sure that Cat was messing with her, but that still hurt just a little.

“You said you liked my Kryptonian name.”

“Kara Zor-El is a beautiful name.  Kal El is not.”  Cat was definitely smirking now.

“Agree to disagree.  Are you on board with my plan?”

“Fine, fine.  Against my better judgment, I will babysit Leslie until your evil mirror shows up.  Just let me know when, and I’ll be sure it gets sufficient coverage to draw her out.”  As she spoke, Cat turned away and looked out over the city.  Kara knew this particularly strategy—she was trying to keep Kara from seeing her fear.

“Hey.”  Kara put her hand on Cat’s shoulder.  She stiffened briefly, then relaxed into Kara’s grip.  “I won’t let anything happen to you.  You’re not just my mentor; you’re my friend.  You’re one of the most important people in my life, even if you hate it when I am too expressive about my emotions.”  Cat didn’t turn but placed a hand over Kara’s.  “Tell me that you don’t want to take this risk, and I won’t.”

Now, Cat turned and caught Kara’s eyes with hers.  Her look was adamant.  “No.  This is the right thing to do.  The city needs us.  And I trust you, Supergirl.”  Cat stepped back from Kara’s touch.  “Plus, you have to keep me alive long enough to show off your pretty apartment and fancy girlfriend.  Or vice versa or whatever.”

“You’re damn right.”  Kara wrapped her up in a big hug.  “You’ve always been my hero, Ms. Grant.”  Cat reciprocated the warmth of Kara’s embrace for a good thirty seconds, then stepped back again.

“Obviously.  Now.  I have work to do.  You know where to find me when you’re ready.” 

                                                  

It only took a few more days to get the plan in place, and only because J’onn, Lena, and Alex insisted on having about fifty different contingency plans.  Kara appreciated how protective they were being, but it felt like overkill.  She wanted this over with.

“Is this Contingency Plan K or L?  I’ve lost track at this point.”  Alex glared at her, then turned back to J’onn. 

“As I was saying, I highly doubt the blue kryptonite we used on Bizarro will do anything, but it couldn’t hurt to try it.  I’m tired of half measures—we’re throwing everything we’ve got at her this time.  She’s not hurting Kara again.”

“Babe, I’m more worried about her hurting you again.  You’re the one whose bones are basically papier-mâché to her.”  Maggie’s tone was joking but her eyes were dead serious.  “Don’t get any ideas about going into the field if everything goes to shit.”

Before Alex could get off a retort, J’onn asked, “Supergirl, did Superman say when he would be arriving?”

“Well, he said he would be here after lunch, but …” 

“But we couldn’t resist popping in a little sooner so that I can give my little sister shit about her new girlfriend.”  Lois’ voice rang out as she appeared in the DEO in Superman’s arms.  He sat her down, and she quickly corrected herself.  “Err.  Shit.  Personfriend?  Paramour?  Lover?”  She made a face.  “Kara Z, help me out here, what does Lucy call Vasquez?”

“Paramour’s got a nice ring to it, now that you mention it.”  Lucy popped out from behind a corner, having caught the tail end of the conversation.  “You know, for a Pulitzer-winning journalist, you sure do shove your foot in your mouth a lot.”  They embraced.  “I didn’t realize you were coming along.”

“Yes well, as I said, it was about time I met this Vasquez.  Made sure … ey? … is good enough for my baby sis.  Oh, also, if you crazy kids are gonna let Kitty get fried by a meta on live TV, I had to have a front row seat.”  She put her arm around Lucy and turned her back in the direction she had come from.  “Clark, you rally the troops.  I’m off to give a shovel talk.”  Kara smiled as the Lane women walked away together, even though Lucy was clearly unhappy about this turn of events.  When she had first met Lucy, the relationship between the sisters had been so strained.  She suspected their asshole of a father had been a part of that.  While Lucy was away from National City, the two had buried the hatchet, and now Lois accompanied Kal on his trips to National City almost every time he visited.

Kara liked having Lois around.  She was always far more interested in getting to know Kara than Kal was, at least in Kara’s teenage years.  Kara hadn’t realized that she wanted to be a reporter until she worked so closely under Cat, but she was sure that Lois had been a subtle but powerful influence on that direction as well.  Even now, with things a little strained between herself and Kal, she and Lois were still close. 

She and Kal exchanged a look of greeting, but she made no move to hug him as she might have a year or two ago.  He shook J’onn’s hand and hugged Winn warmly.  Alex was just as icy towards him as Kara, who had subconsciously wandered back to where Lena was standing and placed her arm around Lena’s waist.  Maggie looked back and forth between the Supers and winced.

“Yikes, I’m feeling the family love in here.  Li’l Danvers, you not gonna introduce me to your famous cousin?”

Kara didn’t move, but she made the introductions.  “Kal, this is Alex’s girlfriend, Detective Maggie Sawyer of the NCPD.  Maggie this is my cousin Kal, but you obviously knew that.”

Kal flashed his best Superman smile at Maggie.  “Nice to meet you, Detective Sawyer.”

“Likewise, Big Guy.”  Alex put a hand of warning on Maggie’s forearm, but she pushed through the awkwardness anyway.  “So, what did you do to get in the doghouse, steal Kara’s potstickers?”  Kara was pretty surprised that the detective couldn’t spot the obvious Luthor-shaped elephant in the room.

Alex leaned in closer to Maggie to try to explain, but you could hear a pin drop in the room.  “Superman here was kind of a huge dick—” giving up on her attempt not to make a scene, Alex made sure she enunciated those two words very loudly, “—when he found out about Kara’s girlfriend.”  Alex looked pointedly at Lena, who gave her a thankful look in response.  But Maggie’s attention was firmly on the Supers.

“What?  The boy scout has a stick up his butt about Sam—oh shit!”  Her eyes went wide as she noticed how protectively Kara was standing beside Lena.  Then her eyes shot back to Superman accusingly.  “You don’t trust Li’l Luthor?  What, because of her last name?  What the fuck is wrong with you, asshole?”  Maggie had started to advance on Superman threateningly, wagging her finger at him, and Alex pulled her back.

His focus, however, was solely on Kara.  “Kara, who is Sam?”  Rao, I so don’t need this right now.  She sure as hell wasn’t backing down from it either. 

“Sam is my girlfriend, Kal, not that it’s any of your business.  You’ve made it very clear that you don’t trust me with my own love life—”

Superman held up his hand authoritatively.  “Now, hold on.  I thought you were dating Ms. Luthor?  Don’t you two live together?  And I’ve been trying to apologize to you for months now, you know that while I don’t trust her, I trust you, and respect that you can—”

“You know, I really don’t believe you when you say that you respect me.  Lena’s been nothing but supportive to me for as long as she’s been in my life, which is more than I could say for you at first.  Lena isn’t going anywhere, ever.”

“But who is Sam?!”  Kal’s voice was under control, but he was clearly agitated.

“Sam is my girlfriend.  I told you that already.”

“But you just said Lena—”

Lena burst in.  “Jesus fucking christ, Superman.  I am Kara’s girlfriend.  We live together.  We love each other, whatever you may think of me.  Sam is also Kara’s girlfriend, who she also loves.  She has two girlfriends.  That clear it up for you?”

“Kara, I’ve held my tongue on a lot—”

“Have you really?” Lena muttered under her breath.

“A lot.  I don’t trust a Luthor, but I let that go.  You’re free to live your life.  But in addition to dating a Luthor, you’re also what … sleeping around with other people?  What kind of person are you?  You realize what this symbol—” he jabbed her in the chest with his index finger, “—means!  You’re supposed to be a hero, a beacon of hope!”

“OUTSIDE NOW!”  Kara’s voice was as loud as her eyes were hot.  She shoved Kal very hard towards the balcony, and they were on the roof in an instant. 

“You do not get to just fly into my place of business and lecture me about morality!”  She was right in his face, poking his chest for emphasis with every point.  “I am a grown ass woman, and your elder for the record, and I don’t need your approval on my personal life!  Who I love—how I love them—isn’t up to you!  This isn’t Kansas, Kal!”  He bristled, clearly readying a response, but Kara wasn’t done yet.  “And while we’re on the subject, don’t lecture me about this.”  She gestured to their family crest.

“This is the crest of the House of El!  It is not the logo for your personal brand of morality.  You may have learned a lot about Krypton from the holograms in your fortress, but you haven’t lived it!  You don’t understand it.  I am the last child of Krypton.  And in my culture, we don’t police love.  And plenty of people on Earth see it that way, too.  Not everyone finds love in the monogamous, heteronormative way that you were raised by the Kents with.  If you’re going to be a symbol of hope to everyone you cannot be so judgmental!”

Kal shoved her back, apparently tired of her prodding.  “Don’t throw my upbringing at me!  I was all alone, Kara!  This planet, these people—they are everything to me.  Maybe you’re right!  Maybe I am more human than Kryptonian.  Maybe you should be too!”

“Fuck you, Kal!”

“I see that Ms. Luthor is rubbing off on you.”  Her eyes lit with literal fire at his smug retort, and he took a step back.  But she bit down on her lip, squeezed her fists tightly, released a heavy breath, and calmed herself.

“Yes, she has.  And I’m a better woman for it.  A better hero for it.  And the same goes for Sam.  My life is better, bigger and more full of love, with her in it.”

“It isn’t normal, Kara.”

“What is normal, Kal?!  This isn’t our planet.  We can do things almost no one else can.  I was raised on a different planet, with different values and a different culture.  People in National City choose to live their lives differently than people in Smallville or people in Bangladesh, or Mars, or where ever.  What’s normal for you isn’t normal for me, and that is absolutely fine.  There are over seven billion people on this planet, from more walks of life than either of us can fathom.  How can you pretend to be a champion for Earth when you judge people in this way?”

Kara turned away from him.  “And I’m done fighting with you.  You’re a better person than this, Kal.  I know you have a good heart.  I always want you in my life.  But until you get your head out of your ass and learn to truly respect me and the people I love, I’m not interested in having you around.  We need your help with Reign, but afterwards, I want you out of National City.  If Lois wants to stick around to catch up with Lucy, I can fly her back to Metropolis when she’s ready.”  Without waiting for a response, she flew back down into the DEO to find Lena.

She had work to do.

Chapter Text

Chapter 26

“Supergirl, it’s bad enough I have to babysit Leslie, but do we really have to do this in my home?”  Cat emphasized her exasperation over the comms.

“Whatever Cat, we’re in your backyard.  And your tacky mansion is a piece of shit anyway.”  Leslie had stuck to her promise not to attack Cat outside the parameters of the mission, but that hadn’t stopped the two from sniping ever since the DEO contingent had arrived at Cat’s mansion on the outskirts of the city.

It was a sunny but cold afternoon.  Kara watched from her hiding spot on the second floor of Cat’s home.  The backyard was expansive.  The carefully manicured pool, hot tub, built-in grill, and firepit fit neatly into the stone and hardwood deck and seating area up against the house, and beyond that was a large grassy area, ostensibly where Carter played.   There was a full-sized soccer goal in the back of the yard, but Kara doubted Carter used it much.

“Calm down, you two.  Everything is almost ready.”  The DEO had set up cameras, sniper posts, and electrical chargers for Livewire around the perimeter.  Cat was standing beside the grill, while Livewire was just beyond where the stone gave way to grass.  Alex was coordinating from the DEO, and J’onn, Superman, and Supergirl were each hidden from view. 

Several hours had passed, and Kara still hadn’t spoken to Kal since their argument.  Lena had done a good job of talking her down from her anger and getting her focused on the task at hand.  She could yell at him more once Reign was dealt with.  But even that was … too murky for Kara’s liking.  Their plan was good, but it was only short term.  They had a good shot at taking Reign down today.  But they might have to kill her to do so.  Even if they could take her alive, Kara was terrified that they might not be able to contain her.  Beyond that … Kara sighed.  There was still so much up in the air.

J’onn’s voice piped in, drawing her attention back to the present.  “Snipers in position?”

“Affirmative.”

“Chargers active?”

“Affirmative.”

“Everyone understand their orders?  If not, speak up now.”  He was met with silence.

“Mission is yours, Supergirl.”

“Ms. Grant, get to safety as soon as Reign arrives.”

“Ten four, Supergirl.”

“Livewire.”  Supergirl let just enough threat come through in her voice.

“Yes, Blondie?”

“Don’t forget, any future you hope to build for yourself depends on you sticking to the plan.  Antagonize Ms. Grant until Reign arrives, then help us take her down.  Stand down immediately afterwards.  If anyone gets the sense that you are hindering rather than helping us, the DEO has shoot to kill orders.  Are we going to have a problem?”

“99, but I won’t be one.  I’ve got it.  I’ll play nice today, scout’s honour.”

Cat butted in.  “Supergirl, are you absolutely sure I can’t have a gun, just to be safe?  Or maybe one of those strapping agents by my side?”

Kara rolled her eyes.  “Quite sure, Ms. Grant.  Just play your part.  If Livewire so much as singes you, we’ll have her down and out in a heartbeat, and she knows it.”  Leslie’s annoyed snort sounded over the comms, but Supergirl didn’t have time for it.  “Now, if we’re all aware of our roles …  Agent Danvers, proceed with leaking the story to the NCPD and local news stations, as well as twitter.  Livewire has been spotted in the vicinity of Cat Grant’s home.  Consider her armed and dangerous.”  They weren’t sure how Reign was getting her information, but they were determined to catch her attention.  The plan depended on it.

“Always,” Livewire retorted.

“The news is out there, Supergirl.  Livewire, Ms. Grant, that’s your cue.”  Alex switched to a private channel.  “Kara, please be careful.  Don’t rush in until the kryptonite is in her system.  And don’t let her take the battle away from the containment area.”

“I will, Alex.”  She opened the comms back to the whole team.  “Alright everyone, radio silence.”  All DEO chatter ceased, and the performance began.

“Guess it’s just you and me, Cat Lady.”  Livewire began to pace around Cat like a predator stalking her prey.

“Oh, joy.  Honestly, Leslie, isn’t it about time you got over this little obsession you have with me?”  She was matching Livewire’s steps, but in reverse.  Suddenly, Livewire blasted a wave of lightning into Cat’s path.

“Oh please!  You love the attention.  Whether it’s me or your precious American Girl doll in a cape, you get off on it, don’t you?”  Another wave of electricity struck near Ms. Grant, but none of it hit her.  “Does it get you all hot and bothered?”

“Leslie, do you really think that I think about you at all?  You’re yesterday’s news.”

Livewire’s eyes lit up in anger.  “Bet I’ll make plenty of headlines by the time I leave your fried corpse behind here today.”  She gestured theatrically.  “You really think you can get away from me this time?  I hear tall dark and scary took out your precious Supergirl.”

“I believe in Supergirl, but regardless, I’m not scared of you, Leslie.  I never have been.  You’re all bark.  You don’t have it in you to kill me.  Besides, I hear the new Kryptonian in town is coming after your ilk, and she’s not interested in playing as nice as Supergirl.”   

Kara heard her coming before anyone else and turned her attention upward while Cat was still speaking.  A tiny dark spot appeared above the skyline of National City in the distance, and there was a sonic boom in the distance as Reign sped towards them.  She halted in the air directly above Cat’s yard, then slammed to the ground feet first.  The force of her landing nearly caused Cat to topple over.  In the bright sunlight, Reign was no longer a terrifying creature of shadow, but she was just as intimidating a presence.  She was a tall statue of coiled fury, seemingly unburdened by the laws of man or of physics.  Red eyes glared out from the dark depths of her mask, burning into Livewire.

“She’s not.”  Hearing her voice again sent a cold tension down Kara’s spine.

“Holy hell, you’re creepy up close.”  Leslie seemed oddly captivated.  “Give me a sec to finish up with this bitch, then I’m all yours, goth queen.”  She turned back to threaten Cat again.  Kara hoped Leslie was still paying attention to Reign even as she continued the act.

Reign’s eye cavities lit up orange.  “You will not harm her.  She is innocent.  You, on the other hand—” she fired off her heat vision at Livewire, “—are a pestilence to be cleansed.”

                                                  

Lena was pacing behind Alex and Winn, watching as Leslie and Cat taunted each other.  It was almost strange how sunny it was—it felt like this sort of confrontation should be taking place during a storm.  Or maybe her mind just went there because of Livewire’s power set.  Still, maybe it was a good sign, all things considered.  In some way, it felt like while the night was Reign’s domain, the day was Supergirl’s.

Winn shouted, “Got her!”  He pointed at the radar on his screen.  “Reign’s coming in fast.”  As they watched Reign touch down between Cat and Livewire, Lena’s phone rang.  She almost ignored it, but something in her screamed to look at the phone.

 It was Ruby.  “Ruby?  Sweetie, this is a bad—”

“Mom’s gone!”  Lena’s heart dropped out of her chest.  No no no no no.  Please no.  “Lena, I’m scared.”

“Ruby, where are you?  I’m on my way.”  After confirming the address and Ruby’s safety, she hung up the phone and turned to Alex.  “It’s Ruby.  Sam’s gone.  I’m going to get her.”  Alex’s face fell, but she nodded.

“Go!  Bring her here.  I’ll keep you informed.”  Lena focused on Ruby.  She didn’t want to think about anything else.  Because she and Alex both jumped to the same conclusion.  The walls of the DEO passed her by and gave way to the more open walls of the parking garage where her car waited.  Lena’s eyes took in none of it, as her mind spiraled out of control.

                                                  

Livewire’s cackling filled Kara’s ear over the monitor.  “You’re way more fun than Blondie—this is fucking fantastic!”  Leslie’s entire body crackled with bright red light as she absorbed Reign’s heat vision.  Then she dissipated, flowing back and forth between the chargers, cackling and taunting Reign the entire time.

“Can’t kill what you can’t catch, hell bitch!”  As she continued to bounce around, she began to attack, tossing bolts of energy at Reign.  Cat ran away as Reign began to flit back and forth, trying to catch Livewire.

“Insolent shrew.  Face me!” 

“Yeah that sounds smart!  I saw what you did to Supergirl, you little shit!  I’m not some naïve girl scout you can bait into fighting you with honour or whatever.  How do ya like me?”

Reign paused, refusing to be baited by Livewire’s heckling.  “You’re a nuisance,” she spat.  Then she destroyed one of the chargers just before Leslie flowed into it, sending her tumbling back into corporeal form.  Reign took the respite to raise her voice.  “I am not here to fight with the innocent,” she bellowed.  “If you think I’m not aware of your presence here, do not fool yourselves.  Whoever is out there in wait, do not interfere, or you will be dealt with as harshly as I deal with her.”  Kara wasn’t surprised that she was aware of the DEO’s presence, but she didn’t seem to have registered the presence of the other Kryptonians.  Reign’s attention was still primarily on Livewire who was rising to her feet now.  She growled, then shot out two whips of light, one lashing around each of Reign’s wrists.

J’onn’s voice rang out, “Snipers!  Open fire!”  Shots rained down on the dark figure, pelting her with flashes of green.  Kryptonite hollow-point bullets, designed by Lena to lodge within Reign and burst apart, flooding her system.  As Reign reeled back, J’onn rushed his team in, flying in and driving two syringes of concentrated liquid kryptonite into Reign’s bloodstream.  Screaming in agony, she lashed out with her heat vision, but J’onn phased just in time, allowing the beams to pass through him harmlessly.  “Supers, now!” 

Kara finally leapt from her hiding spot, as did Kal.  Each of them was outfitted with a refurbished anti-Kryptonite chestplate Winn had designed for use against Metallo.  They wouldn’t completely counteract the effect of all the kryptonite around them, but they would protect the Supers and keep them functioning at some level of their usual strength.  They flew at Reign at full speed.  Kara briefly glimpsed the surprise in her eyes before she and Kal hit her simultaneously, driving her into the ground with the force of a small meteor.  Superman had her in a sleeper hold immediately, but she got a kick in on Kara, sending her flying.  She landed in a crouch.

“So, the Supergirl kneels?”  Reign’s glowing red irises somehow managed to remain plenty expressive through the pain of the kryptonite flooding her body.  That same pitying look from their last encounter captured Kara’s attention.  Who are you?  Even with Kal’s arms around her neck and Leslie’s lightning at her wrists, she flashed an impish grin at Supergirl.  “That should be good practice, if you survive this.  I’m actually glad to see that you recovered from our last encounter.”

Reign was struggling against the poison but having almost less trouble with it than Superman was.  Kara charged her, and Reign fired off her heat vision at Supergirl, who met it with her own.  She matched Reign’s energy, but floated up into the sky, attempting to distract Reign’s attention from the others around her.  Kara focused all of her emotions into the energy flowing through her eyes.  The fear she felt remembering the first battle with Reign.  The anger she felt towards Kal.  The love she held for Lena, Alex, Sam, Eliza, Maggie, J’onn, and Cat.  Her compassion for and connection to the people of this planet.  Her sheer determination not to lose another world like she lost Krypton.  She shouted as her own power poured out of her.

Livewire withdrew her electric shackles and began hitting Reign with targeted bolts again, hoping to continue weakening the Worldkiller.  Fortunately (but not for me, Kara thought to herself), Reign had eyes only for Supergirl.  With a cry of unbridled fury and pain, Reign’s heat vision pulsed with even more power and force, and it drove Kara’s back into her head, sending her flying away from the battle.  All she could see was white, and her skull was filled with blinding pain again.  She continued to spin helplessly through the air until she felt her back impact against something hard that then crumpled under her.

Kara could hear the battle continuing to rage, but at more of a distance now.  Her vision started to clear at the same time that her head did.  She was up and flying back towards the sounds of violence before coherent thoughts returned to her.  Reign’s voice drifted above the cacophony.

“Why do you bother?  My quarrel is not with any of you, just the criminal.  My justice will not be impeded.  Why defend her?  You think she would defend you if the tables were turned?” 

Livewire clapped back, “Maybe I’m just better at making friends, you terrifying shit!”  More sounds of electricity and an explosion followed.

Supergirl was mostly clearheaded again as she returned to Cat’s backyard.  Reign had freed herself of Kal’s chokehold and was trading blasts of heat vision and electricity with him and Livewire.  J’onn continued to phase in and out of the battle, landing blows on Reign where he could.  He was favouring his left arm, though.  A thin trail of blood escaped Superman’s lower lip.  Two more of Livewire’s chargers were down, and all of the sniper posts were smoldering ruins.

However, the battle was taking its toll on Reign.  She was moving much slower than Kara had ever seen her move, and she was breathing heavily.  Her usual emotionless façade was broken, and she was lashing out at her foes with anger and frustration.  Enough so that she had registered Supergirl’s return to the battlefield.  She sped in behind Reign, and locked her up in the sleeper hold, just like Alex had shown her.  “NOW J’ONN!”

“Agents, open fire!”  The team led by J’onn, previously waiting on the outskirts of the battle, charged in weapons ablaze.  They bombarded Reign with darts, filled with elephant tranquilizer, while Supergirl used all her strength to briefly cut off circulation to Reign’s brain.  The Worldkiller shrieked, then slumped into Kara’s arms.  Supergirl dropped her, then crumbled to her knees, heaving in gasps of laboured breath.  Shouts came from around her.

“Livewire, stand down!  Superman, restrain her!”

“Bring in the red sun chamber, quickly!”  There was movement around her, and Kara began to catch her breath.  She stopped ignoring the other voice in her ear.

“Supergirl!  Supergirl, tell me you are okay!  Supergirl?”

Kara whispered, “I’m okay, Alex.  I’m okay.”  She raised her head in time to see several DEO agents lifting Reign’s unconscious body into the red sun chamber.  “We’ve got her.  I’ll see you soon.”  She stood, carefully, then walked over and placed a hand on top of Reign’s chamber.  It was already warm with red sun energy.  A familiar voice crackled behind her.

“You’re not gonna kill her, are you?”  Kara’s eyes stayed on Reign, tracing the unsettlingly familiar jawline.  She could barely pay attention to Livewire talking behind her.

“No.”  The mask was still in place, and Kara couldn’t chance opening the chamber.  There was something about those lips.   The shape of Reign’s earlobes.  “I … I have to try to get through to her,” Kara whispered. 

“What!?  Come on.  You and your Pollyanna bullshit.  You think you're gonna get through to Reign?!”  I have to.  I have to save her.  I have to.

“I got through to you.  There must be something good in you that I could trust to help us with this.”

“It’s called not dying in prison, Barbie.  You will never get through to me.  I’ll admit that you’re a badass who can take a hell of a beating, but I still hate you.  That won’t change.”

Kara couldn’t even bother to respond.  She couldn’t think straight right now.  Her brain wouldn’t accept what her body was telling her about the still form entombed before her.  Kara's entire being felt tight with anxiety.  She couldn’t breathe.  She turned away and found J’onn.

“Let’s go.”

                                                  

Ruby and Sam had been enjoying some mother-daughter ice skating together.  And then Sam was just gone.  Sam would never leave Ruby alone.  Would never endanger her daughter.  What must Ruby be thinking?  How could Alex have been wrong?  Lena’s head continued to spin.  She was at the rink before she knew it—she had been so focused that she couldn’t even really remember driving here.

Lena rushed into the building, eyes searching hurriedly for Ruby.  Everything was shades of white, with hints of red and blue scattered about.  Why were there so many people here?  She rushed around the rink, heels not inhibiting her pace in the slightest.  “Ruby?”  Lena saw her.  “Ruby!  Ruby, are you okay?”

“I’m fine.”  The girl seemed shaken, and she had clearly been crying.  Lena led her gently over to a nearby table.  “Lena, I turned around, and she was just gone.”

“Baby I’m so sorry.  Your mom’s just … she’s going through a lot—”

“That’s not it!”  Ruby’s eyes were empty.  Her voice cracked.  “This keeps happening.  She disappears.  She doesn’t remember things.  Sometimes … sometimes it’s like she’s an entirely different person.”

“I know.”  Lena’s own voice was thin, defeated.  “But we’re going to help her, Ruby, I promise.  This isn’t your mom.  You know that, right?”  She nodded but looked no less terrified.  “For right now, you’re coming with me, okay?  I’m going to take you to Supergirl’s secret base.  Kara’s sister Alex is waiting for us there.  She’ll help us figure out how to help your mom.”  Ruby’s response was again nothing more than a nod, but her face lightened up the tiniest bit at the mention of Supergirl.  They walked briskly to Lena’s car, and she checked her phone.  Alex’s message was short.

[1:12 p.m.]   We got her.  Kara is safe.

Lena shot back a quick response: [1:12 p.m.]   And Reign?

[1:13 p.m.]    Alive.

Lena breathed a sigh of relief.  Does Kara know yet?

                                                  

Supergirl made sure that Livewire made it back to her cell without incident, then flew back to the DEO’s downtown headquarters.  She needed to check in with Lena and collect Alex to return to the desert base where a special cell had been created for Reign.  Her body felt numb, matching the empty buzzing in her mind.  She could feel the tears forming in her eyes, but she didn’t know why. 

Without warning, her body dropped out of the air.  She caught herself after a couple of seconds, and the sudden loss of concentration barely even registered.  She couldn’t feel anything.  The sun still shone bright around her, the warmth of the yellow rays filling her body with limitless energy.  But she may as well have been in the void of space.

Lena waited for her on the balcony.  The broken look on her face said everything.  Lena’s body language matched how Kara felt on the inside.  Like the life had slipped from both of them.  She landed and immediately crashed into Lena’s arms.  Their feet failed them, and they both crumpled to the ground, sobbing into each other’s arms.

She could only muster five words.

“We have to save her.”

Chapter Text

Chapter 27

She didn’t wake up immediately.  Sleep gave way to semi-consciousness, which gave way to groggy resting.  There was a deep red glow beyond her closed eyelids, and she felt warmer this morning than usual.  At least she wasn’t jarred awake from another nightmare this time …  Nightmare. 

Sam’s eyes popped open, and everything was wrong.  She was lying on the floor, of a circular room.  Without moving her head, she could see only that she was enclosed in a transparent circular wall that rose to meet the ceiling, and there appeared to be a room beyond her cylinder.  Where the transparent wall met the ceiling, there was a ring of green lighting.  Her room was lit by three large red lamps embedded into the ceiling—but they were giving off a good amount of heat in addition to the unusual light.  

Sam jerked up into a seated position, the strangeness of the room breaking through her grogginess.  Where the fuck am I?  She found herself in what she could only think of as either a cell or an animal enclosure.  The cell was a circular cylinder, raised up from the floor of the surrounding room by maybe a foot.  Its diameter was roughly ten or twelve feet, and featureless save for the toilet, sink, and the pallet she had just woken up on.  She wasn’t sure what sort of material it was made of, but the padding was not uncomfortable.  Small blessings.  The floor was also ringed by green—almost like a wide LED emitter.  Shaking her head clear of the remaining fog of sleep, she stood.  Her body was painfully sore, and she groaned at the effort of standing and stretching.

Then she noticed.  Kara and Lena were seated together on a couple of uncomfortable looking chairs.  Kara had woken when Sam groaned, and she was nudging Lena awake.  Sam ran to the wall.  “Kara, baby, what is going on?!  Why am I in here?”  She didn’t care that her voice sounded weak and terrified—she was legitimately freaking out now.

The look in Kara and Lena’s eyes did nothing to calm her.  Lena almost looked afraid of her, and Kara’s crystal blue eyes were filled with conflict and pain.  “Sam.  We’ll explain.  I promise.  But first, I need—” her voice broke a little, “—I need to know that you are okay.”

“I am in no way okay, Kara!  I wake up in what is obviously a very fancy prison cell, sore all over, and I have no fucking idea what the fuck is going on, and Lena is looking at me like she is terrified of me … Kara, I’m not fucking okay!  Why am I in here?!”  She could feel the tears run down her face, hot and heavy.

Kara put her hand against the thick glass (or whatever material this was), and Sam’s hand shakily rose to meet it.  Blue eyes met brown, both full of tears.  Sam took a deep breath.  Kara whispered, “I’m so sorry, Sam.  You don’t deserve this.  I promise—I promise—I’ll find a way to save you.”

Sam could barely get the words out.  “From what?”

The tears fell down Kara’s face.  “Alex reevaluated the blood samples she took.  They … they’ve mutated.  They’re … Kryptonian.  Sort of.”  The weight of that statement sank into Sam so heavily it felt as though it might drag her to the floor.  “Sam … we don’t know how … but—”  Kara’s voice broke again, this time as she held back a sob, “—you’re ...”

Reign,” whispered Lena.  Sam crumpled to the ground as her emotions overtook her.  Heaving sobs wracked her body, making it hard to breathe. Somehow, she registered Kara on the ground next to her, hand still on the glass. She felt so close, yet so very far away.  Her girlfriend, her love.  My foe, my enemy.  Vague flashes of her own hand wrapped around Kara’s throat.  Of Kara’s beaten and bloody face.  The fight all gone out of her then horrifyingly dull blue eyes.  She cried out at the pain of the vision—the memory—and her sobbing only got worse.

She tried to get words out, tried to apologize, but she could hardly breathe.  The words wouldn’t come.  There was a ringing in her ears, and her chest felt simultaneously as though it would explode and also collapse in on itself.  She had no idea how much time passed before the ringing faded enough to notice their voices nearby.  Her sobs weakened enough that she could look up, and now Lena’s hand had joined Kara’s.  Their faces were stained with tears as well, their eyes red and puffy.  They were trying to reach her.

“Sam, we’re here.  We’re not going anywhere.  You’ve got us.”  Her brain didn’t quite register if that was Lena or Kara or both.  She wanted to stop.  She wanted to say something.  But her body wouldn’t comply.  The sight of their faces just set off another bout of crying and pain.  Sam wished that she could touch Kara, to crumple into her arms and hide there forever.  Then her mind violently revolted against that thought.  I can’t be trusted to touch Kara.  I can’t be around anyone.  I can’t …

She breathed in, trying desperately to steady herself.  “K-K-Kara, w--where’s Ruby?  I-Is she safe?”

“She is.  Sweetie, I promise.  Lena got her, she’s with Vasquez at the DEO right now.  We’ll take care of her while we figure out how to free you from this thing.”  Kara patted her hand on the glass softly, to get Sam’s attention.  “Sam.  Look at me, baby.  Sam.”  She met Kara’s gaze cautiously, and there was nothing but love and concern there.  “We’re your family.  And we’re Ruby’s family, too.”

Sam knew that Ruby would be safe with these two amazing women.  Her family.  Even if …  Ruby was safe.  That was the most important thing. 

Lena spoke up, hesitantly.  “You’re not alone, Sam.”  Her voice was thinner than usual, and something was off about her tone in a way that Sam had never heard before.  But her eyes were fiery, determined.  “I’m working on something already.  You know that neither of us will stop until we have figured out a way to get rid of Reign.”

I can think of an obvious one.  Kara’s eyes widened, and Sam wondered briefly if she could read minds.

“No!  Sam, no!  That is not an option.  Reign is a parasite.  She’s taken over your body.  You are not her.  I don’t care what it takes, but I will get you back.  I won’t let you go.  I swear it.”  Kara’s words were so forceful that Sam felt them as much as she hurt them.  A tiny spark of hope rekindled in her chest.

“We have to figure this out first.  Figure out … what Reign is, how my body can be both human and Kryptonian.”  Her crying finally halted, at least for now, she was able to think.  “Kara, you have to get my pod.  That’s where this all started.”

Kara nodded.  “That makes sense.  It shouldn’t take me more than an hour to get there and back with the pod, if that.  If you’re okay here, I’ll go now.” 

“Please go.  I don’t want to waste any time.  I don’t … we don’t know when she will be back.  Lena and I can discuss what to do with Ruby while I’m staying here.”  Kara caught her eyes again.

“I love you, Sam.  Be strong for me.  For Ruby.  We’ll figure this out.”  Sam could only nod in return.  She didn’t feel as though she deserved Kara’s love.  Not anymore.  Kara squeezed Lena’s shoulder as they exchanged a look, and then she was gone, leaving the old friends alone with an awkward silence.

                                                  

Kara found Patricia Arias’ address in Sam’s phone.  Now, she just had to tell Alex and J’onn where she was going.  As she walked down the hallway, however, she ran into an obstacle.  A large, blue and red obstacle.

“Kara, can we please talk?”  She shoved past him, even though his bulk took up the majority of the hallway.  He grabbed her arm on the way past.  She glared at him.  “Please?”  His eyes were soft, pleading.  She sighed.

“I have to go.  What is it?”

“I’m sorry … for what I said, for how I treated you.  And I’m sorry about Sam.  Lois and Lucy gave me an earful before the battle.  Told me to put myself in your shoes.  I …  I don’t understand it.  I’ve only ever loved Lois.  And my parents … they only ever had eyes for each other.  This … arrangement is weird and confusing to me.”  Kara’s eyes narrowed.  “But that doesn’t matter!  You were right.  Your normal doesn’t have to be my normal, or vice versa.  Lucy told me how close the three of you are, how happy Sam makes you.”

Kara’s eyes watered, thinking of Sam in that cell.  Kal’s eyes sparkled with compassion.  “Kara.  I know I’m not …  I’m not Kryptonian, not like you.  But we’re family.  We’re all that is left of the House of El.  I will always be here for you.  The Earth is my home, and I will always stand up for everyone here.  Including you.  Including Sam.  Even …  even Lena, as much as I don’t trust her.”

Kara wanted to yell at him some more, but now wasn’t the time.  “You should trust her.  I trust her a hell of a lot more than I trust you.  You continuing to distrust her because of her family is no different than how General Lane treats us.  The fact that you can’t see that …”  She trailed off, and he was starting to look argumentative again.  She placed a hand on his arm.  “Look, Kal.  Thank you for apologizing.  And for your offer of support.  We are family, and I love you, even though you drive me insane sometimes.  But I have to go now.  I have to save her.”

She pushed away from him and continued down the hallway.  She came into the main chamber of the DEO and quickly tracked down Alex.  J’onn wasn’t there.  “Alex!”  She turned and walked towards Kara.  Her limp was barely noticeable—Lena’s brace was clearly doing its job.  They met halfway, wrapping each other into a hug.  “Thanks for coming out here.” 

“Of course.  Is she awake?  Is she …” 

“She’s Sam again.”  When they got her back to the desert base, Kara had gotten into a big argument with J’onn.  She insisted on being allowed to change Sam into some comfortable clothes, so that she didn’t have to wake up and find herself in that outfit.  J’onn didn’t know how long they could expect Reign to stay passed out, and he didn’t want to risk Kara getting trapped in the cell with her.  The kryptonite emitters in the cell, when fully powered, where enough to put Kara in a coma.  But there was no way that Kara was going to let him dictate how she protected her girlfriend.  She hoped—believed—that changing Sam’s clothes could help somehow, get her in the right mindset in her sleep.  And she had been right, maybe.

“Okay.  And how is she handling it?”  Alex’s voice was soothing in her ear.

“She’s so scared, Alex.  And hurt … it broke her when she realized what her body had been forced to do.  To think about what it did to me, especially, I think.  Even then … her first thought was about Ruby.  She wanted to know that Ruby was okay.”  Alex’s hand rubbed her back gently.  “And she had an idea.  I’m going to get her pod right now.  I’ll bring it back here—maybe we can find some answers.”

Kara pulled out of the embrace and looked Alex in the eye.  “Have you figured anything out about her blood?  Anything that could help her?”  Alex’s eyes clouded, and she shook her head.

“Nothing yet.  The blood is definitely Kryptonian, but it’s different than yours or Kal’s.  I’m not exactly sure how yet, but it may have something to do with her much higher tolerance for kryptonite.  But in terms of why it appeared human before … or why two different people seem to be sharing her body …  I’ve still got nothing.  But I’ll keep working.”  Alex’s rubbed her arm.  “You headed out right now?”

“Yeah, I told Sam and Lena I would.  I don’t want her to have to stay in that cage any longer than necessary.  She doesn’t deserve this.”  She breathed out heavily.  “Tell J’onn where I am?”

“Sure thing, Supergirl.  Good luck.”

“Be back soon.”

                                                  

It took a lot of willpower for Lena not to follow after Kara when she left the room.  She wanted to protect the Sam she remembered.  To be there for her best friend in the world.  Sam was her family back when she felt all alone in the world.  Lena owed her everything.  But … when she looked at the woman in that cell, she didn’t see her Sam.

Kara brought her to the DEO’s desert base after they were both able to stand again.  She refused to leave Supergirl’s side, so she was there as they transferred the red sun chamber to this room deep within the base.  Lena was there when they transferred Reign into the cell.  She listened silently as J’onn and Kara argued about the clothes their prisoner would be allowed to wear.  She looked on as Kara cast off all the trappings of Reign, trying so desperately to bring Sam back.  As she washed the dark makeup off her face.  And then finally, they had sealed the cell and activated the red sun lamps and kryptonite emitters.  Lena had no idea what the DEO did with the Reign outfit and accessories.  She and Kara had set up two chairs to wait and see which person would wake up—their loved one or the remorseless murderer.

Changing Sam’s clothes hadn’t had the same effect on Lena that it did Kara.  Lena knew that it was her imagination working against her, but when she looked into those deep brown eyes, she could see flecks of that awful glowing red around her irises.  The mask and the dark makeup were gone, but the ghost of them darkened Sam’s face in Lena’s mind.  She could barely stand to look at her.  She didn’t trust her face not to betray her inner turmoil and fear.  And anger.

“Lena, it’s okay.”  Sam’s voice was weak and tense, and Lena couldn’t help but conjure that slight metallic edge to it.  She kept her eyes on her shoes.  “What is it?  You’re scared of me?  Angry?  …  Lee, that’s fine.  I am feeling all the same emotions.  You can’t hate me more than I hate myself right now.  But I’m still your Sam.” 

Lena whispered, “I don’t hate you.”  She looked up and met Sam’s gaze.  The woman’s eyes were filled with sadness and self-loathing.  “I could never hate you, Sam.  I just …”  Don’t see only you anymore.  She stood and began to pace, avoiding Sam’s gaze again.  “I’m sorry.  You don’t deserve this.  You didn’t choose it.  You didn’t hurt Kara…  But—”

“But it’s hard for your heart to accept what your mind is telling you.  You almost lost Kara, and now you don’t just see your best friend.  You see—” Sam’s voice broke, and Lena could imagine the tears running down her face again, “—your girlfriend’s attempted murderer.”  Lena had no response.  Sam had always known her so well.

She could hear the quiet sounds of Sam’s laboured breath, the sniffle of her nose as she cried silently.  Lena’s heart melted in her chest, but she couldn’t bring herself to face Sam again.  She hated herself for her weakness.  “Let’s just … Ruby will be okay, I promise.  Kara and I will move into your place, temporarily, so that we don’t disrupt her life any more than necessary.”

“Lee … does she know?”  Sam’s voice was tight with worry.

“She knows that something is wrong.  She’s been noticing for a while … the disappearances, the mood changes, the lost memories.  When you disappeared from the skating rink, she called me.”  Lena let out a breath.  “She doesn’t know that you’re Reign.”  She thought she heard a sigh of relief from Sam.  Lena continued to pace around without looking up.  “I told her that you’re sick.  She thinks you’re in quarantine.  She fought me really hard on whether she could see you, but she trusts me.  Don’t worry.  Kara and I will look after her.  If we can keep her from having to face this, we will.”

Ruby had been a mess at first.  She had been frantic, demanding to see Sam and make sure she was okay.  Lena had explained that they had found Sam, that she was okay but sick.  Lena brought her to the DEO and told her that the DEO was a secret group that worked with Supergirl to protect the world, and that they had the best doctors to help Sam.   Ruby was so angry that no one would let her see Sam, not even Alex and Vasquez offering to take her on a tour would distract her.  Fortunately, Kara was capable of putting on a brave face long enough for Supergirl to make an appearance and reassure the girl.  Supergirl’s assurance that Sam would be okay and her exhortation that Ruby be brave for her, finally got through to her.  Right now, she was hanging out with Vasquez, waiting for Lena to come and get her.

“Just … keep her safe, Lee.  She may figure it out herself.  She’s a s-s-smart girl.”  Sam couldn’t hide the pain in her voice.  “Please, Lee.  Tell her I love her.”

Lena’s chest was tight, and her legs were shaky.  She wasn’t sure how much longer she could stay here.  “I’m … Sam, I’m going to fix this.  I’m working on something.  I’ve been working on something, just in case…”

“In case Alex was wrong.  My Lena… always prepared for the worst.”  Sam sniffed again, trying not to cry anymore.  Lena glanced over at her friend, who was now seated against the glass, facing away from Lena.  “Kara will do everything she can, she’ll kill herself trying, but you and I both know that you’re my best hope.  You and Alex.  This isn’t a problem Supergirl can punch.  It’s … it’s a puzzle for Lena Luthor to solve.”

And I will solve it.  I’m almost there, Sam.  Just hold on.  Lena turned back to face Sam again and immediately took a step back in surprise.  She was standing again, and her entire posture was changed.  Her stance was powerful, predatory.  She stood at her full height, shoulders back, hand held at her side in effortless fists.  Her head tilted downward imperiously at Lena, and her glowing red irises held a challenge in them.

“I know you, Lena Luthor.  You are not like most humans.”  Lena felt her own posture shift to match Reign’s as her walls went up.  She wouldn’t give this monster the satisfaction of any real reaction. 

“Reign.  Should I be flattered that you know me?  Do you not have access to information about me contained in that mind you have possessed?”

“I have access to bits and pieces, but not everything.  Besides, your reputation precedes you.  You are the one who drove back the Daxamite invasion, after all.  You should be leading these humans, yet you are content to play the businesswoman.  Why?”  Reign seemed legitimately curious, and Lena wasn’t sure how to handle that.  She kept her guard up.

“What I choose to do with my considerable talents is my business, not yours.  What about you—why are you here?  What are you trying to accomplish, beyond simply ridding the Earth of its less savoury elements?”

Reign’s head tilted ever so slightly as she studied Lena.  “I explained this to your girlfriend already, just before I beat her into the ground.”  Lena immediately took control of the scowl that sought to overtake her face.  She knows Kara is Supergirl.  Does she know about Sam and Kara?  “I am here to bring justice to this world.  It begins with the culling of evil, of the worthless souls who thrive on oppression and violence.  But I will not stop there.  I am not here to harm the innocents, but you are all complicit in the corruption that taints your society.  I will burn your governments, your power structures, to the ground, and then I will build up something just on the ashes.  People like you will be key to what comes next, Lena Luthor.”

“And what of my loved ones?  What of Supergirl?  And Sam?”  Lena kept her voice tight and cold, allowing herself no emotional expression that Reign could use against her.

“Love is a weakness.  You must put it behind you for the war ahead.  After …”  She shrugged, as if to suggest that Lena could indulge in this unusual weakness of love once the new world was prepared.  “For now, I have no qualms with Kara Zor-El, so long as she stays out of my way.  Ideally, I would have her join me—I am the pinnacle of Kryptonian culture and evolution; she should welcome my vision.  But she chooses instead to defend this hopeless world and its worthless people.  That is her choice.  I wonder, what will yours be?”  Reign’s voice always held the promise of force in it, but it was surprisingly capable of conveying a depth of emotions in the dark woman’s soul.  If she has a soul.

“And Sam?”

“Samantha Arias is a fiction.  Camouflage created by my makers’ programming in order to allow me to develop and grow into maturity on this world.  I confess, she is a powerful personality, but whether this was a flaw in my makers’ technology or merely an interesting quirk of random chance, I do not know.  What I do know is that she has delayed my coming for too long.  It will not be much longer before I have full control over this form.  You would do well to let Sam go.”

“She is my family.  I cannot let her go. I will not.”

Reign smirked.  “And yet, you are afraid of her.  You do not see just your friend anymore.  You see me.  You blame Sam for all the suffering Kara Zor-El has experienced at my hand.  You are a fascinating person, Lena.  I have told you that Samantha is a fiction, that I am so much more than her—and yet, you cannot separate us.  Despite your love for this fiction.  Part of you no longer trusts her.  Part of you has considered killing her, to stop me.”  She narrowed her eyes.  “Tell me I am wrong.”

Lena knew she couldn’t deny it.  And she hated that Reign could see through her so easily.  Unlike Sam, Reign did not earn that skill.  Did not deserve it.  It was disturbing how much of Sam Lena could recognize in Reign.  Hints, flashes, and subtle versions of traits that were so familiar.  What is the difference?  Where does one end and the other begin?

“Even now, your conflict is transparent to me.  Is Samantha still trapped away in the back of my mind somewhere?  Or is she somehow a part of me?  I am capable of ending the lives of the wicked without remorse—is she?  You cannot be sure, and it eats at you.”  Reign turned away from her.  “It does not have to.  Sam will be gone—sooner or later, I will purge myself of her.  Whether you accept this truth now, you will have to face it eventually.”  She turned back, placing her hand against the transparent wall of her cell.  “But we do not have to be enemies.  You are capable of making the difficult choices, of seeing the structural corruption endemic to your society.  You are not ready to join me yet; I see this.  But perhaps soon you will come to understand.”

Reign’s focus shifted to the door, and Lena assumed the DEO had finally noticed what was going on and had sent backup to check on Lena.  Headed by Alex, if Lena had to guess.  “We will continue this conversation at another time, Lena Luthor.” 

Lena’s eyes were dragged back to Reign in sudden shock.  Reign’s eye cavities glowed orange.  What the fuck?!  “How?—” Lena’s voice trailed off, all her previous strength falling away.

“My powers are not dependent on anything so trivial as a yellow sun.”  Then she blew a hole in the ceiling and was gone in a flash, just as Alex stormed into the room with a team of agents.  Lena’s eyes were captivated by the newly formed skylight.  Just like that, everything had changed. 

                                                  

The sunlight danced over the subtle waves of the water in a way that felt intricate and yet oh so simple.  If she chose to, as she did now, Kara could see deep down through the water and observe the alien world thriving beyond the reckoning of most humans.  She wasn’t a biologist like Eliza or Alex, but she was fascinated by the ways in which life became tailored to the culture and context of the environment around it.  The ocean was where life on Earth had begun, and yet the civilization on the shore a hundred miles to her left was so unlike the ecosystem it had left behind millenia ago that it may as well have come from another world entirely.

But you could see this happening in the short term, as well.  Adaptation was not solely the province of evolution and epochs.  Just look at Kara Zor-El.  She had lived on Earth now as long as she had on Krypton, and she had spent twice as long in the Phantom Zone as she did on either planet.  She was unique—a singular entity, created and shaped and changed by a blend of cultures and environments no other person had experienced in the same combination.  She was equal parts Kryptonian and human, and something entirely different on top of them both.

As she looked down at the pod she held in her right hand, she wondered how this universal truth applied to Reign.  The Worldkiller was created to be a Kryptonian goddess, and yet she had spent the majority of her life as an intelligent, passionate, ambitious, beyond amazing human woman.  A mom.  A friend.  A partner.  She didn’t know how it was possible—that’s something she trusted Alex and the DEO to figure out—but however it had happened, this dark science experiment had resulted in something completely unexpected. 

Sam was even more remarkable than Kara had ever realized.  The entire deck was stacked against her.  Genetically engineered to be a killer.  Born into a world at the moment of its final destruction.  Raised by a woman who lied to her and then betrayed her in her greatest moment of need.  Left to fend for herself and her daughter before she had ceased being a child herself.

Despite all of that, Sam had adapted.  She shaped herself into something good.  Into someone worth saving.  Sam was not Reign.  She was not a Worldkiller.  She had the right to choose who she wanted to be, to free herself of a genetic destiny she didn’t ask for.  Kara would do everything in her power to give Sam that chance.

She checked her phone’s GPS to be sure she didn’t overshoot National City.  Kara loved to fly over the ocean when she had to travel up the coast, but it did make navigating more of a challenge.  The DEO was about fifty miles southeast of her, so she angled to her left and moved in towards the coast.  She was so lost in thought as she approached the DEO that she almost missed the gaping hole in the desert.

The one directly over the most heavily fortified, deep underground part of the bunker in which the DEO had constructed the cell for Reign.  Kara’s heart sank as she dropped from the sky, placing Sam’s pod gently down beside her.  No no no.  How?  How could she escape?  Kara’s mind briefly jumped to Lena and Alex, but she felt confident by now that Reign wouldn’t have hurt them.  Wanton slaughter was not her thing.  She might be a remorseless killer, but she had a code.  However much she disagreed with that code, Kara wondered the extent to which it arose out of Sam’s personality rather than Reign’s.  How much more terrifying and evil might the Worldkiller have been without the extraordinary adaptation that was Samantha Arias?

Voices from below broke Kara’s reverie.  These questions didn’t matter right now.  She had to get this pod to Alex.  Time was not a resource they had available anymore.

Chapter Text

Chapter 28

“So, Reign was telling a version of the truth at least.” 

“About Sam being a fiction?  Lena!  No, absolutely not.  Sam is a person.  She is real.”  Kara couldn’t control the volume or pitch of her voice, and she didn’t care.  She couldn’t even believe Lena was suggesting it.

They were in a large lab at the DEO’s desert base, with Alex and Winn.  The other engineers and tech geniuses who had been working with Lena and Winn on Reign’s pod had given them the room when Supergirl showed up for a status update.  Kara had helped them with the initial interface problems, but Winn was close to fluent in Kryptonese at this point, and he and Lena had been hard at work for hours trying to get any information they could from the pod.  Supergirl had spent the time searching the city frantically, but there was no sign of Reign.  She couldn’t take not knowing any more, and now, it felt like Lena was confirming all her worst fears.

Lena walked over and put a hand on Kara’s arm.  Alex stayed out of it.  “Kara.  I know.  She was my Sam long before she was your Sam.  I know this is stressful, but we have to be a team on this.”  Kara breathed out heavily, knowing that Lena was right.  She nodded.  “I said she was telling a version of the truth.  From Reign’s perspective, Sam may very well be a ‘fiction,’ even if she is so much more to us.”

Winn jumped in.  “What Lena is trying to say is that Sam was created by Reign’s pod as a sort of camouflage and incubation system.  Or that’s how she started anyway.  The tech is actually crazy intriguing, I mean, it’s so far beyond anything I could—” Kara, Alex, and Lena were all glaring at him, “—right.  Sorry.  Not the point.”

“It didn’t take long for us to figure it out—we just had to look for any differences between her pod and yours.  The tech is all the same, obviously, except that hers was programmed with additional sensors and a highly unusual—and clearly experimental—biotech software.”  Normally seeing Lena get into passionate scientist mode, all emphatic gestures and rambling tech speak, would have brightened Kara’s world.  The fact that all she felt was anxiety told Kara everything she needed to know about her own stress levels.  She walked away from the pod—she couldn’t stand still any longer. 

“It took us hours to really figure out what it was.  We still have no clue how it works, but the pod was programmed to scan the planet where it landed in order to determine the dominant species.  Then the Worldkiller’s form was altered on a genetic level.”

"This is the part we still don’t understand.  Because Reign and Sam are very clearly not some sort of human-Kryptonian hybrid.  Well… Reign isn’t even Kryptonian exactly, she’s—”

“A super Kryptonian!”  Winn couldn’t keep the excited geek out of his voice, earning him more glares.

“The point is … Reign is what she is.  But … as Sam, she appears fully human.  DNA, blood, organs, abilities, everything.  If there was any doubt about that, Ruby confirmed it for us.”

Kara gasped, realizing the gravity of Lena’s statement.  “Ruby is human.”

“Yes, darling.  She is.”  Lena’s eyes were soft, matching how Kara felt on the inside.  No matter what happened, she knew that they would protect that sweet girl. 

Alex weighed in.  “Okay, but that doesn’t explain how Sam was able to survive getting shot without a scratch.  Unless she just … changed into Reign for a split second on instinct?”

“I don’t think so.”  Lena traced a finger along the hull of Reign’s pod.  “Like we said, this is clearly experimental tech.  I think that Sam was expected to be a flimsy construct, something that Reign would shrug off once her body reached maturity.  But our girl was too strong.  The Kryptonian cult loonies didn’t account for that.  Didn’t expect that sort of adaptation.  It’s possible that having Ruby at such a young age had some influence on delaying the coming of Reign as well.”

“Okay but you didn’t answer my question, Lena.”  Lena rolled her eyes at Alex.

“You Danvers women are so impatient.  I was getting there, Alex.”  Winn winced, clearly anticipating retaliation, but Alex just shrugged and gestured for Lena to continue.  “I can’t prove it, but I think now that Reign had awakened, she and Sam may be merging in some way.  But I have no idea how it works, or what the end result might be.”

“That makes sense with what happened to Sam’s blood sample actually.  I mean … it could just be that the camouflage wore off after the blood was out of Sam’s body long enough.  But it could be that the blood did actually mutate.”

Kara had listened to the conversation with an increasing sense of dread.  “Lena…  you’re saying—”  Her voice cracked, and she couldn’t finish the thought.  Lena rushed to her side, wrapping her up in a tight hug.  Kara tried to breathe normally, but she couldn’t stop the tightness in her chest.

“We won’t let that happen, love.  I promise.  Kaziah and I have a possible solution, and it is almost ready.”  Kara pulled her head back enough to catch Lena’s eyes with her own.  There was hope and determination in those clear green fields.  Kara kissed her, just one soft peck.

Alex interrupted softly, “What are we missing here, guys?  Kara, what are you afraid of?”

Lena answered for her, and Kara loved her girlfriend for not making her say it.  “She’s worried that Reign could consume Sam fully.  That she could be gone forever.”  Lena turned back to Kara and pulled her chin up so that she was looking at her again.  “But we don’t know that, okay?  You have to believe in Sam.  Even if we can’t stop it—we don’t understand this technology.  We don’t understand the science of what is happening.  We don’t have any reason to believe that Sam couldn’t win out, or that they won’t eventually become some sort of hybrid that represents the strengths of both personalities.”

Kara felt her brow crinkle in frustration.  That’s not what she wanted.  She just wanted Sam back.  But Lena knew that.  Alex interrupted again.  “Lena, what are you and Kaziah working on?”

Lena’s posture tightened.  Kara wondered if she hadn’t meant to reveal that to the DEO yet.  Lena no doubt trusted Alex and Winn, but when it came to saving the people she loved, Kara knew that Lena preferred as little oversight as possible.  Lena confirmed Kara’s suspicions.  “That’s … not something I have any intention of sharing with the DEO, Agent Danvers.”

Alex’s hand went to her gun, probably subconsciously, but Kara was between them before either could make any sort of move.  “Not now!”  She glared at them both.  “Lena, I trust you.  And I trust Kaziah to help Sam.  Alex … this is personal.  We’ll keep the DEO in the loop, but they have no right to interfere with Lena’s work, done with Lena’s property and employees.  In order to save Lena’s family.”  Alex took her hand off her gun, keeping her eyes firmly on Kara.  She hated how high the tension in the room was right then.

Lena softened and stepped around Kara, placing a hand on Alex’s arm as the agent relaxed a little.  “But I’m happy to discuss it with my friend Alex outside of the DEO, okay?”

“Okay.  I’m sorry, Lena.  How can we help?”  Kara smiled softly at Alex, thankful for how far her relationship with Lena had come over time.

“Winn, I don’t think this is a tech issue.  You should stay here and keep analyzing Reign’s pod.  Figure out anything else you can.”  Winn nodded.  “Alex, if you can get away for a while, I could use your expertise at my lab.  Kaziah is there now.  Kara, you can fly us?” 

Kara looked at Alex for confirmation.  “Just let me go tell J’onn, and I’m all yours.”

                                                  

“Hey Vasquez, I was wondering if your friend might wanna hang out with me for a while.”  Ruby and Vasquez turned, and the girl’s face lit up. 

“Not sure I could hold her back if I wanted to, Supergirl.  Let me just check with Lena and be sure that’s okay.”  Vasquez winked at Kara as ey pulled out eir phone to ‘call Lena.’  Lena had already texted Vasquez to let em know Kara would be coming, but it was important to keep up pretenses with Ruby.

"Supergirl!  You really want to hang out with me?”  Ruby looked down at her feet, then glanced back up at Kara.  “I mean … I’m sure you’ve got robberies to stop or whatever.”

“None currently, in fact.  But I understand today has been pretty hard on you, and I thought you might want to talk about it.  With me, maybe.”  Playing the role of Supergirl in order to show Ruby a brave face was actually helping Kara hold herself together.  And as great as Vasquez was being, Kara wanted—needed—to be here for Sam’s daughter right now.  She owed her that.  So, she displayed her brightest Supergirl smile and added, “Besides, flying gets lonely sometimes, and I was hoping you might keep me company.”

Kara thought for a second that Ruby might learn to fly on her own out of pure excitement.  “Of course!  I mean, I can definitely keep you company!  As long as it’s okay with Lena…”  She turned to Vasquez, who had just hung up eir phone.

“You’re good to go, kiddo.  Lena and Kara told me to tell you not to worry about your mom and to have fun.”  Ruby hugged Vasquez enthusiastically. 

“Thank you, Agent Vasquez.  If I can’t find Ms. Luthor or Ms. Danvers when we get back, should I come find you again?”

“I’ll be here, ma’am.”  Kara turned back to Ruby and knelt down so they were on the same level.

“Okay, so here are the rules, and you have to follow them or this won’t work.  Your mom would kill me if I let anything happen to you.  Deal?”

“You know my mom?!”  Ruby’s eyes were wide, and Kara couldn’t help but giggle.  She really was a superfan.

“She didn’t tell you?”  Kara made a faux scolding face.  “Your mom told me that you were a fan, and I told her that she should tell you how she helped me solve a case once.  I guess she didn’t want to brag, but she totally saved my butt once!”

“She did?!  How?”  Ruby sounded doubtful, and Kara felt a pang in her heart.  She wished she could explain to Ruby all the many ways in which her mom was every bit as amazing and awe-inspiring as Supergirl.

“Turns out math is super important sometimes!  Maybe if you’re good, your mom will tell you all about it when she gets better.  For now, I need you to agree to my rules, okay?”

“Anything, Supergirl!”

“Okay then.  First, you have to do whatever I tell you to, no questions asked.  If we get interrupted by a dangerous situation, I need to know I can trust you to stay out of harm’s way.’  Ruby nodded seriously.  “Good!  Also, I know that it will be tempting to tell all your friends about our hangout, but I need this to be our little secret, okay?”  Ruby seemed less sure about this one, so Supergirl fixed her with the full ‘this is really important to the safety of the world’ look.

Ruby conceded, sounding more than a little disappointed, “I promise.”

“Thank you, Ruby.  And it’s totally fine if you wanna talk all about it with Lena or Kara—they’re a part of my super secret Superfriends club.”  That brightened her face.

“Lastly, I need to know how you prefer to fly.”  Kara stood and put her fists on her hips in her classic Supergirl pose, and she looked down at Ruby expectantly.

“What do you mean?”

“Weeeell, I mean that I can carry you like this—” Kara picked her up with one arm around Ruby’s waist, so that they were more or less side by side, then placed her down delicately, “—or this—” Kara picked her up bridal style, before setting her down again.

“Definitely the first one, then it’s like I’m flying with you.”

“You got it, Ruby.  But you have to promise me that you won’t squirm or move too much, since I’ll have you in one arm instead of two.  You also have to be sure to hold onto my arm as firmly as possible.”

“Deal!” Ruby literally hopped in place, and Kara struggled to maintain her Supergirl poise and not slip into excited Kara mode.

“Let’s head out then!”  Kara walked her over to the balcony.  “You ready?”

“Ready!”  Kara wrapped her right arm around Ruby’s waist, holding her firmly but not too tightly.  Ruby grabbed Kara’s wrist and bicep tightly.  “Up, up, and away, Supergirl!”  Kara’s giggle was masked by the sound of her takeoff, and Ruby’s eyes grew even wider as they left the DEO behind them and the city spread out underneath them.  “Wow!  You get to do this everyday?”

“I sure do.  You’re not afraid of heights, I see.”  Ruby shook her head emphatically.  “How very brave of you!  Do you wanna know a secret?”  She nodded.  “Your mom’s friend Lena is terrified of heights.  I had to save her from a fall once, and it took her forever to agree to go flying with me again.  Even now, she usually refuses to open her eyes.”

“But Lena’s always so brave!  She’s the most courageous person I know!”  Ruby’s cheeks turned pink, then she added bashfully, “I mean, you’re courageous too, Supergirl.”

Ruby’s crush on Lena—and that’s what Kara was sure it was—was beyond adorable.  “No no, you’re totally right!  Ms. Luthor is incredibly brave, and she has helped me save the world several times.” 

Ruby interrupted, “Right!  She saved us all from the Daxamites!”

“She did!  Your mom is lucky to have a friend like Lena.  Ms. Danvers, too.”  A thought occurred to Kara.  “Hey!  I want to show you something.”  She altered their flight path, taking them up through the clouds.  Ruby shivered as they passed through, and Kara pulled her a little closer.  “I’m sorry little human, I should have insisted that you wear a bigger coat.  I’ll take us back down to warmer air quickly, I promise.”  Kara hovered maybe ten or fifteen feet above the cloud coverage, and suddenly it was like they were on a different world.  The sun was a golden orange, reflecting in brilliant and subtle ways off the fluffy clouds that formed a sort of heavenly ground beneath them.  Ruby took the view in silently, in awe of a sight so few humans saw except in brief flashes through a tiny airplane window.  Then she started to shiver again, and Kara knew it was time to head back.

“Close your eyes, and trust me, okay Ruby?”  Ruby’s eyes immediately closed.  “Okay, here we go.”  Kara immediately took a nosedive, fast enough for it to be thrilling for Ruby but not nearly as fast as she would normally dive.  “Okay, open your eyes!”  Ruby’s yell was immediate in its shock and exhilaration, as the city rushed up to meet them.  Kara halted their fall just above the L-Corp building, checking quickly for the sound of Lena and Alex’s heartbeats to see if they were still there working on the modified kryptonite project.  Confirming their presence, she turned her attention back to the ecstatic teen in her arm.

“Supergirl that was amazing!  Like the best rollercoaster ever!!”

“You like rollercoasters?”

“Love them!  I only just got tall enough to ride the really good ones, and I’m always bugging Mom to take me.” 

“Rollercoasters are a ton of fun, I’ll give you that.  Did you know that we didn’t have anything like rollercoasters on my planet when I was your age?”

“You didn’t?  Really?!  That sucks.  Krypton, right?”

“That’s right, little human.  What else do you know about me?”  Kara was genuinely curious.

“Well … you’re Superman’s younger cousin.”

“Actually—”  Crap.  Kara had started to correct Ruby without thinking it out first.  “Ruby, can you keep another secret?”  Kara was flying them towards the Vincent Thomas Bridge, but she looked over at Ruby to confirm that she would keep Supergirl’s confidence.  “I’m actually older than him.”

“Really?!  How?”  Ruby’s voice was full of wonder and curiosity, and Kara’s heart leapt into her throat.  She could hear Sam’s voice in her daughter’s. 

“That’s … complicated.  When we left Krypton, I was your age, but Superman was just a baby.  We were in separate pods, but mine got knocked off course.  I got trapped in a place called the Phantom Zone, where time never passes.  When I finally got out of there and made my way to Earth, no time had passed for me, but two decades had passed for Superman.  So while I was born first, when I got to Earth it was like he was physically eleven years older than me.”

“That’s so weird.”

So weird.”  They had arrived at the bridge, and she sat them down on one of the big spires holding the suspension bridge up.  This was her favourite view of the sunset in National City, and she wanted to share it with Ruby.  “Be careful sitting here.  I know you’re not afraid of heights, but are you okay?”

“More than okay.”  Kara could almost feel the joy and admiration radiating off Ruby. 

“Good.  Hit me with some more of that Supergirl trivia.”  Ruby looked around them, face working through a series of thoughts.  Then she started, having a sudden realization.

“This is it, isn’t it?  The bridge where…”

“Where I caught that plane, the night I first revealed myself to the world.  Yup!”  Kara was impressed with Ruby’s knowledge.

“So … why then?  Why that plane?”

Supergirl raised an eyebrow.  “What?  A girl can’t just want to save a crashing plane?”

“Well, I mean, duh!  You’re Supergirl, of course you would have saved them.  But you didn’t do any big heroic stuff before then.  And you didn’t wear the suit or go by ‘Supergirl’ until after that.  So … what changed?”  Kara had to work to make sure she didn’t let any of her discomfort show.  She hadn’t figured Ruby would ask her that, and it was a difficult story to tell for an alien trying to hide her secret identity from her girlfriend’s daughter.

“Honestly, Ruby, I can’t really say.  I just … I saw the plane crashing on the news, and I couldn’t just let all those people die.”  She paused, thinking through her next words.  “Ever since I came to Earth, everyone told me I would be safer if I stayed hidden, learned to fit in.  My cousin especially, he would always tell me how difficult it was to live the life of a hero.  To be in danger all the time, and potentially put the people you care about in danger.” 

Supergirl looked into Ruby’s eyes, wondering if she could understand what Kara meant—if she had any idea that she was secretly one of those people Supergirl cared so deeply about.  There was compassion in the girl’s features, along with a solemnity that surprised Kara. 

“But … when you can do the sorts of things I can do, it’s hard.  It’s so hard not to help.  And eventually, I couldn’t stay hidden anymore.  This city needed me, and I needed to stop hiding from who I really was.”  She put her arm around Ruby.  “But that’s why it is also important that today stay between us.  Hanging out with Supergirl puts you in danger.  My friendship with Ms. Luthor and Ms. Danvers puts them in danger.  I need you to help me keep them safe, okay Ruby?”

“I get it.  I guess … I never really thought about how hard that must be.”

“Nor should you have to, little human.  Supergirl is a beacon of hope.  When you see me streaking through the sky, I want you to think about all the good in the world.  The good in yourself.  We’re all a hero, in our own way.  But my burdens are for me to worry about, not you.  I just needed you to know how important my secrets are, and how much trust I am giving you.”  She stuck out her pinky.  “Promise me a solemn vow here today that you will not betray my secrets.  That you will protect me and my Superfriends.” 

Ruby smiled brightly, then fixed her face into a more serious look as she wrapped her own pinky around Supergirl’s and squeezed.  “I promise.”

Kara smiled warmly.  “Well then, little human, welcome to the club.  Now let’s get you back to the DEO.”

                                                  

Lena was trying to relax, but she could tell by the feel of Kara’s worried gaze boring into her that she was failing dramatically.  “Sweetie, your heartbeat sounds so weird right now.”  Lena looked up over her book and fixed Kara with a raised eyebrow.  She thought about brushing aside Kara’s worry, but she knew better by now.  Honesty was important, especially in difficult times.  Even still, Lena didn’t quite mean to be this honest.

“Darling.  I spent my day manipulating space rocks to try to create an element that will ideally exorcize an evil alien personality from my best friend’s subconscious.  Now, I’m trying to get comfortable in said best friend’s bed with my girlfriend because we’re keeping an eye on said best friend’s daughter.  Because Sam is currently on the run, and quite possibly out there murdering bad people as we speak.  Meanwhile, I’m in a strange bed doing my best to relax, even though I’m also well aware that it isn’t a strange bed to you.  You’ve slept in this bed before, just not with me, and now we’re here together, and Ruby is down the hall.  And all the while, I’m also trying not to think about the time that best friend’s evil personality kicked the utter shit out of you.”  Lena took a deep breath after getting out that lengthy stream of consciousness.  “So yes, I would imagine my everything is a bit weird right now.

Kara plucked the book from Lena’s hands, then kissed her forehead.  “That’s fair.  I’m sorry.  I’m so so sorry, creampuff.”  The held each other’s gaze for a long while, communicating everything and nothing in silence.  Lena didn’t want to burden Kara any further, but she wasn’t in position to hide the overwhelming emotions that threatened to tear her apart right then.  Lena felt so helpless—she didn’t know how to comfort Kara when she was a half-step from completely falling apart herself.  She lifted a hand to gently stroke Kara’s cheek.  Just as Lena was distracting herself with thoughts of how beautiful Kara was, barefaced and with her hair in a messy bun on top of her head, Kara’s face lit up with an idea, and she placed a finger to Lena’s nose.  “Stay.”  She disappeared for less than a minute before she was right back next to Lena in bed.  “Do you trust me?”

 “Kara, of course I do.”  Where is she going with this?

 “Close your eyes.”  Lena did as she was told, and immediately she felt her tank top disappear.  “Now, lay down on your stomach.” 

 Lena laid down, bending her arms up and under her head.  “Darling, it’s been a long stressful day for both of us, do you think maybe the red sun lamps would be a good idea?”

“Shh shh.  You said you trusted me.” 

“Just a suggestion.  I know you would never hurt me.”  Kara poured the warm massage oils onto Lena’s bare back, and Lena could already tell that this was exactly what she needed tonight.  Kara’s strong hands along her shoulder blades produced an immediate moan, and Lena cut it short in a gasp of embarrassment.  Kara chuckled at her.  “Sorry, love, I’ll try to contain my enthusiasm.  Wouldn’t want to disturb the child.”

Lena settled in as Kara performed a series of heavenly acts up and down Lena’s spine.  Kara chattered away as she worked.  “Supergirl took Ruby out flying today.  I think it’s just what she needed to get her mind off Sam.”  Kara leaned closer to Lena’s ear, lowering her voice.  “She was much braver about heights than certain other people I know.”  Lena jokingly tried to bite Kara on the tip of her adorable nose.  “Hmmm, someone is touchy about something.  Maybe I should get a little touchier myself.”  Kara moved her hands lower down Lena’s back, drawing a guarded hiss of pleasure.

Kara continued to work Lena’s tired muscles, but asked jokingly, “Can you believe Winn suggested that J’onn try to pose as Sam with Ruby?”  Lena blew out a deep breath as Kara pushed down on her back.

“She’d have made him in under a minute, I guarantee that.  J’onn is many things, but an actor he is not.  Ruby’s … perceptive, and no one knows Sam better than her daughter.  But—” Lena moaned again quietly, “—I think she’s doing okay, all things considered.  Supergirl really made her day.”  Lena grabbed Kara’s hand, and turned up enough to pull Kara down into a passionate kiss.  “Thank you for doing that, love.  I know it can’t be easy for you to play the part of peppy superhero right now.”

Kara kissed her back just as passionately, then pushed her back down onto the bed.  She took Lena’s right arm into her hands and continued her ministrations.  “It was actually really healing for me as well.  It was nice to get out of my head.  Sometimes I forget how so many people see Supergirl, and how much fun it can be to spend time with a fan.  Well, one fan at least.  And—”  Kara kissed Lena’s knuckles as she reached the end of Lena’s arm, “—there’s so much of Sam in her.”  Lena’s heart broke a little at the sorrow in Kara’s voice.

She switched over to Lena’s left arm, and Lena said, “Maggie dropped by L-Corp while you were out with Ruby.  She suggested it might be a good idea to have the NCPD looking out for Sam.”  Lena felt Kara tense, but only for a moment.  “Don’t worry, we all agreed it wasn’t a good idea.  I’m not sure it’s a good idea for the public to know that Samantha Arias is missing, and even if an officer were to catch her in a moment of clarity, we don’t want them putting themselves at risk of pissing off Reign.  Maggie’s on our side, love.  She gets it.”

Kara’s voice was distant, even though her hands never left Lena’s body.  “If you and Kaziah get this figured out, it might not be a bad idea.  Assuming you can get the kryptonite right … we’ll need a way to draw her out again.  We should keep our options open at least.”  Lena felt a warm drop of something other than massage oil fall onto her elbow, and she immediately pushed herself up and turned to embrace Kara.  Placing a hand on the back of Kara’s head and pulling her into the crook of Lena’s neck, she used her other hand to stroke the blonde’s back softly. 

“I’ve got you.  I’m here.”  She kissed the side of Kara’s head softly and kept rubbing her back.  “Shhh.  I’m here.  It’s okay.  We’re close to figuring this out.  We’re close.  We’ll get her back.  I’ll bring her back to you, I promise.  I promise, love.”  Kara continued to cry silently onto Lena’s neck, taking a moment her and there to kiss Lena softly.  Then sat there in each other’s arms for a long time, until Lena could feel Kara’s body start to go limp.  She eased her back on to the bed, stroking a loose strand of hair from her face.  Lena turned off the bedside lamp and whispered, “Let’s get you to bed, Supergirl.  It’s been a long day.”  Kara’s eyes opened for the briefest moment, hazy but warm.  Lena kissed her forehead and tucked her in.

She was tempted to leave Kara there, to take her laptop into the living room and try to keep working on her experiment.  Lena had a feeling she wouldn’t be getting much sleep that night.  But she knew that Kara would need her.  The nightmares were easier when she was in Lena’s arms all night.  Lena slipped her tank top back on and padded over to the bathroom to pee and brush her teeth.  She did her best to ignore the overly prominent dark circles under her eyes as she came face to face with her mirrored self, and she noticed a small picture of Sam and Ruby next to the sink.  She picked it up, eyes tracing Sam’s features.

I need you to come back to us, love.  She needs you.  Lena sighed, unable to avoid the truth of her own emotions.  For all of my fears and all of my anger … I need you, too.  She set the photograph back down in its place by the sink and turned off the light.  Then she walked as quietly as possible around the bed and climbed in, pulling Kara tight to her body.  Sleep tight, darling.

Chapter Text

Chapter 29

Kara, Alex, Maggie, J’onn, Winn, and Vasquez followed Lena out of the elevator and into the hallway of the third basement level of L-Corp.  Lena had met them in the lobby and escorted them down—you needed a key card just to get the elevator to come down to this level, and there was a biometric lock that had to be unlocked before the doors would open.  They walked to the end of the hall to Lena’s personal lab, which had its own biometric lock that would open only for Lena, Kara, and select few others.  Kaziah was waiting for them inside.

“Holy wow, Lena, this is one hell of a science lair!”  Winn was in awe, and Lena felt an immediate pang of pride for the lab she had designed herself.  In some ways it was the reverse of her penthouse office.  The lab was a large open space, like a highly advanced hangar or bunker, with dark stained concrete floors.  The surfaces were shades of black and charcoal, as the glossy black surfaces of the cabinets and mounted screens complemented the dark greys of the metal work spaces.  Many of the cabinets and workspaces were lined with subtle neon purple accents and backlights, giving the lab a hyper-modern stylish glamour.  And of course, it had any and all equipment Lena could possibly ever need—advanced robotics, welding equipment, smaller enclosed testing spaces, and a whole wall of chemistry equipment.  A door in the far corner led to the attached server room; the computers in Lena’s lab had incredible processing power.  Two larger doors on another wall opened up to a series of storage areas, where Lena kept parts, chemicals, supplies, and other equipment.  Tables and desks and workspaces of a variety of sorts were scattered around the room, several of them completely mobile.  The entire space was well-lit by the white light of the industrial lamps hanging from overhead, but there were several smaller standing lamps and desk lamps that allowed for a little more ambiance to the space, when Lena was in the mood for it.

“As impressive as this workspace may be, I trust you brought us here for a reason, Ms. Luthor?”  Lena appreciated that J’onn wanted to get straight to the point.  It had been three days since Reign escaped from the DEO, and in the past couple, she had become more active.  Not only were there scattered sightings of the Worldkiller, but she was making her presence known around the city.  The bodies of her victims were no longer left where they fell.  She had taken to displaying them in prominent public spaces, accompanied with her sigil burned into the ground in front of the bodies.  Fear was spreading, and Kara had grown increasingly stressed out about her inability to help assuage the terror taking hold of the city.  The DEO had also received reports of murders matching Reign’s usual modus operandi in cities and towns surrounding National City for hundreds of miles.  They needed a solution, and Lena hoped that she had finally perfected it.

“Indeed I did, Director J’onzz.”  Lena walked across the room to a seemingly innocuous workstation that didn’t stand out from any of the lab’s other stations in any obvious ways.  She reached under it for the button hidden four inches back on the left third of the desk.  It opened a hidden panel on the right side of the desk that held another biometric lock.  Lena sat, placing her right hand on the lock and looking directly at the wide screen monitor on the desk.  Once the scans were finished, she quietly spoke the password, “Argo,” Lena smiled softly as she always did when she said the name of Kara’s birth city, then turned and walked to where the large floor panel between her and the rest of the group revealed itself, her secret vault rising out of the floor.  “I brought you here for this.”   She and Kaziah exchanged supportive nods, and Lena typed in the passcode on the front panel of the vault. 

As she withdrew the small vial of viscous black liquid, she explained, “This, hopefully, is our answer to stopping Reign.”  She turned and caught Kara’s eye as she sat the vial carefully into the foam interior of the lead-lined briefcase she had designed specifically to hold it.  “I had an idea when Kara explained to me how the DEO modified kryptonite for use against the bizarro clone.  In its natural green state, kryptonite is poisonous to Kryptonians, but multiple different individuals and entities have been able to modify kryptonite into altered synthetic forms that have various surprising effects.”

“Like Max’s red kryptoni—”  Winn cut himself off, shooting Kara an apologetic look as he realized that he would’ve been better off leaving that particular experiment unmentioned. 

“Or Rhea’s silver kryptonite,” Kara offered, avoiding the gaze of the rest of the group.  Lena sighed, hating that Kara still lived with the guilt of the ‘red K incident.’

“Actually, love, the silver kryptonite appears to be natural, as best Kaziah and I could tell.” 

Alex’s response was immediate and tense.  “You have silver kryptonite?” 

“I recovered a variety of kryptonite samples from the downed Daxamite ships.  They are secure, Alex, I promise.  And yes, silver kryptonite was among them, and thank all the gods for that.  You see—” she gestured to the vial, “—Ziah and I have been able to synthesize black kryptonite that we hypothesize should be able to separate and eradicate the Reign personality from Sam’s body.”

Lena was met with a good ten to fifteen seconds of silence before Kara whispered, “How do you know Reign is the one who will be eliminated?  Lena … how can you be sure?”

Lena glanced at Kaziah, who took over the presentation.  “In short, Kara Zor-El, we do not.  There is simply no way to test it—it should only work on a Kryptonian with a strong split personality, and as far as we know, there is only one of those.  However, I am confident in our work—I would estimate that there is at least an 83 percent chance that we are correct about what this particular strain of kryptonite will accomplish.  If you would like, I can walk you through our process in creating it.  The core components are silver kryptonite and an ion-reversed form of red kryptonite, and we—”

“No, Kaziah, thank you.  That’s fine.”  Kara’s voice was weak, scared. 

Lena walked to her and placed a hand on each arm.  “Kara, this is our best shot.”  She glanced over at J’onn.  “Unless the DEO has come up with a better idea?”

“We have not,” he answered immediately.  “We’re not even entirely sure we could kill her, if it came to that.”

Kara’s sad blue eyes looked up at Lena, and she could tell Kara was struggling to accept what had to be done.  Lena tried to soothe her.  “So, you see? This is it, Supergirl.  83 percent—those are good odds.   We’re going to get our girl back.”

“This stuff is safe to have around Kara?”

“Quite safe, Agent Danvers.  It is a very rare and precise strain.  As I said, it should only affect Reign and other Worldkillers like her, assuming any others survived Krypton’s destruction.” 

I must say, this is truly excellent work, Ms. Luthor.  Ms. Dox.”  J’onn gave them both a genuine smile.  “As much as I would prefer that you trust the DEO with your stores of kryptonite, I doubt we could have accomplished this.  We are in L-Corp’s debt.”

“Assuming it works,” Alex remarked snidely.  Lena knew Alex was still annoyed that she refused to relinquish the kryptonite to the DEO.  Kara shot Alex a look, which earned her nothing more than an apathetic shrug.

“I appreciate the kind words, Director J’onzz.  Now—” she kept one hand on Kara’s arm as she turned to face the entire group, “—we have given you a weapon.  I leave it to the tacticians in the room to devise the best plan for using it.”  Then she remembered an important detail she forgot to mention and raised an index finger.  “Sorry, there is one more thing.  You won’t be able to use kryptonite in this battle, except as the absolute last resort.  There’s no way to know how Reign’s body will react to having both strains in her system.  Natural kryptonite might weaken the effect of the black kryptonite.  It might kill her outright, for all we know.”

“And I’m not letting any of you kill her, unless there is no other choice.”  The steel was back in Kara’s voice, and her fists were balled tightly at her sides. 

“Kara, it won’t come to that,” Alex reassured her.  “But we need to be prepared.”

J’onn cleared his throat, then turned the discussion back to the task of developing a plan of action.  “I don’t imagine that we’ll draw Reign in by faking a Livewire attack again.  Detective Sawyer, would it be possible for the DEO and NCPD to work together in keeping an eye out around the city for Reign?  There would need to be strict orders not to engage, only to report her location to DEO headquarters.”

“Yeah, I think I can swing that.  I’ll need to clear it with my superiors, and the ‘FBI’ might need to talk to the commissioner herself if we want to cast as wide a net as possible.  But I’m happy to run point and liaise on behalf of the NCPD until we find her.”  J’onn nodded, then leaned back against the wall, hand to his chin as he continued to ponder strategy.  While he did that, Alex raised another question.

“Lena, are you sure that injecting a liquid form of the black kryptonite is the most effective method of exposure?”  It was a good question.  Lena gestured to Kaziah to answer it.

“Quite sure, Agent Danvers.  We considered multiple options, but injecting the substance directly into her bloodstream is the most efficient means of ensuring that it has its full effect.   Technically having her inhale a gaseous form of the substance would be the fastest way to have the black kryptonite reach her brain, but there is a much greater difficulty in administering it that way.”

“Thank you, Kaziah.”  Alex looked at J’onn, then Kara.  “So who is going to do it?”

“J’onn has the best shot at catching her by surprise,” Kara answered immediately.  “I will be the first on the scene, and I will distract her.  J’onn can phase in while she is focused on me and inject the black kryptonite.”

“That works,” J’onn agreed.  “But, I want to get a full DEO team in place before we engage with Reign.  If this doesn’t work, I’m not risking your life again.  We’ll throw everything we’ve got at her.”

Vasquez spoke up timidly.  “Look … I already know how this is going to sound, and Kara please don’t melt my face off for saying it.”  Kara’s eyes narrowed menacingly, and Lena placed a steading arm around her waist.  She had a pretty good idea what Vasquez was about to suggest.  “We caught Reign once, and when she woke up … she was Sam.”

“NO!”  Kara shouted, her eyes developing a distinctly orange tint.  Lena squeezed, and rubbed her arm. 

Lena whispered, “Kara, calm down.  Vasquez is your friend.” 

Kara didn’t turn her glare away from the diminutive DEO agent, but her eyes returned to their normal blue.  “Sam is innocent!  She’s a victim in all this.  If you think I’m just going to let you murder her—”

“Kara, what would Sam want?”  Alex’s tone was caring but firm.  “Let’s say this black kryptonite doesn’t work, but we’re able to capture Reign again.  You know how she would make this decision.  You know she wouldn’t want any more blood on her hands.  She would sacrifice herself for the world.  You know she would, and you … sweetie, you need to respect her decision, if that’s the one she makes in that instance.”

Lena’s own mind was playing out the war of words between Kara and the DEO agents in miniature.  She wasn’t sure where Reign ended and Sam began anymore.  She wasn’t even sure that she would ever be able to see her best friend the same way again, regardless whether they were able to save her.  It would be beyond painful to lose her, but it might ultimately be for the greater good.  But Kara has lost so much already.  What if she can’t handle it?  What if she never recovers?  Am I really okay with sacrificing my own family for the good of the world?  Even if I’m okay with it—could I really let it happen?  Lena legitimately did not know how to feel about any of this, which is why she was deferring to the others.  While she had pondered things, the argument between Kara and Vasquez had escalated, and she knew that she had to intervene.

“Kara, stop.”  Lena stepped between them, facing Kara.  She took Kara’s face in her hands, shutting out the rest of the room.  “Don’t worry about what ifs.  This is going to work, okay?  Trust me.  Trust Kaziah.  Trust that Sam is strong enough to rid herself of this monster.”  Kara’s face was tight with anger and terror, but Lena could see her relaxing into Lena’s touch.  “Darling.  Focus on Sam.  Focus on the plan.  Fighting with Vasquez isn’t going to help us.  It isn’t going to help her.”  Lena pressed her forehead to Kara’s.  “Let it go.”  As Kara exhaled forcefully, Lena knew she had gotten through.

J’onn took the opportunity to take back control of the situation.  “I believe we have a plan then.  If anyone has any further questions—” he looked around the room, seeking any additional concerns and failing to find any, “—well then, Detective Sawyer, find out how soon we can get the joint DEO-NCPD policy in place, and we’ll go from there.”

Maggie nodded, and they all looked at Lena expectantly.  Oh right, this is still my show, kind of.  “If everyone would be so kind, I’d like to stay behind and talk to Kara alone.  You shouldn’t have any trouble finding your way to the elevator and back up to the lobby.”  She caught Kaziah’s hand before the Coluan could follow the rest of the group out of the lab.  “Thank you for everything, darling.  I couldn’t have done this without you.”

Kaziah warmly placed a hand on Lena’s arm, then reached out with her other and brushed Kara’s hand behind her ear, leaving the hand on her cheek.  “There is nothing to thank me for, Lena.  Samantha is one of my dearest friends on this planet or any other.  I would do anything to save her life.  Kara Zor-El, you must have faith that she will return to us.  I know for certain that Samantha would die before she lost such faith in you.”  She withdrew her hands and took a step back.  “Take care of each other.  I believe that this ordeal will be over soon.”  She nodded affectionately to them both, then left the room.

Almost immediately, Kara broke down in Lena’s arms.  Lena eased them both to the cold floor, which she found oddly comforting against her bare legs.  Kara had never felt this fragile before.  She held the hero in her arms, much in the same way she had two nights earlier in Sam’s bed, but it felt entirely different with Kara wearing the full Supergirl regalia.  Part of her wondered if Lillian or Lena could see this version of Supergirl—but no, no, Lena knew better.  Ultimately, Kara Zor-El was more human than Lena’s mother or brother would ever be.  And Lena was determined to be the hero she needed in this moment of crisis. 

                                                  

Sam woke up in the Reign suit.  “Fuck.  Fuck, shit.  Goddammit!”  She was standing in a massive cave-like chamber.  It was dark, but warm, and oddly familiar.  She screamed out all of her terror and frustration and pure, unfiltered rage at the unfairness of her situation.  As she let it all out, she slammed a fist into the odd crystalline rock of the nearby wall.  She was surprised to find that the impact only hurt mildly, and her fist left a significant dent in the wall.  What the fuck?

She felt different, more alive.  It was as if her entire being had been numb and moving at half speed her entire life up until this moment.  She could tell just by the way the air felt around her, along with the heat and relative lack of ambient noise for miles, that she was in the desert.  Her eyes refocused, and she found that she could see through the walls of this fortress—she could see for miles in any direction. 

Is this what life is like for Kara all the time?  Why do I have Reign’s powers all of the sudden?  And where I am?  She turned around and came face to face with a hologram of a woman in a dark cloak.  “What the fuck is this place?  Who are you?”

“Samantha Arias, you are returned.  How … unfortunate.”  Returned?  Memories flashed through her mind, incomplete and out of order.  Shit, I’ve been here before.  This was where Sam came with the crystal that first day after she awakened her pod.  Why am I remembering these things now?  Why do I have powers?

“What is going on here?  How did I get here?  Why do I have powers now?”  She needed answers.  Now.

The hologram’s eyes narrowed.  “I would not concern yourself with these trivial questions, Samantha.  You will not survive much longer.” 

“Fuck that.  I’m not going anywhere.  Tell me what is happening to me.” 

“You are merely a vessel.  Reign is becoming that which she was always meant to be.  You have powers now because the human chrysalis is being consumed as Reign’s apotheosis comes to fruition.  You are a skin she is shedding.  Nothing more.”

“So … I’m no longer human?”

“No, it would appear not.  The human façade is no longer necessary.  This form is no longer yours.  It is hers.”  Sam’s heart sank.  In the back of her mind, she had thought that if nothing else, Reign could be stopped by … Sam’s own death.  That was apparently off the table now, since there was no longer any human form of Reign.  At least, not if this hologram was to be trusted.  Some selfish part of her couldn’t help but feel relieved.  Regardless, she wasn’t going to give up.

“What makes you so sure that Reign will be able to get rid of me?”

“I confess, your personality was much stronger than the creators of the Worldkillers anticipated.  You have been allowed to delay Reign’s becoming far longer than should have been possible.  But your destruction is inevitable.  You are a fiction created to allow Reign’s safe maturation on a hostile world.  You cannot possibly overcome the inevitability of her full control over this form.”

No.  Lena will solve this.  And I’m not letting this parasite steal my life.  I don’t care if she’s some super-Kryptonian god or whatever.  I’ll be the super-Kryptonian god.  I’m not leaving Ruby without her mother.  Never.

“You may have all the information about this Worldkiller, but you don’t know me.  You don’t know my family.  We will find a way to stop you.  To stop her.  I’m gonna go warn my friends about what is happening, then I’m coming back her to destroy this shithole of a fortress.  See how Reign does without her supercomputer hologram to direct her actions.”

“You will not remain in control long enough to pose any threat to this place, Samantha Arias.  Do as you will.”  The hologram shut off abruptly.  Fuck you, too.  Sam had to get back to National City.  She had to warn Kara and Lena, give them this new information.  Lena had promised she would find a solution, but Sam had no idea how much time had passed since Reign apparently escaped from the DEO.  And she didn’t know how much time she had before Reign came back.

I’ve gotta go, nowSam looked around her, considering the entryway to the chamber before settling on a different idea.  I’ve always wanted to do this.  Taking a breath to steady herself, she tensed her entire body, willing herself into the air.  And just like that, her feet lifted off the ground.  Holy shit!  She could control the movement of her body through the air just by thinking it.  Willing it.  Closing her eyes, she focused, then raised her right fist in the air above her.  Channeling the full force of her willpower, she rocketed straight up and through the roof of the fortress and then out in the warm, dry air.  I’m coming, Kara.

                                                  

“Kara, we found her.”  She jumped slightly as Alex’s message over the comms caught her off guard.  But Kara was out the door of CatCo immediately, taking only an extra couple of seconds to leave a note on Cat’s desk to cover for her if need be. 

“Where?”

There was a moment’s pause before Alex softly answered, “The roof of L-Corp.” 

“Is Lena okay?”  Kara’s heart was in her throat, and she was nearly to the roof before Alex’s response came through.

“Yes.  I warned her, but Reign hasn’t moved from the roof.  We’re not sure what she is playing at Kara, be careful.  J’onn is on his way, and the full DEO team should be in position in ten minutes.”  Kara touched down softly, maybe ten feet in front of Reign. 

“This has to end, Reign!”  She kept her voice steady, having already planned ahead on how to try and stall the Worldkiller long enough for everyone to get into place.  But she hadn’t expected that when the dark figure looked across at her she would be met with soft brown eyes instead of glowing red ones.  She gasped and took a step back, her stomach fluttering nervously.

“Kara?  Don’t be afraid.  It’s me.”  Gone was the harsh metallic edge to her voice.  Her posture was likewise changed-still confident, but softer.  Kara could easily read the anguish and confusion in Sam’s—yes, Sam’s—body language.

“Sam?”

The dark figure took a step, then another, towards Kara.  Softly.  Cautiously.  “Kara, it’s me.  I don’t know how much longer I’ll be in control, so I need you to listen.”  Kara couldn’t stand it any longer.  She had Sam in her arms in an instant, despite the warning.

“Sam!  How is this possible?  How did you—”

Sam pulled away, grabbing Kara by the shoulders.  “Babe!  I’m serious, I don’t know how much longer I can hold out.  I can feel her fighting me for control right now.”  Kara’s stomach turned.  “Kara … I’m not human anymore.  I mean… if I ever was.  I’m fully Kryptonian now.  It feels like one way or another, this battle between me and Reign for control over my body is coming to an end soon.  I thought … Kara, I was ready to sacrifice myself if that’s what it took.”  Kara felt the tears falling down her cheeks already, and she shook her head in savage defiance of that possibility.  “I know, love.  I know.  I’m sorry.  But it doesn’t look like that’s a possibility anymore anyway—”

Sam tensed, then doubled over.  Her fists were tight on her knees as she fought with her inner demon.  “Sam!”  Kara took a knee and grabbed Sam by the shoulder.  “Sam!  Don’t go!  Fight her!  I’m here with you.  I believe in you!”  Sam’s breathing was ragged and her whole body was tight with effort.  She looked up at Kara, and the red glow was slight but noticeable around the warm brown of Sam’s irises. 

“Kara, I trust you.  I know Lena’s working on something.  I just needed you to know she has to hurry.”  She doubled over again, then leaned back as a rough scream of pain escaped her throat.  “I … I will never stop fighting.  I love you. Please, Kara, please… take care of Ru—” She screamed again, and Kara wrapped her tightly in her arms. 

“I will, Sam.  I will. I promise.  But we’re getting you back.”  She could sense J’onn’s presence, but there was someone else on the roof too.  A brief expansion of her senses told Kara that the DEO team wasn’t in place yet.  “I love you—” Sam’s body tensed again, then she extended her arms forcefully in front of her to break Kara’s embrace and drive her back several feet.  Reign stood to her full height and glared down with sheer fury in her red eyes.

“Love?  What nonsense.  Supergirl, you were in love with my human disguise?  How could you not see that she is beneath you?  That she is a mere fiction?”  Her voice was rough and taunting.  Kara floated back to her feet and faced the Worldkiller defiantly.  “I knew you were weak, but I had no idea.”

“You couldn’t possibly understand how powerful love truly is.  You’re a monster.  And your reign of terror will be over soon.”

Reign smirked.  “Kara Zor-El, I have defeated you once already.  You attacked me with a full complement of warriors and the best weapons you could muster, and you only just barely managed to contain me for a few hours.  You can’t possibly believe you can stop me.”

“You may have defeated me one-on-one, but I learned my lesson.  Supergirl is more than just me.  I have the support of my friends and family, and I stand for the hope of the people of this planet.  I’m stronger than you in ways you cannot fathom.  And I am not the only one you have to contend with.  Your external battle may be with me, but I know that Sam will prove more than your match in the war for your soul.”

“Soul?  What nonsense.  Your Samantha is nothing more than a memory, you just haven’t realized it yet.”  Before Kara could blink, Reign tackled her, driving her roughly into the roof and closing both hands forcefully around Kara’s neck.  “I will give you this, Supergirl.”  She spat the name out mockingly.  “You have become quite an annoyance.  And I will tolerate it no longer.  Today is the day you draw your last breath.”  Kara was in agony, and she could feel Reign literally squeezing the life out of her.  Then a familiar voice rang out.

“Reign!  Unhand her.”  Reign smiled knowingly down at Kara and relaxed her grip as she turned to look over her shoulder.

“Lena Luthor, so kind of you to join us.  Just in time for your girlfriend’s execution.  In time, you will come to understand what a momentous day this is for you.  I see now that Kara is holding you back from your full potential.  You will hate me at first, but as my new world begins to take shape, you will evolve to see things my way.”

Lena was undeterred, and if Kara’s voice was working right now, she would shout at her to run away.  She couldn’t believe Lena was placing herself in danger like this.  It was not part of the plan.  “I can promise you this, Reign.  If you kill Kara, I will never join you.”  She took a step forward confidently, despite being completely unarmed and unarmoured.  “I confess that you’re not wrong about human society.  You may even be right about the extreme measures that will be necessary to bring true justice to this society.  But I could never, ever collaborate with the person who murdered my love in cold blood.  Imprison her if you must.  But please, spare her.  She will come around one day.”

Reign stood and faced away from Kara.  “If you believe that, you are hopelessly naïve.  It is true that I desire your companionship in my mission, but do not confuse me for your precious Samantha.  I will not be moved by sentiment.  You are a remarkable human, Lena, but you will not deter me from wiping out the greatest single threat to my reign here.”  She turned back to Kara.  “And you cannot stop me.”

The Worldkiller’s hands were again around her throat, lifting her off the ground.  Kara’s hands met Reign’s and struggled against the chokehold.  She gasped, “Sam—f—fight her.”  For the briefest of moments, red eyes flashed brown and the grip loosened.  But it was only a moment, and Kara was beginning to see spots in her vision as her brain fought to stay conscious. 

“Enough!” came the hoarse shout from behind Reign, and Kara felt the vice around her throat release.  She crumpled to the ground, gasping for breath.  As her vision cleared, she saw J’onn standing over Reign’s body as it spasmed and twitched forcefully.  Kara was at her side immediately, and it took Lena only seconds to run over and fall to her knees on the other side of the dark figure writhing between them.  After a few moments, Sam’s—Reign’s?—body went rigid, and her back arched up.  Her eyes shot open, and Kara and Lena both recoiled as a rancid black mist emitted from her pores.  Then her body slumped back to the ground and stilled.

“Sam!”  Kara checked for a pulse and found none.  She placed her hands on Sam’s chest.  “She’s not breathing!”  Kara immediately began to perform CPR, shoving her flattened hands forcefully and in rhythm against Sam’s chest before closing her nostrils and breathing life back into her lungs.  She repeated the process several times, her mind focused only on reviving her girlfriend as the rest of the world faded away into irrelevance.  Finally, air forced its way out of Sam’s mouth, and her chest began to move up and down again of its own accord.

“Oh, thank god,” Lena whispered.  Sam’s eyes shot open, and they were definitely Sam’s eyes again.  They shifted back and forth fearfully, and Sam appeared confused and uncertain of her surroundings.  Then her gaze stopped on Lena, and she took a deep breath.  Smiling, she turned next to Kara and breathed a sigh of relief.  Kara pulled her up and into her arms tightly, one arm around Sam’s lower back and the other pressed firmly to the back of her head. 

“It’s okay, Sam.  You’re okay.  I’ve got you.  You’re safe now.”  She pulled back enough to share a look of pure joy and love with Sam, then peppered her face with soft kisses, drawing a laugh from the former Worldkiller.  Some part of Kara’s mind noted the strangeness of kissing Sam in full Reign mask and makeup, but she didn’t give any fucks.  Sam was alive.  Reign was gone.

Sam placed both hands on Kara’s face and stopped her from further kisses, then pulled her in for the real thing.  Sam’s lips grasped at hers with a raw need, but she pulled them away after a few seconds.  “Hey there, gorgeous,” she whispered, a grin playing at the corners of her mouth.

“Hi,” Kara answered softly.  They both sensed Lena’s presence as she moved to get up, ostensibly to give them some space to reconcile, but Sam’s arm moving faster that Kara’s in grabbing Lena.

“Hey.  You’re not going anywhere, Lee.”  Lena settled back down and placed a hand over Sam’s.  “Thank you.  You saved me.” 

Kara reached over Sam and took Lena’s other hand into her own.  “You saved all of us.”  J’onn had long since disappeared, leaving the three women alone on the rooftop.  She suspected he was keeping an eye on the situation from nearby, but she appreciated his discretion tremendously.

Lena stared down at Sam, searching her features cautiously.  “Is it really you?”

“It’s really me.  Whatever you shot her up with, it worked.  I can’t … she isn’t fighting me anymore.  It’s just me in here again.”  She gestured towards her skull, only then noticing that she was still wearing the mask.  “Fuck me, I must still look pretty scary, huh?”

Lena shrugged nonchalantly.  “Actually, darling, you pull off the goth destroyer of worlds look surprisingly well.”

Kara rolled her eyes.  Of course Lena and Sam would find time to joke in a moment like this.  She rubber her hand along Sam’s jawline.  “Let’s get you back to the DEO.  We’ll clean you up, get you into some normal clothes, and run some tests.  Then, we’ll figure out where we go from here.”

Sam nodded and moved cautiously to sit up.  She stood without too much trouble.  Kara looked at Lena.  “Do you need to take care of anything in the office?” 

“No.  I’m coming with you.  Can you carry both of us?” 

Kara started to answer that it wouldn’t be a problem, but Sam interrupted.  “Actually—” they both turned to see her floating casually a foot in the air, “—I can get myself there.  Lead the way, Supergirl.”  Kara and Lena exchanged a look.  This was going to take some getting used to.  But as she met the smiling faces of both of her girlfriends, Kara felt at peace again for the first time in weeks.

Whatever comes next, we’ll figure it out together.  She lifted Lena into her arms, kissed her softly, and then took off with a joking, “Up, up, and away!”

Chapter Text

Chapter 30

“You know Kara, now that we’re not pretending you aren’t obviously Supergirl, it’s really okay if you just come talk to me in your normal terrible office attire.  You don’t have to get all suited up just to swoop down onto my balcony.  You do have an office two floors down, you could just take the stairs.”  Kara narrowed her eyes.  Cat raised an eyebrow, then added, “Not that you don’t make the whole ‘cape, skirt, and tights’ thing look just bafflingly sexy.”

Now it was Kara’s turn to raise an eyebrow.  “Flirting will get you nowhere with me, Cat.  I’m spoken for, as you well know.”  Though … it’s not like I haven’t fantasized…  “And it helps me to keep boundaries in place, which include wearing the suit when I’m on official Supergirl business.”

“Oh, Supergirl business.  Well, if you’re here to ask me to play Livewire bait again, I’m going to have to respectfully decline.” 

Kara smiled brightly, but she couldn’t resist teasing Cat a little.  “Hah hah.  Has anyone ever told you that you’re just so funny?” 

“Careful, Kara.  Just because we’re friends now doesn’t mean that you’re allowed to give me sass.”  She fixed Kara with that no nonsense look that still had the ability to make her stand up a little straighter and avert her gaze.  Their relationship had grow tremendously since Cat came back to town, but there were certain aspects of their old mentor-mentee relationship that would probably never go away.  Cat shot her a satisfied smirk, apparently pleased with herself that she ‘still had it.’  “Now, what is this Supergirl business you insisted on flying to my balcony about?”

Kara felt her chest grow tighter.  She and Sam had discussed this at length, and they were on the same page, but she still felt crazy nervous about the prospect of this interview.  It had been over a month since Lena freed Sam of Reign, and Sam was sure about what she wanted next.  And Kara fully supported her.  Still, she did her best not to let her nerves show—she was very well aware of how observant Cat could be, especially with someone she knew as well as she knew Kara.  “I want to discuss a potential interview with the illustrious Cat Grant, actually.”

“What did you have in mind, exactly?  I’m not sure what you have to gain from any additional interviews at this point, unless you’re ready to tell the world Supergirl and Kara Danvers are one and the same.  That’s an interview I would definitely be interested in, Kara, but I’m not sure it’s the best idea.”

“Yeah, no, the interview wouldn’t be with me.”  The fact that Cat even thought Kara would consider coming out publicly as Supergirl was a bit startling, and not something she had ever considered.  She’d have to discuss it with Cat later, but she had a more pressing interview topic in mind right now.  “Look, first of all, nothing is on the record right now.  I want to float an idea with you, but discretion is non-negotiable.  This could be huge for CatCo and for the city, but nothing is happening unless I’m sure about the direction of the story.”

Cat leaned back in her seat, surveying Kara carefully.  Already, Kara could tell that Cat’s curiosity was piqued.  She refused to back down from Cat’s searching gaze.  After what felt like the longest thirty seconds of Kara’s life, Cat leaned forward again and reached her hand across to rest on hers.  “Supergirl, I hope that by now you know you can trust me.”  She searched Kara’s eyes for confirmation, and Kara responded with a small but confident nod.  “Good.  You have my word, that whatever you and I discuss about this mystery interviewee will remain in confidence unless and until you tell me you want something on the record.  So, stop beating around the bush—I can tell this is something juicy.  Who is it?”

Moment of truth.  Kara exhaled softly, trying to relax all her nerves.  “The only name you would know her by is Reign, but that isn’t who she is.”  The shock on Cat’s face was immediate, before her steely reporter’s instincts took over.  “You have questions already—shoot.”

“You never told me what happened to her, only that she wasn’t a problem anymore.  If you’ll remember, I was quite frustrated with you about it, because ‘Supergirl assures city that Reign is no longer a problem’ is a shitty headline and an even shittier story.” 

“Yeah sorry, but I’m hoping you’ll forgive me for being vague once you have the full story.”

“So, what is the full story then?  Reign is alive, but what—she’s not a murdering sociopath anymore?”

“The short answer?  Yes.”  Kara frowned, because she hated the idea of anyone thinking of Sam as Reign.  “But that’s not even close to the true story.  I guess I should start by explaining more about what Reign was.”

“Your use of was intrigues me, Supergirl.  Go on.”

“Cat Grant, so impatient.”  Cat rolled her eyes.  “So, I already explained to you that Reign was a Worldkiller, a genetically engineered super-Kryptonian created by some religious fanatics just before Krypton was destroyed.  What I have since learned is that she was also sort of like a parasite split personality taking over a seemingly human host.”

Whatever Cat was expecting from this conversation, it wasn’t this.  “A … parasite?”

“Sort of.  It’s complicated.  The pod that brought Reign to this planet was equipped with some sort of program that analyzed our society and masked Reign, on a biological and genetic level, as a human baby.  We can’t actually figure out whether the program intended to do this or not—but in doing so, it created a whole separate person, distinct from whatever Reign was supposed to be.  Up until a few months ago, this person was just a normal human woman.”

“So, why now?  Why did the Reign personality stay buried for so long?”  Cat paused, placing her index finger on her chin as she thought about something.  “Even with all the black and the makeup and the mask … that woman didn’t look any younger than 25, if that.  So, what took so long?”

“Another unsolved mystery.  We all have theories, but nothing that we can say for sure.  But whatever awakened the beast, it was a gradual process.  We didn’t figure all this out about Reign until weeks after my fight with her.  We captured her, briefly, and were able to obtain her pod.  But that’s just backstory, it’s not the point.  Ultimately, Lena was able to come up with a solution that rid this woman of the Reign personality.  She isn’t Reign anymore.  Reign is gone, hence the past tense.”

“And now you want me to interview this not-Reign person?  What is the story here, Kara?  What haven’t you told me?”  Always insightful, Ms. Grant.  And straight to the point.

“Well … it’s a redemption story, actually.”  She could see Cat’s face light up, and she could only imagine what wheels were turning in that head of hers.  “This woman—who is an incredible, resilient, kind, beautiful person who didn’t deserve any of this—but … she feels guilty.  And now that she has all these powers … she wants to help.  She wants to try to make amends for these horrific things that this monster did while in possession of her body.  And I think the best way to start that is with an interview with Cat Grant.  Sort of like my first interview with you.”

There was a look in Cat’s eyes that Kara couldn’t figure out.  Something like suspicion… but not in any sort of unnerving or uncomfortable way.  She could see the wheels turning, but she had no idea what about.  She had the feeling it wasn’t necessarily about this story.  Suddenly, Kara worried that she had given too much away.  But no, surely not.  She hadn’t even mentioned Sam by name yet.  She hadn’t said anything that might hint at their relationship.  At least … she didn’t think she had.

Cat stood and began to stroll leisurely around the balcony.  Kara knew that meant Cat was confident she had a worthwhile story on her hands.  She waited patiently for the impending onslaught of follow up questions.  She didn’t have to wait long.

“So this ‘incredible, resilient, kind, … beautiful’ not-Reign person is no longer just a normal human?”  Kara didn’t much care for the quote or the emphasis on the world beautiful, but she knew if she protested right then, Cat would only get more suspicious.

“I guess she was never a totally normal human.  I mean … she didn’t have powers or anything until recently, but she was still born on another planet.  But yes, to answer your question, she has all the powers Reign had, just with none of the murdery impulses.” 

“Okay well, first of all, what are we going to call her?  Reign is a tainted brand—she’ll never escape it.  Even with Supergirl vouching for her.  She needs a full rebrand.  New name, new suit … do you think she would consider a different hair colour?  Maybe a vibrant red?” 

Kara was momentarily distracted by the very sexy thought of Sam as a redhead, and she had to clear her head before responding in any kind of a normal way.  “Uhh, well that’s actually a big part of why I wanted to talk to you beforehand.  We’ve got the new suit covered already, but we’re having trouble coming up with the name.  And you can ask her yourself about the hair, but I can already imagine what her answer will be.”

Cat turned, eyebrows raised.  “Is she going to be joining us?”  Kara winced, not having meant to give that part away yet.  “Ooo she is.  That’s excellent.  Well, what are you waiting for?”

Kara sighed.  She felt beyond silly about this, but she needed to get on the same page with Cat if they had any shot at convincing Sam.  “It’s the name.  You and I need to decide what the name should be, because I’m going to need your help to convince her.”

“I suppose I am the superhero whisperer.  I don’t know if I’m going to be able to top Supergirl, though.”  Kara struggled—and ultimately failed—to keep a straight face.  Cat noticed and immediately realized what she had said.  “Getting your hopes up there, Supergirl?  I thought you were ‘spoken for.’”

Kara blushed wildly, but immediately crinkled her brow scoldingly at Cat.  “I am, thank you very much.  And … ugh … Cat!  It was funny, okay?!  Doesn’t mean I was fishing for anything.”

Mmhmm.  Of course not.  Who knew, innocent little Kara Danvers isn’t so innocent after all?” 

The words were out of her mouth before she could stop them.  “Oh please, you know Lena, surely you had to have guessed that by now.  I am—” she didn’t know how to say what she meant in a way that sounded … right, “—a … mature … adult … queer woman.  I’m not exactly sure how I could have avoided interpreting it that way!”

“Yes well … I’ll give you that, dear.  Still, the statement remains true … however you want to interpret it.”

“Oh gosh, really Cat?”  Kara hadn’t felt this flustered around the older woman since she had started calling her by her first name.

“Hey, you’re the one who has made it very clear that I have no shot with Supergirl, no matter how excellent I am at flirting.”  She winked at Kara, and her face heated up yet again.  “Now, if you’re done obsessing over my possibly intentional choice of words, let’s get back to the subject of the as of yet unnamed superhero formerly known as Reign.”

“What do you think about ‘Power Girl?’”  Kara kept her voice steady and monotonous.  The idea was Winn’s, and no one had been able to come up with anything better, even though Sam was adamantly against it.  She genuinely wanted to know what Cat would think, without giving away her own feelings on the subject.

Cat faced away, looking out over the city.  Her lack of immediate reaction made Kara nervous, but she sat there calmly waiting for Cat, trying not to nervously chew on her lip.  Cat’s voice was almost sultry in how soft and playful it was.  “Well, obviously ‘Superwoman’ is off the table.  I mean … you’re both grown adults.  No more than five years’ age difference, I would think—”

“Three,” Kara mumbled under her breath, but Cat didn’t move a bit.

“And we definitely don’t want to invite some sort of weird Madonna and whore dichotomy.  Plus … yes, I think we want to keep the ‘Super’ name strictly in the family.”  Cat turned all the way around, placing her hands out wide against the railing and leaning back ever so slightly.  “’Power Girl could work, though.  It sounds a little too much like an idea Wesley the IT hobbit would have, but it does have a nice symmetry with Supergirl, assuming that you’re going to be working in tandem?”

“That’s the plan, yes.”  Kara stood and walked slowly to go lean against the railing beside Cat. 

“I suppose we could go with something really out there, something new.  Such a tired pattern with superhero names—Supergirl, Wonder Woman, the Batman—at least your friend Mr. Allen had a unique moniker, as much as the Blur would’ve been vastly superior.  Now let’s see …” she paused dramatically, “Huntress is already taken.  I don’t suppose Krypton was in the Andromeda galaxy, because that would be a great name.”  She looked sidewise at Kara expectantly.

“Well … I mean, it was, but I’m not sure she really feels any connection to our homeworld.  She’s like Kal; she left as an infant.  She had no memory of our culture or our history.  I mean, she didn’t even realize she was anything other than human until this year.”

“Okay, well, we should at least run it by her—it doesn’t have the same sort of symmetry that Power Girl might, but Andromeda is an excellent and unique choice.  Especially if she’s keeping the black on black colour scheme, which … well, that’s actually a really bad idea.  She needs to lighten it up if she wants to become a symbol of hope rather than fear.”  She shrugged.  “Well those are the best two options I’ve got.”  She propped herself enough to face towards Kara.  “Is that all we needed to work out?  Do I get to meet your girl now?”

My girl.  Kara managed to keep herself from visibly sighing out of happiness.  She straightened and nodded, reaching down and pulling her phone out of the hidden pocket in her boot.  Cat wondered aloud, “What am I even supposed to call this woman, given that she hasn’t chosen a name yet?”

“S—shit.  I don’t know, Cat.  Let’s maybe tackle the name issue first, so that you have something to call her.”  Kara couldn’t believe she almost let Sam’s name slip.  She wasn’t used to keeping her guard up around Cat anymore.  Cat’s sly grin told her that Cat knew it, too.  Kara shot Sam a quick text, giving her the go ahead to meet them on the balcony.  “She’ll be here any minute.”

                                                  

Sam was looking over her new superhero outfit for the millionth time when she got the text from Kara.  She was in Kara’s loft, pacing back and forth in front of the full length mirror.  She loved her new look, mostly.  She had worked closely with Kara and Winn on the design, which was equal parts Reign and Super, with a little bit of a unique flair to separate her from Kara or her cousin.

She stuck with the black but added a lot of white and brightened the red accents to match the shade in Kara’s costume.  The suit was a full body skintight flight suit, more like Superman’s suit than Supergirl’s.  She kept the boots and gauntlets from the Reign outfit, but Winn was able to dye them red.  There was a white metallic belt modeled after the leather enclosure from the Reign outfit, but lower on her waist like Kara’s v-shaped belt.  The biggest changes were the top of the outfit.  Kara had insisted that if she was truly dedicated to changing her public image and using her powers for good, she needed to be a living symbol of hope.  For better or worse, the sigil of the House of El had become that on Earth, and even though they had argued about it for hours—days—Sam had  eventually, very reluctantly, agreed.  She still felt like she didn’t deserve it.  She felt wrong putting herself on the same level as Supergirl.

The sigil was a little larger and higher on her chest than Kara’s, and it formed all one piece with her cape, the outer bottom triangle of the pentagon rising up past the sigil to form the outer edges of the cape going up and over her shoulders.  The cape, outside of the sigil, and ‘S’ were white, while the inside of sigil and the inner lining of the cape were red.  The cape and sigil connected seamlessly into a white cowl that completely covered her collarbones and neck before rising up to enclose most of the back of her head, her ears, and her face from the nose up.  The cowl ended at her hairline, allowing her hair to flow freely.  It was important that Sam protect her identity, and it was far too late in life for Samantha Arias to even attempt the whole ponytail and glasses disguise.  And the Reign mask felt wrong.  It has a sort of alien beauty to it, but it was inseparable from the fear and violence left in Reign’s wake.  The cowl was Winn’s idea, and it was a great one.  It would protect her identity perfectly.  Winn had also seen fit to add in two-inch-wide red accent lines coming down from the sigil, curving slightly past her belt to follow the shape of her hips, and then cutting of in a diagonal edge just above the knee.  Sam had to admit, they really added an extra pop that the suit needed.

Once she had decided on this path, everything had become easier.  The guilt and remorse—the darkness, as she’d taken to calling it—had been easier to ignore by focusing on the outfit, brainstorming name and ideas, and training with Kara.  But they were still there.  She wondered if they would always be there.  It was hard for her, because she had no one to talk to about it.  Kara was so encouraging and supportive, but she wouldn’t allow Sam to take any responsibility for Reign’s actions.  Wouldn’t even talk about it.  But Sam needed to talk about it.  She still had only a few flashes of memories from when Reign was in control, but they were enough to fill her with overwhelming guilt, disgust, and self-loathing.  Ignoring it didn’t make her feel any less responsible.  Didn’t cleanse her hands of the blood she felt all over them late at night.

And Lena … well, she was fortunate enough that Kara’s text came just in time to spare her from having to think about Lena. 

[10:15 a.m.]    Hey babe, Cat and Supergirl are ready for you.  Let’s see how fast you can fly from the loft to CatCo ;)

Instead of responding, Sam grinned and darted out the open window at full speed, accidentally blowing the furniture out of place with the wind created by her sudden departure.  Oops!  She was still getting the hang of flying, but the cape really helped.  At first she had thought a half cape over only one shoulder would have been a more distinctive look for her, but Kara had insisted that the full cape was more aerodynamically sound.  Plus it could be used for protection from bullets and flame, so the more material the better.  Now, she could see what Kara had meant.  She made it from Kara and Lena’s loft to CatCo in under a minute, which she thought was pretty damn good.  Even though she was pretty sure Kara probably could’ve done it in half that time without even trying.

Sam paused briefly above the building.  It never failed.  Kara just looked so gorgeous as Supergirl.  It was especially the case now that Sam’s vision was so vastly improved.  The sun in in her hair was captivating.  She could already tell that Kara had noticed her presence, and wow was that sexy.  Caught up in the moment, she whispered, “You look so sexy right now.  I wish I could fly you away right now and rip that suit off your body,” knowing that Kara, and only Kara, could hear her.  Seeing Kara blush immediately, she felt her face erupt in a wide smile.  She loved teasing her girlfriend, especially now that their powers allowed her to do it in inappropriate situations.

Having accomplished her mission, Sam floated down to the CatCo balcony and landed beside Kara.  It was her first time meeting Cat Grant, and she tried not to let all the gushing Kara had done prevent her from coming to her own conclusions.  If she was going to trust this woman with her story, she needed more than Kara’s assurance that Cat was reliable and respectful. 

She nodded warmly at Kara—they had talked previously about playing the part of nothing more than friends, with a slightly professional edge to their relationship—then turned to Cat with her hand outstretched.  “Ms. Grant, it is nice to finally meet you.”  Cat shook her hand firmly before gesturing that they should all sit.

“Well, this is quite the transformation.  My compliments to your seamstress—Supergirl, you weren’t kidding about taking care of the suit.”  Cat looked her up and down.  “If Reign wasn’t still fresh on all our minds, I would never have guessed you used to be her.  Or … were possessed by her—my apologies for the slip in the phrasing there.  Supergirl assures me that you are not Reign, and I trust her.  Please, call me Cat.  And we can figure out what we’re going to call you.”

Sam was a little taken aback by Cat’s casual reference to Reign and immediate apology.  She decided to flip it into a joke.  She needed to get a firm bearing on Cat Grant before she was willing to open up.  “Well, you sure as hell shouldn’t call me Reign, I suppose.  And don’t tell me you’re gonna go along with this whole ‘Power Girl’ thing, because there’s no way I’m letting people call me that.”

“Look, I hate to tell you this, Power Girl, but they’re going to call you whatever I tell them to call you.  I’m Cat Grant.  You know, Supergirl wasn’t exactly thrilled with her moniker when I bestowed it on her either.  Not at first anyway.  Now she loves it.”  Cat smiled knowingly at Kara, and Sam couldn’t help but roll her eyes at the easy familiarity between the two women.

“Yes, well.  I’m not Supergirl.  And I’m not Power Girl either.  Surely the great and mighty Cat Grant can think of something less … derivative.”  Sam was actually pretty okay with Power Girl, now that she had had time to process it.  It had a certain ring to it and worked well as a mirror of Kara’s superhero name.  But she was testing Cat, and honestly, it wouldn’t hurt to hear a few other options.

“I mean, I could.  Hell, when you and your friend—” Sam didn’t care at all for the cocky tone with which Cat said ‘friend,’ and she shot a questioning look Kara’s way, only to have her keep her eyes firmly on Cat, “—head home, feel free to ask her about some of my other ideas.  But no.  No, Power Girl is the right choice.  I see that now.”  Cat paused, uncrossing her legs then crossing them again in the reverse direction.  “Now.  I’m sure you both know each other’s secret identities, and I’m fully aware of Supergirl’s identity, but I think we should limit ourselves to official superhero monikers for this little talk, just to be sure that no one slips up and uses S—” Cat made a show of interrupting herself before she finished the syllable, and Sam glared daggers at Kara, who wilted immediately under her gaze.  Does she know?!  Cat chuckled before saying, “Easy there, Power Girl.  No, she didn’t tell me your real name.  She was actually doing a remarkable job of hiding your identity and her relationship to you, other than a couple of tiny slip ups that most people might not have caught.  I’m quite proud of her, if I’m being completely honest.”

Sam shifted uneasily.  She recognized Cat’s insistence on superhero names for what it was—a truly skillful and compassionate overture.  An attempt to help protect Sam, since they both knew how likely it was that Kara would slip up at some point if the conversation got too comfortable.  Nevertheless, the power dynamics here were off, at least in Sam’s mind.  She and Kara were the ones who could fly and break this building in half with one hand—and yet, Cat Grant was the one making them feel uncomfortable.  Sam didn’t like it at all.  She was accustomed to having the upper hand in a conversation with a new person—especially an attractive woman.  She hated to admit it to herself, but she was legitimately intimidated by Cat, if only a little.  Still, it didn’t make her any more likely to trust the Queen of All Media.

Cat watched her reaction carefully, then sighed.  She slouched a little into her chair and somehow, as if by magic, she suddenly seemed 30 percent less intimidating.  Sam knew it had to be a practiced skill from Cat’s reporting days, but that didn’t change the automatic reaction her body had, relaxing just slightly.   “Look, I’m sorry for this whole song and dance.  I sincerely did not mean to put you ill at ease.  Old habits die hard.”  She smiled softly at Sam.  “As I told Supergirl before you arrived, nothing is on the record until you say it is.  I would never do anything to betray her trust, and if she tells me to extend you the same courtesy, I will.  And have.” 

Sam searched her eyes, unsure if she could trust the sincerity she read in them.  She narrowed her own eyes before responding.  “I’m having trouble getting a good read on you, Cat.  I’m fully aware that K—Supergirl trusts you with her life.  And with her reputation, for that matter.  But I’m not willing to just take her word for it, even though I trust her fully.  I’m in a difficult spot right now, as I’m sure you can imagine, and I need to know for myself that I can trust you before I open myself up to you.  On or off the record.”

“You’re a smart woman,” Cat offered immediately.  Sam believed the compliment was genuine.  “I don’t blame you for being cautious.  Supergirl assures me that you’re a victim in all this, but I’m not going to beat around the bush—you’re up against it.  No matter how you go about this, it won’t take long for people to put two and two together when you start doing the whole superhero thing.  And once that happens, they won’t trust you.  Who knows—the military might come after you.  The police, if they’re stupid.  I assume you have an in with the DEO at this point, so that’s less of a concern.  And maybe if Supergirl vouches for you publicly, gets the word out in some way, that will help.  But people will still see you as Reign, and you could very well derail Supergirl’s reputation in the process.” 

Sam glanced over at Kara, who was glaring at Cat.  She knew that Kara was just being protective, but she reached over and placed a hand on Kara’s arm, just for a moment.  She appreciated hearing the blunt truth from Cat, even if Kara didn’t like to entertain worst case scenarios.  Kara caught her eye for just a second, calming down.  As Sam looked back at Cat, she caught the older woman surveying them with noticeable interest.  Fuck.  Kara had warned her that Cat’s observation skills were superhuman, and Sam could already tell that this brief moment had set off some alarm bells.  Shit.  Trusting Cat with her superhero rebranding efforts was one thing—letting her in on the fact that Supergirl was in a polyamorous relationship with her new crime fighting partner and Lena Luthor was another thing entirely.

“Unlike my friend, who I’m sure you know is the beaming epitome of optimism, I appreciate your frankness.  I’m well aware that I face an uphill battle, even if Supergirl is insistent that I am in no way responsible for the actions of Reign.  But I still need you to convince me that you’re the one to tell my story.”

Cat smiled at her.  Sam got the impression that she enjoyed the chase of a hard sell.  “Now that I can do.  The only question is how to convince you I’m on your side.  But before I do that, may I offer just one suggestion about your disguise?  While your hair is quite beautiful, this whole honeyed brunette look is a little distinctive.  Have you ever thought about a wig?  You could probably sew it directly into that cowl so that it looks like it’s your natural hair.  Given your choice of colour scheme, red might be nice—I imagine you’re trying pretty hard to hide your true identity, for reasons I hope to learn one day.  Hair colour and style can be a dead give away.”  She tilted her head slightly and pursed her lips.  “Just a thought.  Up to you.”  Sam actually really liked the idea, and she made a mental note to discuss it with Winn later.  “Anyway, to the point, since I only know what Supergirl has told me, the best I can do to convince you is to walk you through how I would present the story she told me.” 

Sam gestured for her to continue, and Cat stood, pacing as she told her version of the story and gesturing as necessary.  “You are a miracle, Power Girl.  Despite their best efforts to create an evil goddess, the end result of the genetic experiment of a dying Kryptonian religious cult was a strong, powerful woman dedicated to using her gifts for a better world.  You weren’t supposed to be.  But despite having literally the entire deck stacked against you, you refused the dark destiny that was foisted upon you, and now, you are determined to be the opposite of what your creators intended.  You’re not here to kill the world; you’re here to save it.”

Fuck, she is good.  Sam didn’t have to look over to know that there were tears in Kara’s eyes.  Sam breathed out in faux exasperation.  “You know, I don’t exactly love using clichés, but I guess they’re clichés for a reason.  You tell a good story, Ms. Grant, and maybe this time flattery will get you somewhere.  But only because I already trust Supergirl’s judgment of you.”

Cat raised an eyebrow, waiting for Sam to clarify further.  Sam made a face but gave her the answer she sought.  “I consent to an interview with you, on the record.  But Supergirl and I want to review the finished product, with absolute veto power on what goes to publication.  Can you handle that?”  Sam could immediately feel the tension from both Cat and Kara.  She didn’t imagine that Cat was accustomed to these sorts of ultimatums, and obviously Kara knew Cat well enough that her unease confirmed Sam’s suspicion about Cat.

Of course, Cat Grant was just full of surprises.  “You realize how big an ask that is, right?”  Sam hoped that even through the mask, her confident look was all the answer Cat needed.  Apparently, it was.  “Well then, you’ll understand how big a concession it is for me to say yes.  Which I am.  On one condition.”  Sam exchanged a nervous look with Kara. 

“Let me hear your condition.”

“First let me just be sure you understand exactly what you’re asking of me here.  I am the best person to tell this story.  I do not take notes.  I do not let the feelings of my interviewees interfere with my ability to tell the best story that presents itself.  But I am willing to make this one time exception, which I have never made for anyone else—not even Supergirl—” Cat looked at Kara with an unusual, but also unusually delightful, expression, “—but only if you let me into your circle of trust.  You will have final say on what gets published, but only if I have the whole story.”

“The whole story?”  Sam’s eyes narrowed, already sure what Cat was asking, but needing to hear it aloud.

“The whole story, my dear.  Your name, personal history, how you know Kara, everything.  Again … I wouldn’t dream of publishing anything irrelevant to the story, and obviously, I’m agreeing also to not publish anything you don’t want published, no further questions asked.”  Cat looked back and forth between Kara and Sam.  “Feel free to discuss amongst yourselves.  I can go back into my office, or if it’s easier, I’ll wait here while you two fly off to somewhere more private.”

Sam whispered under her breath, barely making any sound at all, “Meet me on the roof,” then she nodded warmly at Cat.  “Give us five minutes or so; we’ll be right back.”  Then she was off to the roof.  It came as no surprise that Kara beat her there.

Acting purely on impulse, Sam didn’t stop in front of Kara—she just kept flying until her lips collided with Kara’s.  Her tongue moving along the inside of Sam’s lower lip sent sparks throughout her body and elicited a soft moan from the back of her throat.  Kara giggled, then pulled away, taking a step back.  “So, what are you thinking?”

I’m thinking that you’re even hotter now that all my senses are heightened.”  Kara rolled her eyes.

“Noooooo, babe.  Be serious.  And no deflecting!  What are you thinking about Cat’s proposal?”

“Yeah, Kara, that’s the thing though.  I’m not sure.”  She stepped closer, wrapping her hands around Kara’s face.  “You really trust her?  Not just with my story—but with my identity?  With Ruby’s?”  Kara’s smile faltered and concern seeped into her features.  Clearly, Kara hadn’t been thinking about Ruby, which was okay—she was new to this whole kid thing.  She hadn’t been a mother for fourteen years.  But then the smile returned, and her bright blue eyes shown with confidence.

“I do, Sam.  Cat’s a mom, too.  And I know what her reputation is, but trust me, there’s nothing she wouldn’t do to protect her son Carter.  I have zero doubt she will understand your concerns about Ruby.  As for your identity, I trust Cat with my identity as much as I trust you or Alex or Lena or Winn.  I can’t tell you what you should do here—I can only tell you that if I was in your place, I’d take the deal.” 

She gave Sam a peck on the lips, then leaned in to whisper near her ear.  Sam was pleased to find that the cowl didn’t take any of the sweet sexiness out of Kara’s voice.  “I also feel that I should point out that this cowl is really growing on me.  At first, I hated it because it covers up your pretty face.”  Kara traced a finger along Sam’s cheek.  “Your amazing cheekbones.”  She booped Sam’s nose affectionately, causing Sam to giggle softly.  “Your adorable nose.”  She pulled back, catching Sam’s eyes with her own.  “But … it is pretty sexy.  I started to see it during your back and forth with Cat.  I think I can live with it.” 

Sam smirked at her.  “You do, do you?  You sure I shouldn’t invest in a good pair of glasses and some hair clips instead?” 

“Har har,” Kara snarked as she shoved Sam playfully.  “Now.  What are we gonna do?”

“We’re going to put my life in Cat Grant’s hands, and you’re going to swear to me that I’m not making the biggest mistake of my life.”  Kara smiled, then pulled her in slowly for a deep, passionate kiss.

“I swear to you, this is not the biggest mistake of your life.  This is the start of a brave new beginning for you.  And, I hope, for us.”

Sam smiled back at her.  “Alright, let’s head back down there then.”

Chapter Text

Chapter 31

Tipsy Maggie was an absolute delight.  A little looser, a little louder, a little flirtier, and a lot more excitable.  It had been a great idea to have a boozy brunch before they started shopping.  After brunch nearby, they were walking over to the local fine jewelry store that catered specifically to the queer community.  As much as Lena adored tipsy Maggie, in this particular instance it unfortunately lead to an uncomfortable, but thankfully short, conversation on the way.

“So, have you seen Sam’s new super suit or whatever?”  Maggie asked so casually, probably without thinking.  Lena felt her body stiffen, but she kept pace with her friend.  She had no idea how to respond to the question without giving away her inner turmoil.

She tried to answer as succinctly as possible, without any inflection that could give her away.  “No, I haven’t had the chance.”  Lena didn’t look, but she could sense Maggie hesitate in her step, ever so slightly. 

“Shit. Dammit, Lena, I’m sorry.  Things are still iffy between you and Sam, huh?”  Lena really didn’t want to discuss this right now, because she wasn’t really sure what there was to say, other than yes.  Things hadn’t been the same between Sam and Lena since everything blew up with Reign, and she had no idea how to get back to the place they were in before.  It was a constant struggle just to keep their rift from affecting her relationship with Kara.

“Yeah, Maggs, they are.”  She rubbed her temple in frustration. 

“Do you need to talk about it?  I mean … what’s the issue?  Surely you don’t blame her for what Reign did?”

Lena felt her brow furrow, but she resisted the fleeting urge to lash out at Maggie.  She sighed, then answered, “Logically, no, I cannot blame her for that.  I know that Reign was another person.  We’ve discussed this, Maggie—I, of all people, know the distinction.  I’m the one who figured out how to get rid of that monstrous bitch.”

“But?”

“Honestly, I don’t know.  It makes no logical sense.  I know that they’re not the same.  That Sam isn’t to blame.  But then I look at her face … and all I see is those red eyes.  I can’t think of anything but the footage of her beating the shit out of Kara.  It’s this instinctual, visceral feeling that I just can’t shake, as much as I love Sam.”  She glanced over at Maggie to find her glancing back with genuine concern in her eyes.  “Fuck me, it’s the worst.  I feel genuinely awful about it, because I know it hurts Sam.  And it makes life so much more difficult for Kara, who is trying not to take sides.  But I have no idea how to deal.  I just keep hoping that time will close and heal the wound, that we’ll replace bad memories with good ones… but it’s still so hard just being around her.”

“I wish I could help somehow.  Have you talked to your therapist about it?  You’re still seeing the DEO chick, right?  So you don’t have to hide anything?”

They arrived at their destination, and slowed down to finish their conversation outside the store before going inside.  Lena winced.  Maggie was going to be pissed at her.  “I ummnm, no.  Fine.  No, I haven’t mentioned it.  I’ve avoided it because I know how fucking stupid it is, and I’m beyond embarrassed at how irrational and awful I’m being.”

She could feel the look Maggie was aiming at the side of her head, but she refused to face her.  “You’re a fucking idiot, you know that?”

“Yes, I fucking know that, okay?  Look, today is supposed to be happy.  And about you, not me.  If I promise that I’ll talk about my issues with Sam next time I see Dr. Letamendi, can we drop it for now?”

“You’ve got yourself a deal.  And we’re definitely going to need some more booze after this.”

“You’re damn right.  Now, let’s get you a ring.”  Lena opened the door and held it for Maggie, following her inside.  No one else was there, and the employee behind the counter, a tall black man, with a bald head and a very well-trimmed beard, greeted them warmly.  Lena returned the greeting and explained that they would need a few minutes to themselves, before leading Maggie to the first glass jewelry display on the right.

Lena enjoyed how much Maggie’s eyes widened after only two cases.  “Jesus fucking Christ, this is too much.  How am I supposed to pick something?” When Maggie had told her that she was planning to propose to Alex, this store was the first place Lena had thought of.  Lena made sure to invest in as many local businesses either owned by queer folks or catering to the queer community as she could find, and she had been a silent minority partner in this place for nearly as long as she’d been in National City.  So, when Maggie told her, the first sentence out of her mouth was congratulations, and the second was an insistence that they purchase all their rings here, Lena’s treat.  She hadn’t even had to fight Maggie that hard on it, which was one more thing she loved about her diminutive friend.  

“Well, darling, let’s start out with some simple questions that will help you narrow things down a bit.”  Lena put her hand on Maggie’s shoulder and turned her away from the glass case to look at Lena.  “Let’s start with the metal—Alex mostly wears silver jewelry, right?”

“Fuck me, I don’t know.”  Maggie looked up at the ceiling for a second, then back at Lena.  “Yeah, I think that’s right. Damn, Li’l Luthor, that’s some powers of perception you’ve got there.  Should I be worried that you know what kind of jewelry my girlfriend wears?”

Lena waggled her eyebrows suggestively.  “Well, I do have a thing for Danvers women, you know.”

“Hey!  Back off, bitch.  You already have a Danvers woman.  Mine is off limits.”  They exchanged fake glares for all of two seconds before they each burst into laughter. 

“So, that’s our starting point—either a white gold or platinum ring.  White gold is cheaper, but I suggest we go with platinum.  It won’t fade over the years, and you’re not worrying about price—not for this decision.”  She gestured back towards the jewelry case.  “Now, were you thinking of a more traditional sort of ring or something decidedly more unique?”

“Definitely not traditional.  I mean, still something relatively femme—this is Alex we’re talking about, and despite all her sexy badass masculine energy, her style is definitely more femme—so … something a little delicate, but I don’t want anyone mistakenly assuming she’s engaged to some bro dude.” 

Lena smirked, but her eyes stayed firmly on the rings in front of them, dancing from ring to ring as she began to get an idea of what Maggie had in mind.  “Okay, then the only other major decision is on the sort of gem—or gems—you want.  If we’re going non-traditional, maybe we’ll stay away from a ring with a prominent single diamond.  Maybe a band with several gems or a non-traditional shape with some other gems offsetting it.  Hell, maybe even something like an infinity pattern?”  She glanced sideways at Maggie, whose face was nakedly deep in thought.  Lena was trying to help, but she could tell the detective was overwhelmed.  “Let’s focus a little more.”  Lena took Maggie’s hands, forcing her to face Lena again.  “Close your eyes.”  Maggie did as asked but bounced a little, nervously.  “Clear your mind out. …  Now, I’m going to have you think about something, and you blurt out the first thing that comes to mind, okay darling?  Okay.  When you imagine this ring in your head, what colour jumps to mind?”

The response was unhesitating.  “Purple.”

“Perfect, Maggie!  You can open your eyes.”  They turned back to the jewelry.  “Purple is plenty unique.  So, we’re going to be looking at an amethyst, or possibly a synthetic purple sapphire, if you’re looking for a lighter purple.” 

Maggie frowned.  “Lena, I’m not seeing any rings with a purple stone.”

Lena rolled her eyes dramatically.  “That’s not a problem.  We haven’t looked at everything yet, and besides, it’s perfectly fine to pick a setting and change out the stones.  No limitations here.”  She rubbed Maggie’s back reassuringly.  “You wait here, distract yourself with your phone or something.  I’m going to bring you some options—but pay me no mind until I’ve gotten everything together.”

She walked away from Maggie, crossing the floor to go ask the employee behind the counter to let Dana know Lena was hoping to chat with her.  Dana was the owner of the store, and a delightful—if slightly neurotic—person who Lena was happy to call a friend.  She was a former up and coming soccer star whose career got derailed a little over a decade prior thanks to a serious breast cancer scare.  She had survived and found a new life’s passion in curating jewelry for all the big moments in the lives of queer people in National City.  Her wife of ten years, Lara, was a chef who Lena regularly contracted with her to cater all of L-Corp’s events.  And yes, Lena had given her tons of shit already for basically being the bizarre real life version of The L Word character.  Lena smiled brightly as Dana rushed out to meet her, positively exuding her trademark goofy energy. 

“Darling, you’re looking wonderful as ever!  How’s Lara?”

Dana came around and gave Lena a firm hug.  “Lara’s fantastic, as always.  How is Kara?”  They both grinned, as they always did—it was an ongoing joke how similar their partners’ names were.  “Please tell me you’re finally buying her a ring.”

“Believe me, when I do, you’ll be one of the first to know.  But not yet.  I’m actually here with my very good friend Maggie Sawyer, who is here to buy an engagement ring for her girlfriend, Alex Danvers.”

Dana raised an eyebrow.  “Danvers, huh?”

“Kara’s older sister.”

“That is so great.  I love giant families full of lesbians.”  Lena tilted her head, adding in the slightest frown.  “Oh fine, queer women.  I know Kara doesn’t identify as a lesbian.  I’m still not used to all the modern lingo.  She’s—what?—a homo…, homo—”

“Homoromantic pansexual, yes.  How kind of you to almost remember,” Lena scolded jokingly.  “So, I’m trying to put together some options for Maggie, whose head might explode from having too many options.”  Lena led them over to the first display on the other side of the room from Maggie.  “I’ve narrowed down the options a bit.  We’re looking for a platinum ring, something nontraditional but still feminine, and she wants a purple gemstone—I’m thinking either an amethyst or one of those purple sapphires.” 

Dana walked around to the back of the display, wheels already turning in her head.  “Okay, I’ve already got a few ideas that spring to mind, one of which, I’ll have to get from the back actually.”  She reached into the case to grab a ring, dashed three panels over to reach in for another, then raised her finger for Lena to give her a couple more seconds.  Then she walked around to one of the cases nearer to Maggie, who gave her a curious look but kept her focus on whatever game she was playing on her phone, plucking a ring from there as well.  Finally, she disappeared to the back, returning seconds later with all four rings perfectly displayed on a little rectangular tray with a velvet cushion insert.  “Lena, Maggie, gather ‘round.”

Lena nodded to Maggie, and they met in front of Dana.  “Alright, Maggie, first of all, congratulations!  Welcome to the excellent world of lesbian marriage and domestic bliss.  Maybe when all this is through you can help me convince this one to join the club.”

“Oh my god, Li’l Luthor, I’m not the only one bugging you to lock Li’l Danvers down?!  You should’ve introduced me to—holy shit, I’m so sorry, I don’t even know your name!”  Maggie smiled brightly at Dana.

“Holy crap, your dimples are insane.  I’m Dana, Dana Davenport.  Nice to meet you.  Glad to meet another member of Team Luthor-Danvers.” 

“Oooo you think they would hyphenate?  That’s tasty.  Lena, why have you been holding out on me?”

“I’m not holding out on anyone, and today is most definitely not about me.  Now, let’s turn our focus back on the impending Sanvers nuptials, or you’ll be buying this ring yourself.”

“Jesus, will that name never die?”

“Not once you and Alex change your last names.”

“That’s never happening, and nothing you or Kara say is going to convince us.”  Maggie turned to Dana with a measure of finality.  “Now, let’s see these rings.”

Of the four options, three of them had purple stones.  One of them was a little bit more traditional than the rest, with a thin band and a prominent round amethyst at the center, but the top half of the band split into twisting arms that formed looping vines leading into the central stone, each with a smaller, clear oval stone.  The only non-purple ring was an asymmetrical design, a thin platinum band that cut into a sharp and steep curving v-shape up top, in order to make room for the pear-cut diamond in the center.   The other two were more like wedding bands than engagement rings, each with their own unique style.  One was a band whose top half splint into a very wide and thin infinity symbol, with rows of tiny square pale lavender sapphires all along the symbol.  The final ring was a slightly thicker ring, with an antique sort of scroll pattern along the top and sides of the band.  Five small purple amethysts adorned the top of the band, separated by four slightly smaller white diamonds. 

Maggie looked them over for a long time, tracing a finger along each.  After giving her a few moments to analyze each, Dana launched into a brief pitch for each.  “So obviously, this one is a bit more traditional, and I know that you’re looking for something non-traditional, but the amethyst and the off-center accent stones really add a unique flair to a very feminine ring.  This one is my personal favourite, just because it is so different, and we can be sure to swap out the diamond for a pear-shaped amethyst or purple sapphire.  It also pairs very well with a wide variety of wedding bands.   The other two are more like wedding bands than engagement rings, but who gives a crap about that distinction.  The infinity ring can’t exactly pair with a band, but it can serve as both the engagement and wedding, especially if you wanted to get one to match it.  And this last one—that’s the one I had to get from the back, Lena—works by itself or paired with a simple wedding band.”  She smiled at Maggie, raising her eyebrows in curiosity.  “So, what are you thinking?” 

Lena knew which one would be her choice, but she guessed Maggie’s tastes differed from her own.  She made a mental note for a future date, then turned to face Maggie.  The detective reached out and plucked the fourth ring from the tray.

“This is the one.  I can feel it in my gut.”  She was grinning like a delightful, adorable idiot, and Dana and Lena exchanged a knowing look.  “Umm… so … do you have another one like this?”

“In case Alex wants to put a ring on it, too?  Yeah, I don’t have another one of these in the store right now, but I can put in an order for one, with whatever colour accent stone you want.”

“I don’t know, I mean … I hadn’t really thought about whether we should both have engagement rings, but I guess we should, and this is just a really badass ring, and obviously I’ll see what Alex thinks, but now I’m feeling like I just want the whole world to know that I’m hers, and shit, now I’m rambling, so I’ll just shut up now.”

“The rambling thing is cute—you’re so clearly in love.  Lena’s already taken care of the price, so we’ll just need to fill out this form and I can get it resized for Alex.  You can pick it up probably Monday, or Tuesday at the latest.”  Maggie went to work on the form, then looked up at Lena and Dana.

“Thank you both, seriously.  I was worried this was going to be a fucking nightmare, but you made it the easiest thing in the world.  Well… second easiest, after falling in love with Alex.” 

“God, Maggs, you’re such a fucking sap.”  Lena kept her own unease very well hidden, smirking teasingly at the shorter woman before turning back to the proprietor of the store.  “Dana, it’s been a pleasure as always.  I’m going to take this one for some more celebratory drinking, but give Lara my best.”

“I’ll do that, but I expect to see you back in here soon with your own business.  Tell Kara I said ‘hey girl.’”  Lena winked, then followed Maggie out the door.

                                                  

“Okay okay okay, are we done here?  I’m a C—superhero, not a model.  I don’t think I can handle many more flashes in my alien eyes.”  Kara agreed with Sam—she was over this.  And that’s without even factoring in the awkwardness of having James doing the photo shoot for the magazine cover.  He wasn’t really part of team Supergirl anymore, so he still didn’t know that Sam had been Reign, and his initial hesitation at doing the photo shoot appeared legitimately motivated by fear of the newly named Power Girl.  Kara had the nagging feeling that James was dying to take her aside and question her about everything—and probably to scold her while he was at it.  No, thank you.

“Yes, fine, I think we’ve got what we need, Power Girl,” came the slightly exasperated response from where Cat was sitting comfortably behind James and his camera.  “You might wanna work on the attitude if you’re going to be taken seriously as a superhero though.  Just follow Supergirl’s lead.” 

Sam’s eyes flashed in challenge, but she held her tongue.  James made as if to speak, but Cat cut him off.  “That will be all, Mr. Olsen.  I’m expecting your best work with this.  It’s the biggest story in National City in nearly three years, and I want a quick turnaround.”  In other words, since the appearance of Supergirl.  James reluctantly took his equipment and left.  Kara breathed a sigh of relief before exchanging a look with Sam.

“Ready to go?”  Sam nodded and turned to offer her thanks and a goodbye to Cat.  But the Queen of All Media had other ideas.

“Actually, Sam, would you mind if I kept Kara just a bit longer?”  She phrased it as a question, but Kara could tell from her voice it was not one.  Kara shot Sam a slightly nervous smile.

“I’ll come find you in a bit?”  Sam made a face as if she was considering utilizing her usual blunt straightforwardness to dig into what Cat really wanted, but a very subtle head shake from Kara convinced her otherwise. 

“Sure thing, Supergirl.  Cat, thank you for your time, and for your discretion.  Please let Kara know when a draft is ready for review.”  Cat nodded warmly, and Power Girl was out the window and into the sky in a flash.

“What’s this about, Cat?  Was there something wrong with the interview?  What is it you couldn’t say in front of Sam?”  Kara made sure to put her sternest foot forward, posing dramatically with her hands at her hips and using her slightly deeper, much more confident Supergirl voice.  Cat responded by taking her time standing up from her chair, then looked Kara up and down.

“You know, I know I mentioned it already, but consider me a big fan of the new look.  So much more, hmm, mature with pants instead of the skirt and tights.”  Caught off guard, Kara glanced down at the new look.  Inspired by Sam, Kara had decided to finally make a change in her own outfit.  She kept the same colour scheme but went for the full flight-suit look like Power Girl or Superman.  Her sigil and golden belt remained the same, but her cape now had a slight edge of gold lining around its outer edges.  Without the skirt, it was important to her to add some more red to the ensemble, and Winn hadn’t disappointed.  She had expected him to simply reuse the accents he had designed for Power Girl, but she was pleasantly surprised to see that her design was unique.  A slim red triangle poking out from under her cape on either shoulder.  A strip of red extended from under each arm, curving under each breast before plunging down towards her belt at a slight angle.  Each of  these red accents narrowed down to the belt, but continued after the belt in the form of two thin seams that subtly traced the curve of her hips before continuing straight down to her boots, which now had a thing gold lining at the top, to match her cape.  The final touch was two sharp, slightly curved triangles extending outward from the seams on her legs, starting maybe two or three inches below the belt and coming to a point just before reaching the bottom edge of the belt.

Kara felt somehow more powerful in the new outfit, and she liked it.  Clearly Cat did, too.  But she was also trying to distract Kara.  “Thank you, Cat, I like it, too.  But you’re not going to divert my attention that easily.  What’s on your mind?”

“Honestly?  I’m worried about you, Kara.”  Kara was a bit taken aback by the sudden sincerity and concern in Cat’s voice, without any of her usual wry sarcasm.  She felt her posture soften as Cat walked closer and put a hand on Kara’s arm.  “What are you doing with that girl?”

Ummm what?  Kara struggled to keep a positive look on her face, even as her mind went wild with fears about what Cat was getting at, whether she was about to be judged or outed or otherwise mistreated by a woman she held in such high esteem, and how she could try to spin things to avoid that sort of outcome.  After a few seconds of wild speculation, she decided to try humour.  “Uh, fighting crime?  I thought we had made that obvious at this point.”

Cat immediately stepped back, withdrawing her hand at the same time that she shot Kara a very emphatic ‘cut the bullshit’ look.  “Kara Zor-El, you know damn well what I’m talking about.  I’m not an idiot, and I can very clearly see that you two are more than just friends.  I also know how annoyingly in love with Lena Luthor you are, so tell me what the hell you’re thinking.”

Kara could feel herself sputtering, completely unsure how to respond.  She knew Cat was perceptive, but this was next level.  Her stomach fell out of her stomach.  What if Cat doesn’t understand?  What if she exposes us?  She wouldn’t out Supergirl, would she?  No.  No way!  But … shit.  I am so not prepared for this conversation.  She blew out a frustrated exhale, then turned and walked towards Cat’s private elevator.  “Let’s talk about this on your balcony, okay?”  Cat raised an eyebrow but nodded nonchalantly, indicating for Kara to lead the way.  Kara immediately shot out a text on her group chat with Lena and Sam as she walked.

Sunny D  [3:46 p.m.]:   Red alert! Cat Grant’s superpowers of perception caught onto something more than platonic bt me & Sam.  Don’t think I’m gonna be able to walk it back wo her thinking I’m being awful to Lena somehow.  I trust Cat …  think I should tell her the truth.  But I won’t do it wo both of you signing off on it.

They stood in uncomfortable silence as the elevator climbed from the floor that housed the art department’s photo studios up to Cat’s office.  Kara ignored the glances she received from the employees with desks outside Cat’s office but gave Eve a warm smile on her way inside.  She didn’t stop until she reached the balcony, then turned nervously and indicated for Cat to sit down.   She got one response on her way through the office, and quickly looked at the text from Sam.

Sam Slam  [3:47 p.m.]:   Prior to today, I would’ve said absolutely not.  But now I see what you see in her, babe.  If you’re confident & you really believe it’s the right choice, I trust you.  And I trust Cat not to betray you.  If we don’t wanna tell her, the best lie I can think of is that there’s a definite attraction between us, but we’ve talked about it & don’t wanna hurt Lena, so we decided not to act on it?  I don’t know – is that any good?  Lee, thoughts?

Sam’s text was soothing, and it helped Kara feel better about her gut instinct.  She still needed to hear from Lena though.  She paced about anxiously, trying to figure out how to explain her unorthodox love life to Cat freaking Grant.  Kara ran a hand through her hair, then blurted out, “It isn’t what you think.”  Then her face turned bright red—that sounded so cliché.  “I’m not … I wouldn’t … Cat, Lena is the love of my life, and I would never ever hurt her.  I’m not cheating on her.”

Cat looked at her curiously, and Kara was relieved that she couldn’t read any condemnation in those honey brown eyes.  “Then tell me what I’m missing here.  You’re not seriously going to try and tell me that your feelings for Sam are purely platonic.  I know chemistry when I see it.”

“That’s not what I’m trying to tell you.  I’m just … nervous, I guess.  Worried about how you’re going to look at me when I tell you the truth, which isn’t something I was prepared to do today.  But I can’t … ugh, I just can’t have you thinking that I would ever do that to Lena.”  She leaned against the wall, tilted her head back until it rested against the wall, and closed her eyes.  Kara centered herself, taking control of her breathing until she felt confident she could have a conversation without falling into full on Kara Danvers ramble mode.  Then she turned back to Cat, having formed a plan to buy herself some more time.

“First, tell me what you think of Sam.”  Kara wasn’t sure if Cat would go along with this, but hoped she would indulge her.  Even beyond stalling until Lena texted her, Kara was genuinely curious to hear Cat’s unfiltered opinion before she considered opened up about her love life.

Cat gazed out over the city briefly, then turned back to Kara.  “I assume that if I do so, you’ll eventually answer my question?”  Kara nodded, and Cat shrugged.  “Very well then.  Samantha Arias is quite possibly one of the most impressive women I’ve ever met.  I mean, she’s got a tragic backstory to rival yours, which is really saying something.  Yet she’s managed to go from a homeless teenage single mom to the CFO of a major multinational tech company by the age of thirty.  If you’re to be believed—and yes, Kara I think you are—she is an excellent mother with a bright and precocious teenage daughter.  And now, just a month or so removed from finding out that she was created as a literal weapon of violence with an alter ego who has murdered at least fifty people, she has the mental and emotional fortitude to attempt to use her gifts for good in the world, to atone for the actions of her other self whether she truly deserves that burden or not.  All that, and she hasn’t lost her bravado or her sense of humour.”

Kara appreciated that Cat thought Sam hadn’t lost any of her bravado, even if Kara knew that this wasn’t actually the case.  Maybe that was a sign of just how much bravado Sam used to have, before all of this.  But even so, Cat’s unabashed praise of Sam brought tears of happiness to Kara’s eyes.  And she had talked long enough for Lena to respond to her text.

Lee  [3:46 p.m.]:   Darling, I’m fairly sure Cat Grant is in love with you.  My only concern is not that she will judge or expose you, but simply that she will try toss her hat in the ring as well.  Feel free to tell her the truth if you feel that is right.  Just remind her that she would be wise not to fuck with two Kryptonians and a Luthor.

Kara grinned at Lena’s response, but Cat offered an unexpected coda to her appraisal of Sam, one that took Kara completely by surprise.  “I also think she looks about ready to break in half, and I genuinely hope she has a strong support system in place, beyond her daughter.”  Kara felt her eyes widen, and before she had time to even think about it the words were out of her mouth.

“She does,” Kara whispered.  She took a deep breath and ran her fingers through her hair again.  “Cat … Sam is my girlfriend.  But, but … Lena knows, and she’s been nothing but encouraging and supportive to both of us.  Sam is her oldest friend in the world, and this is something that we all talked about at length before anyone acted on anything.”  Cat had an amused look on her face, but her raised eyebrows told Kara to continue.  “We’re polyamorous—do you, umm, do you know what that means?”

“Dear girl, I’m old, but I’m not naïve.  I will say … I’m a bit hurt that you’ve blown off all my flirting given this new information.”  Kara blushed.  How was Lena always right?

“Cat! I … oh geez.  That’s not … I …”

“Oh Jesus, Kara.  Calm down.  You don’t have to explain anything, I’m just messing with you.”  Kara’s blush intensified, for more than a few reasons.  It wasn’t like she hadn’t thought about … anyway, she felt stupid for taking Cat’s cajoling seriously, even if it was Lena’s fault for putting the idea in her head.

“Ah!  Sorry.  I just … like I said, I wasn’t expecting to have this conversation with you.  I’m a little flustered.  I was worried you might—”

“Kara, I would hope by now that you know you can trust me.  I’m not here to yuck anyone’s yum.  If you three are happy with your arrangement, then great.  And I’m sorry if I pushed you to reveal something you weren’t ready to reveal.  I just… well, you know I take my role as your mentor and friend seriously.  I couldn’t ignore what I was seeing right in front of my face.”  Cat was grinning at her now, and Kara felt her own face relax and brighten into a small smile.

“I get it.  And I appreciate it, Cat.  I definitely value your advice.  I didn’t … well, I know our situation is unorthodox.  I’m not ashamed of anything, but obviously it’s complicated given that all three of us are now varying forms of famous for different reasons.  And we’re trying not to make Ruby’s life any more difficult than absolutely necessary, so … it’s just not something we advertise, especially to the most eminent member of the press in all of National City.”  Kara made sure her tone was appropriately joking for that last sentence, earning her a devious smirk from Cat. 

“Well in that case, I suppose I could avoid mention of it in my story on Power Girl.  If you insist.”  Kara chuckled, then Cat surprised her again.  “So, is it challenging for Lena to be the only regular huma