Sorry By K. Aten
SUPERGIRL WAS HOVERING in the air over a park just off the waterfront, quickly formulating a plan of attack for her newest foe. When she saw it heading toward a tourist near the wharf she quickly swooped down to re-engage. The eight foot creature came at her again kicking its massive clawed hind legs in a one two chorus line like step motion. One claw raked down her leg, tearing through the suit and opening a gash in her skin. She yelled in pain and leveled a massive punch at the giant ostrich looking beast’s chest in frustration. Rather than destroy the bird like it should have, the blow knocked it back and the creature used its smallish wings to slow its momentum. Out of workable options, she touched the communicator in her ear. “Guys, do we have intel on what this thing is or what it wants? Nothing I’m doing here is having any effect and those claws hurt!”
Winn’s voice came over the communicator. “Be careful, the thing is called a Ptarmigian and its home planet is located in a red sun system, much like Krypton. It’s omnivorous and not very bright, but will attack if provoked.”
Another flurry of blows was exchanged and Supergirl knocked it back again and rose into the air to give herself some breathing room. She huffed over the com. “Great, I feel like I’m on an episode of animal planet. How do I defeat it?”
“Supergirl, I’m on the way now with a containment solution. Just keep it occupied for five more minutes.”
Supergirl smiled when she heard her sister’s voice. “Roger that, Agent Danvers. What are you bringing?” She flew down once again as the giant bird began hilariously running toward a guy fishing off the dock. It missed her with the leg strike but while she was distracted the long neck whipped down with surprising speed. The Ptarmigian’s soccer ball sized rock of a head cracked Supergirl in the forehead, sending her reeling for a second. “This thing is—well, super strong!”
Winn’s cheerful voice answered before Alex. “No worries, Operation Redbox is underway. Alex is T minus two and then our feathered friend is going to have a movie marathon.”
“Agent Schott, I told you not to call it that! Nearly there, Supergirl.” The hero of National City hovered in the air out of reach of the angry alien bird thing and watched as half a dozen black SUVs pulled up at the edge of the park. A larger cargo truck also pulled up right behind them and Supergirl guessed that mysterious containment device was inside. “Supergirl, we need you to unload the machine and help us wrestle the alien inside.”
A flash of blue and red blurred through the air and seconds later the machine that was indeed a Redbox was gently placed in the center of the park. Seeing its new nemesis so close, the Ptarmigian changed course and headed in her direction. “Guys, what do I do?”
Winn piped up again. “See the handle on the side?”
“When the alien is close enough, you need to open the door and get it inside. As soon as the door shuts again an armored red sun lamp will come on, rendering the strength to that of a normal bird.”
Supergirl’s eyes widened as the large creature came barreling straight for her. “An eight foot bird!”
“It’ll hold, I promise! But you have to get it inside and get the door shut and latched fast because the light won’t come on until the door is sealed.”
The Ptarmigan’s funny running gate hit full speed five feet before it reached the hero on the ground. She was standing right in front of the machine with one hand behind her, ready to open the door. When the space disappeared between them she moved aside and threw the door open at the last second, then used her super-speed to close it again and secure the latch. The momentum from the alien’s impact sent the Redbox over onto its back, which she quickly righted. There were some muffled thumps inside but nothing that indicated the Ptarmigian could break free from its temporary prison. Seeing the agents in black, including her sister, scattered around the perimeter, she quickly waved them over at the same time she cued her com. “Nice job, Winn. I owe you one.”
Alex took in the goose egg on Supergirl’s forehead and the bloody gash in her leg above the tall red boots and tried to stifle a look of concern. “Are you alright Supergirl? Maybe you should spend a little time on the sunbed until that cut closes up.” The knot on her head was already disappearing, but still…
Supergirl reached behind her under the cape and pulled out her cell phone to check her messages. Her eyes widened and she quickly stuffed it back in the protected pocket. “Shoot, no time. I have to go or I’ll be late.” She bent her knees to fly off but was stopped by a firm grip on her forearm. “Hold up.”
“What, Alex?” Exasperation was evident in Supergirl’s voice.
The DEO agent nodded toward the Redbox. “We need your help getting that back to the DEO.”
“Fine, I’ll put it back on the truck for you and you can unload it when you get back.”
Alex made a face. “Actually…”
Supergirl scowled. “Oh for Rao’s sake, what now?”
The brunette sucked on a tooth before answering. “Um, the crane is out in the unloading bay at the DEO. Contractors are coming tomorrow to fix it but we can’t leave bird brain in the machine that long so a little help would be appreciated.”
Supergirl spared a glance at her sister’s tactical watch and muttered under her breath. “Fine.” She ground out. “I’ll take it back to the DEO for you while you clean up the park and take care of the witnesses.” With that she grabbed the big red box and lifted into the air, then made haste back to the DEO.
Ten minutes later Kara smoothed the khaki slacks and brushed a bit of lint off her cardigan. It was starting to warm up from their previous weeks of chilly temperatures, but it wasn’t that warm yet. Not that Kara was bothered by something as mundane as temperature, but she’d been keeping her secret for a long time and knew how to play the part of human pretty well. So, she wore one of her trademark sweaters and fully immersed herself into the Kara Danvers role. Besides, Lena liked her sweaters.
Unfortunately, it was quarter after one when she opened the door to Noonan’s. That was fifteen minutes later than she was supposed to meet her best friend for lunch. Even though it was Saturday, she was well aware of Lena’s penchant for working the weekends and hated wasting the busy CEO’s time. Kara was still a little frazzled from the fight in the park, and from trying to wrestle the creature into a cell at the DEO. It was most uncooperative. J’onn mentioned that they had some alien activist coming in from the Ptarmigian’s home planet that volunteered to take the creature back home again. Turns out that it was brought to National City as part of an underground animal fighting ring. One that Supergirl was only too happy to shut down. Kara shook her head to put the entire thing from her mind and made her way toward the back of the popular lunch spot where she could see Lena already sitting with a cup of tea. Kara was nearly to the table when the raven-haired woman turned those heartbreaking green eyes in her direction. Kara tripped on nothing and nearly wiped out the table next to her. “Oh, sorry—I’m so sorry, here, let me clean that up. Seriously, my apologies.”
Lena snickered behind her hand as she watched her adorkable best friend flutter around trying to clean up a mess that wasn’t completely her fault. “God, she’s cute.” Green eyes widened when she realized what had slipped out and she glanced around furtively to make sure no one else heard. When the coast looked clear, she blew out a sigh of relief just as Kara threw herself into a chair on the other side of the table.
Something snapped and Kara quickly sat upright. Under the guise of setting her bag on the ground next to her chair she used her x-ray vision to diagnose a cracked leg and knew the chair would never hold her weight. Rather than call attention to the fact that she broke another chair, she slightly hovered over the furniture and made it look like she was sitting down. It took a lot of concentration to maintain contact with the seat without actually putting weight on it. Then her eyes caught sight of the half empty teacup and guilt swamped her. “Lena, I’m so sorry. Snapper had me re-write the ground water contamination article three times. Three! I got here as soon as I could.” It wasn’t a lie. Her boss did have her rewrite the article three times but she had it finished before she went to apprehend the Ptarmigian.
Lena smiled causing Kara’s mind to short circuit just a little bit and she fell uncharacteristically silent from her rambling. The gobsmacked feeling was made even worse when Lena reached over and placed a comforting hand over Kara’s. “It’s quite alright, Kara. I was just going over emails about stock projections next quarter. I’ve been productive so no guilt is necessary.” She was well aware that Kara’s job as a reporter meant that the blonde was late to things nearly as often as she had to leave early. But any time she could get with her best friend was well spent, even if the time was limited. “I hope you don’t mind, but I took the liberty of placing our orders earlier so that the food would be ready when you got here.”
Kara’s eyebrows scrunched adorably before the trademark Danvers grin washed over her face. “You did? Wow! That is so amazing.” Lena discretely waved to their server and he carried over a large tray loaded down with three sandwiches and a salad. Seeing her favorite handhelds, as the menu called them, Kara immediately grabbed one and dug in. Lena smiled at her friend’s antics but froze with the fork halfway to her mouth as a moan came from between Kara’s lips. She blatantly stared as a look somewhere between pleasure and ecstasy washed over Kara’s face with her first bite of sandwich. “Oh Rao—um, wow, I didn’t realize how hungry I was!” Her eyes popped open again and she just caught the heavy lidded gaze of her best friend before Lena quickly looked down to focus on her salad.
Lena chewed the bite of greens that she hastily stuffed in her mouth as she desperately tried to compose herself. It took four more bites before she felt her heart and breathing calm to sufficient levels again. All the while Kara kept devouring bite after delicious bite. “Well, I’m glad to hear that my efforts were well-received.” Kara beamed at her and licked the mayo from two of her fingers. Lena choked on a walnut but held up a hand when Kara looked like she was going to intervene and got herself under control again.
Satisfied that Lena was okay, Kara popped the last bite of sandwich number one into her mouth and gave a little wiggle that would have surely toppled the damaged chair had she not been floating slightly above it. She reached for the second as she answered Lena’s comment. “Well, any effort that puts such delicious things into my mouth will always be my favorite efforts.”
Unable to help a little teasing innuendo, the CEO smirked. “What about the people who go to such efforts?”
Kara’s eyes widened at Lena’s tone and she paused in her chewing. Then with superhuman effort, swallowed the large bite down and leveled a playful look at the woman across the table. “Well it just so happens those are my favorite kind of people.”
“So I’m a favorite person, hmm?”
She got a vigorous nod in response. “Oh, definitely!”
Lena smirked. “Good to know. But aren’t you concerned that your reputation will be sullied if you put a notorious Luthor on your favorites list?”
Kara gave her a sweet smile. “There is no one I’d rather be sullied by—er, I mean, uh…I mean no one I’d rather have sully my list! Oh gosh, not that you’d sully anything. I’m such an idiot sometimes, I’m so sorry, Lena—”
Kara was silenced by a soft finger across her lips. Lena shook her head at Kara’s effusive apologetic phrase. If there was one thing she could change about Kara, it would be to convince the reporter that she didn’t need to apologize all the time. She pulled her hand away and didn’t notice Kara’s gaze follow its movement. Nor did she see Kara’s tongue slip out to lick across her lower lip. “It’s fine. I know what you meant and you’re my favorite too.” She leaned closer and winked. “And I’m not just saying that because you’re my only friend in National City.”
The disguised hero snapped out of her daze quickly enough when she heard Lena’s follow up sentence. “Psshh, you know that’s not true! You have more friends than me, Lena. Alex has finally warmed up to you and Winn practically worships the ground you walk on. Even James has come to admire and respect you and that man doesn’t trust many people, believe me!”
Lena gave her a peculiar look. “What about you?”
“What about me, what?”
“Why are you my friend?”
Kara set her sandwich back on the plate and gave Lena an adorably soft look. “I’m your friend because you’re you. You’re strong and brave, you are selfless and you fight every day against incredible odds to make the future a better place. How could I not be friends with you?”
The CEO flushed at Kara’s compliment and tried to joke her way out of the discomfort that accompanied Kara’s sweet words. “You sound more like you’re describing Supergirl than you are a Luthor.”
The blonde just shook her head slowly. “I’m not describing a Super or a Luthor, I’m describing my best friend and my favorite person in all of National City.” Seeing Lena’s contemplative smile, she knew her point had been made and Kara once again picked up the sandwich. She finished it in three bites and moved on to the last one.
After completing the rest of their lunch in companionable silence. Lena glanced down at her phone and grimaced. “Damn.”
Kara sighed. “You have to get back don’t you?”
“Unfortunately. I have a conference call at two with some German investors.”
The reporter quickly swallowed her last bite and washed it down with some water before speaking. “Oh, sprichst du Deutsch?”
Green eyes twinkled with the CEO’s response. “Na sicher!”
“Ooh, how many languages do you speak?”
Lena ticked them off on her fingers. “English, Gaelic, German, French, Spanish, Latin, Japanese and Mandarin, plus a little bit of Russian, Italian, and Portuguese.”
Kara’s jaw dropped. “Woah! I thought I was good with four.”
“Oh really? And I can assure you that four is well above average but, I am a genius after all. And the Luthors certainly didn’t scrimp on my education.” She shrugged depreciatively. Then she gave Kara a curious look. “What languages to you speak besides English and German?”
“English, obviously.” Kara snorted and Lena rolled her eyes at the blonde. “Then German, Spanish, and Kr—uh, Croatian!”
A single dark eyebrow went up with the blurted out last answer. “Croatian?”
Kara panicked a little. “Yeah, well, it…um—it looked fun. I took it in college.”
“Okay.” Lena glanced at her phone and sighed again.
“I know, I know, you have to go.” Kara fiddled with her glasses, always hating it when their time came to an end.
Lena watched the gesture fondly then her gaze drifted up to the blonde hair on the top of kara’s head. Her hand reached out of its own accord and plucked something from the pale strands. “Kara…why do you have a feather in your hair?”
Blue eyes took in the Ptarmigian feather and suddenly Kara’s concentration was shot. She dropped heavily into the cracked chair, which promptly gave up its life with a definitive snap and dumped her onto the ground. She quickly jumped up and dusted off her khakis then leveled a serious look at Lena. “It’s those birds in the park, you have to watch them Lena. They swoop down out of nowhere leaving a mess of feathers in their wake.” She fluttered her hands around her head as if to demonstrate said mess.
Seeing that Kara wasn’t hurt from the chair mishap, she just gave the reporter a perplexed look and took her explanation at face value. “Oh, okay then.” Her phone chimed, which she knew to be her last warning. “For fucks sake!” She blew out a breath. “Food’s already paid for Kara, and I’m sorry to run off like this—”
Kara waved her off. “It’s fine, I totally understand. Go kick some corporate butt, Lena Luthor!” Kara quickly pulled her best friend into a hug and when she stepped back again, Lena gave her a soft smile.
“You’re the best.” Then she was gone out the door in a fast-paced high heeled stride that would make even the most hardened business woman take notice.
Kara just sighed and looked longingly at the back of her departing friend. Her whisper was heard by no one but her. “No, you’re the best.”
MANY HOURS AFTER the conference call with the Germans, Lena found herself home for the evening. Her heels were off for the day, and she had a glass of scotch resting heavily on the coffee table in front of her. She debated all of thirty seconds before using the nearby remote to bring up the local news station on the large television screen suspended on the wall. It wasn’t that she particularly cared for the news, or that station in general. It was more of a guilty pleasure. Channel 11 was more of a sensationalist broadcast company than anything else. And one thing they loved to cover was Supergirl. Every night at seven on the dot they did a recap of all Supergirl’s saves and they often had reporters all over the city ready to cover a developing story at the last minute. Fans would send in video footage if they had it and the station would clean it up and show it in the nightly thirty minute feature.
Lena swirled the scotch and took a sip as a stock image of the familiar blue and red clad figure came up on the screen and the promo music rolled quietly through her speakers. She watched a video from earlier in the day, obviously filmed from a helicopter. It showed Supergirl fighting something that looked like a giant ostrich in the park near the waterfront. The hapless creature seemed to give as good as it got, a fact that Lena found quite surprising considering what she knew of the Kryptonian’s strength. She nearly snorted her drink when the bird began running toward Supergirl and the film crew zoomed in at just the right moment to catch the look of hilarious panic on the hero’s face.
The thing that made the entire video all the more hilarious was the fact that Supergirl flew off and brought back an honest to goodness Redbox. It looked exactly like the ones outside the chain pharmacy stores, and somehow Supergirl crammed the big bird inside before slamming the door shut. Lena shook her head in consternation and rolled her eyes. “Surely there must be a better way than that…”
It would probably give her mother a heart attack to know that Lena was such a fan of the superhero, but Lena didn’t care one iota what her mother thought. She admired the Super immensely. Not just for the times that she saved Lena herself, but for the constant self-sacrifice and devotion to seeing National City slept safely at night. Her need to watch Supergirl’s nightly reel would have been embarrassing and possibly mistaken for a little crush if she weren’t already so emotionally invested in Kara.
When the half hour segment was complete she stood and grabbed her drink before padding out onto the balcony in her stocking clad feet. The sun was slowly sinking in the west, maybe five or ten minutes from plunging the city into twinkling lamp-lit darkness. Lena faced the opposite direction and conceded mentally that her hero worship and celebrity type attraction for the Kryptonian was a little ridiculous but she couldn’t help watching every night. She took another sip of scotch and growled aloud as her train of thought shifted yet again. “No, what’s ridiculous is this inconvenient infatuation you have for your best friend. What kind of weak Luthor are you, Lena?”
“Do you always talk to yourself as you watch the sunset, Ms. Luthor?” Kara hadn’t heard the first part of the sentence because she was busy talking to Alex over the com. They had some news concerning Lillian Luthor and Kara volunteered to let Lena know in person since she was already flying around on patrol.
To give the youngest Luthor credit, she may have jumped slightly when startled by Supergirl’s voice off the edge of her balcony, but she didn’t spill her drink. She turned slowly with a smile firmly in place and listened to the wind rush up the side of the skyscraper and snap at the edges of Supergirl’s cape as the hero hung in place. The sun was going down behind her, forming a glowing corona that cast the trademark red and blue suit into shades of darkness. Her blonde hair shone like a halo of light around her head. Lena sucked in a breath. “What brings you into my neighborhood, Supergirl? Checking up on the local Luthor?” She injected humor into her voice to show the Super that she was obviously joking. They’d established a professional friendship of sorts, and had proved themselves to be beyond all the drama of their family’s past.
“You know better than that, Ms. Luthor.”
Lena shook her head and smiled. “How many times have I asked you to call me Lena?”
Supergirl floated closer and gestured toward the balcony. “My apologies. Do you mind if I…” She left the statement open, letting Lena be the one to decide if her personal space should be entered by the Kryptonian.
Lena waved her down. “By all means, join me. Would you like a drink? Do you even drink?”
The blonde shook her head now with a gracious smile. “No thank you. And I do drink but Earth alcohol has no effect on my Kryptonian biology. It simply tastes good.”
The CEO smirked and took another sip of her rapidly diminishing glass of scotch and felt the pleasant burn of it as it went down. “That it does.” Shaking herself from fantasy, Lena addressed the elephant in the room. Or rather, the Super on the balcony. “So what brings you by my domicile, business or…pleasure?”
Supergirl frowned and came closer. “Business I’m afraid. The people I work with got word a short while ago that there was another attempt at trying to break Lillian Luthor from the penitentiary on Granite Island. It was unsuccessful but my associates thought you might like a heads up before it made the news tomorrow.” Despite the rapidly fading light, Kara noticed the color drain from Lena’s face and took another step closer. “Have no fear, you are completely safe. The attempt was not even close to successful, Granite Island is practically impenetrable.”
Lena drew in a shaky breath and let it out slow and looked away from Supergirl. While she felt safe enough with the hero standing right in front of her, it wasn’t that kind of hero she needed with the reminder that as long as her mother was still alive, she could potentially be a threat down the road. The youngest Luther only wished for one thing in that moment, she desperately yearned for a friend. She wanted Kara. “Dammit.”
Another hesitant step forward and Supergirl reached out a hand, without touching Lena’s arm. “Are you okay?”
Suddenly, Lena gulped down the rest of the scotch and set it down on the nearby patio table. She had her arms folded in front of her, gripping her elbows tightly with hands gone white with tension. “Why can’t she be one of the model prisoners you always hear about, hmm?” She turned her gaze to Supergirl. “Why does she have to be such an…” She trailed off but Supergirl was quick to fill in the missing words.
“An evil villain?”
Lena snorted, her mood immediately lighter than the minute before. “I was going to say asshole but that works.”
Supergirl, Kara, took one last step until she was right in front of the raven haired woman and blue eyes met and held sad green ones from inches apart. “Lena....” Supergirl took a steadying breath and continued. “If I had the power, I’d put her someplace where no one would find her and she’d never hurt another soul again. Especially not her daughter. I would leave her there and never look back.” Suddenly realizing her admission, Supergirl sucked in a breath and quickly apologized. “I’m sorry, I shouldn’t have said that.”
Lena swallowed thickly at the nearness of the other woman and thought about her words. “It’s quite all right. Lillian stopped being a mother to me the first time she tried to take my life. So if you ever want to fly her off and drop her in the ocean, be my guest.” She paused before saying just a little bit more. “And listen, you don’t have to feel obligated to help me and reassure me all the time. I appreciate it immensely, but I know you have an entire city to look after.”
“Lena…I will always look out for you.”
The intensity of those blue eyes was too much and Lena had to turn her gaze away. She whispered words that no one but Supergirl would hear. “But why me? I certainly don’t deserve such intense regard and devotion.”
Motion caught Lena’s eye and she watched Supergirl’s head shake slowly back and forth. “No, that’s where you’re wrong. You deserve all those things and more. You are more than your name. Your reputation is built on the back of your motivations and your achievements. You are a good person, Lena Luthor.”
Lean looked at Supergirl with wonder and brought her own fingertips up to still her traitorously quivering lower lip. She felt as if the softest of blows would break her apart. And that blow fell like an anvil from the sky, in the shape of four simple words.
“I’m so sorry, Lena. For all that your family has done to you and continues to do.” It was in that moment that a million things clicked in place for her.
“I’m so sorry, Lena.”
“I flew here on a bus.”
“It’s those birds in the park, you have to watch them Lena.”
“Lena, I’m so sorry.”
Everything suddenly made sense as she stared into the eyes of her best friend, missing those trademark glasses. Lena’s voice was soft and questioning. “Kara?”
Blue eyes went wide as Kara mentally cursed Lena’s intellect and she tilted her head back to exclaim to the stars above. “Oh Rao, Alex is going to kill me!” Then she looked back down into Lena’s awed face, not seeing the anger or repulsion she was expecting. Kara was still standing much too close to her best friend but Lena wasn’t moving away. Kara sighed and admitted quietly, “Now you know all my secrets but one.”
“All but one, hmm?” Lena bit her bottom lip and she watched Kara’s eyes track down to take in the gesture. With eyes literally and figuratively opened wide, she noted the desirous gaze with pleasure and pressed for more information. “What is the last secret you have?”
Supergirl smirked, catching on to the developing game. “If I told you, it would no longer be a secret.”
Lena laughed. “But a burden shared becomes half the burden.”
Kara cocked her head. “You think my last secret is a burden?”
“I don’t know, is it?”
The hero leaned closer yet until her dusky lips were right next to Lena’s ear. “Why don’t you be the judge?”
Lena sucked in a breath and shuddered at the warm nearness of Kara. “What?”
Instead of answering, Kara pulled back just far enough to gently caress Lena’s lips with her own. The kiss was slow and sweet and Lena’s heart soared with the realization that Kara’s desires matched her own. Lena’s eyes fluttered open at the same moment that Kara’s did and the women smiled shyly at each other. Supergirl’s lips, no, Kara’s lips curled into a smile. “Well?”
A dark head cocked slightly to the side in confusion as she took in all the flavors of Kara left behind on her tongue. “Well what?” Her voice was breathy.
“Is it a burden?”
Lena’s best friend stood in front of her wearing the confident cape and symbol of her people, but lacked the surety usually displayed by the hero of National City. In its place was a kind of sweet insecurity, and more than a little bit of fear swirling in the depths of Kara’s blue eyes. Lena reached up to caress the soft skin of Kara’s cheek and gave her a blinding smile, trying to convey more than simple words could say. “Not at all. I think it’s lovely.”
Kara swallowed thickly and gave a quick nod, careful not to dislodge the hand that anchored her to the balcony and to Lena Luthor’s life. “Good.” She paused in contemplation then spoke once more. “Can I kiss you again?”
A glimmer beyond that of simple lust or base want sparked to life in Lena’s lonely green eyes and she smiled tenderly at her hero. “Please do.” Their lips came together again as the wind picked up and wrapped the red cap with its iconic symbol around their joined bodies. It was as if the house of El welcomed Lena into the fold with its accepting embrace. And Lena finally realized what home really felt like. Home was love, and love was Kara.