Blind By K. Aten
Lena Luthor was mid-speech for the unveiling of her company’s newest green technology when an explosion rocked the press conference. The CEO of LCorp was introducing an affordable desalinization machine that could revolutionize 3rd world drought-stricken countries when men stormed the area in front of her building that had been set up specifically for the big announcement. Lena had initially searched the crowd before she began speaking to see if she could spot her best friend but she only found CatCo’s resident tech writer, Josh Linky. Kara texted earlier to let Lena know that she was running late but that she’d be there before the unveiling. But now that things had once again gone to hell with the arrival of the apparent terrorists, she was worried that the reporter was caught down below the stage in the middle of the violence.
Truthfully Kara Danvers wasn’t the one who was held up. Rather, it was a bank being held up on the other end of town that required Supergirl’s intervention. But even with the upset to her schedule Kara still managed to enter the plaza only a few minutes after the presentation began. She beamed proudly at her best friend though she could tell Lena hadn’t seen her. It was that late arrival that found Kara fortuitously on the edge of the crowd rather than in the middle of the chaos when it erupted. Reporters scattered before the dust had even settled, screaming and crying in fear. Kara used the noise and falling debris as a distraction so she could duck around the corner of the building and quick change back into her Supergirl suit without anyone seeing. By the time she was out of her hiding place she found six men armed with strange rifles in the process of locking down the plaza.
“Everyone down on the ground and nobody gets hurt!”
Lena was a Luthor, despite how much she wished differently, and Luthors didn’t cow to anyone. “What is the meaning of this?” She discretely glanced around trying to spot Kara. She hoped that the reporter hadn’t arrived yet but Kara was good about keeping her promises which meant her best friend was sure to have been in the crowd somewhere.
The leader of the men laughed and raised the end of his rifle toward the sky to rest against his shoulder. “Don’t you worry about it, princess.”
Lena was angered at the man’s tone and blatant violence as he clubbed a reporter with the butt of his rifle. She took a step closer to the edge of the stage with her arm outstretched. “If you’re looking for money you won’t find it in a crowd of reporters. Let them go, please, and I’ll give you whatever you want.” It was simple math to Lena. No amount of money was worth a human life.
The scruffy man laughed at her remarks. “Oh, it’s not money we’re looking for. We want to catch a much bigger fish and you’ll do nicely as the bait.” He lowered the gun down to point it at the youngest Luthor.
“What—” Suddenly Supergirl appeared right in front of Lena, blocking the CEO’s body from harm with her own. The caped hero scanned the people that had been knocked down in the chaos and took special notice of the others that had been bludgeoned by the group of men looking to cause terror.
“Ah, there’s the big fish now! Thanks for showing up as expected, Supergirl.” The leader quickly dove below the stage before Supergirl could question his remark so she was forced to focus on the other targets.
Without saying a word, National City’s hero took out two of the men with her laser vision and destroyed guns of two more. One of the men shot at Supergirl who quickly spun and wrapped Lena in an embrace, using her cape to shield them both from the beam of energy. The beam wasn’t particularly strong, but Supergirl immediately felt the tell-tale signs of power drain. “Kryptonite…” She whispered. With her super hearing, Kara picked up the sound of trucks arriving and boots on the ground. She didn’t have her earpiece in because of the unexpected appearance of her alter ego but she knew that the DEO had arrived to secure the scene and get the civilians to safety. All that was left for her was to protect Lena.
Lena recognized the green glow around them and her heart raced with fear. “Supergirl—”
Meeting those frightened green eyes, Supergirl tried to reassure her as best as possible. “It will be okay, Ms. Luthor. Just stay near me at all times and I’ll keep you safe.”
A familiar voice called out from behind as the succession of green blasts abruptly cut off. “Supergirl, this one is down. You’re all clear.”
Without turning, Kara looked up with a smile on her face. “Thank you Agent Danvers—” She never finished her sentence because the missing leader of the terror group reappeared at the back of the stage, ten feet in front of her. All she could do was wrap her cape tighter around Lena and take the blast to her exposed face, eyes wide open. The pain seared her retinas and drew a cry from the hero’s lips. In her desperation to end the pain and weakness, and keep them safe, she held Lena tightly and shot straight up in the air. When she was confident that they were out of range of the rifle she stopped and hovered in place.
In all the instances that Lena Luthor had been saved by Supergirl, never once had she spent more than a short period of time in the Kryptonian’s arms. Typically it was a grab and fly to safety type of situation, or occasionally the hero would just act as a shield for Lena. Never once had she spent more than a few minutes so close to the powerful woman, at least not while conscious. Pressed together tightly as if they were slow-dancing, Lena shivered at the barely checked strength she felt along the length of her body. After more than a minute of just sitting there not moving Lena leaned back within the circle of Supergirl’s arms to see her savior. “As much as I love being saved, I’m not a fan of flying. As soon as you think it safe can you take us back down?”
Using her super-hearing, Kara verified that the last man had been taken into custody but that left her with an entirely new problem. While she would normally be feeling a whole host of things with Lena wrapped tightly in her arms, coincidentally the same things Lena was now feeling, Supergirl had a more pressing issue. “Well Ms. Luthor, the scene below has been secured but I’m afraid I don’t know how to get us down safely.”
“What do you mean?” Despite reassurance that they were no longer in jeopardy Lena’s heart raced, as much from her adrenaline response as it was to her close proximity to Supergirl. To put it succinctly, Supergirl was a goddess of ethereal beauty and rock hard muscle. It was nearly impossible for Lena not to swoon with the way they were pressed so tightly together. Which was confusing considering she usually only had that response with Kara when they sat next to each other on movie nights. Guilt swamped her for a second until she realized it wasn’t cheating if Kara didn’t know how desperately Lena loved her. Secrets were a hard but necessary fact of life.
Supergirl tracked Lena’s voice and turned her gaze toward the CEO. Unseeing cloudy blue eyes met startled green. “I apologize for the inconvenience, Ms. Luthor, but it seems that last shot has blinded me.”
“Oh my god! Are you okay other than that? I know kryptonite makes you weak, are you having trouble keeping us aloft?”
Supergirl pulled her a little tighter in an attempt to reassure the woman. “No, I’m a little weak but fine otherwise. It’s just my vision that has been compromised.” Well, she wasn’t completely fine. She had a headache that would drop a rhino at twenty yards but Kara had never been one for complaining. Besides, she knew that Lena would surely feel guilty for any injuries Supergirl sustained while saving her. There was no need to add to that guilt.
“What about your x-ray vision?”
The hero tried to switch and winced in greater pain. “No, I’m afraid that’s offline as well.”
Lena laughed at Supergirl’s wording despite the dire circumstances. “Offline. You sound as if you’re a malfunctioning robot.”
The blonde responded with a slight smile. “Sorry, I’m used to using jargon I picked up from my s—the agents I work with.”
Lena took in a deep breath to calm her nerves which helped slow her heart rate a bit. “Okay, now that we’ve established that we’re not going to suddenly plummet from the sky, how about we work on getting us down in one piece?”
Curiously, Supergirl cocked her head at the confidence in Lena’s voice. “How do you propose we do that?”
“I guide you, of course. Unfortunately that means I need to be facing away from you to be a successful pair of eyes. Do you think you could turn me without dropping me?”
A wry smile quirked Lena’s lips. “Well yes, preferably before a news helicopters come along and records this moment for posterity purposes.”
Supergirl flushed. “Ah yes, of course. Okay, hold on—er, I mean don’t hold on.” She tried to readjust her grip and realized that wasn’t going to work either. “This is much harder to do when I can’t see! Maybe if you stand on the tops of my boots and I steady you while you turn?”
Fear raced through Lena and her heart beat like a jack rabbit at the thought of loosening her grip even an iota but it was her suggested solution after all. She muttered. “Why do I have to come up with these ideas?”
Supergirl smiled down at her. “Because you’re a genius who is consistently underrated in thought and deed.”
Lena did her best to ignore the compliment from one of the world’s greatest heroes and attempted to turn herself around. Unfortunately for the pair, Lena was still wearing her heels. It was nice that she didn’t lose them during the latest attack but it wasn’t so nice that they had virtually no traction on the tops of Supergirl’s slippery red boots. The words that quietly escaped Lena’s lips proved fateful. “Please don’t drop me—” Then she slipped off the boots and completely from Supergirl’s grasp, emitting a shriek as she fell.
“Rao, Lena!” Honing in on the sound of Lena’s heartbeat Supergirl immediately sped down and got beneath the falling woman, catching her awkwardly in her arms. Perhaps it was serendipitous that the blind hero now held Lena from behind as the panicked woman finally found purchase on the tops of those red boots. They took a moment to catch their breaths, intimately aware of the way that Supergirl’s arms were wrapped tightly around Lena’s middle just below her breasts. She was cognizant of the fact that the entire front of Supergirl’s body pressed tightly to Lena’s backside. Supergirl flushed bright red even as Lena held back a needy whine. Clearing her throat, the Kryptonian spoke again. “You’re safe, I’ve got you and I’ll get you down to the ground. Just take deep breaths and we’ll be fine.”
Gulping air for another minute, eventually Lena calmed again. She patted the hands that held her in a steel-like grip. “Thanks for the save…again. And I trust you, Supergirl.” She took another deep breath and steadied her nerves. After all, she was a Luthor and no fear of falling nor pesky sexual attraction was going to waylay her for long. “Now what do you say we get our feet back firmly on the ground.”
Grinning, the resident hero was happy that Lena’s terror had abated and her friend had found her way back to humor. “Sure thing, Ms. Luthor. I’m going to begin a slow decent straight down. Please let me know if there are any obstacles in our way.”
“It’s Lena, please. I think that now you’ve caught me at least a dozen times, and dropped me once, we should be on a first name basis—well, I mean for me at least. Obviously I’ll continue to call you Supergirl.”
A fine tremor ran through Supergirl’s shoulders and she sorrowed at the lie she continued to hold near to her heart. “I’m sorry, Ms. Lut—Lena. But while my identity is my secret to tell or not tell, it is not me alone who is affected by the evil people of the world knowing. I have a family, I have people I work with every day who depend on my anonymity, and I have friends…my identity is a secret to protect them more than it is to protect me.” She could hear Alex calling for her below, letting her know the scene was safe. But she had no way of communicating back to the woman until they were back on the ground again.
Lena gave the hand below hers a squeeze. “I understand.” Displaying a bit of her genius insight, she surprised Supergirl with her next words. “I imagine even a superhero needs some downtime now and then. It would be hard to have it without a secret identity. So you don’t owe any of us explanations about who you are. Just know that you’re appreciated.”
Kara swallowed thickly and just managed to keep her voice low and as bold as Supergirl was known to be. “Thank you, Lena. Can you let me know when we get within twenty feet of the ground?”
The next few minutes were agonizingly slow as they dropped lower and lower at something near the speed of a descending hot air balloon. While she herself couldn’t be hurt from a hard landing on the pavement below, Supergirl was taking no chances with Lena’s physical safety. Eventually Lena called out. “Twenty feet. Ten. Five, four, three, two—” Lena’s count down cut off with a sigh and she lifted her eyes as Agent Danvers strode over to them. Lena stepped forward out of Supergirl’s arms as soon as the hero released her grip.
“What happened?” Noticing her sister’s indirect gaze, Alex grew concerned. “Supergirl?”
“The men had rifles of advanced technology. They emitted some sort of kryptonite beam. While they weren’t strong enough to incapacitate me, I did catch a blast directly to my face while my eyes were open. Fearing for Ms. Luthor’s safety, I flew us straight up to escape as soon as I heard your agents arrive. Unfortunately the beam has blinded me and I was forced to rely on Lena’s sight to guide us back down.”
“Agent Danvers, do we know who those men were or what they wanted?”
Alex shook her head at the CEO. “No yet, they’ve been taken to interrogation.”
Lena thought of something and decided it may be relevant information for the agent. “I’m not sure if it helps, but I don’t think they were here for me this time.”
Supergirl cocked her head. “How do you mean?”
“I mean, they told me I was bait and that they were looking for much bigger fish.”
The hero nodded. “Ah, that makes sense now. When I arrived at the scene they called me a big fish. Looks like they were after me all along, but to what purpose?”
Glancing back and forth between the CEO and her sister, Alex was surprised to see a familiarity between them. In the past Kara had always done her best to maintain an emotional wall between Supergirl and everyone else, especially for those that knew her alter ego of Kara Danvers. Alex wondered if the vulnerability above may have played a part in that wall coming down between Supergirl and Lena, at least somewhat. It was a question for another day though. She quickly turned her mind to the more pressing matter. “It could simply be a test of a new weapon. But if that’s the case—”
Supergirl frowned and finished her sentence. “There are more in the hands of terrorists.”
“Could this be the work of Cadmus? My mother is still out there and I wouldn’t put it past her to hire simple muscle to test some prototypes and see how well they work.”
“Perhaps.” Alex wasn’t discounting anything at that point.
“But,” Lena continued. “If it was my mother, she would have to have a way of finding out the effectiveness of her new prototypes. She had to have expected that they’d be captured, which means there are either more people nearby that can report back to her, or there are cameras in the area.”
“Shit, you’re right!” Alex stepped away and immediately queued her com. “Winn, do you copy? I need you to scan for any broadcast frequencies in my immediate area. We’re looking for video or audio signal.” Normally she’d have Supergirl scan the area with her x-ray vision but that option wasn’t available. Not only did she have to find that signal but it was no imperative that the injured hero get someplace safe. After she spoke with Winn, she made another quick call to have doctors standing by at the DEO for when Supergirl arrived. Even though it was probably a basic kryptonite blast, Alex didn’t want to take any chances with her sister’s eye sight. She walked back across the stage to where she had left the other two women. “Vasquez!” Alex yelled across the plaza and pointed at Kara when the other agent approached and walked up the steps of the raised platform. “I need you to escort Supergirl back to the base and be wary of attacks.”
“Alex, you can’t leave Lena here. It’s not safe and they’ll just use her as a hostage again!”
Alex shook her head. “I’m sorry, Supergirl, but I don’t have clearance to bring Ms. Luthor back to the base.”
Kara stood firm, despite the helplessness that coursed through her. “Either she goes with me, or I don’t go.”
“Supergirl…” Agent Danvers voice was low with both worry and warning.
As much as Lena was terrified at the thought that she may still be a target and that her regular protector was out of commission, she was also hesitant to piss off her best friend’s sister for reasons she didn’t like to admit to herself. Her love for Kara won out. Lena reached out to rest a hand on Supergirl’s forearm. “Its fine, I can just call my driver to take me home.”
Rather than be intimidated by the aggressive DEO agent who also happened to be her bossy older sister, Supergirl pulled herself straighter and her hands naturally rested on her hips. “No, Lena, you’re in danger and my decision stands. Find a way, Agent Danvers.”
“Oh for the love of fuck—”
“Swearing will not change my mind.”
Rather than retort, Alex strode away from the two women and queued her com again. “Can you patch me through to Director Jones?”
Two minutes later a very angry looking Alex returned, not that Kara could see it. But the younger Danvers sister could definitely hear it in Alex’s voice. “I’ve got permission to take you back to my agency—”
Lena raised an eyebrow. “The FBI?”
“No, the…DEO. Department of Extranormal Operations. We work in tandem with Supergirl to handle alien and meta-human threats in the region.” She turned to address her sister. “Ms. Luthor will have to sign some non-disclosure paperwork once she arrives.” She glanced back at the woman in question and Lena nodded.
“Please call me Lena, and I’m sure I can handle that. I also want you to know that I have no intention of spilling any secrets. It would be counterintuitive, after all.”
Alex gave her a strange look, wondering if the genius CEO had finally figured out Supergirl’s true identity. “Excuse me?”
Lena wondered at the look but shrugged it off. “I mean, with the amount of times Supergirl has saved my life it would be foolish and immoral of me to do anything that would jeopardize hers.” She paused for a second, debating whether or not to say anything then went ahead with it anyway. “I’ll also keep it between us that you’re not the FBI agent your sister thinks you are. At least, I’m assuming she doesn’t know?”
Rather than answer Lena’s question with the revealing truth, or a masterful lie, Alex chose a slight evasion. “Yes, I’d appreciate it if you didn’t tell anyone. Of course the non-disclosure agreement will cover any tech within the facility, identities of anyone associated with the DEO, as well as the facility’s location.”
Lena nodded. “Very well.”
Supergirl had been silently listening to the conversation and all other noises around her. Without her sight, her super-hearing seemed more acute than normal. She could only stand stoically while the two strong-willed women decided what was to happen next. She spoke up when the conversation finally came to an end. “Is there anything you need from the scene before we go?”
“Actually, I left my phone in the cabinet at the base of the podium. I set it in there after—fuck, Kara!” Lena turned her head frantically from the left to the right, scanning the area and the injured people for her best friend.
Alex quickly reassured her. “I saw her when I first arrived on the scene. Don’t worry, she’s safe and she knows you’re safe now.”
Realizing that she had just panicked for no reason, Lena quickly got control of herself. “Okay, thank you. I suppose I can call her later when I’m in a more secure location. As I was saying,” She pointed to where the podium had been knocked over off to the side of the temporary stage. “If it’s not too much trouble, I’d like to get my personal belongings from the locked cabinet. Well, if it’s still intact inside.”
As luck would have it, they were standing very near the overturned podium and Alex bend down to flip it over. “It has a six barrel combination lock.”
Lena answered smoothly without thinking. “032291”
The words whispered quietly from Supergirl’s lips. “Earth birthday—I mean, that sounds like a birth date.”
Catching her sister’s slip, Alex quickly replied. “Yes, that’s a birthday here on Earth. As a matter of fact, it’s my sister’s birthday. Care to explain, Ms. Luthor?”
The response came out in a very un-Luthor-like manner. “Uh…shit! I mean, um, I don’t have many people that I care about and it seemed too obvious to use my own birthdate so I picked my best friend. Is that a problem, Agent?”
Alex turned away to hide her smile and put the combination into the lock. “Nope, no problem at all.” Inside the locked base of the podium Alex found a smart phone, a pistol, and Lena’s LCorp badge. She pulled out all three, holding the phone and badge in one hand and the pistol in the other by its barrel. She raised an eyebrow.
“Don’t worry, Agent Danvers, it’s registered to me and I know how to use it.”
Alex smiled. “I’m well aware of both facts because I recognize the gun from the time you saved my life.”
“Oh, yes. Of course.” The CEO blushed.
She handed over the items one by one saving the gun for last. Lena waved off the weapon. “Can you hold onto that for me for the time being? It’s not like it did me much good today and not likely that I’m going to need it where I’m going.”
“You know, it would do more good if it weren’t locked in a cabinet.”
Lena raised a haughty eyebrow at the agent. “And where do you suggest I carry the gun in this outfit?” Supergirl gave a little whine, wishing more than anything she could investigate that thought herself. But no, she was stuck standing like a numpty with no ability to see all the wonderful things around her. One of those things being Lena Luthor.
“Did you say something, Supergirl?” Alex gave her sister a knowing look.
Kara shook her head vehemently. “Who me? Nope, just wondering when we’re going to go. I really want to get under the sunbed as soon as possible.”
Agents Vasquez and Tamil walked up and knowing that Supergirl couldn’t see, Vasquez kept her voice a little quieter so she didn’t startle the Kryptonian. “Supergirl, we’re ready to take you back to the DEO whenever you want to go.”
“Sure thing, Vasquez.” Kara made to take a step and abruptly stopped. Her voice was uncharacteristically hesitant when she spoke. “Um, I’ll need someone to guide me. It’s not that I’m worried about getting hurt but that I could seriously damage anything or anyone I run into.” The two agents were immediately thrown off, not used to Supergirl asking for help. However, before they could offer their services, Lena stepped forward and grasped Supergirl’s forearm tightly. “Put your hands on me and I’ll help guide you to the SUV. I had a friend at university who was blind so I’m confident I can help you safely.”
“I trust you, Lena.” Four simple words that meant more to Lena Luthor than most other in existence.
It didn’t take long for them to arrive at the DEO. Lena was surprised to see it was one of the stylish corporate buildings in the city. The black SUV pulled into a below-ground parking garage and from there the occupants walked down numerous hallways and rode up one elevator, scanning their badges at each doorway. Out of curiosity and more than a little appalled at the fairly low level of security, Lena addressed Supergirl while guiding her. “Are all the entry points only protected by badge access?”
Supergirl cocked her head in though. “I believe so, yes.”
“You don’t know?”
The hero flushed. “Truthfully, I don’t come in this way. I always, uh, fly in through the balcony entrance.”
Vasquez answered for her. “Ms. Luthor, all our access points are badge secured. The system is programmed for badge ID so not everyone has access at every point. For instance, the weapons room, detention cells, and IT hub are all higher level security than most other doors.”
Lena muttered and shook her head as they passed through another door into a large control room of sorts. “Well that’s not good.”
“What’s not good, Ms. Luthor?” Lena tensed and took a step back when a man that looked just like Cyborg Superman strode forward to greet them.
Supergirl recognized J’onn’s voice and figured Lena’s sudden fluttering heartbeat had to do with the Martian’s physical guise as Hank Henshaw. She immediately gave Lena’s arm a gentle squeeze as if she could read the brunette’s mind. “Lena, it’s okay. That is not who you think it is.”
The man in question stopped in front of the pair as the two escorting agents peeled off to write their reports. “My name is J’onn J’onzz, Ms. Luthor. I’m the director of the DEO. You may recognize the face as that belonging to an accomplice of your mother’s. Though the story behind appearance is best saved for a later date, as are any of your other questions you may have at this time. We need to get Supergirl to the med bay and see if we can reverse her blindness.”
“It’s a pleasure to meet you, Director J’onzz.” She held out her hand and he took it in a firm handshake, pausing for just a second to glance at Supergirl, then back at the CEO of LCorp. His entire demeanor warmed just a bit. “I assure you, Ms. Luthor, we are honored to have you here. If you’d like to accompany Supergirl to the med bay, I’ll be sure to send an agent to you with the appropriate nondisclosure paperwork.”
“J’onn! I’ve picked up two live broadcast cameras in the plaza and I’ve traced the signal destination to a warehouse on the waterfront.”
Lena turned toward the familiar voice. “Mr. Schott?”
The resident nerd and tech guru grinned at his geek crush. “Lena, hey! Glad to see you finally made it down to the DEO. Does this mean you finally figured out—”
“Agent Schott, please inform Agent Danvers of the warehouse location and instruct her to take her team there to investigate once the scene at the plaza has been processed.”
Winn looked at his boss and swallowed. “Yes sir!”
Another agent arrived to escort them to the med bay before Lena could fully process the chaotic information as she realized that both Kara’s sister and her good friend Winn were members of the same secret government organization. Facts that Kara apparently didn’t know. Why would they keep such a thing from her?
They walked down a few more corridors until they came to a brightly lit section with a large set of swinging double doors at the end. The setup was very similar to what one would find in a hospital. As they pushed through Lena made sure neither door could swing back and hit Supergirl. The only indicator that Supergirl was feeling less than sure of herself was firm grip the hero had on Lena’s forearm. Lena whispered quietly, knowing the Kryptonian would easily hear the words. “You’re doing fine, Supergirl. I believe we’re almost there.”
Kara tried not to show the true depth of her fear. She tried to be brave as possible while wearing the cape of El, but being blind wasn’t like any other injury she’d ever sustained. She felt so helpless and the only thing that kept her grounded was the comfort and calmness of her best friend. Lena didn’t know it was her best friend that desperately grasped her arm. She had no idea that Supergirl was actually Kara Zor-el, who as a girl spent 24 years trapped in the Phantom Zone in a small Kryptonian pod. She wasn’t aware that Kara’s experience gave her both the fear of enclosed spaces and a fear of darkness. And not just any darkness, but the smothering blackness of nothing that only the Phantom Zone could produce. Consequently, it was exactly like her blindness now. While the pod kept Kara in a stasis-like sleep the majority of the time, it woke her every so often to perform checks of her vitals before putting her under again to dream impossible and tragic dreams of an exploding planet and heart rending loss.
But Lena didn’t need to know that. Supergirl concentrated on keeping her breathing under control and kept a firm grasp on her rising panic. She succeeded at both only by focusing on Lena’s heartbeat. “Thank you, Lena.”
Just as the CEO promised, the trio arrived at their destination within the next sixty seconds. The agent led them through another badge access door into a room with an exam table, an entire bench full of analysis equipment along one wall, and what looked like a tanning bed along another wall. An older doctor was inside wearing a lab coat and serious expression. He seemed surprised to see Lena, but quickly turned his focus back to the caped woman in red and blue. “Ah, Supergirl, Agent Danvers gave me a heads up on your situation. I’d like to do an examination before you go under the sunbed.”
Kara immediately recognized the voice as one of the regular DEO doctors on staff and gave him a wan smile. “Dr. Trent, I wish I could see you under better circumstances—” She paused considering her turn of phrase. “Actually, I would just settle for seeing you under any circumstances!” He smiled kindly and patted her shoulder in sympathy.
Lena led her over to the table and grinned when Supergirl floated up a bit and let the CEO position her over the table’s surface, before lightly gliding back down. After an exhausting battery of tests and questions, of which Supergirl stoically went along with, the doctor reached a conclusion. “It appears you have a case of photic retinopathy as a result of your exposure to the kryptonite beam emitted from the gun reported by Agent Danvers.”
Lena spoke up. “What exactly does that mean?”
Dr. Trent glanced back and forth between the women before continuing. “Photic retinopathy is also known as foveomacular retinitis, or solar retinopathy. It’s a condition people suffer after staring at a bright light for too long, such as the sun, lasers, or arc welders. It is typically not a permanent injury, but impaired vision can last anywhere from a month to a year. Although most cases clear up within the first two months after injury. Now you, Supergirl, have a macular edema, or blisters on your retinas. While an injury of this nature would normally never affect you due to your accelerated healing factor, the kryptonite of the beam’s radiation has clearly impacted your ability to absorb solar energy and regenerate damaged cells.”
“So you don’t know how long I’ll be blind?”
The doctor sighed. “Honestly, without running another round of tests, I won’t have a comparative basis for healing speed to make that call. I want you to spend—” He looked down at his watch and noting that it was three in the afternoon. “—the next six hours under the sunlamp, then I’ll run another set of tests.”
Lena could see the discomfort and fear radiating from Supergirl’s person. She wasn’t sure how she knew that the girl of steel was so afraid, but she worried for her just the same. And Lena grew angry for the powerful woman that couldn’t afford to be angry. “So you’re telling me that your best guess is to wait and see?”
“I’m afraid so, Ms. Luthor. No one has a lock on exactly how Kryptonian physiology works. The closest person we have to an expert is Agent Danvers’ mother, Dr. Eliza Danvers.” Lena stilled with the new influx of data. The doctor continued on without seeming to notice Lena’s sudden quiet. “Supergirl, let’s get you over to the bed so I can set the intensity and record it in your chart, then I’ll go give Director Henshaw my diagnosis.”
Supergirl could hear Lena’s heart beating faster and faster, and picked up on the woman’s abrupt silence. “Sure thing, Dr. Trent. Are you okay, Lena?” She hated not being able to see her best friend’s face and wondered desperately what the other woman was thinking that had her so quiet and so frightened.
She waved a hand through the air that went unseen by the hero. “I’m fine Supergirl. I’m just trying to process everything that has happened today.”
Without the benefit of seeing Lena’s face, Kara had no choice but to take the statement at, well, at face value. She assumed Lena was either thinking about the attack, or feeling guilty over Supergirl’s condition. “You’re safe now, and everything is going to be all right. Please don’t worry.” She felt Lena pat her hand and continued. “I’ll just be over—” She made to wave her arm around the room but stopped abruptly for fear of hitting someone or something and causing damage. “Well, you can probably see the sunbed for yourself, that’s where I’ll be. I apologize that your press conference was interrupted and you were forced to hang out here with me.”
Lena sighed. “And I apologize that you got hurt.” They both stood awkwardly silent until the doctor broke the tableau by leading Supergirl over to the sunbed, leaving Lena to her swirling thoughts. She tried to put the facts in order as she knew them. Kara Danvers was her best friend and secret love interest. Kara knew Supergirl. Supergirl worked with the DEO. Kara’s sister, whom Kara says is an FBI agent is actually an agent at the DEO. Winn Schott, one of Kara’s closest friends also works at the DEO. Kara was at the press conference and supposedly knows what happened and that Lena is safe, but uncharacteristically she hasn’t called or texted Lena since the attack. The CEO glanced down at the phone in her hand and pressed the button on the side. No new text messages, and the only call was from her Administrative Assistant, Jess. She sent a quick text message to Jess letting her know that Lena was safe in the company of Supergirl and a bunch of federal agents then told the woman to cancel her meetings for the rest of the week. Then she walked across the room to stand by the bright bed of lights.
“Lena?” Supergirl heard the footsteps and her voice was hesitant, fearful.
“I’m here. Just texting Jess and checking some emails. Do you need anything?”
Supergirl shook her head but didn’t bother opening her eyes. “No.” She paused and added a bit more. “Thank you for staying.”
Lena wanted to reach down and give her hand a reassuring squeeze but that wasn’t the kind of relationship they had. Such a gentle move screamed of familiarity that had never before existed between Lena Luthor and Supergirl. But something was certainly different to their usual interaction. Because the urge was there, as was a new energy between them that Lena couldn’t seem to ignore. She glanced back down at her phone and brought up the photo album to scan through the limited pictures she had stored. Ninety-eight percent of them were either of Kara, or her and Kara together. Then Lena looked back down to where all but the hero’s hair was obscured by the lid of the sunbed. The long blonde hair that tumbled around Supergirl’s shoulders was coincidentally the same shade as Kara’s hair. Could it really be that simple?
Following a hunch, she brought up Kara’s contact number and dialed it. She nearly jumped out of her skin when Supergirl’s boot began playing music. Lena gasped as she watched the gap between the bed and the lid and saw a strong hand reach down for the communications device that was tucked securely within the boot. The woman in red and blue answered it right as Lena ended the call. “Hey Alex. No. Yes. I knew it was you because your ring tone is still set to that stupid song. Oh, yeah I’m in the sun bed now. Six hours, then he wants to run the tests again and to see how fast I’m healing. No, Lena’s been great. No, I can’t say anything yet.” She paused to listen then spoke again. “Yeah, um, it’s hard. Like, really, really hard.” Suddenly her voice dropped down to nearly a whisper but Lena could still make out the words. “The darkness reminds me of my pod.” There was another long pause as the agent on the other end must have been speaking. Then Supergirl’s voice answered. “Okay. Oh, hey, can you do me a favor? My stuff is up in a tree on the north side of the Plaza, can you bring it back to me when you come in? Thanks, I owe you one!” After that, Lena tried not to eavesdrop, realizing that her hunch was wrong. Supergirl spoke with Agent Danvers for only another minute before hanging up.
In the quiet hum of the lights, Supergirl listened for Lena’s heartbeat. She had been so quiet during the call that the hero wasn’t even sure if Lena was still there. “Lena?”
“I’m still here, Supergirl.”
“You seem awfully quiet out there.”
Lena debated saying what she was really thinking. As a Luthor, she was raised to always be in control and never make a fool of herself. But regardless of the proof that the call coming from Supergirl’s boot wasn’t connected to Lena dialing her best friend, she still felt obligated to explain herself. After all, she couldn’t mask her bodily reactions and just thinking about the day’s events made her heart race in an unpleasant way. Suddenly exhausted, she sat in a chair that was situated right next to the bed and rubbed her temples with the first two fingers of each hand. Was she going crazy? She was so sure that the data added up to one possible conclusion. “You’re going to think I’m stupid—”
“Never! Lena, I would never think you’re stupid, it’s just—well, it’s impossible!” The voice that came out from inside the bed was sure and confident and Lena warmed with Supergirl’s adamant defense. A feeling she usually only got from a quietly flustered Kara.
The CEO of one of the biggest tech companies in the world was suddenly glad the hero couldn’t see her flushed appearance. “I, it’s just—it’s idiotic really.”
Supergirl tensed in the sunbed, suddenly wishing she could see Lena’s face. She could hear her friend’s heart race, as well as Lena’s increased respiration, but those two responses could have a variety of causes. Kara kept her voice low and reassuring. “What is it? You can tell me you know, I’ll keep whatever you say in confidence. I know you have a…particular image you like to project to the world but right here with me, you’re safe.”
Lena swallowed and closed her eyes. “I feel silly thinking about it now but for a minute I had this thought that you were…that Kara—I feel the same way when both of you are hold—” She abruptly cut off that line of reasoning and sighed. “I don’t even know what I’m trying to say anymore. My apologies for bothering you with my scattered thoughts, Supergirl.” She squeezed her eyes shut out of embarrassment and willed the blush to recede.
It was then that Kara understood Lena’s response and her heart soared with the knowledge that it was a two-fold admission. She clearly read the emotion and intent spoken with each heartbeat and stuttered breath. Lena’s words matched the ones within Kara’s own heart. Lena didn’t hear the sunbed open nor did she see Supergirl sit up in the bed. That was why she was so startled when the caped woman suddenly grasped the hand that had been resting on the edge of the machine. Lena’s eyes flew open and she looked at Supergirl in surprise. “What are you doing? You should be under the lights resting.”
Supergirl smiled. “I’m fine. The blackness has already begun to recede and I can make out blurred shapes around the edges of my vision.”
“You’re still blind!”
The blonde cocked her head and smiled. “That’s kind of hypocritical don’t you think?”
Lena’s brows furrowed. “Excuse me?”
“You care about me.”
It was a simple statement, indisputable really if Lena was admitting it to herself because it was so obvious. She deflected. “Who wouldn’t care about you? You’re Supergirl and you’ve been saving people all over the city for years, myself included!”
Supergirl leaned closer and Lena panicked a little at the nearness of those blue eyes. “No Lena, I mean you love me.”
Lena abruptly stood and stumbled back. “No. I don’t, I can’t…”
Supergirl stood as well, following the sound of Lena’s shoe as it scraped lightly against the floor, listening to the other woman’s fearful breaths.
“Why can’t you?”
“Because of Kara!”
The hero pushed. “What about her?”
Panic rising, Lena blurted out her deepest secret. “I love Kara! I can’t love you because I love Kara. Are you happy now?”
Hearing the sound of tears, the blonde stepped closer until she could gently grasp Lena’s upper arms and pull her near. The CEO didn’t even struggle as she was pulled into the security and comfort of Supergirl’s arms. “Why can’t you love us both, Lena? Why do you have to choose?”
The words were quiet and muffled against the Kryptonian symbol on Kara’s chest. “Because she doesn’t love me like that.”
Lena’s breath caught in her throat and she stiffened in Supergirl’s arms before slowly leaning back to look into the familiar eyes of her hero. “Kara?” How had she never seen it? They’d been friends for years. Lena had seen every emotion cross Kara’s face, had been saved by Supergirl nearly too many times to count. How had she been so blind all this time? Her self-castigating thoughts were interrupted by a voice full of love and humor.
“Can you love me now? Because you, Lena Luthor, are the best part of my life. And I don’t need to see you to know how I feel.”
Lena’s heart raced with a whole new feeling as an unfamiliar warmth spread from her chest to infuse all her limbs. “And how do you feel?”
“Like if you were to kiss me right now I’d never want you to stop.”
The brunette sucked in a surprised breath. “Oh.”
Shock had turned Lena’s genius brain to mush. Gooey, love-addled, mush. “Well what?”
Supergirl sighed and a smile washed across Kara’s face. “Are you going to kiss me or not?”
Rather than answer the question, Lena raised her hands and gently threaded her fingers through thick blonde hair. Then without second-guessing herself any longer she gently pulled so she could seal her lips over Kara’s. The first touch was hesitant still as they felt each other out. But with each passing second the pressure of hunger grew within the pair and the kiss naturally deepened as a result. Lena moaned when she felt the first touch of Kara’s tongue against her lower lip and Lena opened to her fully. They continued like that for quite some time until Supergirl pulled away, eliciting a slight whimper from the CEO. Resting their foreheads together, Kara spoke regretfully. “As much as I’d like to continue this, I really should get back on the sunbed so Dr. Trent doesn’t yell at me when he comes back.”
Suddenly Lena’s eyes popped open and she stepped back out of Kara’s embrace. “Oh damn, I totally forgot about that. I’m sorry!”
Kara grinned back at her and it was a strange sight for Lena to see while her best friend was wearing the Supergirl suit. “I’m not at all. But I’d really like to be able to see you the next time we kiss like that so…”
Understanding exactly what Kara was saying, Lena grasped the blonde’s arm. “Here, let me help you return to the bed.”
Once the Kryptonian was situated back under the artificial lights of the yellow sun, her tentative voice came out from the machine. “Will you stay with me?”
Lena sat in the chair again and intertwined her fingers with Kara’s nearby hand. “Of course.”
When Alex Danvers walked into the room an hour later carrying a stack of nondisclosure paperwork, she found both women sound asleep. She smiled as she saw the intertwined hands and Lena’s smeared lipstick and she whispered to the quiet room. “Looks like my sister wasn’t the only one who was blind.” Alex placed the papers on the nearby workbench then left to process the terror suspects her team had brought back from the warehouse. National City would be safe enough for a little while longer.