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unwire the good

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Kara leaves on a Tuesday.

Alex plasters a smile onto her face, hugs her sister fiercely, gives Mon-El the stink eye, and watches Kara slip her hand into Alura’s as they walk onto the ship. She looks back once. Tears in her eyes, but, she’s smiling. So, Alex smiles back until Kara can’t see her anymore. Agents are milling about around her and Winn is shuffling uncomfortably in the corner, tears flowing freely, unabashed. Alex feels like her skin is crawling, so, she turns on her heel, and flees.

The clicking sound of heels on linoleum follows her.

“Alex?” Lena calls out, unsure.

“What?” she asks, much harsher than she means. Alex sucks in a breath, grits her teeth, clenches her fists and wills herself not to cry.

“I just wanted to check…” Lena’s voice trails off and Alex feels this strange urge to apologize. For what, she has no idea. Having emotions? “You and Supergirl seemed particularly close,” Lena says this like it’s a loaded thing and Alex does not have the energy to add onto a lie for her sister right now, so she pulls herself together.

“I’m fine,” she says, probably sounding anything but. Kudos to Luthor, her eyes track Alex up and down, and she swallows whatever words were about to come out of her mouth.

“Okay,” she says. “Let me know if you need anything.”

“Will do,” Alex nods, with no intention of ever doing so at all.

J’onn leaves on a Friday.

Alex sits there trying not to shake as he tells her that he’s proud, prouder than he could ever imagine. He gives her a promotion and a hug, promises her that he’s not leaving forever, that he’ll call and check in—swears it.

He hugs her tight and Alex can feel him shaking, just a bit. His father is gone. Her sister is gone. Different kind of gone, but, the end result is still kind of the same. He squeezes her once more, then kisses her temple. She catches a tear slip out of one eye before he can swipe at it. Her own are stinging with the tears that she is trying to hold back. Damn, they sure are a pair.

Sam and Ruby leave on a Sunday.

At this point, Alex just starts laughing. It’s deeply disturbing and Sam, Ruby, and Lena all look at her like maybe she’s got eight heads growing out of the side of her body, but she seems completely unable to do anything about it.

“I’m sorry,” she waves her hand back and forth when Sam steps towards her. “No, I’m not — I’m just — I’m sorry.”

“I just think a change of pace might be good for us,” Sam says, her voice low. “Plus, my mom’s old house needs… well, I either need to sell it or live there,” Sam laughs, a crack in her voice that has Alex quickly reaching out and grabbing her hand, squeezing tight.

“I think that sounds like a good plan,” Alex tells her, because it does. It just leaves Alex with more people in her life who are leaving. It’s selfish to ask Sam to stay just because Kara and J’onn already left too.

“You’re going to come visit, right?” Ruby asks, sliding up and wrapping herself around Alex’s middle.

“Definitely,” Alex smiles. When she looks up, Lena’s eyeing her, concern in the crook of her eyebrows that’s never been there on Alex’s behalf before. Alex swallows thickly, hugs Ruby tighter, and then cracks her smile as wide as it will go. She stuffs her mouth with pasta as Ruby chatters away about the farmhouse, asking about chickens and pigs as Sam suddenly looks a bit nauseous.

When the evening ends, Alex hugs Sam and Ruby both tightly once more, then slips out into the summer night, Lena half a step behind her.

“Both of my friends left in the span of a week,” Lena says. Alex isn’t wholly sure if she is talking to her, or to herself. “Have you heard from Kara?” Lena asks, making it clearer. The question has that loaded tone to it again. Alex presses her lips together, remembering the lie that Kara spouted to cover her absence—she’s on an extended apprenticeship with Cat Grant. Possibly spotty cell service. On account of the yurt. She’s honing her journalistic skills, the ones that she has been largely ignoring for the last few months. It’s not the worst lie in the world, but it does coincide so perfectly with Supergirl’s disappearance back to New Krypton, or Argo City, whatever it’s called, and Alex is tired.

“No,” she answers. “Just… that she got there safely.”

“How about Supergirl?”

“Haven’t heard from her,” Alex says, tugging her coat closed even though it’s way too hot to be wearing one tonight. Lena says nothing in response, just… waits Alex out. Alex shuffles awkwardly underneath her gaze, kicking her boots against the curb. “You?”

Lena snorts. “Supergirl and I weren’t exactly on the friendliest of terms when she left.”

“Right… I forgot.”

Lena’s right eyebrow ticks upwards. It conveys amusement and skepticism all in one, and it does very annoying things to Alex’s stomach. God, she’s such goddamn a mess right now.

“Any updates on the adoption front?” she asks, nearly bowling Alex over.

“Sorry?” she asks, until she remembers her near hysterical confession to Lena Luthor, of all people, in the middle of the DEO before Kara left. Mess doesn’t even begin to cover it. This is possibly the second one-on-one conversation that she’s ever had with the woman that doesn’t involve Sam or Ruby’s wellbeing.

“I only… if I can help, please let me know,” Lena says. Alex looks her dead in the eye. She sounds sincere. Alex is starting to get why Kara and Sam both like her so much.

“Thanks,” says Alex, she tugs at her coat, dying from the humidity. Lena holds her gaze until Alex breaks it, ripping her coat off and starting down the sidewalk. “Have a good night Luthor!”

Kara has been gone for two weeks.

Alex goes to work, yells at people and comes home by five almost every day. Which is… not great, all things considered. She comes home, cooks herself a shitty meal, gets drunk, and looks at the adoption process. Over and over.

She’s not sleeping all that well.

After a night tossing and turning, Alex flops out of bed at four, thoroughly giving up and yanking on a t-shirt and some leggings. She runs until her lungs scream, jumps into the shower, and goes to work.

With Kara gone, the DEO has considerably more work on their hands, but also… there are fewer targets focusing on National City. It’s strange not to be going out in the field. It’s stranger still that without Kara out there, the desire to do so seems to have nearly all but disappeared. She likes being the director. She gets to see the whole problem, and everyone is ready to jump at her say so—they’re sort of kicking ass.

“We’re kicking ass!” Winn cheers, holding his palm up for a high five.

Alex glares at him and says nothing until he puts his hand down, slow. He whirls his chair around, frowning at her.

She should have known somehow, that that would mean he would show up at her apartment later that night, a box of pizza in his hands.

“Alexxxx,” he sings. “Hello. I come bearing pizza.”

“I already ate,” she says, trying to push the door shut. Winn has quickened his reflexes in his time working at the DEO and he slips his foot in the door.

“Alex,” he says, voice serious in a way that Alex knows she is about to hate. “Kara told me not to let you barricade yourself in your apartment alone.”

Alex drops her head against the door-frame and sighs, loudly. She weighs the pros and cons of just shoving him out and closing the door, but he can be nearly as relentless as Kara when he wants to, and truth be told, she’s sick of feeling miserable by herself.

She pushes the door open and walks inside. Winn closes it behind him and quickly begins digging out the pizza. “So, how was your day?”

“You were there, dumbass.”

“Right, well…” he looks lost and Alex grabs a slice of pizza, biting it aggressively as she stares him down. “Wanna come help me with Guardian duty in an hour?”

Alex pauses. “Pizza to go,” she decides and grabs her gun.

“Oh, wait—” Winn falls off the couch.

Lena is here. Which Alex did not expect.

It trips her up in a very annoying way, as does the way that James takes one look at Alex, makes a noise at the back of his throat that sounds like distress, and promptly pulls his hands away from Lena’s sides, where they had been trailing slowly. Lena smiles at Alex, if a bit sheepishly at being caught groping her boyfriend unexpectedly.

“She’s gonna help tonight,” Winn announces, climbing into the van without so much as a teasing smirk. Clearly, he’s used to walking in on this display. Which means that Lena has been here before. Enough for Winn to be used to her presence.

That surprises Alex more than anything.

“Do you want a mask?” Winn asks, after typing away at something.

“Me?”

“No, Lena,” Winn rolls his eyes. Lena flicks at his shoulder, but spins around and begins typing away at the computer beside him.

God, that’s weird, Alex thinks. Kara really has only been gone for two weeks. Was this happening before that, and no one said anything?

“Alex?” Winn prompts. “Mask, yes or no?”

“I can handle myself—” James begins to protest. Winn kicks him, then yelps in pain as his toes hit the hard surface.

“I thought the world knew about you,” Alex says, glaring at James a bit too harshly. She does actually like the guy, but everything seems to piss her off lately.

“Yeah, kinda.”

“Um, there isn’t really a kinda to that buddy,” Winn says. “It’s a definite sort of thing.”

“Point is,” James stresses, “they don’t have to know about you, too. Miss Director of a Secret Organization.”

“I mean—” Winn cuts in. “At this point, is it a secret organization? Or is it just another government organization?”

“It’s not a secret,” Lena says, with a snort.

“What kind of mask are you talking about?” Alex asks Winn.

The smile on his face does not bode well.

It becomes a regular thing without anyone planning for it. Alex goes to work, orders people into stopping crimes and saving the world, comes home, eats like shit, gets a little buzzed, and some nights goes out crime fighting with James and Winn.

At least half of the time, Lena is there too.

It’s the most that Alex has ever hung out with James or Lena for any length of time. And by far the only time she’s ever done so without Kara mooning over the both of them. Which—Alex squelches that thought the minute it pops into her head. Kara moons over a lot of people. Kara likes people.

Alex, not so much.

She and James work well together when they don’t bother talking much. A rhythm develops in a few days or so, and suddenly, he is one of the most dependable field partners that Alex has ever worked with.

It’s nice, and better yet, it’s simple.

Winn is easy. Winn has always been easy. Annoying, but comfortable. Alex loves him probably more than anyone who isn’t Kara, her mom, or J’onn.

(She quickly skips over the name that was formerly on that list, higher up than Winn. It doesn’t matter now. Maggie is gone and that was more Alex’s choice than anything else. She’s got to live with it.)

Lena is the wild card.

On nights that she isn’t there, Alex relaxes into a rhythm with the boys that works like a well-oiled machine. It’s not quite the same as with Kara. They’re working on a much smaller, lower-level stakes. Muggings and assaults—more often human than not. But, it’s still important, and Alex deals with the potential bigger world ending, more-often-than-not-alien-related things during the day. She’s busy. Too busy to miss Kara. Or Maggie. Or browse adoption sites.

The boys don’t prod, now that she’s interacting with them and not hold up in her apartment on the regular. She’s drunk a lot less, but she’s not exactly drinking less.

Which, Lena notes.

She does so gently. Or, there’s actually nothing gentle about it, but it’s not confrontational or overly concerned in a way that would make Alex haul off and punch her. Alex knocks back a shot of something at the end of the night and Lena’s eyebrow ticks upwards, her gaze pointedly settled on the empty glass in Alex’s hands. It’s possible that her own reaction gives Lena more pause than anything else. Alex gets defensive and a little mean, and she doesn’t show up to help out for three nights straight.

Also, she avoids calls from her mother and from J’onn.

All in all, it goes very much against Kara’s pleads for her to let herself be happy. It sort of feels like she is doing the direct opposite of that, actually.

It’s just—nobody talks about how boring it is in the middle, once you've ended a relationship; how you have to get up every single day to face your new depressing life, feeling sick to death of yourself. It's all such a fucking cliché. Banal and common—a word that grates at Alex, always. Especially for a woman with an alien for a sister, who always has to work that much harder to be seen as exceptional. Alex still cries herself to sleep some nights because, at this point, it has become a habit, instead of it still being that raw. Whirlwind romances don't always ease their way into happy endings—more often than not, in fact, they blow out the same way that they blew in. Maggie has been gone for months, and Alex isn’t even sure that it’s Maggie that she misses, anymore, so much as the way that Alex felt when she was with her.

(The way she was starting to feel when she was around Sam and Ruby, as it turns out. That revelation comes late at night about three weeks after Kara has left. Alex is properly drunk and verging on the edge of horny. She slips her fingers into her underwear and it’s not Maggie’s face that comes to mind, but Sam’s.

She gets herself off spectacularly, but she feels guilt and shame about it instantly.)

It turns out, missing your sister is just as exceptionally boring and mundane in nearly all the same ways that grieving the end of a romance is, and dealing with both is making Alex slowly go out of her mind.

So, she is particularly susceptible to her mother’s request when Alex finally answers her call.

Midvale is just as boring as National City, only now instead of being confronted with Lena’s occasional loaded gaze Alex is confronted with her mother’s voice and hands, chattering and smoothing without stopping for a breath. Eliza’s hands are in Alex’s hair, and it feels so nice that she closes her eyes and tries to tune out her mother’s questions.

She bites her tongue and does not scream at her mother that she is fine and wants to be left alone, because she is a goddamn grown up and Kara would be mad at her. If she were here.

“Honey?” Eliza prods.

Alex blinks and looks over at her mother, who has clearly been trying to get her attention for a while. Shit. “Sorry, what?”

Eliza’s lips pinch into a thin line and Alex drops her fork down onto her plate, waiting for whatever bullshit is about to spew out of her mother’s mouth. Instead of a screaming match, Eliza says nothing, picks up her plate and Alex’s, and goes to do the dishes.

It’s far more terrifying. Their relationship has never been perfect, but it’s always been full of communication. Angry, loud, shitty communication, perhaps, but Eliza doesn’t give the cold shoulder. Eliza doesn’t up and leave a conversation when she clearly has an opinion about something. Eliza prods at Alex until she opens up and they end up crying or hugging or both.

So, naturally, Alex goes and does something dumb.

Eliza does the dishes in silence and then the two of them watch an old movie on the couch and Alex gets ridiculously drunk. The line of her mother’s lips almost disappears by the end of the movie, but, Alex can’t tell if that’s real or something she’s imagining.

“WELL?” she hollers after Eliza still says nothing.

“Alexandra—” And here we go, Alex thinks. She chugs the rest of her wine and does not fall off the couch, but she does drop the bottle. Her mother’s mouth opens and then… closes. “I’m going to bed,” she announces, and then turns and walks away.

Shit.

Alex—very carefully—climbs up the stairs and gets into the shower. She turns the water on and strips out of her clothes. Jumping under the still cool water, she hisses and hops out of the way of the stream, turning it up hotter as she shivers. When she closes her eyes, she sees her mother's pained face. Kara’s full of happy tears, hand in hand with her mother as she walks away from Alex. Sam and Ruby waving from their car. J’onn, FaceTimeing her from a café in Paris. Lena’s quirked eyebrow. A hysterical giggle emits from her, and Alex clamps a hand over her mouth. Her whole body starts shaking, and this time, it's not from the cold. The water has become scalding, her skin turning pink. She thinks that maybe she should turn the heat down a little, but makes no attempt to do so.

A knock on the door startles her, and that's when Alex realizes that the water has gone cold. Her skin is now pink for a different reason, and she hasn't even washed her hair yet.

“Alex,” her mother’s voice calls, gentle. “Honey—”

Alex bursts into tears. She doesn’t let herself be embarrassed about her mother immediately slipping into the bathroom and turning the water off. Or of the way that she wraps a towel around Alex and very nearly drags her out of the bathroom and into the bedroom. Alex sits down on Eliza’s bed, dripping and crying and drunk and the thin line of her mother’s lips has gone away. She’s shuffled into a t-shirt and some underwear and her mother wraps her hair into the towel and then wraps herself around Alex.

She falls asleep like that, her mother’s heartbeat a steady rhythm.

When she wakes up, the towel has shifted off of her head, but some of her hair is still wet. Eliza is half wrapped around her and sound asleep, the sunlight only just beginning to peek through the curtains.

She wonders what sunrises on Krypton look like.

“Probably beautiful,” her mother says, soft, alerting Alex to the fact that she wondered that one out loud. “I miss her too.”

“I’m not…” Alex sighs. “I just wish it wasn’t another goddamn planet.”

Eliza pulls her tighter into her arms, and Alex doesn’t fight it. Instead, she curls closer. “So do I. But it’s not forever. Kara wanted to show Alura some of Earth. She’ll be back.”

“What if she won’t?” Alex whispers.

Eliza tugs at Alex until she rolls over and faces her. She brushes some hair out of her eyes. “She will. Maybe she won’t come back and stay, but she will come back. You can’t just spend your time waiting for that,” she adds, hint of scolding to her tone.

“I know.”

She does not tell her mother about her desire for adoption, or how much she has been drinking lately, but she does tell her how lonely she’s felt. They get out of bed and have coffee and yogurt on the porch, the late July heat already working its way through their clothes. Alex goes for a walk with her mother, then helps her make lunch, and then shoves her bags back into the rental car. She promises to call more and means it.

Alex finds Kara’s music on her phone, and cranks up No Doubt, singing along as she drives back to the airport. A little bit of the weight lifts off of her chest.

She sort of starts to get her shit together, after that.

Sort of, being the operative word. This mess of a drunk, lonely, reckless human does not make for someone suited to be a mother, and if that is really what she wants—and it is, she keeps having dreams about babies, and she actually cried when one smiled at her in a shop a day ago—she has got to start making some fucking changes.

The booze goes first, because, in a way, that’s the easiest thing to deal with. Whenever she feels like getting sad and drunk, she learns a new thing about foster care, or adoption. Or, she goes for a run. Or calls J’onn. Or her mother.

It kind of works.

To combat the loneliness, she prods at Winn until they go and do something that’s not stopping muggings while wearing a dumb as shit motorcycle helmet every night. Game nights do not technically resume, because that was always Kara’s thing, but, Winn tells Alex that there is one game that he hasn’t gotten to play in years, and it can be a continuing thing and very fun, and they could play this one game, technically, instead of multiple, which is the true spirit of Kara’s game night, and when she does come back, they’ll pick up where they left off.

He says all of this in half a breath as Alex stuffs her mouth with fries and James and Lena sort of look at him sideways across the booth.

“What game?” James asks.

Winn’s smile gets real wide and Alex is pretty sure that she regrets this already. When James’s eyes light up and the two of them start talking about characters and classes and a game of Clark’s they used to do weekly, Alex eyes Lena.

“Do you know what they’re talking about?”

“I’ve heard of it, but no, I’ve never played.”

“And then Lois TPK’d the whole damn party,” James says, laughing so hard he nearly chokes the words out. Winn reacts to this as though it’s one of the funniest things that he has ever been told.

“What the fuck is a TPK?” asks Alex.

“Hopefully we won’t find out,” Winn says. Pointing towards James he adds, “No Lois allowed unless we’re higher level.”

James nods. “For sure.”

Winn almost jumps out of his seat in excitement, elbowing Alex in the process. She grunts and pokes him in the leg in retaliation, but he barely notices. “So, wait… I had no idea you knew how to play, so, I was planning on DM’ing but—”

“Oh, no way. I wanna DM.”

Winn’s smile grows wide and Alex definitely regrets this.

“So, I’m a dragon?”

“No, dragonborn. You’re a silver dragonborn. So, like, humanoid. Descendent from dragons,” Winn points to her character sheet. Hers is the only one that was partly filled out for her when she arrived. Alex had told James to just make her a human… fighter person. This is, not that.

“What the fuck is a rogue?”

“Like an assassin!” Winn says, “Ohhh James, great idea. Or! Or, you can do magic, or be more like a thief. Or—”

“God this is dumb. What are you?”

“A tabaxi bard!”

Alex looks over at James, who is also grinning at her. Lena and Eve Teschmacher, of all people, are excitedly rolling a bunch of dice and scribbling on their sheets. She considers just grabbing her things and leaving, but this was sort of her idea and a game of “puzzle solving and teamwork where you get to eat Doritos and pretend to do magic” sounds a lot healthier than drinking and punching people and feeling sad. Plus, James apparently learned how to play this game with Clark, so, she’ll have ammunition to tease him with after this, at least.

“I made you a silver one so your damage is cold,” James says, he looks enthusiastic, but slightly nervous for the first time since they all showed up at his apartment. “So, you’ve basically got Freeze Breath.”

“Oh shit,” Winn breathes. The whole table goes a bit quiet. Lena and Eve look over at the three of them, unmoving, James and Winn just staring at Alex and waiting for her reaction. Eve looks more confused than Lena does. Which, shit, Alex doesn’t know why they brought another person along, regardless about party sizes or whatever bullshit James and Winn had been going on and on about.

“Oh,” Eve says, perking up. “So, kinda like Supergirl! That’s pretty cool!”

Alex bites at her lower lip—hard. She is not going to cry in front of Lena Luthor and Cat Grant’s former assistant. She swallows thickly and looks up at James. “Cool,” she repeats. His shoulders sag in relief after she smiles at him and nods, and when she turns away, shaking the tears that did not fall, she catches Lena’s gaze.

Her eyes are narrowed, slightly, and her eyebrow does the thing again. She looks like maybe this time, she’s going to press it, but then Eve shifts beside her, catching Lena’s attention, and her mouth closes.

“What are you?” Alex asks, quick.

“A high elf wizard.” She’s still looking at Alex rather pointedly.

“Ooo,” Eve says, trying to sneak a look on her character sheet. “Sun or moon?”

Alex goes to get a taco. She does not hear Lena’s answer. She doesn’t really care about Lena’s answer. She kind of just wants to chug a beer and watch a movie instead of whatever the fuck is about to happen, but… it seems like something that Kara would have a blast doing, if she were here. And, James gave her Freeze Breath and a bunch of knives… so.

It might not end up being the worst evening of her life.

When she sits back down with her taco, Eve announces that if they want, she can draw all of their characters for next time, if they describe them all to her.

“You can draw?” Alex asks, mouth still a little full.

Eve nods, looking a little shy. “I mean, I’m not great or anything. I just kind of do it for fun when I’m bored sometimes. But visuals might be cool.”

“That’s awesome Eve,” James says.

“So, what are you?” Alex asks. “An elf too?”

“Nope,” Eve grins and sits up straighter. “A half-orc barbarian.”

Winn whoops. “This is gonna be so much fun.”

Alex looks at the picture in the book that shows the barbarians and then glances up at Eve, wearing pastels and carefully munching on a chip daintily. Girl has depths, apparently.

“So,” James claps his hands together. “Let’s get started.”

Alex grabs another taco.

Lena sort of corners her in the bathroom near the end of the night. They’ve finished playing and agreed to make Sunday afternoons a weekly go of it. It was actually… way more fun than Alex anticipated, but a lot more confusing too. There’s fucking acting involved. And math.

Alex turns to slip out of James’s bathroom, and Lena is directly in front of her. “Shit, sorry,” she says, jumping.

“Hi Alex,” Lena looks entirely unfazed. She might actually step a little closer. “Did you have fun?”

“It was ok,” she shrugs. Lena doesn’t move, so Alex sort of… leans against the door frame. “You?”

“It was much more entertaining than I thought it would be,” Lena smiles. “James seems pretty good at it. I had no idea this was something he enjoyed.”

“Relationships can be weird like that. Some people don’t tell you they play Dungeons and Dragons; some people don’t tell you that they don’t want kids.”

Lena’s eyes snap to Alex’s, and she really wouldn’t hate melting into the floor, right about now. That third beer was probably a bad idea after not drinking at all for the last two weeks. Third taco probably wasn’t the greatest idea either, from the way her stomach is starting to recoil.

“Sorry,” she adds. “I’m just…” she trails off. If she were to answer that question honestly, she’d be telling Lena information that isn’t really hers to tell. “Kinda drunk,” she says, instead.

“I’ll drive you home,” Lena decides, and she’s turning around and announcing that information to James before Alex can protest. She tries anyway, but Lena isn’t taking no for an answer. Alex tugs on her jacket and shuffles awkwardly in front of the door as Lena kisses James and whispers something to him. Eve and Winn already headed out, chattering away excitedly about their characters and the exact way that Winn’s cat’s stripes are arranged. Or, something. “Come on,” Lena says, looping her arm with Alex’s when she sways, losing her balance more out of surprise that Lena is suddenly in front of her, and far less because of the alcohol working its way through her system.

“This really isn’t neces—”

“So, how is that going?” Lena asks, cutting her off and gently pushing her into the passenger seat.

“How’s what going?”

“The adoption thing.”

“Cut right to the chase, huh?”

Lena pulls away from the curb and shoots Alex a quick look that could mean anything before turning her eyes back to the road.

“Well… it’s expensive. And hard to do if you’re single. And even harder to do if you’re queer and single. So. It’s not. Going.” There’s a long pause of silence and then Lena seems like she is about to speak. Quickly, Alex starts rambling about all of her Google searches. It’s the most that she’s ever felt like Kara’s sister in all her life. “Plus, apparently it takes forfuckingever, so,” she huffs out a breath. “I don’t know.”

“It’s easier if you foster first,” Lena says, after Alex has been quiet for about a minute.

“What? How do you know?”

“I looked into it,” Lena says, pulling up to Alex’s apartment building. “Also, I’m adopted.”

“Oh… right.”

“I can look into some more information on foster care. If you want.”

It’s the third time that she’s offered help in the last month and a half, and it sounds just as sincere as the other times. She’s not pestering. She’s just… offering. Suddenly, Alex doesn’t know why she’s been brushing Lena off. The Luthor thing hasn’t been an issue for over a year, now. Alex saw firsthand how devoted a friend Lena can be with Sam. And, it’s not as if Alex’s life is full of friends right now, she’s got plenty of room.

She wants this, and it looks daunting, and Lena is a person who is really good at getting what she wants. Alex has seen that firsthand, too.

“Yeah,” she says, her voice cracks on it, a little. She clears her throat. “I’d… thank you, Lena. That would be a big help.”

“Okay,” Lena shrugs, smiles. “Sounds like a plan, then.”

Alex meets her eye and smiles back. “Great.”