Everything had become very confusing.
Kara waltzed into her office the next morning carrying a bright smile and an armful of flowers. Lena had looked up and nearly dropped her tablet through the expensive plate glass of her desk. Her heart felt like it was very near to total cataclysmic shock when Kara placed the bouquet gingerly across her desk—scattering lily blossoms and stray leaves everywhere—and stood back to look expectantly at Lena as if she was anticipating something.
She probably wasn’t anticipating Lena nearly choking on an inhaled pollen cloud and wheezing for breath for the next five minutes.
Once she’d drunk most of a glass of water and had been thoroughly back-patted, Kara had departed with one final lingering glance, and Lena was left with a pile of rapidly-wilting plant life and wondering what the hell that was all about. She sent Jess out for a vase, and managed to save the flowers, but she felt Kara’s eyes on her through the glass walls the entire time, as she set the cornucopia over in its own place of honor on her coffee table. Every time Lena looked up, though, it was back to middle-school darting glances and secretive looks.
She had no idea what had gotten into Kara, nor why it felt so strongly like the alpha was waiting for a kiss.
Things only got weirder as the week wore on. On Tuesday, Kara slowed in the middle of a whizzing, high-speed chase around National City to wave at Lena in her office. A large sizzling blue bolt exploded onto a building behind her, and she darted away, but not before a bewildered Lena had already raised two fingers in a half-wave. Kara returned to the office about a half hour later—victorious but panting, slightly—and eagerly dropped a new piece of alien weaponry on her desk like a family cat bringing a dead mouse to the doorstop.
It was sweet, albeit very unnerving.
Sweeter still was how Kara now solicitously appeared to walk her to her car, every evening, without fail. Lena hadn’t called for her driver in days, and, subsequently, instead of Tom’s ruddy, slightly-bored expression, she now saw Kara’s smiling blue eyes every time the elevator doors opened on the parking garage. Studiously, carefully, never failing to ignore Lena’s feeble protests that this was entirely unnecessary, Kara would walk her the ten or so feet to the Jag, and then hug her fiercely before taking to the sky….or rather, the exit to the parking garage. Then, during her drive home, she could usually count on seeing a familiar flash of red and blue darting through the clouds above the freeway—almost as if Kara wanted to be sure she was safely home, traffic be damned.
Just because Lena liked it didn’t mean she didn’t find it odd.
On Wednesday, she’d nearly tripped crossing the bullpen. It wasn’t a huge deal. Her ankle just wobbled and she went sideways with an inelegant oof ….but, as it turned out, she didn’t hit the ground. Kara was there, clothes still faintly rustling with the speed, looping an arm under Lena’s knees and placing a cautious hand on her back. Lena blinked up into her eyes and felt the entire world crawl to a stop before Kara gently righted her on her feet once more. Several people had to pretend not to watch.
“Those heels of yours are gorgeous, but they’re not healthy for your ankles.”
Kara almost sounded like she was fretting . Lena felt faintly stunned, both by the speedy catch and by the word gorgeous — which had last been uttered by Kara while she was burying her face between Lena’s legs.
“I’m fine, thank you.” She told Kara, maybe a bit frostier than intended, but the silence was making her distinctly aware of all the eyes on them, the longer Kara lingered with her hands on Lena’s back.
Kara released her, but her face was reluctant. Lena almost wanted to step to her and assure her she was really fine , but the moment passed and Jess was clearing her throat, politely, to ask if she still wanted to talk to the Chinese government before lunch. And that was that. Lena went on with her day, still wondering why Kara had rushed to her without a second thought for who could see.
Thursday was a day of meetings. Meetings with investors, CatCo finance reviews, L-Corp stock board. Lena had to sit placidly with her hands laced while several of Lex’s Old Boys club blustered on about her decision to cut ties with Kryptonite sales of any kind. She gave them her thinnest, most sparing smile and explained—for the fourth time—that she wasn’t going to be moved on the issue, but that she appreciated their insight anyway. By the time the meeting ended, the Old Boys filed out in a disgruntled line, muttering amongst themselves about ‘female hysterics’ and Lena found she was feeling rather nauseous about the whole affair.
The feeling didn’t abate, however, as her morning wore on. Her stomach was doing several unpleasant twists and turns every time she tried to concentrate or do more than lift a pen to paper to sign a check. She nearly had to rush to the restroom when Jess appeared in the door to ask what she’d like to order for lunch.
“Miss Luthor, you don’t look very well.” Jess helped her to sit on the couch, and Lena placed her head between her hands as the world spun for a moment.
“I don’t feel very well, either.” Her temple was hot and clammy between her palms. “Could you possibly bring me some mineral water? Thanks, Jess.”
But the mineral water didn’t help. No sooner had she shakily screwed the cap back in place than the bottle slipped from her numb fingers and she found herself slapping a hand over her mouth and racing to her private bathroom, which was, thankfully, only feet away. Even so, she barely made it to the toilet before the meager remnants of her hurried breakfast came back up in the porcelain bowl.
Jess was hovering by the door, clearly unsure what do do. “Do you want me to call Dr. Gupta? I can try to get an afternoon appoint—“
There was another surge. Lena held up a miserable finger and evacuated her stomach contents again, noisily. She hadn’t vomited like this since college. It was an unpleasant reminder of how much she disliked the general experience. And having Jess witness it was really too much.
To add insult to injury, however, her stomach dropped again as Kara’s brightly anxious face appeared over Jess’s shoulder, adjusting her glasses in a kind of nervous fervor that Lena recognized as her ‘worried’ tic. “Lena? Are you okay?”
“Fine.” She croaked, and attempted to struggle to her feet. The ground seemed to elude her, though, and two sets of hands shot out to catch her, this time. “Oh god, please don’t , you two. I’m fine.”
“Lena, you don’t look fine.” Kara argued, and, to her irritation, Jess was nodding along like a sycophant. Since when are you two so chummy? She thought, but her aggravation was misplaced. If only her stomach would stop convulsing … “Your pulse is weird and fast and all over the place. I don’t like it.”
If Jess gave any indication that she heard the superhuman ability in that statement, Lena didn’t see it. Instead, she was thumbing quickly through her iPhone, probably looking at Dr. Gupta’s schedule. Still. Discretion was really always the better idea. She shot Kara A Look, intended to convey the words ‘ shut up’ without her having to say it, but, as usual, it appeared to have gone over the alpha’s head. Kara was just fixing her with that damn worried expression and it was sending Lena’s stomach to fits.
“I’m fine.” She insisted, again, through gritted teeth. “Kara, please stop. And Jess, if I feel badly this afternoon, I’ll schedule the appointment. Both of you need to calm down. It’s probably just food poisoning.”
“No.” Kara shook her head. “I can smell it. Something’s different about you. Can I just take you to…. my doctor? Please?”
Another Look, but this time from sheer huffiness. “Dr. Gupta is certainly as competent as any of the doctors in the…...wellness center. She comes highly recommended.”
“I’m sure she does.” Kara’s eyes shot to Jess, and then back to Lena. “But the doctors at the…. wellness center might be more equipped to handle sudden, strange illnesses, don’t you think?”
Oh, Kara. You may as well write ‘I’M TALKING ABOUT ALIENS’ in block print on your forehead. Lena massaged the bridge of her nose, feeling another urge rising in her belly. She managed to quell it with a strong swig of mineral water, but grimaced, hard.
“Fine. Let’s go to the damn ‘wellness center’ so they can tell me it’s just food poisoning and you can calm the hell down.” She snapped, but Kara immediately beamed at her as if she’d just uttered the sweetest of praises.
To her credit, Jess didn’t ask any further questions about the destination, or why Kara was so insistent about bringing her there, and, in months to come, Lena would realize she must have known about Kara’s second identity practically as long as Lena had. But, just then, it was a singular relief to not have to try and dance any further around the subject of the DEO in front of her. Instead, Lena merely directed her to head home early, after sending a few remaining emails, and Jess waved them to the elevator, looking distinctly relieved. Lena imagined a puking boss was the last thing her much-beleaguered assistant had wanted for her day.
In the elevator, the closeness of Kara made her want to simply sag forward and into the relief of those strong arms, so instead, she clung to her water bottle, taking small sips.
“Thank you for coming with me,” Kara had had a hand solicitously at the base of Lena’s spine since walking her out of the office, and she didn’t seem inclined to drop it, even now. Her eyes were so achingly honest in their gratitude that Lena had to look away. It unnerved her.
“You’re being silly.” She grumbled, but her tone had lost all of its teeth. Kara seemed to recognize this and flashed her a smile with plenty of them.
“Maybe so, but if you have some kind of alien virus, wouldn’t you rather know now, than later?”
She rolled her eyes. “Kara, I do not have an alien virus. Something just upset my stomach. I don’t care for that broccolini pasta I’ve been ordering, I guess.”
“You love that pasta.” Kara’s brow crinkled. “And I wasn’t lying in your office, earlier. Your pulse is all over the place, and your temperature is going crazy. Maybe it’s nothing, but it would make me feel better to get it checked, okay?”
She knew what Kara was doing, of course. Giving her permission to do something for herself, in the name of doing it for others. That didn’t mean that it didn’t work. Lena wished Kara didn’t know her so well.
Lena sniffed, and conceded, feeling her shoulders drop. “Fine. But if it’s food poisoning, you owe me.”
Kara’s laugh was rich and warm in the confined space of the elevator. “I’m all good with that.”
The doors dinged open to reveal the patio on the rooftop. It was mostly used by smokers, and was deserted at this post-lunch-break hour. For a moment, Lena was confused as to why they weren’t in the parking garage, and then it clicked and she moaned unhappily. “Oh Kara, no .”
Kara shifted, looking uncomfortable but set. “I’m sorry, Lena, but the flight from the garage takes too long. This’ll be quicker. Please, trust me.” She opened her arms.
“I hate flying.” Lena reminded her, futilely, as she stepped into the circle and felt Kara draw her close. Her nausea was increasing, but she was also quietly pleased to have an excuse to drop into her arms. She put her head in Kara’s neck, using her illness as an excuse to close her eyes and breathe in the alpha’s scent.
“I know.” Kara soothed. “I promise, it’ll be quick.”
Her muscles bunched, and Lena felt her stomach clench again, sending her into another miserable lurch. She kept her eyes tightly closed, with her face burrowed into Kara’s neck, and that made the experience bearable. Feeling the alpha’s strong pulse beat against her cheek was comforting.
There was nothing comforting at the DEO, however. Alex greeted them with a half-smile and an alarming array of very large, absurdly strong-looking needles. Lena almost thought she was going to be sick all over them, but Alex, seeming to sense the green rising in her gills, was quick to shake her head.
“These aren’t for you. They’re for her.” She jabbed her chin at Kara, who was already holding her arm out to be swabbed, making a face. “We have to check and see if she’s run into anything in the last week that could be transmissible to humans. Quicker to test her first—then we can treat you if your symptoms match.”
Alex didn’t wait to receive praise for smart thinking. Instead, leaving Kara behind with a nervous-looking DEO nurse, she beckoned Lena into an exam room—largely similar to the one in Dr. Gupta’s office, barring the DEO alien anatomy posters on the walls—and made her comfortable on the plastic sheet covering the table.
Disappointingly, there was also another tray of needles.
“You said those were for Kara.” Lena protested, feebly, even as she held her arm out for a sterile wipe.
“I did.” Alex nodded soberly. “But these ones are for you. Toughen up, buttercup.”
Lena wanted to retort, but the needle jabbed into her vein and she winced instead.
The volley of needles was, thankfully, quicker than she’d originally thought, but the barrage of tests weren’t over yet. Alex directed her to a bathroom with a plastic sample cup, and waited none-too-patiently outside the door until she’d managed to pee a few drops into it. Her stomach lurched, again, but she managed to quell it with some cold water splashed onto her face and hands.
When she met her own eyes in the small, utilitarian mirror above the basin, she saw someone who looked wan, and worn-out. The pallor of her face had an unhealthy glow, and her eyes had dark, foreboding circles pressed beneath. God, I look like death. No wonder they’re so concerned. But it’s just silly food poisoning. Has to be. With that as her reasoning, she got her compact out and attempted a fix, and just as the mirror snapped shut back in her purse, she put her worry into a neat little box and packaged it away.
She had found herself doing that a lot, lately.
Alex left her to marinate in her own unhappy stew of thoughts while she left to check the results. Twenty long minutes went by. At first, Lena checked her phone, tapped off a few emails to Jess, and read some articles. But as the minutes went by, she found it increasingly harder and harder to keep her worry contained in that mental lockbox. It was taking too long.
She found herself pacing by the end, looking at the clock on the wall and fervently wondering just where in the hell Alex had went to. Or what Kara was doing. She felt sick, again, and almost lurched for the trashcan before cooling herself down with a few sips from her water bottle. The relief of the water only lasted for a few minutes before she was back up and pacing again, feeling restless and uneasy.
There were voices outside the corridor, raised ones. It sounded like Kara was arguing with someone, maybe Alex. She was just about ready to marshal up her queasy nerves and head out to demand that someone tell her what was going on, when Kara burst into the room, looking harried.
“Lena, are you okay? Your heart rate sounded fast and scary.”
“I’m okay.” She blinked, surprised that Kara had even been listening for her. “Doesn’t that take a lot of concentration?”
“No, not really. I do it all the time.” Kara admitted, and then did her characteristic blush. “Not all the time, I mean—“
“Calm down, hyper pants.” Alex brushed past her, decidedly no-nonsense. She had a sheet of paper in one hand and a grim look. “I have a private discussion I need to have with Lena. Scoot.”
Kara locked eyes with the omega. “No way. I’m staying.”
Lena nodded, quickly. “It’s okay, Alex, I want her to stay.” The words private discussion had her stomach dropping through the floor.
Alex shot her sister a frustrated look, but her eyes, once they returned to Lena’s, were concerned. Gentle. She didn’t like that look in Alex’s eyes. “I just want to be sure. Because I have some...sensitive stuff to talk to you about. It may be kind of hard to hear.”
Lena nodded once, harshly, and closed her eyes. A kind of dull haze settled over her, and she felt her shoulders sag. It’s cancer. I know it is. Cancer just like Dad.
She could still see the bed, with its blue sheets. The stains. The half-empty applesauce containers. The beeping of the machines. The stink of piss and rot. And still, even as he coughed into his hand and hid the blood, he was smiling, asking her how was school. She wanted to lift him out of the bed, make him shower and dress in his suit and tie again. It was strange to see him so drawn, so frail. Lillian would usher her away after a few minutes, and she hated how relieved she felt but, oh god how it stank in that room. In the room where he would eventually die. Where death had been waiting, sitting in that smell, all along.
Kara’s hand curled tightly over her own, and she opened her eyes from gloomy thoughts to blue eyes, bright as the sky. “Hey.” The alpha’s voice was soft, as if she knew exactly what Lena was thinking. “It’s gonna be okay. Whatever it is….Alex and I are here to help.”
“Yes.” Alex cleared her throat. “There are options for you. We can talk about them.”
“Options?” Lena swiveled her head. Treatments? What does she mean? I don’t really think cancer has options .
Alex looked pained. “Yeah. So, this is the sensitive stuff part.” She shot Kara another look, and gritted her teeth. “Which is why we really should be alone, right now.”
Kara glared back, holding onto Lena’s hand tightly. “Lena wants me here.”
Alex rolled her eyes, clearly exasperated, and raised a brow at Lena. “Are you sure?” She asked, again.
Lena nodded, and gripped Kara’s fingers, giving them as tight a squeeze as she could manage. “Yes. Please, just tell me, Alex.”
Alex let out a little cough. “Well….um….there’s no easy way to say this.”
“Just say it.” Lena was beginning to get irritated. “Tell me I have cancer. Tell me I shouldn’t have messed with all those radiation patents. I know, okay? I know it.”
She didn’t catch Kara’s concerned eyes dropping onto her, but she felt them. Alex looked distinctly alarmed and waved the sheet of paper like a white flag until she stopped talking.
“Lena, Lena, calm down. You don’t have cancer! You…..well, it looks like…” Alex coughed again, quickly. “ Itlookslikeyou’repregnant .”
All the breath went out of Lena in one instant, and apparently Kara, too, because the alpha’s voice was a squeak. “What?”
“It looks like you’re pregnant.” Alex said, slowly, and suddenly, Lena very much needed to sit down. She found the Naugahyde exam table behind her with numb fingers and plonked down onto it, heavily.
Kara didn’t move or make a single sound. She stood stock still, staring at Alex as if the room was going to disappear.
“It’s not a normal pregnancy, though.” Alex continued, clearly trying to force through the thick tension in the air. “It’s progressing fast. Really fast. Your tests show you’re about a week, maybe two, into development, but the embryo is the size of a four week-old. And it’s very odd, because we found alien DNA in your bloodstream, where it absolutely does not belong, so I’m gonna have to ask you a very potentially upsetting question—“
“It’s mine.” Kara interrupted, looking greenish. “Alex, it’s mine.”
Alex was nonplussed, blinking. “Your what?”
Neither Lena nor Kara moved. It only took Alex a moment to land on it. Her eyes rounded.
“Oh. Oh god.” She moved her finger back and forth between Kara and Lena, and if it wasn’t such a dire situation, it would have been comical how she gaped. “You two? Together ? Since when?”
“Do you remember when the lab ran out of suppressants?” Kara nodded as Alex’s eyes widened impossibly further. “Yeah. About since then.”
“And we’re not together.” Lena hastened to add, hoping to spare Kara any awkwardness.
Inexplicably, however, Kara turned to her with hurt, wide eyes. “We’re not?”
What. Is. Happening.
Lena tried to remain calm, even as Alex appeared to have a small conniption fit in the background. The look in Kara’s eyes made her entire world compass came crashing to a dead stop, and she found herself fumbling for words.
“Well, yes , Kara, you said you wanted us to stay friends with benefits, and I—“
“No, I said I wanted to be with you. I told you, I love being with you.” Kara looked about as confused as Lena felt, and the omega’s heart thudded in her chest. She wondered how much of it Kara could hear.
“That’s not—“ Lena swallowed, hard. “What does that mean to you, exactly ?”
“Okay, hold on.” Alex snapped her fingers in between the two of them, several times. “I’m sorry. Back up. You two can discuss semantics of your romantic life later. Priorities .”
When Lena finally tore her eyes away from Kara’s wounded gaze, Alex sighed. “Look, this is your business. You’re grown adult women. But I do care about one thing.” She rounded on her sister, arms crossed. “Explain to me why you weren’t using protection. Mom raised you better than that.”
“I was using protection!” Kara flung her arms out, clearly aggravated. “You gave me that pill, and I’ve been giving it to Lena every time we—“
“Wait.” Alex pinched the brow of her nose, and Lena’s stomach did an unpleasant somersault. “Wait, wait, wait . What pill?”
“Large. Blue. DEO imprint on one side. Unpleasant taste.” Lena supplied. There was a clenching, roiling knot in her lower body. “Please tell me it’s a morning-after contraceptive.”
“That’s what she said it was!” Kara looked like she was on the verge of a mild seizure.
“I did not say that!” Alex was gesticulating, but Lena closed her eyes. Her stomach was heaving. “I said it was a one-time, emergency use pill. One time. Once . Do you know what the number one means?”
“Alex, I swear to Rao, you told me —-“
“Condoms! Condoms exist, Kara! Even if your stupid Krypton sperm can’t be contained by latex, you could at least try to offer your partner safe se—“
“Please, stop.” Lena spoke up, through clenched teeth and tightly closed lids. “One of you needs to take me to the restroom. I’m going to throw up again.”
As it turned out, she only made it as far as the trashcan in the hallway.