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No one can stop us now, cause we're all made of stars

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It was getting cold by the time Lena had gone into her bedroom. Her nanny said there wasn’t any kind of monster under her bed or inside her wardrobe, and that her teddy bear could sleep with her since her parents weren’t returning home until next Monday. It was a relief, to be honest, but staying alone in that huge mansion scared her. Well, she wasn’t alone, not in the literal sense of the word. Lena had Mrs. McPhee, the kind and lovely lady who she used to call Nana; the only one who cared about her well-being since Lionel brought her home.

But she always felt so lonely.

The stars were shining bright and the sky was a midnight blue that matched her pajamas. Lena always liked to watch the moon and count the stars, imagining that there was someone out there looking at her the same way she looked at them. Like a lost friend in the universe. Like she wasn’t really alone after all, but it was bullshit. Mrs. McPhee used to tell stories about life on other planets, about people who travelled between the rings of Saturn and played amongst the stars. Listening to her sweet and calm voice, Lena would close her eyes, take a deep breath and smile, while her mind took her to another place: a place full of colors, such as purple and dark blue, full of shining dots and spaceships. Maybe it was real; maybe there was really a little girl like her staring at Earth in the sky and thinking about the people who lived there.

That was until Lex came and told her Lillian would be mad if she found out about these childish stories. Lena wasn’t a child anymore. She could sleep without a teddy bear and was no longer frightened by a ridiculous monster under the bed. No, she was a big girl. But Mrs. McPhee was wrong, Lex said. There was no one out there and the little Luthor would have to get used to being by herself. And Lena trusted her older brother; he was intelligent, kind, and taught her how to behave more like a Luthor and less like her biological mother.

It was hard, to be honest, because her mom had been her hero for a long time. She still was, but Lena didn’t talk about her with anyone but Mrs. McPhee. She wasn’t sure if Lex would approve of this sort of conversation. After all, he was a Luthor. A real one.

Sometimes she still looked out of her window, with the warmth caressing her pale cheeks and the wind blowing her dark hair. She could see the swimming pool with the water reflecting the sky, the white roses Mr. Rogers planted with such dedication last summer, even if Lillian prefered red ones, lining the sides of water. Lena knew he couldn’t care less and it was so funny to see her mother so angry about such a ridiculous thing like flowers. She had been accustomed to it; the rules, the limits and Lillian’s temper. Everything had to be done her way. Deep down Lena knew that for the matriarch, she was nothing more than an orphaned girl who intruded on the family because of a mistake. Well, no one had told her which kind of mistake it was and she couldn’t quite understand why this was her fault. Her biological mom was a good woman and not some kind of villain, like the one she read about in books.

And thinking about her before sleeping made her heart ache and sink in her chest, because she missed her. She missed being part of a family, being loved and cared for like a normal child.

When Lena closed her eyes, the memories started to appear behind her eyes, like a movie. She remembered the smell of salt air that travelled from the beach, the waves and the grey clouds. She also remembered how it was so warm and how the sand was still a bit cold, despite the hot weather. It was summer, and Lena hated summers. It had only been a matter of seconds; one moment she could still feel her mother’s hands in hers and then, nothing. She smiled, took off her shirt and asked her to wait. And Lena waited, because she trusted her. Except the loneliness that had invaded her chest was massive, ripping her heart into pieces. Lena stood there, watching the most important woman of her life disappearing in the waves, with her hair soaked and the droplets of water on her skin glittering in the sunlight. She didn’t scream. She didn’t ask for help or run away.

She just waited, because she trusted the person in front of her, even as she disappeared from view.

After some weeks, a man called Lionel came to visit her at the orphanage and told her she was going home. But Ireland was her home; she still hoped her mom was going to pick her up, laughing about how the man at the supermarket smiled at her and asked for her phone number. By the time her father came, she was close to running to her bedroom and crying, something that constantly happened. The children at her first foster house were  messing with her for days, trying to hide her teddy bear under the bed, telling horror stories about a blonde woman in the bathroom or a girl who lived inside the mirror. She had never been so scared in her entire life.

There was only another girl there, named Clare, but she was almost ten years old and Lena was four, the youngest child at the foster house. Furthermore, no one liked to play with her or to watch the same cartoons, even the kids about her age. At lunch time, the woman who took care of everybody had to separate a place at the table in order to help her, because the little Luthor couldn’t reach her plate without putting a pillow on the chair. And of course the oldest kids joked about it too, calling her cruel names and likening her to a baby.

The Luthor mansion never really felt like home. It had been more like a prison. She could play in the backyard and go to the library, but not if she hadn’t finished her homework. Lionel was pretty clear about her education, and it was the only thing he charged her, since he was hardly at home. There were eight bedrooms, four in the first floor and four in the second one. She knew them by heart, even if no one had been occupying them.

Well, three of them were occupied. One for her, one for Nana and one for her parents. The employees slept in a house outside the mansion, close to the forest that Lena had a great curiosity to know more about, but was too cowardly to go there by herself. And Mrs. McPhee said it was dangerous. There was also a huge kitchen, which she could never enter, because Lillian had prohibited her after catching the little girl stealing candy and cookies. Lillian was constantly saying Lena was getting fat, with chubby cheeks and legs. That’s why she had only been allowed to eat fruits as a kind of sugary food. However, who in the world would consider apple as candy?

Despite having such a little time to play or venture into Lionel’s library, she was grateful because Nana was like a mom, always caring, helping her with her clothes and combing her hair. She had a place to sleep, food to eat, and a good school, even if the kids were being mean and snobbish. Sometimes Lena skipped the piano classes, using her best pout against her nanny and running outside to talk with the gardener, asking as many question as she could in seconds. Of course he thought this was cute and funny, and he knew the little girl was intelligent like her brother.

But Lena missed Lex like hell. He was the only one she could call family besides her nanny. But Lillian told her he needed to study abroad in order to help Lionel run the family business. She hated that, hated that Lex had to grow up and be an adult like everyone else. This only made her feel more like a baby, and she wasn’t one anymore. She was eleven now, for god’s sake. She wanted to help too, to be a part of the conversations at the dinner room, but her mom had never allowed this, using the excuse that she would never understand, because she would never be a Luthor.

So Nana would take Lena to her bedroom, help with her pajamas and tell her a short story about an Indian princess who fell in love with an English soldier and they escaped their family using an ancient magic. She wished she had magic too. It would be easier, maybe.

Her days were filled with homework from school, extracurricular lessons, piano and French classes. After everything was done, she had to shower, eat and be quiet for the rest of the afternoon, until it was time for her to sleep and Nana would take her to bed again. If Lillian wasn’t at home, then she could go outside and play with the cook’s children, something her mom could never imagine. She would be dead if Lillian found out about her mischief. Mrs. Pot had two boys and they were her only friends. The oldest one, named Marcus, had ginger hair and freckles that littered his cheeks. He liked to talk about airplanes, cars and soccer players, which Lena thought was very boring. The other one - named Lucca - was younger than her, with golden hair like wheat fields and beautiful brown eyes, like hazelnuts. He liked to hear about the books that Lena had read and he enjoyed listening to her stories about the magical creatures who lived inside the forest, believing every word she said.

Having him by her side was almost like being an older sister. And it made her feel important, irreplaceable. Enough.

When all of the members of the Luthor family were at home, Lena had to obey the rules and behave as if she were just another piece of furniture from within the mansion. With that, she got used to talking to walls, wondering if the paints could hear and answer her dumb questions. Well, at least that was what Lillian said about her random questions. Her mom didn’t have enough patience, but Lena knew this was because she wasn’t her daughter, or a Luthor. For Lillian, she was a stubborn girl who never listened, who always complained about everything, and who talked too much. She had been compared with her older brother since the day she arrived and had been listening about his achievements nonstop. That’s why the little girl wanted to be like him, so maybe they could love her as part of the family and not just the girl left behind by her mother. But it was so hard. God knew how much.

“Lena, darling, can you please go back to bed?” Nana asked after watching the raven-haired girl tiptoe near the window, with her emerald eyes closed. “It’s getting late and you can catch a cold with this crazy weather.” She took Lena by the hand and helped her to lie down.

“Nana, do you think my mom is a star now?” She let the older woman cover her with a warm blanket and kiss her forehead.

“I think she is, perhaps the one who shines the brightest.” Lena frowned and looked thoughtful. “Why the question?”

“Lex said that stars are made of dust and hydrogen, not people,” Lena said, her voice growing sleepy as she talked. “And that everything you say is just superstition, because you’re a simple woman.”

“Your brother is right about only one thing, sweetheart.” Mrs. McPhee sat down next to her and began to stroke her long black hair. “I am in fact a simple woman and I’m proud of it, but he’s wrong about his conception of stars.”

“But Lex is never wrong.”

“We’re all humans, and therefore liable to make mistakes.” She laughed at the girl’s confusion.

“What does liable mean?” Lena snorted curiously.

“Something that we are likely to do, for example, we’re all likely to slip if we run on a wet floor.”

Lena laughed and sat up so that she could look at her nanny as she spoke.  “Well, that happened to me yesterday and my back still hurts sometimes.”

Nana smiled amusedly. “That’s because you’re always in too much of a hurry, I did warn you.” She scrunched her nose and straightened the blanket again “I’m gonna explain why Lex is wrong and after it we’re all going to sleep, okay?”

“Okay.” She was too sleepy to complain or argue.

“You’re allowed to believe in whichever you want, even if the most intelligent person tells you not to. And I believe that our body is made of dust, like the stars, so when we die, our body returns to the universe in a shining form. Like a star.” There was so much love and affection in her voice and Lena could feel it in her heart as her mind drifted to sleep. “So maybe, yes, stars are made of dust and that other thing with a weird funny name, but so are we.”

“This doesn’t make any sense, Nana,” Lena said quietly.

“Do you believe that the Indian princess ran away using that magic flower and married the English soldier?”

“Of course I do. They were in love and you said love can make magic things happen,” she replied with so much certainty that made Mrs. McPhee smile. It was easier to make Lena believe in magic than to convince her Lex was wrong.

“Then you can believe your mother is out there, keeping watch on you and making sure that you’re in bed before midnight.”

They both laughed and said goodnight. Lena hugged her teddy bear and hummed I love you to her nanny.

Which she promptly replied with an “I love you too.”

 

***

 

The next morning, the little girl woke up feeling excited without an actual cause to feel such a way. Her heart was beating fast, like something good would happen that day. She didn’t quite understand what it was, but it felt amazing and she was happy. The pouring rain outside made her shiver a little and think about how it would be cold at school. She heard Mrs McPhee walking between the rooms and got up in a hurry, trying not to stumble on the sheet that felt on the floor in the middle of the night. Nana always said she had a restless sleep since she came to the Luthor’s mansion.

In the bathroom, hot water embraced her body like a warm blanket and she smiled at this funny feeling. She hummed an Irish lullaby, the same one her mother used to sing when she was a baby, while washing her hair. Her funny game was to make faces at herself in the mirror, pretending to be an old man with a white beard and a thick voice. She splashed recklessly but always carefully, the goal not to wet the bathroom’s carpet, otherwise she would be in trouble. After ten minutes - which she counted, because Nana always warned her about the bugs who liked to live on stinky dirty girls’ skin, the ones who showered fast and never washed between their fingers. This had always scared her a lot - she went back to her room and looked for her uniform.

When she was about to finish buttoning her shirt, her nanny entered the room and smiled softly at Lena, who’s dark wet hair had fallen around her face.

“What about I comb your hair while you finish this hard task?” Lena nodded and kept herself concentrated on the buttons.

“I hate these buttons and this uniform” she snorted.

Mrs McPhee rolled her eyes and reached for the purple hairbrush by the dressing table. “Hate is a strong word for a little girl like you.”

“Which word should I say then?” Lena quizzed.

“Maybe you should just stop complaining” Mrs McPhee pointed out smartly. After a few minutes of soft brushing and gentle tugs on the girl’s hair, she finished and put the hairbrush back in its place. “Do you like it?” She waited for an answer.

Lena stared at herself in the mirror and nodded happily,  “I love braids, thank you, Nana.”

“You’re welcome, sweetheart.”

They both stared at each other for a few seconds and then Mrs McPhee saw the green eyes lose their usual glow.

“Why do you look so sad? I heard you singing in the bathroom,” she sat on the bed and reached for the dark-haired girl’s hands. “Come here, little one, and tell me what’s going on.”

“I don’t wanna go to school,” the sad tone in her voice made the older woman worry more about the difficulties Lena would face while socializing. “What’s the point of going there if I’m not having fun or happy?” Lena pouted.

“You’re not going there to have fun, you’re going there to study and learn new things.”

“But I don’t need them to teach me, I have you and I have my books” she said it like it was the most obvious thing in the world and Mrs McPhee didn’t know how to argue with that cute face.

She smiled and hugged her little girl.

“But I don’t know everything and you need to make friends with people who are your own age.”

“Ugh, they don’t like me, Nana” she snorted again and laid her head on her nanny’s left shoulder. “I’m good by my own, I don’t need anyone else.”

“Lena, one day you’ll find someone who’s going to like you the way you are.”

Lena didn’t know if this was true, but as she thought, she realised she hadn’t even left Metropolis before, and that there was plenty more people out there.

“Do you really think so?” she asked so doubtfully.

“I’m sure of it, darling”

The driver waited outside with an umbrella in hand. Lena finished her breakfast, brushed her teeth and ran back to the living room, where Nana was waiting with her schoolbag. Frank was a cool guy and one of her favorite people. He started working for the Luthors when he was just a boy, because his father used to be the driver before him.  Lena liked it when he let her choose the songs and how he mimicked Michael Jackson’s voice.

Jackson 5 was her favorite group and “I’ll be there” was the best song in the world, in her honest opinion.

I'll be there to comfort you ” she mimicked Jermaine’s voice and made up a little dance routine in the backseat of the car, pretending to have a mic in her hands as she sang. “ Build my world of dreams around you.

Frank laughed and winked amusedly at her, waiting for his turn. “ Let me fill your heart with joy and laughter. Togetherness, girl it's all I'm after.

His Michael Jackson performance made Lena giggle. Frank was in fact the best guy ever.

Whenever you need me. I'll be there, ” he parked the car in front her school and then turned the radio off. “I think our little show is over, Miss Luthor.”

Lena pouted and sighed. She just wanted to keep singing. Schools were boring and her teachers didn’t know about everything, not like her nanny knew. “No, please, just one more song!”

“I don’t think we can, Miss Luthor, it’s time for your classes” he pointed to his wristwatch, making the little girl pout again. “I promise I’ll be here to pick you up and finish our show.”

Lena unlocked her seatbelt and picked up her schoolbag. “Okay, but then we have to sing that one by Ray Charles!”

“Hit the road Jack, that’s a good one.” He smiled, waiting for her to close the door.

“Yes! So, hit the road Frank!” they both laughed and Frank waved at her. “But come back to pick me up at five.”

They said their goodbyes and Lena went straight to her classroom. Science was her favorite subject and her teacher, Miss Honey, was intelligent, kind and beautiful.

“Can anyone tell me why do we have to wash our hands after going to the bathroom?” Miss Honey asked after writing the lesson title on the board.

One of the students raised his hand in order to answer the question. “We have to wash them because of the microorganisms.”

“Very good, George!” She wrote the main word on the board and then smiled. “Can anyone explain what microorganisms are?”

Lena raised her hand, but soon regretted it. Because everyone was now looking at her. She felt her cheeks burning and which made her even more nervous.

“Lena?”

“Uh, they’re like… like little bugs,” she cursed herself for stuttering and took a deep breath. “They feed on dirt and remains of our skin, that’s why we have to wash hands and take baths. So they won’t have anything to eat and can’t cause us any harm.”

“Did your nanny tell you that while she washed your hair?” One of the boys cried. “You’re such a baby, Luthor!”

The other children started to laugh and talk at the same time, causing Lena feel ashamed, her head bowing  and her eyes beginning to water.

“I’m not a baby!” She yelled angrily, wiping her tears away.

Then a boy, named Rufus, arched his eyebrows. “Then why do you have a nanny? I’m a big boy and I don’t have a nanny.”

“Because no one likes you enough to be your nanny!”

Miss Honey shook her head and sighed. Kids could be worse than adults. She was pretty sure of it.  “Okay, okay! Let’s sit down and divert our attention to today’s lesson!” That was going to be a hard day.  “No one here is a baby and we have to respect each other. And, Rufus, what have I told you about speaking without raising your hand?”

“I’m sorry, Miss Honey.”

“Okay, so open your books to page twelve. We’re going to learn about microorganisms,” she started her class again and everyone seemed to calm down.

But Lena just laid her head on her arms and wished she was at the mansion, listening to Nana tell her the story about the Indian princess and the English soldier.

 

***

 

“How was school today?” Frank asked after opening the car’s door for the little Luthor.

“Fine.”

Frank frowned in confusion, but chose to remain silent. He watched the raven-haired girl throw her school bag on the back seat and lock her seatbelt, in total silence. But Lena wasn’t a silent kind of girl, quite the opposite. She liked to sing with him on her way home and tell him about all the new things Miss Honey or Mr. Dewey taught in their classes.  Even on bad days, Lena always chose to be kind and happy. But something was different. Frank felt it deep in his heart.

He hated how the other kids treated Lena. But he couldn’t do anything to change it. Not at school, though.

“I think we have a show to finish.” He pointed out while turning on the radio, trying to change the topic.

Lena sighed and kept looking out the car’s window. “I’m not in the mood for a show. I’m sorry.”

She was really mad, like she had never been before. Because kids weren’t cool like Frank or Mr. Roger, her gardener. Because they were mean to her, when she was nothing but nice with them. It was so frustrating how she tried so hard to be their friend, helping them with the math exercises or sharing her chocolate cookies. And they all kept making not funny jokes about her. Calling her a baby, just because she had a nanny.

She didn’t have Mrs McPhee because she needed someone to wash her hair or feed her like a toddler. They wouldn’t ever understand her reasons. Because they had loving mothers, who cared so much about their well-being. Mothers that truly loved them and had the softest hugs to give them before sleep time. She wasn’t a baby. She just wanted to have someone like they had. And Nana was her someone.

This made Lena so disappointed with herself and Lilian would feel the same about her daughter’s lack of ability to socialize.  She knew it and she felt like a loser.

Frank smiled softly, choosing one of her favorite songs, and then Paul McCartney started to sing. “ Hey, Jude, don't make it bad. Take a sad song and make it better.

Lena didn’t pay attention, covering her ears stubbornly and then snorted. Frank just kept singing and stared at her through the mirror.

Hey, Jude, don't be afraid. You were made to go out and get her. ” Lena’s feet slowly started moving and her index finger began to pound in the door. “ The minute you let her under your skin, then you begin to make it better.

Suddenly, the little girl smiled and rolled her eyes at the older man. She hated when she was mad and Frank made her forget why.

Then, she sang loudly: “ And anytime you feel the pain, hey Jude, refrain. Don't carry the world upon your shoulders.

Lena had forgot about Rufus, Miss Honey and everything related to her school. In that moment, she felt like a rock star, like the ones she saw on television. Lilian never allowed her to listen that kind of musics, but this didn’t stop her. She knew she had to learn all that classic musics, mainly because of her piano classes. It wasn’t the fact that this songs weren’t cool, but she couldn’t sing them. Frank taught her about Frank Sinatra, Ray Charles, Jackson 5 and The Beatles. She had been memorizing all their songs for months, so she would be able to sing along with her driver.

They made their show all the way home and when Mrs McPhee opened the front door, Lena ran to her and hugged her tightly. She felt at home. Finally.

 

***

 

After dinner, they all went to bed. The days without the other Luthor’s were always calm and good. No one had to be nervous about making everything perfect or about Lilian’s crazy demands. Lionel wasn’t as present as his wife, because Luthor-Corp took all his precious time. And Lena barely saw her parents. The employes were all she had in the end. They were her true family in the end. Mrs McPhee helped everyone with their household chores, e nsuring that everything was clean and kept in the right place.

The rain stopped before the sunset and gave way to shades of blue and orange. The trees danced following the wind’s rhythm and everything was dipped in pitch. It was almost past one and a half in the morning, the tick tock  of the clock was the only sound that defied the dark in the corridors of the mansion. Lena couldn’t sleep. She tried to change her position and cover herself with the warm blanket, but it was useless. Her brain refused to stop working, making her thoughts sounds too loud. And she also could hear the kitchen’s clock and the water dripping in the sink.

She snorted and hugged tightly her teddy bear.

Something scratched her window and made a sharp shiver run down her spine . Her legs were shaking in fear. She hid herself under the blanket and closed her eyes firmly, wishing that this scary noise was nothing. She didn’t believe in ghosts, Lex told her they were all superstitions or just stories that was made up to scare little children. The curtains moved slowly and Lena swear she saw something behind them. She took a deep breath and tried to calm down. It could be nothing, just a branch or a bird. Well, it couldn’t be a bird like the ones she saw in the morning. They were probably sleeping. Something she should be doing now.  Damn, if Nana found out she was still awake she would be in a lot of trouble.

She stopped to think and considered sneaking out of her bed, going to Nana’s bedroom and taking her teddy bear with her. But she didn’t have the guts enough to cross the dark corridor alone.

When Lena was about to give up and run to her nanny’s bedroom, she heard another noise. This time louder. Something crashed in the middle of the woods and made the birds fly wildly. Although she was afraid, her curiosity came up like a little voice in her head and she popped out of the blankets. All her skin shivered again when she felt the cold floor kiss her foot. Ensuring no one would listen to her steps, Lena grabbed her coat, rain boots and flashlight. It wasn’t raining anymore, but the grass was still damp. The mansion was so quiet and she prayed silently while opening back door.

Mr Rogers’ tools were on the floor next to the swimming pool. She could also see the white roses on the left side and the employes’ home on the right. Taking a deep breath, the little Luthor faced the woods and told herself again that ghosts in fact didn’t exist. It was hard to believe in this confirmation when she was all alone in the dark.

She turned on the flashlight and made her way into the woods. Mr McPhee always said she could get lost in there, but her older brother told her that anyone who had the least sense of direction could find the way out. It wasn’t hard, he said. Because it wasn’t a big area, just a couple of trees around the mansion’s property. So, while Lena walked among the bushes, she tried to memorize every detail. That way she would know how to come back without asking help. After a few minutes, the woods were gone and there was only empty camp. She could also see the end of the property, where her father put a security system to keep the house safe.

But something caught her attention. She frowned and kept walking towards the shining dot behind some bushes. Her rain boots sank in the mud and and she squeezed the fabric of her coat so tightly  that her fingers throbbed.

“What is this?” She asked herself.

The strange and unknown object collided with some trees on the way to the ground, leaving a trail deep in the mud and carrying dirt on it. The girl snorted and watched it with curiosity, noticing that it had a different symbol drawn on the left side. Something she had never seen before. Lena then pulled a few leaves and branches off the object's casing and widened her eyes, startled by what was on the other side of the glass.

Inside the pod, trapped between the hardware, there was a little girl. And she was staring curiously at the little Luthor, her blue eyes as frightened as hers.

Chapter Text

They stared at each other for long minutes. The calm sound of the wind blowing the leaves was the only melody in that moment. Lena studied the other’s girl face, silently observing her delicate features and noticing how her blue eyes were so intense. She had long blonde hair with a bang and was wearing what looked like a white t-shirt with a geometric symbol. The same one that was on the left side of that pod. The girl didn’t seemed to be much older than her, quite the opposite. She looked so young and scared. Like she had seen a ghost, or something really bad.

Lena raised her flashlight to the girl’s face and saw her closing  her eyes. What was she supposed to do now? Ask for help? Run? Scream? She didn’t know. She should not even be there that late in the night. However, thousand of questions began to bubble in her mind. Who was she and what was she doing there? What did that symbol mean?

She snorted and tried to take a deep breath. She could not leave that girl alone, could she? Well, she also could not bring her home, because Nana would be mad and Lilian wasn’t a great fan of kids. Specially the ones that were not a Luthor. Suddenly, the pod’s door opened, making her jump with surprise. It wasn’t like a car’s door, she noticed. It seemed more like the ones she saw in a movie at school. A movie about aliens and space wars. Lena observed the blonde girl getting up and then cleaning her hand on her pants. Now that she was standing up, the little Luthor could confirm that, in fact, she was older than her.

“Who are you?” she asked with fear in her voice. The girl was a kid like her, but she knew well how kids could be mean to each other. “What’s your name?”

She had no answer. The blonde girl just stared at her in confusion. Lena saw her blue eyes follow everything that surrounded. The trees, the bushes, the mud that was dirtying her feet. The Luthor also noticed how she moved her legs and frowned in disgust when her white pants became a little brown. Then, the girl crouched down and touched the cold mud, feeling its texture and making a funny face when she saw her fingers covered with that strange goo. Lena chose to remain silent while observing the other one discover a new world.

She waited till the blonde looked at her. When she did, Lena smiled softly and tried to speak again. She needed to know at least her name. “What’s your name?” But the girl frowned again and Lena snorted in defeat. “Do you even know how to talk?” she arched her eyebrows.

The girl bit her lip and sighed. She seemed to be in a silent discussion with herself.

“Okay, let’s try this.” Lena left the flashlight over at the pod’s case, bathing the two girls in white light  and pointed to herself. “Me, Lena,” she said, smiling softly. “And you are?”

“Kara.” She managed to say, after some a few seconds of confusion. “Me, Kara.” she said again whilst she mimicked the other girl’s gestures.

The little Luthor was proud of her little achievement. At least now she knew the girl wasn’t some weirdo who couldn’t talk. “Great, Kara!” she held up her hands to greet the blonde. “Nice to meet you!”

But Kara didn’t move or say anything else. She stared at her again and then to the mud on her feet. Lena tried to stop herself from laughing, but it was almost impossible. The expression on Kara’s face was hilarious. Like the mud was some kind of a monster. She took her flashlight again and pointed the light to the girl’s pants. If Nana saw her that way, she would have to take that off and go straight to the bathroom. Probably Kara’s mom would do the same, because that was what mothers do, Lena thought silently. However, her mom was nowhere to be found.

Kara was alone. And this confirmation made the raven-haired girl feel sorry about her situation. Because she knew how it was to be alone. To be lost. To be afraid.

“Where’s your mom?” she asked softly. Lena kept herself 5 feet away, respecting Kara’s personal space. “You don’t know what I’m saying, do you?”

Kara wrinkled her nose and snorted. She wanted so bad to understand.

Suddenly, she had an idea and Lena could see it in the way her new visitor smiled. Kara came back to the pod and pressed some buttons. She waited again, but she was starting to worry, because Nana could noticed at any moment that the youngest Luthor wasn’t in her bed anymore. Her anxiety began to bother her and her hands were sweating, making the flashlight slip a little. She pressed her fingers firmly against the cool metal of the flashlight  in order to stop herself from shaking. The weather was becoming colder and some lightning struck the sky furiously. It made the little Luthor shiver.

Kara came back again and brought some kind of papers in her hands.

“My name is Kara Zor-El” she said proudly. “I- I came from Krypton. Alone.”

Lena widened her eyes in surprise and smiled amusedly. “Oh my god, you know how to talk!”

“I- I am… I am Kara.” she frowned and looked for more information in her notes. The other girl could see the drawings and symbols in the paper. “I need help.” Her blue eyes were so crystal clear that Lena could easily see the fear within them.

In that moment, she realized she could not leave the girl there. It wasn’t fair. Kara needed someone to help her and maybe Nana could find some clothes and make her soup. Nana would know what to do, and Lena trusted her with her life.

“Are you hungry?” Lena asked and pointed to her belly. “You know… hungry. Food.” she mimicked herself eating a sandwich and the blonde girl laughed.

“Yes, I am!”

“Good! I have food, but not here though.” she held out her hand and waited for the other girl to hold it. “I won’t hurt you, I promise. Here, see?” she approached carefully and took Kara’s hand in hers. “I’m a friend.”

 Kara felt her entire body shiver with that new sensation. Lena’s hands were colder than hers. She interlaced their fingers and took a deep breath. Her heart was beating fast, she could hear it like a drum inside her chest. But she also could hear another beat. A calm one. Everything was new, the noises, the landscape, the weather and the sky. It wasn’t like Krypton. She was also feeling stronger and more sensitive. Like her body could lift a tree. That was when something cruel and real hit her.

She wasn’t on Krypton anymore.

 Lena waited for her and then smiled when her new friend seemed calmer.  

 “Are you okay?” she asked to ensure that Kara was really fine.

 “I am, Lena.” but she suddenly looked back to her pants and then her feet. “What is this?”

She giggled and pointed the flashlight to her rain boots. “Oh, this? This is called mud and it’s not bad. I mean, it’s disgusting but it won’t harm you, see?” she touched the dirt and showed her finger.

 “Mud.” Kara repeated and then sighed. “I don’t like mud.”

 Lena laughed and rolled her eyes.

 “Well, me neither. To be honest no one does.” she pointed out.

 The both of them made their way back to the mansion, with the raven-haired girl holding Kara’s hand tightly. She tried to keep talking, but the truth was she was getting sleepy. After ten minutes of walking, they arrived and Lena took her friend to the kitchen. Without making loud noises, she opened the fridge and got some milk. She wasn’t allowed to use the stove, so Kara would have to drink it cold. Actually the little Luthor should not even be there.

 The kryptonian waited patiently and took some time to observe that weird room. There were some fruits in a basket over the kitchen island. Apples, oranges and bananas, but she didn’t know their names. Lena gave her a glass, which she knew what it was and then gave her something called Oreo. Kara frowned and arched her eyebrow in confusion. The package made some weird noises when she pressed it. It was blue, white and black, with some drawings around it. She watched her new friend fill her glass with a white liquid and then sat in front of her.

“What is this?” she held out the package.

“These are called cookies and they’re delicious.” she pointed out and helped Kara to open it.

“Delicious.” she repeated.

“Yeah, but we’re not supposed to eat this. I mean, we can eat but not without permission.” Lena explained calmly.

They both were talking in soft whispers.

In the moment that Kara took the first bite and felt the sugar melts in her tongue, her whole world seemed to change and exploded in flavors. Her heart started beating faster and that sensation made her moan in delightness. She had never eaten something like this and she was pretty sure that Krypton didn’t have cookies. Rao, how had she been living without this until now? If she could describe it, she’d probably say that it was like seeing the colors for the first time. Or like a  little piece of the paradise itself.

Lena giggled and thought that Kara looked like a puppy. With her blue eyes shining so bright and her mouth full of cookies, she looked happy.

“Here, drink this. It tastes good too.” The Luthor pointed to the glass.

Kara nodded and quickly drank all the milk. She felt the strange liquid run cold to her stomach. The tastes mixed gave her another other sensation.

When she sighed and finished licking her lips, her smile appeared again, radiant. She would probably have to take notes on this. In order to never forget how it was.

Then the little Luthor grumbled, hiding her face in her hands and making her friend stop eating for a second.  “Shit, look at the floor! There’s mud everywhere! Nana’s gonna kill me!” she looked back to the blonde and saw her eyes widening. “Oh, no, no! Not literally!”

“Why is she gonna kill you?” she asked in confusion. “Killing is bad.”

 “Yeah, I know. But she’s not going to kill me literally.” Lena tried to explain and put all the food back in their places. “She’ll be mad because I forgot to leave my rain boots outside.”

 The kryptonian frowned. “Rain boots.” she repeated.

 Lena quickly took of her boots and left them by the kitchen’s door. She reached a mop and tried to clean everything in the best way she could. Well, certainly Mrs. Pot would do it way  better than her, but just because she did it everyday. After putting the mop back in its place, she hold Kara’s hands again and took her upstairs, in order to decide what she was going to do now. Kara couldn’t sleep in her room, could she? No, of course not. Nana would found out about her in a heartbeat. Without even blink.

 Lena needed a place for Kara. A safe place. And also clean clothes.

 While the youngest girl was looking for a clean pajama inside her drawers, Kara stood still.

She clutched her papers and looked around at every detail of Lena’s bedroom. The room wasn’t big, as her was once in Krypton and neither had a window overlooking the city. She could smell something sweet in the air, like one of the flowers that her aunt Astra brought from time to time to decorate the dining room. The walls were painted in shades of purple, with some minors details in white and grey. There was a bed, with a fluffy kind of animal that she didn’t recognize over it, a wooden wardrobe, a dressing table and a bookshelf. It was all unknown and different, but Kara couldn’t lie to herself. She was impressed.

 Because everything was in fact different. But not in a bad way, as she hoped it would be.

 “Here, take this and I’ll grab some pillows and blankets for you, okay?” Lena watched her friend stared at her like she was talking in some weird language.

 And this was so ironically true.

 “What’s a… how did you say?” she asked. “Pillow.”

 Lena reached one of her pillows and gave it to her. Waiting for the girl’s reaction. Being with Kara was like seeing someone experiencing several new foods at the same time and seeing how she would react. It was funny to watch her eyebrows gather, the way she bit her lower lip and then processed all that information like some sort of old computer. She couldn’t quite understand why everything seemed to be new for her, but didn’t question it. Kara was her friend. Her first friend, if she wasn’t going to consider Marcus and Lucca as real friends.

The kryptonian whispered and hugged the soft object. Hiding her face on its fabric  and then sighing. “It’s so… so… how can I say?”

 “Say what?”

 “This kind of feeling… uh, the way the pillow feels on my skin.” she managed to explain, without really knowing how to say the right words. Then, Kara approached and pressed the fabric on Lena’s face. “This feeling.”

 Lena nodded in understanding and took Kara’s hand again.

 “Oh, you mean it’s soft.” she could hear the blonde’s brain working fast and hard. “You can have mine, okay? But now we need to hurry, because it’s late and Nana can wake up anytime. You need to trust me.” she explained quickly after grabbing more blankets. “Can you trust me?”

 “What’s trust?” She frowned in confusion. There were so many new words the blondie was not sure she could understand at all. It wasn’t as if it didn’t exist in Krypton. Well, it was different, maybe. However the problem was in the names, because that  was totally complicated for her.

  Oh god! Not now, Kara.

 “Can I explain while we find a place for you to sleep?” Kara nodded in agreement and followed her friend downstair again. “Trust is...uh, when you ask someone to believe in you. Like what friends do, I guess. I’m not good at friendships, to be honest.”

 She kept talking and pulling down the kryptonian down the dark corridor. The basement wasn’t a dirty place, but it was so scary. Lena didn’t like to go there. Nana and Mr Rogers were the only one that go there often, but now she needed some place for Kara to sleep and stay safe. At least until she find a way to tell Mrs McPhee about their new visitor. She turned on the only lamp that existed there and threw the pillows, the blankets and the pajamas over the old couch. Mr Roger left it behind after her mother bought a new one.

 It wasn’t like a fancy and comfortable bed, like hers. But it would have to work.

“I wish I could stay here with you, but I can’t.” She said disappointed. “But I’m gonna leave my flashlight here, in case you need it. This basement can be scary when you’re alone.”

 Kara just nodded and sat on the couch, looking at everything curiously.

 “I have to go back to my bedroom, but I brought these cookies I had hidden from the kitchen. You can eat them if you want and please, don’t make any noise. Just… be here and be quiet.” Kara nodded again, but Lena wasn’t sure if she was understanding it or not. “Did you understand?”

 “Be quiet and cookies.” she summed up the words. The Luthor sighed in relief and then smiled softly.

 “I’ll come back in the morning, okay?” She moved closer and held Kara’s hands in her. Because she was afraid her friend would think she was abandoning her there. The other girl’s skin was hot compared to her paler, colder skin. “There’s a teddy bear for you with the pillows, so that you won’t feel alone.” They both sighed. “I’ll come back, I promise you.”

 “I trust you, Lena.”

 

***

 

The basement didn’t sound as safe after the little kryptonian closed her eyes. She had spent almost a one hour taking notes on her papers about everything she learned from her new friend before sleeping, making small drawings as a form of representation and writing their meanings in Kryptonian. One of the perks of being trapped in the Phantom Zone was that she could read all the information her mother left in the pod’s programs. There was everything she needed to know about her new planet. Or almost everything. Because Alura didn’t say she would feel so lonely, lost and desperate. She didn’t warned her about how different it would be and how she would miss her home. Her heart throbbed in her chest when she dreamed. Kara had no idea about how many years she had been lost in the universe, but she still could remember about Krypton.

 She felt panic. Suffocate.  As if something pressed hard her throat and scratched her lungs. Krypton was exploding behind her eyes. Again.

 Alura was saying goodbye and telling her about her powers. Kara just nodded without even knowing the huge responsibility about what she was saying. Powers. Should she be afraid of being powerful? Should she be worried about hurting someone? Hurting Lena? Rao, what if she hurt Lena and then her friend - her only friend now - started hating her forever? She wanted so bad to cry and scream, because Krypton didn’t exist anymore. She had lost everything in a blink of an eye. And now she didn’t know how to find Kal-El, how to ask if anyone knew where his pod had landed. What if he was lost and scared? Kal-El was just a small, helpless baby, and her mother had been very clear about her mission. She couldn’t fail with her family.

 Her chest ached again as she sobbed. She didn’t want to be in that basement alone. She wanted to find Lena and listen her sweet and calm voice. There was something about the raven-haired girl that made Kara trust her. Trust . When someone ask you to believe them . Kara believed Lena, she trusted her with her heart. And she didn’t even know why. It just felt right. She had no idea of who Lena was, but she was her hero. The one who helped her, who brought her home, gave food and a place to sleep. As a matter of fact, maybe she should be cautious about someone unknown. Her father always told her no one should be trusted freely. They had to earn your trust.

 But if she was honest with herself, Lena had earned her trust in the moment she opened her eyes and realized she wasn’t in the Phantom Zone. She wasn’t alone anymore.

 After sneaking off of the couch and looking around to make sure no one was there, the blonde girl went upstairs to find Lena’s bedroom again, tiptoeing through the corridor. It wasn’t a difficult thing to do but the mansion was scary and so dark. She counted two doors and twenty two steps. The room was dipped in a quiet pitch. But even with the silence, Kara could hear the same beat she heard hours ago, when she first met Lena. She could also hear her slow breathing.

 “Lena” she moved closer and whispered softly, nudging her shoulder. “Lena, wake up! It’s Kara and I’m scared.”

 The little Luthor murmured something irritated, still asleep, and frowned in confusion. Kara kept nudging her endlessly and she then opened her eyes, with her heart missing a beat before realizing it was just Kara. The girl from the pod.

 “Wha- I- … Kara, what are you doing here?” She sat down quickly and rubbed her eyes.

 The kryptonian sighed, her eyes beginning to tear again. “I didn’t want to be alone in the dark again.”

 “Oh” Lena stared at her without knowing what else to say. Kara looked too little and sad, stood next to her bed. “Do you want to sleep with me?”

 “Can I?”

 “Of course! Come here, there’s space enough for both of us but you have to be quiet and don’t kick me under the blanket, okay?” She whispered and waited for her friend to nod in understanding.

 Kara climbed up onto the bed, laying  down happily and feeling Lena’s body by her side. She couldn’t believe she wasn’t alone in the dark anymore. “Can I hold your hand again?”

 They both interlaced her fingers and smiled. It felt so amazing to have a friend, Lena thought silently. The girls from her class at school were always babbling about sleepovers but she was never invited for any of them. She wished she was, though. Because always wanted to know what they do at these kind of party. Do they watch movies or they just slept after finishing dinner? She didn’t know. Having Kara by her side in that moment, made Lena thought about the stars again and how Mrs McPhee was so right. Stars were made of people, girls like her. Kara was the living proof of it. All those nights where she looked out her window to see the intense blue sky, she was staring at her new friend.

 Kara Zor-El was her star and she had come to be her friend. Maybe Lena’s  mom had sent her as a gift, so she wouldn’t be alone anymore. And maybe that was why the girl had the color of the sky in her own eyes.

 “Are you okay?” She asked sleepy. “Do you wanna hug my teddy bear? He’s fluffy like a pillow, but better.”

 “Do you think he likes me?” Kara whispered curiously, making the other girl giggle.

 “He’s not alive, silly,” she rolled her eyes and sighed, putting  her teddy in the middle of their bodies, so that the kryptonian could hug him too. Kara shifted a little  in bed and managed to find a position where she could keep staring at her friend in the dark and hold the teddy bear at the same time. “But, if he was, he’d like everyone I like. ‘Cause he trust me and I like you, Kara.”

 Kara smiled sweetly in the darkness. “I like you too.”

 “Let’s sleep, okay? But don’t worry, I’m holding your hand and I’d punch any monster right in the face to protect you.” Lena’s voice was weakening as she talked. And she didn’t even know what she was saying.

 She just wanted Kara to feel safe. Because she would do anything to keep her new friend by her side.

 

***

 

In the next morning, when Kara woke up, she felt a cold trembling body by her side. Lena was sweating and paler than before. She didn’t know what it was or what she had to do, but her friend didn’t look well. She got off the bed and tried to think about something, anything. But Lena had asked her to be quiet and she didn’t want to cause any more problems. It was lucky for her to have someone like that little girl and she wouldn’t lose her by any mean. After some minutes of walking in circles and thinking about how she could help, she heard steps coming closer to the bedroom.

 And she couldn’t let anyone see her there.

 “Lena? Sweetheart, you’re gonna be late for school!” Someone knock the door and waited. Kara hid as fast as she could inside the Luthor’s wardrobe. “Lena? I’m gonna open the door, okay?”

 As the woman had no answer, she heard the door opening and her shoes knocking firmly on the floor. Kara held her breath and wrapped her arms around her legs. Trying no to make any kind of noise. She could see both of them by a gap between the doors and hoped that this woman could help Lena to get better.

 “Oh, god, Lena! You’re burning in fever!” Mrs McPhee touched her little girl’s face and sighed worried. “I’m gonna call your school and tell them you won’t go to class today. I shouldn’t let you go there yesterday…”

 “Mrs McPhee, we’re going to be late for…” Frank stopped as soon as he saw his favorite Luthor still lying in bed, her hair stuck to her sweaty face and her trembling, colorless lips. “What happened? Is she okay?”

 “No, I think she got a flu or something like that. Can you please call her teacher and tell her she won’t be able to go today?” Frank nodded and left them both to make the call.

 Mrs McPhee stood up again and headed to the bathroom, in other to wet a towel in order to put it on Lena’s forehead and help her temperature lower. Kara followed her steps in silent and took a deep breath when the woman came back and smiled softly at her friend. Seeing them both together made the little kryptonian’s eyes teary. She missed her mom, her family and her planet. She wouldn’t have anyone to care about her like that woman cared about Lena. She would never see her mom again. Her heart sank on her chest, aching and beating so fast she was sure it could tear her to pieces. Then, suddenly, she heard a weak sweet voice flood in the room.

 And Kara didn’t understand how that voice made her feel hopeful. Like everything could get better, perhaps.

 “Nana?” Lena whispered. Her voice was husky and her body was sweating. “Ugh, I’m not feeling good, Nana. My head is hurting and my body is just disgusting right now.”

 “I know, darling,” Nana caressed her cheeks, thinking about how Lilian couldn’t care about that precious girl. If she could, if she had any way to take Lena and run away, she would do it in a heartbeat. She would raise her in a calm city, help her at school and teach her about kindness, fairness and love. Mrs McPhee didn’t want Lena to grow up alone and thinking that she didn’t matter in the world.

 Lena was important and more than that. She was special.

 “Do I have to go to school?” She smiled amusedly and felt her nanny’s fingers poke her belly, making her laugh. “No tickles, please. I’m dying, you have to do whatever I want today.”

 Nana rolled her eyes. “You’re such a drama queen, little one. And, you’re not dying,” she pointed out and stood up again, with Lena staring at her like a puppy. “I’m gonna ask Mrs Pot to make a veggie soup and then you can have cookies. But only if you eat the soup first, deal?”

 “It’s a pleasure to make a deal with you, mrs McPhee,” she raised her hand in order to seal that agreement. They both laughed and then Lena was alone again.

 Or not so alone.

 She slipped out of the blankets, opened the door once more, and assured her that her nanny had left, peering quietly down the hall, then closed the door. Her head was still hurting and her pajama was so wet because of the sweat. Lena headed to her wardrobe and breathed in relief when she found her new friend sitting under her drawers and holding her legs. Then, she helped the other to get off there and come back to bed. Kara was wearing her purple pajama, the one who had little cats and dogs all over the fabric. They both climbed onto the mattress again, putting her legs under the soft blanket and then smiling at each other.

 Lena stared at Kara and noticed how the blonde girl was looking at her, like she could read her mind. It was so funny and different at the same time. Her blue eyes were intense, with some brownish spots near the pupil. She asked herself if the stars looked like this, so shining and so intensely blue. Kara had a tiny scar under her eyebrow, light pink lips and golden locks in her hair. Lena felt a bit jealous about her hair, because Nana always had to comb hers before school, so it wouldn’t get tangled.

 “Are you feeling better?” Kara asked worried.

 “No, but I’m gonna be okay,” she replied. But her friend didn’t seem fine with that answer. “Hey, I’m okay, really. It’s probably just a flu and after the veggies soup I’m gonna be fine again. I promise.”

 “I was so scared and didn’t know what to do, and then that woman came and I got even more afraid, that’s why I hid myself in that wooden box and waited till she was gone and…” Kara started rambling. And Lena thought that was cute and annoying.

 So she laughed and rolled her eyes. “Kara, breath!That’s fine, actually, thanks for not showing yourself yet. I still have to figure out a way to tell Nana about you being here with us.”

 “Is she your mom?” their feet were touching under the blanket, making them both feel tickles.

 Lena looked away and focused on her teddy bear, starting to stroke his fluffy fabric. That was a painful question sometimes. Not because Mrs. McPhee wasn’t an amazing person, quite the opposite. The sad fact was that the sweet lady with red hair and tender eyes wasn’t her real mother.

  “No, she’s my nanny. My mother’s not here,  she traveled with my father to somewhere called Berlin and they’re coming back on monday.” she explained, but Kara frowned in confusion.

 “Why didn’t you go with them?”

 “They didn’t let me go with them because I’m annoying and noisy.” At least that was what Lilian said about her before going on a trip for almost two weeks, “Mother doesn’t care about me, she doesn’t like me, I guess.”

 It took some seconds for the kryptonian to process that information and then speak again. “All mothers like their children, at least that was what my aunt told me once. And she was the smartest person I’ve ever met.”

 “Brother said it’s because I’m not her real daughter, I mean… I was adopted when I was four and didn’t came out of her belly, like him…” Lena tried to explain, but the truth was she didn’t understand that too. “And Lex is the smartest person I’ve ever met.”

 “What do you mean by adopted? And… come out of her belly? What- how… why would you do it? You could hurt her!” Kara exclaimed frightened by that information. Her brain started to stop function and she didn’t even know how to process that.

 “I don’t know, isn’t that how babies are made? I mean, they all grow up inside their mom’s belly, don’t they?” she arched her eyebrow.

 “Really? But how… how did them come in, I mean… how?”

 “Do I look like someone who knows anything about babies?” they both giggled. Lena felt her head hurt again, making her close her eyes and groan in pain. “I’m gonna ask Nana if she knows anything about babies and then I tell you, okay?”

 Kara nodded, but felt sad about her friend sickness. She wanted to help so badly. “Wait a minute here, don’t move.”

 She stood up quickly, catching the wet towel and went straight to the bathroom. Lena watched her friend open the tap and then come back with the soaked fabric in her hands, wetting all the way back to her bed. Kara climbed again onto bed and asked the other girl to lay down her head in the middle of the pillow and close her eyes. Lena did exactly how she asked and felt her whole face get wet with the towel.

 “What are you doing?” she asked with her eyes still closed and soft drops streaming down her cheeks.

 “Uh… I think this is not how she did it…” she heard the kryptonian sigh and then take off the towel over her forehead. “I’m gonna try again, wait a minute and don’t move.”

 “Kara, you don’t need to do it, I’m okay!” Kara was messing up more than helping. But Lena couldn’t care less, because she was sick and didn’t have to go to school. And with that she could stay at home and play with her new friend.

 “I’m trying to help you!” the blonde one pouted, putting the towel back on the Luthor’s forehead, this time she twisted a little before doing it. “Better?”

 “Yeah, but my face is all wet now” they both laughed. “I think I got sick because of yesterday…” she felt the mattress shifted a little and then Kara’s fingers interlaced with hers again. “Can I ask you something?”

 “Of course, anything!” Lena took a deep breath and thought to herself if she should ask. Nana was always saying how some questions could hurt and how she didn’t have to know everything about others people’s life. “Lena?”

 “Kara, are you some kind of star?” she asked quietly and a bit afraid of what her friend would think of it. “You’re not from here, right? You came from the sky, like a star, right?”

 How should Kara answer that? She didn’t exactly know, but she was pretty sure she wasn’t any kind of star. To answer that question, she would have to tell the truth about her planet, about her mission and how she got lost in the Phantom Zone. But, what if Lena didn’t like her anymore because she was different? Well, they weren’t so physically different, but still. What if her only friend didn’t want to be her friend anymore?

 “Kara? I’m sorry, sometimes I ask dumb questions. I’m sorry…”

 “I’m not a star.” She replied softly, “But you’re right, I’m not from here…” Lena faced her friend and smiled in relief, because she didn’t get her mad. “My mom sent me here because… because our planet was dying. Only me and my cousin escaped alive.”

 “Oh” Kara looked away, with tears rolling down her cheeks and her heart beating fast. She missed them so much. “So… that’s why she’s not here, right?” she nodded.

 Lena moved a little and wrapped her arms around the little kryptonian as she sobbed. She let her hide her face in her shirt and stroked her hair fondly, without knowing what to say. Her own tears was starting to fall. What was she supposed to say? Her only friend was crying because she missed her mom and dad, and Lena didn’t know what things she should say to calm her down. Should she just hold her? Or sing something? Or call Nana?

 God, she felt so miserable about this.

 “I’m so sorry,” she whispered. “I lost my real mom too and I know how it hurts, but… I have Nana now.”

 “I don’t wanna have anyone else, I want my mom back!” Kara sobbed again. Lena knew that having her nanny wasn’t the same, but it was better than not having anyone at all. “I- I’m… I’m so scared of being a-alone again…”

 “Hey, you’re not alone, I’m here, okay?” she tried her best, “Maybe your mother is a star now, like mine.”

 “Do you think so?” Lena nodded. “Is that what happened when people die?”

 “Nana said so and she’s smart. Your mother is looking for you, like mine does every night and she won’t forget you. I promise.” Lena didn’t understand the meaning of those words and promises, but she would keep them forever.

 Kara agreed with her, because Lena said her nanny was smart and she trusted her friend with her life. If Lena said so, then she would believe in it.

 “Thank you, for saying this nice words and for the hug.” she said after calming herself down. Lena smiled again and whipped Kara’s tears away. Her eyes looked more blue than before.

 “Are you hungry?” Kara’s stomach growled. “I guess this is a yes.” 

Chapter Text

Lena smelled garlic and other spices as Nana brought her soup to her bedroom. It looked so delicious and made her stomach growl. The oldest woman put the plate over Lena’s legs, with a tissue to not burn her skin and smiled graciously as she saw the little one lick her lips. Lena wasn’t the type of girl who ate a lot, or who was always hungry. In fact, she had a good appetite, but Lillian liked to control her every time. Once, she made her daugther eat only vegetables and fruits. Using the excuse that the girl was getting fat, then the youngest Luthor got sick and had a decrease on vitamins and minerals  in her blood. Her doctor said it was mostly because she need cereals, sugar and some complex carbohydrates. He also asked why she was only eating specifics foods and Lillian replied coldly and lied, of course. She said it was Lena’s fault, that was her who refused to eat all the meals she needed.

“It’s hot, be careful to not burn your tongue” Nana warned and Lena nodded. “I’m going to help Mrs. Pot in the kitchen, if you need something just call me, okay?”

“Okay, Nana, thanks.” She smiled happily and then waited for the other to close the door. Her heart stopped racing after her nanny was gone as her breathe started to calm down too. “Kara?”

“What’s this smell?” It was the first thing she asked after getting out of the closet the second time in that morning “It’s so good and it’s making me hungrier.”

Lena laughed and left a space on her bed for the blonde one sit beside her. Her body was still sweating and thick, her hair was getting wet while the pills she took helped her organism to fight the fever. She hated being sick, mainly because she liked to play outside and Nana usually wouldn’t  allow her to do it until she got better. But that day was different, she wasn’t alone and even though she was sick, Lena had Kara to stay all morning by her side. Having a friend, having someone to talk about cool stuffs and play with was something completely new to the young Luthor. Never in her life she’d imagine she’d find someone who’d like her the way she was.  The feeling of love and kindness were powerful, almost making her cry again. It was overwhelming and Lena knew she couldn’t let anyone know about her friend. Or about her nurturing and affection for the blonde one. Thinking about the possibility of losing Kara, of Lillian or Lionel finding out about her made Lena’s heart sinks deep in her chest and drown in a new kind of fear.

She wasn’t scared of being alone. Loneliness didn’t scare her anymore. As a matter of fact, she feared what Kara absence could make her feel if she’d have to go away someday, because now she didn’t know anymore how to face her days without forgetting how it was to have a friend. It was pathetic, might add. Lex would be disappointed for sure, but Lena couldn’t care less, she wanted to have someone. She wanted to have a true friend and be surrounded by people she cared for. Indeed, being a Luthor wasn’t about feelings, emotional moments or having family gatherings. She knew she’d be more like her biological mom and less like a Luthor if she kept thinking about how Kara made her feel good, loved. Safe. Maybe it wasn’t something good in the end. Maybe she should let Kara go away forever and find a new family, find a new friend who could truly help her.

Maybe she wished she’d never know how it was to have a friend.

But for now, Lena just wanted to enjoy her time together and teach Kara all about her world. They shared the soup, with the kryptonian eating most of the food and asking for more after finishing. Nana then brought her some more and was happy her girl was hungry enough even sick. It was difficult sometimes to make the young girl eat. She also took the opportunity to check her temperature again and was relieved to notice Lena’s skin wasn’t so hot like before. And that meant Lena could play in the garden after showering and changing her clothes. By the time Kara had finished her fourth bowl of soup, she laid down on bed and sighted satisfied, feeling her stomach hurt a little because of the amount of food she ate in less than fifteen minutes.  Both remained quiet and thoughtful, with their bodies touching a little and their breathes filling the bedroom with lull and curiosity.

“Wanna go outside and play?” Lena asked excitedly, watching the other girl smile and nod with the same excitement. “I’m gonna take a quick shower and then we can go. And… I think we’re gonna have to pick a new clothe for you too.”

“What’s wrong with this one? It’s soft and it has this cute animals.” Kara pointed to the little drawings all over the fabric, “I don’t wanna change, please.”

And there was that pout that could make Lena say yes to anything her friend wanted. However, she couldn’t let Kara get her pajamas dirty with mud or paints. Nana would kill her!

She snorted and rolled her eyes in annoyment after laughing. Kara looked so much like a lost puppy. “Okay, let’s make a deal” she took the other girl’s hands in hers and stared at her blue eyes. Trying to seem more serious, like the big girl she was. “What if we change our clothes and then I can show you something really cool, huh?” She raised her eyebrow and smirked.

The kryptonian’s eyes shined with doubt and curiosity. Rao, how did Lena do that? She switched her gaze to her pajamas and then to her friend before making a decision. Why did it have to be so damn hard to choose? Why couldn’t she wear both?

She groaned. Rao!

“Uh, okay. But… no cute pajamas?” She tried again, making the other sight and giggle. Lena then quickly opened one of the drawers and picked some clothes before turning to face the blonde girl again. If it had something that could convince Kara, it was her favorite butterfly t-shirt.

Lena lifted the pink and purple piece of clothing with three colorful butterflies flying over some tiny flowers drawn in the base of the fabric and felt proud of herself when the kryptonian gasped and almost screamed in delight.

“No cute pajamas, but I can lend you an also cute t-shirt and some nice shorts. Deal?”

“Deal.”

 

***

The hardest part was getting out of the room, crossing the mansion’s kitchen and arriving in the garden while holding a heavy book about animals. And trying not to lose Kara in the process. Nana’s voice was heard from the living room and Lena knew they could pass through the hall without being noticed if the kryptonian kept her mouth shut. She had tried to explain they had to be silent, but Kara was curious about everything. She asked about all the weird paintings on the wall, the flowers in the vases and even about the flying bugs in her t-shirt. All the way to the stairs was made by Lena snorting and Kara rambling, and they both could listen to Mrs Pot singing loudly in the kitchen. It made the blonde one laugh and try to parrot the melody after some minutes of hiding themselves inside some of the empty rooms. Nana passed by them twice after heading to the living room again and then Lena sighed, grabbing the book she left on the floor and holding Kara’s hand tightly again. Dragging her downstair as quickly as she could.

They made to the garden after almost being caught on their way to the dinner room. For Lena’s luck, that room had a door that  take to the winter garden and then to the left side of the mansion. Where no one could find them. Actually, even Mr Rogers didn’t like to go there, it was a abandoned side of the house where there were a dry fountain and some old gardening tools in a box left aside. Even though it was a dead part of the Luthor’s mansion, Lena found herself a place where she could think and play in peace. Where she could be herself without bothering her parents, or her brother when he still lived with them. Lillian had never found her daughter there and couldn’t even wonder about it. In fact, that was the perk of being forgotten and left alone all the time. Each room, furniture and painting became Lena’s company. She had learned how to lessen her loneliness by talking to her toys and smiling to the white roses. And by seeking places where no one could find her.

Lena didn’t want to be found.

“We’re going to the woods again” Kara whispered with some panic in her voice. It was scary enough last night for her to want to come back again.

They kept walking and then reached a clearing area, where the sun irradiate its light stronger than ever and the trees danced with the wind, with their leaves making a soft and calm noise. Lena stopped for a minute when she felt her friend pulling back and then turned to face her.

“Kara?” The blonde didn’t answer and kept her attention to all those sudden feelings flooding through her veins while the sunlight burned her skin. “Kara, are you okay?”

Nothing again. Her hands loosed Lena’s and she walked to the middle of the wood, opening her arms and closing her eyes. The sensation of being filled in with strength and life were massive, intense and made Kara took a deep breath while her entire body reacted. She felt like she could hold the weight of the world in her hands, like she was invincible. Indestructible. Lena stood there watching her friend welcomed the sun like she was a kind of plant making photosynthese. Kara didn’t move or speak. She just kept her arms open and smiled pleased with all the new feelings inside her bones. And yes, the kryptonian felt her bones harden and her muscles become made of steel. She also felt everything becomes louder and noisy.

Kara heard some steps coming from somewhere behind the  bushes, the buzzes of some kind of flying animal over the flowers, some voices and laughs, a car racing in the road and something cracking inside the mansion. And then, she heard a soft beat, like a melody. It wasn’t far and was also accompanied by a calmly breathing. She frowned and tried to concentrate more, focusing in that beautiful song. Slowly, Kara turned her face, with her eyes still closed and moved her feet in the wet grass. Walking towards what she wanted to find. The sound kept playing in her ears, making her own heart beats fastly and when she finally opened her eyes to make sure she found the source of that melody.

She found Lena staring at her. With those emerald crystalline eyes.

“Can you hear that?” Kara finally asked and stared at the sun again. “What’s this buzz?”

Lena had no idea about what Kara was talking about and she bit her lips in confusion. That was one of the weirdest scene she’d ever watched and how was she supposed to know what to say or do now?

“Hear what? I can only hear the wind and the trees, but no buzz” she raised her eyebrow. “Wanna learn about flowers and birds?” She smiled amused and opened her science book she took from her school’s library.

Ignoring all her thoughts and the thousands loudly questions that were flooding her mind, Kara jumped excitedly and sat with the young girl in the grass. “What’s a bird? And what’s the difference between a bird and a butterfly? Can butterflies talk? Can birds play with us? Why are the trees so tall here?” the questions slipped out her mouth faster then Lena could answer.

“Kara!”

“Uh, sorry…” she blushed and bit her lower lip, trying not to ask anything again. But Rao, she wanted so bad to learn more and more.

“I’ll answer one question per time and show you the figures on the book, okay?” Kara nodded and zipped her lips with her finger, making her friend roll her eyes. “This one is a bird, see? It has feathers, a beak and wings. It can be colorful or monochrome.”

With curiosity and feeling amazed by all those new discoveries, the kryptonian touched slightly a picture of a yellow canary and then a blue hummingbird. They were all different, beautiful and Kara tried to relate them to some kind of animal from her planet, but Krypton didn’t have birds. Or something like that. Being lost in a new place could be interesting, if she’d only think about everything she’d learn with time. However, it’d also make her feel more distant from her own culture and family. The Earth was a wonderful world as far as she knew, full of green trees, colorful butterflies and funny buzzes. But Kara missed being at home. She missed waking up to a red sun and run into her mother’s room to find older woman combing her long dark hair. And then her father would show up and smile, saying some jokes before they all head to breakfast.

“What’s this?” Her index finger pointed to a brown and white bird, with big black eyes and small sharp beak. Lena felt some sadness between them, but chose to remain in silent about that.

“This is a owl, they can be very friendly sometimes and it’s also related to wizards” she explained while they looked through the pages of the book. There were lots of pictures about the owl’s life and how they hunted their meals. Which made Kara frowned as she saw that bird eating a mouse. “What’s wrong?”

“Why is it eating this little animal? Are they enemies?” Asked in confusion as she tried to understand some new words in english. Everything about her new world was making her have a headache.

The little Luthor giggled. It was cute how the kryptonian didn’t know much about Earth and its animals, plants or people. Of course she could see the sadness in those blue eyes, but Kara was dealing well with that whole change of culture. Better than herself, Lena thought in silence. She remembered how it was almost impossible to feel safe at the Luthor’s mansion and how it was even more difficult to be a part of that unsteady family. Lex was still the only one who made her day happier, who tried to teach her about being a Luthor. However, he was gone now and barely returned on holidays. Lionel said it was because he had to study to be the Luthor-Corp CEO one day. Lena didn’t even understand why though. She wouldn’t like to become something or someone who hadn’t time enough for family. Family was important too.

But then her reality hitted her like a bullet in her heart. She wasn’t part of any family. She wasn’t a Luthor.

“They’re not enemies, silly. They need to eat to get energy, for example, to fly. Rats are good for them and it’s easier to hunt.” Lena then showed her a pyramid in on of the pages. “It’s called food chain and owls are predators, or consumers. We have the producers, which is mostly plants and protozoa. Then we have the consumers, which can be herbivore, carnivores or omnivores.”

“And we are which kind of consumer?”

She pointed to the third link on the chain. “We’re omnivores, because we eat both plants and meat.”

“Are owls carnivores?” Kara asked interested in learning more. With her eyes focused on all those animals figures and schemes about their food pyramid. “What’s photosynthesis?”

Lena took a deep breath, thanking Mrs Honey for all the science classes she had last month.

“It’s like this: plants don’t hunt, they produce their own food making something called photosynthesis. And this is nothing more than using carbon dioxide and water to obtain sugar, or glucose, through the sunlight.” She waited for Kara to process all that information with funny faces, a little wrinkle between her eyebrows and her lips in a thin line.

“Okay, keep going.”

“They’re the producers, because they make their own food. And animals who only eat plants take their energies from that glucose. That’s the meaning of herbivores and they’re also the first consumers of our chain food. Got it?”

“Yep” She nodded excitedly and laid her head on Lena’s  left shoulder. “Plants are producers and herbivores are the first consumers. I got it.”

They both smiled at each other and then the Luthor continued with her little biology class. Feeling incredibly proud of her intelligence and thinking about how Kara didn’t stop her, or called her dumb while she explained in the best way she could. At school, all students used to make fun about her mental capacities, calling her by not funny names and saying bad things about her behaviour. Just because she had a nanny and wasn’t so fan of making jokes about younger kids from the other classes. She had to put up with it several times and would not make someone else feel the exactly way she felt in the past. And still feel sometimes.

“You’re a great student, Kara!” The blonde one blushed with the heartfelt compliment.

“Actually, it’s you who’s  an amazing teacher.” She said softly and face the other girl with kindness in her eyes.

She didn’t know what to say after that, so she cleared her throat nervously and went on to explain. “The second consumers are animals who eat both plants and meat, or only meat. For example, the lion. He’s a carnivore and he eats omnivores.”

“Like zebras!” Kara raised her voice and a giant smile crossed her cheeks.

“Great one! Zebras are first producers, because…?”

“They only eat grass and the lions eat them, because they like meat,” she said pointedly and proudly of herself “But who’s gonna eat lions?”

“That’s the third part of our food chain and it’s called decomposers. They eat decaying matter and help put nutrients back into the soil for plants to eat. Decomposers are worms, bacteria, and fungi.”

“This whole conversation about food is making me hungrier and I think I need to eat plants and meat, like a second consumer.” She groaned while her stomach growled. “I could eat this entire food chain in a heartbeat.”

Lena laughed and rolled her eyes, nudging playfully Kara’s shoulder and finally closing the book. “Everything makes you hungry, puppy.”

“Can we go back and eat cookies, please?” she pouted.

“Only if you promise me you’ll be quiet and won’t ask anything while I try to take us safely to the basement.” Lena said serious and Kara nodded in agreement, zipping her mouth with her finger. Like it was the most significant commitment she’d ever make.

 

***

 

“Can you hear all these noises?” Kara asked when they got back to the basement. The blankets, pillow and teddy bear were still there untouched.

Lena frowned and locked the door behind them. “What noises are you talking about?”

“The cars, birds, buzzes and Nana talking about someone called Lillian with another woman…” She explained in confusion, but the other girl still couldn’t understand. “Whatever, what are we gonna do now? I’m hungry, Lena”

“And I know, okay? I asked Nana to bring some cookies and milk for us, but for now we’re gonna paint!” Lena exclaimed excitedly and pulled out a small cardboard box that was under the old table on the corner of the basement.

Kara approached, leaning on to see what the Luthor had inside that box and her eyes lighted up at the sight of all those brushes, paints and papers. She remembered how she had those kind of things back in Krypton and how her aunt Astra said she had an amazing talent to draw. Alura and Zor-El weren’t fans of arts. They wanted their daughter to be a scientist and help them to rule their planet. Kara was raised to be a leader, to be almost like a princess and she needed to follow her parents path. But the truth was the little kryptonian liked science, but she prefered arts and linguistics. It was more interesting for her.  In her bedroom, Astra helped her to put one of her draws on the wall and it was a perfect copy of a far away galaxy she had learned about some years ago.

“I had one of these in Krypton” Kara said as Lena put all the paints on the floor.

They both sat cross-legged. The brunette gave the other some papers and a paintbrush. Nana was the one who had gave her that paint kit box and asked her to hide it on the basement, because if Lillian found out, she’d be in a huge trouble. “Krypton? Is this your planet?”

“It was my home…” she sighed sadly, playing with the paper and letting all her memories flood her mind. Sometimes, when she was with her new friend, it was easier to forget. Forget about her parents, her family, her mission and everything about Krypton. It was almost like being in home again. Like if that sorrowful heavy feeling of being lost was gone.

Kara wished it was.

“Not anymore.” Lena looked at the blonde girl. Her green eyes filled with compassion and empathy. She truly knew how it was not having a place to belong to.

“You have a home with me. I know it’s not like yours and that maybe you’re gonna miss your family forever… uh, but I’m your friend. I’m here for you, if you want, okay?” She tried her best, reaching Kara’s hand and interlacing with hers. “Can you tell me more about Krypton? If it’s okay for you”

“I can do better. I can show you” she laid on her stomach on the floor and took one paper. Choosing one of the paints, her paintbrush started to slide softly at the white surface, coloring everything in red. Lena laid down in the same position by the kryptonian’s side and paid attention on what she was doing.

“What’s this?” she pointed to the red ball.

“This is Rao, our sun and also god. He’s good, kind and he’s the one who took care of my people.” Now she chose the black paint and then a blue one, “And that’s Argo City, where I used to live with my dad Zor-El, my mom Alura and all my family.”

Lena nodded while Kara drew other people next to each other.

“And who are them?”

“They’re my aunt Astra, my aunt Lara and my little cousin Kal-El. He’s still a cry baby and I used to help my aunt taking care of him, but I don’t know much about babies.” They both laughed. “And this is the view of my window, the stars and the other planets around…”

After some minutes, the paper was filled with colors, sketches of a family and a town. Argo City had an geometric architecture, with tall buildings, spaceships and tents. Kara kept drawing, concentrated and lost on her thoughts. She’d never see Argo again, or would go visit her aunt in her lab. Now, she was an orphan girl living a different and scary new world. In fact, having Lena was like getting a big luck and eased her pain some way as they knew each other. Of course, it also made her think of how her own heart was giving up on missing Krypto and accepting the Earth. Kara didn’t want to be there, to live in  a place where the sun was yellow, the animals had weird eating habits and the noises were loud.

She wanted to come back home, but at the same time, she didn’t. Because that meant losing Lena.

Kara only noticed when her tears began to run down her cheeks after a soft hand whipped them away. Lena smiled kindly and held her hand again, making sure she knew they were together on this journey.

“I’m hungry…” the younger girl chuckled and rolled her eyes in annoyment. Of course she was hungry. She always was.

“Puppy.” She teased and Kara pouted.

“The noises are getting louder and my ears hurt. Why can’t you hear them?” Lena shrugged and shook her head without an answer. The only thing she could listen was the birds.

“I have an idea” Kara watched as her friend quickly stood up and grabbed an small gray metallic box, with a weird thing inside. Lena sat down again and pressed some buttons before giving her another weird thing that was connected to a long plastic wire. It had two sides with a little plastic ball.

“What’s this?” She frowned, still holding her side of the wire.

“It’s called headphones and we can listen music with it. Here, let me help you.” Lena put one side on Kara’s ear and the other on hers. “And it has the power to make the world’s noises disappear and also your thoughts.

Then, a shaken beat followed by a sharp female voice began to play. Kara’s eyes widened and she smiled excitedly. Krypton had music, but not like that one. Its melody was happy, dancing and suddenly all those noises were gone. Lena was right and now she wanted to hug her tightly. So, she pulled the younger Luthor closer and wrapped her arms around her tiny body. But, after the sunlight get in her system, she became incredibly strong and still had know idea about that fact. Lena tried to push and groaned in pain, with her skin starting to turn red and bruised.

“Kara!” She cried. “You’re hurting me!”

“Lena?” Another voice spoke and they both stared at each other, with Kara loosen Lena and letting her go. “Lena? Are you okay? Lena, unlock the door now!”

“Okay, Nana!” She replied back, “Shit! You have to hide yourself again, come with me.”

Then, again in that morning, Kara was being hidden - this time - behind the couch. The brunette rubbed her arms in an attempt to make them less red, but it wasn’t exactly helping. She unlocked the door and found her nanny standing outside holding a plate with cookies and a glass of milk. The older woman looked inside the basement and noticed the paints on the floor. However, she also saw two papers in different positions, two paint brushes and the blankets. Lena cleared her throat and grabbed the plate and the glass, trying to caught Mrs McPhee’s attention.

“Why were you screaming? Who were you talking to?” Nana asked worried and tried to sneak in the room, but Lena stopped her.

“Myself. I- I was playing alone and I guess I got carried away with my imagination…” Deep inside she knew her nanny wasn’t dumb enough to believe such a lie. But it didn’t hurt to try. “I’m gonna try to be silent, I’m sorry.”

That way, Nana softened and smiled, caressing Lena’s cheek. She loved that little girl so much and loathed when Lillian asked her to be quiet. Kids were supposed to be loud and talkatives, but it seemed that the Luthor family hated any kind of sound beside their classic musics.

“It’s okay, little one. I was just worried and thought you could be hurt.”

“I’m not! I- I mean.. uh, how could I?” God, that was almost. Her innocent smile was bach in her face as fast as she tried to make Nana go back to the kitchen, or whatever she was doing. “Thanks for the cookies and milk.”

“Are you sure you are okay?” Lena nodded. “Okay, be ready for Mr Brown in a hour. I know he’s rude and snob. And I also know you hate him, but your dad was pretty clear about your education. You know the rule…

“Private classes when I skip classes, I know…” She rolled her eyes. Mr Brown was a nightmare, to say the least. “I’ll be ready. I promise.”

“Good, if you want more cookies, just ask me.” Nana winked amusedly, making Lena giggle.

After she closed and locked the door again, she put the cookies and the milk over the table. Kara was still hiding behind the couch, but Lena could hear a low cry and soft sob coming from there. Quickly she walked over to the blonde girl and sat down by her side, trying to understand why she was crying. Maybe it was because she missed her mom and dad, or her planet. Or it was about something else. Lena didn’t know.

“Hey, Kara, don’t cry.” She tried to whip her tears away, but Kara moved away from her touch. Almost like she was afraid of her. “Why are you crying? Did I do something wrong? Are you in pain?”

“N-no…” Another sob slipped out her mouth, this time stronger than the last one. “I- I was the one who hurt you, I- I can’t-” She hide her face in her hands, her body trembling and her breathe getting choppy. “I- I’m so sorry I hurt your arms. I’m sorry, Lena, please don’t hate me.”

Lena opened her mouth and then closed it. What was she supposed to say. She didn’t hate her, she couldn’t even if she tried hard to. Kara was her best friend. Her only friend. The only thing that could ensure her feeling for the kryptonian was a hug. And that was what she did.

Slowly, she wrapped her arms around Kara’s arms, pulling her close and waiting for her response. Kara didn’t pull away this time, but hugged her back and hid her face on Lena’s t-shirt. That moment was both intense and hard for them both. They were just kids trying to survive and understand the world. They were both lost girls who wanted nothing more than to be understood. To be loved and cared. And they found it in each other’s arms. It wasn’t supposed to be like that. A child couldn’t rely on another child to feel safe and couldn’t also count on it forever. Lena and Kara needed someone else to help them, to protect them. But there wasn’t anyone to do it. They were alone in a scary and evil world where they couldn’t allow themselves to be vulnerable.

“Kara, I don’t hate you” Lena whispered after a few seconds. Rubbing Kara’s back and waiting for her to calm down. “It was just a few bruises, nothing serious. I promise.”

“Mother said I’d have powers when I arrived in this planet but I don’t want it if this can hurt the only person I have now.” Kara moved away a little just to face the younger Luthor. “I don’t wanna hurt you. I’m sorry I did it.”

“It’s okay now and I forgive you, okay?” The kryptonian nodded in relief. “And having powers isn’t something bad though. Maybe you can be a hero like Superman!” Lena exclaimed.

“Who’s Superman?”

Lena stood up to grab an old red towel and sat down again. “He’s a guy with a red cape like yours” she tied the towel around the blonde’s neck, trapping the tips on her t-shirt. “He can fly high in the sky and also has super strength, super speed and is bulletproof. Everybody calls him ‘the man of steel.’”

After the towel was tied tightly, Lena helped Kara standing up and stared at her curiously. Kara frowned in confusion while her friend ran back to one of the dusty boxes scattered in the basement. Then, she returned with two bracelets in her hands and wrapped them around her wrists.

“Now you can be… hm, Supergirl!” Lena raised her arms excitedly and smiled. Kara was now looking like a true hero, in her honest opinion. “Like the song we were listening to!” She again ran to grab her walkman and pulled off the headphones, so now the music could play loudly.

Lena hummed the melody before following the lyrics. “ Somewhere after midnight, in my wildest fantasy. Somewhere just beyond my reach. There's someone reaching back for me… ” Kara giggled and let Lena took her hand again, making her dance in a weird and funny way. “ Racing on the thunder and rising with the heat. It's gonna take a superman to sweep me off my feet

“Supergirl!” She corrected it. “Do you think this Superman can help me? Do you know where he lives? Hey! We could find him and maybe he can help me with my powers, so then I won’t hurt you anymore!” A huge crack echoed the room after Kara finished talking. She broke one of the couch’s arms with her hand. “Oops, I can fix it!”

“Dork” Lena smiled. “Only a small detail is missing and answering your question, no. I have no idea about where Superman lives or who he is when he’s not fighting with bad guys, or flying.” While talking, she took one of the papers and paintbrush to draw the smallest detail her best friend needed to be a heroin, but also the most important one.  

Best friend. This two words never felt so good.

“Okay, here it is!” She lifted the paper and glued it on Kara’s t-shirt with a scotch tape. “Superman has this S on his chest and I thought you might need one too, since you’re Supergirl now.”

Kara looked at her chest and suddenly a strange feeling hit her. It wasn’t any kind of symbol or just an ordinary letter. It was the same S their parents had on their clothes. The same irregular pentagon with that letter in the middle.

It was her family crest.

“What’s wrong, Kara?” Lena noticed the way the kryptonian remained in silence.

“Nothing” She sighed. “Nothing’s wrong”

 

***

 

“It’s the thousandth time I’m explaining to you this subject, miss Luthor” Mr Brown snorted annoyed and shook her head in disbelief. “You won’t succeed in anything on your student career if you keep behaving like this! Your brother was so much better than you, for god’s sake.”

“I know, it’s not like you haven’t said this before” Lena whispered sadly, holding tighter the pencil in her hand and trying to stay strong. She hated her teacher.

“Now, finish this damn exercise so we can change to geometry”

“I told you I don’t know how to do this exercise!” Her voice was cold and angry. She was tired of all of this. The problem wasn’t her math exercise, she loved math and science, and even though she had to learn advanced mathematics when she was only eleven years old, she still liked it.

But Lena hated the fact that Lex was always better in everything he did than herself. Mr Brown had had several super gifted students, however Lex Luthor had been his most brilliant one. Her brother skipped some years at school just because he was, in fact, a genius. And, of course, her parents would like that their only daughter did the same. That was the main goal of having private classes with one of the most expensive and best teacher of Metropolis. In her mind, Lena just wanted to go back to the basement and  learn more about Krypton. She already missed Kara, with her baby blue eyes and her lack of ability to understand a whole sentence in english without having to ask millions questions before. To be honest, the younger Luthor knew how to do almost all those math exercises, she really did.

But making Mr Brown angrier was really funny. Even though she needed help with that specific exercise right now.

“You want to know something, miss Luthor?” He leaned on the table, staring at her with fury in his eyes and disappointment. Lena swallowed hard and leaned back in the chair. “You’ll never be a Luthor and your brother will always be better than you. Lex was a prodigy, a good boy and never disrespect me the way you do. You’re just a lost girl here and Lionel only adopted you because he felt sorry for you.” His words were like needles in her eyes and she held her tears back. She couldn’t cry in front of him.

“You’re going to be a miserable woman in the future, maybe a waitress or something worse. I’m tired of trying to make you learn, but I’m going to stay here until you finish it, because I have a great regard for mr Luthor.” He sat again on the chair and crossed his arms, waiting for the girl’s reaction.

Lena took a deep breath and recomposed herself in seconds. One thing she had learned about being a Luthor was that she would never break down in front of any person, even if she wanted and needed it so bad. Lillian had taught her that girls didn’t cry and that Luthors  didn’t let their emotions took over the reason. She hadn’t learned this in a good way though. It took years of being locked in her room without dinner, days without being allowed to play outside or even see her nanny. Her mother knew how much she got attached to Mrs McPhee and always took advantage of that to convince her to be quiet and to obey. Every time she stopped to think about her brother, her heart sank on her chest.

Lex would always be better than her in anything.

In all classes, Mr Brown made a point of reminding her of the place to which she belonged in that family. Lillian, obviously,  had told him that her youngest daughter had been adopted at the age of four and that therefore she wasn’t and would not be a prodigy like her brother. Lex was always the reason for everything in that house. In everything he did, he succeed. Lena was trying so hard to prove she was also intelligent. She knew how to solve advanced calculations, demonstrate theorems and mathematical formulas, but nothing was enough. And the truth was this: Lena would never be enough. As much as she knew subjects she would only learn in future classes, the little Luthor dominated every subject she had learned. However, her tutor never congratulated her for anything. According to him, at her age, Lex was able to explain theories that only academics were capable of while she remained a retarded and stubborn child.

After a few minutes trying to find a solution, she smirked and remembered about a theorem she read on one of Lex’s books. Mr Brown was distracted with another exercise while Lena finished her one.

“I finished.” She said with confidence in her voice. Lena knew that her tutor wanted her to use the new math formula he had taught half an hour ago. But she had found a new way to do it.

He raised his eyebrow and took her paper, adjusting his glasses on his nose.

“You can’t use this math theorem. I haven’t taught you yet.”

“The thing is, mr Brown: I don’t need you to study.” Lena smirked a little and checked the clock on the table. “And as you said, I’m gonna be a waitress or something worse, so why are you worried about which theorem I used or not?”

Mr Brown didn’t have anything to say, because Lena had done the exercise in a so much easier way. And he hadn’t even talked about this subject yet.

“Thank you for your class.” She got up and hurried out of the room. She did want to cry but she wanted more to be with Kara.

 

***

 

While her friend was having classes, Kara stayed in the basement. Lena had left her walkman and the cookies  as a way to keep the blonde one quiet. She truly knew that Kara didn’t like to be alone and needed to talk to someone all the time. The paints were still there on the floor, with the papers and paintbrushes spreaded on the coffee table. The kryptonian finished the cookies and the milk, tried to not touch anything - she didn’t want to break another couch’s arm or furniture - but she couldn’t help herself as “Holding out for a hero” started to play. In fact the little Luthor was right. Music does help when you have a sensible hearing. Of course Kara could still hear all the noises coming from the woods, the road and the kitchen, but the song was so cool she forgot about everything.

And started to dance.

“I need a hero! I’m holding out for a hero ‘til the end of the night!” Kara whirled around the couch and flexed her arms, getting carried away with the song. Feeling really powerful like a superhero. “He’s gotta be strong and he’s gotta be fast. And he’s gotta be fresh from the fight!”

She still had her family crest glued to her t-shirt and kept dancing while bonnie Tyler sang in her ears. Kara didn’t know nothing about being a superhero, but Lena had said she could be one, like Superman. Being strong was something that was scaring her so much, mainly she could hurt her best friend. Lena was her only friend and she would do anything to be her friend forever. Kara could have ended up in a bad place, with bad people. But she was lucky enough to land in Lena’s house and now she couldn’t lose her because of her powers. When her mother said about this huge responsability, about being someone powerful in a planet where no one was, Kara didn’t understand the real meaning of this. And she couldn’t even if she wanted. Kara was only a child. It wasn’t fair to put such weight on her shoulders. But now there wasn’t anything to do to help.

The yellow sun would make her body stronger and give her other abilities that she’d have to learn how to control.

When she stopped dancing, some cabinets and the coffee table was broken, as the paintbrushes on the floor. Kara’s eyes widened and opened her mouth in a big O. How did she do that? She was only dancing!

“Oh Rao!” Kara groaned and sat on the couch, listening another crack coming out from the cushes. “I need to find this Superman.” She thought to herself.

Thinking about this superhero made her own mind confused. How could a strange guy wear her family crest? How did he know about Krypton? About her family? Who was him? Kara wanted to ask, but was too scared to know the answers. Because Kal-El was lost and Alura didn’t warned her about another guy with powers like hers. Suddenly she started to get a little scared. What if… no.

No.

It wasn’t possible, was it? She couldn’t have spent so much time in the dark. It was impossible. Sometimes, being alone in outer space felt like years, or even ages. But sometimes it felt like hours. After Krypton’s explosion, her and her cousin’s pod got lost from each other. Maybe Kal-El was still stuck somewhere between planets and galaxies. But what if he landed in Earth first and found someone like Kara found Lena? What if a good person was taking care of him while she was still in the Phantom Zone? He could be sleeping in a warm bed right now, with his tiny chubby hands over his cheek. Maybe she still had time to find him and take care of him like she promised to her family.  However, the sudden weird and heavy feeling made her heart pound in her chest. Kal-El could be hurt and alone, like she was. He was just a little baby and Jor-El would never forgive her if she didn’t keep her promise.

The worst part was not even imagine all these situations but rather think that she could have spent more time trapped in the Phantom Zone than she thought. And that was what got her now. Because what if this Superman was a guy she knew? What if he wasn’t a stranger man wearing her family crest?

What if…

“What if I lost my mission?” Kara whispered sadly to herself. “What if I am too late?” She didn’t want to believe in this statement. It was too much. She needed to come back to her pod and look for information about her cousin’s whereabouts.

Then she heard a hoarse and thick voice coming from upstairs. And then she heard a soft voice followed by a fast beat. The same beat she heard in the woods but now racing and almost desperate. Lena. Kara got up and looked up, plugging the headphones off her ears and staring at the ceiling. The other voice was being rude, saying bad things about how her friend was nothing like this Lex. Who was Lex? She asked herself in silent. She kept listening to their conversation and didn’t even noticed her hands closed in fists. Her own heart started to race as that hoarse voice kept talking. Kara knew Lena wanted to cry so bad because her breathing became choppy. Suddenly they stopped talking and the only thing the kryptonian could listen now was the pencil’s noise scraping the paper.

After a few minutes, Kara heard steps coming closer. She quickly hid herself behind the couch again and waited.

“Kara?” Lena called for her and locked the door. “Kara, it’s me. Don’t worry.”

“Lena!” The kryptonian stood up in a hurry to hug her friend but stopped herself before wrapping her arms around the brunette’s body. Kara took a deep breath and slowly pulled Lena closer. “Am I hurting you?”

“I can barely feel you, Kara. You’re not even touching me.” She laughed and then Kara realized she was just circling Lena’s body with her hands. Without touching her. “Here, let me help you, huggy puppy.” She wrapped her arms tightly around Kara and smiled in relief. She had missed her even though they had been apart for only three hours.

“Are you okay? Who’s Lex and why that guy were saying bad things to you? I don’t like him! He’s was rude to you and almost made you cry!” Kara exclaimed sadly and snorted, crossing her arms over her family crest on her butterflies t-shirt.

Lena rolled her eyes e held the blonde’s hands, pulling her to sit on the couch. She noticed the broken pieces of the paintbrushes and also the small crack on the table. But she couldn’t care less.

“Mr Brown is my tutor and Lex’s my brother.” Lena sighed. They were still holding hands and Kara was staring at her with her baby blue eyes full of affection. “He doesn’t like me because I’m not as smart as my brother. So he keep saying this bad stuffs about my future, even though I had proved him I am intelligent several times.” She faced Kara and bit her lower lip. Trying not to cry. “Guess it wasn’t enough. I’ll never be a Luthor like Lex.”

“Oh, Lena…” She hugged her best friend again, this time calmer and lighter. And really touching her. Lena hid her face on Kara’s shoulder, sobbing and sighing. She tried to took a deep breath, but some days were harder than the others. However having someone to hold her was something new. She rarely allowed Nana to see her crying after Mr Brown’s classes, because she didn’t want her to think she was weak. That she wasn’t worth the Luthor name. “You don’t have to prove anything to anyone. You’re amazing, Lena! And if there’s anything that doesn’t deserve you it’s this Luthor name.”

“I can’t be a person without a name, Kara.”

The kryptonian smiled. “Then take mine!You’re my best friend! You can be Lena Zor-El, if you want to. We accept everyone who’s good, kind hearted and compassionate. And you’re all of this and more.”

“Are you serious?” She raised her eyebrow and stared at the blonde. It couldn’t be serious. Kara nodded excitedly and reached two bracelets cardboard she had let dry on the floor. One was painted blue and red, and the other greed and purple. “What’s this?”

“Back in Krypton, we used to make bracelets when you liked someone. They can be used as a wedding band, but I made them for us.” Lena widened her eyes at that realization. “We’re not getting married, silly!” Kara laughed out loud. “It’s a best friend bracelet and… uh, I was thinking about giving one to you? I- I mean… you’re my best friend even though I don’t know if I’m yours but…”

“Kara, breath.” Lena caressed the kryptonian’s shoulders and smiled softly. It was so funny and cute when she rambled. “Of course you’re my best friend. Which one is mine?” She pointed to the two bracelets.

“The green and purple one!” They both exchanged their bracelets, giggling and smiling kindly to each other. It wasn’t something fancy but Kara managed to make them perfectly. “Now, I promise you I’m gonna be your best friend forever.”

She was so grateful to have found Lena Luthor. Or Zor-El.  Every time she looked in those green eyes her heat swelled in her chest, because she knew Lena understood her wholeheartedly. They weren’t alone anymore.

“And I promise you the same. Forever.”

Chapter Text

The next morning was being a huge tough morning for Kara as Lena tried to calm her down and explain she had to go to school but only for a couple of hours. That she’d be back for sure, it wasn’t a farewell. But the little needy insecure kryptonian refused to believe and accept the idea of staying away from her best friend for even an hour. Even the simple thought of being alone in that creepy enormous mansion made her skin crawl and her blood freeze. She knew there were other people there, but they didn’t know about her, so how was she supposed to spend all those hours alone in the basement just waiting for Lena to come back? Of course, she could paint more, play with some games her friend picked out before heading to the bathroom and dressing in her uniform. However, what would she do if the noises became louder? Who would she call when her mind was bombed out by curious questions about the weather, the animals and even questions about friendships and family behaviours in that strange planet she had to live now?

Rao, why did Lena have to go to school? Why couldn’t she study in her room? Lena was the most intelligent girl she had ever knew, even though she had only met one girl since she landed on Earth - but that wasn’t the main point. Kara wanted Lena to stay.

Because she was scared of being left alone again.

“Kara, please, I’ll be back as soon as Frank picked me up at school! I promise!” Lena repeated again while Nana called her name downstairs. Saying she’d be late if she didn’t finish her breakfast in fifteen minutes. “I’m not going away forever and when I’m back we can listen some music together and I’ll give you as many hugs as you ask.”

The blonde little girl seemed to be tempted to give up by that offering but sooner her heart changed the idea and started aching again. “No, Lena, don’t go! Please, I don’t wanna stay here all by myself, this house is scary and what if some of those  bugs you showed me last night in that book come to bite me? I need you to protect me!” She cried out exaggeratedly. The truth was that Kara would come up with whatever idea her creative mind was capable of building now to make Lena stay, even if she had to beg and cry while saying those ridiculous and funny thoughts. Lena breathed calmly and tried not to laugh at the image of giant mosquitos or ladybugs coming to hunt her best friend, but if she was going to be honest with herself, the idea of having a oversized spider or cockroach wasn’t pleasing at all and made her shiver a bit.

Of course she wouldn’t let Kara think about any monstrous nasty oversized insect and she cursed herself in silent for showing her more about earth animals before sleeping last night. But the puppy pleading baby-blue eyes were impossible to avoid and deny. So she caved in.“There’re no such things, Kara, and they’re smaller than you! Plus you have super powers!”

“But they can hide better than me and attack me unaware!” For god’s sake, Lena was becoming rather impatient and out of ideas to convince the kryptonian. Nana called her again, warning her that Frank was waiting outside and her milk had cooled down by now. “Please, Lena, don’t leave me here…”

The little Luthor took a deep breath and closed her eyes for a few seconds while trying to remain calm. She loved Kara and didn’t want to go to school, because that meant meeting all those mean, boring and stupid kids that she didn’t care for or even liked.  Now that Lena had Kara, she couldn’t care less about her classmates or even care about trying to be friendly with them. Nana had taught her to always be respectful, kind and have good manners with people she didn’t know well, but she also had said she didn’t have to force herself to be friend with kids that were rude and snobby with other kids.  “Take me with you!” Kara begged desperately.

“I can’t! I wish I could, but I can’t…” Lena said softly, tucking one of the blonde’s curls behind her ears. “I promise you I’ll be back as soon as my teacher finishes her class and I’ll bring you a gift.” The baby-blue eyes lighted up with that specific word.

“What gift?” She asked excitedly, not capable of staying still and jumping a bit around the brunette. “What gift? Please, tell me!”

“It’s a food called pizza, it’s made with a soft dough, tomato sauce, cheese and other delicious stuffs,” Lena explained as she hurried to pick up her school bag and coat and head to the dinner room. She’d have to swallow her breakfast without even chewing now that Frank was probably waiting for her in the car.

“I want pizza!” Kara jumped with joy and raised her arms frantically. Pizza was a unknown word and food for her but she didn’t care, because if Lena said it was delicious then she believed.

Lena smiled and rolled her eyes, not being able to think about how her friend was easily persuade by any sort of food. “Then you have to stay in the basement, quiet and  behave till I’m back, deal?”

Kara nodded and helped Lena to carry her belongings downstair, almost pushing her in a non human speed, not wanting her to be more late — because sooner Lena went to school, sooner she’d be back home with pizza. They went back to the basement, where the little Luthor stocked all the cookies packets she could with water, some bottles of milk — which she hoped Kara to drink it before getting bad out of the fridge — fruits, her teddy bear, pillows and all the paints, papers and paint brushes she had found in her bedroom. After getting her there without being caught in the process, Lena stared at her blonde cute friend and sighed. She was going to miss her, even if she knew they’d be away from each other for just some hours, but still. As a matter of fact, deep down in her heart, she was worried that someone would end up finding out about the kryptonian and telling her mom all about it.

She’d be in a huge trouble if Lillian ever imagined another foreign girl living in her house without her permission. Lena knew her mom wasn’t fond of kids, specially the ones that weren’t hers. Or Luthors. That would mess up with any progress she had made till now as a good girl who was trying to prove herself to a family that didn’t want her at all. Lena was outdoing herself everyday to become a real Luthor, to be more intelligent and smarter than her brother — a task that she was starting to realize it was impossible. She remained silent when she was asked for, held back all her tears when she wanted attention, kindness or even a simple hug. She kept herself from being a frightened little girl who just wanted to be cared for and loved by her family. Lena was struggling to become someone she needed to be and making a huge effort to not fail with her mom.

As if she could sense her best friend’s tension, Kara wrapped her arms cautiously around her fragile body and pulled her closer. The strength problem still terrified her and even more the idea of hurting the only person she loved and cared for now. Lena sensed Kara’s fears and hugged her back tightly, not wanting to let her go ever. But she had to. “You can hold me steadier, it won’t hurt me, you know?” She scoffed and giggled.

“I don’t wanna take risks.” Kara replied sincerely with her voice almost breaking, which made Lena hug her even tighter than before and kiss her cheeks, seeing the blonde’s face turning all red with the tender act.

“Lena, where are you?” They both heard Mrs McPhee yell. “Lena!”

“I’m coming!” She yelled back. “I have to go, you have all you need in here and please, don’t go anywhere out of the basement, promise?” She begged and looked at Kara intensely, making her lose the track of her thoughts inside those green emerald eyes. Rao knew how beautiful and hypnotizing they were.

“I promise, but are you bringing pizza after school?” Kara asked and bit her lips a little anxious with the glimmer of tasting something new. She’d already tasted some fruits — which weren’t her favorite but bananas and strawberries were indeed delicious — cookies, some veggies on her soup and jelly sandwiches — which were, of course, the best food ever after cookies.

“I promise.”

 

***

 

One hour, twenty five minutes and ten seconds. Eleven, twelve, thirteen... Kara had counted each every thousandth of a second after the little Luthor was gone and  she found herself alone in that dusty basement. The ‘Holding out for a hero’ song was playing repeatedly in her ears, she had already memorized the lyrics as well the rhythm but even her favorite song wasn’t enough to ease the missing feeling in her chest and fill the absence of her best friend. One hour, twenty six minutes and two seconds.  Kara tried to paint something, anything but it seemed that even her mind refused to work without Lena there by her side. After a few useless minutes without any inspiration come to brighten her creativity, she stood up and thought about practicing her hugging and touching skills, wondering if she could learn fastly enough to know how to hug without breaking anyone’s bones. Her first try was on one of the pillows, which exploded in feathers after wrapped her arms around it too tight.

Muttering with herself and asking Rao for some advice, she tried again and more feathers flew through the room and bathed the floor with a white and soft carpet. Ten minutes after trying again and again, all the pillows were destroyed with only the pillowcase left over the couch and a blonde disappointed girl resting on the floor with some feathers stuck in her hair. It wasn’t fair having all those powers and not being able to hug, touch the person she loved or cuddle with her. She questioned herself in silent the pros and cons of being strong like an elephant, or a hippo — or whatever that biology book said about all the most strong animals alive on Earth. She had even read something about dinosaurs but they were all extinct, unfortunately. Standing up again and pulling out the box of crayons next to her, she took some papers and started writing some interesting new words she had learned since her arriving. Lena had taught her so much that made her want to put a big effort on remembering and memorizing everything.

Her notes was organized by nouns, adjectives and some little draws that would help the little clever and dedicated girl relate the meaning of the word with the image of it. She had even wrote them in kryptonian too or tried to correlate with some words that looked alike with her native language. By the end of this activity, which took a long one hour without diverting her attention to anything but her learning, all the blanks spaces were filled with a delicate calligraphy. Kara only realized she’d wrote three pages of english and kryptonian words when her stomach growled loudly. Lena was smart enough to know her friend would be hungry most of the time and then separated the food in four colorful containers with a white lid and some flowers stickers around it, since Kara didn’t have any idea of how a clock worked out to know each correctly time for her meals. The first one, green like the Luthor’s eyes, was filled with cookies, a bottle of milk and bananas. The chosen color was because she knew Kara would eat her feelings and anxiety down after she’d gone, using food as a excuse to handle her scary thoughts and loneliness.

The other three were blue, yellow and red. Blue like the blonde’s baby-blue eyes, yellow like her sunny mood that always cheered up Lena’s own humor and red like Krypton’s sun.  Each one for each meal Kara needed before Lena came back home.

The first container was left aside after all the food was swallowed in seconds and then Kara was back on her boredness. She wandered around the basement counting her steps while trying not to step on the wood’s floor lines, tried to draw the details she still remembered about Krypton and then looked out the squared tiny window, jealousy observing the birds flying freely with the wind, the trees dancing in the woods and the sun bathing the grass with a shine bright yellow light, making everything looks more alive and flashy. Mr Rogers was doing some gardening stuffs and his skin was brighting with sweat, leaving Kara with a urge to go there and feel the sunlight burn her blood system like it happened the day before. Sighing and snorting, she looked back to all the feathers, crayons and papers mixed in a big mess over the coffee table and on the floor. Being locked up inside the basement was driving her insane. Lena’s walkman was nowhere to be found now but she still could listen the muffled melody coming from somewhere on the couch, probably under the pillowcases. Suddenly she heard some laughs and a warm calming voice coming upstairs. Someone was talking about how the driver named Frank ate the last piece of cake saved for Mrs McPhee in the fridge and tried to hide his little mischievous act without any success.

Kara smiled and giggled after Mrs Pot said she’d have to cook another lemon cake just for her friend and everyone laughed loudly, yet deep down inside her heart an aching heavy feeling made all her hope sank in her chest and soul. Because she missed her family. She missed listening her mom talk about the new projects in her lab, her dad telling about the next planet he’d have to visit and her cousin Kal-El crying hungry. A single warm tear streamed down her cheek at the thought of never seeing her parents’ smile anymore or play with her friends. It hurt so much and even though Kara had the lovely and compassionate Lena Luthor now, nothing could never ever replace the empties spaces in her heart, or ease her pain. However, she was still grateful for having at least one friend to help her heal and overcome her fears, it was way better than have to face all of this alone.  Wiping her tears away, the little kryptonian thought about getting back to her pod and see if she could find any information about her cousin’s whereabouts. Sure, she had promised to Lena she wouldn’t leave the basement but this was her mission, something she had promised first to her parents.

The door was locked and Kara had no idea where the other key was — Lena had mentioned about an extra key if something bad happened or if she really needed help. She’d have to break the knob, find her friend’s bedroom again and then change clothes, even though her pajama was cute and had all those cats and dogs drawn on the blue and purple fabric. Snorting and mumbling to herself about wanting or not to change, mentally noting the pros and cons of wearing a pajama all day long, she decided it was best if she found a more practical and fresh t-shirt and shorts than getting her favorite pair of clothes dirty outside. Lena would be so mad at her and this was the last thing she wanted. Then, pushing the knob up and down once she heard a low crack sound coming out of the door latch. Stepping out of the basement straight to the hall and making sure no one was around, Kara took a deep breath and focused on getting back unnoticed to her best friend’s room.

The voices were louder when she got to the living room and sneaked out to the stairs without making any sound that could caught the employees’ attention. It wasn’t hard to find the purple room with a stuffed bear on top of the bed, a red and yellow pajamas tucked next to the pillow and the sweet and light scent of the little Luthor’s perfume — Kara’s favorite now. The throb sensation inside her heart made her realized how much she really missed Lena and how much she wanted her back, but apparently schools on Earth were different from Krypton. In fact, she didn’t have to go anywhere to learn what she needed, because her parents made sure she’d learn everything without having to leave her house. Kara was raised to be a scientist, the best one in her family. Even though it wasn’t something appealing to her, she put a great effort every day and astonished her tutors when she solved a complicated math theorem at age of ten. Alura had taken her to one of the labs, showed her all the interesting and revolutionary project they were working on. Krypton was known as a evolved planet, the first one to get rid off the slavery and to implement a new form of government where everyone could actively participate in decisions and give their opinions.

That was why Kara could barely understand the reason Lena had to go to a place with other kids if she could pay a tutor to teach her at home, like her parents did back in Krypton. Of course she knew it was important for a person to make friends and be surrounded by other human beings — or aliens, in her case — but Lena didn’t seem to be interested on knowing new people since she had said she didn’t have any friends at all. To be honest, her brain cells were almost collapsing into each other and giving her a headache. Earth’s culture, demeanours and residents were quite odd and complicated to comprehend. And she had to stop trying if didn’t want to drown in her own questions and doubts. Then, shaking her head and snooping inside one of the drawers, she found a long sleeve gray shirt with with a sun drawn in the middle and jeans shorts, quickly changing into them and leaving her pajamas besides Lena’s.

When the little kryptonian was about to tidy up a bit the little mess she made inside the closet, she heard a soft low sound beating the wood after picking out a shoe to put on and not get her feet dirty. At first she thought it could be a scary spider with several eyes and hairy legs and then ignored it, but the unmistakable sound caught her attention and intrigued her by what it could be, which piqued her curiosity and increased it to a point Kara wouldn’t be able to do any other thing but wonder what was hidden deep down in the closet. She prayed to Rao for whatever the source of the sound was to not be a spider, it’d be traumatizing enough having to handle that monster without screaming or running to the basement desperately. Silently counting till three, she reached into the bottom of the drawer and pulled out the stiff thing in the middle of the clothes, bringing it to the light and noticing it was a kind of journal. The cover was filled with butterflies and bees with a big letter L written in black. Kara frowned in confusion and nervously bit her lower lip, trying to think what would she do with it.

A barrage of questions filled her mind as she sat down on Lena’s bed, such as: why would Lena have a journal? What would she write about? Why didn’t she tell her best friend about it? And why would she have to hide it from everyone, even her nanny? Would Nana know about it? Would Lena trust her enough to talk about her secrets, the ones she wrote and thought about before sleeping? Rao, this was driving her insane! She had found that journal only five minutes ago but her brain was working as if she had to solve another impossible theorem. Kara snorted and closed her eyes for a few seconds, composing herself and breathing calmly before opening it again. Her hands were shaking and her heart gradually racing in her chest, like she was about the find out the world’s biggest secret. Why did she have to be so curious?

“What’s this?” She asked as she looked through the pages with pink lines and a perfect calligraphy written in black. “Monday, August 1st, 7:30 pm, 356 calories. Tuesday, August 2nd, 9:15 am, 59 calories.” All the notes were marked in red and yellow, the hour and calories respectively, and the dates distributed in a perfect table. The next one, written in blue, was dated September 23th. Yesterday. “Today I didn’t have much time to count calories and write down everything I ate but it was the first time I didn’t really care about it or wondered about how many pounds would I gain after eating mostly cookies and milk all day long with my best friend. She has an uncontrollable and insatiable appetite. Mother’d be very disappointed with me and surely she’s going to notice I’m fatter than before. Why can’t I be pretty like the other girls? They’re so skinny, with a soft skin and wonderful hair with curls falling over their shoulders like a waterfall. Like Kara’s hair. Wish I could be one of them and not this stupid girl with thousands flaws and chubby cheeks,  fat legs and soft belly.”

The other notes weren’t intense or deep like the one she read and Kara was worried about Lena’s fears and behaviour. Eating wasn’t supposed to be something bad but pleasurable and her friend seemed to be struggling with all those feelings. Lena wasn’t fat, quite the opposite. Kara could see her hip bones when she laid down on the floor to laugh and her collarbones every time she moved her shoulders. Her legs were fine too, as well her arms, cheeks and all parts of her body so why would she worry about those things? Why would Lena ever think she wasn’t pretty enough? Never in her life Kara stopped to think about her eating habits or how much she ate for lunch. For her it was always a self-acting behavior. Kara loved to eat, to taste all the flavors and feel her stomach full and satisfied, but Lena was surely not wanting to feel like this. She turned the page and read more short notes like “I ate more than I should” or “I’m gonna have to lie to skip dinner” and as she followed through the others her heart sank deep on her chest.

Lena was crying for help and no one was listening to her. Every single word was filled with sorrows, desperate pleas and an immense willingness to reach a standard she would surely never achieve.

Quickly closing the journal and giving it back to its place, Kara wiped her tears and heavily sighed. She should probably show this to Lena’s nanny or to someone that could help her handle with this situation, because she didn’t know what to do or what to say to make her best friend feel good again. All she wanted to do was hug Lena tightly and repeat as many time as necessary to make her realize she didn’t need a number to measure her value. She certainly didn’t need to lose weight or to have a thigh gap between her legs too. By the way, why would a girl want this? It seemed so stupid and no sense. Earth had so many weird demeanours and customs that maybe Kara was getting it the wrong way? What if worrying about weight and body image were something usual there? What if all the earth girls had to feel like this every day? Rao, if this was how they should be then it was worse than she thought. No girl should ever feel like her body image mattered more than her heart, soul and inner beauty.  But again, what if Lena’s nanny wouldn’t care because this was something normal?

Again, Kara was having a tsunami of thoughts. Rao, what had she gotten herself into now?

The voices became louder as the sounds of birds singing and the cars running on the road. Kara waited until all the voices and that suffocating feeling were gone and then sneak out of the bedroom to make it to the living room again. Right now she needed to get back to her pod and see what she could do to find anything about Kal-El’s whereabouts or if he did land on Earth like her. As she walked through the woods, dodging the bushes and jumping the small rocks in the middle of the path, her mind travelled back to that sad journal Lena had written every day and night. The first note was dated back in 2004, when Lena was only nine years old and Lillian said none of her Christmas dress would fit because she ate a piece of chocolate cake Mrs Pot cooked that week. A single piece of cake and a heavy unfair judgment made Lena go crazy. Made her feel like Lillian would not be able to love her more if she didn’t lose some weight. Kara grabbed a small rock in her hands and squeezed it strongly  until it was only dust. She was mad, confused, sad and tired all in the same time.

Handling Kal-El’s situation and caring so much about Lena’s would drive her insane in a few minutes — if it hadn’t already done that right now.  She shook her head, took a deep breath and focused on one task at a time. First, she had to know if Kal-El was all right, if he was safe at somewhere and if she could find him with their tracker. Her mother had built a mechanism capable of making her daughter and nephew meet each other independently of their locations. Their capsules were equipped with one of the greatest technologies of their planet and both had trackers efficient enough to find both kryptonians and then send a signal to the panel. Kara tried to open the iron door without breaking it in two but it was impossible, her strength wasn’t something she knew how to control. The loud crack startled some birds and the bright scaring lightning crossed the sky now painted dark gray almost made the blonde’s heart stop beating. She breathed heavily and closed her eyes, trying to concentrate on something else, but it was too hard when all the sounds were loud enough to make her ears bleed, if it were possible, or make her deaf.

Hurrying to find the right code to turn on the panel, she quickly pressed the red and blue buttons and began to feel the panic and anxiety escalate her throat like a fierce and hungry monster. Suddenly, the mechanic voice asked another code and she replied in a perfect kryptonian accent, smiling a bit when the voice thanked her also in kryptonian. She missed talking in her native language. “Maybe I could teach Lena!” She thought with herself in silent, but then a deafening thunder roared in the sky, making Kara scream and her hands shake.

The thick raindrops gradually began to rise and hit hard on the pod’s metal casing, damping the earth and making the sticky mud to soak her feet once more. Another lightning followed by a louder thunder than the other echoed, frightening the little kryptonian even more. She covered her ears with her hands screaming desperately and fastly left the pod behind, without finishing to type the third code and finally find out about Kal-El’s position. Instead of just turning all the system off, she pressed a yellow button and ran back to the woods, not knowing the consequences of that simple act.

As she ran back to the mansion she realized one thing: she didn’t know the way back. All the trees seemed to change places every time she looked at them and tried to recall each step she took before, but even the shrubs were moving in her confused and terribly scared mind. Her footprints on the earth had disappeared and now joined the muddy water that flowed on the rocks. Tears trailed down her blotchy cheeks as she wailed in terror and a hurtful throb began to ache in her ears, making everything worse. Kneeling on the mud and shutting her eyes off, Kara sobbed in pain and wished she had never left the mansion, or Lena. Rao, she’d give everything to have her best friend now and ask her to easy off all the noises around her right then. The storm became stronger as well the wind, even if it could not make her feel cold, made her completely frightened. She looked for a safe place to sit and wait but only found a huge tree with a hole in its trunk. Her shirt and shorts were now dripping and dirty and her shoes mud-soaked.

She knew she wouldn't be able to go any further than she already had walked but when Kara was about to sit and hiding herself inside the trunk’s tree’s hole a rusky voice echoed through the storm, making the blonde jump in fear and whimper a bit. It could be anyone’s voice and maybe she shouldn’t look back but right now all she wanted was to be saved.

“Hey! I’m here! Can you hear me?” It was a male voice, strong and firm as rock. “Hey you!” Kara perked up and slowly opened her eyes, seeing a old man raising his hands and waving at her. Realizing that the girl wasn’t probably listening, he ran under the storm as he held a black umbrella, with his boots sinking into the puddles of mud.

After he slowed down and stopped for some seconds to catch back his breath, he looked worriedly up at the lost blonde girl and softly smiled as a way to assure his intentions. “Hi, I’m Roger,” he carefully introduced himself. “Don’t be afraid, I’m not gonna hurt you, okay?”

But Kara only backed off and hugged her body like he could kill her with only his intense look.

“Hey, little girl, look at me, please…” His voice dropped a tone, but Kara still hesitated a bit before facing him and sob again. “Don’t cry, let me help you. I can take you with me to a safe and warm place, hum? It’s not good for your health to be here all wet and freezing.”

“I- I’m scared” Another heavy sob escaped her trembling lips. “I- I wanna go home, please!”

Rogers kindly lifted her into his arms and took her back to the mansion, trying not to hurt and scare even more the blonde little girl. At sight of the large windows and white roses, Kara jumped off his arms and headed straight to the kitchen, knocking over some plates and glasses before hiding herself under the dinner table. Another thunder made her skin shiver and all her body shake. Mrs Pot gave Rogers a wide and confused look but he just seemed more astonished than the poor cook woman. Listening the noises coming from the kitchen, Mrs Mcphee left her book on the couch and walked back there in order to figure out what was happening but all her questions disappeared with the glimpse of a little shaken girl hidden under the wooden table. All the three of them stared at each other, waiting for someone to do or say something that could possibly help them to help the girl, however none of them seemed to know how to speak anymore. Rogers sighed and Mrs Pot shrugged, leaving that complicated task to the nanny.

Mrs McPhee bent and kneeled down on the floor,  pulling her hair back and wiping her hands on the worn dress’ fabric. Kara pulled away from the red-haired woman and hugged tightly her legs, hiding her face on her skinny knees. “Hello, little girl,” she said in a calm and soft voice. “I’m Mrs McPhee, but you can call me Nana. What’s your name?”

The kryptonian refused to move or talk but at the loud sound of another thunder, she  sobbed harder and screamed as she covered her ears once again. Nana crawled under the table until she reach the young girl’s trembling body and then pulled her into her arms, like she used to do when Lena was only four years old and needed someone to hold her on storming nights. Kara quickly hold her back and nestled in her lap, sobbing and squeezing Nana’s shirts — almost tearing it in several pieces. “Shhhh, it’s okay, little one, it’s okay…” She tenderly rocked her and hummed a calm song, tapping her back and never letting her go.

“M-make it stop!It’s hurting me, please! Make it stop!” Kara cried louder and nearly choked on her own tears. “P-please…”

The older woman gently took them from under the table and muttered to the cook to make a hot cocoa and take some clean dry clothes as well a towel. “It’s okay now, no one will hurt you and the storm’s outside. It can’t take us here.”

“But the noises…”

“I know, I know.” She replied and helped the blonde girl to easy off her sobs as she wiped her tears. “I know it can be scary, but it’s only rain and it’ll pass at some time. That’s why you can’t go outside when it’s cloudy.” Kara frowned in confusion. Did she already know about her? It couldn’t be possible, could it?

“I’m sorry…” She managed to say.

“There’s nothing to be sorry and now I want you to say your name, then I can help you to get clean, warm and feed, okay?” Lena was right that whole time, she thought silently. Nana was in fact the best woman on Earth and she already loved the soft and kind way she had to take care of her. “So?”

Kara shyly smiled. “My name’s Kara.”

“Well, miss Kara, I have a hot cocoa and cookies ready to be eaten, but I don’t have anyone to eat it.” They chuckled and then Nana wrapped her arms around the kryptonian again, letting her rest her head over her chest and sigh tired. “You’re safe here, don’t worry. Let’s take some warm and comfy clothes and then you can eat the cookies.”

“Here’s the towel you asked for and the clothes, Mrs McPhee.” Mrs Pot said and handed it out to the other woman. “Hey peanut, I’m gonna make the most delicious hot cocoa you’ve ever tasted.” Kara nodded, even though she had no idea what a ‘hot cocoa’ was, and felt a cold finger nudging her nose. “She’s so quiet for a kid.”

“She’s shy and scared, give her a time,” Nana stood up and kindly grabbed Kara’s hand as she stood still without moving a single muscle. “Is it fine if I hold your hand like this?” She asked, not wanting the girl to be even more afraid or thinking she’d hurt her anyway.

Kara nodded in agreement, with her hands still shaking a bit and her lips trembling. Before heading out of the kitchen and running up the stairs, something hit her like a weight in her chest. She shyly stared at the red-haired woman and her crystalline blue eyes. “Mrs McPhee?”

“Yes?”

“Am I getting in trouble?” She nervously bit her lower lip and felt her eyes tearing up. “Rao, is Lena getting in trouble because of me? Please, don’t be mad at her! It’s my fault! She just wanted to help!” And again, she sobbed and pulled away, almost running away outside and never coming back. Lena was nothing but good and kind to her and now she’d probably be in trouble just because of her stubbornness.

Nana leaned down and cautiously held Kara’s red blotchy cheeks, gentle rubbing her thumbs in the velvet wet skin and brushing her tears away. The kryptonian drew back with the unwarned touch but then melted in that maternal affection. “First of all: breathe, little one. Lena’s not in trouble but I’ll have a serious conversation with her after she’s back from school.” That didn’t ease any of Kara’s fears. “She has to know it’s not right to hide another kid and not ask for an adult’s help. You two could’ve been hurt or worse, but don’t worry, okay?”

“Okay,” she nodded. “Can I wear my pajamas again?” Her cheeks flushed in a light pink while  Nana towel dried her hair. What? It wasn’t her fault that pajamas were in fact so cute.

“Pajamas were made to wear at night, when you’re about to go to bed and sleep. If you put it now it can be dirty at bed time,” but obviously Kara wouldn’t give up without her big pout and puppy eyes. “We can make a deal.”

Kara groaned and handily whimpered. “You and Lena are full of deals!” Nana chuckled and rolled her eyes at that drama.

“Well, soon or later you’re gonna learn that all Luthor must know how to make a good deal. It’s their job.” Clearly Mrs McPhee didn’t quite like this statement, mostly because she thought it wasn’t fair to nearly obligate Lena to be something she couldn’t want to be in the future. What if she realized being a singer was her dream job? Or maybe teaching biology at some public school full of kids running around? But no, Lionel was focused on his projects and Lex, his first heir, while Lillian wanted to just forget Lena’s existence and pretend the girl wasn’t there needing her affection and approval. It didn’t go unnoticed for Kara how Nana’s semblant fell a bit, her soft smile fading away from her lips and a small wrinkle popped up between her eyebrows. “And even though I’m not a Luthor, I’m gonna make a simple deal with you, okay?”

“Okay.”

“You can wear your pajama but you have to pinky promise me it won’t get dirty till bed time,” Kara’s eyes fastly lighted up and she nodded excitedly. “So, do we have a deal?” She raised up her pinkie but the blonde girl seemed confused. “Gimme your pinkie like this, see?” Kara nodded, now with her pinkie interlaced with Nana’s. “This is a pinky promise. Do we have one now?”

“Sure, Mrs McPhee!”

By the time Nana finished helping Kara to get dressed, they both got back to the kitchen where Mrs Pot was waiting with two mugs of hot cocoa topped with marshmallows and sprinkles and a bowl full of homemade cookies. Kara felt her mouth salivate and almost broke the mug in her hands. Too much excitement. After drinking the first one, she asked for more and of course no one was able to deny anything to those baby-blue eyes and cute pout. But after her fifth mug of hot cocoa, Nana said it was enough and that she didn’t want the girl to have a stomach ache. Kara tried to convince her again, using all her powers to get into the woman’s already melted heart, but it didn’t work. They both helped Mrs Pot with the dishes, putting the dirty ones in the sink and storing back the cookies bag in the cupboard and then went back to the living room, where Nana said she’d choose a movie for the kryptonian to watch.

Kara frowned but didn’t say anything, she just waited for the nanny to explain what in Rao’s name was a movie. A few minutes later  a wide screen glowed brightly in front of her, making her eyes narrow and her heart race. She waited for her eyes to get used to that glow and slowly looked back at the playing image in front of her, thinking about how it wasn’t something much different from some technologies in Krypton. It looked like a big black box but slim, with a few green and red buttons on the bottom of the frame. As a matter of fact, that rectangular object with buttons, a bright screen and images dancing through it reminded her of the old computers her father had taken to other less developed planets than theirs. Well, of course she didn’t know yet what that thing was capable of doing, but still looked like something obsolete to her.

“I have to help Mr Roger now but you can watch cartoons till Lena’s back,” the nanny handed her the TV remote control as she grabbed some pillows and a warm soft blanket. “You can call me anytime if you need anything. I’ll be on the second floor, apparently there’s a leak in one of the bathroom’s indoor plumbing.”

“I’ll be okay, thanks.” She replied sincerely.

“The movie’s name’s Hercules, it’s a cartoon but you’re gonna like it, I promise.” As everything was settled out, Nana kissed Kara’s forehead and ran back to the stairs. The kryptonian could listen the old man muttering angrily with that ‘damn stupid sink.’

Kara was alone again, with her mind as quiet as the mansion was. Lena was still at school and she didn’t know when she was coming back, but wished it didn’t take any longer. Staring back at the called television, she adjusted herself on the couch and pulled the blanket over her body, even though she couldn’t be cold. On the screen, a skinny red-haired guy wearing a weird garb was waiting for her to press the play and enjoy the movie, but before doing it she read the short summary below the play, subtitles and scenes topics. Hercules, son of the Greek God, Zeus, was turned into a half-god, half-mortal by evil Hades, God of the Underworld, who planned to overthrow Zeus. Hercules was raised on Earth and retained his god-like strength, but when he discovered his immortal heritage Zeus told him that to return to Mount Olympus he might become a true hero. Hercules became a famous hero with the help of his friend Pegasus and his personal trainer, Phil the satyr. Hercules battled monsters, Hades and the Titans, but it was his self-sacrifice to rescue his love Meg which made him a true hero.

 

***

 

It was fifteen past five when Lena got home. Kara was already in the basement again like she had never left there in the first place. All noises were clearly audible to her, Lena and Frank’s steps around the hall, Nana’s voice asking her how her classes was and if her day was a good. She could also listen Mr Pot in the kitchen cooking the dinner and Mr Roger telling her about the new roses seeds he had bought for the winter garden. Everything, every sound was mixed up in her ears and she wish she could just turn them off, because sometimes it was hard listening words she didn’t know how to deal with. Lena was talking about some science project Mrs Honey ask the kid to do to the next class and how she was pretty excited and happy that her teacher allowed her to make it on her own, since no one chose her to any group.

But then the kryptonian heard Nana asking the little Luthor why didn’t she eat her lunch again and this kind of question made Kara’s heart sank deeply in her chest.

Lena was still with a scratchy throat and watery eyes due to her flu and fever the  day before, coughing a bit hard sometimes and still feeling her body tired of having to fight against a virus and focus on her math class all day long. Nana bent down in front of her girl, softly pressing her hands on her forehead and checking if the fever was back, but luckily it wasn’t. Kara knew that Lena’s lack of hunger wasn’t a consequence of her sickness or bad mood but because she didn’t want to eat at all. And Lena lied, of course. She lied about buying something at the school’s canteen and not having time to eat after it because she was studying at the library. Then Mrs McPhee, with all her maternal kindness and endless patient, explained how important it was for her to have all her meals at the right time, especially because she was sick and her body was in need of vitamins and minerals to get stronger. Her voice was filled with worry and a bit of suspicion, Kara could feel it in her bones.

“Why don’t you take a bath and be ready for dinner, hum?” She heard the nanny ask tenderly and kiss the brunette's cheek.

“Uh, to be honest, I’m not hungry…” And again, a lie. Lena’s stomach was growling, but not loud enough for anyone but Kara to listen to.

“But your body needs food and so do you to be a little happier,” Nana replied in a firmer tone. “Now, take a bath, put your school bag in your bedroom and tell your friend that dinner’s gonna be ready in ten minutes.” As Lena nodded in agreement, her heart skipped a beat as she realized what the nanny had said.

Her friend.

Damn!

Kara’s own heart almost stopped beating as all her blood cell speed raced in her veins. Rao, Lena was going to be so mad at her, so disappointed and maybe even worse than all this combined. She had broken a promise, a huge one and now her friendship would probably end because of this mistake. While the blonde girl tried to come up with whatever excuse her mind was capable of thinking in five minutes, she heard a heavy sob escaping of her best friend’s lips and then a deep breath. Lena was holding back her tears, even though she couldn’t see it right now she still could feel it.  The fear of failing again, of being a cry-baby, a girl without a name, were being thrust into small boxes inside her soul to never be opened again. Dealing with feelings, sorrows and the past would never be something easy, especially if you still were a eleven years old lonely and scared girl who just want to be accepted. Even if this meant giving up everything you are to become someone else. To become a person you don’t even know anything about.

“What- I- how-” Lena stammered out and strongly bit her lower lip, almost making it bleed.

“Lena, listen carefully to me,” Kara looked up to the ceiling and waited for Mrs McPhee’s words, “You’re not in any trouble, okay? But we still need to have a serious conversation about…”

“I’m sorry, okay? I’m so sorry!” Her lips trembled as the words came out, “I’m sorry I didn’t mean to disappoint you and I promise I’ll be good! I promise!” She almost begged. Not a single tear rolled down her face but her watering eyes showed how badly she wanted to cry. However, Lillian said she wasn’t a baby anymore, that a Luthor do not cry and if she wanted to be one, she’d have to put a great effort on it. “Please, don’t leave me…”

Kara didn’t even notice when her own tears streamed down her cheeks and the growing silence between them two made her anxiety scream.

Nana pulled Lena closer and tenderly wrapped her arms around the girl’s shaky body, like she could put all her broken pieces together again. Like she could assure her love in that simple act. But she knew this wasn’t enough to make Lena feel all the affection she needed. Lena was a damage little girl who needed more than just hugs and kisses. She deeply and desperately needed assurement of people’s feelings for her, protection, acceptance and a person who’d never ever give up on her, even if she failed. Even if she’d never be capable of  seeing how much someone could love her without asking for anything back. “Lena, nothing you can do will ever make me feel disappointed with you, okay?” She sighed and had to force herself to not cry in front of her, that would frighten her more. Lena hugged Nana firmly, hiding her face on the nanny’s neck. “Listen to me, I love you, little one. I love you with everything I have and I know how hard is for you to believe in this, to believe that I won’t leave you behind like everyone did and I can’t promise that one day I won’t have to…”

“No!” Her broken voice echoed on the mansion’s house like a prayer for mercy. “I don’t want you to ever leave me!”

“Hey, look at me, please,” the younger girl refused to do it, because if she ever let her nanny go now she could never have her again. “Lena, please, look at me,” her watery green eyes shyly popped up but her hands were still clinging firmly to the collar of her nanny's blouse, “there you are, my sweet Irish angel, now I want you to listen to me, okay?”

“Okay.” She softly sniffed and nodded.

“Life won’t always be the way we want, unfortunately. Sometimes we lost, sometimes we won but there will always be a lesson for us to learn. We’re going to meet new people, fall in love, move to new places and start it all over again several times, it’s a part of life, Lena, and we can’t promise things we can’t control,” it hurted her so much saying those kind of things, having to explain that Lena couldn’t have anyone forever. But if anyone among them would have the patience of doing it it would be her. “That’s why I can’t promise you I’ll be here forever, but I can surely promise I’ll always love you and be in you heart forever.”

“I don’t want you only in my heart, I want you with me by my side.” She smartly said. The lady who took care of her in the orphanage had always said her mom would be in her heart, that she wasn’t in fact gone but this kind of thought never eased Lena’s pain or her mom’s absence.

“And I’ll be by your side as long as I can, okay?” Hugging her once more, she kissed the girl’s temple and cheeks and tucked a loose strand of black hair behind her ear, ending that conversation for now. Mrs McPhee knew Lena would spend days thinking about this subject and trying to come up with an intelligent argument to make her change her mind about leaving the mansion in the future. “I can hear your brain working, sweetie.”

“So… you’re not mad or disappointed with me? Not even a little bit?” She arched her eyebrow.

“No, I’m not but like I said, we still have to talk about hiding another kid in the basement.” Kara, who was still trying to calm herself down and not break anything around her, shuddered a bit with that. Was she in trouble now? Was Lena going to be mad? Or was she going to be understanding with her bad choice of sneaking around the mansion? “Kara’s waiting for you, take her to your room, take a bath and then come here for dinner.” The younger girl nodded, “oh, and she said something about pizza and I thought that maybe it’d be a good idea for today.”

“Okay, thank you, Nana.” Lena said before going to meet her best friend.

“For what?”

“For loving me.”

 

***

 

“Are you mad at me? Do you hate me?”

Lena didn’t even had time to close the door before Kara’s hesitant question escaped her light-pink lips, however, still remaining calm, she took a deep breath and closed it. It wasn’t her intention to make her only friend think she’d be mad or that she would ever be capable of hating someone like her. Yes, Lena had a lot of hatred encrusted deep in her heart and for someone so young like her it was something unusual. Children wasn’t supposed to hate, to have grudge or sad feelings. They should feel love, happiness, courage, hope, they should have the support of the people they love and feel part of something bigger. But when you grow up like Lena, when you abruptly lose the only person that loved you fiercely and unconditionally and then are left to deal with mean kids at a orphanage to just then be adopted by an absent father and be part of a family that won’t ever want you, well you surely learn how to hate. How to feel unable to be happy again.

Even if you try hard, in the end your mind will betray your poor naive heart, because no one will be there for you. They would always leave.  

“I- I’m sorry, Lena… I’m sorry…” Kara murmured, still not facing her best friend’s incisive eyes.

“I’m not mad at you, Kara.” She finally replied. Her voice still hoarse from her flu and her throat scratchy. “But you had promised me you’d stay here till I’m back.”

The kryptonian looked away, ashamed of what she had done and not knowing what to say or which excuse she should give. Kara wanted to tell Lena about Kal-El, about her mission and everything, but some part of her didn’t want to worry her more than she already was. And more than this, finding Kal-El and accomplishing her mission was something just Kara should do. It was her responsibility, only hers. But how would she lie to Lena? She didn’t want to build her trust and friendship over a lie, it wasn’t fair with both of them. “I know… but I- I had to check on something in my pod, something really important and then I got lost and Mr Roger found me and uh, and then all the noises were so loud and it hurt so much and I- I’m sorry, Lena, I didn’t mean to upset you!”

But Lena didn’t let her finish and quickly enfolded her in a tight, longing embrace. One that she needed and waited all day long to have. And she finally had. “I’m not mad or upset, I just- okay, maybe I’m a little upset,” they both chuckled and Kara pouted, using her best power against the other girl. “Don’t do this, I was worried about you and we were lucky that was Mr Roger that found you, Kara. But what if it was my mother? My father? Or even someone else, someone that could-” she swallowed hard, “that could’ve hurt you.”

“I’m sorry for breaking our promise, I didn’t think it could be bad but now Nana knows.” They were still tenderly holding each other’s body, like they could fall apart if they ever think about letting that embrace go. “And I was very scared when the storm began to fall. Nana helped me, she’s so kind and amazing, Lena.”

“I know… but promise me for real that you won’t do this again, please.” Kara nodded and held up her pinkie, but Lena frowned.

“This is a piggy promise!” She shouted out excitedly and Lena laughed. “Uh, no… that wasn’t the name, uh…”

“Pinky promise?” Lena raised her eyebrow while her best friend seemed lost in her confusion. And she wouldn’t say that Kara was the cutest puppy ever.

“Yes! A pinky promise! Ugh, you’re so smart!” The fussy blonde started happily jumping as the younger Luthor tried to not cough while giggling. “That’s one of the things I love about you!” It came out of her mouth unexpected. They shared a wide look, with Lena still shocked with that confession and Kara covering her mouth with her free hand — the other was still holding Lena’s pinkie with hers. “I’m sorry.”

“Did you mean it?” Lena asked, her voice coming out nearly as a whisper. She was afraid of that answer, afraid that Kara only had said that because she was too excited and not because she truly loved her. But it wouldn’t surprise her at all if she didn’t, to be honest. Lena was used of everyone’s lack of love when it was about her.

Kara sensed Lena’s fear again, like her heart was intertwined with her best friend’s. “Of course I meant it, silly. I love how smart you are, the thing you do with your cool eyebrow and your smile.” The kryptonian simply said, watching the way Lena’s face light up and listening her heart beat faster now.

Lena’s heartbeat was truly becoming her favorite music.

“Thank you, Kara. I love you too, even when you ask me a million times to bring you cookies.” She teased.

“What? I never did this!” Kara fake gasped, making them both start laughing again, “by the way you don’t need to thank me, love’s not a mission or some obligation, it’s about what you feel for another person.”

“I’m not used to have someone loving me, to be honest.” Lena confessed as Kara closed her eyes and hugged her again, in a funny way as always. “Kara, you’re not touching me again.”

The blonde one briefly opened her eyes and realized that in fact she was just circling Lena’s body with her free arm and hand. And then her face flushed in a soft pink when the brunette’s warm lips touched her cheek. “Uh, I don’t wanna hurt you…”

“I don’t think you can even if you want.” And this was the biggest truth.

“Yeah, you are so right, like always. Why are you so smart, ugh!”

“Dork!” She kissed her cheek again. “Let’s eat some pizza, you silly puppy.”

“Yeah! Pizza!”

 

***

 

“Hercules? Seriously? It’s a Disney movie, Kara, it’s for babies!” Lena cried out coughing and sneezing after she and her best friend comfortably sat on the tv room’s couch. They had finished their dinner, with Mrs Pot telling them a funny story about her childhood, praising Kara’s endless hunger and eagerness about pizza — now her favorite food in the world —, as Mrs McPhee helped Lena take her flu syrup.

“But... I wanna watch it again... with you.” Kara pouted. It didn’t matter to her if the movie was for kids, she liked it.

Actually, she had loved it more than she could put into words.

Lena rolled her eyes. Of course Kara would make her watch whatever she wanted with that puppy eyes and pout. “Why do you wanna watch this?” While they argued, Nana left a soft warm blanket for them over the couch and two pillows. The kryptonian kindly helped the younger girl to adjust her pillow behind her back and covered her until she was sure Lena would not be cold.

“Because he’s like me! With powers and everything! And you can be Meg!” The sound of the muses singing Hercule’s opening movie started to play as Kara insistently tried to convince Lena about her idea. How could she not want to be Megara? It was perfect for them! Okay, maybe she hadn’t get to watch the movie’s end yet, because Nana warned her that Lena was coming back home and she had to head back to the basement, but still. Hercules reminded her so much about how she felt about being a foreigner on that strangerous planet and of course she loved the idea of him saving someone so stubborn and sassy like Megara.

Which, obviously, made her think about Lena.

“No way I’m gonna be Meg! She’s so boring.” She crossed her arms and snorted upset, hating the idea of being the damsel in distress and not another stronger character or even Pegasus, the flying horse.  

Kara smirked and crossed her arms too, stubbornly decided to win Lena over that discussion. “How do you know that if you never watched it before?”

“Ugh, I watched it once at school but never mind, the only wise guy is Hades and if I have to be someone I choose him.” Nana and Mrs Pot were watching them from afar, keeping themselves quiet and trying not to laugh. But they were so happy that her precious golden girl finally found a true friend, even though, deep down their hearts, they knew it wouldn’t last much. Lillian was coming back, she had already sent them a message asking everyone to be ready, for the house to be cleaned and Lena to be waiting for them in the front door.

“No, you’re Meg because I need someone to save!”

“I don’t need to be saved.” Lena stated.

“Yes, you do! And then I can be the hero!” Again, the younger Luthor annoyingly rolled her eyes but couldn’t stop thinking about how Kara was right. She was indeed a kind of Hercules.

After the music, the movie went ahead with all the magic and funny scenes that was so Disney. Hercules was sad about not fitting or belonging to anywhere, after all he still didn’t know his true origin or who were his biological parents. Lena watched Kara crying over Zeus and Hera’s sadness when they couldn’t have their son back anymore because he wasn’t a god like them. She saw when the ever so cheerful and clear blue eyes were erased by a shadow of pain and empathy. Kara understood how they were feeling and she was maybe asking herself in silent if this could be her situation, but she knew it couldn’t. Alura and Zor-El weren’t watching their only daughter from Krypton and waiting for her to prove herself as a hero so she could come back home. Then Hercules won a new family, parents that really loved and cared for him but realized that their son needed to find out the truth. And then figure out where he belonged.

The fact that Hercules and Kara were so alike was mostly because of their pure heart, their lack of motor coordination and the godlike strength. It was so cool to listen the kryptonian’s laugh and watch her nearly fly out of the couch due to her uncontrollable eagerness. Lena tried to follow her, to be as excited as she was but the school routine, the classes and her sickness were getting the best of her right now. They both was under the blanket, wearing comfy pajamas matching with funny dog socks, and Kara was almost entirely lying on her best friend’s body but Lena couldn't care less. Instead of asking her to move out and lay on the other side of the couch, she freely opened her right arm for the blonde girl and let her lay her head on her chest, feeling the warmth emanate from her breath and also from her possessive arm gripping her waist.

And she held her tighter when she heard soft low sobs coming from Kara’s mouth and saw tears rolling down her face. In that exactly scene, everyone was calling Hercules a freak and mocking him because of his powers.

They got then to the scene where there was a grumpy satyr running after some nymphs, then a song again and Hercules finally training to become a hero and return to the Mount Olympus to live with his family. Kara couldn’t even stop herself to blabbering as she giggled and yelled at Phill to not be so mean with poor Herc — the nickname was so cute and funny.  After all the scenes of him having to rescue the same doll that represented the damsel in distress several times, fight with a sword, learn to defend himself and have to memorize all the rules — and fail miserably in some of them — he finally went to Thebes to have a real fight with a real villain. But in the middle of the way he found the iconic and sassy Megara, a woman who wouldn’t easely accept she was in fact a damsel in distress.

“Did she just throw herself into Hercules’ arms?” Lena asked impressed. “Weak ankle, ha! Bullshit!” She chuckled with that stupid excuse but then her nanny scolded her for cursing.

“It’s a romantic thing I guess. She’s strong but she’s always in danger.” Kara replied without taking her eyes off the lovely and intense scene between Hercules and Megara. She was trying to find out his weakness because everyone’s got one. That made the kryptonian question herself about what would be hers.

“I’d never, not in a million years, do it. What am I supposed to do? Throw myself out of some tall building and wait for someone to catch me in the air? No way.” They stared at each other. “By the way, I’m afraid of heights.”

“I’d always catch you.” The way those words escaped her lips made Lena’s entire world shake like an earthquake. Kara wasn’t kidding and she was sure of it.

“You can’t fly.” Ignoring the sudden strange feeling inside her chest, the young Luthor looked back at the tv screen and sighed. She would never say out loud how much Megara was like her, always alone, always trying to drive away people that cared for her and even the fact that they both hadn’t any friends or family made everything much more relatable. Lena was a bit scary of how that simple cartoon was showing something so true about herself and maybe about Kara.

Of course she’d be the damage lonely girl and Kara’d be the hero, the little sunspot and the one who would have the happy ending.

Kara looked up at her friend, listening her heart loudly pounding and making it sound like a drum. “We don’t know that yet and even if I never can, I’d still find a way to catch you.”

“Okay, it does sounds romantic but I won’t do it. Never. I can be your Meg but no jumping or falling, okay?” Kara smiled and nodded

“Okay”

Still holding each other and arguing about the difference between stupidity and romance, they finally got to the one of the most sad and stressful scene. Megara betrayed Hercules, not because she wanted to but Hades didn’t give her a choice. She loved him so much and would do anything to protect him from the lord of the Underworld’s fury. But sometimes love wasn’t an easy path and even for the almost invincible hero, his heart could break too. Hades freed the Titans, battled with all the olympian gods and was defeated by Hercules after he got his strength back. But it had a price; a terrible and irreparable price. Megara sacrificed herself to save the man she loved and due this selfless action her deal with the god of death was broken. She was finally free and Hercules could win that battle.

When he saw her dying, Kara intensely sobbed. He couldn’t lose her after everything they had been through together. It wasn’t fair!

Then, exceeding all her expectations, Hercules became a god because a hero wasn’t measured by the size of his strength but by the strength of his heart. He got Megara’s soul and brought her back to life, sharing a passionate kiss after he had chosen staying on the mortal’s world just to have her by his side forever.

Kara’s surprised funny face was so pleasurable as she said. “Ew!”

“Yeah, ew!” Lena grimaced and then snorted in confusion, raising one eyebrow. “You didn’t know they were about to kiss in the end?”

“No? I hadn’t seen the end yet but now… I mean, you still can be my Megara, but no kisses.”

“Ew, no kisses ever! It’s disgusting.” Kara silently agreed but was still thoughtful. Even though she was extremely happy for cuddling with her best friend, her heart and mind were still caught up in all those notes she had read earlier that day. All those words were dancing around her thoughts, filling her soul with worries about Lena’s health and emotional condition. She didn’t know how to help or what to say to make her feel better about everything. Rao, she didn’t even know if she could tell her she had found her journal.

By the time the kryptonian was completely lost in her mental ramifications and questions, Nana turned off the tv and said it was late, they should sleep. After brushing their teeths, say goodnight to Mrs Pot and let the nanny kiss their temples, both of girls laid down on their beds — Kara in a mattress on the floor by Lena’s bed side — remaining in silent in the dark, waiting for the sleep to come and take their tired minds. The bedroom was so quiet, Kara could listen to Lena’s heartbeat, the cars running far away from the mansion, the crickets and Nana talking to the cook.

And they were talking about her. About how would they hide a girl from the Luthors, how would they tell Kara she couldn’t stay there with them. Lillian and Lionel was coming back in a few hours, they surely had to do something. But what? Mrs Mcphee said she couldn’t work and have a little girl living with her while Mrs Pot argued saying that maybe she could. They kept questioning themselves, plotting ideas and trying to figure out a solution to that problem, but it seemed insolvable. Kara tried hard not to listen, not to worry of having to go away and deal with a new house, new people and leaving Lena behind. Nana had just talked about how the little Luthor was going to be devastated and heartbroken after being probably forced to say goodbye to the only person she loved besides her nanny and brother.

Then everything became too much. The noises, the words and her own heart.

Kara quickly kicked the blanket aside, grabbed her teddy bear and climbed on Lena’s bed, lightly poking her cheeks and shoulder until the brunette rolled over to face the blonde’s watering eyes. “Lena, can I sleep with you, please?” Her voice sounded so weak and small.

Lena half-opened her eyes as she tried to see something in the dark, yet she did not even need to open her eyes to know who it was.

“What’s the matter? What happened?” She questioned a bit sleepy and worried. Kara’s lips were trembling as she hold back her tears. “Hey, don’t cry. I can hug you if you want.”

“Please.”

They settled on the mattress, with the brunette letting the friend hug her tightly and hide her face on her neck. After a few minutes, the two little girls succumbed to exhaustion and fell sound asleep, never letting go of each other and not realizing that a red-caped man was watching them from a distance from the window.

And that two cars parked on the Luthor’s mansion.

Chapter Text

Something about growing up in a life in which at anytime you can be surprised causes you to develop a new kind of insecurity, one that will fuel your anxiety like someone feed a hungry monster. One that will swallow you sooner or later. When your life depends on others, when you’re not the one who controls the course of your own life, it’s tiresome complicated to stop overthinking about it, to tease bad thoughts and to be consumed by nervousness. It’s like your own mind tries at once warn you of imminent danger, but it was also your ruin, the first that makes you act with the mechanism of self sabotage. And that was how Lena Luthor felt everyday when she woke up: anxious, tired and with no expectation of ever being saved from herself.

The simple act of opening her eyes and face another day made her feel suffocated, like something heavy was over her chest. At any moment her anxiety would be such that she could no longer fit into her soul and then overflow. Yet, she knew she couldn’t allow anyone to see it or know about what was going on on her poor, exhausted and overworked heart. The stiff, steady voice of her foster mother echoed in her head every second, repeating that a Luthor would not falter, as much as she about to fall. A Luthor didn’t give up, didn’t cry or show their feelings. Or even had feelings at first place. Lena struggled more and more to reach this level, to be considered part of that family, but the symptoms of her mental and emotional scam began to grow stronger and stronger.

Those few days beside her best friend were like a sigh of life when one is drowning in sorrows and fears. Kara was capable of brightening up her day even more than the Sun itself. It was so good to have someone to hold, someone who considers you to the same extent as you, someone who loves you without asking anything back and that would be capable of joining a crazy adventure with you only to see you smile. Lena liked that, that warm feeling inside her chest, that warmth, the silly smiles and the warm body of her friend lying next to hers. Never in her entire life she had imagined she would be graced with this sort of thing: love, kindness and care; and while the little Luthor was clutching all her strength in these feelings, she prepared herself mentally for when it would all fall apart. It was always like this.

Part of her soul was already resigned, whole the other still fought to not give up, even though deep down she already fully aware that Kara Zor-El would leave forever, everyone always would. Even Nana.

Lena had been awake for exactly ten minutes and her brain worked like a factory machine from the time of the industrial revolution. She felt herself weak, hungry and something in her heart was warning her about something different. Something had changed and maybe she had to prepare herself for what it would be. The little blonde was still sleeping and had one of her arms possessively holding Lena’s waist, her head laid out of the pillow and her long golden hair sprawled over the sheet. Her calm and rhythmic breathing made her chest rise and fall slowly, being the only point of peace within that room. Lena wanted to be like her, she wanted to fall asleep without having to worry about pretending to be someone else, without having to force herself into becoming a person who was completely different from herself. All this process was killing her inside and at one time or another, the little green-eyed girl would collapse.

Then, a lazy yawn and a sly moan echoed and a shy smile sprang on the still half-drowsy girl’s face. Two teddy bears were between their bodies, the blanket lying on the floor and Kara had lost one of her socks in the middle of the night, having only one foot now covered by the soft dog-print sock. She lifted her face, her baby blue eyes shining in the same as usual, but at the same time they were radiant with happiness at having found Lena by her side, she was worried too. It was obvious, the little kryptonian could listen to her best friend’s desperately heart beat like a drum, loud and fast. That was the main reason she’d forced herself to forget about sleeping more and woke up. Whatever the brunette was thinking or fighting against in her head, Kara didn’t want her to do it alone.  

“Morning.” She muttered while stretching her body and snapping a few bones.

Lena softly smiled. “Good morning, Kara. Today’s saturday, you didn’t have to wake up with me.”

“And what’s that supposed to mean?” She frowned, not quite understanding what the word saturday meant or what this implied on.

Lena moved on the bed and then sat down, observing the little blonde take the rest of the space on the mattress and hug the two flurry bears.

“Schools don’t open on saturdays and sunday, so I don’t need to wake up so early.” She calmly explained, “but I have piano class and I also have to revise all my homework.”

“So… you don’t need to go away like yesterday?” the brunette nodded silently, looking funny as the other one smiled broadly at that idea. “And we can stay together all day long?”

“We can-”

The sudden noise from the doorknob made them both startle and Kara quickly crawled closer to the little Luthor, as if she believed the other one could protect her from whatever it was.

“Good morning, girls.” Nana, wearing her black and white uniform instead of her flower-print dresses, announced her arrival somewhat a bit nervous and apprehensive. Lena noticed how her red hair was tied in a perfect bun, the soft makeup in her face hiding the wrinkles in the corner of her eyes and her clothes well done. And this could only mean one thing. “Ms. Luthor, I need you to go down to the kitchen and greet your brother. Mr. Luthor is in the library and asked to not be bothered in the next couple of hours.”

“Lex is here?” Lena leaped out of the bed and Kara followed her. “When- How- What’s he doing here?”

“I don’t know, sweetheart, but I do need you to help me now. I have to take Kara back to the basement,” she asked almost begging. Kara, on the other hand, was totally lost and even a bit scared with that whole situation. “Talk to him while I take her back.”

Lena nodded, “okay.” Then she turned to her friend, facing the tender blue eyes she loved so much, “Kara, everything’s gonna be fine, I promise.”

“I- I don’t wanna go back there.” Her lips trembled, “I- I don’t wanna be alone again, you said we’re gonna be together!”

“And we will!” She didn’t even know if that was true, Lena wanted to believe so. However, with her family back in the mansion, maybe that fantasy world, that bubble she had been in for a few days would burst at any moment. “I promise.”

“Let’s go, hurry up!” Nana let the youngest girl went down the the stairs first, noticing how anxious she was to meet her brother after months without seeing him. Lena had an immeasurable affection and love for Lex, having been attached to the genius boy since the first day she slept in the mansion. But as he was older, he soon had to join her father on the family business, going to study in Europe and coming back later to take on some small appointments and positions on Luthor-Corp. “It’s gonna be okay, little one.” She assured again as she felt the blonde’s warm hands tightly held hers and squeezed a bit stronger, “I will not let anything bad happen to you, okay?”

“And Lena?” She gave the older woman a serious wary look. Of course the kryptonian wasn’t worried about herself, she could handle that, even thought she was really afraid. Her heart, actually, was aching for her best friend. If Nana would take care of her, who would do the same for the little Luthor?

“She’s going to be fine too, but we’ll have to change everything now,” the nanny vaguely explained. Both walked down to the last corridor of the mansion and then went down the stairs until the basement. “Kara, you really need to stay here, no leaving. No sneaking out. The Luthor family isn’t welcome kind of family and if they find you Lena’s going to be punished for it. We both don’t want this, right?”

The little blonde girl quickly nodded, swallowing that last piece of information dry and holding it so she would not cry.

Rao, she wished they hadn’t come back. But she would never say that out loud, it was far too selfish of her wanting her best friend’s family was far away from them, just so she could have her all to herself.

“Right.”

 

***

 

Lena ran through the corridor and climbed down the stairs, jumping every two steps, with a mix of eagerness and fear throbbing in her veins and blending into her blood cells. As she passed by the hall’s mirror, she noticed she hadn’t brushed her teeth or even combed her hair. God, she was still in her pajamas. Well, it couldn’t be that bad, Lex had arrived by surprise and the littone one deeply missed him so much. The lack of her brother would never be fulfilled, he was the only one who understood her, who believed in her potential — or so she allowed herself to believe. During all the years she was lucky enough to share the mansion with the genius boy, to accept her new conditions, her new life had been easier and less painful.  Lillian imposed rules, she was cold and distant, never giving her daughter more than a fake weak smile and nods. Lionel, however much he could express his feelings for his daughter more concretely, he rarely was at home.

So in the end, everything she had was Lex.

The Luthors' return totally changed the composition, atmosphere and behavior of the mansion. All the servants were back in their uniforms, the cook no longer switched on the radio in her favorite station, one where an Italian boy sang romantic songs, the gardener didn’t whistle while trimming the bushes, and Frank kept the car standing in front of the entry door, ready for any sudden order that might arise. It was as if the house became something different, for a moment it was full of life, the windows open, the wind entering each room, the smell of cake and fresh breads invading the living room and the low sound of the music bringing a sensation of lightness for each resident of the Luthor mansion. And then, all of a sudden, all of that aura was taken away in a hurry, giving way to a palpable tension, to nervousness, to perfectionism, and also to silence. Even the birds didn’t dare sing so loud, or visit the garden in the morning.

As soon as she stepped into the kitchen, the brunette found her brother standing by the sink with his back to her, a glass of water in his left hand and the cell phone in his right. A small shy smile tore at her cheeks, making her dimples appear and her green eyes becoming more crystalline. He was back and Lena had missed him so much.

“Lex!” She excitedly shout, but he only ignored her and kept talking to someone on the phone. “Lex?”

“Can you please be quiet? I’m busy.” He turned against her again and impatiently snorted. Lena nodded, nibbling her lips, pulling anxiously at the hem of her t-shirt and shrinking her toes into her socks as she waited. When Lex finally finished the call, he sipped the water from the glass and sighed without a single track of patience.

He hated having to fix incompetent people’s mistakes and still having to deal with them afterwards.

“Look if it’s not the little lost princess.” He said and sighed, taking some seconds to scan over his sister features. “You look terrible, Lena. You’re so skinny that I can see your collarbones under your t-shirt.” The disgusted tone in her voice made the younger girl shiver a bit.

“I missed you.” She let it escape out her mouth and rushed to hug him.

“No! Lena, you’re going to knead my suit!” Lex angrily raged, aggressively pushing her away and almost knocking her down on the floor. “What have I said about hugging me? For god’s sake, now I’m gonna have to change it.”

“I’m sorry, but I really missed you and- and I wasn’t expecting to see you so soon,” she confessed still smiling and pushing her t-shirt up as a way to adjust it over her bony shoulders. With the weight loss her clothes were starting to be wide.

Lex straightened up his shirt and snorted again. “I had an unforeseen and a conversation to end with a friend,” he spoke shortly, stripping off his blazer and leaving it on the kitchen’s counter. “Anyway, I’ll be returning to Ireland in the morning and our mother should be in for lunch. You should change clothes and make yourself presentable, you do look terrible.” Lena felt his sharp gaze all over her body, like she was a kind of interesting experiment. Lex could see very well more than only her collarbones. Her arms were thinner as well as her cheeks — that were always chubby and pink —and also her waist. Lena wasn’t the skinny and tiny type of girl, like some of the girls in her school. She had always had big hip and back, thick thighs and curvy waist. Something had changed and it had nothing to do with her physical appearance — that was clearly different — but Lex was sure her emotional condition was probably crumbling down. What wouldn’t be unusual for a Luthor. “At least you lost weight, Lillian won’t be able to complain about this during dinner.”

And just this simple sentence made every effort, every night without dinner, all calorie counts worth it. Lena smiled relieved, almost to the point of crying and bouncing with happiness. Finally something to feel proud of. Finally her mother could approve her and perhaps love her a little more, or even begin to feel some affection for the lost princess.

The nickname had arisen after Lex compared her to the younger daughter of the Russian czar belonging to the Romanov family, who was brutally murdered during the 1917’s revolution. There was a well-known legend about Grand Duchess Anastasia Romanov, daughter of Czar Nicholas II, where she would not have been murdered but escaped with her grandmother to Paris. However, as much as scientists have proven that the girl died, being buried with her parents, many prefer to believe that somehow she survived and was still lost. Anastasia became a lost girl with no family who would always look for her parents, even if it took years. The belief turned the story into a movie, turning the Grand Duchess into a kind of princess and a symbol of hope. Lena was like her, according to her older brother. The last of her family, the one who carried the blood of her deceased mother and now needed to accept that nothing she had before would return. It was over, her dynasty had died that morning in the summer when her mother decided to go into the water and never to emerge again.

“Oh, you could help me on my school’s science project!” Lena began to jump with the sudden amazing idea. It was perfect. “We have been learning about fungi, the teacher let me do my own project by myself and-”

“Lena, I’m busier enough to worry about childish things!” Lex annoyedly rolled his eyes, left the glass on the sink and started to loosen up his tie. “We’re going to have company for dinner, I have to finish my paperwork before it.”

“But it’s not a childish stuff!” She stubbornly hissed back, almost yelling with that accusation. She wasn’t a kid anymore, why did he insist on that? “Lex, we can do something new and-”

And that was the last straw for him. “Lena, enough!” He exasperatedly shouted, massaging his temples with his index fingers and breathing deeply to not lose any more of the little patience he had. The little Luthor drew back and her lips trembled, as her green eyes shone with tears.

But, she wouldn’t allow herself to collapse right there. She could be better, it was her fault. She was upsetting her brother. It was her fault.

It was always her fault.

“You- you promised me you wouldn’t- yell at me anymore.” She mentally counted till three over and over again, breathing slowly and trying to remain calm. She would not cry. She wasn’t weak and wanted to prove it to everyone. “I just wanted your help.”

“And I told you I can't! Frankly, this way you won’t be a Luthor. Especially if you keep being unbearable and not knowing when to shut up,” suddenly, they both hear L'amour Est Un Oiseau Rebelle play upstairs, where Lionel’s private library was. “Great, now he’ll lock himself up there till dinner time, happy?” Lex was infuriated, there was a black bag under each eye and he got years older in months. “Mrs. Pots!”

Both knew what that song meant. Everytime Lionel locked himself in the library, Maria Callas began to sing audibly through the mansion uninterruptedly and of course there was a lot of whiskey involved at the moment. Generally, the older Luthor acted in this way, distant, cold and totally inaccessible when he was plagued by his own thoughts and totally bogged down with work at Luthor-Corp. It was these days that Lillian and Lena had to simply disappear, or pretend they did not exist. Obviously it was simple for a mature woman as the matriarch of the mansion, she spent those hours wrapped up in her clubs or even going out downtown. However, the same did not apply to an anxious and lonely eleven-year-old child, but Lena struggled hard enough to fit herself in the way she did. Her mother would not take her for a walk, to know more about Metropolis and perhaps to know each other better. Lillian didn’t want to have any ties to the little bastard, and she would never let her mingle with the well-behaved daughters of her friends.

Soon the cook appeared, a little flustered and working her apron on the black dress. Lex scrutinized her, then rolled his eyes.

“I’m having a company for dinner,  so don’t delay anything today. Mother said she’ll be here on time for lunch and asked Lena to be ready, apparently there’s a dressmaker coming up here today in the afternoon for the next Luthor-Corp’s annual ball.” He rashly pointed out, without ever looking back to his sister ou showing any kind of emotional besided rage. “I’m going to be on my lab, call me only when Lillian’s here.”

“Yes, Mr. Luthor,” the cook dutifully nodded and ran back to separate the recipes for lunch. Lillian was extremely stiff  with her diets, point of the meat, vegetables and also with the source of all the food that entering the mansion.

“Can I help you at the lab?” Lena asked a bit hesitant, but hopeful. Lex laughed in disbelief, closed his hands in a firm fist and then let it go. He was on his limit.

“This is one of the reasons why I hate going back to this house,” his words hit her like her like sharp razors on her chest. “You're always so clingy, so desperately in need of attention. You must stop depending on the affection of others, Lena. This will only lead to ruin.” He picked up his blazer over the counter and then looked at her once more. “It would be better to change, you look like an abandoned orphan girl. Where is your nanny? Why won’t you cause her headaches? Mrs. McPhee gets paid for it.”

Lena sadly sighed. “You’re different,” she retorted with his harsh words still ricocheting in her fragile heart. “I don’t like it.”

“Let me teach you something, sister.” His voice dropped a tone and scared her more than before. “People change, lie, betray and are only waiting for the right opportunity to stab you on your back. Keep this in mind, it’s going to save your time and breath.”

Lena didn’t quite understood what he meant with that, but she was certain about one thing: this wasn’t her brother anymore.

 

***

 

A few minutes of silence followed inside the mansion, and as unusual as it was in the present circumstances, given the fact that the day before everyone was listening to music, laughing and talking loudly, Kara could still hear every single sound coming from the floors above. The hurried footsteps of someone running down the stairs resounded in their sensitive hearing as if they were herds of elephants running around the house, there was also loud music inside one of the rooms, the noise of the lawnmower on the outside and some voices from the kitchen. Even if she was about to kneel, beg the heavens to relieve that pain, scream or anything to help her turn those sounds off, the blonde continued marching on in the basement, going from one side to the other, turning around the couch one, two, three and a thousand times. Without ever failing to face the ceiling, because her friend was somewhere out there and she was worried.

Kara tried to lie down, wait and not listen to the other’s conversation, Alura had said that it was impolite to do such a thing, however, when Lena's broken voice broke into her heart, the pain was completely different. How was she supposed to stay calm and simply pretend that nothing was wrong? Lex. She remembered perfectly when her friend told her that he was the most intelligent person she knew, that he was her brother and the only one who cared enough to make the youngest girl feel the minimum of security and affection inside that mausoleum in the which the mansion had been transformed. But his harsh, stiff, cold voice made the Kryptonian jump up and run to the door, ready to tear it from the wall with her bare hands and rescue her best friend. Lena was trying to convince him to help her with the her new science project, telling him how much fun they would be working together, and even though  Lex watched and felt Lena’s excitement, the plea and the hope in her voice, he still decided to show his worse.

After that, everything was like a blur of sounds, as if they had all been mixed together and become a single, confused noise. She tried to follow the little Luthor's footsteps as she ran down the corridors, but Mr. Rogers was approaching with the mower. Kara closed her eyes, covered her ears for a few seconds, and could notice how fast her own heart was racing. And that gave her a brilliant idea. Then, closing all three small basement windows and sitting in front of the door, the blonde took a deep breath and concentrated. In her mind, images of a brunette girl, emerald-green eyes, as crystal-clear as natural pools, long black hair, and an unmistakable smile gradually flooded her thoughts. Kara focused on her friend's laughter when she heard her say something silly, the way she raised her eyebrows and then on her heart.

Kara remembered the rhythm of her heartbeat, because she would not admit it aloud, but she had memorized it. That was what made her sleep more peacefully since she'd arrived on Earth.

And then, she found her. All the sounds were erased and could only listen to her best friend’s soft and sweet heart.

“Lena.”

As she heard footsteps approaching, she stood up and walked away from the door, going to sit back on the couch and try not to smile in anticipation - which was impossible, Kara finally wanted to be able to hug her friend.

The thump of the door slamming into one of the boxes frightened her. She was so inert in her mental travels that she forgot about the little mess she'd made inside the basement in that little time alone. Lena was still in her pajamas, her feet covered only by socks and her hair was disheveled. Yet, however utterly unacceptable and atypical for a Luthor, the Kryptonian only managed to pay attention to the light red around the green iris of her favorite eyes, as they didn’t have the usual brightness. One of the few things that made her sad about her friend was the fact that she was always holding back her tears. After all, what's the problem with crying? What's wrong with showing what you're feeling? Rao, it was as crisp in the way the brunette bit her lower lip or breathed deeply before she tried to speak, how close she was of having a huge breakdown right there.

Yet, the little Luthor walked in silence and didn’t let her fears took away the best of herself, like usually happened at night. When she could cry till her lungs hurt and wish she had never been adopted. It was in moments like this that anger, bitterness, and near-hatred rooted in her heart emerged triumphant, showing how strong they were and howling all over the hurricane of feelings Lena held in her chest. The sense of relief came soon after, followed by guilt and the desire to not open her eyes again the next day, because what was the point? Why would the Luthors keep her there if they didn’t want her? She understood. She was not their daughter, she didn’t have the same blood, she didn’t carry the same surname. God, Lena didn’t even know her real last name. So why did Lionel look for her at the orphanage, saying that he would be her father, explaining that he was taking her home when, in fact, that mansion would never be anything like one.

Lena didn’t belong anywhere.

“Lena?” Kara called her again, scared now of how ruined and broken her friend was. Her eyes fixed on any point on the table showed nothing but emptiness. Lena had sat down beside the blonde, but not a single word had escaped her lips since then.

The brunette then turned her face and found the blue ocean of Kara’s, bright and clear. And she was jealous. Jealous because in her confused mind, in her thoughts and totally mistaken and infantile conceptions, Kara was free. Kara could go wherever she wanted, she could simply run away and no one would go behind her to tell that a new family would adopt her and take her home. When she actually would never belong to anywhere. Did she feel sad or happy for it? Lena didn’t know what to say and had difficulty understanding human feelings and emotions, she was never someone who could comprehend the other’s pain; and that was why she took it for herself, like it was hers. Because if this pain was in her heart, then she’d understand. Then she’d feel it pounding deep down in her chest.  

“Lena, please, say something,” she desperately begged. “You- are you okay?”

Silence followed in the basement, but then Lena sighed. “I- I…” speak seemed like an impossible task, as if the vibration of her vocal cords were something deadly to her inert and tired body. “I am,” she managed to reply.

“Don’t lie to me, I’m your best friend and best friends don’t lie to each other.” Kara stated convincingly, even though she didn’t know for sure if that was true. She just wanted Lena to be honest and stop hiding what she was feeling. “Can I hug you?”

“Please…”

Carefully, Kara pulled Lena closer and wrapped her arms around her, always trying to keep her strength closer to normal and acceptable. The brunette quickly held her tight, her hands clutching the back of the yellow dress the blonde wore and hiding her face on her bony, thin shoulders. Kara let the other take a deep breath as often as necessary, waited for her to snuggle in that hug and allow herself to relax. Her hands lovingly caressed little Luthor's back, up and down the fabric of her pajama shirt and then into her hair, where Kara slowly untangled them with her fingertips. Both remained so, without letting go, without speaking or daring to move.

Still, Lena's heart was still beating fast and audible. Like someone running away from something.

“Lena?” Kara whispered. The brunette, however, kept her head laid down on her shoulders. “You can cry… if you want to. I won’t judge you, okay? I got you, just let me help… please.”

And then a soft, low sob echoed in the basement, and the little Luthor's whole body shuddered with the sense of finally being able to release what was consuming her from the inside out. Lena hid her face again, crying and sobbing  louder now, her fingers still clinging to the blonde's dress to the point that knuckles were turning white. Kara held her more firmly, like she was protecting her most valuable treasure and hiding her from everything and everyone. Rao, she wanted to do so much more, to say something that could solve that problem, but unfortunately she didn’t have enough knowledge to deal with it. She had seen other people crying, her mother, for example, and her Aunt Astra, but no one let her in or asked her to help. Because Kara was a child and children should not carry that weight.

But how would she do now that the person she loved most on Earth was asking for help?

Lena coughed through sobs, her throat still bad from the flu and her head aching with the effort. After a few minutes, she stepped away and wiped her face with the sleeve of her t-shirt, trying to regain some control of her emotions as quickly as possible, but Kara didn’t let her swallow it all up again, on the contrary. The Kryptonian held her wrists and moved her hands away from her face, smiling tenderly. There was so much love in her eyes, so much affection and kindness that it made Lena draw back a little, because she wasn’t used to such intensity. She felt her friend's warm fingers brush away her tears still running down her cheeks, pull the strands of hair glued to her forehead and push them back.

“Did you hear everything?” Lena asked after a long sigh.

“Yeah… I did, I tried not to but, but… it’s still hard for me.” She said honestly. She didn’t do it badly and didn’t want her friend to think she was intruding on something. “I’m sorry.”

“It’s okay, I think everyone in this house heard us anyways.” They both pulled back and sat more comfortably on the couch, crossing their legs one over the other. Kara was still close and then reached for the other's hand, entwining her fingers and paying attention to every detail of her features. She would be ready to hold her at any moment.

I will always catch you.

It was a promise.

The blonde one shyly smiled and her cheeks blushed in a cute light pink. “I, uh… can I say something?” Lena smirked and gradually her eyes returned to usual brightness.

“Haven’t you already said?” She teased.

“Duh, not this.”

Lena rolled her eyes. “Yes, you can.”

“You are beautiful, er… uh, I’m not saying this ‘cause you’re my best friend and I’m yours, but… er, yeah… I think you’re the prettiest girl in the universe.” She nervously coughed, looking away from the same empty spot on the coffee table.

Lena softly squeezed her hand, assuring her that it was okay. But Kara looked like she was about to explode. Her cheeks were now red. “And how do you know this?” The tone of amusement in her voice was clear. As clear as the sincere smile that gushed from her rosy lips. “Have you already been to all the places in the universe?”

“Uh, no? But I don’t need to. I’m sure of it.”

They both looked content, pleased that they could use such sincerity with each other. There were no secrets, well, Kara hadn’t told her about her mission yet, about her lost cousin, but she knew that at one point or another she would end up telling the truth. In her simple, pure heart, she was just avoiding worrying Lena about something she couldn’t even help and about which the Kryptonian didn’t want help. It was her mission, it was her promise.

Yet all her coherent thoughts as well as her rhythmic heartbeats derailed like a train at high speed as she felt the warm lips on her warm cheek. Kara closed her eyes and sighed in ecstasy, turning her face in the least to smile back at her best friend.

“I have to go upstairs and change, soon my mother will be back and she’ll not like to find me still in my pajamas.” They both sighed.

“What about you dad? Where’s he?” Kara asked, never letting go the other’s hand.

“You can hear this music, right?” She nodded. “Well, he always locked himself in the library when he’s angry and impatient, and drinks whiskey and listen to Maria Callas.”

“I wish we could stay together today and that there was another movie like the one we watched yesterday.” Kara pouted and snorted, making the other giggle.

Lena nudged her nose, “There are thousands of movies like the one we watched, silly.”

“There are others?” She shouted and her eyes widen.

“There is also a park-”

“There is a park!” This time she yelled. Lena laughed as Kara seemed deeply mistaken, but tried to process all that information at once.

Rao, there were not just one but many movies like Hercules and more, Disney had a park.

Rao, she didn’t even know what a park was!

"There's smoke coming out of your head while you're thinking" Lena teased, but the blonde quickly placed her hands over her hair and opened her eyes wide.

“There is? Where?” She continued to feel her scalp and search for such smoke. “I don’t - I can’t see!”

"Kara, that's an expression." She gripped her wrists and laughed again. God, that was so funny. “That's what we say when someone thinks too much.”

"But why smoke?" She frowned. Lena just rolled her eyes and left that conversation for another time.

The noise of footsteps upstairs caught the attention of both of them and reminded them that they were no longer alone.

"I'm going upstairs and change clothes, my mother comes only at lunchtime, so we have time to play outside," she suggested cheerfully, "what do you think?"

“Okay!”

"But you have to stay in here, be quiet and wait for me," the blonde nodded quickly, shaking her head and raising her thumbs up as a positive sign. "I'll be right back.”

 

***

 

Staring at herself in the mirror became the most terrifying thing for Lena. Usually, she’d avoided looking at her body or even comb her hair in the bathroom, it hurt a lot realizing that she hadn’t reached her goals yet. Once, she considered asking Mr Roger to take that mirror away and change it to another room, maybe it could help her anyway, but deep down Lena knew she’d sneak out of her bedroom to just torture herself in front of it again. It was a lost battle with her mind. And there she was again, wearing just her panties and heavily sighing while her hands measured her forearm with her thumb and index finger. Lex said he could notice the weight loss and Lena wondered if he could notice anything more. Her own reflection didn’t show her what she wanted to see. Again, she circled her forearm, trying to close her two fingers around it, like it could prove herself anything. Like this was the only proof of her effort all those past few days she’d spent all alone in that empty mansion.

But it didn’t. There was still a few inches left.

Then her hand loosened her arm and went down on her hips, where her protruding skinny bones were showing the way down to the pelvis. Anyone that took a single minute to look at her would see how her collarbones were so sharp that could nearly rip out her skin, or how her ribcage could be counted without having to touch her sides and feel it. But Lena could not see this, because her mind kept saying she needed to lose more, to try harder and prove her best to her mom. She only could see fat, the way her finger didn’t touch each other around her forearm, or how there wasn’t a gap between her tights. Also, her cheeks still looked like a baby one, fat and huge. Turning herself to the side, she tried to notice anything different and maybe find Lex’s words written on her skin but only felt his critical gaze making everything worse.

You look terrible, Lena.

Yes, she knew it. That was why she tried so hard to reach her goals, to be better and lose weight. Lillian would be back in a few hours and probably would ask her to fit in all the perfect dresses she bought in her last previous trip to Europe. Lena didn’t want to disappoint her mother. Her only monther now. So she reached out her journal inside the closet, opened it in the last page and wrote everything that was aching in her heart and making herself feel suffocated. The words were filled with pain, fear, confusion, self deprecations accusations and new goals, and the youngest Luthor hadn’t even noticed the warm tears streaming down her cheeks, like it was also writing something in her own skin. Like it could fight against the girl, writing the reverse of those mean words she thought about herself. After finishing it, the brunette picked the measuring tape and wrote down each measure of her body: her tights, forearm, waist, hips and weighted herself again.

Hiding everything back in the closet drawer, she quickly picked out a green white polka dot dress and a pair of old converse. Kara was waiting for her and she almost forgot about her friend, that was probably destroying more pillows by now with her uncontrollable, agitated, super strength. Teeth brushed, hair combed and in a perfect ponytail, she looked at the huge judging mirror for the last time. Sighing, Lena shook her head as if it could shake away her self destructing thoughts and climb down the stairs again, thinking only to spend as much time as she could with the only person that mattered now. The kryptonian’s words were still dancing around her head and fighting with Lex’s. As she walked through the corridor, a massive war was happening inside her mind and it was so tiring. Lena was exhausted and even though she knew she needed help, to stop starving herself to death and  eat properly like a normal human being, she could not find the strength to fight against it.

The truth was that she didn’t want to find it. Having all those strange and dangerous goals was the only thing that was keeping her somehow alive.

“Lena! What took you so long to come back?” Kara almost threw herself over her friend’s body as she heard the door being opened. That would have made them collapse on the floor. “I missed you!”

The younger Luthor rolled her eyes, like usual and pulled Kara closer for a soft hug. They both relaxed on that embrace. “It was just only twenty minutes, silly. But now we can go out and play, Lex’s in his lab and father’s still in the library. He won’t be out till lunch, probably.”

“Okay, and uh… I like your dress, by the way.” She stammered out a bit shy. Her cheeks flushed in a soft pink and she bit her lower lip as if she had said some weird thing.

“It’s my favorite because it has the same color as my eyes,” she happily confessed. “But now let’s go! We only have a few hours beforethe witch’s back.”

“The what?”

Oh god.

“My mother. Nana doesn’t like when I call her that but it’s not so bad.” She shrugs and held out her hand for Kara to hold. “Come on! Let’s go!”

Kara frowned, wrinkling her nose and raising one brow. “Why would you call her witch? What’s a witch?”

“Can we just go? Do you wanna play outside with me or not?” That made the bouncy blonde perk up a lot again and she quickly rushed to catch the red towel and cardboard bracelets Lena left on the couch the day before. “What are you doing?”

“What if you need me to save you? I can’t do it without my cape and bracelets!”

Oh sweet lord.

“I don’t-”

“You said you’d be my Meg.” She cut her off as she crossed her arms and stared at the Luthor with the hugest smug face.

“I don’t recall that.”

“Lena!” Lena, of course, giggled with her puppy best friend behavior. She did remember about saying she’d be her Meg but wouldn’t say that out loud again now.

“If, and only if, I need to be saved then yes, you can’t do it without your cape.” Kara yelped excitedly and quickly held Lena’s hand. “Now let’s go.”

The weather was still unsteady with grey clouds and wet wind but Lena, Kara found Mrs Pot’s kid outside playing with some toys and they both joined them with their own. Lena had some dolls and legos her nanny had saved them in her room. Lillian would have tossed them in the trass if she’d ever found out about them. Marcus and Lucca greeted them with smiles and wavings, calling them to play together with the miniatures of plastic cars, airplanes and green soldiers. Kara glanced at them, a bit unsure if they’d like her or think she was a kind of weirdo from another planet. Well, they didn’t know about Krypton or where she was from, but still. Her speech skills weren’t so good yet as her capacity of understanding expressions, jokes and some specific words. The new toys were sprawled all over the grass and Lucca, the youngest boy, with his hair as golden as hers, shout extremely happy and animated about having several legos to play with. Lena had a huge collection and was pretty proud of it - and thankful that her nanny was smart enough to hide it before her mother find and be mad.

Kara held still, afraid and anxious as she watched their interaction with each other. Lena seemed relaxed with them while she helped Marcus build an enormous wall to protect his soldiers from the airplanes attack. Lucca still was narrating the race, putting all the little plastic colorful cars in their right positions before making them run in the grass, he had built up a race road with small rocks and bleachers for his blue soldiers. Mrs McPhee and Mrs Pot were watching them from afar, a bit worried and relieved that the children were having some fun time. But their hearts were pounding loudly in their chests, making Mrs McPhee wonder if she should ask Lena to take Kara  inside the basement again or not. Maybe it was too dangerous for them, Lionel could decide to show up at any time, or Lex. How would them explain about the new girl? What excuse would they have to make up now? Figuring out that situation was giving everyone an uncomfortable headache, which was making everything way worse than it already was.

But Mrs Pot said she could lie about Kara and just say she was a cousin from another city. Everything was going to be fine, they’d have to hide the girl from Lillian and to this they had some time yet.

“Marcus, Lucca, this is my friend Kara.” Caughting her friend’s shyness, the little Luthor stood up again and held her hand. “She’s my best friend.”

The ginger boy arched a brow and amusedly snorted to that information. He knew Lena, they were friends and that meant he also was sure the Luthor girl didn’t have any best friend. “I thought you haven’t any, lost princess.”

“Don’t call her that!” Kara shouted, ready to put her cape on and defend Lena like a real hero. She had heard Lex calling her best friend like that and didn’t like it at all, his tone was mean as if ‘lost princess’ was something bad. In fact, she didn’t know about any lost princess, or its meaning or how she’d got lost in the first place.

Lena, on the other hand, was used to all the bad and the not so funny nicknames kids had given to her since she was four. “Don’t worry, Kara, everyone here calls me that.”

“I don’t like it and I also don’t like the way he said you haven’t had any best friend.”

“Well, I hadn’t, but now I have you and you’re my best wonderbread friend.” At that statement, Kara’s baby blue eyes lit up brighter than the sun itself and Lena softly smiled at her, thinking about how lucky she was for having the kryptonian in her life. Even though the universe would come up with something to tear them apart at some time.

“Weak ankles.” The blonde replied.

“Uh, are you two dating?” Lucca innocently asked while mimicking engine noises, his brown eyes shining with the sunlight and his freckles looking like stars printed on the chubby red cheeks.

Mrs McPhee listened to that and muffled a surprised laugh, she surely hadn’t seen that coming and was kind of shocked to think of her two girls being more than just friends. Sure, love was love in any kind, shape and color, but they were so little and young. She wouldn’t be surprised to be honest if they fall in love someday — if they managed to stay in touch even after having to be away from each other and having to deal with the Luthor family. It’d be a long journey, Nana was sure of it and she hopefully wished she could watch them grow up together and become the two strong women the world would be proud of. But while the nanny was thinking about how funny and lovely Kara and Lena would be as a couple, Marcus laughed out loud with that stupid and weird idea. Sure, they were all in that phase where boys hated girls and vice versa. Lucca seemed indifferent to what he had just said though, too young to understand why his brother was laughing at and why the two little girls were astonished, her mouths opened and widened eyes, like he had said the most disgusting thing in the whole world.

“Ew, no! Why- why would you think that?” Lena dreary asked. God, she hated boys so much and couldn’t even consider that situation. Dating involved kissing and some others nasty things that maybe she was too aware at a young age.

“Mom said that when two people give each other heart-eyes they’re in love and dating.” Lucca replied as it was the most obvious truth ever. “Lena, are you in love with Kara?”

“What? No!”

“You- you don’t love me anymore?” Kara let her friend’s hand go, with confusion flooding in her eyes.

Dammit.

“I do love you but I’m not in love with you, they’re two different things.” Lena calmly explained, sighing and trying not to mentally kill Luccas. It wasn’t his fault but now she was in trouble with her best friend. And she truly hated that. “But of course I love you, don’t you believe in me anymore?”

“I do! Of course I do!” Marcus and Lucca curiously watched them interact. “I was just- I was thinking that maybe you didn’t love me anymore because you’re ashamed of me and-” The words speedily came out or her lips as she nervously gestured with her hands moving around. Thank god they were outside or Kara would have broken everything by the time she stopped speaking.

“Kara, breathe!” Lena cut her off and covered her mouth with her hands, rolling her eyes at the stupid cute blonde girl who seemed to have super speed in her tongue sometimes. “Can you shut up for a minute?”

“Mhm” She nodded wither voice still muffled in Lena’s hands.

“I’d never be ashamed of you, dork puppy. But can we play with them now and forget about the dating thing, please?”

“Is it so bad that they think we’re dating though?” She whispered when the Luthor girl released her mouth. It had a bit of insecurity in her voice, they both didn’t know why. Kara had never dated anyone before, that was for sure, she was too young and hadn’t start thinking or wondering about it yet. Boys were boys and girls, well, girls. Just friends. The same was valid for Lena, she was even younger than the kryptonian to ever think about dating. For her it was harder, no one ever wanted to be her friend let alone be something more. Plus, she didn’t have any examples of romantic relationship to rely on, how would she know about this kind of things? “Sorry, I just don’t understand how this dating thing works…”

“Me either, but I think- well, for me it wouldn’t be a problem dating you, I just don’t think I’d ever be able to do… uh, some dating stuff with you? Like kissing?” She bit her lip and felt her face heating up. “And I don’t know if two people can remain as best friends and date? I mean, what if it can’t and I lose you?”

“Then let’s make a deal,” by that Kara was proud. Making an amazing deal like that one would let Lena proud too, at least in her naive and pure mind. “No dating, ever.”

“Sounds good to me, wonder bread.” She teased and smirked, raising up her pinky to seal that promise up. “No dating.” Kara happily accepted it and interlaced their pinkies.

“Are you two ever going to stop talking shit and come play with us?” Marcus annoyingly asked. “Lucca isn’t even paying attention anymore.” He pointed to his brother that was now laying on his belly in the grass reading the LEGO’s manual.

Lucca hadn’t learnt to read yet though.

“I have an idea.”

“Then tell us, genius.” Marcus teased, crossing his arms over his chest and challenging her like he’d always do. They both liked to compete against each other about who had the best games ideas. Lena did the same with the most iconic smug face.

“What are they doing?” Kara asked Lucca, who simply shrugged and shook his head.

“I don’t know.”

“Treasure hunt.”

“This is your best idea?” The boy stood up, cleaning his dirty hands on his t-shirt and stared at the Luthor, “okay, but only if you let me team up with the blondie weirdo.”

“She’s not a weirdo and isn’t going with you. Kara’s my best friend, period.” Lena grabbed the kryptonian’s hand again, Kara could feel how nervous she was. Lucca also stood up and went to his brother's side. “You go with Lucca and hide your treasure only in the garden, okay? Me and Kara have to know what it is and we’ll also hide ours around here. First your team and then mine, the rules are: don’t cheat, don’t hide the treasure inside the mansion, don’t ask for tips and the first one who find it will win the game.”

The game started. Lucca and Marcus went first to hide the plastic blue car somewhere in the garden while the girls waited with their eyes closed. After it, Kara and Lena chose to hide one of the plastic green soldiers and were really sure that none of the boys would ever find it. Lena had played this game several times at school, her physical education teacher liked to do this game in order to teach the kids how to work in a group and also because it was fun. But the thing was: Lena was the best at it. Her group always won and everyone liked to team up with her just to have a better grade in the end of the semester. To be honest, she didn’t care about only having all those kids around her when they wanted to kind of take advantage of her treasure hunt skills. In fact she liked the idea of everyone thinking she was the best and that her teacher was also proud of her. Sports weren’t her favorite thing to do, swimming was a completely nightmare, soccer and volleyball made her sweat and she hated being all wet and disgusting. Although her grades were always the best one in the school, she had to put a bigger effort on this specific subject so her father wouldn’t complain with her about being a total loser with it.

The only single problem - that was also the major problem - with the rule ‘only in the garden’ was that the mansion’s garden was largely enormous. While Kara looked around the pool, crouching down to verify under the bushes, Lena went to roses part and Marcus was having a little arguing with his brother, since Lucca wasn’t cooperating anymore after sitting on the grass again and getting distracted by some Mr Rogers’ gardening tools. With almost ten minutes of hunting, leaning over the bushes, looking under all the trees and inside all boxes, the brunette shout excitedly as she held out a blue car in her hands. Marcus groaned a bit upset and blamed his brother for not being the best person to team up, calling him a baby but noticing that the little boy didn’t even listen to all his words. This time, he asked for help - because Lena was good enough to play that game by herself, she didn’t need Kara. Then, they switched up the teams and now Kara and Marcus were together while Lena would hunt alone. They waited for her to hide the plastic soldier again and after it their blue car was hidden in a secret place too.

The ginger boy began to look for their treasure behind some bushes that were in the left side of the mansion. “Are you good at finding things, blondie?”

“I’m good, I think,” she simply replied, not knowing what he wanted her to say.

“You don’t seem so sure.” Because she wasn’t.

“I’m better when I’m with Lena.”

Marcus groaned in disgust and wished that Kara was a boy and not Lena’s clingy best friend. “Ugh, why girls are so bleh. Okay, you just have to look around and find the green soldier.”

As the kids ran through the entire garden, giggling and yelling their victories, the sun was gradually rising in the sky, showing that lunchtime was probably in one hour or less. Lena and Kara’s dresses were dirty with mud and grass, their hairs falling on their wet flushed cheeks and sticking on the little sweat drops rolling down on their foreheads. Kara also had some brown spots on her arms and legs, Marcus by then was laying on the grass again without his t-shirt with his arms opened and the mud sticking in every single part of his tiny body. The Luthor girl had won five times while Kara and Marcus won just three. Lucca gave up on the game in the first round and now was trying to climb on a tree and reach its top without having to call his mom for help - which was an impossible task since the little boy was pretty scared of heights. The other three kids decided to take a rest. The kryptonian slowly closed her eyes, feeling the sunlight fill her veins with strength and flood her biological system with something different, but so good. She could feel how her body reacted like the sun was some kind of food, but stronger and warmer.

“You just won because we let you, actually your best friend did it.” Marcus pointed out still upset about losing for the Luthor’s girl again. Actually, he should be used to it by now, but it was way more fun to mess around with her. He would never say it out loud that maybe Lena was one of his best friends to play with. She was always smart, kind and fair and also liked to play with Lucca - something that his friends from school (mostly boys) didn’t like so much because he was slower for some kind of games and still younger than everyone.

Kara chuckled at that. “I didn’t”

“Yes, you did.”

Lena raised her eyebrows and kept paying attention on their silly argument. She wanted to know how Kara would find a way out of that discussion.

“It’s not my fault that she’s better than us together, she’s smart enough to win over us, I don’t need to let her do anything.” Kara one, Marcus zero.

“Why are you always on her side, you were supposed to be my partner!”

“Lena and I are always on the same side.”

The brunette softly squeezed Kara’s hand and felt her cheeks blushing, again. Then, Kara took a deep breath, enjoying the suddenly and more than relaxing silence. As she let herself be filled with all those weird extraordinaries and breathtaking feelings, her hands found its way to Lena’s and silently asked to hold it tightly. Their fingers intertwined once more and Lena turned her face to stare at the blonde puppy laying beside her.

Her hair was golden like gold itself, her pink so well outlined lips closed in big smile and all her features relaxed as if she was lost in a dream world full of pizza, cookies and Disney movies. She could see her exotic beauty and only thought about how the other kryptonians would look like. Was Kara’s mother as beautiful and sunny as she was? Did she have intense ocean blue eyes that were always so incisive and pleading? Lena wished she could meet them and thank them for letting Kara be her best friend. But suddenly the scary heavy thought of having to let her go, because Lillian would never allow her to stay made her heart sank deeply in her chest. What would she do when Kara was gone? How would Kara survive alone and who would take care of her? Would she to an orphanage like she went years ago after her biological mother’s death? God, she wanted so bad to cry and ask all the stars to do something, to change the universe’s entropy or whatever the stars do, but sadly and unfortunately her mind wasn’t so naive as it was before. Stars didn’t make wishes come true and the universe wouldn’t change anything just because she wanted too.

“Lena?” She heard her melodic voice and let it take her out of her desperate mind. “Your heart is beating loud, what’s wrong?”

“Uh, nothing,” sighing and squeezing Kara’s hand, Lena glanced up at her and smiled. The grass was pinching her arms making her skin itch. “I was just overthinking.”

Of course she was, the blonde one silent thought. “You have mud in your hair,” she pointed to the loosened part of the ponytail and laughed, but then her stomach impatiently growled  “Can we have lunch now?”

“Is there a monster roaring in your tummy?” She poked the blonde’s side, making her laugh and roll away over the grass. Marcus slapped his face as he heard that ridiculous conversation. Why girls were so mellow and boring? “Let’s go shower and then ask Mrs Pot if lunch is ready for you.”

She jumped up and helped Kara to do the same. God, she’d need to hide theses clothes from her nanny or maybe toss it somewhere no one would never ever find it. The yellow and green dress turned brown and had grass stuck in the cotton fabric. Not to mention their shoes, Nana would be so mad at them. After saying their goodbyes to Marcus and Lucca, that decided to stay there until their mom would call them for lunch, they both walked to the balcony to left their shoes by the kitchen’s door side. By the time Lena asked Kara to carefully and quietly come back to the basement because she needed to peer around the mansion to make sure no one would be there to caught them both, she felt something different in the air and had nothing to do with the amazing delicious smell coming out of the kitchen. It was like the mansion were immersed in a deeply dark tension that made her feel colder and her suspicions sent a bad sensation tingle down her spine, making all her body shiver up.

When she turned left to head up to the stairs she noticed the two white and red suitcases standing side by side, there was also black overcoat. That could only mean one terrible thing.

“Glad to see my daughter is as presentable as I asked,” the cold rigid tone cut through the air like a sharp blade and made Lena realized that all the house employees were lined up side by side, like they were nothing more than suitcases. “All dressy,” the younger Luthor tried to hide her dirty hands behind her back but she knew it was useless. Lillian would kill her with just a glance. “I thought I paid you to make my daughter look less like an orphan and more like a human, Mrs. McPhee.” Now, her disappointed and harsh gaze was on the nanny, “can you do your work just for once, for God’s sake?”

“Sorry, Mrs. Luthor, I’m going to take Lena upstairs and bring her back as you asked.” Nana didn’t even flinch with Lillian’s needless drama. “Lunch will be served in ten minutes, Mr. Luthor’s in the library and Lex is in his lab.”

She took Lena’s hand into hers, noticing that the little girl didn’t move or talk. As they were about to climb the first step up, Lillian spoke again, “If Lena isn’t back in time for lunch then there’s no need to bring her back to sit with us.” Nana saw the way the woman’s eyes shined a bit with that cruel idea and wanted to kill her with her bare hands, but that would only lead Lena to another roller coaster of abandonment, abuse and attempts to be a good girl - something she already was. “You only have nine minutes and forty one seconds,” she pointed to her wristwatch.

 

***

 

Any family meeting at the Luthor’s mansion was prelude for discussions that would lead Lionel to give up on eating his meal and head back to the library where he’d be able to drink alone, Lex would shake his head and sigh, doing exactly the same his father did and then going back to his lab. Lillian had never said a single word when this happened, which was something recurrent - if having lunch or dinner together were regular, even though everyone knew it wasn’t. The mansion’s employees always watch everything in silence, standing still in their positions and waiting for a new command. No one would dare try to say something or even try to help, it wasn’t anyone’s business and the only person they cared about was Lena. The poor little girl had to stay put until her mother said so and that could be for a long time. If having any meal with all the Luthor was something utterly unpleasant, having one with just Lillian would make you want to never have accept it in the first place and think that maybe the food was poisoned, because that woman was known as the evil itself incarnated.

Lena was sitting by Lex’s side, she managed to be back for lunch in time and was thankful for that, she might add. Nana helped her sit, recalled her about the good manners on the table and asked her to not put her elbows over it and wait for her mother’s orders. Lex and Lionel came together and then Lillian, all well dressed like that simple and daily meal was meant to be like Thanksgiving. And they had never celebrate that specific holiday as a family, there was no purpose on expecting that any one of them besides Lillian would be excited on having all the Luthors gathered together at the same time.

The food was served as Lex was reading some papers and Lionel finishing a call on his phone. Lillian merely paid attention to them and remained smiling, with her irreverent posture and as if nothing at all was happening to change her humor. Lena, on the other hand, was having a little problem with her arms. After spending the morning running and rolling over the grass, now her skin was itching and a bit irritated, with some red spots all over her forearm and elbows.

“Didn’t you take a proper shower, for god’s sake.” Lillian hissed as she watched the younger girl scratching her hands with so much aggressiveness to the point of nearly making the spots bleed. “Stop being nasty, sit up straight and eat your food.”

“Sorry, mother.”

Lex’s eyes flicked between his mother and his sister, he noticed the way Lena tried not to move or scratch any part of her arms. Lionel hung up and finally taste a bit of his own food, that was probably cooled down by the time he decided that maybe paying attention to his family was something needed and important. But instead of joining the conversation, he turned to his daughter and scanned over her features. She was thinner than before, for sure, but there was still something different, something he wasn’t able to put a name on or even know what it was. Her green eyes were brighter and her always pale skin sunburned, which meant the little girl had spend a lot of time outside instead of being in the library studying.

“Isn’t it so delightful to have all of us having a delicious meal together?” Mrs. Luthor tried again. She didn’t know why she had that need of making them speak and join her sick and horrendous play that only existed on her crazy mind. She wanted everyone to play their roles and pretend they were in fact a perfect family.

When the only very presence of Lionel’s daughter was the living proof of his betrayal.

“Oh, yes, so great.” Lex replied in a cold and cynical tone, “until our dad angrily get up without even saying hello to his precious daughter and I do the same, but having a bit of self respect.”

Lena stared at her brother in shock but realized she was probably the only one who seemed scared. “Lex, don’t bother your father, don’t you think it is hard enough for him to not be able to be at home everyday?” Lillian snorted impatiently.  

“No, I don’t.” He replied after munching away his steak and taking a sip of his wine. When he was about to keep going with his stubbornness and provoking behavior, Lionel cut him off.

“Stop arguing with your mother, Lex.” His frown left him silent, then he turned to Lena, “when you finish eating wait for me in the library, I have some math exercises for you to do.”

The brunette’s eyes widened and her only thought was about Kara and how she had promised her about being together the whole day. “But father, it’s Saturday and-“

“Mr. Brown told me you were being stubborn in his class and I want to make sure that you’re learning at least the basics before I’m flying back to Canada.” Ignoring her suddenly watering eyes, he got back on eating. “I’m not pleased with wasting tons of money on your education when you’re surely not interested in it, I’ll not let you make me regret bringing you home with me, understood?”

“Yes, father.” Her heart shattered apart and she wanted so bad to run back to the basement and hugs Kara.

“I thought we were going to Greece for the holiday, it’s our wedding anniversary” Lillian’s voice cracked a bit.

“I don’t have time for this stupidity, we celebrate it last year and it’s my job Lillian, I still am the head of Luthor-Corp until Lex is ready to rule everything.”

“But-“

“Enough, I’ve already decided it. Don’t waste your precious time trying to change my mind.” He stood up and tossed his napkin furiously on the table, “God, I can’t have a single time of peace in this damn house!” He shouted while aggressively pushing the chair back making it fell on the floor and startling everyone in the dining room.

Lionel left and they heard the library’s door slamming shut a few seconds after.

Mrs. Luthor took a deep breath, searching for her inner patience and the happy mask she’d always wear to not show any emotion. She turned to her son and fakely smiled. “And you, Lex, how’s your project going?”

“Could be done by now if I didn’t have to deal with that son of a bitch for a whole boring week.” Lex replied nonchalantly while Lena giggled at him and blinked back at her.

And that simple act cheered up Lena’s entire mood.

“Language.” Lillian scolded him, but was glad that he eased the tension Lionel left behind, “Lena, if you’ve finished then you can go meet your father. I’m going to visit a friend this afternoon but after it we have an appointment with the dressmaker. Don’t be late.”

“We’re gonna go out together?” Lena tried hard to not show any kind of happiness in her tone of voice, but the mere idea of having a mother-daughter moment with Lillian appeased her more than she could put into words.

Lex chuckled. Seeing his little sister so effortlessly falling into that trap was something in a weird way so funny but also made his skin crawl. He remembered so well how his mother wasn’t the kind of mother that liked to hug, tell stories or even show some kind of affection for her children and then he met a woman that was completely the opposite and he could never ever forget how it was the warmth of her arms around his trembling body, because he was scared and didn’t want to travel again to another boring meeting conference with Lionel. And maybe this so well remembered memory was the main reason for Lex to want Lena to suffer a bit. She could have everything he would never have and the excruciating idea of thinking that while the little Irish girl was conceived with love, desire and kindness and would always fall into the light, he would always be the genius boy with a broken family. Everytime he scanned Lena’s emotions, facial expressions and observed how she craved for love and affection it made him feel a different kind of rage and anger. “Someone seems lively with this idea.” He said as he pushed away the chair and prepared himself to stay as much time as he needed to finish his project in the lab. “Hope you two have a great and glorious afternoon together, you should be proud of your precious daughter, mother.”

“Why?” Lillian frowned in confusion and Lena stared at her brother waiting for another word.

Lex politely smiled, but it had something more written in his lips. Something no one was noticing. While his mouth showed something so simple and usual, his eyes were empty and full at the same time. Full of something that was burning inside his soul.

There was something evil in his smile.

“Now her dress will fit.” He simply replied, drank the last sip of his wine and left the dining room.