It’s been a week.
Seven days since her brother tried to enact his psychotic plan to turn aliens into energy.
Since she'd pointed a gun at him and pulled the trigger.
Since her world had come crashing down at the knowledge that her best friend has been lying to her the entire time they've known each other.
Games night had been incredibly hard - keeping a jovial air when everything she'd been feeling had been swirling about in her stomach like acid, but she'd needed to see them all through eyes no longer veiled with stupidity.
It had been so clear to her then that she no longer faulted Lex for calling her a fool. She had been.
The chiselled jaw. The strong arms that used to make her feel so safe despite Lena's need to protect the hapless reporter. The amount of times Supergirl had been perfectly placed to save her. The friendships with Martian Manhunter, Brainy, and Dreamer.
Yes, now that her eyes were clear, Lena was able to tell that Nia was Dreamer the second she saw the way Brainy gazed at her, and felt her heart clench in what she instinctively denied was a way she used to look at Kara.
All the signs has been there, she had just been too stupid to see them.
That still didn't excuse the fact that Kara had lied to her, for years, and made up excuse after excuse to get around her and Supergirl not being in the same place at the same time.
Lena can think of no other reason than the fact that, at heart, Kara never completely trusted her not to betray her, and only has to bring to mind the incident with Sam to justify it.
The way Supergirl has immediately jumped to the conclusion that she had been harbouring a secret stash of Kryptonite had been hurtful at the time, because Lena had thought of them as partial friends at least, but to know now that it had been Kara accusing her of such things was a knife to the gut that Lena found almost too painful to bear.
Suffering through games night has been a sweet hell for Lena, because she'd felt like she was being split in half the entire time.
One side of her longed for her previous oblivion, free of the knowledge her cruel brother had imparted before his life had expired, so that she could be free to sink into her best friends embrace with the abandon she'd need to confess her part in his demise.
While the other part of her, the darker part, simply wanted to hurl the wine bottle straight into that sweet, innocent face. Knowing that the broken shards of glass wouldn't do a damned thing to injure an inch of such flawless skin, Lena felt it would have been an effective way of telling the entire room that she knew the secret they all deemed her unworthy of holding.
In the end she'd simply chosen to team up with Kelly, who was the newest to the group and therefore probably had no knowledge of anything, yet, to suffer though the evening. The puppy dog eyes Kara had given Lena when she hadn't been her pick of partner had caused a twinge of guilt to flare in her treacherous heart for a moment, and caused the raven haired woman to grit her teeth against such folly.
Since then, she's dodged Kara like the plague.
Citing damage control from more Luthor madness, and working to ensure they have tracked down and cured all the Children of Liberty agents Ben Lockwood infected with the Harun'El serum, Lena has managed to keep the persistent blonde away, despite the endless stream of texts clogging up her phone.
Kara seems unusually eager to see her, and before all of this Lena would have been falling over herself to make it happen, but now she just rolls her eyes at what a naïve schoolgirl she had been. Before, she'd thought Kara had been eager to see her because she'd believed their friendship was evolving to more, yet it was really just Kara trying to make sure she remained in the dark to the truth about who she is.
Over the years many people have betrayed her.
People that had looked her in the eye and lied to her face; Mercy, Eve, Lillian, Lex. They'd all broken her heart a little, chipped away at the trust she found so hard to give in the first place, but Kara is first one to have actually cleaved it totally in half.
“Miss Luthor, I'm sorry to bother you.....”
Looking up at her assistant, Lena purses her lips in a thin smile despite feeling irritated. “That's quite okay, what is it?”
Gesturing towards the muted TV hanging on the wall, the new assistant Lena can't quite seem to remember the name of draws Lena's eye to a vibrant image of Kara in all her red and blue caped glory on the news channel. “It seems there has been another incident”.
Straightening up, Lena grabs the remote and raises the volume.
“.........see here that it appears to be a trap laid for the Superhero, to draw her in using innocent victims, both human and alien, then detonated once in range to take out them and the Girl of Steel”.
Staring at the footage, horrified, Lena watches as the camera pans across dozens of plastic wrapped corpses.
“As these dramatic scenes show, Supergirl fought heroically to try and save those here-” the screen flicks to grainy footage of Kara facing off against what appears to be a dozen robotic replicas of Lex's war suit, the green lasers blasting from them clearly infused with Kryptonite and taking a toll on the plucky woman despite her bravery “-but in the end she wasn't in time to get through before a secondary device was triggered”.
A loud explosion is heard and the picture on the screen goes fuzzy for a few seconds.
When it comes back the camera zooms in on a severely injured Supergirl, blood pouring from multiple lacerations where the Kryptonite has struck her, and with a large shard of metal clearly embedded in her ribs.
Despite the pain she is obviously in Kara still manages to drag herself over to the building where the hostages were being kept, which has had half the wall knocked down by the power of the explosion, and stumbles out of sight for a few seconds. When she returns she is cradling the body of a child in her arms, a girl that looks to be no more than three or four in age by the looks of it, and who on a normal day would weigh no more to the Super than a greenfly to a regular human.
Now, however, the weight of the child makes the Kryptonian stumble and trip under the added strain, and she barely makes it out of the building before she crumples to the floor when her strength gives out on her. As she crashes to the ground amongst the bricks and rumble, Lena can't help covering her mouth as a gasp of shock escapes her at just how weak Kara is, then feels her own eyes fill with tears as she watches the woman she has felt nothing but vitriol for this past week sink her head down onto the no longer beating chest of the tiny child, and weep brokenly.
The last shot before the camera cuts off is a blurred image of a group of black clad soldiers rushing in to surround Supergirl, but Lena is able to recognise the familiar redhead leading them well enough to spot Alex as she heads towards her sister, and once again feels a treacherous urge to call and check if she is okay.
“There is no word yet on the status of Supergirl, but from these images we can tell it was clearly a devastatingly hard blow, physically and emotionally for our selflessly dedicated protector”.
Unable to help scoffing slightly at the word selfless, Lena clicks the TV back onto mute and turns away from the screen.
Stopping when she finds her new assistant still standing beside her, with a slightly scandalised look on her face, Lena raises a questioning eyebrow at her. “You have something to say?”
“Supergirl just nearly died trying to save those people, yet you still don't think she's selfless?”
The question makes Lena flinch, though she hides it well. “I think Supergirl does a lot of things, not all of them purely good, for reasons no one but she knows the answer to”.
“Well, whatever her reasons are, I'm sure they're valid”. Lifting her chin and giving Lena a more defiant look than the CEO thought the timid assistant had in her, the new woman meets her boss's eyes evenly. “She has to hide a part of herself from the world, just to remain safe, while at the same time risking her life for total strangers every single day. That must take quite a toll on a person, don't you think?”
“You almost sound like you know her”. Tilting her head curiously, Lena studies the woman in front of her and wonders if she has yet another untrustworthy assistant. “I've known her for four years and yet I feel like I hardly know her at all”.
“I know what's it's like to need to hide a part of yourself. To fear people finding out the secret that could leave you not only alone in this world, but possibly removed from it”. Flashing her boss a quick, sad smile, the brunette slips her hand into her pocket and curls her fingers around the device nestled there. Pressing the button to switch off the power, the cloaking tech peels back her human disguise and reveals her true form. “Supergirl dedicates her life to protecting this city, and the world, from humans and aliens alike, despite never having been asked to do so. So, if she needs to hide a few parts of herself to protect her life in return, is it really too much to ask if we allow her that one, small grace?”
Jaw hanging open in total surprise, Lena can do nothing more than stare at the gigantic alien that has taken the place of her once tiny assistant. “That's my device?”
“It is”. Clicking the power back on, the brunette persona returns to wrap around the body of the eight foot white alien, and 'Jenny' smiles warmly at her boss. “It was also the reason I applied to work for you”.
Mind whirring with a thousand and one thoughts, Lena isn't able to process any one coherently enough to settle on a course of action just yet, so decides to allow her - gigantic, Hyn'nec assistant, to continue talking for now.
“When I first arrived on Earth I heard the same stories as everyone about the Luthor's-” at the grimace she sees on Lena's face Jenny is quick to carry on “-but then I found an article about you in an edition of Catco magazine and it made me rethink everything. The way the writer talked about you, like they actually knew you and described you being so different from the rest of your kin. Well, it gave me hope that not everyone would be judged for the terrible deeds of their family”.
Having become close with J'onn and spoken to him about his past, Lena knew that conflict within families was common no matter what planet you came from.
“We are not the legacies we are born into”.
“That's what I learned from you”. Giving her a warm smile, Jenny nods in agreement. “All the articles I read, especially the ones from Kara Danvers at Catco, told me that you were a woman who wanted to make the world a better, more just place; far from the legacy of hate and cruelty your family tried to foster. Your device helps those of us that would be otherwise shunned and ostracised, fit in. Be a part of making this world a better place. I just wanted, in my own small way, to try and help you along the way”.
“Why didn't you interview with the device?”
“Would you have hired me if I had?”
Touché. Lena knows she wouldn't, because despite all her rhetoric there are some biases that just run too deep. A Hyn'nec just looks too different, and she would have said no instantly. Sighing deeply, she shakes her head. “I would not have”.
“Are you going to fire me now you know what I am?”
Raising her chin, Lena considers the question as she looks at the woman in front of her.
She doesn't look scared. Apprehensive, resigned to fate maybe, like it has happened before; and with a start Lena wonders if it has. How many times has her secret been discovered and she'd been fired simply for being different, because those around her are too ignorant to accept that what is unlike them.
“No, of course you're not fired”. Scolding her slightly, as if such a thing was never in doubt, Lena gives her a weighted look. “You are good at what you do and that is valued here. As long as you don't betray me, or try to kill me, I will have no reason to fire you”.
Reaching out with a hand, Lena gently cups Jenny's shoulder. “Thank you for telling me, but it is your choice as to whom else you tell here. I will never reveal your secret to another soul”.
“Thank you, that means SO much”. The relief she sees flood the young girls face is palpable. “I'm really sorry I put this on you, but when I thought you were knocking Supergirl after everything we'd just seen I needed you to understand what she goes through, and showing you seemed like the best way to do that; but now you know, you have to keep this secret....”
Jenny's words flicker something within Lena.
For now she is the guardian of a secret no one else knows, and it makes her realise just how Kara's group must have felt keeping her secret all these years.
To be trusted with such a powerful secret is not just an honour, it is also a burden.
One forgetful moment, one slight slip of the tongue, and you have ruined a person's life forever.
It is an extraordinary weight to place on a person's shoulders, because it means from that day on you will worry about them more than ever, and isn't something that should be given on a whim; or simply because that person thinks they deserve it.
“Jenny, I am incredibly honoured you told me, but right now I need to go correct a big mistake I made so I'm going to need you to clear my schedule for the rest of the day. Okay?”
Nodding like she's asked her to do nothing more taxing than order lunch, Jenny gives Lena a beaming smile. “You got it Miss. Luthor”.
The drive to the DEO is spent scrolling through the backlog of text messages.
Each one hurts, because it's clear that Kara has been missing her, and from the tone of the increasingly sad messages its obvious that the superhero doesn't understand why Lena is ignoring her.
The last couple were sent only hours ago, just before the events Lena had watched transpire on the TV, and she feels them hit like a bullet to the chest.
Hey. I know you're busy so I don't need a reply
Just wanted to say I miss you
I never say it to you in person enough, so I'll say it now
You're an amazing woman, Lena
I wish I was even half as brave as you
You truly are my best friend, and I love you
If I don't get to talk to you for a while
Be safe. Be happy. Be loved.
The last message must have been sent as Kara was literally flying towards the conflict, and Lena feels her heart constrict at the thought that her last action was to send one final message to the woman she'd not heard a word from in seven days.
As soon as her car pulls up Lena is out and stalking through the halls, the medical bay where she knows the treatment section for Supergirl is set up her intended destination, but just seconds before she is about to burst through and start.....something, her phone chimes again. Glancing down at it more out of curiosity than anything, Lena's eyes go almost comically wide when she sees Kara's name on the screen.
Careening to a dead stop as she stares at the phone, Lena gawks stupidly for a second before her brain kicks back into play and she scrabbles to unlock her phone in order to read the message.
Hi. Sorry for the influx of messages, I'll stop after this one I promise
Just wanted to say that I need to take a few personal days from Catco
I've explained it all to James already, but I got clipped by a bicycle courier earlier
Totally my fault and nothing serious, just a few bruised ribs and a bump on the noggin
I''' be working on some stuff at home and email it in so will keep up to speed
So yeah, just thought you should know. Boss.
A few bruised ribs? Not serious? Her fault?
Gritting her teeth at all the ways Kara's message irks her, Lena peering through the glass door, sees that the medical bay is indeed empty, then spins on her heel and starts marching back to her driver.
Along the way Alex passes by, who seems surprised to see the CEO, and she stops as the scowling woman stomps past. “Lena, what....?”
“Your sister is an idiot”.
Without waiting for a reply the grouchy woman exits the facility and gives her driver the new destination.
Standing out on the balcony with her eyes closed, Kara enjoys the feel of the sun on her skin despite knowing it isn't doing anything to help heal her injured body right now.
Glad she managed to convince Alex to let her return home rather than remain cooped up at the DEO for observation, Kara knows it is only because that piece of metal managed to somehow miss hitting all her internal organs that she is even able to stand right now.
The cracked ribs, fractured collarbone, dislocated wrist, multitude of stitches, bruises, cuts, and scrapes are all secondary to the huge wound in her side that could easily have left her dead in a pile of blood had it not been for lady luck granting her the good fortune of placing it just the right place to keep her breathing long enough for her sister to reach her.
Even then it had been a close run thing, and Alex had not been happy about leaving Kara alone in the apartment until the younger Danvers had employed her patented puppy dog eyes on her, at which point she'd reluctantly conceded that she could go home under the proviso that she did not leave under ANY circumstances, even food related; and she was to call Alex the second she felt even the slightest bit dizzy or faint.
Kara has been home for half an hour now, and although she feels better than she had in the med-bay, there is still a crawling disquiet churning inside her.
Standing in the sun is helping, as feeling the yellow rays soak into her skin always help calm and centre her, but there is a frown etched between Kara's brows as she tries to focus on what is really affecting her.
As she falls into a meditative state Kara begins to replay the events from earlier in her mind, with images flickering on the backs of her eyelids like a projector screen, and ghostly echoes of voices calling out for help ringing in her ears.
With each image comes more remembered pain; physical from the fight, and psychological from hearing all the people inside the building crying out for help before it exploded.
Before she is aware of it tears are streaming down her face in waves, and Kara is sobbing in huge gasping breaths that pull on her injures, leaving her ribs feeling like they are on fire.
Collapsing like a marionette with it strings cut, the Girl of Steel folds up into herself and buries her face in her hands as she weeps, once again in agony at her failure to prevent the deaths of so many innocent lives. Sobbing her heart out for not being good enough, fast enough, in their moment of need, she fails to hear the door to her apartment open or the tentative sound of her own name being called.
It is only the click of heels on wooden flooring that is loud enough to finally reach through Kara's haze of grief and alert the tearful woman that she is no longer alone.
Raising her head in confusion, Kara has to blink several times before she can focus her puffy eyes enough to realise that the hazy shape in front of her the woman she hasn't been able to get in contact with for the last week, who has just used the ' in emergency' spare key she was given some moments ago.
Scratchy and raw, the bubbly blondes normally warm and sun coated voice comes out barely above a croak, and the raven haired woman immediately frowns in concern at the sound of it.
Dropping her purse and coat to the floor, Lena steps out onto the balcony and bends down next to the huddled reporter. “It’s me, Kara”.
“Oh Rao, I've missed you”. Gazing up at her like she might be a mirage about to disappear, Kara frowns deeply.
The words slice through Lena like a hot knife, and she feels herself get choked up as she reaches out to stroke a piece of Kara's hair back behind her ear gently. “I've missed you too”.
Unconsciously leaning into the gesture, trying to prolong the contact, Kara takes a deep inhale to try and breath in a hint of Lena's perfume. Unfortunately the action proves too much for her ribs, and sends a spark of white hot pain lancing through her body instead. Grasping her side as she lets out a strangled cry, Kara screws her eyes tightly shut as she fights the wave of dizziness that follows.
Having to take slow, shallow breaths, in order to breath through the pain, the light-headedness gradually passes.
When Kara is able to open her eyes again she finds Lena studying her with wide, concerned eyes, and she swallows hard at the level of emotion she finds swirling in the gorgeous green orbs.
“Sorry about that, I just twinged my ribs a little”. Giving an awkward little half laugh, Kara attempts for levity. “I guess it's my own fault for not checking both ways before stepping off into the street”.
When she sees Lena frown, her excuse not so easily bought, Kara raises a hand to adjust her glasses. It's something she'd done a thousand times, a comfort move that is like a security blanket whenever she feels awkward around Lena, and buys her a second or two to think about her next move. However, when her fingers touch the spot where her trusty frames should be, she feels nothing but skin.
And that is when Kara remembers she removed them before turning her face up to the sun.
Freezing immediately, hand hovering randomly by her face, Kara's eyes turn to Lena's as she realises that from the moment the young woman had walked into the apartment she has effectively been staring at Supergirl.
Lena sees the realisation click within Kara the instant it hits, as not only does she go as still a rock but pure fear bleeds over all of her features. There is panic in her eyes too, of how she is going to react Lena realises, and she once again feels guilty because she knows that had this been the moment she found out she might well have lived up to every one of Kara's fears.
Instead, she offers Kara a gentle hand, and eases her up from the floor.
Aiding her inside and over to the couch, she helps the injured woman settle into a comfy position then tucks a blanket over her legs. The entire time she is fussing her, Lena can feel Kara's eyes on her like a physical touch, and by the time she settles herself down on the chair opposite she knows Kara is almost fit to burst.
“Lex told me last week”.
Seeing surprise, anger, pain, guilt, and sadness wash across Kara's expression one after another, Lena watches the turmoil that rolls through the incapacitated Super like waves against a beach.
She is silent for a long time, fighting through a host of thoughts she knows she has no right to say to someone she has wronged so badly, but when Kara does eventually speak it is with the defeated air of someone that knows there is nothing they can say to make it right, and it is while looking at her hands clasped anxiously in her lap. “It shouldn't have been him, but I'm glad you know. You deserve to know”.
“No. I don't”.
Eyes shooting up from her lap to meet Lena's at such an unexpected response, Kara stares slack jawed at the composed woman. “What?”
“A week ago, I shared your sentiment”. Speaking calmly, Lena regards Kara with soft eyes. “I thought you should have told me years ago. After all, we're best friends, why wouldn't you?”
Seeing Kara's face fall in shame at her words, Lena stands up and walks the few paces necessary so she can perch on the couch in front of her.
“All I could think about was me . How I was affected, and my hurt feelings. I'm ashamed to say I didn't really think about your feelings much at all”.
“That's.....um....of course you were thinking about you, Lena, I hurt you in the worst possible way!” Staring up at her with big beseeching eyes, Kara reaches out to put a soothing hand on Lena's but then falters when she thinks the dark haired woman might not be receptive to it. Dropping it down onto the couch in front of her instead, she picks at a loose thread in the blanket. “My feelings shouldn't even come into the equation”.
Feeling her heart squeeze impossibly tight at how, once again, Kara is putting someone else's welfare above her own, Lena reaches out to take the small but still perfectly structured hand between both of her own. Cradling it gently, because though it isn't the broken one it is still carrying its fair amount of wounds, Lena lifts it so that she can deliver a soft kiss to Kara's knuckles.
Locking eyes with the shocked Kryptonian as her lips brush across the split skin, Lena sees a faint blush rise on Kara's cheeks at the unexpected move.
“See, this is where you're a dummy”. Lowering their hands, but keeping Kara's safely ensconced between her own, Lena rubs her thumb along the soft skin around Kara's wrist as she talks. “This secret is your secret. It affects your life, your safety, and everyone you love. It was never my secret to know, and I was being completely egocentric to demand to know it”.
There is genuine guilt in Lena's voice and expression, and it stuns Kara to hear it.
“I truly apologise for making you feel like a bad person for not telling me, and hope that one day you can forgive me for it”.
Gazing up at her like she's just hung the moon, Kara beams with an impossibly wide smile. “Oh Lena, I couldn't hate you even if the world depended on it. I love you!”
Face morphing into one of shock as soon as the words are out, Kara seems stunned by what she has just said.
“I....um...mean......er....love is such a funny word, means SO many things.....”
Connecting the dots rapidly – the wording in the last few text messages, the blush when she'd kissed her knuckles, and the nervous stammering just now, Lena decides its time to get all the secrets out in the open.
“Really? Because when I think of love I think of you, and being head over heads in love with you, Kara Danvers”.
Raising an eyebrow in silent question, Lena waits patiently while Kara stares at her in shock for a few seconds, opening and closing her mouth a few times wordlessly before she can generate sounds.
“Me?” Slightly squeaky when the words eventually do come, they also come in a jumble. “ You love me ? Lena goddess Luthor loves Kara nobody Danvers? Am I hearing this right? I can't be! I'm broken, I must be broken. That bomb broke my hearing and this is all in my head because there is no way I can be..... hmmmmm”.
Deciding that the only suitable course of action to quiet the ramble AND prove that she isn't broken was to kiss her, Lena gently leans down and presses her lips to Kara's.
It is slightly awkward at first, given that Kara was still talking and Lena is at a weird angle because Kara is laying down, but it only takes a second for the two of them to readjust; Kara shuts up and Lena swings a careful leg over the body beneath her so she is now straddling Kara, and then it is nothing but heat and passion.
The kiss is everything the pair of them have ever dreamed about, and they pour all of the feelings they have kept tightly wound within themselves into it as they seek to tell the other all that they have longed to say over the past couple of years.
They get so lost in the intensity of the kiss that they both fail to hear the door to the apartment opening, the spare key Kara had given to her sister used now as Alex doesn't want to wake her sister should she be sleeping, but they don't fail to hear her extreme reaction to finding a Super and a Luthor making out on the couch in front of her.
“HOLY HELL, KARA!! HOW IS THIS BED REST???”