Of course, she wouldn’t be able to avoid Kara. Of course . Of course, she knew that she, logically speaking, could not avoid Kara forever. However, she had hoped (read: carefully calculated) that she could at least avoid Kara for two weeks. Three weeks at best. Twelve days at worst. And yet? Here she is. With math and science and the best-laid plans…thrown out the window by some inexplicable force of the multiverse (which, speaking of, she is very curious and eager to explore this further now that this piece of information has been confirmed, she has so many theories, but for another time, another time).
“We need your help,” Barry says yet asks in that shy, almost hesitant way that is so reminiscent of Kara (are all superheroes like this? she doesn’t know if she wants to find out. unfortunately, that desire seems to be looking slimmer by the minute).
Raising one perfectly sculpted eyebrow, Lena leans back in her chair. She is at her desk, her office, her building …she could stand to flex a little. “Most of my clients use the door.” She nods over to the double doors. “My secretary,” she continues. “And, most importantly, have an appointment.”
Barry seems to shrink a little at that and, even though she’s relatively sure she’ll feel guilty for it later, she smirks at his discomfort. He did just teleport himself right on into her office, after all. “I know.” He takes a few slow, measured steps forward. “I’m sorry, Ms.—” he stumbles ever so slightly “—Luthor.” She relaxes her shoulders a bit at his sincerity. Still, she makes no further move to speak. “Normally, I’m not quite so…” he gestures to his general being, “abrupt?” his voice goes up in question. “It’s just that there’s an emergency.” Yet again he points to the general space before finally huffing as her poker face is incredibly hard to read. “We need your help.”
She makes him wait for it. One, two, three seconds before finally leaning forward, gesturing for him to take a seat. He complies, albeit wearily. She doesn’t know if it’s the rush or her presence. She doesn’t dwell on it. “ We ?” Her words are sharp and short, but her eyes have a certain curiosity he doubts people ever grow tired of.
“The multiverse.” When she raises her eyebrow once more, he stutters out a “ma’am.”
She finally cracks a smile as she chuckles, low and more breath than anything, but it’s an improvement he’s willing to take. “The entire multiverse?” She widens her eyes. “That’s rather nonspecific.”
He sighs. “It’s just...it’s easier to explain it if you see it for yourself.”
She pauses, considering it. She supposes it’s not an altogether bad plan. And he is a superhero after all (but how unlike Kara? how far does good go?) “Why me?” She finally settles on. “If you have access to a mathematically-speaking inexhaustible list of potential allies, why choose to come here?”
“Well, to begin with, I’ve been to this Earth before and it’s a pretty nice universe you got here.” His attempt at a joke falls flat. He clears his throat, ducking his head. “Okay, okay,” he says as he meets her eyes. “You’re a pretty big deal in the future. You do a lot of good. You, simply put, revolutionize this Earth.”
“And you know this because…” Lena trails off.
“Some of the people helping us out actually time-travel. And then there are the Legions who actually came back from the future…”
Lena blinks. That’s... news . There’s a warm feeling in her chest, something a lot like hope and pride and self-worth, but she tamps it down for now (it’s a little too shiny, a little too much like her best friend, a little too…good for how she expects her life to play out).
“So you want me to help with something scientific?”
“More just help in general. Being the genius that you are.” He gives her his boyish smile and it almost makes the guilt for playing with him before make an earlier appearance. Almost . “Then, there’s also the fact that you’re kind of already involved?” He makes a face as if unsure of how to explain. “As I said, it’s easier if I show you.”
Interest piqued and satisfied that this isn’t some silly trick or scheme constructed by Kara to make her finally return a call or text or anything really (although, she grudgingly and achingly admits that she knows, in her heart, that Kara would never do such a thing despite her brain sending off warning bells left and right), she gives him a firm nod. “So, do you have a transmat portal hiding somewhere or are you going to quit talking and press that silly little button.”
Grinning at how easily she catches on, how much she sees, he takes her hand. “Did anyone ever tell you that you’re really smart?” And with a burst of bright purple light, they’re gone.
She stumbles out of the portal, catching herself just in time, cursing the way her head throbbed and her mouth tasted funny. She’d have to come up with a better way for interplanetary (and interdimensional) travel if she ever got the chance to stop fielding vicious murder attempts and betrayals left and right. Oh, and saving the city. That took up a lot of time, too (saving Supergirl…that thought is pushed aside for the time being).
“I’m sorry about that,” a woman says to her right. Tilting her head, she smiles. “Lena Luthor, happy to have you,” she says, holding out her hand. “Ava Sharpe.”
Lena shakes her hand, still poised but in a bit of a daze. Recovering quickly, Lena asks, “Will I be getting a briefing anytime soon?” She looks up and around the seemingly abandoned warehouse. “Or am I about to be killed in this hanger?”
Ava laughs. “I guess you’ve always been this way.” She smirks. “Although I do happen to prefer it when we’re friends. You’re much more,” she considers her words—
“—Bantery? Flirty? Dare I say soft?” Sara fills in the blanks. She wraps her arms around Ava’s middle, standing just slightly off to the side.
Lena gives her first genuine smile since this all began. “Oh?”
“Guys,” Barry whines, “the mission.”
“Perfect timing,” Iris says, walking in and introducing herself quickly. “I brought the rest of the troops.” She rolls her eyes. “They were off training .”
Lena tilts her head in question (has she always tilted her head or did a certain blue-eyed reporter pass that along?). Barry answers. “Oliver, The Green Arrow, likes to whip the new recruits into shape. He shot me once,” he says as if he’s in the mood to reminisce.
“And last time we had a crisis, you shot me back. At least I shot you to teach you a lesson,” Oliver says. “Besides, this time it was the Supercousins.” He shrugs. “Apparently, the last time also made an impression on them.” He shakes his head. “Stupid computer.” Lena’s heart constricts at the mention. She lets out a breath.
“Don’t act like you didn’t encourage them,” Iris chides.
Before he can retort, the rest of the ragtag team shuffles in. Lena thinks she sees Kara pause, stumble, but she can’t be sure. She recovers too quickly. It’s another nail in the coffin (or stake to the heart).
After a brief round of introductions and the annoying realization that Clark Kent is Superman and Winn and Mon-El are in the Legion of Superheroes, Lena feels a little more in control and a little less like the uniformed sidekick. Apparently, once her legendary status is explained, they’re all more than willing to welcome her into their inner circle. She’s a bit surprised Mon-El is the one to defend her after forcing him into space, but apparently they make amends in the future and his wife (what the hell is going on?) seems to adore her. All in all, even Batwoman seems friendly enough.
“I think she’s had enough of the pleasantries,” Kate says. “Let’s get her looped in.”
Lena smirks. “I thought you prefer to work alone. Or is that just your cousin?”
Kate winks. “I can make an exception. Here or there.” She seems to toss a look over her shoulder at Kara, something she can’t decipher over the sick feeling in her stomach. Maybe it’s just the coldness that seems to seep out of Kara’s very being. Perhaps Kara has decided she’s had enough after all. She doesn’t know why that doesn’t relieve her. It’s what she’s wanted, to be left alone. Isn’t it?
Barry takes it from there, leading her over to Felicity and Cisco. “It seems there’s been a breach of some sorts,” Cisco begins. “The timeverse, multiverse, and possibly the fifth dimension have been corrupted.”
“Excuse me,” Lena begins, “but what?” Her tone is sharp. “That is a catastrophe at best. With permanent cataclysmic effects at worst.”
“We know,” Felicity agrees. “That’s why we brought in the big guns.” Lena looks back. Felicity takes note of her gaze before continuing. “Yes, them. But mostly you.” Lena’s head whips around at that, eyes wide. “I know it’s a lot to take in.” Lena raises an eyebrow. “Okay, ‘a lot’ doesn’t actually cover it.” Lena sighs. “But you’re the only one who we can think of to help. And you also seem to be the only connection to all these disturbances.” Great. So a problem in the multiverse, as well. “Not in an evil way,” Felicity shrugs, “just...see for yourself.” She turns on the screens and all Lena sees is well...her. Several copies of her. Some identical. Some older, some younger, some happy, some miserable. It turns her blood to ice.
“Exactly,” Barry says. She startles at the realization that she said that last bit out loud.
“I thought I was supposed to help. Not be the cause of all these problems.”
“But we’re not sure you are.” Cisco shrinks under Barry’s glare. “Okay, we know you’re not.”
“She refuses to believe it,” Barry says, nodding over to Kara. Of course. She needs to lie down.
“And in the future, you do help a lot. And you’ve been helping a lot on Earth 38 already. So, logically, this should not be your doing,” Cisco finishes.
Lena nods helplessly. “So what’s the plan?”
“We were hoping you might help us out with that.” Barry grins sheepishly.
Two hours later and she thinks she has a plan. “I need to see them.” She says abruptly, startling the room. They’ve technically all been working on plans individually but Lena knows most of them gave up within the first thirty minutes. Apparently, most heroes like the fast approach. The punch and done approach. She did catch Kara muttering to herself about theories and the like though. Math and science she’s never heard of. It tickles her brain, her desire to know more . Her desire to bury the hurt, though, wins out.
“That seems a bit dangerous,” Winn says carefully.
“This whole situation is dangerous.” She throws her hands up. “Better me than you. Right now, there are only copies of me.” She jabs a finger at her own chest. “I can reason with a copy of myself better than any of you can.”
After a few more light protests, they seem to agree. It isn’t until Kara walks up to her, away from the crowd, that she says softly, “I know I can’t stop you,” she takes a breath, “and that you don’t want to talk to me,” her eyes crinkle sadly, “but are you sure you’re up for this? Those copies may look like you but they may not be you. It could be a trap.”
“Like you were?” Lena almost winces at the kicked expression on Kara’s face. She hadn’t meant for it to come out so angrily. Kara had at least explained her side of the story when this had all come to light. She doesn’t mean to still be that cruel.
Letting out a breath and what sounded to Lena’s ears, a choked sob, Kara meets her eyes. “I am sorry, Lena.” Kara bites her lower lip, eyes watering. “I know I messed up. I hurt you. And I may never earn your forgiveness. I don’t know if I’ll ever even deserve it.” She places a tentative hand on Lena’s shoulder. Lena shivers as the heat of the Kryptonian’s hand seeps easily through the silk fabric. It seems to burn. Kara pulls away quickly at the uptick in Lena’s heart. “But I want you safe. I’ve always wanted you safe and happy. You don’t have to do this.”
“I’m here, aren’t I?” she asks wryly.
“I asked them not to,” Kara mutters. It makes her heart sink. Noticing Lena’s retreat, Kara continues. “Not because I don’t trust you. Because you don’t deserve this,” she gestures vaguely. “To have to work with me. To put your life on the line again . To save the world again .”
Lena relaxes. “Better to save the world now than to have no world to come back to,” she says softly.
Kara shakes her head, eyes clear. Almost in...wonder. “I don’t know how you do this.”
She doesn’t elaborate, and Lena doesn’t ask. “I have to do this.”
“I know.” The blonde lowers her head. “At least let me fly you there? Stand guard?” She shuffles her feet.
“I guess that wouldn’t be your worst idea…”
Kara’s beam is worth the pain (stupid, traitorous heart). “You’re going to love flying!” And, with a gust of cold air, her feet are no longer touching the ground.
It turns out, in fact, that she does not like flying, thank you very much. If Kara notices her rolling stomach and shaking hands, she knows better than to comment. “I’ll wait out here.”
Lena nods, opening the heavy door slowly and shutting it firmly behind her. That was enough to garner all the focus. “Hello?” she says. It’s prim yet curious. If there’s a little fear behind it, too, well, who can blame her?
“Hello,” the woman at the counter speaks easily. “Would you like some tea?” She nudges the mug beside her. “I was wondering when you’d show up.”
Lena moves slowly, carefully, anticipating the worst.
“I won’t bite.” She grins. “I am you, after all.”
“Or I am you.”
The older woman nods easily. “Touché.”
Taking a seat beside her, Lena takes a sip. It’s comforting, almost like the call of a Siren , she muses darkly. “How did you know I would come?”
“Oh,” Older Lena takes another sip. “I remember this disruption. Was wondering when it would show up with me being the older and the wiser.”
“You lived through this?”
“Well, of course, when I was your age.” She waves it off.
“I feel like I’m going to need something stronger to get through this,” she says, looking at her tea a little scornfully.
Older Lena chuckles. “It all works out in the end. It always does,” she says with a conspiratorial wink that does nothing to settle her nerves.
“Sure, because there are tens of copies running around and that is supposed to, as you put it, all work out?” She uses air quotes and has never quite felt so juvenile for doing so in her entire life.
Older Lena flicks her wrist. “You needn’t concern yourself with them. At least not unless you’re in the mood for some serious soul-searching.” She sighs. “Been there, done that.” She urges Lena to take another sip of her tea before continuing, a soft smile on her gently-aged face. “Remember, darling, that I’ve already lived this. And I am happy to help.”
“To what end?”
Older Lena smirks. “Ah, I see it now.” At Lena’s look of go on , she chuckles. “That I can, at times, be quite stubborn.” Lena rolls her eyes. Laying a hand on top of Lena’s, she stops poking fun at her younger self. Though she is impossibly easy to toy with (harmlessly, of course), this is not the time (given the current situation, as well as the recent reveal). “The copies are, in fact, of you, of us,” she begins. “But, in time, more will be affected. This continuum cannot go on forever, as I know you are already aware.” Lena nods numbly. “The shift is being caused by imps in the fifth dimension. They can bend reality to their will. They’re almost magical in a sense. Dictated by energy. Tricksters by nature.” Something at the back of Lena’s mind tickles. News coverage of an alien that may not have been an alien after all. “They’ve been experimenting with ways to merge the dimensions.”
Lena’s brows furrow, thinking back to a book she had once read. A child, no more than eight, enamored by her big brother’s intellect and affection. She had snuck into his room late one night, curious as to which book was holding his attention this week. She had stayed up all night reading it, fascinated beyond compare. She tries to call back those memories now. “Can’t imps cross the dimensional barriers using the energy that constructs their soul?”
Older Lena nods, smiling. It almost feels like the woman is proud of her, but Lena thinks reveling in her older self being proud of her is rather sad. “Yes. Some are better at it than others. But they can be booted out, too. Some lose their place by saying their names backward, others through a ridiculous set of rules. All of it designed to make it very difficult, but not impossible, to get rid of them.”
“So these creatures want to merge the dimensions to make it completely impossible?” Lena doesn’t think that constitutes such drastic measures.
“Well, yes and no. If the fifth-dimension coincided with ours, there would be no greater force. They are all-powerful beings with the ability to bend reality. Fusing the dimensions into one would ensure that they are true Gods amongst men, no longer wanderers and outcasts.”
“That’s,” Lena tries to mull over her words, as the thoughts swirling around her head fight so strongly with her upbringing, “so sad.” She meets the woman’s eyes. “Terrifying but sad.”
Older Lena merely nods. “Precisely. It’s a delicate situation.” She returns to her tea. “The dimensions aren’t meant to be fused. It’s caused time and space to warp and stretch. Almost like flattening the multiverse and folding it into a space too small to fit. All the pieces overlapping one another.”
Lena shudders at the image. “But why me?” Lena asks. “Why are the effects starting only with copies of me ?”
“Although it’s true that fifth-dimensional beings, Zrffs, have limitless power here, they have to follow a set of rules. It’s a code that protects people like us. A time warp is considered enough of a prank that it is almost...a loophole of sorts.” Lena shudders at the term. “But loopholes aren’t black and white.” Older Lena sighs. “The Zrffs have a code to uphold and it binds them to one another.” Like El Mayarah, Lena thinks wryly. She hopes her facial expression doesn’t show it. “In a way, it seems to limit their powers. Very much like a contract but tied to the very source of their spirits.”
“An internal quota,” Lena scoffs (okay, maybe she’s a little impressed, too).
Older Lena smiles. “Exactly. So, they need another conduit to strengthen their abilities. To break the quota on their powers, so to speak.”
Lena’s brows furrow. She even thinks she feels a crinkle beginning to form. It’s maddening, to say the least. “And I am tied to this conduit?”
“You are the conduit.” Older Lena chuckles at Lena’s wide eyes. “That will never get old,” she says airily. Apparently, Older Lena is much more carefree. Who would’ve thought? Before Lena can get too worked up, the woman continues. “Your mother…our mother…”
“Water,” Lena cuts her off. “It was the water.”
The older woman nods. “Water is the perfect conduit, especially depending on the location and size and history behind it.” She gets up from the stool, grabbing both of their empty mugs, sitting them in an otherwise pristine sink. “She became a conduit and, in her death, that space…that energy that didn’t belong…had nowhere to go.”
“But I was there.”
“The only other soul there.”
Lena leans against the counter as she takes it all in. “So the energy of this merge is concentrated at its source.”
“With you being the source.”
“But it will spread to others if I don’t stop it.”
“Yes,” the other woman blows out a heavy breath.
“How do I stop it? How did you stop it?”
The corners of Older Lena’s lips quirk up. “I’m surprised you don’t want to work this out for yourself.”
“I’m a bit tired,” Lena jokes. Even though it’s the truth, through and through.
But before the woman can respond, a loud shout comes from down the hall. “Mommy! I runned fast!”
Lena turns her head, startled. “I should go get her,” Older Lena says with a smile on her face so soft that Lena hardly recognizes her anymore.
“You,” she shakes her head, “have a daughter?”
Older Lena bites her bottom lip, seemingly considering her options. “Two,” she says shyly. Lena’s stomach rolls. With butterflies or nausea, she’s not sure which.
As she starts down the hallway, she stops to look over her shoulder. “It all works out, Lena. You’re going to be okay.” Lena shakes her head in confusion. “Not just today, not just with this crisis, but you . You’ll have the life you’ve always dreamed of.”
Lena feels tears prickling at the back of her eyes. Her face is scrunching up as she holds in the weight of emotions she hasn’t allowed herself to feel in so long. “I’ll be happy?”
And as her future daughter runs up, fast and carefree, pigtails bouncing, before launching herself into her mother’s arms and resting her head on her chest, she knows. She knows she’ll be more than just happy.
She also knows, without a shadow of a doubt, that that little girl, full of life and love and giggles, has her best friend’s eyes. Yeah, she definitely knows.
She lets herself out, nearly running into Kara in the process. “Spy much?” she gripes. Although she has to admit, it’s a little harder to be mad at Kara when she turns her big, blue puppy-dog eyes on her, an exact replica of the little girl she saw just moments before.
“I didn’t—I would never,” Kara splutters. “Well, not never, I’ve done it to Alex, and I sometimes listen to your heartbeat which may be spying but then—”
“—You listen to my heartbeat?”
“No?” Kara’s voice goes up in question before she lets out a defeated grumble. “Maybe,” she scuffs her boots, making her look much more like a dejected toddler than a superhero right now. “Okay, yes, I do. A lot.” She still won’t meet Lena’s eyes. “It started back after the first time Lex tried to kill you. The helicopter. I added you to the list of people I tried to check in on. Like I do with Alex and Winn and Eliza and James.” Like the Superfriends , Lena thinks. “I figured you’d need more protection.” Kara looks up quickly. “Not that you can’t take care of yourself,” she rushes to add.
Lena smirks. “I’m aware.” She sighs, letting her friend off the hook. “I appreciate you looking out for me.”
Kara seems to relax at that, and it makes Lena smile. “If I’m being honest here,” she looks back down at the ground, “it was probably more than that. I should’ve known it was more than that,” she adds in a whisper more to herself than anyone else. Lena hears her though—she always does. “There are always people in danger. People who need help. I’d never been so quick to add someone to my personal watchlist before.” She meets Lena’s eyes, genuine and true. “And then I started to do it more and more frequently. I relied on it, almost.” She blushes at her words and Lena does, too. “It was a comfort thing, you know?”
“Actually I don’t,” she says. It’s soft, not biting. She thinks of all the times she wishes she could see Kara, hear Kara, know she was safe and happy. All the times she did . “But it sounds like a wonderful thing.”
“Yeah,” Kara agrees breathily.
Lena sighs. “You make it very hard, you know?” At Kara’s quizzical expressional, she shakes her head. When will she learn?
“Um, guys…” This time it’s Winn. “You know these receivers are two-way, right?” They hear shuffling in the background before a muttered “ow” and Sara telling him he ruined all the fun.
Looking at each other, spirits a bit dashed at the interruption, they huff. “Yes, Winn.” The “we forgot” is self-explanatory. They fly back before the gang can say anything else. Or, at the very least, the wind blocked out anything else they tried to get through.
Walking through the doors, scowls (and blushes) ablazing, Kara groans, “I swear to Rao if any of you say anything—”
“—About how you listen to Lena’s heartbeat?” Sara grins toothily.
Kara glares. “Chill, buttercup,” Kate says. “We all already knew you loved her.”
Kara whips her head around so fast that Lena’s convinced she would have whiplash if not for her superhuman abilities. “I told you that in confidence!”
“What?” Lena asks at the sudden turn of events.
“I thought she knew,” Kate says lazily. “With the jealousy and the looks and the talks.”
“And I told Lois about listening to her heartbeat after I told her I loved her, so…” Clark trails off. Traitor, Kara seethes.
“I could’ve told you guys they weren’t together. But then again, I know them in the future.”
“Yeah, you guys are just the sweetest,” Imra gushes.
“I’m inclined to agree,” Mon-El admits begrudgingly.
“OTP!” Winn cheers before shrinking into himself at the looks from around the room. “Inappropriate. I see that now.”
There’s chatter after that, but Lena is too lost in her own world to register the meaning of any of it. Kara loves her? Kara loves her? Like now? In this timeverse? In this multiverse? Not one in the future where they have a home and a life and a daughter or two. Not that same one that confused her to no end. That terrified and thrilled her at the same time. That made her insides feel all warm and fuzzy. But now. This very now.
She’s startled from her thoughts by a very cautious, very tiny-looking Kara. “Lena?”
Shaking her head, she blows out a breath. “So the copies? I assume you all heard my conversation with the older me?” Boxes, boxes, oh boxes don’t fail her now. “Well, did you?”
“Just your half of the conversation,” Oliver finally chimes in.
“Alright, we’ll here’s the situation.” She spends the next fifteen minutes explaining the problem before spending the following hour coming up with a plan. “We need to move fast,” she says as she nods to herself. “Before this gets any worse.”
That is how, not even two hours later, she finds herself standing before the one and only, Mxyzptlk. “Darling, you found me.” He smiles at her. It’s charming in a delusional kind of way. “Where is your little gaggle of friends?” He looks around as if they’ll just appear out of thin air (she assumes that maybe they do where he comes from).
“I told them to stay back. To let me speak to you first.”
“Ah, a brave one,” he smirks. “I like that in a human.”
She rolls her eyes. “You can’t fuse dimensions, Mxyzptlk.”
“And here I thought you were here to play.”
“It’s not a game.” She crosses her arms over her chest (really, really wishing she had changed before joining Barry because her boardroom clothes were not worth freezing to death).
He drops his smile. “No, you’re right. It is not.” He takes a few steps closer. She holds her ground. “But my people are angry. Hurt. They want to coexist without being booted off whenever someone feels like it. They’ve grown sneaky to do so. And yet, still, no one seems to care.”
“No one looks at why they’re doing it,” Lena breathes.
“Precisely.” He snaps his fingers and the area surrounding the lake suddenly becomes brighter, warmer. She gives him a small smile in gratitude. “They thought that merging the dimensions would finally give them a home.”
“Becoming Gods is not the way to do so. And merging the dimensions will only serve to destroy it all.”
He sighs. “I know.”
“You said they —”
“Yes, they .” Mxyzptlk takes a seat on the bank, urging Lena to do the same, easily changing her attire to one of comfort at her timid yet poised request. “You can’t force people to love you. Human or alien. From my dimension or yours.” He looks out at the gentle laps of the water. It’s peaceful. “Your friend taught me that.”
Her heart constricts in both pain and love. Can it hurt to love? She isn’t sure. “I bet she did.” He grins wistfully. “So why are you the one here?”
“I was hoping you’d figure it out. The mess of it all.” One shoulder lifts in a sort of shrug.
“You do hold the energy we need.” He tilts his head at her. “And you are a genius, even by my standards.”
She smiles, her heart pounding once more. It feels good to be praised, to be important to someone. “The others?”
“They’re coming later. They want the folding to complete first.” He turns to face her. “But if you stop it…”
“They won’t come at all?”
He considers the question. “They could still come, but it would be the same it’s always been.”
She nods. “But how? If all this energy,” she trails off.
“You can choose to release it. Or you could keep it.” He says both with equal weight. It’s confusing to say the least.
“If I keep it, won’t the energy still cause disruptions?” Before Mxyzptlk can even respond, she counters her original statement. “But if I release it, won’t it just be transferred to the next Available body?” He lifts a pointer finger before she speaks once more. “And to release it, wouldn’t I have to die?” She shakes her head.
In her brief pause of possibilities, he cuts in. “To answer your last question, we’re not very big on death where I come from.” Her brain halts at his words. “We can’t stop it. And we can’t cause it. We can joke around with it,” he remembers his stunts with the guns, “prolong it, at times delay it, but it’s not within our power.” He sighs. “But most of us choose not to mess with it at all.”
“But my mother—”
“Died. But her death wasn’t something we fostered.” Lena nods. “The energy that resided in that lake was more of a hub. It held onto the power without creating any more of it. She absorbed it.”
“Then can’t I release it back? If it comes from water, can’t it be reabsorbed?”
“You’re a bright one,” he says. “Yes, in theory, it can be reabsorbed. However, even I am unclear as to how the process works.”
Lena grumbles. “I thought you were all-knowing.”
Mxyzptlk grins. “ Almost .” He chuckles. “Not quite.”
She skips a rock as she thinks. “Even if we did release the energy back into water, that wouldn’t stop the fusion.” He squints his eyes in question. “The energy would still be drawn here. It could still be absorbed by something else.” She smiles as a bird lands near her. It’s mystical here. “The same with me dying.”
“Yes, dear, I’m glad you said that because you have far too many martyr qualities for my taste.”
She rolls her eyes. Hard. “The only way is to release the energy back into your dimension. Where it is already controlled.”
“Where we can’t use too much of it,” he says, looking at her in awe. “That’s brilliant.”
She smiles, her insides warming. “But how to do it?”
Mxyzptlk gets them back to S.T.A.R Labs faster than she even knows what’s happening. “A warning next time would be nice,” she grumbles at the ghastly taste in her mouth.
“I think we have a plan,” Cisco says after deliberating with Felicity. “We just need to build a conduit for the conduit.”
“Do you think they were listening to our conversation?” Mxy asks with his hand on his chin.
“They have a bad habit of doing that,” Lena plays along.
“So, the plan?” Clark asks.
“Right.” It turns out this plan is actually quite ingenious. Using the technology of the Legion and aboard the Waverider they’re able to construct an interdimensional particle manipulator. With Lena hooked up to one end, Mxyzptlk in the middle, and a transmat portal at the end, they’ve figured out a way to transfer the energy safely and efficiently.
“I feel like a science experiment,” Lena gripes.
Kara nods. “At least this one’s for a good cause?”
Lena chuckles but Kara hears the trepidation underneath the brave face. “Hold my hand?”
Kara stumbles. Lena blushes, looking away. “Nevermind. It was a silly thought.”
“Lena,” Kara says with exasperation, “look at me.” She turns her head. “Don’t do that. I wish I could. I’m worried my DNA and solar energy may mess with the machine as a whole.” Lena lets out a sigh of relief. Kara bends down. “But I’ll be here the whole time.” She lowers her voice to a whisper. “And after this is over? I’d really love to hold your hand.” She gives her a heartwarming smile. “If you’ll let me.”
“Always,” she breathes.
“It looks like the copies are slowly disappearing.” Winn points to the screen and Lena’s heart aches as she watches various versions of herself dissipate. She sees her college self working hard at the lab. She sees her five-year-old self scared and alone and hurt (Kara grips her hand tighter at that). She sees her older self dancing in the kitchen with Kara as if she had never known that pain existed. She sees it all just flashing before her eyes. “And the energy readings are showing that the dimensions are pulling apart.”
They let out a collective sigh of relief. “Well, I feel like being here was close to pointless,” Sara says. “See you in the future,” she says with a wave as she ushers the rest out.
Mon-El nods. “For our team, too.” He smiles at Lena. “You were all we needed.” And for the first time ever, she smiles at him, too.
“An even better team-up than last time,” Felicity smiles. “Keep in touch,” are her parting words.
“Thank you, Lena,” Clark says, shaking her hand. “For everything.” He nods over to Kara who had wandered off to say her own farewells. “But mostly for everything you do for Kara. I’ve never seen her so at…peace.”
She struggles to hold back tears. “Thank you.”
She watches him walk over to Kara, hugging her tight. Just before he takes off, he says, “Don’t mess this up.”
“I’ll try my best, Kal,” she smiles. “I’ll try my best.” Lena has to admit that it’s pretty cool watching him take off into the sky.
“Doesn’t he need a portal?”
Kara grins, pointing to her new necklace. “Parting gifts!”
“Which reminds me,” Winn says, “here’s yours.” He holds out a pendant complete with a simple, elegant design. It would appear to an outsider to be nothing more than a beautiful necklace. It’s rather clever. “I installed a few upgrades on yours. Figured you’d like some more toys.” He grins. “A little superpower for the supergenius.” She blushes.
He gives her and Kara a hug before saying goodbye. “We’ll give you some space,” Iris says (read: commands) once the rest of the Flash team says goodbye.
“I’m going to miss them.” Kara’s soft words bring her back to reality.
“I think I will, too,” Lena says.
The next few minutes are spent in silence, but this time it isn’t awkward. “So before…” Kara begins. “When you said that I make it very hard…”
Lena sighs, although the corners of her lips quirk up. “You really don’t know, do you?”
“That tends to be the general consensus, yes,” she teases back.
Lena chuckles. “You make it really hard not to love you.”
Even Lena hears Kara’s breath catch. “You mean—”
“—Yes.” No point in hiding it now. “No matter how hard I try to fight it, I still love you. I’m in love with you.”
“—Even then.” She interlocks their fingers. “It hurts. And I know you explained it to me and your reasoning and how you were going to tell me and everything. But it still hurts.”
“I am sorry, Lena,” Kara reiterates, strangled words forcing their way from her throat, sad and guilty.
“I know.” She swings their hands a bit. “It will take time. To get over this. Fully.”
“What are you saying?” Kara’s crinkle appears and Lena’s fingers smooth out the creases before her brain can even catch up. She blushes (at least Kara blushes, too).
“I’m saying that I forgive you. Sometimes I may get snarky or mad and have to work through it again. But I forgive you.” Kara’s eyes light up. “And I need you to be honest. Really honest. All the time.” Kara nods enthusiastically. “But I’m in love with you, and I don’t want to waste any more time trying to stay away from you.” She chuckles, gesturing to the space around them. “Clearly, that doesn’t work.” She laughs. “On any universe.”
“Or timeverse,” Kara adds. “Or interdimensional-verse.” She laughs at her new word.
“Yes, apparently,” Lena sighs. It’s light, though. Airy.
“Can I say something now?” Kara asks. At Lena’s nod, she continues. “I’m in love with you, too.” She tugs Lena closer. “How’s that for honesty?” A tear slips down Lena’s cheek before Kara wipes it away with practiced gentleness. “Thank you for coming back.”
Lena sniffles. “Can I kiss you now?”
Kara chuckles, wet and happy. “Not if I kiss you first.”
In the end, it’s both of them who lean in, both of them who deepen it, both of them who just want to be closer, closer, closer . It’s magical and soft and it tastes a little like salt from their tears and a little like the donut Kara ate earlier, but it’s perfect. It’s perfect because it tastes a lot like hope. And a lot like happiness. A lot like love .
That is until Mxyzptlk starts clapping in the background. “Brava,” he says, smile on his face. “True love always wins.”
They turn abruptly. “Seriously?”
“And that’s my cue.” He waves his hand and, in a flash, he’s gone and they’re back in Lena’s office.
“Ugh, interplanetary travel is—”
Kara nods. “—The head, the taste…”
“Yep.” Lena bites her lip. “Although, I could think of a few ways to get a more pleasurable…effect.”
Kara grins. “We haven’t technically had our first kiss in this universe yet…” she trails off suggestively.
This time, it’s definitely Lena who makes the first move.
It turns out her older self actually knew a thing or two. She’s happier than she’s ever been. There’s hope in her life once more. There’s family .
She rallies with the Zrffs after their knowledge of the dimensions proves to be invaluable. She helps with their rights as Kara writes all about it. She hires some of them to work for Catco and L-Corp; she hires some aliens, too. She sets the course of their world on a new trajectory. Oh, and she fixes the negative side effects of inter-dimensional travel.
Kara proposes a few years down the line ( can’t let you be the first for everything , she had said) and their firstborn comes a few years after that (science is a wonderful thing). Their second daughter completes their little family and never once does she feel alone anymore.
“How do you do that?” Kara asks her one night as she’s babbling about a new technology that could revolutionize the world yet again while snuggling up with both daughters asleep at her sides.
“How do I do what?” Lena turns to her wife.
“Make me fall in love with you even more, even when I think I already love you so much that I can’t possibly have room for more.”
Lena blushes. “I don’t know. How do you?”
Soulmates aren't the ones who make you happiest, no. They're instead the ones who make you feel the most. Burning edges and scars and stars. Old pangs, captivation, and beauty. Strain and shadows and worry and yearning. Sweetness and madness and dreamlike surrender. They hurl you into the abyss. They taste like hope.
~ Victoria Erickson