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Alex Danvers runs out of patience less than two weeks after the Pulitzers, and Lena is frankly impressed that she manages to hold off for that long.

She’s wearing the lenses because there was an update to the AR augmentations this morning, so it’s easy enough for her to figure out when Alex arrives. She doesn’t know that it’s Alex, specifically, but the faint murmur of raised voices is enough to make her eyes narrow until Jess is outlined even through the wall; standing up right in front of her office door with her arms folded sternly across her chest.

There are very few people that Jess will actually need to physically block from entering, and a nine-in-ten chance that the person she’s blocking right now is probably a friend of Kara’s, since security would have taken over if there was an actual, credible threat.

So Lena sighs, and hits a button on her desk phone. “It’s alright, Jess,” she speaks into the otherwise quiet office, and hears the voices beyond the door stop as if on cue. “Let them through.”

“You don’t do anything halfway, do you?” is what Alex asks when the door opens; pushing past Jess in exchange for an absolutely withering glare.

Lena arches a brow at her. “Have I ever?”

That makes her uninvited guest pause halfway through sitting down, and for a few seconds, they just stare at each other until the corner of Alex’s mouth quirks. “Point.” She seats herself fully; one knee over the other and one arm hanging over the back of the chair, and then sighs. “I’m sorry.”

Settling her elbows on the table and nodding at Jess to close the door, Lena interlaces her fingers. “For what? Insinuating that it would ever occur to me to half-ass anything?”

“Sure. That too,” Alex agrees with a tilt of her head. “But I meant for being a shitty friend to you, and for giving Kara bad advice.”

Lena is the one to sigh this time, but she does at least manage to restrain the urge to roll her eyes. “I fail to see how you need to apologize to me for the second one.”

That earns her a puzzled look. “You mean Kara didn’t—” Alex stops herself there and lets out a long, slow exhale that would probably be a groan if she added sound to it. “No; of course not. I swear—” Another mid-sentence, full stop, and Alex spends a full minute pinching the bridge of her nose and muttering under her breath.

When the second minute of that is well underway, Lena does some nose-bridge pinching of her own. “Look, I have a very busy—” Day. Week. Year. “—stretch of time ahead of me, so if you don’t mind exc—”

“I told her not to tell you,” Alex speaks up; adjusting her position until she’s leaning forward with her elbows on her knees. “Several times. Hell, she learned to hide pretty much from the moment she got here. The more people she tells, the more she’s in danger, which is my concern.” She watches her own hands for a long moment, and then chuckles soundlessly. “She’s more worried about how knowing puts them in danger.”

“And I could understand that if I had been some random Jane Doe from the corner of 57th and Main.” Lena traces a fingertip over her own eyebrow and stares at the papers on her desktop without really seeing them. “I can understand keeping it secret for a while, too. A long time, even.”

“Mm.” Alex nods. “But?”

“But I have a target on my back the size of the continental US because of my name alone, and it’s been there for the better part of my life.” Briefly, Lena closes her eyes and draws on every reserve of strength she can find. “Three years, Alex,” she whispers; slipping one hand into her lap and clenching it into a fist before looking up. “Over a thousand days of friendship. Of me doing everything I could to prove myself to her, to you.” She swallows. “To myself. And for what?” A smile here, but it’s tired and probably quivering at the edges. “To still be left out. To still not be trusted. To still be seen as the Luthor, and only be let in by the barest amount when I can do something for you.”

“That’s not how it is,” comes the quiet rebuttal.

Lena snorts. “Please.”

“It isn’t.” Alex scoots forward in her seat, now. “Kara wanted to tell you ages ago. Hell, she wanted to tell you right after Lex, but I told her that it would probably be too much for you to handle at once. Me.”

“Be that as it may, Kara is a grown woman and her own person.” She picks up and shuffles the nearest stack of papers; more to have something to do with her hands than for any other reason. “The choice to listen – to keep having one hand open in friendship and the other closed in distrust – was hers.”

Silence settles between them again, and while Lena firmly returns her attention to her work, there’s no sound of her visitor getting to her feet and leaving.

“She wants to make it up to you, you know,” Alex eventually says. “If you’ll let her.”

“Good for her.” Lena lifts a page and skims the last one in this particular batch; curling her fingers around a pen and signing the bottom with a practiced motion.

“But she doesn’t think you’re open to listening to her.”

“It was a highly advanced, very intelligent society,” she mutters; glancing up with her best deadpan expression. “Or so I’m told.” A beat, and she just watches the woman across from her unflinchingly; steel in her eyes and one eyebrow steadily climbing. “If there’s nothing else?”

“Fine.” Alex blows out a frustrated breath. “At least sign this, then."

‘At least.’ Lena eyes the new stack of stapled-together papers placed in front of her, and figures that she can probably excuse that one since Alex would be naturally predisposed to have just a little more sympathy for Kara. So she doesn’t say anything or even look up at the phrasing; just picks up the papers and thumbs through them as she quickly scans the contents.

“An NDA?” Now she looks up, somewhat incredulously. “Seriously? You people do realize that if anyone were to spill the beans on, say, live national television, there is literally no lawyer on the planet who could shove that particular cat back in the bag, right?”

Alex just looks at her. “SOP.” She gets to her feet but doesn’t step back; instead simply standing there with her arms crossed over her chest. “But we have plans in place for any eventuality we’ve been able to think of.” Here, there’s a half-regretful, half-apologetic little tug at the corner of her mouth. “Including you. But if it matters—” Her posture softens a fraction; her shoulders relaxing and her eyes warming faintly. “I’m glad we’ve never had to use them.”

Lena watches her for a long moment, then just sighs and signs. “If it matters, it still isn’t something you need to worry about,” she offers quietly as she pushes the NDA back across the desk. “Genetic predispositions aside, I don’t want to kill Supergirl.” She lets Alex pick the papers back up, and leans back in her chair. “I just want her to experience the same hurt she inflicted on me.”

Alex purses her lips but says nothing; at least not until she’s made her way back across the office and has one hand on the door handle. “You’re succeeding,” she then points out, and Lena hates how her chest aches at the quiet certainty in her voice. “But food for thought? An eye for an eye just leaves everybody blind.”

The office door opens, closes, and then Lena is left alone again; free to let her head sink into her hands, to bite down on her lip until the pressure in her chest eases off, and to find the strength to push away the images of Kara hurting because dammit, that’s fair.

She needs to focus on something else. Like testing the actual simulation abilities of the lenses more thoroughly, now that the official release is coming closer.

But first… She drums her fingers against the desk, and then stabs one of them against the button on her desk phone again.

“Jess? I need a sales contract drawn up. And a face to face meeting scheduled with Andrea Riojas at her earliest convenience.”