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twenty-three songs

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Lena hit decline on the call, again.

It had been three weeks since she learned the truth about her best friend. Well, three weeks, two days, and several hours (she let go of the hours, because there was no point) since Lex had revealed the awful truth, and three weeks exactly since Kara had tearfully confessed. Lena had sent her away, emotionless, because Luthors did not feel, did not love, did not show that they hurt.

Kara had been trying about once a day to call, and twice a day to text. Lena would answer the texts if they were yes or no questions, but she would not take the calls. She couldn't bear to hear Kara's voice. Not now. Maybe not ever again.

She threw herself into her work. Not at CatCo, which she'd basically given over anyway, but at L Corp. There was so much to be done with the Obsidian tech, and she didn't have time for the life she'd come to enjoy in such a short time. It was back to business for Lena. Maybe she could find a partner who loved science and tech as much as Jack had, and possibly then she could find the love she wouldn't admit she missed.

And she did, she did miss the love. Her best friend had given her everything--well, almost. No matter how Lena had wanted her to, how many longing looks Lena had sent her way, Kara never seemed to notice, and Lena had no idea, no concept of how to broach the topic. And now she never would. -Because even for all that, Kara must know I couldn't date a two-faced liar.-

Her desk phone beeped. "Line two, Miss Luthor."

"Who is it?" But Jess had already rung off. Lena sighed and picked up the phone. "Lena Luthor."

"This is professional, please don't hang up," Kara rushed. "I'm being asked to do this."

Lena let out a long sigh. "Okay."

"I'm being forced to write an article on you. They want an interview. About Obsidian. I understand if you don't want to. If you don't want to, you could call them and override the assignment?" Kara's voice grew increasingly frantic.

Lena sighed again. "No. Appearances. You can come interview me. Jess will arrange it."

"Okay...thank you." Kara was near tears.

Lena put Kara on hold and buzzed Jess back. "Put Miss Danvers on the schedule. One half hour. Wherever you can fit it in. Thanks."

Lena released the call button and pinched the bridge of her nose. She could do this. It was just business.

Jess buzzed back. "4pm?"

"Fine." Lena sank back into her chair. -Fucking hell.-

The interview itself was completely stilted, of course. Kara sat ramrod straight, fumbling with her papers and only asking the prepared questions. Lena stayed behind her desk. No sitting on the couch together this time. Kara's dissembling, subdued manner only underlined for Lena how wrong the Kryptonian knew she had been. Lena couldn't even bring herself to express anger or condescension; she was just numb. She answered every question clinically, expressionlessly.

"Thank--thank you for your time, Miss Luthor," Kara managed to choke out when the interview ended.

"If you need further information, Miss Danvers, you may email the general L Corp address and someone will get back to you at their earliest convenience."

Kara hung her head, and then stood up.

"Have a safe flight home."

Lena heard Kara's throat tighten in a sob at that. She pulled a tablet out of her drawer and began to tap, looking down at it so she wouldn't have to see Kara leave.

Several minutes after the door clicked closed, Lena looked up. She wanted to be sure Kara was out of the building before she dared cry. But then she saw a small device sitting on the couch. It wasn't the recorder Kara liked to bring to interviews. Lena stood up and walked over.

The thing had earbuds attached to it, and Lena could see it was a small music player. She picked it up. -I should return this.- She pressed the power button, expecting a PIN screen or fingerprint. There was none, however. Just a menu, including an option for playlists.
Lena took the player back over to her desk and sat down. She clicked into the playlist option, and was surprised to see her name at the top.

Clicking into the playlist titled "Lena" with a broken heart emoji showed her 68 songs, most of which she had no idea about.

-This is probably a bad idea.- Nevertheless, Lena put the buds in her ears and clicked play on the first song.
It was a country song, which surprised Lena. She hadn't thought Kara would be into that kind of music.

"How do I get through one night without you?
If I had to live without you
What kind of life would that be?"

-Whoa.- Lena listened to the words the woman was singing so sadly.

"And tell me now
How do I live without you?
I want to know
How do I breathe without you?
If you ever go
How do I ever, ever survive?
How do I, how do I, oh, how do I live?"

Lena felt tears slipping down her cheeks. She refused to sob, however. She just let the tears fall.

The second song, she recognized instantly.

"It's been seven hours and fifteen days
Since you took your love away
I go out every night and sleep all day
Since you took your love away"

Lena stared numbly at the player. "Nothing Compares 2 U" was one of the songs she played in the aftermath of her breakup with Jack.

She knew the next one instantly as well.

"I've been a bad, bad girl
I've been careless with a delicate man
And it's a sad, sad world
When a girl will break a boy
Just because she can"

-Or when a girl will break another girl,- Lena thought sadly. But the guilt on the singer's part was telling. Kara definitely felt guilty over what had happened. -Which is the least she could do.-

"And I need to be redeemed
To the one I've sinned against
Because he's all I ever knew of love"

Lena clicked next before the song was done. She got the point, and listening to Fiona Apple lament was going to lead her absolutely nowhere useful.

"Who am I going to lean on when times get rough
Who's going to talk to me till the sun comes up
Who's going to take your place? There is nobody better
Oh, baby, baby, we belong together"

Lena sighed. -Oh, Kara.- She had to admit that the song choices seemed to be leaning towards a crush, towards a lover. "I don't suppose there are many friendship breakup songs, though."

The next one was by a woman with a broad British accent.

"Every butterfly I get belongs to you
You don't believe me but it's true
Sure, the freckles on my arm spell out your name
Real feelings coming through
'Cause all I know and all I am is you, ooh...
Yeah, all I know and all I am is you, ooh..."

Lena looked at the info on the song. All I Am, by Jess Glynne. Something about the rawness behind the woman's voice caught Lena. This woman definitely wrote her own songs, and they came from real pain and love. She wrote the artist's name down on a pad for later, and waited for the next song.

"People tell me to be cautious
People tell me not to lose my self control
People tell me to be flawless
People tell me not to let myself evolve
And I think I don't really get it
I think it's all just a peculiar game
And soon I'll wake up and I'll forget it
And everyone will know me by a different name"

Lena hadn't heard this band before, she thought. But then she checked the song info. She had heard of Clean Bandit, just never this song.

"I wanted to be stronger
I wanted to be everything for you
If I could be stronger would you believe
That I could love you like you want me to?"

-No, because you can't be everything for someone while lying to them about your entire identity.- Lena bit her lip hard.

"I want to be strong for you
And I can, yes I can
If only you could promise that you will try too
I'll be there, I'll be there
I want to be strong for you
If only you could promise that you will try too
I'll be there, I'll be there"

-Then why were you never there with the truth?- This song was hitting Lena fairly hard, and she imagined it did the same for Kara. -'Love you like you want me to'? What does that even mean...-

The song ended and the next began.

"Same bed but it feels just a little bit bigger now
Our song on the radio but it don't sound the same
When our friends talk about you, all it does is just tear me down
'Cause my heart breaks a little when I hear your name"

-Oh, yikes.- Not a platonic song. Not a platonic song at all. Lena was getting goosebumps. But, she reminded herself sternly, no matter what the song might imply, the biggest problem between them was that Kara had lied about her very identity. And that had broken Lena's heart irrevocably. If Kara had really meant the whole "best friend" thing, it would have come out years ago. Hell, if she even meant where Lena thought these songs were headed... everything was still a total, utter lie.

She left the player running on the desk while she poured herself a drink. She didn't much care for Bruno Mars, anyway.

When she came back and put the earbuds back in, the song was ready to change.

"Where did I go wrong?
I lost a friend
Somewhere along in the bitterness
And I would have stayed up with you all night
Had I known how to save a life"

Lena crossed her arms on her desk and put her head down. -Yes, Kara, you lost a friend.-

The next one was another country song that grated on her ears after just a moment, so she hit pause and looked up the lyrics.

"What hurts the most was being so close
And havin' so much to say
And watchin' you walk away
And never knowin' what could've been
And not seein' that lovin' you
Is what I was trying to do"

-Oof.- Back out of friendship land and into lover land within moments. That song, however, was only going to annoy her if she tried to put up with their annoying twang.

"I can be so mean when I wanna be
I am capable of really anything
I can cut you into pieces
When my heart is broken
Please don't leave me
Please don't leave me
I'm always saying how I don't need you
But it's always gonna come right back to this
Please, don't leave me"

-Well, at least she's taking responsibility with this one.- Lena wasn't sure Kara would agree with the whole sentiment of the song, since neither of them had been verbally or physically abusive, but P!nk's repeated begging for her lover not to leave was probably the point of that one. She took a long sip of her whiskey as the song changed.

"Well you only need the light when it's burning low
Only miss the sun when it starts to snow
Only know you love her when you let her go
Only know you've been high when you're feeling low
Only hate the road when you're missing home
Only know you love her when you let her go
And you let her go"

Lena sighed. Yes, Kara was definitely taking responsibility for her actions, and probably wallowing in them, if this playlist was any indication.

"Staring at the bottom of your glass
Hoping one day you'll make a dream last
But dreams come slow and they go so fast
You see her when you close your eyes
Maybe one day you'll understand why
Everything you touch surely dies"

-Ouch.- She drank more. That verse could definitely apply to her as well. Lena'd often felt that everything she touched either wilted, shattered, or died. Including the best friendship she'd ever had.

"Only know you love her when you let her go
And you let her go"

Lena was crying again, but she still kept it silent.

"You and I walk a fragile line
I have known it all this time
But I never thought I'd live to see it break
It's getting dark and it's all too quiet
And I can't trust anything now
And it's comin' over you like it's all a big mistake"

Any remaining colour drained from Lena's face. Taylor Swift clearly spoke for them both.

"Stood there and watched you walk away
From everything we had
But I still mean every word I said to you"

-But do you? Every time you spoke about Supergirl like she was a different person. Every time Supergirl spoke about Kara Danvers like she was a different person. "Kara Danvers believes in you." Did you really believe in me, or were you just saying that to keep your cover?- Lena sighed heavily.

"Come on, come on don't leave me like this
I thought I had you figured out
Can't breathe whenever you're gone
Can't turn back, now I'm haunted
I know, I know, I just know
You're not gone, you can't be gone"

-And what would change if I didn't leave? What else would you lie to me about?- Lena couldn't hold in the sobs anymore. Maybe Kara could hear them. With her super hearing that she'd been lying about. So many lies. And all Kara's friends already knew. Everyone except Lena.

She couldn't bear to listen to the playlist any longer. But she kept the player on her person, and several hours later, safely in bed, she turned on the player again.

Lena didn't sleep. She listened to all 68 songs except for the Rascal Flatts one, and let her heart break as many times as it needed to. Two entire boxes of Kleenex and one hell of a 5am headache later, Lena didn't think she had any emotions left to experience.

"Only know you love her when you let her go
And you let her go"

Lena kept returning to that one, in point of fact. It spoke to the entire situation, certainly on her part. She took out the earbuds and laid the player on her nightstand. Then she picked up the phone.

"Jess, I'm feeling quite ill and can't shake it. Please rearrange today's appointments. I won't be in."

With that done, Lena closed her eyes and let exhaustion take her away.