They met for coffee three days after the Pulitzer ceremony.
Lena had thought about canceling a dozen times. Was it really possible to maintain a semblance of friendship with Kara Danvers?
Kara Zor-El Danvers.
Lena felt broken. She wanted to see Kara, she really did. Basking in the blonde’s sunny demeanour was one of her favourite pastimes. Some days it was the only bright spot in her otherwise work-burden days.
Those memories were tainted now.
She felt her heart clench every time she thought of the Kryptonian which honestly felt like every few minutes.
Kara had lied to her for over three years. She couldn’t tell if her pride or heart was the most bruised. For all of her intelligence she really was an idiot.
She thought back on all of the instances where Kara had said something peculiar, now dead giveaways to her alias. But maybe she had been subconsciously obtuse when it came to seeing the truth in front of her?
It felt like one of her engineering projects that had bugs she just couldn’t work out. She loved Kara, both as a best friend and, if she were honest with herself, as something more. But this felt like an insurmountable betrayal.
Lena didn’t trust easily but Kara had won her over almost immediately. Her radiant warmth and ability to see the good in everyone had disarmed Lena and she was helpless to resist. For the first time in her life she felt like she had someone firmly in her corner.
She still craved that. She was reluctant to give up the only truly loving relationship she had experienced since her mother had died.
As hurt as she felt, she knew she couldn’t really cut her best friend out of her life.
So, when Kara texted to ask if they could talk, Lena agreed to meet her at Noonan’s after her last meeting of the day.
On the way over, Lena attempted to organize her scattered thoughts. Preparation was power after all. Except, she realized once her driver pulled up outside of the cafe, she was not prepared. She had walked into meetings filled with backstabbing board members with more ease than she found herself with now.
Steeling herself, Lena entered the cafe and scanned the tables until she saw the source of her heartache.
Kara offered a small, tight lipped smile and a quick raise of her hand in greeting, clearly nervous.
Lena walked over to the table, offering a small smile of her own. She normally dropped her coat and bag on a chair without much care, but she found herself taking a long minute to properly drape her trench coat neatly over the back of the chair before arranging her bag to lean against it.
Lena supposed she was nervous as well.
She sat down across from Kara and briefly met her eyes before looking away to the coffee bar, the other patrons, and finally to the cappuccino in front of her, topped with foam art in the shape of a flower.
She heard Kara clear her throat gently, and glanced up at the bright blue eyes across from her.
“I, um, ordered your usual,’ she said, gaze flicking down to the cup. “I hope you don’t mind.”
Lena couldn’t help but warm at the thoughtfulness despite her conflicted emotions. She offered Kara a small but genuine smile.
“Thank you, Kara.”
Kara smiled in return but it didn’t take long to fall off her face. She was clutching her own cup in front of her so hard Lena wondered if it was going to break.
“I’m glad you agreed to meet with me to, um, talk. We didn’t really get a chance to...I mean, I told you a lot all at once, but then you had to give the speech, which was… I can’t even express how much that meant to me, Lena…” Kara said, leaning forward slightly, “I am so grateful to have you in my life. I want to make sure you know that. How much I treasure our friendship.”
“I’m sorry, what?”
Kara frowned, “You’re my best friend, Lena. Our friendship is one of the most important things in my life.”
Lena looked down at her cappuccino and slowly dipped the tip of her finger into the foam, cutting the leaf in half. She would not fall apart in the middle of Noonan’s. She wouldn’t.
“I’m really struggling to believe that our friendship is that important to you, Kara.”
She saw Kara flinch across the table.
“Lena, I told you why I couldn’t tell you I was… I never meant…” the blonde stuttered out.
Lena looked up to meet Kara’s distressed expression and her heart clenched painfully. Her instinct to comfort her friend wanted to kick in badly but she forced the feeling away.
“I feel very foolish. I have never opened myself up to someone like this before. As you know, I don’t trust easily.”
Kara dipped her head down in acknowledgment.
“I know. I’m so sorry I’ve hurt you, Lena. You have no idea how much I regret not telling you sooner. I was going to-“
“Kara,” Lena interrupted, “I knew before you told me.’ She admitted.
Kara’s eyes widened.
“You… You knew?”
Lena rolled her lips inward between her teeth before sighing.
“Lex enlightened me after I shot him.”
She looked down at the table, a bitter smirk fixed on her face for a moment.
“It turns out I’m not the smartest Luther after all. How humbling to find out my brother and mother knew your true identity of my supposed best friend years before I did.”
Lena expected Kara to say something but when she didn’t hear the blonde speak she looked up to see tears in Kara’s eyes.
“You shot Lex? Are you… Are you okay?”
“I’m… I don’t know.” Lena admitted. “To be honest, I’m more upset about finding out you’re,” Lena gestures toward Kara, “than shooting my brother who is, as we’re all well aware, beyond redemption at this point. Besides,” Lena continued, “I’m not sure if I actually killed him. I went back a few days later and there was no sign of him.”
“I’m sorry you had to shoot your brother, Lena,”
Kara was clearly resisting the urge to reach across the table for Lena’s hand. “I failed at bringing in Lex and because I didn’t do my job, you had to go through that.”
Lena shrugged half heartedly, already exhausted from reigning in her wayward sensibilities.
“I’m a Luthor. I’ll survive.”
Kara crumpled further across the table.
“Lena, I’m… You know I’m here for you, right? I- I love you and care about you so much.”
Closing her eyes, Lena sighed. The longing to cave in and sweep their heartache to the side pressed heavily on her but she knew she couldn’t.
“Kara, I think I need time. You’re the most important person in my life and I love you dearly, but you… you broke my heart.”
This time Kara didn’t hesitate to reach across the table, gently holding her hand over Lena’s.
“I’m so sorry, Lee,” Kara whispered sadly. “I love and care for you so much and I want to make this up to you. Whenever you’re ready, I’ll be there.”
Lena gave Kara a sad smile and slid her hand from under Kara’s, pushing away from the table. She stood up slowly and watched as Kara awkwardly did the same.
They hadn’t left each other’s presence without a hug goodbye in so long Lena struggled to remember when, but as much as it pained her she just couldn’t hug Kara today. She knew if she did that she’d start crying and she couldn’t break down now.
Instead she picked up her coat to drape over her arm and slung her bag over her shoulder. Looking over at Kara, she offered a weak smile.
“I just need some time, Kara. I… I’ll be in touch,” she promised, pulling her cell phone out of her bag.
She tapped a quick message to her driver and turned to exit the cafe before she lost her composure.
The ride to her penthouse went by in a blur as she stared unseeing out the window. She just needed time to figure out how to survive this heartache.
Time would tell how successful she’d be.
It took two weeks for Lena to visit the lab at the DEO.
She hadn’t been there since before Ben Lockwood overreached on behalf of the United States government, stealing her synthesized Harun-El compounds.
Before Lex once again turned her life on its side.
It was mid-morning so she knew the chance of running into Kara at this time would be slim. The reporter would be in the morning bullpen meeting at Catco unless there was something truly catastrophic happening in the city.
Looking around the lab, Lena pushed down the gripping sting of betrayal.
It appeared that Lena had been surrounded by liars.
Her seemingly loyal assistant Eve had not shown so much as an ounce of her ulterior motives in the months she had worked with the woman, but she knew now that her indoctrination and unwavering devotion to Lex had leant to her immaculate act.
Still, Lena felt like a fool. For all of her degrees and intellect Lena couldn’t tell the people closest to her were hiding huge things from her. She supposed that compared to Eve, Kara’s ridiculous slip-ups over the years should have been obvious.
Then again she didn’t turn into a soft, love-struck idiot when she looked at Eve.
Walking around one of the tossed workstations Lena casually glanced around for anything worth salvaging.
“I was wondering when I’d see you back here.”
Lena turned quickly at the sound and was met with the sight of Alex Danvers casually leaning against the door frame.
Lena tipped her chin in greeting.
“Director Danvers. I was just looking around to see if there was anything left to salvage from the project. It appears they took everything beyond the initial testing stage, however.”
Alex pushed off of the door frame and walked further into the room.
“Yeah, Lockwood’s people grabbed everything resembling the Harun-El. I had a team comb over the room for anything that needed securing but had them leave everything as is overwise. I figured you’d want to oversee the clean-up as most of the equipment is yours.”
Lena offered a small smile of gratitude.
“Thank you. I appreciate that.”
Alex nodded in acknowledgment, crossing her arms as she looked Lena over.
“Listen Lena, I heard that you now know about Kara’s other identity. I want to apologize for having to keep that from you.”
“Alex, I really don’t want to discuss this right now.’ Lena sighed.
“I get the sentiment but I need time to get past the fact that you all kept me in the dark about this for so long. I mean, I helped you with tech to protect Supergirl for goodness sakes!” she spat, gesturing toward the woman in front of her. “How does that not show you that I can be trusted? Never mind the fact that I’m her best friend .”
Alex unfolded her arms, instead raising them up in front of her in a placating gesture.
“I know, I realize we were completely unfair to you, Lena. I tell you any number of reasons we used to justify not telling you but in hindsight they seem weak and misguided.”
“You didn’t trust me because I’m a Luthor.” Lena said simply.
“I’m not going to lie, it took me a while to see past your family,” Alex admitted. “But it’s been a while since I haven’t trusted you. You haven’t just saved Kara’s life, you’ve saved mine and countless others. You’re an incredible asset to our team, Lena, but you’re also a friend. I can see why Kara is so drawn to you.”
Lena regarded Alex for a moment before looking away.
“I’m not speaking to Kara at the moment.” She said, feeling oddly guilty about that fact. “I told her I needed some time to process everything that’s happened.”
Alex nodded, apparently unsurprised.
“Yeah, Kara told me. She’s been…” she trailed off, apparently deciding not to finish the thought.
Lena was tempted to ask Alex what she had been about to say but thought it was probably better if she didn’t.
Alex threw a hand up between them, “Anyway, I hope you decide to give her another chance, Lena. It wasn’t solely her decision not to tell you. She was under orders from the DEO but shortly before the mess with Lockwood she told me she wanted to tell you and she wasn’t going to let those orders hold her back. I think she was really nervous to tell you, Lena,” Alex offered gently.
“You’re such a huge part of her life. She was so worried she was going to lose you. She still is, actually.”
Lena processed what Alex was saying, her arms coming up to wrap around herself. This gave her more to think about.
“Thank you Alex,” She said sincerely. “I’m sure I’ll see you around.”
Recognizing the polite dismissal, Alex offered Lena a small smile as she backed toward the door.
“Take care, Lena.”
Lena watched Alex leave the room, the ache in her chest blooming once again. She was tipping closer to forgiveness but she wasn’t ready quite yet.
She missed Kara like crazy and the huge hole her absence left in her day to day life was tremendous. It was unfair how hard sorting her feelings out was, but her relationship with Kara was too important to stuff away in tiny boxes in the far reaches of her mind.
She needed more time.
She would allow herself more time.
It was a week later when Lena walked into her office to see a small white bakery box on her desk.
Approaching her desk with caution she stared at the box for a moment before buzzing her new assistant.
“Courtney, do you know where the box on my desk came from?” She asked.
“ Yes Miss Luthor, Kara Danvers dropped it off for you a half hour ago. I told her you would be arriving shortly but she said she couldn’t stay.” Her assistant answered.
Lena thanked her and went back to regarding the box. It wasn’t unusual for Kara to drop food off for her during the work day but this was the first time she had since before Lena had learned Kara’s true identity. Kara was clearly still giving her the space she requested but still managed to show she cared in only the way Kara could.
Curiosity got the better of her and she pulled the box toward her. Lifting the lid she found two perfectly elegant chocolate croissants. There was a small folded paper tucked on the side which Lena opened. It was a note written in Kara’s neat handwriting.
Forgive me if I’m overstepping by bringing you these croissants. I promised I would be there when you’re ready to talk but I wanted to remind you in the meantime that I care about you and am thinking of you.
P.S. I’m sorry if they aren’t still warm. It got a little chilly flying over the Atlantic.
Lena read the note four times before leaning back in her chair. Kara had flown to Europe to bring her chocolate croissants, her favourite pastry. Her best friend had done that.
Picking up her cell phone, Lena opened her messaging app and found her thread between her and Kara. She typed out Thank you, Kara and sent it off before she changed her mind.
Clearly there were benefits to being best friends with a superhero that she hadn’t yet considered. All the more to mull over, she supposed.
Four minutes later her cell phone vibrated notifying her of a new text message from Kara.
My pleasure, Lena. I’m here when you’re ready
Lena glanced up from the stack of reports on her desk to look at the television on the wall of her office at the mention of Supergirl. It had been two weeks since she had heard from her so it was surprising to see her face, albeit on television.
The news report was showing a clip of an alien being punched through a wall by Kara before spraying her with a liquid substance.
She watched Kara wipe it from her face before using her heat vision to blast the orange scaly creature backwards where Alex was waiting with a stun canon to subdue the alien for transport.
The news reporter went on to say the incident happened during morning rush hour, causing traffic on the west side of the city to be backed up until police could clear the area.
Lena glanced at the time on her tablet and saw it was almost 1 pm. She wondered if she should call Kara.
She had been thinking it might be time to reach out to begin working on where they stand in their relationship. Checking on her wellbeing after the skirmish this morning seemed like a perfectly acceptable excuse.
Picking up her cell phone, Lena thought back to the phone call she shared with James the week before. She had expressed her hurt over being kept in the dark about Kara’s identity but James had patiently listened to her vent before telling her about at least three instances where Kara had almost told Lena before being talked down by J’onn and Alex. He also told her that he could see the toll it had on Kara.
She had argued that it couldn’t have bothered her very much if she had managed to keep her in the dark about it for years, but James had just chuckled in her ear.
“You have no idea how much she cares about you, do you,’ he said, his tone amused. “Kara is incredibly kind and generous to everyone she meets, but especially to those lucky enough to call her a good friend. But you, Lena… You’re special to Kara. It’s kind of funny, I-“ he stopped suddenly, and Lena could hear him clear his throat softly. “I was kind of jealous of your connection with Kara when we were dating. You both light up when you see each other. It’s hard not to… to feel left out.’
Lena had been stunned by the admission. They had ended the call shortly after and Lena had sat and thought about what James had said.
She knew it was true, she did light up when she saw Kara. It was hard not to when the the blonde greeted her like she was genuinely happy to see her and looked at her with those bright blue eyes and radiant smile. But she had thought Kara greeted all of her friends that way.
Did she really treat Lena differently?
As was the case nearly every time she thought about Kara in recent weeks, her thoughts returned to the fact that Kara hadn’t trusted her.
How could Kara care so much about her as Alex and James claim but not trust her with her true identity?
Lena placed her cell phone back on her desk. She could feel the beginning of a stress headache creeping up. Maybe she’d try calling Kara a little later.
Her cell phone lit up as it began vibrating, startling the CEO.
Lena immediately panicked thinking Kara somehow knew she had almost called her just then but then relaxed when she didn’t see the blonde’s face on the screen.
Frowning, she realized it was Alex. She knew the DEO Director wasn’t one for social calls so she didn’t hesitate more than a few moments before answering the call.
“Hello Director Danvers,” Lena greeted politely.
“Lena, hi,” Alex said, “I’m sorry to bother you, but… Um… I’m not sure anyone else can help.”
Lena could hear people in the background talking as well as a few muffled noises that sounded like they might be under attack.
“Alex, what’s going on? Where are you? Is there an invasion? What-“
Alex interrupted quickly, “No, there’s no invasion. We’re not being attacked.” She said, pausing as another muffled boom sounded in the background.
“The noise is, uh, Kara redecorating the training room here at the DEO.”
Lena frowned, “Redecorating? What- Alex, it sounds like she’s going to take a wall down.”
She heard Alex sigh on the other end, “Well, you wouldn’t be wrong. Lena, she’s… something has happened.”
Lena’s blood ran cold at the words.
“Alex, what happened to Kara?” She asked, trying to keep the panic out of her voice.
“I think it would be better if you came in to see for yourself.”
Forty five minutes later, Lena walked through the doors of the DEO.
She had cleared her schedule for the rest of the afternoon and advised her assistant that she would be off-site working on a project. She knew if Alex thought she needed Lena’s help, whatever it was must be bad.
She had expected Alex to greet her but was surprised to see Brainy waiting patiently for her.
“Agent Dox,” she greeted, glancing around. “I assume you’re waiting for me?’
Brainy nodded once. “Lena Luthor, we are so relieved that you could join us.’
He gestured toward the training corridor.
“Allow me to guide you to Director Danvers. She is monitoring Supergirl in the training room.”
Lena walked with Brainy down the corridor, her footsteps quickening the closer they got to the clamour. She spotted Alex pacing in front of the training room door.
The Director of the DEO perking up when she saw Lena approaching.
“Lena,” Alex breathed in relief, “Thank you for coming on such short notice.”
“What has happened, Alex?” Lena asked, flinching as the doors to the training room shook slightly. “Is Kara okay? Do you need L-Corp resources? Clue me in here.”
Alex took a deep breath. “Kara has come in contact with an alien toxin and it’s affecting her, um, chemically.”
Lena thought back to the news clip of Kara getting sprayed by something just before the alien was apprehended. “On a chemical level? But I thought her skin was impervious?”
Alex nodded, “Her skin is, but the toxin was sprayed on her face. She inhaled it.”
Brainy showed Lena the screen of the small tablet he held in his hand.
“We took initial tests shortly after the exposure to what we’re categorizing as a sexual pollen. The results showed abnormally high levels of DHEA, testosterone, and serotonin. A couple hours later we re-tested and the DHEA and testosterone levels had increased ten fold.”
Alex gestured toward the training room doors, “At first she was just fidgety and grumpy, but after she tossed an examination table through the med bay wall, I coaxed her into letting off some steam in the training room.”
Lena shot Alex a bewildered look.
“How is the training room any different than the med bay? Is it reinforced by nth metal or something?”
Alex gestured to a small control panel beside the door.
“The room is equipped with red sunlight emulators. It dampens her power at a cellular level. It’s how we were able to train her in combat and defensive techniques. As we all know, Supergirl can’t always rely on her powers.”
Lena inspected the meter on the control panel. It read 40%.
“What percentage do you set it at for training?” She asked, curious.
“Normally between ninety and ninety-five percent. Kara complains that I kick her ass too hard when she’s completely powerless so I let her keep a little bit of her super abilities.”
The training room doors shook as something landed against them, causing both Lena and Alex to jump slightly. Brainy didn’t flinch.
“Might I suggest lowering your voice when discussing your sister’s perceived weaknesses as she is still experiencing enhanced auditory perception.”
Alex rolled her eyes. “It’s nothing she hasn’t heard before. Besides, it’s set to forty percent. She can toss things around but she can’t break through the wall like the kool-aid man.”
Lena smirked at the visual that came to mind. Brainy looked perplexed. “I do not know of this individual you speak of. By my records there has been no human or alien by that name held at the DEO.” he said earnestly.
Lena cleared her throat. “So, What you’re telling me is that Kara is… aroused?”
Brainy nodded his head. “Yes, and to a level that would cause virtual insanity in a human. We theorized that increasing the levels of oxytocin and endorphins in her system would lower her DHEA and testosterone levels, allowing a chance for the hormonal feedback loop to be interrupted.”
“Wait, insanity?” Lena asked, “Alex, why are you dampening her powers then? She could… we could lose her!”
“Lena, at this point it’s six of one, a half dozen of the other. At forty percent she’s hanging on, mentally and not destroying the infrastructure, potentially harming herself as well as countless others.” Alex said softly.
Lena threw her hands up in front of her. “Okay, well did you… did Kara…”
Alex looked like she was trying not to squirm. “Yes, Kara was briefed and, um, attempted to uh..”
At Alex’s falter, Brainy spoke up. “Kara performed manual stimulation of her genitalia multiple times in an attempt to test our theory.” He said and Lena could hear a mumbled Oh my god, Brainy from Alex. “The attempts were for naught however. The increased oxytocin and endorphins barely lowered her DHEA and testosterone levels.” He added.
Alex ran a hand through her hair, clearly trying to push through her awkwardness for Kara’s sake.
“It leads us to believe additional hormones need to be introduced, acting like a key of sorts in order to disrupt the feedback loop.” She said carefully, looking intently at Lena. “She needs to flood her system with catecholamines, dopamine, and noradrenaline.’
Lena stared at Alex for a good ten seconds.
“You’re saying Kara needs to have sex with someone.”
To her credit, Alex held her stare.
“Essentially, yes. As Brainy said, she’s attempted to, uh… reverse the effects of the toxin on her own but it hasn't worked. Trust me, I’m pretty much scarred for life at this point. I’ve told her she needs a, um, partner for the hormonal feedback loop to be interrupted but she’s refused.” Alex said.
“I gave her the list of agents willing to provide assistance in the event of dubious sexual incidents but she refused to look at it.”
Lena felt her heart ache for Kara. This had to be incredibly upsetting, embarrassing, and verging on painful for the Kryptonian.
“How do you expect me to help, Alex?”
Alex winced slightly as she held Lena’s gaze.
“I think she’s refusing to use a partner because of you.’
Lena’s eyebrows shot to her hairline. “What do you mean because of me?’
Alex took a step closer to Lena, her expression softening. “I think Kara is in love with you.”
Lena wondered if she was having an actual stroke in the middle of the hallway.
“I… No, you- you’re mistaken.” She said, shaking her head. “Kara’s… she’s… we were, are best friends. Kara doesn’t-“
“Lena” Alex interrupted, “Kara loves you very much. We all see it, and I know deep down you see it too.”
Lena took a shaky breath, looking around idly.
“Alex, she loves everyone. That’s one of the best things about her.” She reasoned.
Alex took another step forward and reached out to gently grasp Lena’s shoulder.
“Lena, when it comes to Kara, you’re in a tier all your own, maybe except for me and Eliza. And, I think you feel the same way, or did at one point.” Alex said, squeezing Lena’s shoulder lightly. “But either way, if you could find it in yourself to…”
Lena felt like she were having an out of body experience and the only thing keeping her grounded was the hand on her shoulder.
She swallowed dryly, “You want me to convince Kara to have sex with me.”
Alex had the good grace to blush as she stepped back from Lena. “Um...scarred for life over here, remember? But essentially, yes.”
Lena pinched the bridge of her nose. She needed a minute to think. Of all the simulations and scenarios run by Lena in her personal L-Corp lab and the collective DEO, she never considered a sex pollen to be such a threat. How was this their lives? Tipping her head back to look at the ceiling, Lena sighed.
“Yeah, of course I’m going to try to help her.” Lena finally said. “I love her, and,” she shrugged her shoulders weakly, “I suppose this can’t make our friendship anymore awkward than it already is.”
Alex smiled at Lena. “I cannot thank you enough for trying this, Lena. Honestly. You’re the best.” She said, sincerely.
There was really no way to respond to a sister’s gratitude for agreeing to have sex with her sister, so Lena didn’t try. Instead she looked around the corridor,
“Is there a restroom nearby? I think I’d like to take a moment to freshen up.”
Alex turned and gestured to a nearby door. “Of course. Just through there.” She answered. “I’ll wait here for you. I’ll need to, um, adjust the red sun emulators when you go in.
Lena turned to move toward the doorway that Alex had directed her to but stopped suddenly. She turned back toward Brainy.
“Tell me what you think the odds are that this will be successful.” She implored.
“By my calculations there is a sixty-five percent chance you will be able to convince Kara to share sexual intimacy with you today, but if you succeed in convincing her to proceed, I’m calculating a ninety-seven percent chance her system will flood with enough catecholamines, dopamine, and noradrenaline to eventually disrupt the hormonal feedback loop.”
Lena shrugged one shoulder and turned on her heel.
“I can work with that. God knows I’ve had worse odds.”
Walking through the doorway, she took in the appearance of what appeared to be spare quarters for agents to use for rest or changing. There was a bed and a small table against one wall with hooks for clothing along the opposite wall. On the far wall was another door which opened to a small bathroom with a sink, toilet, and stand up shower.
Lena turned on the light in the bathroom and looked at her reflection in the mirror.
Despite the confidence she displayed to Alex and Brainy, she wasn’t sure she was going to survive this. In the course of two hours she had gone from wondering how she was going to mend her friendship with Kara to wondering how to convince Kara to have sex with her as soon as possible.
She had to admit she was secretly relieved that Kara refused the help of one of the DEO Agents. She didn’t know whether to laugh or cringe at the fact that there was actually a volunteer list for dubious sexual incidents.
Then again, she was about to go across the hall and seriously ask Kara to fuck her because of an actual sex pollen.
She rummaged around in the cabinet under the sink and found a bottle of mouthwash. She took a swig to swish around her mouth and wished for a moment that it was scotch to soothe her nerves.
Replacing the bottle back under the sink she spat out the mouthwash in the sink and rinsed her mouth. She gave herself one more steeled look in the mirror before leaving the room.
She could do this for Kara. She would convince her.