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tomorrow will shine again golden (and bring our hearts back home)

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every argument, every word we can't take back
‘cause with all that has happened
i think that we both know the way that the story ends

happier, marshmello ft. bastille

 

. .

There’s a gentle hand that shakes her awake. Worried, featherlight, unfamiliar; when Lena stirs and opens her heavy eyes, they focus on a stranger’s face. Lena stiffens for a moment as she takes in the furrowed eyebrows of the woman in front of her. 

“Ms. Luthor, are you okay?” The stranger asks. It takes Lena’s still-asleep brain another second before it clicks. It’s her new secretary, Roxanne. Roxy. 

Lena nods before she can even think about it. Pulling away from where she had fallen asleep on her desk, she realizes she can't really feel her arms. “I’m fine,” she murmurs. She doesn’t really feel fine. Her head hurts a little. 

Roxy seems to sense that. “If you’re not feeling well, I can—”

“I’m fine,” Lena insists. 

Roxy pauses. “Of course, Ms. Luthor,” she says, then leaves quietly. 

Lena lets out a sigh and sags against her chair as soon as the door to her office closes shut. A glance at the clock on her wall tells her it’s eight—in the evening. Her glass of whiskey still has a sip of liquid amber left. She used to be better at day-drinking than this; then again, she never quite drank as much as she had as the night before.  

Taking a deep breath, Lena tries to pull herself together. There’s the bitter aftertaste of whiskey and the night before on her tongue, the broken picture frame in her trash bin, Lex’s voice in her head, his blood on her hands. 

She slams her hand over her mouth to fight back the urge to throw up. Her hands are trembling and she feels the sting of tears in her eyes. 

She is far from fine. She feels worse than the day she watched the news about children being poisoned by her lead device. Worse than the day she watched Jack die right in front of her. Worse than the day she realized she practically killed her own drowning mother when she didn’t try saving her. 

Lena walks out of her office with nothing else but the weight in her mind and tells Roxy to reschedule the rest of her day. Roxy obeys with a soft yes, Ms. Luthor, and calls an even softer take care to Lena’s back, but Lena pretends not to hear it as she makes her way to the elevator. 

After all, it’s easier to think that Roxy is only pretending. That way, when she turns out to be a traitor, it wouldn’t hurt so much, because Lena had already expected it. Like how she expected Lillian to pretend because she needed something. Like how she expected Lex to pretend he cared because he was using her. It had been easier, when the truth was inevitably revealed, because Lena knew and expected her family to betray and manipulate her, despite her best belief that they could change. It comes with the blood, she has come to realize. 

However, Lillian’s lies never hurt like this. Lena loved Lex, sure, but his deception didn’t feel like her chest was about to cave in. Maybe because it’s precisely that: Lena expected Lillian and Lex to use her and betray her, but she never thought of Kara Danvers to even be capable of it. 

Maybe because Kara had always believed in Lena. Because Kara Danvers is good and kind, and once upon a time Lena loved that about her, but that no longer stood true. Because apparently, Kara had gone around and stabbed her in the back—had kept separate relationships with Lena as Kara and Supergirl when, all this time, all this time, they had just been one person.

Kara Danvers is the same Supergirl Lena had tried to be her best with. The same Supergirl whom Lena had tried to help, over and over again, to prove Lena isn’t like her family, and the same Supergirl who threw Lena’s name to her face. That's not a good question for someone from your family to ask my family. It was Supergirl who asked James to break into Lena’s vault to look for kryptonite, because Supergirl could never trust a Luthor. 

And all along, she was Kara Danvers, Lena’s dearest friend, the only one she held onto most days.

You are a fool, Lena Luthor.

Lena goes home to an empty penthouse that echoes with resounding loneliness, makes rain clouds of her pillows, and ends up far too shattered to come to work the next day. 

 

. .

There’s a bitter taste on her tongue when she calls Andrea Rojas. Forgiveness isn’t an easy thing for Lena , but forgetting is easy—she’ll forget she ever bought this damned company because her dearest friend Kara had asked her to do something about Morgan Edge buying CatCo. It was either get rid of him or take CatCo for herself, and the first option didn’t seem reasonable at the time. 

She comes to an agreement with Andrea and sells CatCo just as quickly and as easily as she bought it before Edge could. Andrea throws in some VR contacts from Obsidian like it’s some sort of freebie from an online shop but Lena tries them out anyway, and realizes that no, forgetting isn’t easy; it stings like whiskey on an open wound when, despite the random simulations she tries to play just to test the VR contacts out, she ends up seeing Kara Danvers in the corner of her eyes. Lena isn’t sure if it’s because of the announcement that Kara will be receiving a Pulitzer Prize and CatCo will be throwing her a celebratory party, or the fact that Lena hasn’t been able to stop thinking about her and Lex’s dying words.

The fourth—ninth?—simulation where it happens, Lena has three glasses too much wine and she breaks down crying in the emptiness of her apartment. She remembers arguing with Jack, so long ago, about leaving him and her life in Metropolis to chase her hopes of distancing herself from the darkness of her last name and working with Supergirl—so she could share her home with a Kryptonian and change the world for good, like she had always wanted to. 

She remembers Jack dying in front of her, because she chose to save Supergirl first. 

What for? What for? She’s no hero. She’s a Luthor. Isn’t that the exact reason the DEO placed their then top agent’s own sister, Kara Danvers, Supergirl herself, to keep an eye on Lena? 

Lex’s voice echoes in her head. I'm about to die, but at least I lived without ever being a fool. 

She practically rips the VR contacts off, the physical sting of the action still less painful than the harrowing ache of loss. She showers with scalding hot water that turns her skin red but it doesn’t wash away the ache, nor her own brother’s blood on her hands. 

 

. .

Kara tries calling Lena the day after her breakdown. Lena is caught off-guard; the last time they had seen each other was game night, after everything, and she isn’t able to answer the first call. Kara had left a voice message, ever so cheerful like everything is the same and right when Lena’s world has shifted on its axis and everything is wrong. 

When Lena decides to call her back, it’s almost two hours later. The call leaves a bitter taste in her mouth that she can’t wash away with wine or whiskey, but she realizes it’s far too easy to tell Kara she’s busy.

Lena wonders if Kara had felt like this, each time she lied to Lena about the little things: I flew here on a bus. I was having coffee with Kara Danvers when you called. You just missed Supergirl. Golly. What’s your kryptonite? Uhhh.

They make plans for lunch, and Lena tries not to think about what other lies Kara had told her.

Now you have someone who will stand up for you, always. I will always be your friend. And I will always protect you. I promise. 

Then again, Lena has told a few of her own. 

You’re with me right?

Always. 

 

. .

When Kara strides into Lena’s office with purpose, the CEO sees the determination she usually found in Supergirl. Lena hates to admit that Lex is right: denial is a very powerful thing. If Lena was being honest, she had her suspicions about Kara being Supergirl. The glasses don’t hide much, really, and Alex, Winn, and James were important pieces to the puzzle. 

But that had all been before Supergirl revealed that she still mistrusted the young Luthor, despite Lena’s best intentions. Lena trashed the idea that Kara is Supergirl and burned it to the ground then, because Kara believes in her, and Supergirl had used Lena’s personal relationships against her. 

Surely, they had to be two different people, because Kara wouldn’t manipulate her like that, right? 

“Kara,” Lena says when she finds her voice, as she rises from her seat and pulls the blonde into a hug that feels normal somehow, despite the chaos Lena has found herself in. She smiles at Kara. “Finally. It's been ages.” 

Kara smiles at her, too. It feels normal. It feels wrong for it to feel normal. 

“Hey, is everything okay at CatCo?” Lena asks. “I have six missed calls from James.”

“Actually…” Kara makes a face. “Andrea Rojas showed up in his office about a half an hour ago saying she bought CatCo?”

Lena almost rolls her eyes. “Why would she do that?” She hisses, turning on her heel to return to her desk. 

“Oh, thank God.” The relief in Kara’s voice is apparent and Lena almost wants to feel bad. “I told James and Nia there must have been a huge mistake.”

“It's not a mistake, Kara, I sold CatCo to Andrea,” Lena says, and there is something like disappointment in Kara’s eyes that Lena wants to soothe, and Lena hates herself for it. “She wasn't supposed to show up till tomorrow after you and I had had lunch.”

“You sold CatCo without telling any of us?” Kara says, her voice cracking, and god, Lena has to admit, she was a fucking fantastic actress. She wants to tell Kara that she didn’t owe her any answers to these kinds of decisions, especially when this was her business, but some half-truth spills out of her lips. Kara accepts it anyway, and Lena thinks this is how easy she had accepted everything Kara had told her before. 

It’s almost funny. 

“Why didn’t you tell me beforehand?” Kara asks, and Lena wants to scream but if there was anything Lillian taught her, it’s to keep her emotions in check. 

Lena leans back against her seat and has to force herself to look Kara in the eyes. Blue and bright and god, looks so sincere somehow despite what Lena knows of her. “I was a coward. And I hope that you don't feel like I made you out to be too much of a fool by keeping you in the dark.”

Kara just smiles with understanding. “No.”

Lena wants to laugh. She hides it with a small smile. “You're my best friend, and here I go, once again proving that you are more virtuous than I am. But I never did purport to be a saint.”

Lena thinks she sees a crack in the walls Kara has up to protect herself when the blonde chuckles nervously, like she knows Lena is inches away from finding out everything.  

“I've ordered some lunch in,” Lena says, trying to veer away from the topic lest she ends up confronting Kara here and now. She isn’t entirely sure she is ready, doesn’t know what she might end up doing. “It should be arriving soon. Why don't you fill me in? I mean, how are you? How have you been?”

It’s like watching a thousand things rush through Kara’s mind as she searches for words. Lena briefly wonders if the truth is one of them.

“Oh, I've, um…” Kara pauses and purses her lips as Lena swallows thickly. “You know what, actually there is something I want to talk to you about—” 

Is this it?

Lena holds her breath, holds onto hope that maybe she is wrong. That she let Lex get to her head, and that Kara truly does want to come clean to her, that they could still fix this. 

She loses her hope in one fell swoop when Kara speaks again.

“You know what, Lena?” Kara laughs nervously and looks at her phone. “I'm so sorry, a huge source for one of my articles is trying to meet, he's impossible to pin down, I got- I have to run.” She stands and hurries to the door, barely meeting Lena’s eyes. “I'm sorry.”

Lena wants to laugh. She wonders if it’s the DEO and briefly considers asking Kara about it. Her excuse is weak at best—considering Lena had been the head of CatCo for months and had her fair share of Kara’s excuses but had never seen a single report pertaining to whatever alibi she had come up with. 

“Okay,” Lena manages to say. Of course. What did she expect? “I'll just see you tomorrow, at the Pulitzer party.”

“Right, yeah,” Kara says, before disappearing behind closed doors. 

Lena watches the space where Kara had gone and realizes in the worst of ways that yes, it had been this easy for Kara to lie to her face, each time, over and over and over. It had been easy for Kara to pretend that she and Lena were friends, even if she had antagonized and went behind Lena’s back when she was Supergirl. 

Was there ever a moment of honesty in their friendship? Was it all so Supergirl herself could keep an eye on the last Luthor who would sooner or later venture into darkness like each and every one of them do?

Lex’s voice echoes in her head. You're left with no one. And nothing. 

Lena knows she is weak, that much is true, and this is what she gets for trusting again. There was a reason she put up her walls before, and once more, she’s let someone break them down, and—

And what for?

She empties the new bottle of whiskey in her office and comes home to an empty apartment. She doesn’t know how she’s supposed to deal with tomorrow but she’ll burn the bridge when she gets there. 

 

. .

“Lena.”

The voice tears Lena’s attention from the floor manager walking her through the Pulitzer party program to where Kara Danvers is making her way to Lena, hands fidgeting in front of her.  

“What are you doing back here?” Kara asks. 

“Okay, you caught me,” Lena says. The floor manager steps aside and Lena smiles at Kara. “It was supposed to be a surprise, but I'm the one who's gonna introduce you. I couldn't miss an opportunity to tell the world how wonderful you are.”

The words leave such a bitter, bitter taste in Lena’s mouth, but in her heart of hearts, Lena knows she means it. Kara Danvers is a wonderful person. It’s just a misfortune of lifetimes that she is Supergirl, too.

Lena knows she shouldn’t have pushed through with this. It’s masochistic of her, sure, but it’s also part of her futile attempts to believe everything is normal when things are crumbling in front of her very own eyes.  

“No, no, I—” Kara turns around. Lena doesn’t have to look at her to hear the panic that builds in her voice. When she meets Lena’s eyes again, the dark-haired woman has to remind herself where she is. “Lena, I can't let you do this,” Kara says, and there is begging in her voice that Lena isn’t entirely certain is for. “I don't deserve it.”

Ah. There it is.

“Are you kidding me?” Lena says, confusion in her voice despite the simmering hurt under it. In her periphery, she can see the way Kara fidgets. “I, more than anyone, knows how much you deserve it. I saw how you risked your life to expose Lex's crimes.”

“I'm Supergirl,” Kara says. Quick, definitely not painless.

Lena falls quiet at that. 

When Kara removes her glasses with shaking hands, Lena hears her trembled breathing and the way she seems to physically ache as she tears the truth from her lips. “I've always been Supergirl.” 

Lena shouldn’t be surprised, but she is. She’s surprised that Kara is telling her, but it doesn’t matter now. It only hurts, this truth out of Kara’s mouth—because she has never been Lena’s friend. She’s always been Supergirl. 

Had Kara Danvers been a lie, all this time?

“I should've told you so long ago, I know that,” Kara continues, her voice breaking. “But I just kept making excuses because you've been hurt so many times and I convinced myself that I was protecting you.”

Right. 

“And then one day, you were so angry with me, with Supergirl. But you still loved Kara,” the blonde says, and if that wasn’t the flimsiest of excuses. “I just kept thinking if I could be Kara, just Kara, then I could keep you as a friend. I was selfish and scared, and I didn't want to lose you,” Kara says, her eyes brimming with tears and god, Lena wants to pull her into her arms but she stays rooted where she is. “So I kept pretending, and I never stopped. Every time I kept my secret from you, I wasn't protecting you, I was hurting you, just like everyone else.”

God, but she knew. Sure, wanting to keep Lena as a friend was a good intention if any, but Kara knew. Kara was aware, all this time, that she was hurting Lena, and fuck, if that didn’t hurt the most. Lena feels the sting of tears in her eyes but she could only swallow and dig her nails into her palms hard enough that they bear crescent moons against her skin.

“And I am so, so sorry.” Kara sniffles and seems to search Lena’s eyes for something, anything, but Lena doesn’t really know what to do or say. She wants to cry, she wants to scream, she wants to slap Kara and pull her into her arms all the same and god—

She needs a drink. She needs to get out of here. She needs to breathe. She needs—

“Please say something,” Kara begs anew, but the floor manager from earlier calls for Lena to say she’s on in two minutes and Lena has never been glad for an interruption of an important conversation.

“Lena…” 

There’s a sort of desperate begging in Kara’s blue eyes. Lena wants to take some sort of pleasure in it, in the fact that good, Kara is hurting, but she can’t. Not when she’s hurting, too. 

Instead, she walks away, compartmentalizing what had just happened. She had a speech to deliver. Boxes. Little boxes. Shove all her feelings into a box and hide it away with all the other boxes she had collected over the years. 

Lena has considered Lillian to be a terrible mother, but she has taught Lena a few valuable lessons, whether directly or otherwise. How to put up walls higher. How to wear a mask. How to pull yourself together when you’re on the verge of breaking down, how to pretend you’re perfectly fine, even when everything is falling apart. She blinks away the tears and makes her way to the stage, stands behind the podium and looks towards the crowd here to celebrate one Kara Danvers. 

Bursting at the seams, Lena takes a deep breath. 

“The world is full of liars,” Lena begins, and without meaning to, locks eyes with Kara who stands across the room. Lena looks away. “People who hide things from us. People who manipulate and control us. I should know. Some of the best liars in the world are members of my own family.

“But in my life, there was someone who always reminded me that truth was the better way. And she is the person we are here tonight to celebrate.” She meets blue eyes across the crowd. “Kara Danvers.”

Lena barely hears the applause.

“The truth isn't easy. It's certainly not for the faint of heart. But it is something that Kara, as a journalist, has pursued relentlessly every day. And because she's so good at it, she makes it look easy.” I’m Supergirl. I’ve always been Supergirl. “We sometimes forget that she's just like us. That forging a path to the truth isn't a piece of cake; it's more like climbing a mountain. It's arduous and painful at times.”

Just get through this, Lena. Just get through this.

“And, just like us, Kara can sometimes slip,” Lena pushes through, and she hates the way her voice breaks. Kara is a pull she can’t help but return to, all this time, like her true north, and when Lena meets her gaze, she finally breaks. “But she always gets back up and pulls through in the end. And we're always better for her efforts.” Every time I kept my secret from you, I wasn't protecting you, I was hurting you, just like everyone else. “So, thank you, Kara, for reminding us that the truth is important.”

Lena takes a shaky breath—

And lets herself shatter. “Even when it's not always easy to accept.”

There’s applause again. Lena can’t hear anything. She smiles tightly at Kara, who makes her way to the stage as she seems to hold back her tears, too, but Lena only shakes her hand in the most professional of ways before giving way and—

Then it’s all over and Lena is walking away. 

 

. .

She is barely home when Kara calls her phone. Lena ignores it, of course; ignores, too, the way Frank keeps throwing her glances through the rear view mirror as he drives her home. She half-expects Supergirl to stop her car in the middle of the road, but the voice inside her head tells her that Supergirl—Kara —doesn’t care, not anymore, not when the game is over and the curtains are up.

Kara calls three more times but Lena doesn’t answer. What for? The blonde seems to get the hint after the fourth try, and Lena locks the balcony doors to her penthouse, tells her security not to let anyone in, brings her walls back up, higher than they have ever been before, and busies herself with her half-empty liquor cabinet. 

It’s two drinks in, still in her right mind, when she considers leaving National City. She thinks of Jack—how things had started falling apart because of how and why she left. If she hadn’t left Metropolis, hadn’t left him, maybe they would have ended up discovering the key to the nanoswarm together. He wouldn’t have had to test their product himself. He wouldn’t have had to die, and she wouldn’t have had to choose Supergirl over him. 

She forgets how much she had already drank. Kara’s voice is still echoing in her head, the words unsaid overlapping with the ones she had confessed: I’m Supergirl. Kara Danvers is a lie. I’ve always been Supergirl. 

She isn’t entirely sure if it’s the reason she reaches for the VR contacts from Andrea. Her eyes sting from the unshed tears as she puts them on. 

Lena has figured out the technology behind it, has also figured out how to duplicate it—if only her personal relationships were this uncomplicated—so she fully knows that when she finds herself in that old garage from years ago, in that makeshift laboratory she had with Jack, it’s because she is projecting her own consciousness into the simulation. 

It doesn’t mean it hurts less when she sees Jack Spheer looking so real in front of her. There is warmth in his eyes, like the way he had always looked at her. It’s a blow to her already shattered being. 

“Jack,” she greets him, her voice breaking. 

Jack only smiles, understanding in the way he gestures for Lena to take a seat on that old chair they got from a yard sale. “Drink?” 

Lena doesn’t say no. She doesn’t think twice about drinking the amber liquid he offers her; it burns down her throat like a real shot of whiskey would, and she should be used to it at this point, but this simulation might just be the welcome stimuli to her neurons because she doesn’t think she is feeling anything else at this point but the hollowness in her chest. 

“This was what you wanted, wasn’t it?” Jack says, all of a sudden, and the harshness of the words almost jerks her awake despite the soft, soft way Jack says them. She wants to cry. “You wanted to move to National City, work with a Kryptonian. You knew from the start that they wouldn’t trust you, Lena.” 

He isn’t wrong. She looks down at the empty glass in her hand. When she blinks, it’s half-full again. “I tried to make them trust me,” she whispers. 

“Sometimes our best isn't good enough and we just have to know when to stop trying.” Jack chuckles, looks at her in the way he used to, all shy smiles and fond glances that it aches. “But knowing you…”

It’s her own mind, she tells herself. She could just easily end this simulation, return herself to the real world. Not that it hurts any less at the moment. 

She just wants this to end. 

“I’m sorry I let you die,” Lena chokes out. The tears come before she could stop herself, and briefly, she thinks they are a part of the simulation, too. “I’m sorry I picked her.”

“You shouldn’t be,” Jack says. He reaches out for her hand to take the half-empty glass and puts it on the mess of their desk. His thumbs tenderly brush away her tears and god, it’s been so long since she’s known touch—from him, from Kara, from anyone. “If you could redo that choice, would you have done it differently?”

A sob wracks her lungs, takes away all her breath as Jack—the image of Jack—is all there is left to pick up the pieces. 

Jack holds her through the night, and when she wakes up with a splitting hangover, it’s with empty bottles by her feet and in her lonesome on the couch.

 

. .

Kara tries to reach out again the day after the party. She doesn’t go to work, though Roxy updates her that a reporter from CatCo had dropped by twice already, looking for her. Lena thinks she also hears the previously familiar sound of a billowing cape outside her penthouse balcony, like a phantom limb aching. 

There’s a lingering thought of Alexander Pope and how fragile memories are and maybe, just a few fried neural endings and all this pain would be gone. 

Then again, isn’t pain what makes her human?

 

. . 

It’s past two in the morning when she arrives at her apartment building, only to find Samantha Arias waiting in the lobby, busying herself with her laptop. The guard-on-duty apologizes immediately, but Lena is quick to assure him it’s alright.

God, it isn’t alright. She can’t deal with anyone these days outside the professional setting.

“Sam?” Lena says as she approaches the woman. Sam looks up from her laptop and lights up, slams her laptop shut and quickly shoves it into the bag beside her. “What are you—”

“Good, I thought you were gonna take until four in the morning,” Sam says with a laugh as she stands. She pulls Lena into a hug that makes the younger woman freeze, but Sam sees to realize what she had done and immediately pulls away. “Hey. Well, to be honest, a little bird told me you needed a friend.”

Sam smiles at that, but Lena has to bite her tongue before she tried to send her friend away. 

“I had a long day,” Lena says. It’s a futile excuse, one that Sam has heard of before. 

Sam shrugs. “I did wait up for you.”

Lena just stares, but a part of her does feel guilty for making Sam wait. She knows why Sam had chosen to ambush her though; if the woman had told Lena beforehand she is coming over, Lena would have made an excuse and probably not go home. 

Still, she isn’t sure she can handle it right now. Especially when there’s worry in Sam’s eyes. 

“And Ruby?”

“She’s fifteen and can handle herself, but she has a sleepover with friends. Come on. L-Corp North East just isn’t the same without you,” Sam points out. When Lena only raises an eyebrow, Sam grins. “I also missed your drink cart.”

Lena just sighs and gestures for Sam to follow her to the elevator. Sam murmurs a yes under her breath and picks up her laptop bag before following Lena. The ride up the penthouse is quiet, mostly because Lena is trying to collect her thoughts before Sam inevitably asks her the question. 

“So,” Sam begins when the elevator doors open and they step into Lena’s penthouse. “How are you?”

“Fine,” is Lena’s answer. Quick, thoughtless, barely the truth. “What do you want to drink?”

Sam only hums at Lena’s avoidance. “You still have that bottle of 2000 Chateau?” 

Lena chuckles at that, and it’s obvious Sam knows what she’s doing. “I do. What remains of it, anyway.” Lena moves a few bottles from her liquor cabinet until she finds the half-empty bottle of red wine, from the first holy day she and Sam had worked together. 

“Time to finish that bottle, Luthor,” Sam says. “And tell me how you are. Honestly.”

Lena takes her time pouring out their drinks. Sam doesn’t say anything, just lets her to her thoughts, until Lena sets the glass of wine in front of her. 

“So…” Sam urges, reaching for the glass. 

Lena takes a long swig of the wine. Maybe she should drink something stronger, but she fears she’ll break far too soon in front of Sam if she did. She has been worn much thinner these past few days. “Kara is Supergirl,” she says, eyes on her drink, voice so soft that for a second she wonders if she even managed to say it out loud. 

When Lena looks at Sam, she realizes that yes, she did say it out loud. Sam doesn’t look surprised—Lena wonders if Kara had told her before asking her to come check on Lena. 

“Oh. Well. Wow. I didn’t expect you to drop the ball so fast. Wait, sorry—” Sam furrows her eyebrows, her fingers twitching ever so lightly against her glass. Maybe Lena should have let her drink first, but she did ask. “So you didn’t know? I mean, not that they told me, I just kind of guessed.” 

Oh. So Kara didn’t tell her. 

Now Lena just feels worse. She just outed Kara. 

She’ll think about it later. 

When Lena doesn’t answer, Sam looks more confused. “Sorry, I don’t want to invalidate your anger or anything but you figured out I was Reign but didn’t figure out Kara was Supergirl?”

Lena purses her lips. She shrugs and takes another sip of her drink. “I didn’t want to believe it.” 

“Huh.” Sam blinks a few times. “Love truly is blind, huh.”

Lena rolls her eyes at that. “Why are you here, Sam?”

Sam shrugs. “Kara wanted to know how you’re doing. So did I.” 

“I don’t need babysitting,” Lena snaps. 

“This isn’t babysitting,” Sam points out, an eyebrow raised at Lena that the younger woman flusters like a child chastised. “You may not think Kara’s your friend anymore, but I was hoping you still thought of me as such.” 

At Lena’s silence, Sam continues. 

“I get that we’ve both been busy with work but I wouldn’t have found out you’re…” Sam shakes her head. “Working even harder than usual and keeping to yourself more than is healthy if Kara hadn’t told me.”

“Kara has no business caring about me,” Lena mutters, more to herself. She remembers the blonde’s words. Supergirl has no business caring about a Luthor. 

“Still.” Sam sighs and reaches out for Lena—the touch startles Lena, and it only serves to make Sam look at her far more softly than Lena wants. Sam takes Lena’s hands in hers and squeezes them, a life raft to the lonely sailor sinking in a dark, stormy sea. “Lena. You have to let your friends help you, get you through the dark times. Falling apart is okay.” Sam smiles. “You have us to help you pick up the pieces.” 

Lena grits her teeth. She can hear those words, in Kara’s voice. It seems so long ago now. “Stop.” She scoffs and lets go of Sam’s hands, fights the prickle of tears in her eyes. Damn it. She should send Sam home. “Friends don’t go around making you a villain while she’s parading around in a cape then pretends everything’s fine and dandy while playing another role.” 

Sam lets out a long breath at that. Lena knows she isn’t fully aware of what had transpired between Lena and Supergirl, back when they had been dealing with Reign, but Sam knew it hadn’t been pretty. 

“I think the two of you should talk,” Sam says softly. “You’re a mess. She’s a mess.”

“Don’t side with her,” Lena snaps. 

Sam raises her hands. “I’m not siding with her, Lena. I’m siding with your happiness.”

“She knew she was hurting me,” Lena says, and she hates the way her voice breaks. She slams down the glass lest she breaks it in her hand with the way she clasped it so tightly. “That’s what hurts the most, Sam. Not that she lied about her identity, or god, that she played two different people and manipulated me. It’s the fact that she knew I’ll be hurt about it and yet.” 

“Hey,” Sam coos, and then there are hands on Lena’s face, thumbs brushing away tears Lena didn’t even notice are streaming down her face now. Lena closes her eyes and wills herself to stop. Stop. She is supposed to be much stronger than this. Stop. Stop. 

“Look at me, Lena,” Sam urges. The hands on her cheeks are gentle, and when Lena finally opens her eyes, Sam meets her gaze. There is sadness and understanding in her eyes. “You wouldn’t be this devastated if Kara didn’t mean anything to you—if she still doesn’t mean a lot to you.”

No. She’s wrong. She doesn’t care about Kara Danvers anymore. She’s dead to Lena. 

“You still care about her,” Sam says softly, like she’s teaching Lena the right name for her emotions. “Tell me. If you have known Kara was Supergirl when Reign had her practically dead, would you have ever forgiven me?” Sam asks. “I mean. You knew we were different entities but we shared the same body. I would’ve been the one to have killed her. I almost killed her.”

Lena doesn’t need Sam to continue to get her point. Would she have forgiven Sam, had she known back then? Who would she have chosen? It’s like Jack, all over again: the life of the one she loved, or the love of her life. 

No. No no no—

“Your anger and your pride will only serve to make this rift between the two of you bigger, Lena.” 

The truth shatters Lena yet again, but this time, Sam holds her, warm arms pulling her together in a reality she can’t escape. “I got you, sweetheart. I got you.”

 

. .

Lena doesn’t remember a lot after breaking down, and it feels like all she’s done lately is cry. Sam assures her it’s fine. Sam takes care of her—assures her that Ruby is fine, that she doesn’t need to move from where Sam had tucked her in the bed, just needed to rest and hydrate. 

They have dinner. Sam cooked for her. Lena doesn’t admit how long it’s been since she’s had a home-cooked meal, or that she missed Sam. Instead of the silence or the talk about Lena’s predicament again, they talk about Sam and Ruby. The teen plays for their high school soccer team, apparently, and Sam coaches during her free time. She has managed to meet another mom there, too, and things are good—the mere mention if it has Sam blushing lightly and hiding back a small smile that Lena could see miles away. 

Lena is happy for her, of course. 

Sam prohibits her from drinking anymore alcohol that night, and instead brings out a bottle of grape juice from the fridge. Lena stares at it. Kara had been the one to pick that out when they went to get groceries; it had been sitting in the back of the fridge now, for some time. 

When dinner’s over, Sam tells her to stay seated while she cleans up. Lena stares at the bottle on the table, half-empty—or half-full, perhaps, but Lena’s never been an optimist. Maybe back when the sun shone brightly. Kara has always been the optimist between the two of them. 

She wonders, for the first time in weeks, how Kara is. She honestly has focused too much on her own hurt that she hasn’t considered Kara for a second; it’s an asshole thing to do, sure, but then again, Lena is inclined to nurse her own wounds first. Funny how she finally discovers self-preservation. 

Sam said Kara is a mess, too. The knowledge of it isn’t comforting, considering they are equally suffering, but when Kara calls when Sam leaves after lunch the next day, Lena can only stare at her phone and the photo of a smiling Kara Danvers on her screen. 

Lena feels the tiniest bit better, sure—Sam’s right, maybe, in some ways, about Kara and Lena needing to talk about things without Lena walking the fuck away—but the thought of it is cauterizing a wound with a flaming hot rod and without anesthesia: a sure-fire way to close a bleeding wound, but at what cost?

Time. She just needs some time. 

 

. .

It’s two days later, more on a whim, that Lena comes to Kara’s apartment. She finished a meeting mid-afternoon and her hands feel numb from the little sips of whiskey she takes between the contracts she is signing; before she knows it, she is at Kara’s apartment floor, staring at the unit number on the door. 

If Kara is home, surely she knows Lena is here, pounding heart, fidgeting hands and all. The DEO probably knows she is here, too, considering Lena’s ninety six percent certain they were keeping tabs on her. 

Lena knows she should go, but she decides it’s better this way. They could finally talk—or at least, Lena could face Kara again and demand for answers, something, anything, instead of inviting Kara somewhere. This way, Lena can leave quickly should this be something she isn’t entirely prepared for. 

When Lena knocks, the door practically rips open, a heartbeat later, like a knock was all Kara had been waiting for.

“Lena,” Kara greets, and the wind in Lena’s lungs gets knocked off by the sight and sound of the blonde—relief and hope all in one breath, remorse and sadness in those blue eyes. 

It’s Lena’s pride that clutches tightly onto her anger, her fury at Supergirl that makes her square up her shoulders, take a deep breath, and lock eyes with Kara. 

“I just want to know one thing,” Lena starts, not wanting to beat around the bush. She doesn’t miss the way Kara tenses, and Lena thinks Kara has crushed the door knob in her hand. “And I want you to be honest, for once. I want you to look me in the eye and be honest because you- god, I’m begging you. Just once.”

If Kara takes any offense to that, it shows only in the slightest flinch in her expression, like she isn’t entirely sure she heard Lena correctly. Lena sees the way Kara swallows. 

Lena takes a shaky breath and forges on. “Did you ever truly care about me?” 

If Lex knew Lena’s words could break a Kryptonian, would he be proud of her? 

There is confusion in those blue eyes as they search Lena's, as if wondering if the woman is joking; the uncertainty in Kara’s eyes melts into devastation and there is no trace of the Girl of Steel as she speaks. 

“I do care about you, Lena. I love you,” Kara says. Lena doesn’t need to ask her twice if she means it. There is heart wrenching honesty in her eyes that makes Lena’s throat close up, fighting back the tears even as a voice in her head—Lex’s, not hers—tells her that Kara is lying.

Lena needs to leave. She needs to leave. With a firm nod at Kara’s answer, she looks away. 

“That’s all I wanted to know,” is all Lena says, then steps backward, turns around to put more distance between her and Kara. 

“Lena, please.” 

Kara’s voice is so soft, as if any louder could snap the remaining threads that keeps them together. The sound of Kara’s single step out the doorway echoes in the quietness of the hallway. Lena stops but she doesn’t turn around.

She hears Kara take the shakiest of breaths. 

“Do you remember after the Daxamite invasion,” Kara begins, “when I had closed myself off to everyone else and kept ditching all the plans you made?” 

Of course. How could Lena forget? For the longest time she had blamed herself for causing that heartbreak—starving so much for validation and affirmation that she took it from the very first person who offered it, Rhea, who of course only turned out to be using her. Lena knows she caused the Daxamite invasion, one way or another, and protecting the Earth by poisoning the atmosphere with lead was the only way she could atone for her sins. 

Her penance? Having to accept the fact that Kara pushed her away, because Lena sent away the love of her life. Except Lena breaks Kara’s heart yet again, only months later, when he comes back, safe and sound, because Lena's supposed legacy means the atmosphere is free of lead. Except he comes back with a wife and none of the love he had for Kara.

“You- You told me that you were still there for me, and that’s what I want you to know.” Kara sighs, and Lena doesn’t have to turn around to know there are tears in those remorseful eyes. “I promised you, remember? That I’m not going anywhere? I’m here for you, Lena. If- if you still want that.”

Lena doesn’t say anything. She thinks it’s unfair how Kara could easily throw her own words back at her. It’s unfair how easily she can crack at the promise of Kara’s companionship despite the many walls she had built, despite knowing they are just lies. 

She thinks she imagines the broken sob that shatters the silence as she walks away from Kara. A part of her screams for her to turn around, but she puts one foot in front of the other, a step away from the light. 

I do care about you, Lena, I love you haunts her for nights, and she can’t find a metaphorical box to put and hide it away in, so Lena holds the words like rain in her hands.

 

. . 

Alex comes into her office one day. Roxy looks so ready to kick her out of the building but Lena waves her away even if she wants to take her secretary up on the offer. 

“Can we talk?” Alex says. She awkwardly puts her hands on her hips, but only for a second, then fidgets with the hem of her leather jacket. 

Lena looks up at her from where she sits. “What can I help you with, Ms. Danvers?”

Alex looks out the glass windows of Lena’s office as she seems to search for words. “It’s a little overdue, but I’d like to apologize,” she finally says, barely meeting Lena’s gaze but sounding sincere anyway. Lena isn’t sure what is honest these days. “I’m probably one of the voices in Kara’s head who stopped her from telling you about, well, the truth.” 

The DEO Director takes a shaky breath. “But you have to understand that I did that because I’m her sister, first and foremost. And it’s an instinct to protect her.”

Lena wants to scream. Instead, she just rolls her eyes. “Because I’m a Luthor.”

“Because she loves you,” Alex says without second thought. She sighs. “Kara doesn’t think with her head, especially when it comes to people she loves, and she hates me for it but I make those decisions sometimes.”

“Is that all?” Lena asks, never batting an eyelash. 

Alex nods. “We do care about you, Lena.” 

Lena almost laughs at that. “Trust is a hard thing for me, Ms. Danvers. I’m sure you get it,” she says softly. She reaches for the intercom. “Roxy, please escort Ms. Danvers out.” 

Her secretary comes in, and Alex only gives Lena a sad smile before leaving her office. Lena remembers her own words, once upon a time, and she hates that it still holds true, despite her pride.

People underestimate me, but I care. I really do.

 

. .

It’s… been some time since she killed Lex. She stopped counting after a while. The nightmares of him haven’t quite stopped; then again, Lena didn’t expect them to, considering Lex had been, for better or for worse, the person who made Lena Luthor who she is.

While this family stands steadily in darkness, you will always fall into the light.

She stares down at National City from her view high up on her office balcony. The glass of whiskey in her hand is her third—or fifth? doesn’t matter—and the voice in her head is Lex’s, a broken record of rotting malevolence. When she looks down at her hands she sees blood.

When she looks up again, she sees the heroine in red and blue arrive from the clouds. Lena tries to ignore Supergirl but hears her boots on the concrete of the balcony, soft and too loud at the same time. 

“Am I in danger?” Lena asks, never taking her eyes away from the view in front of her. She takes a sip of her drink. “Am I the danger?”

Supergirl is quiet for a while that Lena has to glance her way to see if she is still there. Lena grips her glass just a little bit more tightly as she sees exhaustion in those blue eyes—Kara’s eyes, so achingly familiar. 

“I miss you,” Supergirl says, and it’s soft and broken and so unlike the Girl of Steel and Lena can’t hide the way it jerks the air out of her lungs. 

“I just. I know you need your space, and I- I want to give it to you. But I want to say my piece, before I- before I get out of your hair.” A beat. Supergirl sighs. “For good.”

Lena doesn’t say anything, but she doesn’t look away either. Supergirl takes it as permission.

“I liked being Supergirl. She’s stronger. More powerful. People like her better than Kara Danvers.” Supergirl laughs, humorless and hollow. “At one point, I quit being Kara Danvers. I told myself that she was a mistake.

“But you—” Her voice cracks, fists clenching on her sides that Lena notices the tension on her shoulders. “You liked Kara Danvers. You held on to her and when the time came that you hated Supergirl, Kara Danvers was all I held on to.”

Supergirl takes a shaky breath amidst the tears welling in her eyes. “I’m still your Kara.” 

When Lena just looks down on her glass and doesn’t say anything, Supergirl sniffles. “I should go—”

“Do you remember when you finally told me you were Supergirl?” Lena finally says. She drags her gaze from the amber liquid of her drink to meet Kara’s eyes once more. “You were weeping big crocodile tears. Well, I wept real tears, bitter tears over you weeks before. 

“What? I- I thought—” Supergirl takes a shaky breath. “How long had you known?”

“I found out the day I killed my brother.”

Supergirl looks horrified. “Lena, you didn't kill Lex, that was me. I watched him. I saw him fall.”

“You saw him fall, but did you see him land? Did you see him die?” Lena wants to laugh but all she can really see behind her eyes is Lex’s lifeless body, bleeding from the gunshot wound Lena herself inflicted. “I did, and let me tell you, it wasn't pretty.”

“That's impossible.” 

Lena laughs mirthlessly. “Anything's possible when you're a Luthor. Lex used his transmatter portal watch. I knew exactly where he'd go: to the cabin we loved when we were children, so I was there waiting for him. I had the gun already loaded. I could feel the weight of it in my hands.” It’s reliving the horror all over again, and Lena can feel her throat closing up, her lungs burning, bile in the back of her throat. “Every fiber in my being rebelled, and I didn't want to do it, but I knew I had to, because if Lex lived, the world wouldn't be safe.”

Lena grits her teeth. 

“My friends wouldn't be safe. So I forced myself to pull the trigger. I shot my own brother in the chest. His final words to me were that I was a fool, that my best friend, that every friend I had was lying to me. With his dying breath, he told me that you were Supergirl.”

“Lena,” Supergirl says, “you have to believe me, I never meant to humiliate you.”

Lena wants to laugh at that. All she feels is searing ache in her chest, the heat in her eyes from the threatening tears. “You know, when I came to this city, I promised myself that I would never trust anyone again,” she begins. She had no one in National City, after all, had just left the only person who loved and trusted her in Metropolis, and with a name like hers, it was better to be safe than sorry.

“And then I met you.” Lena manages a sad smile. “You chipped away at my armor with your warmth and your earnestness, and you convinced me to trust in people and friendship again, and against my better judgment, I did. All the while telling you about my Achilles heel—betrayal.

“I confided in you that everyone in my past had betrayed me. About how much it hurt to have someone you love lie to you and betray you. I spelled it out to you over and over again, essentially begging you not to violate my trust, begging you not to prove that, once again, I was a fool.” Lena’s anger bubbles on the surface, fraying the edges of her voice. “You reassured me ad nauseam that you would never lie to me, that you'd never hurt me. And all the while, there wasn't a single honest moment in our friendship.”

“No!” Supergirl exclaims, taking a step forward. “No, that is not true.”

Lena stares at Supergirl, dead on, fury and sadness in her eyes. “I killed my brother for you! For our friends. Don't you understand what you've done?”

She has become exactly like the family she had spent her entire life running away from. She had killed the only remaining person in her life who believed her for who she was, and not for the person they thought she could be.

You are not your brother. 

“When you found out, why didn't you come to me right away,” Supergirl cries. “So I could explain?”

“Explain?” Lena scoffs. Why should she be the one to beg for answers why Kara had hurt her?

“If you hate me so much, why—” Supergirl struggles for words. “Why not out me at the Pulitzer party?”

“Because I understand that it wasn’t my secret to tell.” Lena feels the burn of tears down her cheeks. “I get it. You never meant to hurt me. But you never had to befriend me, either. It would’ve been all fine. You never should’ve tried. But you had to use me, didn’t you? You had to keep an eye on a Luthor.” 

“That’s not— That’s not true. I- Kara Danvers is- was your friend.” Supergirl is crying now—looks so weak and pathetic and Lena can almost feel Lex behind her, whispering how great his little sister is at torturing this poor, poor Kryptonian. “Please, you have to believe me.”

“But it’s Supergirl standing in front of me, isn’t it?”

The blonde takes the smallest of steps closer. Tears stream down her cheeks and her voice cracks when she speaks. “I’m still your Kara.” 

Lena shakes her head. “Please leave.” 

“Lena, please—”

Lena screams. The glass in her hand flies as she hurls it to the floor, shattering into a million pieces. Supergirl flinches at it. A sob wracks Lena’s shoulders and when she looks up at Supergirl again, she can barely see her through her tears.

It’s catharsis, and the fire of her anger starts to dissipate and cool down into terrifying calm. “I’m not going to forgive you overnight Kara. You hurt me. Do you understand that? You hurt me and it’s not just going to take a tearful fucking apology and that’s it. It’s going to take some time to move on from that, let alone believe that you truly want to be in my life. If there was an honest second in our friendship just please leave.” 

Kara—Supergirl—swallows thickly and nods. Lena doesn’t watch her go; she falls to her knees and cries as quietly as she could, but all she can really hear is Sam telling her she still cares deeply, because otherwise, she wouldn’t be falling apart like this. 

 

. .

It’s a few more weeks of silence after that. Lena tries to distract herself from it all through work, which is easy enough—on top of her actual job as CEO, Lena spends her free time at the labs, working hands-on with her scientists who seem to at least appreciate her. She is brilliant, after all, and sure, she isn’t the brightest when it comes to relationships, but god damn if she isn’t good with science. 

Her hands-on work means it becomes easier for them to launch some of their new projects. Lena and her team is poised to unveil their breakthrough on cutting-edge decoder technology that weekend, which once rolled-out can lower the costs and make brain computer interfaces much more affordable and accessible to people with disability. 

But of course, it is Lena’s luck to have yet another of her press conferences attacked. She hasn’t even gotten through half of her opening speech when something explodes behind her. There are screams and smoke everywhere; her team is already running off the stage, hastily looking for safety.

Lena barely hears Roxy’s voice from a distance. “Ms. Luthor, look out!” 

Looking up, Lena sees the huge steel beam from the stage falling, right onto her. Despite her mind screaming for her to run, Lena stays rooted where she is, waiting, just waiting. 

They say that when you are about to die, your whole life flashes right before your very eyes. The only thing that comes to Lena’s mind is—

I’ve always been Supergirl. I do care about you, Lena. I love you. I’m still your Kara. 

—Kara thinks Lena hates her. 

The weight of the beam never comes, never crushes her. When Lena looks up she finds red and blue, so easily pushing away the steel and putting Lena out of harm’s way. Supergirl lands in front of her, concern in her eyes. 

“Are you okay? Are you hurt?” She asks.

At a loss for words, Lena nods. “Thank you, Supergirl.”

“Of course, Ms. Luthor,” and it sounds professional but the blonde’s smile isn’t as bright as it used to and Lena shouldn’t care

God, but she does. 

 

. .

Kara actually gives her some space. Lena knows she asked for it, and being at work means she doesn’t think too much about anything else other than the problem in front of her, but in the odd moments where she has nothing to think about, her mind could only stray to Kara. 

Very rarely does she actually hear about Supergirl too, which she considers a feat for National City because Lena is pretty sure half their news content is about the caped heroine. 

 

. .

It’s a full week after Lena’s latest presscon attack when she hears about an alien attack downtown. There is an unidentified ship hovering just above the city. It’s right where the DEO is, and Lena doesn’t have to be a genius to put two and two together. 

She shouldn’t care, she knows she shouldn’t, and she tries not to. She tries to focus on work, but it lasts all of five minutes until she catches wind of news that Supergirl had just landed unconscious in the middle of Main Street, wounded and bleeding. 

She’s supposed to be invincible.

Lena remembers Reign all over again. She remembers watching the Worldkiller beat Supergirl to an inch of her life, watched the blonde heroine fall from the sky, practically lifeless. 

Sam’s right. 

Fucking hell. 

 

. . 

It isn’t difficult to track down where the fight is. Lena just had to find the part of the city with the most damage. She isn’t used to the weight of the Lexosuit around her—she really needs to rename this stupid armor—but it’s the only way she can realistically fight whoever it is that decided to visit National City. 

She finds Supergirl, neck and neck against a creature almost twice her size. Lena hears a mighty growl then Supergirl comes hurtling towards the next building. 

Lena watches Supergirl try to push away the rubble, but doesn’t even seem to be strong enough to keep defending the city. Where is the DEO? Another growl falls from the creature’s mouth then it’s running towards Supergirl, and—

And of course, Lena does the only right thing to do. 

She swoops in, thrusters in their maximum, and shoots down the creature with her ion rays. The creature howls but doesn’t seem at all affected by it. If anything, Lena just pissed it off. 

Lena sees the glowing green of kryptonite on the creature’s chest. Someone who knows Supergirl’s weakness then. Lillian? Lena will worry about it later; one quick look behind her towards Supergirl tells her that she might not be able to do this all on her own. 

“Alright,” Lena sighs. She stands right in front of Supergirl, shielding the heroine, and squares her shoulders. “Always wanted to test these.” 

Lena lifts her arms and hears a humming sound, her suit powering up, before bright particle beams blast out of her suit’s palms. The creature howls, all it’s attention now on Lena. 

 

. .

Her entire body aches and she is certain there is at least 35% damage to the warsuit that she cannot undo, but Lena is always up for a challenge. The remaining energy in her suit is just enough for her to bring the wounded Supergirl to the rooftop of the nearest building, away from the inevitable crowd that will build up when people realize the danger is gone. 

In the distance, Lena can hear police sirens. Her leg has a too large gash that needs to be cleaned up, but she can deal with that later. She carefully sets Supergirl on the ground, then uses her suit’s x-ray vision to check for any injuries. 

A broken rib and femur, dislocated shoulder. Too many cuts and bruises to count. Injuries all far too human for Supergirl, and a part of Lena aches. 

“Lena?” 

A breath of relief escapes Lena at the soft sound of Kara’s voice. When the blonde tries to move, Lena places a gentle hand on her shoulder, careful not to touch the wounds that won’t close. “Don’t- stay down. You’re hurt.” 

Supergirl looks around and seems to realize the situation. “You saved me,” the blonde says, and she sounds so genuinely surprised that Lena can’t help but smile.  

“Of course I did.” Lena takes a deep breath and shrugs. “And I will do it again in a heartbeat.”

Supergirl blinks. “I mean. Why?”

Lena looks up at the sky. The sun is setting far ahead, the stars already dotting the midnight blue. She knows Supergirl will need rays from the yellow sun if she is to heal. “Dangerous saves are sort of our thing.”

Supergirl doesn’t say anything for a while. Lena sits and stretches her injured leg, assessing the damage. She will need more than the yellow sun for her wound to close, but this pain is a welcome one compared to what has haunted her for weeks. 

She should leave. The DEO is coming, anyway, and Alex will take care of her sister, but somehow, Lena can’t find it in herself to leave Supergirl. Kara. 

“I thought- I thought you hated me,” Supergirl—Kara— whispers. When Lena meets her gaze, there are tears in her eyes. “I hurt you.”

“You did,” Lena whispers back, and Kara flinches like Lena doused her cuts with alcohol and flame. Lena smiles sadly. “I was angry at you, sure. And I was hurt and disappointed, but you also saved me time and again.”

Lena lets out a heavy breath. “And despite everything, I care about you deeply, Kara.”

Supergirl doesn’t say anything. Instead, she cries quietly, like she is grieving for something dear she had lost. Lena wordlessly reaches for her hand.

“The DEO will be here soon,” Lena whispers. 

Supergirl takes her hand, squeezes it with her fleeting strength like it’s the only thing that can save her. Lena doesn’t pull away; she stares at the sky and feels the tiniest of tremors in Kara’s hand, cutting through her warmth. 

It’s two minutes later that a helicopter finally arrives. Alex Danvers drops from a rope, worry and gratitude in her expression. Lena pulls away from Supergirl then, rising in her half-destroyed warsuit.

“Thank you,” Alex says. 

Lena nods. “Take care of her,” she tells the Director, then leaves. 

 

. .

Several hours later, almost past midnight, Lena’s apartment intercom chimes with her security informing her that a Kara Danvers wishes to see her. 

Lena glances to her balcony doors, wide open—for fresh air, not because she was waiting for Supergirl. She licks her dry lips and tells her security to let her up. 

It’s weird; Lena knows it takes exactly thirty-two seconds for the elevator to arrive at her penthouse from the ground floor, but it takes so much longer somehow. She sets her book and her glass of wine aside.

The doors of the elevator open to show a weary-looking Kara Danvers in an oversized cashmere sweater and pants. Her hair is in a messy ponytail. Her wounds are all gone now, just remnants of bruises on her skin. When she meets Lena’s gaze across the room, Kara fidgets with her glasses. 

“No Supergirl tonight?” Lena asks. There is no bite in her question, just curiosity. 

Kara doesn’t step out of the elevator car. She stays where she stands, tugging on the hem of her sweater. “I… Solar-flared,” she answers simply. She chews her lip for a moment. “I haven’t really recovered and I just sneaked out of the DEO because I—” 

Kara takes a deep breath. “I wanted to see you. To- to thank you. As Kara. Not as Supergirl. I know you don’t want to see Supergirl.” 

It’s honesty. Lena appreciates it. She nods, not really knowing what to say. Should she say you’re welcome? Send Kara away? Let her in and make her stay the night?

Kara blinks and looks like she regrets coming; she gapes like a fish out of water and she looks so small, and it was moments like this that Lena never really could believe Kara was Supergirl. 

“Come on in,” Lena says, rising from the couch and hiding the way her leg ached from her own injury that will take weeks to heal. She doesn’t quite know what made her say it, but the relief in Kara’s face is enough reason.

 

. .

There is only an awkward silence. Lena has offered Kara some drinks—the half-full bottle of grape juice in the fridge—and they are effectively an arm’s length away from each other on the couch, but it’s better than weeks ago when Lena couldn’t even think of being in the same room with Kara without seeing her brother bleed to death in her head.

“You know,” Kara says, some minutes later, breaking the silence in the penthouse. She’s cradling the glass of grape juice on her lap and looking at it like it holds all the answers in the world. “I didn’t think you’d let me in. I just wanted to take my chance. I know you need some space and I- I get that. But I—” 

Kara looks up from her glass and meets Lena’s gaze; Lena feels like she is caught staring, but Kara forges on, determination in her eyes. “I miss you,” she says, in a tone like that time she told Lena I do care about you. Kara sighs. “It’s so different without you.” 

“Kara—”

“It’s okay, Lena, I just,” Kara bites her lip like she’s holding back tears. “I’m not asking you to forgive me now. I know you’ll need time, but I just… I need you to let me explain.”

Lena purses her lips. Haven’t they had enough of this? Still, she nods, and it’s like the dams break. 

“I didn’t plan on befriending you,” Kara says. “I know you said I didn’t have to, but I did, and it’s not because of the reasons you think. I- I meant what I said, back at that restaurant, the first time.” Kara sighs. “I know how it felt to be an outsider. I just… I just didn’t want you to feel like that. I didn’t expect- I guess I underestimated the pull you have on me.”

Kara offers Lena a small, sad smile, and shrugs. “By the time I realized what had happened I began to care about you more than I intended to, and I guess that’s what makes what I’ve done unforgivable.”  

Kara said she just needed Lena to hear her explain, but why does this feel like a goodbye?

“I get that you may never actually trust me again, or- or that we can never be friends again.” Kara tries to blink away the tears but fails. “But I want you to know that I do care about you, Lena.”

In Lena’s lack of reply, Kara swallows thickly and stands from the couch. “I should go.”

“I don’t hate you,” Lena says, finally shattering her silence. She sniffles. “I never hated you. I was angry, but I don’t think I can ever hate you. No matter how hard I try.”

Lena stares at her hands. She feels like crying again, but this moment is that split-second before the sun rises. “I miss you too, Kara.”

And Lena is half-sure Kara has left already; that it’s already too late, that Kara is too tired fighting for Lena and Lena had let her anger and her pride win for too long, that the rift between them has grown too far apart and can no longer be mended.

But then there are hands on hers, and when Lena looks up, Kara is there, kneeling in front of her and taking Lena’s hands like they are her anchors. 

“I’m here,” Kara says, soft like a promise. “I’m here. I’m not going anywhere.” 

 

. .

The silence is a little less awkward. It becomes soothing, somehow; between the silence and their soft sighs and the lightest brushes of arms as they sit on the couch, Lena wonders what this means for both of them. She remembers the days before all this—when things were easier and all they had to worry about was what to eat and how they can ever decide what to watch when Netflix had a plethora of choices. 

It’s not quite forgiveness yet, but Lena isn’t crying or kicking Kara out and Kara doesn’t seem like she’s holding the weight of the world on her shoulders and it feels easy. Well, easier than the past weeks. 

Almost like how it was. Like how it should be. 

They forget time, somehow. Kara’s phone rings with a call from a slightly pissed Alex, and Kara smiles sheepishly at Lena as she gestures to the door.

“The DEO is looking for me,” Kara says, and it isn’t a lie. Baby steps are still steps forward. “I have to go. Doctor’s orders.”

Lena nods and when she smiles at Kara, she means it. “Be safe.” 

 

. .

Lena thinks it’s a fluke. A moment of weakness never to be repeated again; after all, that night had oddly felt like a goodbye and Lena never actually counted on seeing Kara Danvers, ever again. 

However, she sees Kara Danvers at a coffee shop downtown, and Lena’s defenses shatter at the way Kara softens into a smile. 

“Lena.”

“Kara,” Lena greets back, not really knowing what to say.

“You’re getting coffee? I mean obviously. You’re getting coffee. You’re at a coffee shop.” Kara laughs awkwardly. “Meeting at this side of town?”

It almost feels like the first few weeks of their friendship, where everything is awkward and tentative. “Yes,” Lena answers, gesturing at a vague direction behind her. “At the Hanson Building. I was just getting my caffeine boost.”

“Cool. Um, that’s great! I’m getting coffee before I go for an interview.” The barista calls for her, and Kara bites her lip. “That’s for me. I should go. Sorry for bothering you. Have a good day.”

Lena smiles—Kara is adorable, she had to admit, despite the nervousness in her words and the speed in which she says them. “You too.”

Kara beams as she takes her drinks and walks away. Lena gives her one final glance, and when they lock eyes through the glass windows, Kara smiles like old times. 

Baby steps.

 

. . 

The press release for a new L-Corp product hits news outlets that afternoon. Kara texts her congratulations in the first ten minutes. Lena isn’t entirely surprised; Kara has been a supportive friend since the beginning, and though that fact had been marred by some lies and manipulations, it seems Kara is, after all, sincere. 

Lena stares at her phone for a while before replying. 

Thank you.

Then—

How about lunch tomorrow?

She hopes it isn’t too soon. She hopes it isn’t overstepping a line, especially when Lena isn’t entirely sure what their relationship is at the moment. Lena sighs and sets down her phone, meaning to wait for Kara’s response. 

The next thing she knows, Kara—not Supergirl, Kara, in a plain blue button-up and slacks and glasses awkwardly perched on her noselands on her office balcony, fidgeting. 

“Sorry, sorry, I—” Kara steps into Lena’s office and looks behind her as if to make sure no one had seen her land. “I was going to reply but I got too excited and I broke my phone,” she pauses to show the shattered screen of her device, “but um, I’d love to have lunch. Please.”

Lena can’t help but laugh at that. She remembers dreaming of Kara carrying her and flying. Laughing seems to be the wrong reaction, because Kara looks like she had just been told bad news, so Lena is quick to assure. 

“Lunch tomorrow it is," Lena says, and Kara beams like a new day.

 

. .

Lunch is awkward. It reminds Lena of their first lunch together, but somehow made worse because this isn’t a clean slate but murky waters they are wading in. 

“You’re holding back on the appetizers,” Lena takes note, after the server sets the plates of buttered marble potatoes and bacon-wrapped shrimp on the table. 

Kara shrugs and takes her fork, piercing a piece of the potatoes to put it into her mouth. “It’s fine.” 

Lena bites her lip. “My Kara wouldn’t be holding back on appetizers.” 

Kara stares at her and looks like she’s about to break down crying then, but she only sniffles then calls for the server to order one of every appetizer they have on the menu, and then some. 

 

. .

Lena doesn’t eat much, but she hasn’t felt quite this fulfilled in a while. Lunch is awkward and stilted and a little quieter than their first ever lunch together but it’s familiar, like a pit stop on her way back home after a long, long time away, the dust settling in the distance. 

 

. .

The first time she gets invited for game night again, Kara stumbles through the invitation for the entire duration of lunch. When Lena realizes what Kara is asking, she pauses and smiles stiffly. 

“Do you think it’d be fine for me to be there? I mean…” Lena chuckles lightly. “It’s barely okay between the two of us.”

Kara bites her lip. “I know. But… But they’re your friends too. If- if you’ll have them, still. I’d—”

Kara gapes for words but Lena just shakes her head. She doesn’t think she’s ready. It’s one thing to work things out with Kara, but with everyone else? 

“Maybe next time, okay?”

Kara nods and effectively raises another topic about work.

 

. .

The next time Kara asks is two weeks later, and Lena only says no because she had an event that night. Then again, she isn’t sure if she would have agreed to come if she had no other excuse. 

Lena reluctantly agrees the third time Kara asks, but only after several failed attempts at not-so-subtle invitations. Brainy invented this new game, I think you’ll love it. I got a new couch, Nia tells me they’re very comfortable. Totally your taste, too. Kelly is bringing kale chips, you’ll love them.

 

. .

Game night is at Kara’s, so at least, it’s a familiar place. Not much has changed since the last time Lena had visited, except the new couch. Lena brings two bottles of wine and two boxes of pizza, even when Kara assured her she didn’t have to bring anything but herself. 

Lena hasn’t been this anxious since, well, since forever, but she stands in front of Kara’s door for a few minutes before knocking—Lena is certain Kara knows she had been there for a while, but she appreciates that she let Lena take her time. 

“Hi,” Kara greets, eyes bright and smile wide, before shaking her head at the items in Lena’s hands. “I told you not to bring anything.” 

Lena shrugs. “It’s your favorite,” she says, and Kara accepts them with an even wider grin. 

“Come on in.” 

The apartment falls quiet as soon as Lena does, like everyone is surprised she is actually there. It’s Brainy who breaks the silence, smiling as he walks up to Lena. 

“It’s great to have you back,” he says, and lifts up a box of cards in his hands. “I’ve yet to find a worthy opponent.” 

Nia snickers behind Brainy and Alex makes an exaggerated groan. Kelly offers her the kale chips she made, and Kara smiles ever softly as she hands Lena a glass of wine—the kind she likes, the kind Kara had kept in her apartment for her.

“No one understands the rules of his game,” Kara tells her. “That’s why he wins.” 

“Preposterous,” Brainy exclaims. 

“Well,” Lena shrugs, accepting the glass of wine from Kara. “I'm always up for a challenge. How does it work?” 

 

. . 

Game night isn’t as disastrous as she imagined. It’s a bit awkward at first but as soon as they started on the games and everyone’s competitive streaks reared their heads, conversation and jokes roll in like so long ago. It's normal. It’s fun, and Lena has almost forgotten what fun is—Alex has too much to drink and threatens Brainy bodily harm if he runs yet another simulation to win the game, Nia is an adorable walking Disney reference, and J’onn just seems amused by everyone and everything.

And Kara—

Kara looks at Lena every so often, fondness and dreams in her eyes like she doesn’t entirely believe Lena is really there with her. 

It’s past midnight when Kelly excuses herself because she had to work in the morning, and Alex leaves with her because she has to drive her home. Nia and Brainy leave, too, and J’onn with them—probably not one to want to be left with Kara and Lena. 

“Do you have to go?” Kara asks, when it’s just the two of them in the apartment.

Lena shrugs and sits on the couch, glass half-filled with wine in her hand. “I can stay a bit more.” 

“Okay. Okay, cool.” Kara smiles and almost misses the couch when she tries to sit. She reaches for the chips on the coffee table and shoves a few pieces into her mouth, and in the silence, Lena sips her wine. 

Kara clears her throat after a while. Lena glances her way, and Kara just seems… Nervous. She fidgets with her glasses and brushes non-existing crumbs off her lap before meeting Lena’s gaze.

“I wanted to… Um, thank you. For being here. For trying.” Kara sighs. “I know it’s difficult— trust, rebuilding everything between us. I know it’s my fault, but… yeah.”

Lena purses her lips and looks down at her wine. 

“I- I know it won’t ever be the same,” Kara continues. “Not like before. But… But this- us, trying again. It matters a lot to me.” Kara lets out a small laugh that sounds more sad than anything but there are stars in her eyes as she’s looking at Lena. “More than you can imagine. And I’m really glad, Lena. Rao, you have no idea.”

Lena takes a deep breath and sets down her glass on the coffee table. They’ve been through their fair share of conversations about this colossal obstacle in their friendship, and sooner or later, Lena knows something’s gotta give—her pride, most of all, because her anger has been soothed by the warmth that is Kara Danvers, words of rain calming the fires that razed their relationship, leaving only the bones for them to start over with. 

And maybe that’s fine. They’ll start anew with the bones left behind, skeletons in the closet, but everything in the open now. Not entirely a clean slate, but the way you start a relationship with someone you know will be in your life for a long, long time: dark secrets, bright promises, long nights and lazy mornings and all.

“You know, Kara,” Lena begins, “for better or for worse… I can’t imagine a life without you.”

Lena turns to Kara and smiles. “I love you, you know.” 

Kara’s bottom lip trembles. She hesitates but opens her arms wide, an invitation and a plea. Lena swallows and takes a deep breath, dives—

Into Kara’s arms, and Kara holds her tight and this, this feels like everything in the world is slowly returning to its rightful place, fractures in the bones of their relationship mending. Lena feels like seeing color for the first time, her eyes closed, stars behind her eyelids, Kara’s soft, trembling voice in her ear saying how I’ve missed you . It’s taken some time to melt down the walls Lena had built anew but this is gold seeping through the cracks, shattered pieces made whole, more valuable. 

Forgiveness. It’s forgiveness, and hope, and Lena feels a thousand lifetimes free. 





. . 

“Kara?” 

Lena is half-certain Kara has fallen asleep, but the blonde shifts on the bed so she could look down at the woman curled up in her arms.

“Everything okay?” Kara asks, voice husky with sleep. 

“Yeah,” Lena assures. “Just… I’ve just been thinking, and… Thank you. For everything. It hasn’t entirely been a pleasant road.” 

Kara’s eyebrows furrow at that, worry and warmth in her blue eyes, untamed by the years. 

“Hey. Hey, I promised you, didn’t I? That you’ll always have me. Always.” Kara sighs and presses her forehead against Lena’s. “I know we’ve been through our share of- well, bumps on the road, but—” Kara slides her hand down Lena’s arm until she takes hold of her hand on Kara’s waist, then brings it to her chest. “I want to keep my promise, and I’m going to.” 

“I know,” Lena whispers. She squeezes Kara’s hand in hers. There is unwavering trust in the touch, in the way Kara’s eyes met hers, and Lena can’t bear to think of an alternate universe where she chooses to give up on this woman. “I love you.” 

And Kara smiles, like that’s all that matters. “I love you too.”

 

. .

from waves overgrown come the calmest of seas
and all will be alright in time
wounds of the past will eventually heal
and all will be alright in time
'cause all of this comes with a love that is real
all will be alright in time

leaves, ben&ben