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the way we hurt (the way we heal)

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Kara Danvers is Supergirl.

It’s a phrase that Lena has been running over in her mind almost nonstop since Lex died. Since he turned his final breath into a mass weapon to wipe out every piece of happiness Lena has felt for the last 3 years. And it’s a phrase that Lena genuinely never expected to hear come from Kara’s mouth directly. But it did.

I’m Supergirl.

Kara told her, point-blank, and Lena couldn’t fight it anymore. No matter how angry she is, no matter how much Kara lied, Lena’s stupid, gullible heart still jumps to her. 

She has to make it stop.

She had planned to reveal Kara’s identity to the world tonight. She had it all set up – video evidence ready to stream to every major news outlet, a speech telling the world about how her former best friend is a liar. She’d been ready to watch Kara’s lies come crashing down around her in real-time. But then Kara cornered her, and confessed, and called up those big crocodile tears, and now she’s conflicted.

She’d been foolhardy, giving that tearful speech and hugging Kara, letting the emotions of the moment cloud her judgement and halt her plan. Right then, with Kara looking at her like she always has, Lena almost felt like she could forgive.

But then Kara had put the suit on in front of her, the Kara Danvers she thought she knew superseded by what Lena now knows is her true self. The lie finally broken completely, showing Lena just how blind she’d been. Fooled by a pair of glasses and a smile, while everyone around her was in on the secret.

The Kara she knew was never real. She’s mourning something that didn’t exist.

The moment she enters her apartment, the pixelated form of Hope springs out of her terminal, asking the exact question Lena has no idea how to answer.

“The file was ready to upload. Why didn’t you send it? Did you forgive Kara Danvers?”

Lena shakes her head, leaning heavily on the balcony railing and staring out over the city. “I could never forgive her. Not after what she did to me.”

“Then, why not reveal her identity to the world?”

“I don’t know,” Lena says quietly. “I don’t know what to feel. I just know…that I want her to hurt the way I do. I want her to feel this.” The humiliation, the betrayal, the deep, gnawing hole in the very pit of her stomach that reminds her of everything Kara has done as Supergirl – gone behind her back, judged her, told her to her face that she couldn’t be trusted. All while wearing the fake, friendly face of Kara to keep her in line, to keep her capabilities in the cage of the DEO.

That’s what she wants Kara to feel.

Hope is quiet for a moment, the lines of her form glittering.

“Forgiveness is a human virtue, correct?” Hope finally says, something almost hesitant about her words. “One you embedded into my code.”

Lena closes her eyes, her brow furrowing against the absolute absurdity of being lectured about forgiveness by an artificial intelligence she built to rewrite the world.

“Not this time,” Lena replies, swallowing the tears she’s been fighting all night. “She broke my heart. She broke my trust. How can I forgive that, Hope?”

Hope just shimmers, the movement of her pixels almost looking like a shrug.

“I am not programmed to know that, Miss Luthor.”

Lena sighs. Every time she thinks about it - about how long Kara lied, about how many times she herself idiotically missed what was right in front of her, how many times she looked like a fool, anger bubbles up in her gut. Deep, corrosive anger, that needs an outlet.

What better outlet than revenge?

Her thoughts are still chaos when Supergirl touches down on her balcony.

She looks nervous, Lena notes. She stands almost motionless for a moment, her mouth twisting into an anxious line, her fists opening and closing like she’s not sure what to do with her hands. In the end she settles on clasping them in front of her, only to immediately unclasp them when she moves forward.

“We didn’t really get to talk,” Kara says, stopping just shy of arm’s length away. “After…everything.”

Lena straightens her sweater, swallows, and tries not to show her feelings – combined nervousness and rage, brought on by the searing red lines of that crest on her Kara’s chest.

Not her Kara. Not anymore.

“You seemed to have more pressing issues,” Lena says, waving a (practiced) careless hand. Kara frowns.

“You’re the most important thing to me, Lena. You’re still my best friend.”

“You’re mine,” Lena replies, instinctively. Thoughtlessly. The easy way it still slips out makes her grit her teeth, makes her stomach churn. Kara isn’t her best friend anymore. Doesn’t deserve that title. And Lena needs to stop thinking it.

She shakes it off, going for neutrality in her reply. “But what you did…Kara, I’m not going to be able to just forget it. Things will never be the way they were.”

“I don’t want things the way they were,” Kara says, with a firmness that Lena wants to believe even as she tells herself it can’t be genuine. “When you didn’t know. I want a new normal.”

It comes out painfully earnest in a way that tugs on the sore parts of Lena’s heart, the parts that still –

It doesn’t matter.

“I’m not sure how possible that is,” Lena replies, letting a bit of honesty slip out. It’s a dizzying line she’s walking, a dance of half-truths, her own mind still not entirely made up, and Kara follows her on her uneven path doggedly.

“I…I don’t know how many other ways I can say I’m sorry, but I’ll find them. I’ll apologize every day. I’ll show you how much you mean to me, whatever it takes. I’ll do anything for you.”

I’ll do anything for you.

Another lie. Lie after lie, more manipulation to keep Lena around, each of them making the rage start to tear its way out of her chest. It’s so tempting to give in to it, to just tell Kara how she really feels, tell her about Lex and how she has the power to reveal Kara’s identity right now – but Kara offers her something so much more enticing.

A watch. One she’s seen on the wrists of James and Alex, a way to call Supergirl immediately. An emergency line to the Girl of Steel.

It does nothing to lessen the turmoil in her chest. But the possibilities it opens start to tip the balance in her mind, and she’s still going over every possible meaning of the gift when she opens the balcony door and, with a tired incline of her head, invites Kara to follow.

While Supergirl takes a few timid steps inside, looking like she’s afraid to spook Lena by moving too fast, Lena is already through two fingers of whisky and onto her third.

“I never thought you’d actually tell me, you know,” Lena says roughly, looking down into the amber liquid of her third drink in as many minutes. The dregs offer her no wisdom. “I thought Supergirl’s would never tell a Luthor her real identity. You surprised me.”

“It means so much that you’re even willing to speak to me right now,” Kara says quietly. “I thought you’d never want to see me again.”

“I’m still considering it.” It’s only half a joke, and Kara bites her lip.

“Lena, what can I do? What do you need right now?”

Lena laughs humourlessly into her glass, emptying it and pouring another. “What I need is a few more stiff drinks, a half dozen orgasms, and a decent night’s sleep.”

She says it offhandedly, quietly. A mumble that, did she not have this new knowledge of who Kara is, she would have assumed she didn’t hear. But Kara is Supergirl, and Supergirl inhales so sharply that she chokes on her own saliva and spends a few moments wheezing, clinging to Lena’s leather couch.

“Are you all right?” Lena asks, the alcohol still burning through the sick feeling she gets every time she looks at the red and blue figure now sitting on the arm of Lena’s living room chair.

“Fine! Fine. I’m fine.” Kara is deep crimson, blushing in a way that Lena has never seen before.

Well, she’s seen it once or twice. In those moments before all of this happened, when she thought that maybe, maybe, the feelings for her best friend that she tried so hard to hide might be reciprocated.

I’ll do anything for you, the ghost of Kara’s voice whispers in the back of her hazy, hurting brain.

Anything.

“Not that any of those things are something I can get from you, right?” Lena says, with a confidence she doesn’t completely feel. She tilts her head, watching as Kara visibly struggles for composure.

“I – well, I can, um. Pour you another drink?” Kara says, laughing nervously.

Lena pointedly pours herself a drink, taking another sip, and Kara swallows.

“I can…help you get to sleep. Do you need, um. A lullaby?”

There’s something inevitable about this conversation, and emotional exhaustion coupled with the three drinks are making Lena feel warm and pliable about it. This is something Kara can do for her. Something constructive.

Their relationship is ruined anyways. Why not demolish it completely, before it’s all over?

“You know what helps me sleep,” Lena says, setting her glass down and advancing until there’s only a whisper of space left between them. Until she can practically feel the uneven surface of the new supersuit pressing into her sweater. “And it’s not singing.”

Lena had once told Kara, after too much wine and night of what she thought was mutual sharing, that sometimes the only thing that gets her to sleep is making herself come. Kara had gone so red that Lena was worried she was getting heatstroke, and then disappeared after one of her emergency calls.

The reminder of how many hints she missed, how many times Kara lied, burns in her gut – but right next to it is something else. That tug, that irresistible pull that she’s always felt towards Kara. The force that let her ignore all the warning signs and red flags, and throw herself at Kara with no forethought. It hooks behind her ribcage and wrenches as Kara gently takes Lena’s hands in hers, unwittingly keeping her from doing what she rightfully should and punching her in her beautiful, stupid face.

And it doesn’t help that Kara looks so fierce, so strong, so painfully handsome. She’s looking down at Lena, her face open now and absolutely, definitely interested, looking every bit the romantic hero. Looking every bit like she has in Lena’s most shameful dreams. The ones she was always determined never to act on, lest they destroy their priceless friendship.

But, now…

The tug behind her ribs moves inexorably downwards, and turns into a deep, primal throb.

Her first instinct is to shove it away, push it down, just like always. But she’s keyed up, full of adrenaline and anger, that suddenly it seems like a good idea in a way it never has before.

What do I have to lose?

Before she can change her mind she reaches up, hooks her hand around the back of Kara’s neck, and pulls.

The first touch of Kara’s lips to hers wreaks havoc on her body. Her lips are soft and full and taste like some kind of sweet lip gloss and Lena’s body reacts like a four-alarm fire, roaring up from between her thighs and overtaking all reasons she might have come up with to not continue. Within seconds she knows she’s tapped into something addictive in the way it instantly blots out her still-conflicted thoughts like the oblivion of a morphine drip.

And Kara kisses back.

She kisses back fiercely, with so little hesitation that Lena almost thinks she was expecting this. Maybe even hoping for it, on some level. The implications of Kara’s instant and enthusiastic compliance are ones Lena does not want to consider right now, so instead she pushes on Kara’s chest until they fall back onto the couch, Lena on top and Kara scrambling to sit up.

Lena straddles her lap, and grinds down with a gasp. Immediately Kara’s hands land on her hips, pulling her down desperately in exactly the way Lena needs – and then, they stop.

“No, no, don’t stop,” Lena hisses, grinding down again and reveling in how Kara’s hips buck up to meet her. “Keep going –“

“Lena,“ Kara gasps, her grip tightening and holding her hips in place. “Lena, I –“

She’s clearly holding herself back, some kind of doubt shadowing her mind, and Lena slows down immediately. Even like this, even with rage at Kara fueling whatever twisted desire she’s acting on, she won’t fuck Kara if she’s not sure. No matter how angry she is.

Breathing heavily, Lena fists her hand in the back of Kara’s hair, locking eyes with her in a show of brutal straightforwardness.

“Do you want this?”

Kara gazes up at her, her eyes cloudy with desire. “That’s…won’t it complicate –“

“Do you want to fuck me, Kara. Yes, or no?”

The question sits between them like a palpable thing, a physical barrier between desire and the act. Kara swallows, and Lena watches her throat bob thickly. It’s so human, and so inexplicably heartbreaking.

God, she was such a fool.

“Yes,” Kara finally whispers, and Lena can see no lie in her face.

Although, she’s been deceived before.

Maybe Kara sees the conflict of that thought twitch across Lena’s face, because she frowns and looks like she’s about to speak; but Lena is already surging forward, determined to see this through, closing up her chest and turning her mind to other things. Like Kara’s hands, and her mouth, and the many useful and distracting acts they can be put to.

“I can’t believe I’m kissing you,” Kara murmurs against her lips, and Lena can feel the smile in it. She can feel the enthusiasm Kara is glowing with, the surprised delight that Lena would have shared had this happened a month ago. Had Kara not lied. “I can’t believe –“

“God, stop talking, just stop,” Lena hisses, before sealing her fate with a harsh kiss.

And, to her credit, Kara does stop talking. She takes Lena’s cue and focuses on the task at hand instead, carrying Lena to the bedroom without any more interruptions, and the next few minutes are blessedly quiet except for lips meeting, ragged breath, and clothes hitting the floor. It’s almost enough to calm her mind, the familiarity of losing herself in the physical and the newness of doing it with Kara cancelling out the turmoil her mind has been in. Kara’s kisses are sure, her hands enthusiastic if a little clumsy, and the thought finally enters Lena’s head that this might be Kara’s first time with a woman. She’s going to be imprinted in Kara’s memory in a very specific way. Forever.

It’s a unique brand of repression, the way she shoves that thought aside. 

Kara’s hand moves from Lena’s thigh inwards, her touch gentle but eager, and Lena’s thoughts are cut off by the much more pressing matter of fingers sliding softly against her clit. Her hips twitch up, breath catching in her throat, and Kara exhales in a rush.

“Is this okay?” Kara says, her eyes wide and concerned. It’s sweet, and affectionate, and exactly what Lena cannot handle right now.

There’s a tempest raging in Lena’s chest. Love and hate, anger and affection, the impulse to break down and confess everything – Hope, Lex’s final words, everything – and the betrayal that still haunts her, still makes her want to hurt, to sting back. A good person would push past the dark thoughts, put their effort into being a good, into forgiving and moving forward. A good person wouldn’t take the easy route, continue the cycle of hurt.

Kara brushes their noses together lightly, like she hasn’t brought Lena’s whole world crashing down with her lies, and the hurt pushes harder. The anger bubbles forth, and Lena clenches her jaw.

She isn’t good, after all, is she? She never has been. Just ask her mother.

Lena reaches down, aligns Kara’s fingers, and presses them inside to the knuckle. And, infuriatingly, they feel absolutely perfect. Like Kara belongs inside her.

“Lena,“ Kara gasps, clearly overwhelmed but trying to keep up. “Rao –“

The instinctual curse in Kara’s first language does nothing to make Lena forget.

“Just fuck me,” Lena asks, practically begs, still holding out hope that somehow this can help. “Please.” She rolls her hips, taking Kara deeper, and Kara nods.

And for a while, it’s exactly what Lena hoped it would be. Kara follows her wordless instructions beautifully, catching on to the speed and pressure Lena likes best in record time. She takes to fucking Lena like she was born for it, and it’s a shockingly short time before Lena can feel the bliss she needs approaching.

But the closer Lena gets, the more intimacy Kara seems to want. She lays kisses over Lena’s jaw, stares into her eyes, whispers in her ear about how good she is, how perfect, how beautiful. Lies upon lies, each one only increasing Lena’s need for the few seconds of reprieve she knows an orgasm will give her.

Lena closes her eyes but it’s still Kara, still her hands and lips, her hair that surrounds them like a curtain when Kara flips them over and immerses Lena in the still-comforting smell of her. That scent that’s always made Lena steal her sweaters and wrap herself in them when Kara isn’t around. Kara lays kisses over her closed eyelids, and as Lena’s hand anchors in Kara’s soft hair, the scales tip from manageable to too damn much.

Kara’s fingers inside her, their bodies pressed so close, her breath in Lena’s mouth, the way every time Lena opens her eyes she’s met with a stare so intense that even her dark, betrayed heart does a flip. It’s too good, a type of comfort that neither of them deserve, and all Lena can do to stem it is to push lightly on Kara’s head until her eyes widen with understanding and she eagerly dips her head down between Lena’s thighs.

It’s a little easier, then. Less close, less personal. Just a tongue on her clit, soft hair in her fingers, and toe-curling pleasure. But it’s still overwhelming, and Lena has to keep actively forgetting that it’s Kara between her legs – that this is what she’s wanted for years, since the moment they met, and that the blue eyes looking up at her with lust and hopefulness are those of a liar.

She wonders if, had they done this earlier, Kara would have revealed her secret before they fucked or kept up the lie.

The fact that she doesn’t know makes her even more desperate to ignore her problems, just for a minute; and the way Kara’s fingers stretch her out so easily helps in the forgetting.

When she finally comes, the relief it brings is almost enough to bring tears to her eyes. It’s exactly what she needed, every moment of it emptying her mind, easing her pain, it’s so good

And then Kara speaks.

“Lena,” Kara whispers into her thigh, dragging her wet mouth along the sensitive skin in a way much too intimate for Lena’s liking. “You have no idea how long I’ve wanted to do that. I’m so glad –“

“From behind,” Lena interrupts, tugging on Kara’s hair as the bone-deep relaxation of a good orgasm starts to give way to the pain in her chest again. “Fuck me from behind.”

Kara flips her over obediently, with ease, and Lena screws her eyes shut and presses her face to the sheets. If they’re not talking, if she’s not looking at Kara, maybe she can forget.

They fuck until Lena feels raw, until she’s struggling to keep up, and Kara has barely broken a sweat. She doesn’t even touch the blonde, although she notes that she comes a few times anyways, without assistance. Tonight is a venting of pressure, and nothing more.

Lying in bed, sweaty and exhausted, Lena stares up at the ceiling and tries to come to terms with who’s lying next to her. Kara isn’t breathing hard at all, her Kryptonian stamina meaning she still looks like a fucking angel when Lena looks like she just ran a marathon, and she has to look away before the sweet fog of orgasm fades away too quickly.

“I hope we haven’t crossed a boundary,” Lena says, breathing hard through her nose.

She can feel Kara staring earnestly at the side of her face as she says, “For friends like you, there are no boundaries.”

Friends. Lena has to fight the urge to scoff.

They aren’t friends anymore. Not really. That trust has been broken forever. Lena has sealed up the hole Kara made in her heart, never to be seen again, tucked away everything she’s done for her so-called friends into a neat box and stacked it away with all the others. Sacrificing her company’s well-being to buy CatCo, coming every time Supergirl called, killing her own brother – each thing she’s done that was rewarded with lies and manipulation is a fresh hurt, and nothing is going to make that go away. Nothing besides repression, and revenge. They served her perfectly well before Kara came along.

All she can do now is focus on making Kara hurt that same way. She can hear Lex’s voice in her head, from years ago – Luthors are scorpions, Lena. When we’re hurt, we sting. If she stings Kara, makes her realize the depth of what she’s inflicted, maybe she’ll finally be able to sleep at night without that feeling in her gut keeping her up.

“You should probably go,” Lena says, swallowing past the dryness in her throat. “I have an early day tomorrow.” It’s the oldest dismissal in the book, and Kara’s face flickers with something sad before she nods, getting up and letting her suit rematerialize.

“I’ll see you soon?”

It’s a question that means more than the sum of its parts. Kara looks nervous, like she’s half-expecting a negative reply, and honestly she almost gives one – but shutting Kara out completely will only make her plan harder.

It’s not that her broken heart wants to keep Kara close, even now, she tells herself. She has a purpose. One that will be easier if Kara thinks they’re still on good terms. She shuts that first thought into a box made of iron, and throws it into the depths of her mind – and she comes to a decision.

Lifting her wrist, now bearing the watch, she flashes a smile she hopes doesn’t come off as pained as it feels.

“I’ll call you.”

Kara nods before she takes off, her hangdog expression turned nauseatingly hopeful, and Lena’s gut churns even as she stretches the ache out of her sated body like a cat.

No, they can’t be friends. They can never be friends again. But maybe, this new development can be useful for something else. At least while Lena figures out how best to use Supergirl to her advantage.

That’s what Luthors do, after all, what villains do – and that’s clearly all Kara ever saw her as.

The first time she uses the watch, she’s not even sure why. She’s been working long into the night, in and out of simulations that she’s starting to have trouble separating from reality, and when she gets home and pours herself a suitable amount of whiskey the house just seems too empty. The more she drinks, the more it seems like a good idea – and Kara comes in a rush, clearly worried for her safety and finding only Lena perched on her couch in a silk robe.

“Supergirl,” Lena drawls, taking a sip from her glass and setting it on the coffee table. “I have a small emergency.”

“Are you okay?”

“I seem to be needing your services again.”

She stands up, letting the robe part to reveal the matching lingerie set underneath, and Kara’s face goes scarlet.

“My – oh,” Kara says, her eyes widening as she finally understands. “Oh.”

“Are you amenable?” Lena says, stepping closer so she can hook a hand into the collar of the suit, and tug on it. “Or was it a one-time thing?”

“Lena, are you drunk?”

“I’m processing,” Lena says, somewhat accidentally telling the truth. “Yes, or no?”

Kara’s eyes track down Lena’s body, eagerly taking in the revealed skin, and finally her hands land on Lena’s bare hips with surety.

“Yes.”

Lena doesn’t mean for the watch to become some kind of booty call device. She meant to use it to manipulate Kara, maybe make up some fake emergencies or put herself in danger to avert suspicion from her AI project. But it only takes a few lonely, self-destructive nights to make it a habit, and Lena has never been good at curbing bad behaviour.

And Kara always comes. She comes to Lena’s balcony when she presses that button, and she comes on Lena’s fingers, whining and desperate after spending hours seeing to her every whim. She’s as predictable as the sun that powers her. Lena would almost feel guilty about using her, if Kara hadn’t already broken her heart. So, she doesn’t. She doesn’t feel guilty.

She doesn’t.

It’s resentment and nothing else that she feels when Kara shows up time after time, eager to show Lena she’ll truly do anything for her. The pain of being lied to, being used, being manipulated, it doesn’t just go away because she’s fucking Kara now – in fact it builds, gets stronger every time Kara seems to convince herself their relationship is healing.

Because, how could they be healing after what she did? It’s clear that Kara has no idea, no fucking clue how deep Lena’s hurt runs. And it’s clear that, even worse, she doesn’t care. That all she cares about is having Lena back on her side, helping her again. She proves it with every time she brushes off Lena’s offhandedly hurt comments about the situation, every time she cuts off Lena’s pain with a forced smile and an insistence that she’s glad things are getting better. Every time she asks for Lena’s help with whatever danger the world is in that week, and barely even says thank you.

If Kara can’t see that things aren’t actually getting better, Lena tells herself, she deserves the pain Lena is going to unleash. She’s being willfully blind, and it’s only fair for Lena to use that to her advantage.

Even so, her development of Hope slows down as she focuses on building Kara up and breaking her.

“Miss Luthor, are you sure?”

“No,” Lena says, rubbing her eyes tiredly. It’s the third in a series of all-nighters this week, each one spent working and worrying in equal measure. “I’m not sure, Hope. And that’s why I’m transferring you out of Eve’s body. I’ll find some other way to make this work.”

This isn’t the first time she’s almost shut the program down. She’s been having misgivings for a while, ever since she transferred Hope to Eve’s body and heard Lex’s voice in her head. Echoes of her dead psychotic brother, telling her that this was the only way. That he admires her ruthlessness. It makes her feel ill every time Hope looks at her with her former assistant’s eyes.

It’s almost like, having found an even more self-destructive outlet for her pain in her physical relationship with Kara, the fire that made her start this project is starting to dim. And the dimmer it gets, the more she second-guesses herself. She wants to hurt Kara, and she wants to save humanity from themselves, but she’s no longer confident in all of her decisions.

Hope pauses. For a long time she pauses, and a tiny corner of Lena’s brain notes concern. Hope thinks millions of times faster than a human. She doesn’t pause. But when she speaks again Lena could swear it’s with a note of concern.

“Are you sure this is not because of the recent change in your relationship with Supergirl?”

Lena spins her chair, levelling Hope with a glare that she knows rivals Lillian Luthor.

“Excuse me?”

Hope just blinks placidly at her, tilting her head slightly. “You recently began a regular sexual relationship with Supergirl. Is this the reason you’re having second thoughts?”

“My relationship with Supergirl is none of your business,” Lena says lowly, but Hope either doesn’t notice the warning in her voice or she just doesn’t care.

“Before Kara Danvers’ Pulitzer ceremony, you were prepared to reveal her identity to the world. Now your stance has changed. It’s a logical conclusion,” Hope says matter-of-factly, blatantly uncaring of how it feels like Lena’s been punched in the gut. “I’ve analyzed all footage of you together. Before you made me, it was clear that you were in lo-“

Before Eve can finish that absolutely unacceptable sentence, Lena cuts her off, slamming her hand onto the lab table.

“This has nothing to do with her!” Lena snaps, her voice ringing through the empty lab.

Hope quiets after Lena’s outburst, and Lena sighs, relaxing her hand and shaking her head. “I’m sorry. I shouldn’t have – this is about the work, Hope. Not her.” Her misgivings are not because of Kara. They’re because of personal convictions. And she’s not here to be critiqued by the AI she built herself.  

“I’m transferring you back to your old port,” Lena says definitively, and Hope is quiet as she affixes the brain-mapping tech to Eve’s ear. She’ll need it, to keep the integrity of her psyche after having it occupied for so long. “You’re leaving this body. Eve is going to have some recovery to do, so I’m sending her to a secure medical facility.”

Hope stares at her for several long moments. Her gaze in Eve’s body has always been unnerving, and it’s especially so now, when Lena is essentially forcing her back into a box. For a second, Lena thinks that Hope might actually protest. For the first time since she built the program she feels a spark of fear.

The fear reinforces her decision to shut Hope off, for now. She’s given far too much power to a program with its own brain.

But finally, Hope nods. She sits on the hospital bed in Eve’s old cell, and Lena could swear that she looks almost happy. She certainly smiles, and looks up at Lena with a knowing expression.

“As you wish, Miss Luthor.”

The relief that fills her immediately as Eve’s body slumps onto the bed and Hope materializes into her nebulous form on the lab table is a welcome reassurance that she’s done the right thing.

“Would you like me to hibernate, Miss Luthor?” Hope says, her synthetic voice almost unfamiliar now. Lena nods.

“Yes. Power down.”

Hope flickers into darkness, and Lena sits for a long while next to the sleeping body of a woman she once considered her friend. Just another person on the never-ending list of those who betrayed her. It’s a long time before she calls for Eve’s transport, and heads home.

Hope was wrong, Lena thinks stubbornly as she presses the button on the watch and shrugs out of her dress, letting it hit the ground before she unlocks her sliding glass door. This – Kara landing on her balcony in pyjamas, her clear tiredness melting into hunger the moment she sees Lena unhooking her bra – this is nothing more than a physical outlet.

And then she’s swept into Kara’s arms, and she stops thinking for a while.

In the meantime, she continues to keep up the ruse. At every turn she assures Kara that they’re okay, that they’re still friends (with benefits, now) and everything is fine. And Kara laps it up without a second thought, responding to Lena’s every beck and call. She presses the button while she’s at work, has Kara eat her out at her desk while Andrea impatiently waits for an appointment. She presses it while she knows Supergirl is dealing with a minor problem, just to see if she’ll actually show up.

She does, skidding into the room with soot still on her nose, and it takes less than a minute.

And still, even as Kara is kissing her way up Lena’s body with a pleased smile, the hurt burns in Lena’s gut. It builds and builds, getting stronger with every day, with every blithe request from Kara or Alex for help with some DEO tech problem without even guessing how Lena is really feeling. Even when the AI isn’t present, Hope’s words seem to be burned into her mind – your stance has changed, it’s a logical conclusion, it’s clear you were in – and the more her thoughts circle hopelessly around the blonde, the less capable she seems to be of thinking of a new plan.

She uses Kara to try to forget – but she’s trying to forget Kara, and the line between using and needing starts to thin with every heated kiss. Her feelings for Kara were always so strong, and it’s proven by every orgasm Kara provides momentarily blotting out her hurt, letting her float in a world where those blue eyes looking up at her with affection and that blonde hair spilling over her thighs is everything she’s ever wanted.

But it never lasts. The pain always returns, makes her pull away, makes her insist she has an early start tomorrow - and when Kara inevitably leaves she lies in bed for hours, staring blankly at the ceiling, tears sliding down her temples.

It’s unhealthy, pathological even, but she can’t stop. It’s like a drug, like using Kara’s body is a hit and Lena’s own emotional weakness is the inevitable crash. She wants to scream at Kara, wants to hurt her, make her feel the betrayal and pain she’s been feeling since Lex told her everything – but it means losing this thing she’s come to depend on, however twisted.

She hates Kara, but even more she hates herself for still loving her. It feels like a cycle that will never break.

And then, Kara takes her to the Fortress of Solitude.

It’s exactly the kind of idiotic, trusting move Lena should take advantage of. Kara leads her through a room full of decommissioned weapons, the prizes Superman won from his enemies. Each of them capable of death and destruction on a major scale. If Lena were more like her brother, she could take one and wreak havoc so easily.

But she isn’t her brother. She doesn’t want to rule the world – she wants to fix it. And that’s when she sees Myriad.

She recognizes it for what it is immediately. She remembers watching on the news as the whole population of National City succumbed to it, and she’s done her research. So while Kara searches for a weapon that could hurt Rama Khan, Lena seizes her opportunity. A dispersal device like this could change everything. Could, with absolute certainty, get Hope out without any dangerous trials. It’s already been proven to work.

Lena takes it.

Even she isn’t sure why. She’s been less and less sure about the whole project lately – she hasn’t even called on Hope or used her VR lenses in weeks, almost months. The project is, for all intents and purposes, on indefinite hold. And yet she takes the tech anyways, snags it right off its icy podium, and doesn’t even try to hide it. When Kara jogs back around the corner she’s holding it in the open, for all the world to see.

Maybe something in her wants to get caught. Wants Kara to know about the project she knows will hurt her. It feels like this is what she’s been building to all along. Not even the implementation of the project, which she’s not entirely sure she believes in anymore – but the inevitable, messy explosion of Kara finding out. The hurt Lena will see in her face.

She doesn’t have much time to consider it before Kara is calling out, a thread of fear in her voice.

“Lena? What are you doing with Myriad?”

Lena considers putting it back. Laughing it off, saying she just wanted to look. Kara would believe her, she knows. She’s worked so hard to convince herself that everything is okay that Lena could probably point a gun at her face and she’d just talk about how happy she is that they’re friends again.

This is too perfect a way to hurt her for Lena to turn back now.

“You caught me. I’m using you. Just like you used me.”

It strikes Kara visibly, and in her face Lena can see her own emotions from the last few months, the ones she’s been tucking tidily away. Surprise, hurt, betrayal – but no anger. Not yet. There’s a savage sort of satisfaction in it, in seeing the liar so thoroughly break in front of her eyes.

So, she explains. She explains the program, what she plans to do with it – and she explains how Lex told her Kara’s secret, how she’s been lying these past few months. Everything she’s been holding back. It leaves Kara looking lost and hurt, those classic crocodile tears building in her big, sad eyes.

“Lena, how can you do this?”

“You can’t tell me I’m wrong about people,” Lena says, her voice intentionally deep and even in direct contrast with the chaos in her heart. “Humanity and aliens. They cheat, they hurt. They lie. Don’t they?”

“I thought we were –“ Kara starts, clearly cut to the bone, and Lena gets a thrill of satisfaction out of seeing her own hurt and betrayal reflected in Kara’s face. “I thought we were past that.”

Lena scoffs. “You thought a few good fucks meant I forgave you?”

Kara flinches, and it eggs on something deep inside Lena. Something toxic that needs to be let out.

“I didn’t know Kryptonians were so naïve,” Lena continues, trying her best to sound nonchalant when her heart is racing. “You were a means to an end. And given a bit more time, I would have found a way to really break your heart. So you’d feel what I felt.” She tosses Myriad up and catches it again, hefting the weight of it as Kara watches. “This will have to do.”

It hits Kara like an arrow, and the guilt Lena still feels instinctually about hurting Kara is overridden by anger when Kara looks genuinely confused.

“I know you haven’t totally forgiven me, Lena, but…I never used you.”

“Are you kidding me?” Lena says, laughing almost maniacally. “Supergirl called on me every time she needed me – Reign, the anti kryptonite shields, the harun-el. But when I wasn’t working for you, when I wasn’t answering every beck and call, you had James sneak into my building to make sure I was being obedient. You told me, to my face, that you didn’t trust me enough to tell me your name. That it was a dangerous thing for a Luthor to know. Don’t you remember?”

The memory of it is one of the most painful realizations she’s had. That the same woman who told her over and over that she’s good, that she’s better than her family, that she’s loved and trusted, was the same one who violated her trust with the kryptonite, who implied that she’s untrustworthy because of her name. Supergirl doesn’t trust Lena Luthor – which means, neither does Kara.  

Even Kara, ever the self-justifier, has no reply to that. She just stands there, looking defeated.

“Is that really what you thought?” Kara says, her voice small and hurt. She truly seems shocked, horrified, and somehow it only makes Lena angrier.

“You wanted to keep me close, because I’m useful. But you’ve been playing me from the beginning. There hasn’t been a single honest moment in our friendship,” Lena says, hating how easily her voice cracks. Kara tries to step forward, tries to defend herself, to weaken Lena’s resolve, and somehow that one move – Kara coming towards her, determined to chip away her walls again – makes Lena lose her tenuous control.

“Lena, that’s not true –“

“No, I killed my brother for you!” Lena screams, months of agony finally bursting out like a geyser as her voice reverberates through the high ceilings of the Fortress. “For our friends! Don’t you understand what you’ve done?”

Her ears ring with her own anger in the silence that follows. Discomfort over her outburst leaks into the cracks in her armour, and she breathes in ragged bursts as she tries to get control of herself again.

And through it all Kara is silent, letting Lena’s abuse wash over her with tears in her eyes.

“I know that I made a mistake,” Kara says finally, pacing to the opposite side of Lena in a way she’s come to associate with Supergirl’s most irritating principled speeches. “The biggest mistake of my life. I deserve your rage. And I know you’re hurt, but what you plan to do is brainwashing. The same tech that my uncle used to kill a friend of mine.”

Lena shakes her head. She won’t let Kara twist her plan into something it isn’t.

“Non Nocere removes violence. Nobody would be killed, ever again. Your sanctimonious speeches won’t work on me, Supergirl.”

Her argument foiled, Kara tries another tact. “It still removes a part of people! Their free will! And, what were you going to do about me? Myriad didn’t work on me, and neither would this. Would you…try to kill me, to get what you want?”

Her voice quavers as she says it, and Lena pretends it doesn’t make her chest ache.

“I wouldn’t care about you,” Lena says quietly, still raw from her outburst. “I’d be rewritten too. I’d be free.”

It’s the first time Lena has really admitted the secondary goal of Hope. This whole project, it wasn’t just a way to get humanity to stop hurting each other – it would also remove their reasons for hurting. It would have erased the hurt inside Lena, too. Eased her pain, finally, and let her be free from it.

Kara looks at her with dawning horror.

“So you were just going to do this and then…give up?” Kara says, and there’s a spark of real anger behind the question for the first time. Not confusion or guilt or sadness, but anger, at Lena. “Just leave the world to stop feeling?”

“Don’t pretend you aren’t just as selfish as I am,” Lena snaps. “You lied to me for years specifically so you wouldn’t have to endure the pain of my reaction. You told me yourself.”

Lena is right. She knows she is. Kara was selfish in a way that she knew Lena was weak to. Even if it wasn’t malicious, she still willingly hurt her to save her own feelings, and Kara thankfully acknowledges it.

“You're right,” Kara nods, her jaw tight. “But Lena, I know you. You are a good person. There has to be some part of you that knows this is wrong –“

“No!” Lena shouts, finally losing her cool completely. “No, you don’t get to tell me who or what I am ever again! Whoever you thought I was, you took that away from me!“

“You could have just told me how you felt!” Kara croaks, clearly trying and failing not to cry after Lena called her out for it. “We could have had this conversation a month ago, why do you need so badly for me to hurt –“

“Because I was in love with you!”

The silence is deafening. It’s Lena’s final secret, the one she had trouble even admitting to herself, and Kara dragged it out of her just like she always has.

Even now, she can’t help but confide in her.

“What?” Kara says quietly, taking a hesitant step forward. Lena’s own legs are frozen, and she stands helpless as Kara approaches.

“Don’t you see?” Lena says in a broken whisper. “You weren’t just my best friend. You were everything. I love – I loved you so much, and you threw it in my face. Just like everyone else.”

“I didn’t know you felt that way,“ Kara whispers, moving closer. She’s slow, hesitant, like she’s dealing with a wounded animal. Honestly, Lena feels like one. And that same part of her that always jumps back to Kara craves the closeness, craves the comfort she knows Kara can bring, even if just for a moment.

Until Kara lies again.

“I – I love you too, Lena,” she says, her voice a flawless blend of disbelieving and hopeful with that perfectly timed lip quiver. Another manipulation, and one that makes Lena feel violently nauseous. “I didn’t know –“

Kara lying about her identity is one thing. But lying about her feelings just to get Lena back on her side is a new low.

“Save your breath,” Lena spits out, backing out of Kara’s reach. “You used my feelings to string me along, keep me quiet and compliant. Admit it.” Every dark, secret thought she’s had, everything that’s haunted her since Lex ruined her life, is leaking out of her like tar. Every lonely, angry notion. And now that she’s started, she can’t stop.

“Lena, I would never –“

“How long did it take you to tell your other friends?” Lena asks, her voice breaking pathetically and betraying the pure hurt under her anger. She feels a vicious satisfaction when Kara’s face shifts into guilt, big teardrops forming and falling down her cheeks. “A few weeks? Nia knows, and she’s only been around for a few months. And yet with me, you waited years. Years. All the while I followed you around like a lovesick puppy, and you ate it up.”

“That’s not true,” Kara says more forcefully, advancing on Lena even through her tears until her back hits a table bearing a few of Superman’s pilfered artifacts. “I would never use you like that, Lena. Never.”

Lena shakes her head derisively, barely keeping her tears at bay. “You’re doing it now, Supergirl. Pretending you return my feelings so that I’ll give you back your tech. That’s low, even for you.”

“I’m not pretending! Why do you think I’m lying?”

“Because that’s what you do! That’s what everyone does!”

“I’m telling you the truth!”

“Prove it!”

Lena says it spitefully. To goad Kara, to taunt her into admitting she’s right. There’s no way to prove what Lena knows isn’t true.

Kara, though seems determined to try. She strides forward, cups Lena’s face, and kisses her – and Lena, ever the fool, melts into it. Just like always.

It feels different, this time. This kiss is steeped in desperation from both sides; it tastes like salt and pain, like mutual heartbreak, and more than ever Lena is wrestling with two sets of instincts. Push and pull. The feel of Kara’s body against hers, the smell of her perfume, the softness of her hands – it’s all the same, all familiar. It all trickles down to the very core of her and settles there, both soothing and feeding her anger. How one person can make her feel so much at once, she has no idea.

Although, Kara has never been just one person, has she?

Overwhelmed, Lena pushes Kara away, just far enough to snarl.

“Don’t use my feelings to get out of this. I won’t fall for the act.”

“It’s not an act,” Kara begs, Lena’s tears and her own mingling as she presses their faces together. “It’s not an act, Lena, I love –“

But Lena grabs the front of her suit and pulls her in for another bruising kiss, whether to shut her up or to sate her own twisted desire she has no idea. All she knows is that she can’t hear Kara say another word, or in her weakness she might start to believe her.

She should stop it. She should plant her hands on that stupid crest and push, possibly slap Kara for the attempt to dissuade her using her biggest weakness, and walk out with Lex’s transmatter portal, leaving the shattered pieces of their relationship on the ground where they belong. But that same, stupid thread is tugging on her chest, on her belly, on her heart, and in seconds she’s succumbing to it with almost no resistance.

Maybe this will help. Just one last hit, one more all-out collision with Kara before everything in her life finally flies apart.

Maybe this will fix her.

It’s a kiss that burns, that bruises, and Lena doesn’t pull away. She kisses right back, kisses harder, digs her nails into the base of Kara’s neck, and Kara presses her into the table so hard that several weapons get dislodged. A beam of plasma shoots out as some kind of gun hits the floor, taking a chunk out of the ceiling, and Lena bites down on Kara’s lip so hard that it should draw blood. But it doesn’t, because Kara isn’t human, because she lied

Ice from the ceiling scatters across the floor, and Kara doesn’t even stop to ask if Lena is okay. She just rips Lena’s coat open, grabs her by the hips, and lifts until her feet leave the ground, pressing a thigh hard between her legs.

She radiates power and desperation, and it collides with Lena’s anger to light her up from head to toe.

“Is this what you want?” Kara says, her voice shaking with an emotion Lena can’t identify. Her hands dig into Lena’s curves, hard and almost frantic, and her breath is just as ragged as Lena’s. “You want me to break you?”

“I want you to stop talking and just –“

She’s interrupted by the tearing of fabric as Kara’s hand rips past the waistband of her slacks, pressing into her clit until words leave her completely.

“If you want me to stop, say kryptonite.”

And then Kara is on her hot and heavy, and Lena surrenders to her basest instincts.

Her coat is abandoned on the floor, and Kara’s hand is warm as it presses into her. Lena struggles to find some kind of clasp on Kara’s suit, something that will let her strip the blonde bare, expose her vulnerability – but there’s nothing. Just smooth fabric, seamless and resistant to all damage, including Lena’s short nails. All she can do is slip a hand underneath it where it gaps near Kara’s shoulders, dig her nails into Kara’s back under her cape while she spreads her legs like she always does.

Even here, now, after revealing her final betrayal, she can’t stop herself from letting Kara in. She’s already wet, wet enough for Kara to circle her clit easily, and Lena’s hips jerk violently at the combination of sensation and brutal rage. She sinks a hand into Kara’s hair and pulls hard, knowing Kara can’t feel it anyways but needing the illusion of control.

Kara’s breath hitches.

“You want to hurt me?” Kara whispers, lifting Lena completely onto the table and crawling up after her. She presses her into the surface, her weight warm and welcome and absolutely intolerable. “Hurt me. There’s tech here that dampens my powers. Do whatever you want. I’m always going to trust you.”

Lena’s body is a tempest of conflicting emotions. There’s anger there, and hate, and the obvious unhealthy arousal – but there’s also something much more terrifying that makes itself known at Kara’s insistence of trust. Even after Lena betrayed her, Kara’s trust hasn’t wavered.

The ruthless part of her brain thinks that makes her stupid – but something else is there too, something she’s repressed for the sake of revenge.

No matter how many boxes she puts it in, love always seems to leech out.

It doesn’t help that Kara is looking at her intensely, refusing to break eye contact – so Lena breaks it herself with five words.

“Shut up and fuck me.”

Lena kisses her, hard and biting, and fumbles with the clasps of the cape – the only thing on this stupid new suit that seems detachable - until it hits the ground.

“Kelex,” Kara pants, ripping at the front of Lena’s shirt until it pops open, scattering buttons. “Turn on the red sun.”

The cold blue of the Fortress turns to a hazy red, and Kara’s fingers stretch her open. Just like so many times before, and yet so different. Because everything is in the open between them, now – every secret is laid bare on both their parts, the walls around Lena’s composure swiftly crumbling. She feels flayed and vulnerable, and instead of doing the healthy thing and stopping to talk about this, she does the opposite.

She reaches between her own legs, presses Kara’s third finger inside herself, and forces the lid of that particular box closed.

And for a while, there’s no more talking. Kara’s hand rips the seam of Lena’s pants further with every hard movement, harder than she’s ever treated Lena before, and Lena drags her nails so hard down Kara’s back under the suit that she can see the harsh crimson lines up to the back of her neck. She takes her fury out on Kara’s body, biting at her lips and neck, practically throwing her hips hard into Kara’s hand – and Kara gives as good as she gets. There’s just as much behind her thrusts as there is behind Lena’s teeth, and she just keeps going, driving into Lena at a bruising pace until they’re both shaking with the exertion. There’s a harsh stinging at her lip, as her tears or Kara’s soak into skin she didn’t realize was broken.

It makes Lena’s chest ache in a way that isn’t physical.

It’s completely and wholly unacceptable, and Lena does the only thing she can think of to stop it. She pulls Kara’s mouth to her neck and pushes, asks for it without really asking for it – but as hard as Kara’s mouth is, it’s not enough. It just makes the ache worse. Nothing is making it better, making it go away, and she feels like she’s circling the release she needs rather than moving towards it. Relief is so close, she’s sure of it – this has to work, the pain has to be what she’s been missing all this time, Kara giving her what she deserves until she finally gets the catharsis of collapsing in on herself like the black hole she’s always been.

She tugs Kara’s hair until they’re face-to-face again, and Lena finally resorts to begging.

“Hurt me, fuck, just – just make me hurt, please –“ She gasps, clinging to Kara’s shoulders like a lifeline – and finally, blessedly, Kara complies. As if she’s been holding herself back until now she immediately adds a fourth finger and bites down on the tendon of Lena’s neck until she sees stars, until the pain overtakes the ache, until Lena’s body finally allows her the relief she’s chasing and she comes hard on Kara’s hand.

As always, it works – for a moment. Her body settles, neurons firing and dopamine deployed, blotting out the grief and rage and hurt until the exact moment that she remembers who’s inside her.

As always, she rectifies the return to reality by pressing on Kara’s lower back to signal that she should keep going. And as always, Kara does. She keeps up the pace, and Lena can already feel a second wind on the horizon. Kara’s kisses are hard and unyielding, more teeth than tongue, and Lena can taste copper in them.

But slowly, inexorably, it softens. And it’s so gradual that Lena hardly notices until it’s too late.

Kara’s harsh teeth give way to soft kisses, Lena’s hard grip on her hair becoming loose, turning into running her fingers over Kara’s skin. The pace slows down, becomes something that Lena has never let it be before. Something deep, something loving, Kara trying to show with her body what Lena won’t believe in her words.

It’s almost more painful this way, giving in to the need for a taste of what things could have been. It’s definitely more painful, and the pain is uncontrollable, uncontainable. Something is trying to knit itself back together agonizingly in Lena’s chest, and god, it hurts, it hurts more than teeth and nails, how can softness hurt like this -

Before she knows it she’s crying and Kara is crying with her, sobbing into Lena’s shoulder, I love you, I love you so much, Lena, please, come back to me – it’s melting the walls she put up like a hot iron, searing through them and back into Lena’s heart.

It hurts, and it heals, and everything comes crashing down.

“Stop,” Lena chokes finally, pushing Kara away. “Stop, stop it –“

She knows that Kara gave her a safe word, but she can’t seem to make her mouth form it. Something is crawling its way out of her chest, pressing down, suffocating her, god, she can’t breathe -

Even without it, Kara pulls away immediately. She stands back on shaking legs, raw and vulnerable as Lena slides off the table, breathing in huge, shaky gulps. Kara’s neck is riddled with red and purple, and Lena herself can feel the various sore parts of her own body flaring up now that she isn’t in the throes of pleasure, along with an overwhelming and very unwelcome wave of humiliation. She doesn’t even want to look at herself, for fear of seeing what she really is. What this harsh, violent desire has exposed her as.

A monster.

Lena buttons her ripped pants with shaky hands but she can’t seem to make them manage her shirt, so she turns and plants her hands flat on the table surface. She can’t think, she can’t breathe, everything is just crushing fear and panic and revulsion at her own actions - every time she looks at the damage she did to Kara’s body, she gets a wave of nausea -

Kara moves closer, and Lena doesn’t snap at her for it. In fact she hardly notices her at all, her eyes open and unseeing while her body trembles, her breath now fast and shallow. Her shirt hangs open, the front shredded, her bra pulled down to cover at least the bare minimum, and her nails scratch against the table as her hands curl into involuntary fists. But all of that seems far away, like she’s tied up at the opposite end of a tunnel from her body, unable to snap herself out of it.

The red lights turn off, and Kara’s skin slowly starts to knit itself back together. In a few moments all evidence of what Lena did to her is gone, but Lena still feels it like a stain – on her hands, her mouth, her soul.

She hurts in every way imaginable, and everything is too fucking loud.

Kara reaches out and puts a warm hand on her back, and it feels like a slap.  Lena jerks like a marionette, hitting the table with her hip as she flinches away, but Kara still presses in firm.

“I’ve got you,” Kara says softly, putting her other hand on Lena’s shoulder. “Hey, look at me. Focus on me.”

Lena’s eyes are wild, but they rest on Kara after a minute of hesitation. She’s never felt so out of control in her life, and in this moment Kara seems like the only safe thing in the room.

“You are okay,” Kara says, quietly and firmly. “Focus on your breathing. Deep in, deep out. Follow mine, okay?”

She puts Lena’s hand on her chest, breathing deep for Lena to follow, and Lena looks down. Down at the crest where her hand rests. That five-pointed diamond that somehow represents every goddamn thing wrong in her life right now. She can feel her own face twitch and contort into a sob, stretching the broken skin of her lip with a spark of pain she feels like she deserves. It’s all she deserves.

The dam breaks. Her hand curls into a fist, and she pulls it back and brings it down hard on Kara’s sternum.

“Why did you do this to me?” she sobs, hitting the crest again. “Why did you – make me fall in love with you and then – betray – and lie – why –“ she’s almost incoherent, the force of her sobs shaking her whole body, every atom of her body screaming in pain, just beating at Kara’s invulnerable chest until she finally collapses against it, her cries echoing around the fortress. “I loved you so much –“

It’s the venting of a festering poison, and it feels like it. Something horrible is being pulled out of her by force, and Kara gathers Lena’s body up in her arms and holds her through it. It’s as comforting as it is painful.

She has no idea how long they sit like that, Lena curled into her chest and Kara rocking them gently, her own tears falling silently into Lena’s hair as she murmurs.

“I’m so sorry, Lena. I’m so, so sorry.”

Before this, Kara’s tears only made her angry. They were fake, she told herself – another manipulation tactic. Another way to hurt her. But she doesn’t feel angry anymore. She doesn’t even feel the catharsis she hoped that the bruising sex would bring – she just feels exhausted. Wrung out and bruised and dirty, her makeup wiped away by tears. She feels empty.

She feels nothing.

With the anger and resentment she’s been holding inside suddenly doused, it’s like she can see her heart again. The icy walls are gone, the fire of rage is gone, and all that’s left behind is a husk. A shell, filled and painfully emptied time and time again until she shut it off completely.

And outside it is Kara, asking to be let in again.

“I don’t know what I’m doing anymore,” she whispers into Kara’s chest, when the sobs have subsided enough that she can breathe again. “I don’t even know who I am right now. I’ve made so many mistakes.”

Kara squeezes her tighter. “So have I.”

Kara still holds her. Still touches her like she’s worth something, like she’s precious, like she’s not stained and sullied with her own machinations, with toxic anger that simmered until it exploded in violence on Kara’s own body. Like she isn’t a Luthor.

It almost feels like it used to. Almost.

“What are we even doing here, Kara?” She asks tiredly, too exhausted to even raise her head from Kara’s shoulder. Kara answers immediately, and entirely misses the point.

“We came to stop Leviathan.”

“No,” Lena sniffles, swiping at her wet face uselessly. “I mean – why do you come when I call? Why are you still here, after what I did to you? Why do you still do this, why – we’re not friends anymore, and I just told you I’ve been using you for months. And you still stay.”

Kara’s answering tone is so matter-of-fact that Lena hardly knows how to respond.

“You’re a good person. Despite everything, despite your family, despite me, you are a good person. I had as much pent-up crap as you did, and we both handled it in the wrong way. And we’re both equally responsible for what happened today. What’s been happening.”

Lena stays quiet. It feels like Kara is building to something, and she wants to know what it is.

“I’ve been so desperate to think that you forgave me, to think that we could go back to how things were before, that I’ve been blind to the fact that you’re hurting. All this time, and I didn’t see it. I didn’t let myself see it. Because it felt better not to. Just like when I kept my secret from you, I…I chose the easier path for myself. And made it harder for you. I don’t know how many more ways I can apologize, but I will.”

Lena has seen Kara in a lot of emotional states. She’s seen her happy, sad, worried, comforting. Before Lex shook her world to the core, she would have said she knew Kara better than anyone else, besides perhaps Alex.

She can’t trust her anymore, but if this were before…she’d think Kara was telling the truth.

“I’ve always loved you, Lena,” Kara whispers, putting a gentle, tentative hand on her cheek. “I still love you.”

And somehow, that just makes it all worse.

Suddenly desperate for some distance Lena clambers to her feet, hurriedly fixing her ripped clothes. Kara stands up to follow, her suit infuriatingly pristine. The only evidence of their tryst left on Kara’s body now that the red sun is off is her messy hair, and a hint of Lena’s lipstick on her skin – and in comparison Lena is still littered with the bruises and bites that she herself asked for, her clothes half-shredded. Nowhere to run from her own bad decisions.

“Where are you going?” Kara asks, and the concern in her tone only makes Lena feel worse. She shakes her head, still trying to fasten buttons that don’t exist anymore with numb hands that refuse to follow her commands.

“I can’t do this,” Lena says shakily, abandoning her shirt and trying to fix her messy ponytail. Kara steps closer.

Lena moves away.

“What do you mean?” Kara says, with that same vulnerability – fake vulnerability, Lena reminds herself – that’s always tugged at Lena’s heartstrings.

“I just can’t. I can’t handle – you saying you love me doesn’t just fix all of this.“

Kara throws her hands in the air, her frustration clear. The meeting of Kara’s anger with Lena’s, finally, is strangely cathartic in a way that the sex wasn’t.

“That’s not what I’m trying to do!”

“So, what are you trying to do?” Lena shouts, her voice echoing around the Fortress again as she finally abandons the lost cause of her clothes. “You can’t love me. Not after everything we’ve both done, everything I’ve – it’s not possible. It has to be a lie. Why else would you say it?”

Kara’s voice raises to meet her.

“Despite what you think, despite what it seems like to you, our whole relationship wasn’t a lie, Lena. I lied about being Supergirl, yes, and it meant I couldn’t completely share myself with you, but – but the rest was true. The love, and the laughter, and –“

“You pretended to be the Kara Danvers I loved so that you could use me,” Lena repeats as she tries to back away, but it feels hollow now. It’s what she’s been telling herself for months, like a mantra, the knowledge that kept her furiously on-track. But now she’s not so sure. Especially when Kara gently takes Lena’s hands in her own to halt her movement, looking into her eyes and speaking in a voice more decisive than she’s been this whole wretched day.

“Kara Danvers is who I am. And Supergirl, and Kara Zor-El. It’s all a part of me. I didn’t show you all of myself, I know that, but I want to show you now. And what I did show you wasn’t an act. It was me.”

Lena is half-decent now, her pants buttoned but still ripped and her jacket thrown over her shoulders, and Kara stands entirely covered by her suit as she pleads.

“Lena, you have no idea…no idea how scared I am to lose you. It makes me crazy. Every time I think about it -” Kara finally chokes, her voice cracking. Her lip quivers in the same way it did the night she told Lena who she was, and this time it catches on Lena’s ragged heart like it didn’t before. “No matter how many superpowers I have, I feel powerless without you. So I just kept going like everything was fine. I tried not to think about how much I hurt you, because it – it hurt me by extension. You have every right to be furious with me, and maybe this is something we can’t get past, but everything I did, I did because I was scared.”

Lena’s protest is weak, half-hearted. “If you were scared to lose me, you shouldn’t have –“

“I know, okay!” Kara says, for the first time shouting loud enough that Lena startles. “I know! I know I did it all wrong, that I’m doing it wrong now, I know I messed up, and I’m taking responsibility for that. And you need to take responsibility for what you’ve done, too. You were going to steal Myriad to fundamentally alter humanity without their consent. You have to see that for what it is.”

Lena can feel tears stinging her eyes, tears she tries to suppress with a snarl. “What? The act of a villain?”

Kara shakes her head, her expression desperately sad.

“The lashing out of a woman who was hurt, which could have hurt a lot of other people in turn. What you’re doing is wrong, but you are not a villain, Lena. Even when you’re trying to be.”

It hits differently, this time. Until now she’s been steadfast in her knowledge that Kara is a manipulator, always lying, always making a fool out of her, and that the only person she can trust is herself – but no matter what Lena has done, no matter how many times Lena lashes out and hurts her, Kara is still here. She’s here, admitting her faults and still fighting. 

And, Lena can’t trust herself at all.

Kara is right. No matter how much she’s tried to convince herself otherwise, her actions weren’t good. She was so bent on blotting out her own hurt that she tried to hurt other people – the one thing she swore she wouldn’t do. She’d tried to convince herself that Non Nocere was the opposite of hurting people, instead keeping them from hurting each other – but her intentions were selfish, and the removal of free will is hurtful enough. Trying to bend the world to her way of thinking, however anti-violence it may be. 

They are both of them at fault. 

It’s the kind of thing Lex would do. She’s become the monster that she always feared was lurking inside her, waiting for her to slip up in her attempted goodness.

It’s a thought so potent that Lena’s shaky legs finally give out, and she sinks to her knees on the icy floor. Kara follows without hesitation, kneeling next to her and holding out a hand as if she’s worried Lena will fall.

Lena stays upright, but it feels like everything she had inside is leaking out and onto the ice. Like she’s deflating slowly, and she doesn’t know what will be left when she’s done.

“I shut the project down a few weeks ago,” she admits brokenly. The husk of Lena Luthor, doing the only thing she apparently knows how to – baring herself completely to Kara Danvers, even now. “I don’t even…I don’t know what my plan even would have been, anymore. Whether I would have actually done it. I don’t know what I’m capable of. I just wanted to hurt you.”

Kara nods, her smile small and sad. “Well, it worked.”

Lena should feel satisfaction with that admission. Her plan worked, even if she didn’t manage to get out before her own emotions rose to meet Kara’s. But instead she’s flooded with something else, as the realization she’s suppressed with her self-righteousness finally comes to the surface.

All she feels is shame.

Kara seems to sense it; and this time when she shifts closer and puts a hesitant hand on Lena’s thigh, Lena doesn’t have the strength to move away.

“We’ve both done things wrong,” Kara says quietly, with a surety that Lena doesn’t understand, given the circumstances. How even after everything that’s happened today, Kara is still so firm in her belief in Lena’s soul. “We both have things to answer for, and forgiveness to earn from each other. But I am never going to give up on you, and I am never, ever going to willingly hurt you again, Lena. If that’s what it takes, I will never keep another secret from you. Even if it hurts me.”

The absolute conviction behind the statement is enough to shake Lena out of her self-loathing, for a moment.

“That’s…unrealistic,” she says, and Kara just shrugs. “And not healthy.”

“I know. But since when do either of us deal with our baggage in a healthy way?”

Lena snorts. It’s almost a laugh. Almost, but not quite. “Since when do you sound like a therapist?”

“Since my sister started dating one,” Kara grumbles, and the familiar good-natured grumpiness she’s always loved about Kara momentarily parts the clouds in Lena’s heart. The wind lets out of her sails a little, and she shifts her weight from her sore knees to sit properly on the floor, her legs folded beside her.

And finally, in a small, broken voice, she says what she’s really thinking.

“How can you forgive me, when I didn’t forgive you?”

Kara is quiet, for a moment. She moves so close to Lena that their legs are pressed together, and the blonde practically radiates heat even through her suit in a way that reminds Lena that she’s sitting on ice. Her lower half is frozen, but she can’t summon the will to move.

“I think we both need to work on taking responsibility for our actions,” Kara says, showing a deep thoughtfulness that Lena is grudgingly awed by. “Our hurts. We’re both wrong and we’re both right, and we hurt each other badly. But it doesn’t mean we can’t get past it. Because I know who you are, in here.” She taps gently on Lena’s still-exposed chest, resting her pointer finger there. “Past the walls and past the person you’re determined to be when you’re hurt, I know you, Lena.”

Kara’s single finger feels like a brand. A beam of light she isn’t worthy of any longer.

“I don’t think there’s anything in there anymore,” Lena admits in a whisper, voicing a fear she’s had ever since her real mother died and she started her new life amongst a family whose emotions had hardened or shriveled up years before she met them. Since she discovered she was one of them, down to her blood.

“I think you underestimate your heart,” Kara says firmly. She takes a breath, and her hand spreads out to cover Lena’s chest completely, her warm palm splayed in a move that comforts Lena despite her best efforts.

“Kara Danvers believes in you.”

And, Lena starts to cry.

She wants to lean into it. God, does she want to. But the small, hurt part of her that sounds like Lillian holds her back. Falling for it again, Lena? How foolish can you be? How many times do you have to be duped for you to learn that trust is a weakness?

Even so, her protest is fragile, betrayed by the tears she can’t stop even with her best efforts.

“Maybe before I would have been receptive to this, but now?” she chokes, her own hand coming up and clutching Kara’s over her chest like a lifeline. “How am I ever supposed to believe anything you say?”

And that’s the root of it, isn’t it? The centre of Lena’s insecurity. Trust. Everyone she’s ever loved has broken her trust in some way or another – Lex and Lillian over and over, then Andrea, now Kara and all of their friends - and she’s too exhausted to let someone in again. This time, it almost broke her. She almost committed an act of major destruction – and she’s terrified of what she’d be capable of if it happened again.

“I’m not asking you to immediately trust me again,” Kara says, those blue eyes Lena has fallen into a hundred times wide and earnest. “I’m not asking for us to completely forgive each other right away. I’m just asking to try. To heal, with you. Start fresh.” She digs her toe into the floor, suddenly fidgety as she makes a suggestion.

“Maybe…maybe we both see someone about everything. Like, a professional. I’ve been starting to. For…other stuff, not this. Not yet, anyways.”

“Like therapy?“ Lena snorts wetly, and she can hear the derision in her own voice even through the tears. Kara laughs slightly, and then straightens her face like she’s worried she shouldn’t have.

She’d forgotten how much she loved Kara’s laugh.

“I know you’re a private person,” Kara acknowledges, her hand falling away from Lena’s chest and bringing Lena’s hand with it. Giving her space, to decide. “But I think you know that neither of us can do this alone. We just end up…like this. Hurting each other. I don’t want either of us to hurt anymore.”

Lena doesn’t answer, her jaw working as she thinks, and Kara fills the silence again.

“Maybe after that, when we start actually dealing with stuff, we can try something. Something real.” Kara gestures around them, at the destruction caused by their chaos, at Lena’s bruised body. “What do we have to lose?”

What does Lena have to lose? A question she’s asked herself more than once, and never come up with a good answer. The thing she was most terrified of losing, she lost already – and now here it is, asking to come back.

Lena’s eye catches on something nearby. Two things, in fact – Myriad lays on the floor a few feet away, a tech that could give life to the powered-down husk of Hope, a plan long abandoned but still viable. And next to it, ripped from her wrist during their tryst, is Kara’s watch. A hope of another kind. Inevitable.

A Luthor and a Super.

She hears Lex’s voice in her head, in that tiny part of her brain. Luthors are scorpions, Lena.

But Lex is dead and gone, all his plans and machinations amounting to nothing, and another voice is louder – it’s Kara, telling her she’s not like her family. It’s Alex, telling her she has faith in her. It’s herself, her own voice, telling her what she’s always known.

And Lena is so, so tired of fighting her own heart.

“Hope was a mistake,” Lena admits quietly. “I never should have gone down that path to begin with. Revenge, and…and trying to force people to be how I want them. Just like my brother.”

“You are nothing like your brother. I’ve always known that.” Kara says it the way she always has, from the beginning – with complete conviction. Even now.

“I’m scared, Kara,” Lena whispers, her voice breaking as she airs her last doubt. “Every time I open myself up, I get hurt. I just…I don’t want to hurt anymore. I don’t think I can take it. I know I can’t.”

Kara reaches over and runs a thumb over Lena’s lower lip, over the broken skin that still stings in the air.

“I’m so sorry that I hurt you.”

She means more than the physical marks, and Lena knows it.

“I’m sorry, too,” Lena finally admits. Her voice is quiet, but for the first time in weeks, she’s completely sure. “For everything.”

Kara holds out a hand, gentle and unexpectant. Just lays it on her lap, face-up, waiting for Lena to be ready.

It’s not perfect, what she has with Kara. It’s rocky and fragile and not what she’d hoped, naively, all those years ago when they first met – but it’s something. Something real. Something Kara has proved she’s willing to fight for, tooth and nail. To the end.

Enough to go to therapy.

Lena takes Kara’s hand. Their fingers lace together, and ever so slightly, the rocky road starts to smooth.