Kara sighed and buried her head in her hands, trying to block out the noise around her. The smell of alcohol and cigarettes filled her nose. Her first day in Metropolis did not go at all how she had imagined it would. Maybe it had been a bad decision to come here. Maybe she should not have been so naive. Maybe she should have seen it coming. There had been signs along the way. Signs, so obvious, so outspoken, that should have shown her that pursuing a superhero role was not well-perceived. Not by her family. And apparently not by her cousin.
Kara lowered her hands and looked around the dim-lit bar. Her eyes started to burn and a lump formed in her throat. She had never felt so alone in the universe. Kara balled her hands into fists and clenched her jaw. No, that was not true. There had been a time like this, many, many years ago. And if she was being honest with herself, a tiny part of that feeling had never left her. She had grown accustomed to the familiar ache in her heart as the years passed by. It grew weaker when she was surrounded by her family and friends. And it grew stronger whenever she looked up to the millions of stars in the night sky.
Today was one of these days. She missed her family. Her people. Her planet. She missed them so much, she could not even put it into words. Life on Earth was just so complicated and difficult. It was full of rules, full of traps that she could easily fall into. She had never asked for the powers she had. She had never wanted them. If she could trade them against her home, she would do it in the blink of an eye. No questions asked.
She loved her adoptive family, of course, she did. She loved Eliza and Alex with everything she had. She loved her friends here. If it ever came down to it, she would gladly die for them to save their lives. They had always stood by her side and made her feel welcome and loved after everything that had happened in the past. She would never ever be able to repay them for their kindness.
They tried to be understanding and supportive… but there were just some things that they could not understand, no matter how much they tried. None of them had ever experienced this kind of loss. Or how her purpose on this Earth was the only thing that kept her sane during her travel here. They could not know how desperately she had clung to the idea of protecting Kal-El. It gave her enough strength to keep going and to endure her long-lasting journey to this planet.
To be told that her powers were not needed on Earth, not only by her adoptive family but now also by the very person who kept her sane during her darkest time - it hurt more than she imagined.
Kara smiled sadly as she remembered the conversations again. This world did not need another hero, they had said. They had Superman. Her baby cousin that she was supposed to protect. The last task she had been given by her parents. The task she had failed to accomplish. While she had been stuck, Kal-El had become the superhero of Earth. He did not need her anymore.
And today he had told her that he did not want her help either. That she should live and enjoy her life as a human. To be normal. After all, the world already had a superhero. They had Superman. There was no need for her, Kara Danvers.
Kara glared at her glass before drowning the next shot. She wished she could drown her sorrows with alcohol like humans could. She was leaving way too much money at the bar to drink a probably unhealthy amount of something that did not even taste well.
Sighing, Kara shook her head. “What am I even doing here?”
“Hey Steve, turn that up! It’s that flying lady!”
“Guardian Angel or Human Wrecking Ball? There is destruction all over Otto Binder Bridge-”
“Not again!” Kara groaned and reluctantly turned towards the TV.
The bar had quietened down as everyone watched the news coverage on the latest hero. She glared at the photo that appeared on the screen again. It was truly not the most flattering one. At least the quality was so bad that it was impossible to catch a clear view of her face or even her hair color. This photo — no, this news coverage was the reason why she was fighting with her sister. Why she tried to reach out to her cousin, only to receive a pat on her head.
For the first time in years, she had used her powers — to save her sister and dozens of other passengers. She had reacted on instinct. When she heard the news that Alex was in mortal danger, she had not thought about her possible exposure to the world. She had done what anyone else in her situation would have done. She had reacted and saved the person she loved the most on this planet.
After the successful rescue, she had been ecstatic about finally, finally, using her powers for good after all these years. She had a purpose. She could help people, she could do what others couldn’t and save lives!
She did not expect a thank-you. She did not expect gratitude. But she also did not expect the aftermath. She certainly had not expected Alex’s reaction. Cringing, she remembered the argument that had taken place before she had left National City to talk to Kal-El. It was still fresh on her mind.
Three hours prior
“What were you thinking?!” They locked eyes. Confusion met disappointment. After a short moment, Alex turned around and scoffed. With a shaking hand, she pointed towards the television. The photograph was frozen on the screen. “You exposed yourself. To the world! You’re out there now, Kara. Everyone will know about you and you can’t take that back!”
Kara glanced from the TV to her sister. Didn't Alex know? Didn’t she understand? Kara could have cared less about the exposure. Alex’s life had been on the line, among dozens of others. They had spoken about it on the news. She had saved them from certain death.
It might not have been ideal, but it had been an emergency. There was no time to think it through. It was either saving her sister or planning her funeral. Her knees were still shaking from the adrenaline. She could still not shake off the feeling of pure horror when her first flight attempt had failed. Nor the desperation that had crawled into every cell of her being when she thought she had forgotten how to fly. When she had thought she would not be able to save Alex.
She did not regret her choice. Not for one second. Alex meant everything to her. Why didn't she understand? Kara did not care that people knew she existed as long as Alex was alive and well. She could not lose anyone she loved ever again — not when she was able to stop it from happening. Why would she ever take it back?
“I… I don’t want to.” Kara searched her sister’s eyes as Alex sighed. Never before had she seen such an amount of disappointment and sadness in them. Directed at her. “This is what I was talking about, Alex. I’ve… always felt the need to help people, and tonight I finally got that chance. I…”
She paused as her voice broke and blinked a few times as her vision became blurry. How could she possibly explain this? As a teenager, she had tried countless times to make her adoptive family understand how she felt. They had never understood. ‘It is not your job to protect people,’ they had said. ‘You have a second chance here. But you have to be normal. You have to be human.’
Kara’s shoulders dropped. No matter what she said, nobody would ever understand. Not even Kal-El. “I didn’t travel 2,000 light-years just to be an assistant.”
Her fear became true as Alex shook her head. “What if people figure out who you are? What you are?”
Kara broke the eye contact as her body became numb. She could not bear to hear it anymore. Tears crept into her eyes again and she balled her hands into fists. Why did no one understand?
“It’s just…” Alex glanced over her shoulder to the TV. “It’s not safe for you to do anything like that. Ever again.”
Kara’s chest hurt as if someone was squeezing it too tightly. She tore her gaze away from the look in Alex’s eyes. A lump formed in her throat. She did not want to cry. She did not want to show Alex how much those words were hurting her. She knew that Alex wanted to protect her. Alex did not mean it badly. She had good intentions. She loved her.
But gosh, it hurt. It hurt so much.
The lump in Kara’s throat was throbbing. She swallowed, wincing when the pain only became worse. She pressed her lips together as they started to tremble slightly. She was not going to cry in front of Alex.
She took a deep breath and cleared her throat. She had to get Alex out of the apartment before she broke down.
“I’m kinda tired. I… I just carried a plane on my back. I’m gonna go to bed.” Kara dared a quick glance back as silence started to spread. Alex looked like she wanted to say something, but Kara quickly cut her off before she could. “You should go.”
With a last meaningful look, Alex turned to the door. “Don’t say I didn’t warn you.”
Frowning deeply, Kara drowned another shot. Well, she had not gone to bed. Instead, she went to the only person who she thought would know how she felt.
It had been exhilarating to go against Alex’s warning and to fly to Metropolis. However, meeting Kal-El — or Clark how he preferred to be called now — had not gone how she had imagined it. Of course, he had congratulated her on saving the plane, he had even been proud. But…
Kara clenched her jaw and scoffed. Indeed, what was she even doing here?
The laughter of a few men brought Kara back to the presence. One of the men at the bar whistled as he pointed towards the photo on the TV screen. “I wouldn’t mind her rescuing me, that’s for sure.”
“I don’t think you could handle her!”
“Oh, I’d handle her just fine!” He made a crude gesture and the other men hooted.
Kara rolled her eyes. As if. But she was at a bar, what did she expect? Why did she even come here? Alcohol was clearly not working with her unfortunate powers on this planet. She could have just sat on a rooftop somewhere and burn her money to ash.
However, she also had not wanted to be alone. She could not stay with Clark, not after being reminded that even though he was the only biological family she had left, he did not understand. It was not his fault, of course. He was only a baby when he left Krypton. But…
A low deep voice of a woman interrupted her thoughts. “Men are pigs.”
Kara glanced to her left and her mind went blank. All her worries seemed to be washed away as she looked at the stranger that had taken a seat next to her.
A dark-haired woman in an expensive-looking business suit had joined her at the bar. A drop-dead gorgeous dark-haired woman to be exact. Her straight hair was tied into a high ponytail and the red lipstick was a stark contrast to her pale skin. The intensity of the look in her eyes made Kara swallow dryly. These eyes… and the jawline… Kara blinked a few times. This woman was absolutely beautiful, no doubt about that. Probably one of the most beautiful women she had ever seen.
“Uh, I…” Kara pushed her glasses back up and cleared her throat. She had to say something intelligent. She wanted to make a good first impression. Staring and drooling over a stranger was definitely not a good one. She had to think of something. Maybe something witty. Something intelligent. Anything really. “Whoa.”
Here’s the next chapter, welcome Lena! Thank you for the great response, guys. I did certainly not expect it! Hope you enjoy this one too.
The gorgeous woman raised a single eyebrow.
Rao, was that even legal?
Wait, no. Had she just…? Kara's cheeks started to burn as her mind caught up again and she quickly closed her still open mouth. Oh no. She had not seriously just whoa-ed at this woman! She had to get a grip on herself. What was wrong with her?! “Um… I mean… wh-what?”
A smirk appeared on the woman’s lips. Kara wanted the ground to swallow her and put her out of her misery. How eloquent of her. She had surely impressed her with that one.
The woman nodded towards the men that were still laughing among themselves. “Pigs. This woman just saved dozens of lives, not to mention her incredible powers and what this could mean for the country. And yet…”
Kara opened her mouth to reply, but nothing came out. What was wrong with her?! She needed to say something. Continue the conversation. Or this gorgeous stranger would leave. She would think that she was a weirdo and leave. She could not let that happen!
However, before she could make up her mind, the silence between them was thankfully interrupted by the reporter.
“We’re going live to Michael Matthews who’s at the scene right now. Michael, is there any news on who this mysterious flying woman is? Or what she is?”
The woman’s attention turned to the TV and Kara let out a sigh of relief before she followed her example. This would at least give her a little time to regain her senses. This was embarrassing.
“Well, Julia, despite her outward appearance, I suppose we can all agree that she is definitely not human. The people of National City have not seen her before, so this leaves the question of where she comes from. How long has she been living in National City? Is she just passing through? Was it simply a coincidence that led to the rescue? Or does National City have their very own superhero?”
“This brings up a very interesting question, Michael. Where is she now and does she have any connection to Superman?”
“You are right, of course. People are indeed wondering if there is a relation to the Man of Steel. Eyewitnesses report that this mysterious woman seems to have shown similar powers…”
Groaning, Kara adjusted her glasses. Hours before, she would have been overjoyed by these comments. She always wanted to be a superhero. Now, however, it left a bitter taste in her mouth. All she could see was the look in Alex’s eyes before she left her apartment.
“Not a fan of Superman, hm?” the woman asked her before giving the barkeeper a signal. “Scotch, please.”
“Wha- me?” Kara pointed at herself and forced out a loud laugh. “Me? Not liking Superman? Why on Earth… who doesn’t like Superman? Everyone loves him! Well, I mean, except for his enemies, I suppose, because that would just be… weird.”
The woman only looked at her for a long moment and took a sip of her drink.
“And I’m, like, so not an enemy of Superman. How ridiculous. I mean, do I disagree with him? Sure, sometimes, but that happens in every family —” Kara stopped herself mid-sentence and her eyes went wide. What was she doing?! What had she just said?! “I mean, family, like… as in… aren’t we all… a huge… family… on this planet? Earth? That we’ve all been born on? Except for Superman, of course! But we, humans, humankind, aren’t we all a big family? Somewhat dysfunctional at times, sure, but… still family, right?”
“Family?” the woman muttered, not taking her eyes off of her. “I suppose that’s certainly an… interesting metaphor.”
“Exactly!” Kara pointed at her and nodded vehemently. “That’s exactly what I mean!”
The woman hummed and watched her for a few seconds. Kara desperately tried to think of something to say that would turn this conversation away from that subject. Going with the first thing that came to mind, Kara smiled at her seat neighbor and extended her hand.
“I’m Kara, by the way. Nice to meet you…?”
The woman glanced at her hand, seemingly confused at the sudden change of topic. Then she hesitantly accepted the handshake. “Lena.”
Lena. That was a nice name. It fit her perfectly. Kara gave her a quick once-over. It appeared as if she had come to the bar straight from the office. Yes, she looked like a successful businesswoman. Kara wondered what exactly her job was. A lawyer maybe? A CEO?
“You’re not from here, are you?”
Kara almost spat out her drink. How did she…? Had she recognized her? How was that possible?! That photo was blurry at best! “What?”
“You don’t know who I am.” Lena furrowed her brow as Kara visibly relaxed. She really had to stop being so paranoid. Alex’s words were getting to her. “That’s why I assumed you’re not from here. Although you could still be a reporter, I suppose. It would certainly not be the first time.”
“Oh, I’m nothing more than a boring assistant, no need to worry about that.” Kara tilted her head and studied her. Was she supposed to recognize her? She was sure she had never seen her before. A face like that was not easy to forget. Perhaps it was only something local. “So everyone in this city knows you from sight? What are you, famous?”
Lena snorted, a bitter smile appeared on her face as she glanced down at her drink.
“Something like that,” Lena muttered before she looked back up. “Anyway, where are you from?”
“National City. I’m… visiting my cousin. Spur of a moment thing, really. It wasn’t well thought out, to be honest. And now…” Kara made a vague gesture at her surroundings. “Now, I’m here and try to forget about it.”
Lena hummed. “You two had a disagreement?”
“I mean, I guess you could call it that? We just… see things differently. He’s not… he just can’t understand.” Kara sighed and glanced down at the counter. “We had very different lives growing up. I guess it’s just… family drama. Nothing special, really.”
“Ah, cheers to that. What would the world be without some good quality family drama?” Lena took a large sip from her scotch. “Isn’t that what families are for?”
“Wow, that’s… that’s actually pretty dark.”
Lena raised an eyebrow at her. “Is it? I’d say it’s realistic. How many families do you know that actually function? You yourself called humankind a dysfunctional family. The term is so widely spread because it is happening all the time. Everywhere. No family is perfect. There is always some kind of drama, some issue. Some bigger than others, of course. But in the end, your family is the one that can really screw you up. Therapists would be out of a job if not for families. Look at all the criminals who hide behind their dark family past. If you listened to them, it seems like having a bad childhood would make you the prime candidate for becoming a serial killer or mass murderer. Childhood traumas can define who you will become. And most of these traumas? Those are on families.”
Kara furrowed her brow as Lena glared at her drink. She couldn’t mean that, could she? “That doesn’t mean that families are generally bad or dysfunctional. There’s so much more to families. They can be the best thing that ever happened to you. Family is… they’re always there for you. They love you, no matter what. You can always count on them, during good as well as bad times. A family is unlimited support and care. They accept you the way you are and they would do anything in their power to see you happy. They will protect you and keep you safe, even if,” Kara sighed as her thoughts drifted to Alex, “even if it means that you butt heads and fight. But they love you nonetheless and they always mean well.”
“That is a lovely point of view, but it is not always the case. Not everyone has a family like that.”
“But you see, a family is not always the one you were born into. You can meet them along the way.” Kara smiled at Lena as the other woman regarded her carefully. “I mean, I lost almost my entire biological family when I was younger and I was absolutely devastated. I thought I would never be happy again. I lost my… my world. Everything I had ever known. But I found a new family or… or rather they found me.” Kara shrugged. “I know I’m incredibly lucky, but… if none of that works out? There are always friendships. I firmly believe that you can choose your own family. They don’t have to be related to you by blood. Blood doesn’t make a family. Love does.”
Lena watched her for a moment before she broke their eye contact and emptied her glass. She gave the barkeeper a sign and he gave her another drink. “It’s not that easy.”
“What do you mean?”
“Choosing your own family.” Lena smiled wryly at her drink and took another sip. She was silent for a few seconds. Then she sighed heavily. “Some of us can’t, you know? We don’t get to choose. It is chosen for us. You can’t just leave that family or choose another. They will be with you forever, no matter what you do. They mark you. They are poisoning the air around you, tainting relationships, making sure you won’t…”
Kara’s eyebrows rose as Lena trailed off. And she had thought her day was bad. In the end, she still had Alex, Eliza, Clark, and Winn. She had people who loved her unconditionally and wanted to keep her safe. Lena, on the other hand… did she have anyone?
Lena rolled her eyes in exasperation. “God, look at me. Whining like a baby.”
“What about… friends?” Kara asked quietly.
“Friends…” Lena threw her an amused look. “Aren’t you adorable?”
Her cheeks started to heat up again and Kara hoped she was not blushing. Maybe the alcohol was finally doing its job. She had certainly consumed more than enough to grant a human alcohol poisoning. She pushed her glasses back up. “Friends can become your family too.”
“People… do not tend to befriend me without any ulterior motives. I would be a fool to think otherwise.” Lena shrugged. “It is what it is. You learn to live with it.”
Kara regarded her thoughtfully. It sounded like a lonely life. Nobody deserved to be alone in this world. Especially not someone like Lena. She had only talked to her for a few minutes, but she already had a feeling that Lena was a good person. A good person who apparently had not always the easiest life. Maybe she could change that? Maybe she could become friends with her?
“Anyways, enough of that.” Lena waved off and gestured to the TV. “What do you think of this one?”
After that, they fell into an easy conversation. Lena, so Kara found out, was probably the most guarded person she had ever met. Her walls were built high and thick. Every expression — from the tone of her voice to the lift of her eyebrows — seemed perfectly calculated. However, Kara could see glimpses of the real Lena shining through little by little. It was beautiful and fascinating to witness. It was difficult to notice, but sometimes the smile would reach her eyes, leaving small crinkles in the corners. Her voice and gestures would become more animated and lose the cool control when she talked about topics and people that inspired her.
Kara learned that Lena was very interested in technology, medicine, and the latest inventions. The scientific discussion was fun, something that she had keenly avoided in the past. She knew she should be careful with the subject, but she could not help but match Lena’s enthusiasm. Kara also realized fairly quickly that Lena’s family seemed to be a sore subject for her which she avoided at all costs. It did make sense after she had seen her meager view on the topic before.
Kara did not know how long they had talked, but when she managed to tear her eyes away from Lena’s, she was startled to notice that the crowd in the bar had thinned out. A glance at a nearby clock told her that it was early morning. Wincing, she remembered that she still had work in a few hours. All she wanted to do was call in sick for the first time in her life. She wished she could keep talking to Lena. But Ms. Grant would surely receive a heart attack or have an aneurysm if she did.
Lena had followed her look and let out a startled laugh. “Oh dear, don’t tell me that is the actual time?”
“I’m afraid so.” Kara groaned and stretched. She still had to fly home without being seen. Outside, dawn was breaking. “I need to head back. I have to get ready for work.”
Lena turned to her with an incredulous look. “This morning? In National City?”
“Yeah, my boss… I would love nothing more than calling in sick, but I’m afraid she’d eat me alive.” Kara chuckled. “I cannot believe I stayed the whole night. Time went by fast.”
“But…” Lena frowned. “How’d you even… can you even manage to get back in time?”
“Hm? Of course. I’ll just fly.”
Kara tilted her head and furrowed her brow, mentally already going through the morning agenda. Ms. Grant would surely call an emergency meeting the morning after the news broke of… well, her. She would want answers, any scoop available about the latest alien appearance. Which meant, she probably had not slept much either. This could very well mean that Ms. Grant would be irritable. She should probably refill the M&Ms, just in case. And order an extra-strong coffee.
“Kara, National City is almost 3,000 miles away!” Lena started to go through her handbag and took out a cell phone. “Do you need to get to the airport? When is your flight leaving? I’ll call my driver, I —”
Kara blinked a few times. “Whoa, hold your horses, Lena. It’s fine. I’ll make it in time, don’t worry.”
But Lena was already scrolling through her phone. “It is nearly impossible for you to arrive punctually at work, Kara! The fastest flight takes a bit over five hours and the next one is in —”
“It’ll be fine, trust me.” Kara had to suppress a smile at how frantic Lena was. “But I should leave now. It was nice meeting you. I had a lot of fun.”
“Well, if you’re absolutely sure.” Lena did not seem too convinced. “I had a great time as well. Um, I'm sorry if this might be too forward or anything, but… would you perhaps mind, if we exchanged numbers? I would really love to make sure that you made it home safely.”
A warm feeling spread through Kara’s body as she quickly agreed. A few seconds later, they had each other’s phone numbers. This made the goodbye much easier. She had dreaded leaving Lena without ever seeing her again. Perhaps now they had a chance of actually becoming friends…?
With a shy smile and a wave towards Lena, Kara paid the barkeeper and left the bar. As soon as she stepped outside, the first rays of sunshine hit her face. As she looked up to the sky, she could only find a few clouds. She grimaced at the thought that she probably had to fly higher than before. It was always so cold up there. But better safe than sorry. Despite her speed, she did not want to be potentially seen or recorded by anyone. Alex’s words were still in the back of her mind. She did not need to take unnecessary risks.
Briefly looking around, she went to the alley next to the bar. She opted to make a test flight and slowly rose from the ground, hidden by the shadows of the tall buildings to each side. Nobody from afar would be able to get a good look at her. She searched the sky above her for any obstacles before she wanted to fly with her true speed, but a sharp gasp from below almost made her fall down to the ground. Her stomach dropped and she whirled her head around.
Alex was going to kill her.
She gulped as her heart pounded faster and her hands started to shake. It was too late now. She could not speed up and disappear. She had made a mistake. A major mistake. She had been too exhausted, too occupied, to think rationally. She had forgotten to look if someone had followed her into the alleyway. The streets had been almost empty, of course, but it was still an oversight from her.
An oversight that had the potential to destroy everything.
She balled her trembling hands into fists and slowly started to descend. She had to face her fears, she had to handle this. She had to hope that everything would be okay. That she could convince her to keep it a secret. Even if all her hopes for forming a friendship or even more had just come crashing down.
When her feet hit the ground again, she cleared her throat, trying to make herself seem confident. The person in front of her was still staring at her, her calculating eyes not missing a single movement she made.
“You… you forgot your jacket.” Lena held up the bundle in her arms.
Kara winced. She glanced from her jacket to Lena. She could not tell what she was thinking. The walls were back up, higher than before. “Lena, I… I can explain.”
Her pleading eyes met cold green ones.
“You are that alien from National City.”
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“You are that alien from National City.”
Kara bit her lip. This was not good. It was not good at all. Alex was going to kill her, definitely. And not only Alex. Her sister was right - it could be dangerous if people knew she was an alien. For her and for her family. She knew not everyone was accepting of aliens. Even her cousin faced threats because of it, and he was a well-known hero. He had saved countless lives throughout the years, yet some people still feared him, still hated him for what he was. She only had to think about that whole Luthor situation.
“I, um… I prefer Kara, actually.” She gave Lena a tentative smile which was not returned. “I… I would appreciate it if you could… you know, keep this to yourself…?”
“You’re not denying it?”
Blinking in surprise, Kara paused. “Denying it? Why would I deny it? You just caught me mid-air. There is no logical explanation for this. Denial would simply insult your intelligence. And if there’s one thing I learned tonight, it’s that you’re one of the smartest people I’ve ever talked to.”
Lena kept studying her and Kara shifted nervously. Something about this stare made her incredibly uncomfortable.
“You are that alien from National City. The one who saved the plane.”
Kara nodded slowly. Her mind was still racing. How was she going to convince Lena to keep this a secret? Sulking in the bar had really not been a good idea. She should have never flown to Metropolis. Everything had gone down the drain. She should have just stayed in her apartment and wallowed in self-pity. Not even Clark had been a help. On the contrary. But then again she would have never met Lena… and she liked Lena.
“And Superman is your cousin.”
Kara’s jaw dropped. »Ex-excuse me? My- my cousin? Clar- I mean, Superman?”
“Superman is the cousin you were visiting here, isn’t he?”
Kara opened her mouth to respond, only to close it again shortly after. This was not good. Not good at all. Clark would be pissed. Rightfully so. But how could Lena have known…? A thought struck her and she took a step back. “Can you read minds?!”
For the first time since the unfortunate discovery, Lena let her mask slip. For a second, Kara was able to see surprise and shock before the wall slammed back down with full force. “No, of course not! This is merely a logical conclusion. Can some aliens read minds?”
“Some, yes.” Before Lena was able to form the next question, Kara shook her head. “And no, I can’t.”
Kara glanced at her watch. She really needed to leave, if she wanted to keep her job. But she could not just leave Lena like that. Lena had all the information that could hurt her and her family. But… would she?
Somehow, she doubted it. She barely knew Lena, yet something was telling her that she could trust her. Alex would call her crazy. Kara grimaced at the thought of her sister. She had to tell Alex, didn’t she? And Clark? If anything, she would have to fear them — not Lena.
If she was being honest with herself, it was also kind of nice that someone else knew, other than her family. Maybe Lena still wanted to be friends. Okay, maybe she was getting too excited about this. First of all, she had to save her job and hope that Lena would not stab her in the back. At least not until they had talked about everything. Although she really did not believe that Lena would do something like that.
Making a decision, Kara sighed heavily. “Um, look, Lena. I… I… um, can we talk about everything later this evening? I promise I’ll explain, but I really have to leave for work or I will get fired. If you could text me an address later where I could find you, that would be great. But… please don’t tell anyone about this, okay? Please.”
Lena gave her an incredulous look. “Let me get this straight. I just discovered that you’re an alien - not just an alien but the one this whole country has been looking for since the news broke. I’m also fairly confident that you’re the cousin of Superman since you failed to deny my theory. And now you just want to… go to work?”
“Yes? I mean, I get that you want answers and if it was any other day I would gladly give them to you right away and we could talk it over but - seriously, my boss will kill me. Especially today of all days.” Kara stuck her bottom lip out and tried to give her the best puppy eyes. “Please, Lena. I know this is much to ask and you have many questions —”
“No, this is not - this is not logical!”
Kara blinked. “What?”
“You can’t just… trust me!”
“But… but I do?”
Lena gave her a long look and silence started to spread between them. Kara shifted from one foot to the other. She felt like she was missing something.
Kara waited for a specification of that question, but none came. Lena only kept staring at her as if she was the strangest thing she had ever witnessed. Was that a good or a bad sign? “Why what exactly?”
“Why do you trust me? We only met a few hours ago. You don’t know me.” An emotion briefly shined in Lena’s eyes, but it disappeared so quickly that Kara could not decipher it in time. “You don’t know what I could be capable of. I’m a stranger. I could call the news right now and tell them everything I know.”
“But you won’t.” The certainty in Kara’s voice caused Lena to raise her eyebrows in surprise. “I might not have known you for long, that’s true. But I know that you’re a good person.”
“How can you be so sure? How would you know?”
“I just do. You might not know it yourself just yet, but…” Kara searched Lena’s eyes, “but you’re a good person. I don’t know why you seem to think otherwise. You’re not a bad person, Lena. And that’s why I trust you.” She cleared her throat and glanced nervously at the sky. The sun was rising fast. “Look, Lena… I’m really, really sorry, but I seriously have to go or I won’t have a job anymore. I’ll promise I’ll stop by in the evening if you text me an address where we can meet. Then I can answer your questions and explain some things. Would that be alright?”
Lena watched her before nodding shortly. Kara’s shoulders dropped in relief as the tension slowly started to leave her body. “Don’t forget your jacket. And you better not break your promise.”
She smiled at the woman in front of her and gently took the jacket out of her hands. “I won’t. Thank you so much, Lena. I’ll see you tonight.”
Before Kara left, she shot another glance at Lena. Wonder and surprise shone in Lena’s eyes. With a last smile at her, Kara flew off. She hoped that Lena would keep the secret.
“Despite extensive efforts, no one has been able to identify who, or rather, what she is.” As she stepped out of the elevator and into the bullpen, Kara glanced at one of the TV screens where the photo from the day before was shown again. Every news station seemed to report about her. If not for this morning, Kara would have probably been ecstatic. Now, however, her stomach twisted unpleasantly.
She avoided bumping into people, carefully balancing the coffee and breakfast for Ms. Grant. Everyone in the office had stopped what they were doing and stared at the TVs around the room.
Walking up to her desk, she nodded at Winn in greeting. He too was riveted by the news report. “Pretty cool, huh?”
“A plane saving lady?” Winn scoffed, but Kara could tell that he loved every bit of another alien appearance. “How is the world supposed to take her seriously, when she can’t even come up with a suit? What, Metropolis gets him and what does National City get? Some rookie superhero?”
There it was again. The comparison to Superman.
Kara frowned and set her bag on her desk. It made sense, of course, that people compared them, but… there was always the undertone in the way people said it. They always made it sound like she was less competent than him. That he was a better hero. That he was the real superhero.
And to be fair, of course, he was a superhero. But she had the same kind of powers. She had yearned for years to use them and become the hero that people needed.
She turned around to face Winn. She wanted to tell him. Wanted to prove him wrong. To tell him that it was her. That she did it to save Alex. She wanted him to understand what it was like for her, day in and day out. How she had been forced to ignore calls for help in order to keep her family safe. How she might not have the experience that Superman had, but that she had been originally sent to Earth in order to protect him. Not the other way around.
But then Alex’s words came to the forefront of her mind and with them the memory of what had happened just this morning.
Would it be okay to tell Winn? To let another person in on the secret she had fought years to keep? Right after Lena had accidentally found out?
Kara sighed and closed her eyes. No. At least not yet. First, she had to talk to Lena about this and find out where she was standing with the woman. Afterward, there would still be enough time to tell Winn. He would understand.
Shaking the thought off, for now, Kara quickly headed into Ms. Grant’s office. “Good morning, Ms. Grant! Here is your latte and your lettuce-wrapped crisp from the Beanery.”
Kara furrowed her brow and subtly checked the time. She was punctual as always. “I’m… sorry?”
“Kira, Kira, Kira…” Ms. Grant pointed outside. “Do you see this? We have a national crisis, Kira! I’ve been here for three hours! And where were you?”
“Um…” Kara blinked. National crisis? “I…”
“We have the biggest news in the history of National City and no one has any information!” Ms. Grant threw her hands up and glared at the television screens behind her. “Arrange an emergency meeting. Now. I want anyone with a brain in this room ten minutes ago! This could be exactly what we need to save the Tribune. I will be damned if any other news outlet reports anything before us!”
“Yes, Ms. Grant. I’ll see to it immediately.”
“Then why are you still here?”
Kara forced a smile and whirled around to go find the usual team of reporters for situations like these. She had clearly underestimated Ms. Grant’s state of mind. Ms. Grant was not just irritable. She was highly stressed out and nearing a meltdown. Sighing, Kara stopped for a moment and glanced at the big TV screens again.
She knew the lack of news was driving Ms. Grant insane. But she was relieved by the silence. It told her that she was right to trust Lena with her secret. Although, with every passing hour, the price for exclusive content grew higher and the offers became more desperate. It was a lot of temptation for anyone to resist. She supposed she could not even be mad at Lena if she succumbed to it eventually. After all, Lena did not know her. And Lena seemed distrustful enough as it was. Why would Lena keep such a huge secret for a stranger? It would make sense if she sold her out - promise or not.
Kara groaned quietly. She would be forced to sit through every news report in the hope that her real identity wouldn’t be revealed. Today would be a long day.
The beeping of her phone snapped her out of her thoughts. When she saw who the text was from, she could not help but smile brightly.
‘This is the address of my penthouse. You can either land right on the terrace or go up the normal way. 9 pm. - L’
Kara carefully stored her phone away. With a spring in her step, she started to round up every reporter that Ms. Grant had requested.
It would be a long day, indeed. She could not wait to see Lena again.
Hello again! Here comes the long-awaited talk between Kara and Lena! I hope it won't disappoint. Enjoy! And thanks for all the comments!
Kara hovered a few hundred feet above the terrace of Lena’s penthouse in Metropolis. She had arrived before their agreed meeting time, just to make sure that she would get the building right on her first try. When she looked below, she could see Lena pacing across the terrace. She knew she was talking to herself, but Kara had decided not to eavesdrop on her. She did not want to mess this up – her curiosity be damned. It was probably already borderline stalking that she was just hovering above her.
Kara glanced up towards the stars and sighed deeply. She had been excited to see Lena again. That was, until she was on her way here. The excitement had quickly turned into dread.
What if Lena didn’t like her? What if Lena only wanted to be friends with a human Kara, not with an alien Kara? It had been ages since she had been her true self. Would it be okay to tell Lena everything? Was it crazy that she was already trusting her so much that she was even considering this? But her instincts had never steered her wrong before…
She checked the time. 9 pm.
“Here goes nothing,” she muttered and descended to the terrace.
Lena looked up from her musings as soon as she was in sight. Her eyebrows were raised as she studied her land on the terrace. Kara noticed that she wasn’t wearing her office clothes this time and had instead opted for an MIT hoodie and a pair of jeans. But her walls were still there, high and thick as this morning. Lena’s arms were tightly folded across her chest, her face void of any emotion.
“Uh… hi. It’s good to see you again. Um, nice rooftop you have here!” Kara flashed her a nervous smile as Lena only continued to stare. “I mean, the view is really great and, gosh, it’s so high, I mean, how long does it even take with the elevator? That must be uncomfortable, right? I don’t really like elevators that much, I would rather walk the stairs, but I can’t because humans don’t usually use stairs in a skyscraper. But elevators are just so… don’t you feel anxious in the elevator sometimes? I mean, it’s so small and then there are usually so many people in it and sometimes it just feels as if the walls close in on you and the air gets kinda thin…”
Lena furrowed her brow.
“I, I mean, I uh…” Kara pushed her glasses back up. “The air doesn’t really get thin, of course, it’s not that high and I’m sure they have a good ventilation system in elevators, but… I just… prefer space. As in a room of space. Not… not space space. I may be an alien, but even I can’t breathe up there, so… I wouldn’t prefer that. I’m not suicidal…” she trailed off as she suddenly realized that she was rambling again. Rao, what was she doing? She had not just told Lena that she wasn’t suicidal! She wanted to kick herself.
“That is… good to know, I suppose,” Lena mumbled without taking her eyes off of her. “You’re claustrophobic?”
“Wh-what?” Kara pointed at herself, trying to smile. “Me? Claustro-… psh, I’m not… I’m not claustrophobic! I’m fine!”
“Claustrophobia is nothing to be ashamed of, you know.”
Kara waved off. “It’s not for humans, but I’m… I don’t… I don’t even get a cold, I’m not… working like that.”
Lena uncrossed her arms. To Kara’s surprise, she could see a faint smile forming on her lips. “I don’t see why you shouldn’t. If you are Superman’s cousin, I understand that you’re more resilient to outside forces, but mentally? You clearly have emotions, feelings. You’re not a machine, Kara. You shouldn’t be ashamed to feel vulnerable every once in a while. Everyone is afraid of something. Even heroes who stop a plane from crashing.”
“Right. About that…” Kara cleared her throat. She was glad to have the opportunity to change this topic, even though the next one did not seem to be any less uncomfortable. “Um, I wanted to thank you for… you know, keeping my secret. I really appreciate it, especially with the media frenzy out there. Not everyone would have done this.”
“It was my pleasure. Do you want a drink?”
“Just water would be fine. Thank you.”
“Please, take a seat.” Lena gestured to the white couch in the corner of the terrace. “I’ll be right back with our drinks and then we can talk.”
Kara watched as Lena left and sat down. It seemed that Lena had calmed down a little from her initial response this morning. Or rather after she had stopped her rambling. Lena had still been very cold towards her when she had landed. She couldn’t quite figure her out. What had she done that had caused Lena to smile at her? She had clearly smiled. Only a little bit, but the smile had been there nonetheless.
“Here you go.” Lena interrupted her thoughts and handed her the drink before taking a seat on an armchair, the farthest away from where Kara was sitting. Kara noted that she was purposefully creating a distance between them. She would have lied if she said that it didn’t hurt somewhat. Was she afraid of her? “I forgot to ask, did you make it to work in time?”
“Oh! Oh, yes, I did. I’m… I can… fly quite fast.” She took a sip and nervously glanced at Lena to gauge her reaction.
Lena, however, did not betray what she was thinking. “You said this morning that you would give me answers to any questions I might have about you.”
“I appreciate it, I do. However,” Lena glanced down at her own drink before she met her eyes again, “however, I don’t want you to feel obligated. From what I understand, not many people know about you. About what – about who you are. I don’t want to pressure you into revealing any of your secrets. I know far too well how this knowledge could be used against you to put you and your loved ones in danger. We can never speak about this topic ever again and pretend nothing ever happened if you like. I also want to believe that you do not intend to cause harm on humans, given your rescue of the plane.” She paused and seemed to steel herself for her next words. “That being said, I am not a fool and don’t trust people blindly. Therefore, I will keep my eye on you. If anything points to you using your powers to harm innocent people, I will come after you. And believe me, you don’t want me as your enemy. I may only be a human, but… let’s just say, I have an affinity to technology and know how to use it.”
Kara stared wide-eyed at Lena as her brain tried to catch up with what she had just heard. “Are you… are you threatening me?”
“I am stating facts.”
Kara blinked a couple of times and shook her head. She had not expected this turn of events. She studied Lena for a few seconds to receive a better understanding of the situation. Lena looked determined, everything in her pose seemed to convey that she would do as she said, should Kara ever cross a line. But then Kara noticed the slight, barely recognizable trembling of her hands that were clutching her glass.
The realization left her breathless for a moment. She had been right. Lena was indeed scared. Of her.
When her eyes darted back to Lena’s own, she could tell that Lena knew that she had noticed it. Lena’s posture became more rigid, her jaw was set, and ice-cold eyes glared back at her in defiance.
Kara knew she meant every single word of her speech. She knew Lena was aware of her powers. Heck, Lena had made the logical conclusion that she and Superman were cousins. And she knew that even though Lena was aware of her powers, she had invited Kara to her own place, alone, to confront her. That was… brave. If Lena had any doubt about Kara’s intentions, she had delivered herself on a silver platter. Lena might not have entirely known it herself, but Kara realized with a start that some part of Lena trusted her, despite her words from before. She trusted her that she would be safe. Was it because she was related to Superman? No, it couldn’t be. Lena seemed far too distrustful for that, especially considering how she thought about families.
Slowly, Kara leaned back and willed her body to relax. She tried to appear as non-threatening as possible. She knew she would never ever hurt a human if she could help it. But despite the perhaps unintentional show of trust, Lena couldn’t know it. Lena didn’t know her. Or maybe Lena only needed proof that her intuition had been right. Whatever it was, she had to tread carefully.
“I am not here to hurt anyone,” Kara said softly. She searched Lena’s eyes. “I did not come to this planet to hurt anyone. I’m a refugee. When I was thirteen, my planet… was destroyed.”
“Kara, you don’t have to –”
“No, it’s okay. I want to.” She paused, gathering the strength to continue her story. It still hurt to this day. It would probably never stop hurting. “Anyway… right before it happened, our parents managed to sent me and my cousin to Earth, to safety.” She swallowed dryly as images flashed before her eyes. Her parents. The pods. The flames. The explosions. She closed her eyes for a moment to pull herself together. “My cousin was only a baby. He could not protect himself. So I was tasked to look after him, to raise him, and protect him. But something… something went wrong and my pod got knocked off course.” Kara took a deep breath and glanced down at her fingers. “In the end, my cousin got here long before I could. Thankfully, he was found by a lovely couple who took good care of him and raised him as if he was their own, but… when I arrived… he was already…”
“Superman,” Lena finished quietly and Kara nodded.
“He, um… he didn’t need me anymore.” Kara shrugged helplessly. “He… he brought me to this family that he knew. They had helped him before. And since I didn’t have a mission anymore and no purpose, it was decided that I should just… try to fit in. Live a normal life. As a human. The world didn’t need another hero. They already had him.”
Kara glanced back up and met Lena’s eyes once again. “I was selfish. My sister was on that plane. I could not let her die. Not when I had the power to save her. I didn’t even think about how this would expose me. I had to save her. I couldn’t lose… I mean, after everything… just… not again.”
“I understand.” Lena sighed as the tension visibly left her body. She looked up to the sky and bit her lip. It seemed as if she was pondering something. After a few seconds of silence, she met Kara’s eyes again. “You said, Superman left you with a family he knew.”
“Why didn’t he raise you himself?”
“Oh, I…” Kara pushed up her glasses and cleared her throat. “I guess he just had… too many things going on, you know. Him being Superman. He has to be available at all times and…”
Lena raised her hand. “Hold up, didn’t you just say that it had been your mission to raise him? To protect him?”
“Yes, but –”
“You were thirteen.”
“I know, but –”
“Thirteen, Kara.” Lena stared at her with an intensity that forced Kara to look away. “You were a child. Yet you were prepared and willing to raise a baby? All by yourself?”
“He… he was my family, of course, I would’ve…” Kara broke off as her voice started to quiver. When she was certain that she had herself back under control, she continued. “He was the only one I had left. I would have done anything. I was ready.”
“And yet he couldn’t take care of you when you arrived?” Lena narrowed her eyes. “He couldn’t help you find your way on this new planet? He just left a traumatized girl with strangers?”
“It was probably safer that way.” Kara tugged on her sleeves and avoided meeting Lena’s eyes. “And they were not strangers, they were his trusted friends –”
“They were strangers to you! Your planet was destroyed, everything and everyone you knew and loved was gone. And he sends you to strangers? Instead of keeping you with him?”
“I probably would have not adapted as well without them.”
“He could have taught you everything – about humans, our culture, and our planet. He grew up here, he knew which struggles you would face from his own experiences. Or perhaps even more so, since you actually knew your people and your planet. But if anyone understood your powers and how to control them, it would have been him.”
“Lena, I…” Kara pinched the bridge of her nose. “I’m glad to have my adoptive family. I love them. I would never trade them for anything else. And thanks to them, I found my place in this world. They taught me everything I know and helped me adapt.”
It was quiet for a moment before Kara heard steps approaching her. She still refused to look up and continued to stare at her lap. Shortly after, she felt how Lena sat down next to her.
“Believe me when I say that I’m genuinely happy that you found this support system,” Lena said, and the softness in her voice was nothing she had ever heard from her before. Hesitantly, Kara glanced up. “Was it very difficult to fit in?”
Kara let out a strained laugh. “It was the most difficult thing in my life. Everything was new and I had those… those unbelievable powers. I couldn’t control them. I couldn’t control my strength and… my ears and eyes were pretty sensitive…” She grimaced at the memories. “I had trouble with school. I was probably the weirdest kid there.”
“Did your cousin visit you often?”
Kara adjusted her glasses. This was a topic she generally did not talk about. She did not like to think back to that time. Before Alex and she had become close. “Um, he visited me a few times. He was pretty busy. Being a superhero and all.”
Lena pursed her lips. She did not seem impressed at all.
“Look, Lena, it’s really not a big deal. He had more important things to do than worry about a teenager.” Kara shrugged. “It’s fine.”
“It’s not fine. He basically abandoned you!”
“It wasn’t…” Kara took a deep breath and closed her eyes. “Can we… can we talk about something else, please?”
Lena winced. “Kara, I am so sorry. I don’t know what came over me, I didn’t mean to intrude –”
“No, no, it’s fine. It’s just… this brings up more painful memories than I expected. Um… could we take a break and just… I don’t know… talk about anything else?” Kara bit her lip. “I’m sorry, I know I promised I would answer all of your questions, but…”
“No,” Lena said with such intensity that Kara winced. “No, don’t you dare. Kara, I’m the one who is sorry. It was not my intention to pressure you to talk about these things. I should have been more sensitive, but I… I just got so… angry. Children should not…”
Kara turned her head and looked at her. Lena was frowning deeply and staring into nothingness. She decided to go on a limb. “I’m guessing your childhood wasn’t all sunshine either?”
Lena snorted and shook her head before meeting her eyes again, a bleak smile on her lips. “No. No, it was not.”
Kara waited to see if Lena wanted to elaborate, but it became clear that this admission was all she had been willing to share. She nodded in understanding and saw how Lena relaxed slightly. She pointed at her hoodie. “So, you went to MIT?”
“What can I say, I’m a proud science nerd.”
Kara smiled mischievously. “You don’t say.”
“Oh please, if our conversation last night was anything to go by, you’re quite one yourself.”
“I’m more of a closeted one, actually.” At Lena’s incredulous look, Kara shrugged. “Not many people know.”
“Why not? How can you…? You were so passionate about it, I don’t…”
Seeing Lena this confused, caused Kara to laugh. She couldn’t help it. Of course, this huge science nerd was more shocked about her hiding her love for science than that she was an alien.
“Don’t sit there and laugh! This is… preposterous!”
“It’s simple, actually. I had to keep a low profile in order to fit in, here on Earth. I couldn’t have done it if I had let my love for science out.”
“Why ever not?”
“I…” Kara hesitated as she contemplated whether to say it or not. “I… come from a planet that was… scientifically very advanced.”
A glint appeared in Lena’s eyes and Kara suppressed the urge to groan. “How advanced exactly?”
She should have really not mentioned science. This would be a long night.
Hi again! I'm not quite sure if this chapter is up to my standards, but I hope you like it regardless ^^" I tried my best >.<
Kara didn’t know what time it was or how long they had talked. It seemed that time always flew by too fast when she was talking to Lena anyway. After they had let go of the uncomfortable topic of Kara’s arrival on Earth and her cousin’s actions or lack thereof, Lena had opened a good bottle of wine and they found themselves side by side on the outdoor couch beneath the night sky and surrounded by the lights of the city. They had settled into a discussion about the differences of their planets. It felt like a lifetime since she had been able to talk about any of this with another person, especially someone who seemed so eager to get to know everything.
“Well, I mean, not exactly, it just used to kind of feel like that, you know? Back when I first arrived on Earth. But you guys are doing great. It’s fascinating to watch how you come up with new technologies. The rapid evolution in this department in the last decade alone was so interesting to witness, I loved seeing the development!”
Lena pinched the bridge of her nose. She looked as if she was in pain. “How did you even survive? I don’t understand, this must have been similar to… arriving during the Middle Ages! We are still working on sending people to Mars! And you came here from a planet that was… dozens of light-years away. I cannot even fathom…”
“It wasn’t that bad! And like I said, you cannot really compare our planets.” Kara grinned as Lena groaned loudly. “And your planet is so beautiful too. I mean, look around you. You even have birds.”
“… birds? Kara, are you sure this wine does not affect you?”
“Oh, completely. Anyway, we didn’t have any birds. When I first saw them…” Kara smiled serenely as she remembered the moment. “They’re magnificent.”
Lena shook her head, but not without a small smile. “You literally just told me that our scientific advancements are like a history class for you.”
“That doesn’t mean anything. Look where our technology got us.” Kara shrugged and glanced down. “Somehow we still couldn’t stop our planet from destruction. Anyway, Earth technology and Kryptonian technology are different in various aspects. But that is not anything bad – you only need a little more time to get to the really cool stuff. Your holography looks very promising, for example. I’m sure soon you will have a breakthrough in using them for communications. Or augmented reality, it’s also coming along quite nicely. Sure, it’s still a bit rough and in the early stages with needing special devices like those ridiculous glasses, but I already heard rumors that people are trying to create AR contact lenses for the market. That’s a big step! Or robots! Yours already can do pretty impressive things, can’t they? Like, those little robot vacuums? They’re adorable. Man, I should get one… but they’re so expensive… I really miss our service robots, though. They were not a new technology by any means, but they were the best.”
Lena narrowed her eyes. “You’re purposefully not telling me anything that someone is not already working on in some capacity on this planet. Why?”
“I’m… I guess I’m being cautious. Or paranoid. Knowledge can be powerful and knowledge in the wrong hands could be disastrous. No, Lena, don’t look at me like that. I’m not saying that you would use this for anything bad. I literally trust you with my biggest secret here. I just… I don’t know, scientific advances and inventions could fall into the wrong hands and then we have a nuclear bomb 2.0 if you know what I mean.” Kara sighed. “I guess one can argue whether scientists should be responsible for their inventions and discoveries or not.”
Lena frowned. “A discovery is a discovery. You cannot blame Albert Einstein for nuclear weapons with his theoretical insight into the power of mass converted to energy. He could not have foreseen the power released by atoms. He never took part in the Manhattan Project and was very outspoken against atomic weapons.”
“’The unleashed power of the atom has changed everything save our modes of thinking and we thus drift toward unparalleled catastrophe.’” Kara locked eyes with Lena. “That is exactly what I was worried about. I don’t want to be responsible for any of my knowledge being used like this. I am the last daughter of Krypton, my legacy cannot be the destruction of another planet.”
“What if it could save lives?” Lena raised an eyebrow. “Einstein’s theory gave us the key to understand the most basic natural processes of the universe. So many incredible things resulted from it. What if your knowledge and intelligence could cure diseases that humankind has yet to find a cure for? What if it could save millions and millions of lives? Would you still be willing to keep it to yourself?”
Kara adjusted her glasses. She had not thought about that side yet. “I’m not that familiar with your diseases to be much of a help, though.”
“Well, that is what research is for, isn’t it?” Lena smirked. “And luckily for you, I am quite knowledgeable in that field.”
“I… I’ll have to think about it.” She took a sip of her wine and looked thoughtfully at the lights of the skyscrapers around them. Going back to science? Would that even be possible? “I don’t have any background that would explain my education here on Earth. When I went to university, I studied Marketing.”
Lena started to cough. When Kara snapped her head back around to check on her, she realized that Lena was choking on her wine.
“Are you okay?”
“I’m… fine,” she managed to get out. “Marketing?!”
“Yes!” Kara nodded enthusiastically. “I did this online quiz where you list all your skills and then it uses this kind of algorithm to calculate your ideal career and mine was marketing!”
Lena stared at her. “You have to be joking.”
“Of course not. I was a bit surprised myself, but then I figured it couldn’t be wrong, so I did it. And then I saw this job opening for an assistant for the CEO of this huge media conglomerate –”
“I need a real drink.” Lena set down her wine glass. “I need a scotch.”
“ – and I actually got it! It can be quite challenging at times, but I think I’m doing my job right. She hasn’t fired me yet, at least. I was told that the fluctuation rate of her assistants was quite high until I came along, but I don’t know whether that is actually true.”
“That is lovely.” Lena massaged her temples. Maybe the alcohol was giving her a headache? “You know that those… online tests aren’t very… reliable, right?”
“What do you mean? There was an algorithm designed to –”
Lena held her hand up. “Remember when I compared the Earth to the Middle Ages regarding Krypton? I’m sure the algorithms of your planet were… much more precise. Is that why you didn’t go into science? Because of an online test?”
“On Krypton we had…” Kara trailed off, unsure if she should continue. When she had mentioned it the last time, Alex had looked at her with an expression she had not wanted to see again. Alex had not understood. How could she have? Humans were different. She looked at Lena, uncertain. But Lena only nodded at her encouragingly. Kara pushed her glasses back up. Maybe she should just try. “On Krypton we had five primary guilds. The Military Guild, the Science Guild, the Labors Guild, the Artisans Guild, and the Religious Guild. They were interdependent on one another for our society to work. Children weren’t created simply out of love. They were created whenever there was a need for a specific position that needed to be filled. To ensure that, they were… I guess you could say they were genetically engineered to suit the purpose.”
Kara nodded. “Yes, in a kind of… artificial womb. You see, natural reproduction like here on Earth was kind of… frowned upon. To create the perfect child fit for the needs of society, you only needed the genetic material and the artificial womb would do the rest. There was no need to take any risks to create anything less than perfect. Later on, the child would then go on to become a member of the supposed guild and fill their role for the society.”
Kara waited for the judgment in Lena’s eyes. She waited for her to comment on how cold Kryptonians were. She had heard it all before from Alex when she struggled to understand in what kind of society Kara had grown up in. After living so many years on Earth, Kara could understand Alex’s point of view. She had come to appreciate the sappy love movies on television and the awkward dates to find someone you connected with. It made life a bit more fun, but the uncertainty of not knowing what your purpose was, had still been excruciating.
Looking at Lena, she realized that she seemed still deep in thought. She had yet to make any move to show that she was shocked by what she had just heard. Instead, to Kara’s utmost surprise, Lena started to nod slowly.
“It seems pretty efficient, I suppose. Which guild were you destined to join then?”
Kara stared at her. “You don’t think it’s weird?”
“Weird? As you said, you cannot compare our planets. I’m not going to judge them simply because we have different societies. That seems silly to me.” Lena waved off. “Now, which guild was it?”
She blinked a few times. She could not quite believe how accepting Lena was. “Um… I was a member of the Science Guild.”
“Science? I knew it! I know a fellow nerd when I see one.” Lena winked and Kara felt how her cheeks started to burn. “Did all children join the guild at that age?”
“I was actually the youngest member to join the Science Guild,” she said proudly, only to furrow her brow in confusion when Lena buried her face in her hands and groaned. “Lena? Are you sure you’re okay?”
“I’m fine, I’m fine… don’t mind me.” She stood up and took a deep breath. “I just… I just really need a scotch. Can I bring you anything else?”
Kara frowned in concern as she watched Lena disappear inside. She couldn’t quite decide whether it was the alcohol that made Lena lower her walls a little or whether she was actually gaining her trust. But it was heartwarming to see Lena being more open with her emotions, even if they were somewhat confusing at times. She was not going to question that.
As she sipped on her wine, she thought about what Lena had said before. She had always wanted to help people and watching Superman use his powers to fight the evil had been inspiring. She had been eager to join him and become a hero herself. After all, why should she just ignore her superpowers? It couldn’t be right to not use them to do something good in this world.
But Lena had raised an interesting question. Was she doing the same thing when she was not using her given talent and knowledge for something good? What if she could indeed save people this way like she had saved the plane?
Her stomach dropped as her thoughts drifted to Alex again. Would it be selfish to do it?
She was well aware that Alex did not have the easiest life growing up thanks to her arrival. Everything had changed completely the second she had been adopted by the Danvers. Before she had come along, Alex had been the star of the family. She was intelligent and had a love for science that was almost unmatched by any girls her age.
When Alex had decided to follow her passion and had gone to med school and later pursued genetic engineering, Kara knew that it was time for their paths to go into different directions. She had taken away Alex’s childhood and had forced her to share her parents’ attention and love. The least she could do, was choosing a different career path and stop the steady unwanted competition and comparison. This was Alex’s time to shine.
Going back to science would be like stabbing Alex in the back, after all this time. But was being a superhero truly better? One way or another, she was going to draw attention, something she had keenly avoided in the past.
Sighing, Kara looked up to the sky. Life without a set purpose was truly excruciating.
Hi everyone! Thank you for all the comments, they really motivated and inspired me. I hope you'll enjoy this chapter as well!
(See the end of the chapter for more notes.)
Kara was lying on her couch, staring up towards the ceiling without really seeing it. Ever since she had come back from her encounter with Lena, she could not stop wondering.
Had she done the right thing when she had chosen Marketing as a major? She was not even working in her field, instead, she had opted for the best job opportunity at that point. Being the personal assistant of Cat Grant seemed like an opportunity many would kill for. This was America. She could make a bunch of connections and work herself up. A few years in this position and, who knew, maybe she would be able to… yes, to what exactly? What did she want to do later on?
She frowned and bit her lip. She had meant the words she had said to Alex. She had not come to Earth to be an assistant. But had she come to Earth to be a hero? She had come here to raise her cousin. She had been sent here for their safety because the planet had a yellow sun. She had not been in the Military Guild. She was not a fighter per se. She had never learned how to fight properly. Her powers made up for everything she lacked in technique.
And science? Kara closed her eyes. She remembered how bored she had been in school. It had been her favorite subject on Krypton, but Earth was just… they were so far behind. Some scientific theories were just plain false. But no one knew any better – for now, at least.
It had been a rude awakening that Earth would never be truly her home. She had felt so out of touch. It had only become bearable once Alex and she had grown closer. She had learned to look at humans from a different perspective. She had learned to appreciate the differences, the individuality, the freedom. They were a different species, but over time she had found out that she could indeed learn from them. There was so much to discover.
But could they learn from her people too? Should she use the knowledge she had for something good? It would perhaps even be a challenge to get to know the technology on this planet more deeply. Or to consult with Lena on human anatomy and diseases. She loved a good challenge. And what if she was able to bring progress in the field of medicine? What if she could help saving countless lives who otherwise had no chance of survival?
She could not shake off these thoughts. Was this her best opportunity to help people? But if so, then what about being a superhero? Could she do both? Did she want to do both? She knew that alone the learning process and research took a long time and absolute dedication. Not to mention should they actually invent something. Clark’s job as a reporter was probably a lot more flexible and allowed him to handle his superhero duties easier than being a scientist would.
“Kara? Are you there?”
Brought back to the present, her eyes snapped to the door and she squinted as she looked through the wood. She already knew that it was Alex, but seeing her actually standing there – she didn’t know what to do. They hadn’t talked after their disagreement.
“Kara? I know you can see me. Please, we need to talk.” Alex held up a bag from Noonan’s. “I brought you some sticky buns?”
Kara glanced at the clock and raised her eyebrows in surprise. She had not realized that it was morning already. It was a good thing that today was Saturday.
Sighing, she steeled herself and opened the door. She knew they needed to talk. Things had become awkward between them. Usually, they had not spent a day without sending each other silly messages throughout the day. The last two days of silence were bothering her deeply. And looking at Alex sheepishly holding out that bag for her told her that she was feeling the same.
Kara motioned for Alex to come inside. “Morning. Would you like a coffee?”
“Oh, no, thanks, I – I brought you some.” Alex picked up a cup holder from the floor that Kara had overlooked. She handed her one of the two cups inside it. “Here you go. A pumpkin spice latte with extra foam, sprinkled with cinnamon.”
Her heart warmed at the gesture and she gratefully accepted both items. “Thank you. You didn’t have to –”
“No, I wanted to.”
They sat down on the couch. Kara looked happily inside the bag and breathed in the delicious smell. If there was something that could lift her mood considerably, it was sticky buns. In her opinion, they were one of the best inventions humankind had ever made. Along with potstickers, pizza, fried sugar pastries, and especially Eliza’s lasagna and chocolate pecan pie, of course. The last two were probably the best dishes in the whole universe, and she should know.
“Um, so…” Alex fidgeted with her fingers. “How are you?”
“I’m not the one who almost got killed.” Kara glanced down at her hands and Alex quickly stopped moving them. “Alex, are you okay?”
“I’m fine, I just…” Alex sighed and met her eyes. “I’m sorry, Kara. I realize I may have been too harsh on you.”
Kara raised an eyebrow. “You think so?”
“I’ve been… under a lot of pressure recently. I didn’t mean to lash out at you like that, especially not right after you saved my life and all those others. But Kara, you don’t… you don’t realize how dangerous and – and reckless this was.”
“Do you really think I thought of anything else but saving you? Your life was in danger, Alex. You could have died. If I hadn’t done what I did, you would be dead.” Kara’s voice cracked and she quickly looked away. “I can’t lose you. I refuse to lose you. I would do everything to save you. And I don’t regret it for one second.”
“You put yourself in danger, Kara. You can be glad that nobody managed to get a clear view of your face. Did you see the news? People are already speculating whether you’re connected to Superman. You’re not as experienced as he is. If anyone wants to get revenge on him, they will come for you.”
But who's fault was it that she had no experience in using her powers? Kara straightened her back and met Alex’s eyes again. “Then let them come. They don’t know who I am and they won’t find out. But if they do? It’s not like they can shoot me.”
“You’re not indestructible, Kara,” Alex said sharply and Kara furrowed her brow. “Just ask Lex Luthor. A psychopath who murdered at least 32 people and who would have been responsible for the death of millions more just because he wanted to harm Superman so badly that he turned the sun red. He kidnapped a photojournalist and tortured him just because he was the first person who managed to take a picture of Superman and he thought they might be close.”
Kara frowned and stared at her half-eaten sticky bun. A heavy weight settled in her stomach. She remembered all too well what had happened. “Lex Luthor is in prison. And he will never come out of it again.”
“He’s not alone. Kara, some humans, and… and even aliens would love to get their hands on you to get revenge. They would do anything to cause you harm. Maybe because of your cousin. Maybe just because you’re an alien.” Alex sighed. “Look, I’m just saying… it’s dangerous for you to be in the spotlight like this. It puts a huge target on your back if you continue on this path. Since you’ve become my sister, I’ve tried so hard to protect you, and I just… I can’t lose you either, Kara. I – I wouldn’t know what to do.”
Her voice broke off and Kara was startled to see tears in her eyes.
“Alex,” she whispered and gently put an arm around her sister’s shoulder. Alex rested her head against Kara’s. “You will never lose me, you hear me? And you don’t have to protect me. If anything, I’ll protect you.”
“You don’t know that. The world is a dangerous place. Even for someone like you.”
Kara snorted. “I figured that one out after I saw the popcorn maker.”
Alex let out a laugh. “I remember that. You were scared out of your mind.”
“Yeah. And you crawled under the table next to me. Showed me the melted butter and sprinkled the tiny, white crystals.” Kara smiled fondly as she remembered. “But I'm not a scared little girl anymore.”
“That might be true,” Alex shrugged, “but I will always be your big sister. And that doesn't just suddenly change. I will always look out for you and protect you. This situation… it makes me uneasy. I’m not sure I can protect you this time.”
“You always have looked out for me. Ever since the day my cousin dropped me off at your house.” Kara’s mood dampened slightly. Lena’s words were coming back to her mind. ‘He basically abandoned you!’ She shook her head. “Anyway, no one knows who I am, I think we’re still fine for now. All they can do is speculate. If Cat Grant can’t figure it out, nobody can.”
Alex rolled her eyes good-naturedly. “I don’t think I’ll ever understand how you manage to be her assistant. That must be a superpower of its own.”
“She’s not so bad,” Kara said and shrugged as Alex threw her an incredulous look. “She’s really not. She might be demanding, but she’s also incredibly talented and smart. I learn a lot from her.”
Alex snorted, but a fond smile appeared on her lips. “Only you, Kara.”
They sat in comfortable silence for a while, enjoying the coffee and sticky buns. However, Kara was struggling with herself. Lena’s view on her cousin had left her rattled and she still didn’t know what to think. She wanted to be offended on his behalf, she wanted to tell Lena that it was not like it might appear to her. Clark did not abandon her… did he? He had his Super duties, he couldn’t possibly have taken care of her. And the rare visits just showed how busy he was, didn’t they? But then why did it feel so horrible? Why did she always have that weird feeling when they met?
“You know, if you think any harder, you might set something on fire.” Alex bumped her shoulder. “Wanna talk about it?”
Kara played with the end of her sleeve. “Um… so, you know, how Clark dropped me off at your house and… like… rarely visited? That was… that was because he was busy, right? He wasn’t able to… to do more…”
Alex’s expression didn’t betray what she was thinking. She slowly set the coffee on the table and turned around to face her. “What makes you say that?”
“It’s just… something I thought about recently.” Kara searched her eyes. “I mean, he was Superman. He didn’t have time. It’s not like… like he abandoned me.”
Alex sighed and ran a hand through her hair. She looked as if she was fighting with herself. “Kara… I can’t answer for your cousin. I don’t know what he was thinking at that time. This is probably something you’ll have to ask him yourself.”
She swallowed dryly. She knew her sister like the back of her hand. “You think it was wrong of him, don’t you?”
“Please, Alex. I just want to know your opinion.”
Alex bit her lip. “Then please don’t get mad.”
Her sister let out a long breath before she reached out and intertwined their fingers. “Remember when you first arrived at our house? You were completely withdrawn. You were scared. Traumatized, really. And you were alone. You couldn’t even really speak English except for a few words here and there. He had brought you over just after he had found your pod in the desert. I can only imagine the shock you must have felt not only after seeing the destruction of your planet and being in that pod for so long but then realizing how many years had passed. That the grown up man in front of you was the baby cousin you were supposed to look after…”
Kara glanced down at their hands and nodded. It had been quite the shock, to put it mildly.
“I don’t know how much he told you beforehand and how much he explained, but it never sat right with me that after introductions and all were made, he just… got up and left. You were so overwhelmed by everything. The sounds drove you crazy, no matter how quiet they were. You were scared out of your mind that you could hurt anyone of us because you couldn’t control your strength. You freaked out over the most… well, normal things for us humans.” Alex smiled sadly at Kara. “And each night you had these horrifying nightmares. I was a teenager and stupid, but looking back… it must have been so difficult for you to adapt on Earth. And I guess, I just can’t help but wonder if your cousin could have made the transition easier for you.” Alex shrugged. “Maybe he wasn’t in the right state of mind to raise a teenager. Maybe he was overwhelmed. Maybe he did it to protect you. I don’t know what his reasons were, so you’ll have to ask him yourself. If you have any mixed feelings about this, you should talk about it with him. Don’t let it eat you alive. But for what it’s worth? In the end, I’m glad he brought you to us and we became sisters, although he definitely could have visited you more. I can’t imagine my life without you nor do I ever want to.”
Kara smiled shakily and blinked as her eyes started to fill with tears. She pulled Alex into a hug which her sister gladly returned. Their start had been a rocky one, but over time a bond had formed, a sisterhood, that only grew stronger with time. “Me neither. I love you.”
“Love you too.”
Maybe she should follow Alex's advice and talk to her cousin about this. She remembered how badly she wanted to join him after she arrived on Earth. She had felt out of place, like she didn't belong. She wanted to be with someone who was like her. She wanted to belong.
She had never understood why she had not been allowed to stay with him. Or why he did not want her to. He had been the only family member she had left. They only had each other. But despite all of this, they never seemed to truly connect with one another. She was closer to Alex than him. Even though he was supposed to be the only one who should understand where she was coming from.
But Kal-El had become Clark. He did not remember Krypton. He could not even speak Kryptonese without an accent and sometimes struggled to find words. He did not remember their traditions, their values…
Her sister soothingly rubbed her back as if she knew what she was thinking about. Kara buried her head in her shoulder and closed her eyes. She clearly had to talk to Clark about it. Alex was right. She could not keep bottling it up. Maybe it would help to talk to Clark about all of this.
Okay, sooo... I'm curious. Show of hands: Who thinks Kara should go into science completely and not become Supergirl? Who thinks Kara should go into science and be Supergirl at the same time?
I think a question on whether Kara should do something with science is rather pointless since I saw the request a lot in the comments, but... anyone here who wants Kara to keep being an assistant for Cat Grant?
Anyway, just FYI... I may or may not upload a chapter in honor of the start of the new season on 31 March. xD My usual upload schedule is every Saturday now, just so you know. I'll try my best to keep that up.
See you next time!
Hi everyone! Thanks for all the comments about your preferences! Some of you had some serious plot ideas, ever considered starting a fic? ;) Anyway, to honor- so to speak - the start of the next season, here's a chapter in the middle of the week ^^ Please enjoy!
“I know many of you are used to being second best, but that’s new to me.” Ms. Grant walked around her desk and looked each reporter in front of her in the eye. Kara tapped her pen against her notepad and kept her eyes to the ground. Ms. Grant was in a mood today. “The most incredible event in the history of National City and yet we have no exclusive of any kind.”
The group of reporters and investigators in front of her shifted nervously.
“We don’t have much to go on. The image we’re working off is low res.”
“I guess she’s around 5’9”. It’s tough to gauge with her height measured up against an airplane.”
Kara had to stop herself from grimacing. She was used to investigations like this one, but to have it directed at her was disconcerting. At least, this confirmed that nobody knew her real identity… except for Lena.
“Hair color brown… or black.”
Kara winced when Ms. Grant looked less than impressed.
“Brown or black,” Ms. Grant repeated, deadpanned. “It has been five days since our hero made her appearance and all you can tell me is an approximate height and that her hair is brown or black.”
“Ms. Grant, we did everything we could, but the resolution of the photo –”
“– is low. I heard you the first time, Steven.”
“It’s Stephan,” he mumbled, but Ms. Grant didn’t seem to notice.
“Are you telling me that this one photo is the only evidence we have? And that during a time in which every imbecile owns a smartphone?” Ms. Grant looked around and many tried to avoid making direct eye contact with her. “No security camera footage? Nothing?”
“We… we looked for those, but she was either too fast or it was too dark or too far away. Our sources in the police department don’t seem to know anything either. They’re also tapping in the dark.”
Ms. Grant closed her eyes and shook her head. “Above average height and brown or black hair. Fantastic. James, do you think there’s a connection between this hero and…?”
“To my friend in blue?”
Kara glanced at the newest addition of CatCo, James ‘Jimmy’ Olsen. He had become famous for taking the very first picture of Superman. When she had first met him a couple of days ago, she had been beside herself. It was rumored that he and Superman were best friends. She had almost expected him to figure out who she was immediately upon seeing her. She still didn’t know if Clark had mentioned her to him or whether he actually knew Superman’s real identity in the first place. Unfortunately, the latter assumption had led to his capture and torture by Lex Luthor which had also been widely covered on the news.
“I don’t know.” He shrugged. “I mean, not that he mentioned. But if she’s anything like him, she’s a hero. Saving people is what they’re born to do. She’ll be back.”
However, it was a bit of a weird coincidence that he transferred from the Daily Planet to CatCo. Maybe Clark had told him and – no. No, of course not. She was being ridiculous. James had started to work at CatCo before she had even thought about revealing her powers. There was no way he knew who she was. Plus, he seemed to know Ms. Grant quite well. It made sense, Ms. Grant had worked at the Daily Planet before starting CatCo. She could have reached out to him. Or he wanted to get out of the city after everything he had been through. Or something.
Ms. Grant hummed. “She better be. It’s been days and no one has seen a sign of her. James, try to reach Superman for a comment. This girl could be the answer. She is exactly what I need to save the Tribune. Besides fatty food, there is nothing people love more than a hero. We will blow her up!” Kara shifted uncomfortably and pushed up her glasses. “We will feature her online and in the paper, but we need images, we need video, we need an interview, and exclusive content. And for that, we need to know that she’ll be back. So, go! Find her! Get me that girl! And Keira? Go get me a lettuce wrap!”
Kara gulped as they were dismissed and filed out of the room. Images? Video? An interview? What was she going to do? She wanted to save the Tribune, but if Ms. Grant recognized her, there would be two people who knew her secret, outside of her family. This couldn’t become any worse. Especially since one of them would be the Cat Grant. How did Clark even manage to fool anyone?
And how would she? If she became a superhero, of course. She was still a bit unsure. She really wanted to run it by Lena first. She already knew what Alex’s thoughts on this topic were, but Lena could give her some genuine input. She trusted the other woman. And she especially appreciated her intelligence.
But hadn’t she always wanted to help people? This could be the time. She was already in the open. People knew she existed. They would start asking questions if she didn’t show up anymore. Wouldn’t they feel like she let them down? Plus, she could finally follow her dream and become a superhero like her cousin. She could fly around, stop people from getting hurt, arrest the bad guys, finally use her powers for good…
Of course, she probably had to train before taking on some of the harder challenges. She was not conceited, she knew her inexperience could result in some serious damage. Maybe she could even analyze her cousin and learn from his mistakes.
She remembered reading an article a while ago about how much property damage was caused by Superman’s actions. Special insurances for unexpected superpower damage had been the result. However, not everyone could afford them, and a lot of people started to need financial aid to cover the costs or were in danger of losing their homes. This again had led to the establishment of several foundations that stepped in and covered the costs for people in need. Luthor Corp had been one of the main contributors in that field. Or still was. She didn’t know exactly what was going to happen to the company after Lex Luthor’s conviction.
If she could minimize the risk of that happening to National City – if only to a small extent – she might be able to stop the slowly but steadily growing anti-alien movement. Which was also something she would not be able to do if she didn’t become a superhero but instead went into science. As an out and proud alien she could change people’s hearts and minds, advocate for alien’s rights. She could make them see that aliens weren’t necessarily bad. That probably most aliens just wanted another home after their own tragic past. Maybe one day no alien had to live in hiding anymore.
Kara frowned. But if she wanted to go into science eventually, she would have to get some kind of educational degree that could lessen the suspicion of her knowledge first anyway. Or she would have to keep her identity hidden for all eternity. And was that really something that she wanted? Another secret to keep? Was it so bad that she wanted to show what she was able to do? Just for once?
Maybe it was selfish, but years of not showing her full potential had awoken a hunger in her to prove herself – not only as a superhero but also as a Kryptonian scientist. She wanted to make her people proud. Without Lena and their discussions about science and technology, she probably would have tried to ignore this urge and kept it behind lock and key, but… talking about her past and having interesting conversations about the newest developments had left her wanting more.
She wanted to get started. She wanted to get familiar with Earth’s technology and its downsides. And she actually needed to. If Lena’s reaction to her absolute faith in the algorithm of that online quiz had been any indication, she needed to know which technology she could trust. She wanted to try to help people with their illnesses. But most of all, she wanted to find a way to stop humanity from destroying this beautiful planet. The history could not repeat itself in her new home. Humans could not quite grasp the fact that they could actually lose their planet, but Kara had lived through it. She had seen the destruction of her planet with her own eyes. Something had to be done.
But was it fair? Disrupting the natural progress of the world? What if science and technology developed faster than humankind was ready? What if it ended in a catastrophe? Would it perhaps be better to stand at the sideline and maybe give Lena some pointers for her work?
When had her life become so complicated?
A deep voice next to her brought her out her thoughts.
“It’s funny. That was the first thing he did,” James said to her as he walked past her desk. Kara looked at him in confusion. Who? “Save a plane, I mean.”
Right. Superman. With a raised eyebrow, she watched him go back to his office. That was a peculiar assessment. Maybe she should ask Clark just how much exactly James Olsen knew about him and perhaps her. But her cousin would have told her, wouldn’t he? He had to. She had the right to know if someone around her knew her secret.
Kara groaned. There were way too many questions and she had no answer for any of them.
“Kara, are you okay? You seem a bit off. You’ve been standing there for two minutes.” Winn glanced around and lowered his voice. “Is it Ms. Grant? Is there still no news about the flying girl?”
“Hm? Oh. Oh no, yes, I’m fine. I guess I… didn’t sleep well. I’m a little out of it. Ms. Grant is about to lose it. No one has any news.” She adjusted her glasses and glanced down at her notepad. “Um, Winn? Do you think the… the flying girl will come back? It has been a couple of days…”
“Oh, I’m certain she will, but she better has a real costume by then.” He scoffed and rolled his eyes. “I mean, what was she even wearing? She looked as if she had been not prepared at all. That is highly unprofessional.”
“Maybe she wasn’t,” Kara mumbled, but Winn waved her off.
“Superheroes are always prepared for everything. Just look at Superman. To catch him off guard, you’d have to be some sort of evil super genius. Like Lex Luthor.”
“Right.” Kara sighed. “I guess not everyone can be Superman.”
Winn pointed with his pen at her. “True. But one can always improve themselves. I can only guess that this lady might lack the experience Superman has because we never heard of her before. Maybe she only just arrived on Earth. What I don’t understand, though, is that there’s no sign of her as of yet. It can’t take that long to create a suit, right? But nobody reported anything, not even something like rescuing a cat from a tree or – or helping with car accidents, I don’t know.”
Kara furrowed her brow. Right. A costume. If she wanted to become a superhero, she needed one. Maybe Lena had some ideas for that as well. Everything that came into her mind was basically a copy of Superman’s. But that would give away her identity immediately, wouldn’t it? At least everyone would assume she and Superman were related. And Alex’s warning was still on her mind. Maybe she should be more subtle about it. And what materials could be used? They had to be fire-resistant, bullet-proof… there was no way she was going to walk around in something that could leave her naked or with holes when she was helping people. She could only imagine those headlines.
“Anyway,” Winn continued, “if she doesn’t come back, I can already tell what Ms. Grant will do. She will take a look at that plane and try to find out why the flying lady saved that but nothing else. There would have to be a reason for it. And that could eventually lead to her.”
Kara tried her best to not show how alarmed she was by what he had just said. She cleared her throat and tried to act as casual as possible. “Um, that… that plane? Why would there be anything special about a plane? There are, like, hundreds of them each day… I mean, the only special thing about that plane was that it came crashing down and you can’t really… count that.”
“I’m just saying, I would look it up just in case.”
“Right, um… I really need to run. Ms. Grant is waiting for her lunch. Would you like something too?”
“No, thanks, I’m good. See you later.”
Kara almost ran to the elevators and pressed the button multiple times. This was not good. She could see Ms. Grant taking that route. She would not leave a stone unturned if she sensed a good story that could also be used to save the Tribune and give CatCo more profit.
As she stepped inside the elevator, she closed her eyes and forced herself to calm down. Then she took out her phone and started typing.
‘Hi Lena, I hope your day is going great. Would you like to meet up tonight? I need your help with something…’
She did not expect an immediate response, but to her surprise only a few seconds later, her phone vibrated.
‘Of course. 8 pm, usual spot? I’ll bring the wine, you the food? – L’
Kara smiled. Food? She was all for food! ‘Any preferences regarding the food?’
‘Nothing too fatty. Maybe Chinese? – L’
She scoffed and shook her head in dismay. Nothing too fatty? Everyone knew that the best food items were greasy and had a ridiculous amount of calories. And it wasn’t like Lena was on a diet because hello? As if she needed one. That thought alone was ridiculous. Kara clearly had to show Lena what she was missing if she was one of those health food fanatics. Alone the thought made her shudder. If that was the case, she simply had to convince her to come to the dark side.
Determined, Kara nodded and started typing. She would make sure that Lena was eating well. ‘Chinese it is! See you later! x’
Her eyes widened a second after she sent the text. Oh no. Had the ‘x’ been too much? Was it weird? Would Lena freak out? She didn’t know what had come over her… but she sometimes used it in other messages too, so it wasn’t exactly meant to be flirtatious.
But Lena didn’t know that.
“Crap!” Kara groaned and buried her head in her hands. This was a disaster! Lena would –
Her phone vibrated again.
‘It’s a date. ;) – L’
Kara’s phone fell out of her hands and landed with a loud thud on the floor. “IT’S A WHAT?!”
Hello everyone! Thank you again for all the comments and kudos! I hope you will have a lovely holiday despite the current situation. Please enjoy this chapter too!
“And again, right on time.” Lena nodded at her, a hint of a smile on her lips. She opened the bottle of wine and poured a small amount into the wine glasses on the table. “A woman after my own heart.”
“Punctuality is a homely, but solid virtue, I was told.” Kara smiled, trying to hide her nerves.
Her mind was still on Lena’s last text message. She had even tried to ask Alex what it could mean, hypothetically speaking. Alex had not seemed to buy it but had let it go for now. She had found out that Lena might have been simply joking around. She didn’t even know if Lena liked women that way. Humans were confusing. It had taken her ages to at least try to understand all the different types of sexuality and sort through the prejudices. She was still lost with half of the terms, but she tried her best. Humans really knew how to complicate the most simple things.
“That it is. How was your day? You seem a little… stressed.” Lena motioned her to sit down. “Of course, with the media circus, it is quite understandable. You were lucky that no one was able to take a better picture of you.”
“I know,” she sighed and set the bag with the Chinese food on the table. Her nerves settled down. Lena seemed like she normally did. Polite and nice. “That was actually one of the things I wanted to talk to you about.”
Kara waved off. “We can talk later about that. First, we need to eat! I brought a little of everything because I didn’t know what you prefer.”
“I can… see that,” Lena said, glancing into the huge bag. “Kara, we will never be able to finish that!”
“You’d be surprised.” Kara smiled abashed and pushed her glasses back up. “My metabolism is just as super as any of my powers.”
“Of course it is.” Lena rolled her eyes good-naturedly. “How much was it? We can split it in half.”
“What? No. Absolutely not. I will eat most of this anyway, so this is on me.” Kara took one of the boxes and sniffed. Potstickers. Exactly what she needed right now. It had been torture not to eat even one of them on the way here. She had tried to fly extra fast just because of that. She stuffed one into her mouth and closed her eyes, moaning in delight. “Gosh, these are the best. I should go there more often.”
Lena had instead chosen to go for the spring rolls first. Surprised, her eyes widened. “These are delicious. Where did you get it from?”
Kara stopped mid-bite. Well… “Um, from a Chinese restaurant?”
“Obviously,” Lena scoffed, smirking. “But is it one in National City? I might just have to move there if they serve a quality like this.”
“Uh… no, not – not exactly.”
“Oh, you made a stop along the way? Which city was it? It can’t be Metropolis.”
“Shanghai,” Kara muttered quickly before stuffing another potsticker into her mouth.
The smirk was still on Lena’s lips, but her expression slowly turned into one of confusion. “Excuse me, could you please repeat that? I must have misheard you, I could have sworn you just said…”
Munching on her potsticker, Kara met Lena’s eyes and shrugged.
“You are joking.”
Kara tilted her head. Who would joke about food? That was not a laughing matter.
“Kara, you are not telling me that you flew to Shanghai, China, just to buy this food.”
Was there another Shanghai? But alright, then she would not tell her. Kara eyed the box and picked another potsticker. It was a good thing she had asked for an extra-large portion. Or rather two of those. You could never have too many potstickers.
With a full mouth, she looked back up and met Lena’s eyes again. “Hm?”
Lena tried to say something, but it seemed as if her words were stuck in her throat. Kara had never seen Lena like that. The other woman had always been so sure of herself. She could understand that good food could render someone speechless, but something told her that this wasn’t about the food. Had she overstepped a line or…?
Kara swallowed and set down her box of potstickers. Then she sighed and adjusted her glasses. “Look, Lena… I’m sorry if I did something wrong, but I just figured… you wanted to eat Chinese and where would I get the best Chinese food if not in China?”
Lena blinked a few times. “You flew to China…”
“You flew to China… because I said I wanted Chinese…”
Kara nodded slowly and, without taking her eyes off Lena, reached for another potsticker. Was she missing something?
“You flew all the way… you crossed the Pacific Ocean… just because of… me?”
“Yeah, I mean… I could have gone the other way too, but this one was shorter. Lena, are you okay?”
Lena was silent for a few moments. Kara couldn’t place the look that she was giving her. “You didn’t have to do this.”
“I know.” Kara shrugged. “But I wanted to. You were so nice to me despite everything. I figured the least I could do is treat you to some really good Chinese food. So I looked up a restaurant and went there. It didn’t take me long. I only have to wait until I’m over the ocean and then I can speed up. You know, sound barrier and all. That only leads to questions if I break it. And I think it’s kind of illegal in the United States. Anyway, it’s not a big deal.”
Lena shook her head. “It… it is for me. Thank you, Kara.”
“Well, you’re very welcome.” Kara grinned and bumped softly Lena’s shoulder. “I’m just glad that the food is still warm. I could have heated it up, but… sometimes I miscalculate. Once I set the turkey on fire on Thanksgiving. Alex, my sister, never lets me live this down.”
Kara pointed at her eyes. “I had to get used to it first. It’s a bit tricky. I mean, there’s a vast difference between one hundred degrees and five thousand if you catch my drift.”
“Dear goodness,” Lena muttered.
“Exactly. When I first arrived here, I wasn’t able to control it at all. When I felt a strong emotion, like anger, it would…” Kara made a vague hand gesture. “I could have seriously hurt someone… killed someone and I am so grateful that it never happened. Jeremiah, my adoptive father, made me these glasses to help me control my visual powers. Let me tell you, even if the heat vision had not been a problem, the X-ray one definitely was.” Kara shuddered. “The amount of times I couldn’t control it and just saw through… everything. It was not nice.”
“I can only imagine.” Lena took a closer look at her glasses. “What are they made of? Lead and…?”
Kara frowned. “How do you know about the lead?”
“X-rays cannot pass through lead. But it doesn’t explain the suppression of your heat vision.” Lena frowned. “There has to be another component. I just cannot think of any that could have this kind of result.”
“Right, of course, you would know that,” Kara mumbled. “But I’m afraid I can’t offer you any information on that because I don’t have it myself.”
“Do you only have this one pair of glasses?”
She raised her eyebrows. “I am not letting you melt my glasses.”
“I wouldn’t have melted them,” Lena muttered, averting her eyes.
Kara smiled warmly. Lena was absolutely adorable when she was in her research mode. And now that little pout after being denied an experiment? Who would have thought? This badass, hot science genius… Kara loved discovering all the different sides of her. Each new one made her heart beat a little faster.
Lena cleared her throat. “Anyway, what did you need my help for?”
Kara snapped out of her thoughts. “Oh, that… right. Um, I think I need to make a public appearance soon. But I don’t want to give up my identity. You know what I mean?”
“Why do you need to?”
“Long story short; my boss is like a bloodhound and I’m afraid she might find the connection between the plane, Alex, and me. And I know, what you want to say,” Kara said quickly as Lena opened her mouth, “but you don’t know her. She not only has the intelligence to pull this off, but she also has the instincts. Trust me when I say it’s highly possible that she could find out.”
Lena hummed thoughtfully. “What kind of appearance did you have in mind? A press conference?”
“Oh God, no,” Kara laughed. Alone that thought filled her with dread. One simple question could sent her rambling and giving away information she did not want to share. That was also why she was so afraid of that interview. “No, I thought more like… doing something good in the city. You know? Just helping people, showing them that I’m there.”
“I guess so.”
“You would need some way to disguise yourself. I see what you mean.” Lena sipped on her wine as she looked into the distance. “The suit should be of a material that is fire-resistant and won’t leave a mark when bullets hit it. And you definitely have to hide your face.”
“I could just take off my glasses? That could work. You know, take them off, let my hair loose… act a bit more confident.”
Lena turned to stare at her.
“It does work for my cousin, I’ll have you know,” she defended herself when Lena didn’t say anything. “People usually never expect that the clumsy guy or girl next door could be a superhero. Hiding in plain sight.”
“Do you want to be clumsy? Because I can come up with a way that allows you to not be afraid to be immediately recognized once your glasses fall off. Honestly, Kara, if this is how Superman hides his other identity, then it’s just a wonder no one has found out who he is yet.”
“You’d be surprised,” she muttered. “But yeah, I guess you’re right. Do you have any ideas? Also, I’m not sure if the suit should be similar to his.”
Lena bit her lip and furrowed her brow. “I can probably come up with a device that could either hide your face or change certain features. People always feel safer when they can see your face and look you in the eye, it’s basic psychology. And it would even further convince everyone that you’re not the superhero when you look different. But the suit should definitely not look similar to his own. Not only because it will reveal part of your identity as Superman’s team member, but with the coat of arms on your chest, everyone would know that you two share a closer bond.”
Kara’s hand stopped just before taking another potsticker as her brain caught up with what Lena had said. Slowly, she looked at her. “The… coat of arms? How did you know? People usually think it stands for Super.”
“I believe Superman mentioned it once. My… my brother was fascinated by him.”
Was she only imagining it or was Lena actively trying to avoid making eye contact with her? Kara shook her head. It was probably nothing. Lena just didn’t like to talk about her family. She knew that already. “Oh, I didn’t know that.”
“Yes, well.” Lena squared her shoulders. “Anyway, you could of course wear the symbol later on, but I just don’t think it would be wise to do so now. Furthermore, it could help you make a name for yourself and not be immediately compared to Superman and stand in his constant shadow. I know he’s your family, but I also know how that feels. It’s not fun, trust me. As a woman, you’re already fighting a battle of your own as it is.”
Kara thought back to Winn’s comments on Superman and nodded mutely.
“It would probably be best if you did something with your hair too,” Lena mumbled, glancing at it.
Kara’s eyes lit up. “I could get bangs!”
“What?” Lena stared at her as if she was insane. “Goodness, no, absolutely not!”
“Why not? I always wanted to try out bangs. Don’t you think I would look cute with them?” Kara pouted and gave her best puppy eyes.
“That’s not – no, I didn’t – I mean, I…” Lena took a deep breath and closed her eyes. “As I was saying… there’s an image of you going around the world that is blurry but clearly shows you without any bangs. Do you really think this superhero and your civilian identity as Kara getting bangs at the same time would be wise?”
She deflated and grabbed the next box of potstickers. At least seeing Lena so flustered was worth it. She could survive without bangs. A flustered Lena was cute. “I guess not.”
“You could, however, change your hair color,” Lena mused. “People would never expect it and one can look quite different with a new color… perhaps brown? Dark brown. I think it would suit you too.”
“Wait, I can’t get bangs but I can dye my hair?” Kara scrunched up her face. “That seems more obvious to me than just bangs.”
“Of course you’re not dyeing your hair.”
“So, a wig? Like, what’s her name, Hannah Montana?”
“Hannah Montana - best of both worlds? You get the best of both worlds, chill it out, take it slow, then you rock out the show! Normal student by day, superstar by night?” At Lena’s confused look, Kara groaned. “It was a TV show. She hid her identity with a wig... nevermind.”
Lena’s lips twitched. “You watched that?”
“I’ll have you know that I was studying human culture and behavior,” she grumbled. She crossed her arms and glared at Lena who seemed to be holding a laugh back with all her might. “Just wait until I discover your dirty little secrets.”
Lena looked amused. “Who says you will?”
“Oh, I have my ways.”
“I have no doubts about that.”
Lena’s eyes were sparkling and Kara couldn’t help but get lost in them. She loved looking into her eyes. Especially when they were sparkling like now. She loved how they lit up whenever she was explaining something. She could still not quite tell which color they were. It seemed to be between blue and green, although one eye seemed brighter than the other. But the depth in them was the most fascinating attribute. She could tell that these eyes were holding many secrets. And she kind of wanted to discover every single one. Rao, was that creepy?
Lena cleared her throat and broke their eye contact. Kara only now realized that she was grinning like an idiot and quickly wiped the smile off her face. She glanced down at her lap and felt how her cheeks started to burn. She didn’t know how long she had stared at Lena without saying anything and hoped that she wasn’t weirded out. Although, Lena hadn’t said anything either, so it couldn’t have been that bad. Right?
“Anyway, um… no, not a wig. That would be ridiculous. What if you lost the wig during a flight? Or imagine if you had to wear it as a civilian constantly. It’s impossible. But I think I could come up with something else.”
As Kara looked back up, her eyebrows rose slightly. Was it just her or was Lena blushing slightly too? The red tint on her cheeks had not been there mere moments ago. But it was probably due to the wine. Although, it would have been nice to know that she wasn’t the only one embarrassed.
“You think so?”
“I’m pretty confident in my skills. It will take a bit of time, but other than that…”
“That’s amazing. You are amazing. I’m pretty sure there’s no technology like this around, so you would have to come up with all of this stuff by yourself, that’s just…” Kara shook her head, immensely impressed. “No wonder you said you’re famous in this city. You’re working in that field, right?”
Lena rubbed one of her fingers, still refusing to meet her eyes. “I do. Anyway, I take it that you lack experience since I never heard of any heroic acts before this one?”
“I did help with an arrest once when I was still a teen.” Kara grimaced and quickly shook off the memory. “But yeah, I don’t really know… I wasn’t allowed to use my powers. Or learn how to fight, for obvious reasons.”
Lena nodded. “So you would have to slowly build up your ability until you’re ready for bigger ventures. That works. If I may suggest something…?”
“You should probably deepen your knowledge on physics or constantly use it when you’re out there. Familiarize yourself with Earth's technologies, like machines, planes, trains, ships, nuclear plants, and all of that. It would be crucial to understand how most of them work to calculate your best response. Take that plane, for example.” Lena took out her phone and looked for something. A few seconds later, Kara saw a photo of the plane. “If you had known the approximate data of this plane and had calculated the speed with the crash angle, along with the weight and force, you could have found the best position to hold and turn it. This would have resulted in sparing the bridge from damage. Frankly, if you allow me to be honest, everyone was lucky that the plane’s wing did not make contact with any car or, even worse, the wires or the bridge pillar. Otherwise, that entire bridge would have collapsed, taking hundreds of people inside their cars with it into the ocean.”
Kara stared in horror at the picture as Lena pointed at certain areas. After she asked for the specifics, Lena provided her with the data she had not known and Kara calculated it fast in her head.
“Rao,” she whispered, coming to the same conclusion as Lena. She knew it had been a close call when she suddenly saw the pillars of the bridge in front of her, but… she needed to be more careful. This time she got lucky and only a part of the bridge had been damaged. But what would happen next time? She could not allow herself to act like this if she wanted to become a hero. “This would have been bad…”
“Exactly. I could lend you some of my books if you like? I still have the material from MIT as well. I wanted to ask if you would like to read them anyway so you can check and see for yourself whether you want a career in science.”
“Of course.” Lena gave her a small smile. “And Kara, I know you said you don’t have any educational background here on Earth for a career in science, but that is all still possible to achieve. You can even study part-time or online. I’m sure the subjects will be easy for you.”
“But… my job, plus becoming a hero, and then also studying on top of that? Isn’t it too much? I can’t spread myself too thin. I need to excel.”
“The choice is alone yours to make. But Kara, remember this: the world might need a hero, but it needs scientists too to survive. Just think about it, okay? You don’t have to rush. Becoming a hero is a big responsibility, but you also have to make sure that your life as Kara is not left behind. Can you honestly tell me that being an assistant fills you with joy? That this is the job you always imagined to have? If not, well… I think I would love to work with you in the future.”
Kara furrowed her brow. She had some decisions to make.
Heyo! I hope everything is well! Thanks for all the comments again! I'm afraid I can only answer the ones from last week tomorrow because I'm kinda tired and it's already past midnight here >.< I need my sleep.
Anyway, a quick note: I changed a small part of Kara's backstory on Earth, only a little bit, as you can see in this chapter. It's seriously tiny, but it will have a huge effect later on. ^^ I wonder if you know what I mean...
I hope you like this chapter! Enjoy!
Kara took another bite of her sticky bun and scanned the page of the book in front of her. After a few seconds, she turned to the next and repeated the process. She had to hand it to Lena, it was a good read. While Civil and Environmental Engineering was not quite her forte, she realized that understanding how exactly buildings were structured and built would help her in the future to avoid more damage. Should a bridge or skyscraper be on the verge of collapse, she would know exactly where its weaknesses were and what to do to stop it from happening or at least to minimize the damage.
“Morning, Alex,” she mumbled back, a bit distracted. Without looking up, she reached for her latte and took a sip before flipping to the next page. “What brings you here?”
“Can’t I have breakfast with my favorite sister?”
“Isn’t answering questions with a question considered rude?” Kara turned to the page. The different materials and their various uses to remain the stability of a building, including special structures for earthquake areas, were truly fascinating. On Krypton they had used other materials than here on Earth. She could even find a few similarities here and there. “Isn’t Noonan’s farther away from your lab?”
“Only a little. I wanted to check on you. You sounded a bit flustered yesterday.”
But when she compared wood to steel, she furrowed her brow. She looked over the numbers again. Why did they use steel for so many things when its heaviness was a disadvantage in itself? It might be strong, but it was not stronger than wood. This was simply false. Of course, using the wood in its natural state would be ridiculous, but when pressed together… she needed to check out the wood cells and molecular structures. She had an inkling that they didn’t use wood in its most efficient form.
“Kara? What are you doing?”
“Hm?” She reluctantly looked up. Alex was glancing from her to the book and then to her bun. “Oh, I’m just doing a bit of light reading.”
“You’re reading,” Alex repeated. “At Noonan’s. While you’re eating.”
“I can do multitasking, Alex.”
“I’m sorry, it just… doesn’t seem like you, that’s all. Everything okay?”
“Yeah, everything is fine.” Kara looked back to her book and pushed up her glasses. “Do you think the density of wood could be increased by a mixture of a chemical pre-treatment and pressure, equaling or higher than steel?”
“I… what?” Alex blinked. “What are you reading there anyway?”
Kara sighed. “Nothing.”
She should ask Lena about this. It probably had to be treated with chemicals first to change the molecular structure. After all, there had to be a reason why somehow no one was using wood to build certain elements. Lena was right, she really needed to understand this planet’s elements better.
Kara was just about to flip to the next page when Alex suddenly placed her hand on the book in front of her. Pouting, she looked up again. She only had a couple of minutes left until she had to leave for work and she really wanted to finish the chapter.
“What are you doing?” Alex asked again.
Kara tilted her head. Hadn’t she answered the question already? And wasn’t it obvious anyway? “What do you mean? I’m reading a book.”
“That,” Alex nodded towards the book, “is not reading. You’re flipping through the book.”
Kara frowned. “You know that I’m a fast reader.”
“You know what I mean,” Alex muttered, glancing around to make sure that no one was listening to their conversation. “You know what’s the average reading speed for us. We practiced, remember?”
Oh, yes, she remembered all too vividly. Kara’s shoulders dropped. “I don’t want to read so slowly anymore. And I don’t have enough time right now to do that. It’s not like I’m using my powers. This is just how my brain works.”
“Kara, you’re going to draw attention. Nobody can read this fast. You’re reading a page in less than five seconds.”
“Actually, that’s not true. While it’s not common, some people can read incredibly fast. Just because it doesn’t fit the norm doesn’t mean it’s impossible.”
Alex sighed. “You know why you can’t do that in public. Especially now with the plane… you need to be careful, Kara. We talked about this. Everyone is looking for you. There’s a huge target on your back. Until things blow over, you need to act as normally as possible –”
“You know this won’t just blow over.” Kara crossed her arms. She was mindful to keep her voice as quiet as Alex's, but she was annoyed. “And honestly? I don’t even know if I want it to go away, Alex. I always wanted to be like him and to give something back. Why shouldn’t I go out there and finally do it? Nobody knows that it’s me. Maybe if I show up in public with a disguise or something, they’ll be satisfied. Nobody will expect it to be me.”
“I thought you wanted to lay low for the time being?” Alex furrowed her brow. “What happened in the last few days that you changed your mind?”
“Cat Grant,” Kara groaned. “Winn said something the other day. She won’t stop snooping around until she finds something. She could check the passenger list of the flight and it would eventually lead to me. I’m not sure if my identity will remain a secret if she tries to find things out about my childhood.”
Alex cursed under her breath. “That’s… but Kara, that’s exactly why you need to be even more careful in public now!” She tapped the book. “With things like this!”
“I can understand that certain things should remain hidden, but reading speed? Come on, Alex. Nobody will think I’m… not from here just because I read a little faster than others.”
“I’m just looking out for you, okay? Mom and Dad said –”
“I know what they said.” Kara buried her head in her hands, suddenly feeling incredibly tired. “You don’t need to remind me.”
“It’s just… people would start asking questions when you read this fast from one day to the other,” Alex reasoned. The tone in her voice sounded apologetic. “Everyone just wants to keep you safe. I know this sucks –”
“Do you?” Kara mumbled and rubbed her eyes behind her glasses.
“– but you need to appear as normal as possible. You can read like that at home, okay? Just not in here surrounded by strangers. Not when everyone is looking for someone special. Sudden improvements like this bring unwanted attention and questions.”
Kara lowered her hands again and glanced at the book. Alex was right, she could see the logic behind it. After all, this was also why she couldn’t simply become a scientist with no background education, but… this was about more than just this incident. She did not know why, but all of this was slowly becoming too much for her. She had tasted a bit of freedom when she had used her powers and when she had talked with Lena about her planet.
Especially the latter had brought back memories about her former life that she rarely allowed herself to reminisce about after arriving on Earth. It had been too painful. She missed her planet so much. Her people. Her culture. She missed Rao and how its red light turned the world into warm colors.
She wanted to be herself again. Or partly, at least. And she could accomplish this if she went into science as Lena suggested. She could also regain some of the traits that she had hidden over the years, like her reading speed.
When she first decided to hide away a part of her, it had not been a difficult decision. There was something much higher at stake.
Kara thought back to when she came to Earth. She had learned English quite fast, although she used to have a few problems with spelling and grammar when she first started high school. She had overcome that quickly, of course. Nevertheless, it had taken her a while until she was able to read English at the same speed that she was used to from when she read Kryptonese.
“No one ever called me out on it,” she muttered, frowning deeply as she thought about it. “Remember, Alex? In high school?”
Alex furrowed her brow and leaned back. “I… I don’t think others paid all that much attention to you back then.”
“I never used to hide it. I never used to hide how much I love science and math either.” Kara trailed the book with a finger. “No one ever suspected or thought I was not from here. They just thought I was smart. Perhaps gifted. No one ever…”
Kara trailed off. No one ever suspected? No, that was not true. There was a reason why she had tried to keep her head down. A reason why she wanted to appear as normal as possible. A reason why she had stayed away from science.
It was not really because of Alex why she had never followed her into the science field herself, at least not entirely. Yes, she wanted Alex to have something of her own, something where she wouldn’t have to compete with Kara for Eliza’s attention and love. But it was not why she chose to take her career elsewhere.
In the last few years, it had been easier to pretend that she was doing it for Alex than facing the entire truth: Kara Danvers had to become invisible. It was safer that way. Safer for her and safer for the family that had so graciously taken her in and protected her. And how was invisibility achieved without superpowers? One had to become normal. An ordinary person. Someone who blended in.
She had found the perfect job. No one paid any attention to her as an assistant. She was the faceless help of one of the most successful businesswomen in the United States. No one looked twice at her. Assistants were generally overlooked.
Using her powers after all this time and talking about Krypton and going back into science had weakened her resistance. She wanted to become more, she itched to be herself again, even if it was only a part of her. But was it safe? Would they know it was her? Were they watching her?
“Kara? Are you okay?”
But what could they do? She was an adult now. She had a life. She had a job. People would notice if she suddenly disappeared without a trace. She couldn’t go missing. And if she went public and became a superhero, they could make her disappear even less. It was a different situation back then. And they had not come back. She was safe… wasn’t she?
A hand grasped hers and Kara flinched. She had been too deep in her thoughts and had forgotten about her surroundings. Sheepishly, she looked at Alex.
“It’s just me,” Alex mumbled, concern in her eyes. “Where did you go? Are you okay?”
“I’m fine, it’s, ah… nothing.” Kara pushed up her glasses and avoided meeting Alex’s searching gaze. “I guess the stress is just getting to me, that’s all. Ms. Grant is just… not in a good mood.”
Her sister knew she was lying. She could tell. They knew each other too well to not notice things like that. But thankfully, Alex seemed content to let it go for now.
“That must be difficult.”
“Yeah, well…” Kara shrugged. “She wants an interview with that hero.”
“An… an interview?”
“Yup. She has everyone running around trying to find out who she is. Did I tell you that James Olsen is now working with us?”
Alex raised her eyebrows. “No, you did not. The James Olsen? As in Clark’s…?”
“The very same. He keeps making weird comments to me.”
“Weird?” Alex sat up straighter and narrowed her eyes. “Weird how?”
“No, nothing like that,” Kara hurried to add when she saw that Alex had activated her protective big sister mode. Alex relaxed a little, but Kara could tell that she was still on edge. “He’s just, like… I don’t know… he keeps comparing Superman with, you know, and it’s…” Kara sighed deeply. “Maybe it’s just me. Maybe I’m really getting paranoid.”
“You think Clark told him,” Alex stated, her face expressionless.
“That’s crazy, right? Clark wouldn’t do that. He knows better than anyone that he can’t just… at least not without telling me.”
“He shouldn’t even think about telling anyone before you permit him to do so. Not even his best friend. And he should especially not tell someone and then fail to mention it to you while said person is working with you.” Alex gave her a dark look. “For his sake, I hope he didn’t or we will have words.”
Warmth spread through her body and she smiled at Alex. “You want to threaten him?”
“I would do much more than just threatening if he didn’t have that genetic disorder.” Alex smirked as Kara rolled her eyes. “Anyway, now to the real reason for my visit. That phone call.”
Quickly, Kara looked down at her book again, ignoring the heat that was spreading to her cheeks. “I don’t know what you’re talking about.”
“You almost had a mental breakdown.” She could hear the smile in Alex's voice. “Who is he anyway? Where did you meet? Please don’t tell me he’s someone from that dating app of yours. If I hear you say one more time how compatible you are with someone and that they might be a good match simply because some algorithm said so, I swear to God…”
He? Kara furrowed her brow. Should she tell her sister that it was a woman? She surely wouldn’t mind… or would she? They had never really talked about this topic. She knew some humans were very conservative about this, but… surely not Alex. Right? Even so, she did not like to lie to her.
Making a decision, Kara met Alex’s eyes once more. “It’s a she. And we met at a bar. But I think you were right, it wasn’t really a date. She was just joking around, I guess.”
Alex started to cough as if she had choked on her own spit. She appeared thunderstruck. “I’m… sorry, what… did you just say?”
“I said that it wasn’t a date?”
“No, before…” Alex shook her head. “You… I thought you were interested in that person. It seemed to me like you were. You sounded so… but you were just freaking out because it was a woman? But…”
“What?” Kara blinked. “No. She’s beautiful. She’s way out of my league. Seriously, you should see her. She’s really, really beautiful. And really kind. And her mind – don’t let me get started on that. It’s so easy to talk to her and it hasn’t even been long, but I feel like I can trust her, you know? So yeah, of course, I was freaking out when she texted me that.”
“Because you only wanted to be friends with her.”
Kara tilted her head. “You know I’m not straight, right? I don’t really do this whole label and sexuality thing.”
Alex opened her mouth and then closed it again. She looked dazed.
“I mean, it’s good if it works for you guys, but it’s just so complicated.”
“I’m sorry, Kara, I guess it’s just… you only ever dated men. I just assumed…” Alex ran her fingers through her hair and frowned. After a few seconds of silence, she sighed. “I’m sorry, I should have known better. Um, so… this woman. She only wants to be friends?”
“I don’t know. I mean, we’re just getting to know each other right now. So I guess we’re heading more into the direction of friends? I have no idea. I don’t even know if she likes women like that. This whole sexuality thing of yours is confusing.”
Alex only smiled weakly. “Yeah… I guess it is.”