Chapter 1: Chapter 1
The fact that Lena almost slips off to sleep could be considered normal. After all, she's been awake for over forty-eight hours. She's had a semi-permanent migraine since earlier in the week, and when she'd glanced in the mirror just before leaving the plane bathroom, her normally bright green eyes had been dull, lined with red, and her skin had been a colorless, paper white pallor. She was usually pale, yes, she'd spent too many hours inside of conference rooms and shadowy black cars, but she didn't normally look this bad. But she looked it today, and the caffeine crash was long overdue. And, oh, how her muscles ached.
All this to say, she'd love to sleep, she's yearning for it, but it isn't the time.
But what time was it? What day was it?
Right. Wednesday. 2 PM. The meeting with the Japanese investors. The transcontinental flight.
This is why she can't sleep and, frankly, why it's unusual that she wants to. More than unusual, it's unnatural the way her eyelids hang heavy, threatening to flutter closed. Lena hates flying, but she doesn't dope herself up. She wants to remain completely alert while she's hurtling through the air in a death trap, a flying machine that embodies everything broken about the hubris of man. So, the chemical feeling, the wave of involuntary relaxation that washes over her in these last few moments, she knows… something is wrong.
Lena's eyes snap open, her knuckles clutched bone white over the armrest. Her fingers hurt when she stretches them open, her hands aching. She tries to turn quickly, but it feels slow and groggy as she throws open the window screen, eyes zig zagging over the horizon. The sun hangs in a different portion of the sky. The waters are lighter than they should be, glinting in the sunset. They're way off course.
She lurches out of her seat, still woozy from… from what? A sedative? She glances at her abandoned coffee cup, a perfect outline of her lipsticked mouth staining the opening. She thinks of the pilot who handed it to her, Paul, the man she's known for years, as far back as when her father was still alive. A man she trusted.
She takes another step, bolstering herself on the headrest of the chair in front of her. The pilot is waiting for her, standing at the end of the plane just outside the cockpit. Why isn't he in the cockpit? He's just there with a guilty, devastated look on his face.
"Paul?" she asks, for lack of a better question. Her mind is still reeling and cloudy.
“Ms. Luthor, you were always kind to me," he says to her, and she swallows, dry. He's holding a gun.
Her hands fist at her sides. She has an uncharacteristic desire to cry. It's not the first time she's seen a gun. It's not even the first time one's been pointed at her, but it's the fact that this man is holding it, that it's his fingers itching near the trigger.
"I don’t want you to think that I—that I'm doing this because you weren’t—because you deserved it. You don't.”
“Then, why?” she says, because what else is there? "Why, Paul?"
“He knows," Paul shudders. "About everything. The gambling, the debts. He threatened my family.”
He places his hand on the exit door then, but Lena raises her own in appeal. Anything to stop what feels like the fast approaching inevitable.
"You could've come to me," she pleads in a tone of begging she can't stand to hear in her own voice. "I can still help you. I can protect you."
"I can double whatever he's offering."
"It's too late," he says with an air of finality that Lena mourns to believe.
She expects him to raise the gun, it's time, but he doesn't. He reaches for something hanging on the wall instead. He tosses a parachute vest towards her, landing with a thump at her feet. She stares down at it.
"No," she argues. "It's not too late."
"It is for me," he replies. "But maybe not for you."
She's not sure what she was going to say. She'll look back years later and wonder… could she have changed the outcome? Should she have fought harder? Should she have tackled him right to the ground and taken control of the plane? Was it really too late? But, as it stands, she doesn't finish. She's cut off by a gale force roar of wind. Paul has thrust open the emergency exit door, and the cabin instantly loses pressure. The force of it sucks Paul from the plane, he's there one moment and gone in the next. Lena herself is slammed into the chair in front of her, ears popping, hair whipping, the world coming apart around her.
Scrambling, she pulls the mask from the overhead chamber over her face and clutches hard at the seat, tears streaming down her face. Her grip is slipping, but she has to reach it, she has to get to the parachute vest. The wind is so strong, but she manages to kick it towards her hand. Grasping it, she spares a fleeting thought for what else she can grab, a phone? A computer? She goes for the seat behind her that doubles as a flotation device. But before she can get to anything else there's an explosion, deafening, a bomb if Lena is to guess from her vast experience with assassination attempts. There's a screeching metal noise, more air, smoke, and fire.
Through the military training her father forced her to endure and nothing else, she manages to get the vest on. There's no time for anything else. The plane breaks in half, and she's hurled out into the wide open blue. She's still holding the seat cushion, and she has the presence of mind, somehow, to activate the parachute. It springs open, her world spinning. And then the parachute fails.
Chapter 2: Chapter 2
Hello everyone! I know this story is a bit different than what I usually write, so please feel free to reach out with any questions at all you have about the world. Also, I wanted to make sure I'm clear about trigger warnings up front: there aren't any serious triggers in this story (no noncon, dubcon, beastiality, whatever you might be thinking from the tags). However, there are themes of sexual repression and shame. There are thoughts of suicide/self-harm in this chapter. This is also an M-rated story. So, please be aware moving forward!
(See the end of the chapter for more notes.)
Lena wakes up face down on a beach with a glob of sand in her mouth. She coughs, and what she expels is muddy, grainy, and irritating on her tongue. It's dirty kelp tasting. She hacks up another bucketful of salty sea water, and the tang of it mixed with the sand is certainly the most unpleasant combination she's ever held in her mouth.
And she's been served some truly horrendous cocktails.
She rolls onto her back in heavy, water logged clothes, unmoving in the steady pound of the surf. She'd think she was dead if it weren't for the acute pain of simply being alive and here on this beach. She's wearing a pencil skirt, for Christ's sake, and her body hurts. Her head is pounding. Was it a concussion? Her breath comes shallow and jagged. Broken ribs? Her feet feel bruised, and her shoes are gone.
She can't remember how she made it onto this shore, but somehow she’s still clutching the plane seat, the flotation device, and her arms ache when she loosens her grip on it. It takes minutes, hours, an eternity to force herself onto her stomach, to look around and see where she is.
She blinks into the harsh, blinding light of a cloudless sky. Was it morning? The same day? She gets to her feet, wobbly and careful of the bruised pads of her toes. She shields her eyes and stares upward. Then, without much warning, her esophagus seizes, and she heaves up another stomachful of salt water, splattering the mottled sand with frothy white.
She stares at it, breathing hard, hands on her knees.
Her brother did this.
It’s the only thing that makes sense. She doesn’t share her itinerary with anyone. Only her security staff is privy to which private planes and pilots she employs. But more importantly, only her stepmother and Lex know that she favors… god, Lena thinks. She favored Paul. Past tense.
She stands again, rubbing grit out of her eye, willing her mouth to stop trying to do whatever traitorous thing it's doing. The man left her on a crashing plane to die with nothing but a faulty parachute and an impossible hope, but she can't help it. She's sad he's gone. She mourns him.
She sniffs hard, wiping her face again.
She wants to suspect Lillian, too, but only Lex had this kind of flare for the dramatic. She can imagine him at the press conference now, holding back alligator tears in an impressive feat of appearing both powerful and vulnerable. He'll claim to search the world high and low until her body is found while he secretly thrills in the spotlight. Plus, he's a coward. If her mother was going to kill her, Lillian would do it herself, and she'd make sure it was done. She wouldn't leave it to the shaky hands of a man who had known Lena most of her life, a man who had once given her a gold airplane pin from the lapel of his own jacket.
No, Lex was the one who didn’t get his hands dirty. Not this way, at least. Blackmailing, threatening Paul's family, bribery, extortion; these things reeked of her brother.
Lena falters, stumbles up the sandy shoreline and stoops to sit in the shade of a palm tree. It's getting hot. She strips her wet clothes off and checks her body for wounds. Bruises mostly, some concerning swelling in her upper ribs, sensitivity to her collar bone, but nothing life threatening. No broken bones. It's unusual. Incredible, even. What happened after the parachute didn't open? She doesn't remember.
But she's not one to look an unexplainable gift horse in the mouth.
She shakes her head, water and sand flying free, and pushes long strands of black hair back over her shoulder. How could she alert help? She could set wet brush and timber on fire. She could write in the sand, flag down passing ships, but…
Lex might not have carried the act out himself, but her brother isn't stupid. He would be watching the plane go down via satellite. Depending on his tech, he might’ve even seen the parachute. He could’ve plotted the island not far away from the wreck. He could send his cronies and for hire mercenaries to find her.
So, Lena can't signal for help. She can't trust approaching vessels. She's well and truly fucked.
She hates him.
But it still hurts.
She'd done everything for Lex. She'd led research breakthroughs, pioneered new tech, made vast headway into green space accounts, all without credit, each and every item ticked under her brother's resume. She'd schmoozed, she'd negotiated, she'd attended every gala in a five hundred mile radius of National City (Lex kept to his LuthorCorp ivory tower in Metropolis), and she'd even been heading to Japan to personally sign and seal the deal on a new acquisition. This app would revolutionize their cloud computing IP. She'd been planning to head up the new branch in Tokyo for the next several months.
But not now. Now, Lena's stuck on this rock. And Morgan Edge would benefit. He'd take over the merger. He'd grin and bear it, standing next to Lex at the invisible press conference in her mind, giving his own counterfeit condolences.
She digs her heels into the sand, blinking back hot tears.
Why? Why? Why did Lex do this? She can't stop asking herself. She stands, pacing, and kicks at an innocent, lumpy coconut in her path.
What had changed?
But she knows the answer. She covers her face, unwilling to acknowledge it. Her mother, Lex, everyone would say she brought this on herself.
Two alpha Luthors in the same household? It was always going to be messy.
2 days earlier.
The top of Lex's desk is glossy and paper-free for the first time in Lena's recent memory. His entire office, really, is flawlessly organized, a tribute to perfection. It's a bit unsettling, to be honest. The calm before a storm. Like one of his boyhood models set for wrecking.
Even worse, Morgan Edge is here, too, seated in one of Lex's white leather chairs, looking far too comfortable with his legs crossed in that way that gives maximum view of his crotch. It's annoying. As if Lena needs that eyeful. It's feels like a prime target for kicking, but she restrains herself, just barely.
Edge smirks at her as if he can read her thoughts, and Lena automatically knows she's not going to like whatever this meeting is about.
"You called me in here, Lex?" Lena addresses her brother, happy to ignore the gaping asshole in the room.
"Lena, I'm not going to waste your time," Morgan Edge interrupts in his characteristic condescension. She also doubts, somehow, that that's going to be true.
"But Lex and I have agreed that it would be best if I went to Japan. That I'm going to spearhead the efforts in our new branch."
He delivers the statement with ruthless nonchalance, as if it doesn't completely rock the foundations of Lena's world. A Richter scale 8 earthquake. It strikes her like something physical, a backhand across the face, and her body goes cold, like space, like all the oxygen has been sucked from the room. She stares at Edge.
But he doesn't hear her.
"You've done a beautiful job finishing all the technical pieces, but I know these investors," he continues to pander along. "Mr. Satō and I go way back. I was there for his daughter's wedding. Plus, I know the business better than anyone."
Better than anyone? Lena thinks, but it's only two measured steps, and she's standing directly in front of him, looking down.
"You don't even speak Japanese."
"It's for the best."
Lena's jaw tightens to boarding school levels of stress.
"I said no."
While Lena knows that there's nothing in Edge's head that connects his hearing to his brain, he can still smell the pheromones she's unconsciously pumping out. His nostrils flare. His demeanor shifts, and his pupils shrink. Every part of him closes, his feet hitting the floor suddenly, and his hands going into fists, lips thinned.
Lex speaks up from behind them, but Lena doesn't turn.
"Lena, it's for the best," Lex repeats. "We need you here in National City—"
But Lena cuts off whatever empty compliment her brother was about to lob her way with a simple raised hand, all five fingers splayed behind her in a clear signal to stop speaking.
"No," she says again, eyes still locked with Morgan's, two caged fighters circling in a ring. "I've directed this project for eleven months. You've condemned it since the start. In fact, you've done everything in your power to undermine our efforts. You've made it nearly impossible to gain approvals, to push permits through, or even to sign forms on time. At every turn, your team has been late, combative, and downright incompetent. Under which of these failures, do you believe yourself the best man for the job?"
Edge is gob smacked, mouth fallen open, but after a long, shocked pause, he scoffs loudly, recovering some composure, and straightens his tie. He half glances over Lena's shoulder.
“Lex—" he pleads for interference, but she snaps in his face and he goes instantly still.
"You don’t work for him, you work for me."
She lets the warning ring clear as a bell.
"I'm going to Japan in two days. And that's the end of it."
Then, something unusual happens. He turns his neck and averts his eyes. Lena's so dialed into the conversation, she doesn't really register it. It's expected. He's submitted.
"Okay." He holds his hands up in surrender. "Okay."
His eyes flash to Lex behind her, his face a mask of apprehension. Lena doesn't look at her brother, she doesn't need to. She simply leaves the room, heels clacking on the shiny black floor. There's nothing left to say.
In the later PM when Lena is still in her office, tired and finishing last minute signatures, Lex enters with an amiable, contrite smile. He looks sharp as ever in a different pinstripe suit, and honestly, where does he find the time for all of his costume changes? Lena has only managed to eat a scrap of banana bread and only because her assistant shoved it into her face.
"I'm sorry for that disaster earlier," he tells her, making a show of checking over her paperwork. It makes her flare hot with annoyance again. She doesn't have the energy to play party to Lex's act. He's never been sorry a day in his life.
"It's fine," she answers flatly, anyway.
He ambles over to her open packed bag, prods a finger through her bathroom zip case filled with lipsticks, moisturizers, facemasks, and—
“Are you still on your suppressants?” he asks casually, but Lena glances at the bag, then up to him.
“Of course. Why do you ask?"
He gazes at her, his shoulders having gone formal, eyes dark and lancing. Whatever this is, it's the real reason for the office call.
"You lost control in there," he states factually.
Her eyes narrow.
"I was perfectly in control."
There’s a tension drawn between them, taut and ready to break with one snap, but Lena's not backing down. Despite the angry blush that covers her body, despite the the implication that she's embarrassed Lex once again, that she acted every bit the monster Lex has always claimed her to be, no, not this time. This is one compromise she won't make. And, surely, after so many, Lex is willing to give her a single thing in return.
And maybe he does.
After several tense moments, Lex shrugs, smiles, and makes small talk about the best sushi joint in Tokyo. Lena relaxes gradually, but her mind still sticks to the statement, the hard, flinty look in her brother's eye. Even when she's boarding the plane, even when she's looking in the mirror later, she thinks about it.
Nothing about Lex is accidental. Nothing is casual. Lex never compromises.
Lena sets her clothes out to dry and rests for a while under the sanctuary of the palm tree. She's simultaneously exhausted and amped up on adrenaline, but somehow she drifts into a dreamless, fitful sleep. When she wakes, it hasn't been long judging from the sun, maybe an hour, and she resolves to walk the shore and look for anything from the crash.
The sand is blistering and uncomfortable on her bare feet. She finds a can, poking at it with a stick. Then, a plastic bottle half-filled with salt water. It doesn't seem fit to carry anything, the kind of plastic that chemically degrades faster than wet cardboard, but she takes it anyway. Beggars can't be choosers on desert islands. She also recovers the seat cover flotation device she'd left on the beach.
There's nothing else.
Gritting her teeth, she lays her paltry sum of loot out under the palm tree and kneels by it, thinking. Water is going to become a big problem. And shelter. And food. But she glances down at the thing she had kicked out of anger earlier, the fat looking coconut.
She endeavors to find a rock sharp enough to crack into it.
After some trial and error, Lena slakes her thirst with coconut water, and she uses the can, the water bottle, and emptied coconuts as a makeshift short term storage solution for more water. Ends up, there's plenty of rainfall, too; it rains about 20 minutes that afternoon until a western wind blows the clouds away. Then, the sun is back and hot as ever.
But otherwise, the island appears to be small. There are palm trees and mangrove thickets that lead into a thickly wooded valley, but no running streams that Lena can see. Beyond those, the land climbs into a sloped hillside paved with sharp and weather worn rocks, rising and rising to form a jagged, barren peak. She hasn't walked the entire length of the island to find out if there's more, but she expects there isn't. Even the wildlife appears limited. A few birds, some lizards, but not much else.
Lena doesn't want to give into the bleakness that threatens to overtake her at the prospect of so little to work with, so dutifully, she checks the shore again at first light.
She finds a bounty.
She hears it first, unusual sounds in the current, a slapping, a cracking, and she runs barefoot along the surf, partially naked (she's loathe to don the pencil skirt again but she's kept her sullied Armani blouse and overpriced underthings.) Spotting the wreckage, the first thing she goes for is a sodden suitcase, lugging it from the sandy muck and praying it's her own. Maybe a computer could be inside? Some sort of satellite device? Any way she could reach her mother, but… it's not hers.
She affords another somber thought to Paul before unzipping it. Why had he even packed a bag? For appearances? What had he planned to take with him after his plunge from the sky?
The answer is: not a lot. Inside the bag, the contents are spartan. He'd obviously packed it for appearances. There's a spare, long sleeved button down shirt that Lena instantly trades with her own, anything to shield herself more fully from the sun. There are also navy slacks and a shaving kit, less helpful. Shoe polish, a toothbrush and toothpaste, black nylon socks, and underwear. It's not terrible, but she'd hoped for more. There are no shoes, and there's no suppressants.
Lena closes her eyes in frustration. She sets the bag aside.
She checks the rest of the shore and finds a giant, serrated slab of metal sitting partially submerged in sand. On the outside, there's a half mangled LuthorCorp logo scorched and facing skyward. She stares at it, not sure how to use it. Maybe an axe head? Nearby, there's heap of trash encased in netting. A ruined leather armrest. A sleeve of perfectly intact Styrofoam coffee cups.
Seeing them, Lena experiences such a visceral and vicious longing she could almost cry. She's craving coffee, craving normalcy, and she's convinced that's half the reason her headache is so bad. That or brain damage.
Further down the beach, she spots a single bag of Lay's potato chips, still pressurized, and a bottle of Veuve Cliquot Champagne rolling tranquilly against the waves.
Picking up the bottle, it's whiplash from her previous despair. It’s so ridiculous, Veuve here and in this context, that she barks out a single laugh, loud and rolling back at her on the turpentine blue ocean. The kind of laugh Lillian coached out of her in primary school.
It's just… she knows so much about Champagne. She knows about regions and price points and brands and production. Lionel had owned a pretentious little vineyard once in France, and they'd vacationed there, Lena and Lex playing hide and seek among the vines. She's even pressed grapes and blended the wine by hand, all that knowledge always meant to impress future investors, to finely select and school Sommeliers and yet… exactly none of that will help her here.
Her laughter turns, her eyebrows pinch. In a rage, she turns and hurls the bottle into the forest, forgotten, and she takes the Lay's.
The bag of potato chips is long gone, and Lena finds herself disgusted at the idea of eating any more seaweed or raw seafood. Instead, she works to fashion a sharp stick against a log. She rubs it every which way against rocks, leaves, sand, wood, but nothing works. There's no smoke. Her hands have blisters. She's an engineer, for fuck's sake, so this shouldn't be that hard.
But it is.
Spurred by the idea of cooked shrimp, clams, oysters, and mussels, she tries again. She'd learned how to make fire before, of course, but with flint and tinder, not primitive tools. No one had told her how annoying it would be. How many hours she'd waste. She finds herself actively fantasizing about lighters, squirt bottles of gasoline, and electric fireplaces.
She throws and breaks things, out of spite, out of fury at being stuck in this place, struck impotent where she can't make something as simple as fire, but after hours, days of rubbing her hands raw, she finally sees smoke. She finally produces a spark to light the coconut nettles she'd carefully piled underneath.
She howls at the moon in victory that night. She throws every nearby log into the flames, but even her happiness is doused by the fact that she can't let the fire lick too high. The smoke. She can't let Lex's goons find her.
He ruins everything.
Either way, life (if that's what you can call it) becomes easier by degrees. It's been two weeks. Two weeks of raiding puddles for crabs and mollusks. Two weeks of using her salvaged net to catch larger fish. Lena’s never fished in her life. She’s never had hobbies, really, but she finds herself fairly apt at it. She learns to descale them like a pro, quickly killing and dissecting their wiggling bodies to cast out the tiny bones neatly arrayed underneath.
It's bloody. And smelly. But it gives her more free time.
Free time to brood.
Sometimes, she'll spend hours in her shelter, staring at her ramshackle ceiling. It's horrific being alone. She has questions, and there's no one to ask. They're carved into the back of her eyelids, even when she sleeps, never a respite. They wake her, insistent and beating down the doorways of her mind.
Where is she?
Who is looking for her?
What's happening at LuthorCorp?
She has so many relentless questions with no means to ascertain answers. All her life, they'd lived right at her fingertips. Not here. There's no push of a button or ring of an office line. There's no Google or laptops or phoning a friend. There's just the surf, the wind, and the insects.
One year earlier.
“Are you all ready, Ms. Luthor?” Jess pushes into Lena's office, a tablet in her hand, her headset still on. She's wearing the Prada frames Lena recently bought her, and she looks every bit of the top tier assistant that she is.
"As ready as I'll ever be, I suppose."
Jess casts her a look of disapproval, locking her tablet and crossing it under her arms over her chest.
"It's a date with one of the most eligible omegas in town, you can at least act excited about it."
Lena resists the urge to roll her eyes.
"It's a calculated press move and nothing more."
Jess sighs, meandering up to Lena's desk and clearing away her used coffee cups, a wrapper from an old sandwich, and extraneous pens.
"It doesn't have to be a sexless charade, you know. I've heard Ms. Rojas is very beautiful, intelligent, and well-travelled. Honestly, she seems like your type."
"I don't have a type, Jess. I'm married to my work."
"Your work can't give you a kiss good night."
Lena shakes her head.
"You know I'm not really interested in that kind of thing."
"Maybe if you didn't have suppressants coming out of your ears, you would be."
Lena looks back up at Jess, she doesn't usually push, but her assistant is pushing today. As if to illustrate her point, Jess prods at the back of Lena's laptop with a scolding finger.
"Why do you do that?"
"Take those things so heavily."
It's Lena's turn to sigh.
"It's just how it's always been."
Jess throws her hands up, walks a few paces away.
"Spit it out," Lena directs, eyeing her. Jess whirls back around.
"It's just not fair."
"He takes everything from you."
Lena stares at Jess, not wanting to interpret that sentence for what it is. So instead, she shuts her computer and prepares to leave for her 'date.' Snagging her coat from the rack by her office door, she pauses a moment before turning back to her clearly distressed assistant.
"Jess, I'm fine. Really."
She squeezes her shoulder, but just as she turns, Jess takes her by the elbow, her eyes pleading.
"It's not your fault. You didn't do anything wrong. You deserve a life, too."
Lena smiles wanly. Jess couldn't possibly understand.
"I have all of this," Lena gestures to the grand office, to the building. "I have you. I don't need a life."
She sits through the date. She feels nothing. She plays her part for the CatCo photographers, all the while thinking of her brother's words.
"You can't let anyone in. They'll take advantage of you. Be better than your worst self. Trust no one."
It's been a month. One long uneventful month, the only highlight of which was when Lena almost choked to death on a fish bone. But even then, it makes a poetic kind of sense that stranded on a deserted island she’s still too stubborn to die.
Otherwise, what at first had been (at the very least) engaging about survival has become unbearably monotonous. Sleep. Fish. Cook. Improve her living area with large tropical leaves. Prop her bed off of the ground to avoid bugs. Chop wood with the mangled sheet of metal. Poorly attempt to give her hut walls.
Lena was never a big talker, and she’s worried she’s going to forget how.
Every day, she walks the shore like a caged animal, constantly on the hunt for new debris. Most times, there's nothing. Sometimes, there's trash. She collects it, anyway. At night, she stares into the void, into an infinite sea of stars, so many she's never seen in her life. Then, she sleeps. She thinks of Jess. She thinks of her mother. There’s no one to talk to, no puzzles to solve, nothing, nothing at all to do.
In a way, it feels like her life is over. It feels like limbo. It feels like purgatory. Simply stuck. Lost.
She has to get off this island, get off this island. But how?
She can't. Nothing arrives in the waters. Every day, her problem remains the same. Always the same. She has no raft. She has no sail. She has no bearings, no idea where she is. There have been no passing boats, no airplanes. Not that she could trust them, anyway.
On top of that, it's been a month and with food, water, and shelter managed, Lena's next biggest problem has taken a prominent center stage.
Her lack of suppressants.
Her body is painfully acclimating. It's uncomfortable. She endures cramps, hot flashes, and manic fluctuations in mood. She's taken heavy suppressants since the day she presented at twelve years old, huge horse pills morning, noon, and night for the last fifteen years, and her body is spiraling without them. Her mind is not far behind.
She wonders why Lex never messed with her meds if he'd wanted to cause her so much harm, if he'd really wanted to do damage. But as she sits here, angling for a crab skittering into a rocky hole, she thinks about that day with Edge. Her last interaction with Lex.
"Are you still on your suppressants?"
Now that he's marooned her on an island and tried to kill her, it becomes clear. Lena had been so stupid. He wouldn't mess with her meds because Lex had never wanted Lena's alpha to come out. Even when they were younger, they'd gotten along swimmingly when Lena had every indication of presenting as an omega. They could get along when Lex viewed her like a rook he could ransom or sacrifice, not an opponent across the board. The day Lena became the competition, she stopped being his sister. The open doors became closed. The jovial nature vanished. Even his smell, his stink, she should say, became too much to bear. But despite it all, she'd never stopped wishing for her brother’s love back. She'd thought if she did as he said, if she'd worked hard at LuthorCorp, sacrificed, stayed on suppressants, it would be enough.
But nothing was ever going to be enough for Lex.
She pretends to play him in the sand, crudely drawing a chess board and pieces with a stick. She screams at him when she loses. She screams at the ocean. Sometimes, when her hormones are especially out of control, she kicks sand over the entire game, erasing it. It's her desert island equivalent of flipping the board. Lillian would greatly disapprove if she knew, but Lena doesn't care. She's so tired of herself and her voice, trapped alone here and forced to relive every bad thing that's ever happened to her, every mistake she's ever made.
She cries one night in her leaf-made bed. It’s weird not to be self-conscious of it of it for once. No one can hear her. Nothing matters. Who she was, what happened before, none of it matters here.
She thinks back to that day with Jess.
"I'm married to my work."
Jess was right.
It was so stupid. Her work doesn't matter on this island. She's not worried about fiscal reports or engineering diagrams. She doesn't miss her empty, pristine loft, her self-driving vehicles, her high end jewelry, or a wardrobe with the ticket price of the British crown jewels. She doesn't care about any of that any more. She cares about seeing a person. Talking to someone. And while it hadn't been a priority, it had never really occurred to Lena that she might die before settling down with a mate. That she might miss her chance entirely.
And it's clear no one is coming to save her. Jack? He wasn't speaking to her as of her flight. Sam? Lena's not speaking to her. Mercy Graves? Another one of Lex's pawns. Veronica? Too selfish. Even Lillian, she can't trust. She's a Luthor, after all. What if she'd taken Lex's side?
Lena has no one.
The irritability and aggression at that thought keeps her furious during the day. The loneliness and unbidden, unwanted sexual thoughts keep her awake at night. Sometimes, she'll growl at stupid things like the dark. An errant wave. A leaf that looks too big. Two coconuts leaned together that looked like breasts. A soft breeze that felt like the ghost of touch. A cloud shaped like a penis.
She'd never given into these instincts before, if she'd even had them at all. It's just too quiet here, too slow. She hates what it's making her.
This… thing she'd always been terrified of becoming. Lex had said it would happen. It had ruined her home life. It had ruined her chance at a good pairing. And now it had gotten her stuck here.
Here and in rut. It's torturous. She thinks of any and every omega she’s ever met. She's the worst part of every alpha she's ever known. She craves touch, eye contact, even a conversation. And the smell of omegas, yes, that too. She wants to know. She'd never paid it any mind before, but she wants to experience that sensation in crystal clear quality. She wants to code it into her memory, hard wire it into her system. Along with all the different parts of their bodies, wrists, collar bones, forearms, necks, eyes, and hands.
She's hard most of the time she's awake and yet always unsatisfied. Nothing works. Not even masturbating because… to what? A grayed out face? She has no wife, no girlfriend. She’d trade every project she'd ever completed for a kiss. A touch. A squeeze of her hand. She's haunted by the late nights she wasted. The food she never savored. The friends and relationships she never enjoyed.
Her sunburn is bad. She's covered in newly forming scars and scratches and cuts that never close fully enough to heal. It's constant torment, and she simply can't find the glass half full. It's not even half empty. It's just empty.
So, she explores, she seeks to quash the one sliver of hope she's secretly harbored. She treks into the forest and up the sharp rocks. The terrain is difficult, borderline sadistic on her bruised and bloody feet. (If Lillian could see her now, the horror she imagines on her mother's face.) As she climbs, she can see the aquamarine water rolling calmly through the branches. It would be breathtaking if it didn't signify the walls of her prison, the shackles to this rock.
After close to half a day, Lena emerges onto a ridge that leads to a summit. She climbs across a rocky lava field covered with scrub lichen and low ferns, her way crossed by steep gullies. The land narrows to a ledge that stretches high across a cliff perched over the ocean. She's exhausted. She's thirsty, but she has to cross.
She takes a breath and shimmies her way across the narrow ledge. At the peak, she finds a 360 degree view of the island. It confirms everything she's ever feared; that the island is small, inhospitable, and without a sign of habitation or anything human. At this vantage point, she can see no other islands close by. No boats. No people.
The wind buffets at her face, the sun prickling at her sunburned shoulders. She looks down, swaying, and closely registers how near her toes are to the edge. A strong wind and maybe—
She thinks of the last time she saw her assistant.
"Fly safe, Ms. Luthor."
Flying, she thinks. What would it be like to fly? But before she can take a step, her world explodes. Her skin stretches. It's pain like she could never conceive. She shifts.
Come yell at me on tumblr/twitter @hrwinter
Fifteen years earlier.
Lena has been riding for hours, almost all day. Her skin is sweltering hot, and she's drenched in sweat. Her high leather boots are rubbing, even through the tight white riding pants she donned this morning. She even has her sleeves rolled up to the elbow, but it doesn't offer much of a reprieve. Not today. Not when she's enduring the full blown process of presenting.
It's funny because at first she'd felt excited when she'd experienced the bone deep heat in her bones. She knew something had changed. It's finally happened, she'd thought.
But she was wrong. She never wanted this.
She can barely look at herself now, that's why she's out here. There are fewer reflective surfaces in nature. It's only the rhythmic hoof beats of Simon, her Arabian, and acres upon acres of land to explore under a clear blue sky. Far enough she could just… get away. Forever.
Lillian had been with her at the doctor's office earlier. Lena can still remember the bold-faced shock her stepmother's expression had conveyed. She wonders what her father would've done. Would he have been proud? Horrified? He'd recently passed, a freak accident the papers had called it, so really she would never know.
As her barn comes into view, Lena can't help but think… everything will be different. The preference she'd had for her older, omega friends, it would be frowned upon. They were no longer safe, no matter what arguments Lena might make to the contrary. She would be separated, likely shipped off to an alpha only boarding school.
Nothing would be the same.
She laments this fact throughout the process of grooming and towel drying Simon. She heaves the heavy leather saddle onto the wall, brushing off the tack. A voice startles her as she reaches to unbuckle her helmet.
"Where have you been, sis? You've been out all day."
It's Lex, her brother, standing in the open barn doorway. The light across his face is slanting from the dying sunlight. Half of his boyishly attractive features are cast in darkness.
"I've been riding," Lena grips the tack tighter in her hands. She hangs it next to the saddle on the wall.
She can't quite meet his eye. She's not sure why. They've never fought before. Her relationship with Lex has been nothing short of perfect, maybe that's why she's afraid. This is a spoke in the wheel, and somehow, she just knows… this isn't what he wanted.
"Where did you go?" he asks conversationally, stepping into the barn, but Lena can tell he's peeved. Like she's left him out of something. Lex always wants to know every little thing, and Lena usually tells him.
But not this time. Lena doesn't answer. Instead, she removes her sweaty riding helmet, and places it gently on the bench near Simon's stall. She presses her matted hair to her skin, pushing it out of her face. She tries to stand tall, fix her posture in the way Lillian had constantly coached. She tries to meet her brother's gaze, but Lex chuckles quietly to himself, although at what, Lena isn't sure.
"I heard the big news," he leans back against the stall opposite them. After a moment, he hops up to sit on it, legs dangling, looking calm and care-free.
Lena feels nothing of the sort. After the appointment, Lillian had left immediately for the spa. Something about the 'onset of a migraine.' So, where had Lex heard about it? Through a key hole?
"When were you planning to tell me?" he continues. "Though I suppose, you wouldn't have to, I can smell it."
That makes Lena's breath hitch, her shoulders tighten, but nothing changes about Lex. He's still relaxed and kicking his feet against the wooden half door. He's still her brother, but Lena freezes all the same. Scents, pheromones… it wasn't a part of her world before. She doesn't know what it means. She doesn't know what to do. Or say.
Lex only smiles, all teeth.
"I'm proud of you. I really am," he states, but every hair on Lena's body is raised. Even his scent (which she realizes she can suddenly smell and has been smelling), it's subtly different, unfriendly in a way that she can't quite place.
He hops down from the stall. Lena still hasn't moved, doesn't move as he approaches.
"But being an alpha, it's a big responsibility," he tells her, and she resists the urge to take a step back. "Especially in this family."
"I know that," she answers. It is the one thing she does know.
He opens his hands in appeal.
“You've always been smarter than me," he admits, but Lena struggles to believe his sincerity. "You've even had the fairer temperament. The better Luthor. But it's different now."
Lena heaves out a sigh, something built up inside her that she can no longer control. She casts her gaze around the room to land on anything but her brother. Simon's curious amber-yellow eyes watch her. At least he hadn't treated her any different. Like a beast. A brutish thing. He snuffs at Lena, noses fondly into the stable door, likely angling for an after ride carrot like always.
But it is a bad thing. She is a bad thing.
"I’m sorry," she hates herself for admitting, but she does feel it. She doesn't want to be an alpha. She hadn't wanted anything her brother hadn't wanted.
He claps his palm over her shoulder.
"You’ll make it better."
At first, it feels like a dream. Or a half-forgotten memory. At first, she's paddling with four, hairy legs in the ocean, toward the beating sound of the surf, a soft pillowy object in her jaws. A strange, soft cloth billowed around her neck.
Then, she's at a press release. Suddenly, she can detect a ticking that no one seems to register. She can hear the chamber of a gun lock, but where?
She's alone with her father. She's just walked in on him staring out of the window. When he turns to look at her, the lights of his irises shine gold. A moment later, they're the same sea foam green as hers. It must've been a trick of the firelight.
She knows something has happened to her, but she can't access her typical cold and calculated thinking, a tool so valuable it's always at the ready, strapped to her side like a weapon. It's strange. Her thoughts feel different, skewed and warped. Her mind is there, but it's taken on new form, ballooning away from her and just out reach.
But she's happy. It's a peace she's never known. A kind of escape addicts spend their life seeking. A feeling of being utterly not oneself.
The pain is gone. The bruises, the cuts are healed. She's free, and she remembers how to run on four legs even though she's never run on four legs. And running is amazing. A burst of joy in physical form. Colors blur by, different, less vibrant in grays and browns and deep blacks. But there's an explosion of smell, of sound. She picks up a bouquet of scents, of dried palm tree nettles, baking kelp on the sand, and the humid, sticky tang of the shifting ocean. Her smell is a thousand times more complex than she's ever known it to be. She can hear the underbrush, too, a flurry of insect activity, a small rodent that she hunts with delight.
She draws it out, chasing it in and out of thickets, until she can't help the instinct. She catches it, lightning fast, and crunches hard with her jaws. A spray of blood fills the lap of her tongue. One more chomp, and she swallows without a second thought. It tastes good, young, fat from a lack of predators.
She's thirsty, so she shreds a coconut easily with her fangs, tosses it aside like ripped newspaper. She laps rain from the giant banana leaves after the afternoon shower. She shakes water from her fur, snoozes in the shade until nighttime.
In the darkness, woken by the high white moon in the sky, she runs along the sand and down the beach, filling the empty quiet with the music of her voice. Her howls. It feels good to let it out. She can see clearly, too, and there's nothing to be afraid of in the dark, not like she'd always thought, cringing in her self-made shelter. The monsters made of shadow no longer exist. She's the monster. It's just her on this island, panting and staring out over the water that's shimmering silver.
She's not sure how long she spends this way, snapping fish out of the surf, running, pulling down entire trees when she's feeling restless. Days, weeks? All she knows is one day, she wakes up, naked, covered in mud and sand. She blinks into the rising sun, her hands no longer clawed. All of her senses blunted.
What the fuck.
To put it mildly, there are mental gymnastics required for Lena to reconcile the fact that she's become a creature of legend. A considerable degree of reality suspension needed to accept and understand what's happened to her.
Her main concern is that she's well and truly lost her mind on this god damn island. Was it all some sort of mercury poison fever dream induced from eating too much shell fish? Did she crack under the isolation?
If the beast-like bite marks along the trunk of an uprooted tree she left on the beach are any indication to go by, however, it was real. It actually happened. The trail she'd kicked up in the sand all through the night hasn't been erased by the surf, either, and the tracks certainly are not human. They're almost too huge even to be a wolf, big, heavy looking things.
She also cannot dispute the fact that her body doesn't bear even a single sign of injury. Her skin is pale again, unmarred, no longer blistered by the sun. Her feet, suddenly pristine and untouched. There's not a single scratch anywhere all over her body. And she knows they had been there, burning every time she cleaned them in the salt sweet surf.
She tries not to think about it.
It's all she thinks about.
She spends a long time squatted on a rock, naked, making a half-hearted attempt to spear a fish while ruminating.
It's not like it's completely unheard of, the ability to transform. It's just that Lena hasn't read about such a thing in over a hundred years. Allegedly, it runs in families, passed down by bloodline, and usually only presents in one living ancestor at a time. While there have been plenty of hot-headed boasts of being such an alpha, it's never been substantiated, not in her lifetime. No one has ever been able to prove it by shifting into a wolf. No one has been able to display the extra human abilities, the overpowering pheromones, the heightened senses, the sharpened fangs. It's been so long, it's practically a fairy tale, considered lost to the sands of time.
Lena presses the pad of her index finger to a canine with sensitivity. They're sharper than they were, pressed to fine points, but she doesn't know how to make them go back to normal.
She broods, dropping her hand.
In a way, it's poetic justice. She was always afraid of becoming a monster, and now she actually is one.
She should be happy. It's every alpha's dream to have something like this, like winning the lottery. But what is she supposed to do with it, stuck on a desert island? Why couldn't she have the ability to turn into a dolphin? That would've been useful.
She growls, standing and casting the stick aside. It may be best to fall back onto old habits, things that are familiar, things that she can control.
Like the scientific method.
With nothing else to do, she tests herself over the next several days. Her vision, hearing, smell, all five senses are improved. It takes her a full week to change at will again, to keep enough presence of mind to check herself in the watery reflection of the ocean. She's definitely a wolf with thick black fur and shining yellow eyes.
They're so familiar. She's seen them before, the flashing golden flint of her father's.
It confirms a theory she'd already formed, that Lionel had… whatever this was. And he'd hidden it from the world, from his family. But had Lillian known? Had Lex?
Why hadn't it passed to Lionel's son?
It explains why her brother hadn’t killed her himself. He was afraid. Afraid of losing. He must've known, picked up something from that encounter with Edge.
Lena feels stupid, once again outplayed by Lex, and angry at her father for not having warned her.
As a distraction, she tests intentionally cutting herself, watching the bloom of bright red blood blossom on her palm. When she transforms to and from human, she finds it completely healed. It's fascinating. So, she tests it again and again, getting better at shifting back and forth, even better at shifting even certain body parts. Hands to paws. Green to gold eyes. She still hasn’t worked out the teeth. It's been helpful when eating, tearing into flesh like an apex predator, but otherwise it's a learning curve to avoid biting her own tongue. Hearing, too, sometimes she can listen to the fish without seeing them, other times she's as deaf as she was before.
Out of boredom, Lena explores the island more thoroughly as a wolf, nails clicking back and forth on the scalloped rocky shores. It's strange to know a place so intimately, to be the warden of a bit of rock no one wants. She's ruined her clothes, so for the most part, she stops wearing them. She spends less and less time as human.
There's also a complete absence of hormones when she's shifted. It's a welcome release. No ruts, no growling at a wayward breeze. It's helpful, too, with her fear, especially when a tropical storm rolls in, heavier and more menacing than the others. It lingers for days and days, too cold to stay non shifted, too difficult to keep a fire burning.
So, instead, she hunts scorpions and bugs, digging down into the dirt to find their flooded homes. She watches the horizon, colors dark and intense, mottled with black storm clouds that are fat with rain. Lena doesn't mind the rain, not even the wind, even enjoys the cacophony of sound over the quiet, but the storm gets bigger and bigger, swelling like tidal wave. She's forced to hide in one of the upper ridge caves, barely fitting, water pouring in from above as rain and wind batters the color bleached rock. It's brutal and deafening. She manages to sleep, although she can't remember when or for how long.
All she knows is the next morning is quiet, save for an unusual sound on the beach. She squeezes out of the cave entrance, sprinting to find a bright yellow color lapping against the water on the shore, the kind of color Lena feels like belongs in a forgotten lifetime.
She treads up to it carefully, half shifted into human, teeth barred into points in her mouth, eyes sharp in the pitch black of the night. Inside there's a breathing something. A person. A woman. An omega.
come yell at me @hrwinter on tumblr/twitter!
Chapter 4: Chapter 4
i wrote 7,000 words this week. yesterday's amount was 69, so i consider that a sign to post.
3 months earlier.
It's awkward to cry in the bathroom at work. It's awkward to cry at work at all, but here Kara is, crying in the bathroom, clenching the sink so hard she can see the whites of her knuckles, can feel the ache in her hands. Glancing up at the mirror, she looks blotched and messy. In vain, she tries to rub the red out of her cheeks, wipe at her smeared mascara with a finger, but it's no use.
It's so stupid, she's so stupid, but she's at work, and Cat can't see her this way. She's like a bloodhound, and she'll be on the scent of a story in a heartbeat. Kara's fooled her before, she can do it again.
So, she smiles big, flashes her straight white teeth. The smile drops away after a few seconds, and it's just her, staring at her reflection in the mirror, looking broken.
"What's wrong?" Cat asks, barbed, the second Kara enters her office with a stack of paperwork to sign.
She stops dead.
"Nothing," she replies, donning her best fake smile again and continuing her route to Cat's desk.
She hands her the files, and Cat takes them, eyes narrowed in suspicion.
"Kara," she chides, saying her name correctly for once. She tilts her head to the side, always examining. "You’re sending out distress signals a mile high."
"Oh god," Kara blushes fiercely. "I'm so sorry, I didn't realize—"
"It’s fine," Cat waves off further apology. "Now tell me what’s wrong before I send you on another six hour dry cleaning trip."
Kara shudders, and Cat lifts an expectant eyebrow. Under the weight of her gaze, Kara turns away and frantically paces a few steps before settling on Cat's pristine leather couch, hands in her lap. She can't really talk about this, can she? It crosses so many professional boundaries, but Cat asked. And her boss never gives up. She's relentless in an interview.
"I just—" she points in the direction of the utility closet, the copier room. "Mike—" but she can't finish.
Cat's shrewd eyes flick up, following her pointed finger. Her face hardens as she leans back in her chair, hands steepled together.
"Is it over?"
Kara nods, pressing a hand to her eye, as if she can somehow push the tears back in. She's shed enough already.
"I can fire him," Cat states flatly, standing and looking like she might march right into the reporter bull pen this very second.
"No, no," Kara practically begs, hands raised to stop her. "Besides, that's not exactly ethical. It's… It's his personal life. I don't want to ruin his career."
"He brought his personal life into my office," Cat huffs back, still simmering with a protective anger Kara can scent crackling through the air. "Into my utility closet, by the sounds of it."
"No, it's not worth it," Kara sniffles into her hand, still unable to look at Cat, especially not for this last part. "He's not worth it."
She sees her boss sag onto one foot in her periphery and cross the office to sit near Kara on the couch. Kara feels the cushions dip, and while she's not sure if Cat's ever touched her before, she can sense that the woman very much wants to place a comforting hand on her shoulder. Cat doesn't, but the thought consoles Kara anyway.
"At least, you've finally figured that out," Cat says instead, and Kara laughs, watery.
"I just—don't know what I'm going to do. I took three months off to sail to Fiji with him," she throws her hands in the air. "I'm so stupid."
"You're not stupid," Cat states firmly, leaning over until Kara is forced to look at her. "You don't need him. You never have. I've seen your google history—"
"What?" Kara asks, tensing.
"You've done the majority of the learning," Cat barrels on. "You've gotten certified. If you're worried about the money, take my boat. I've spent more storing it at the slip than I have on the damn thing in the first place."
Kara considers her boss, wiping her face again and thinking.
"Is it a long range vessel?"
"Honey, I don't know what that means," Cat waves her hand again. "But you're welcome to it. Don't let some alpha who can’t keep it in his pants stop you from taking a once in a lifetime trip. Eve is already trained and approved to take over for you, anyway."
Kara stiffens at the name, but she tries not to be too obvious. Of course, her back-up assistant, Eve. Eve in the utility closet with Mike. Kara had stood there, needing to change the cartridge out of her desk printer. She hadn't seen them, no. But she'd smelled them. She'd heard them.
"And when you come back," Cat lofts between them, having missed the bulk of Kara's reaction. "We can talk about that reporter position."
Kara perks up immediately.
"Really. I know you're the one who's been feeding that idiot half his pitches to Snapper."
Kara freezes, the denial ready and poised on the tip of her tongue, but she's also confused. How does Cat even know that?
"Again, the google searches, Kiera. Stop using company equipment."
Kara smiles apologetically, and Cat smiles back, the barest hint at the corner of her mouth before she shakes it away.
"Now please touch up your make-up before the entire office knows about this Victorian melodrama."
Kara laughs but nods her head. When she leaves the office, her step is a little lighter. Maybe her fiancé cheating on her isn't the worst thing that's ever happened to her. Maybe Cat's right. This is an opportunity.
She can do this. By herself.
2 weeks ago.
"Today is the day!" Kara tells her sister over the phone.
"Tired of all the tequila?"
"Yes, but also the weather is perfect."
Kara checks her phone again, and ten days out, the skies are crystal clear, smeared with cotton candy clouds.
"The sunrise was so beautiful this morning, Alex, I felt spiritual just looking at it."
"Please don't convert in a foreign country."
"I'm just saying. It's a sign."
A sign to leave the drunken, revolving door of tourists, the old fears, the insecurities, Mike... it was all starting to rise to the surface again. So, Kara's ready to leave Mexico, she's sure of it, and cross the Pacific.
"I'll call you on the other side."
"Please be careful."
For the first two weeks, it all feels very serendipitous, perfectly smooth sailing, textbook waters… until she's half-way to Tahiti and every GPS and satellite app on board trills with warning signals.
"Crap," Kara says to no one, but talking to yourself on a long, solo journey across the open ocean is sort of a hazard of the trade.
And so is this storm.
It's a nightmare, really, a storm of this proportion building out on the open water, miles and miles from port. It's too late to avoid, but Kara can still get out of its path if she's lucky.
But she isn't lucky.
Wind speeds become so high, she can't fully use her sail. Maneuverability is limited. The waves are big, rolling down on her like thunder, and Kara is constantly at the helm, employing every strategy she's ever learned for guiding the boat straight down the wave, for not picking up too much speed on the wave face.
It's the worst roller coaster she can imagine, never-ending, the bottom constantly dropping out of her stomach. Her nerves are shot. And she's tired, so tired.
In this moment, she can't help but curse Mike. Again. She'd cursed him for a great many things, but he really deserves it this time. A storm like this, having no lookout makes it nearly impossible. And it goes on for hours that turn into days. There's no one to let her sleep, to eat, to relax. No one to tell her it was all going to be okay. Even if they were lying, it would be nice to hear.
Maybe that's what she's dreaming of when her vigilance slips, dreaming of a partner, a spouse, a mate that she can count on… when she jerks awake to find herself sideways on a breaking wave, twenty feet tall by Kara's estimation.
The ship capsizes.
The mast breaks off. All of the windows on the starboard side blow out, spraying glass everywhere. Kara is slammed against the wooden paneled wall, her head cracking. She's not sure if she is unconscious or not, but she hears music that isn't there. She thinks of the Wizard of Oz, of Dorothy's house being picked up and flung through the air by the tornado. But she's in water, drowning.
When the boat rights itself, Kara tries to recover, her shaking hands retaking the controls. She surveys the damage with bloodshot eyes, water still rolling in. When she touches her face, there's blood. She ignores it. She doesn't have time. The engine still works, but without a mast, she can't move. In the middle of the ocean, she won't have enough gas to get anywhere.
She radios for rescue, but the storm is still raging. She doesn't know when they'll arrive. The leaks can't be repaired or slowed. Several of the thru holes are irreversibly damaged. She's sinking, slowly and surely, while rain and wind and waves continue to batter the outside of the vessel.
She has a decision to make. The rule of thumb is that you step up into a life raft before you abandon ship. The ship needs to be fully sinking, otherwise it's too dangerous, but Kara has no choice. She takes with her what she can into the dinghy, a bright yellow ray of light on the shadowy grey blotted sky and intimidating black-blue waters.
That's all she really remembers, roiling waves and stinging rain. Then, nothing.
But not quite nothing.
A giant, sleeping black dog. Sometimes, it's awake and softly licking her face and hands. Sometimes, it's gone and someone is feeding her salty seafood and fresh water, a comforting and persuasive voice tipping her head back to swallow. It's low, a woman, but she never opens her eyes. Her head is too woozy. She's still so tired.
But she's not dead, and that realization comes to her one night when she wakes, alone in the... hut? Is it a hand-made shelter? She looks around, spotting a small fire burning orange in the middle, buried in the sand, the smoke curling up and out into an open sky. She presses her hands down into the bony ridges of a make-shift bed. A silvery thermal blanket she'd had in her dinghy, it covers her, and there's a thatch roof over her head.
Strange. It doesn't seem real. Is it all a dream?
In a kind of trance, Kara sits up, her world going on axis for a moment. Not good, still woozy. But she forces herself to stand, bare feet sinking into cool sand. She exits the hovel, wobbly, and it's dark outside save for a brilliant white moon. It's brisk and salty, the smell of the ocean registering in her nose, and she turns to the sound of gently rolling waves. When she looks out over the calm water, there's a figure there, a woman partially submerged up to the waist, naked and bathing in the surf.
Kara stills. It feels like discovering a mythological figure. A water nymph. A goddess. The woman turns to look at Kara, one hand running up her neck and into her black hair. She's beautiful, and her eyes are gold, shining like lamplights in the darkness.
It must've been a dream because the next thing Kara knows she's sleeping on the bed again, the dog's head as big as a bear’s dozing peacefully on her stomach, a warm weight rising up and down with every breath she takes.
The dog is beautiful, too, serene, a gentle giant with silky soft ears. Kara buries her fingers into its fur, her hand all but disappearing and it grumbles as she scratches, a deep baritone that vibrates. It soothes her back to sleep.
The next morning, Kara wakes significantly more alert, head clear. Unfortunately, the pain becomes clearer, too. Her body aches. There's a tenderness to her head, a scratchy, healing cut that she touches between her eyebrows.
But she's alive.
And, god, where is she? She sunk Cat's boat.
The rescuers, were they coming? Were they here?
She sits up quickly, shucking the thermal aid off. It drops to the sand, canvassed and dazzling silver in the sloping morning sun. To its left, the fire smolders, put out, and the air is humid, thick enough that it's hard to breathe.
She's clearly made landfall on an island, but which one? Where are the people? Kara doesn't remember seeing anything about a significant port on her maps, and she couldn't have gone far.
Exiting the hut again, she finds her supplies laid out over the sand in a meticulously catalogued fashion. Her dinghy is pulled up onto the beach and sitting under palm trees, crossed like two lovers, looking like it's gone through hell and back.
A throat clearing noise causes Kara to turn, and a woman, the same she remembered from the night before (but looking significantly less celestial in a dirty white button down shirt), stands in front of her on the shore, hands clasped in front of her body like she's been waiting for some time.
Kara stares at her before speaking.
“It's you. You’ve been taking care of me.”
The woman nods, meekly almost, her regard unusually still. Like Kara will bolt if she makes a sudden movement.
"So, I wasn't dreaming?"
The woman smiles at this, rueful. She takes a few breaths, thick elegant eyebrows slightly pinched, as if she's trying to remember something.
"I'm afraid not," she answers in a throaty, unused voice.
Kara notices suddenly that the white shirt the woman's wearing is long-sleeved, rolled up to the forearms, the top few buttons opened revealing two stately collar lines. But she's not wearing pants, the untucked tail of the shirt ending at the top brush of her pale thighs. And no shoes. Kara's brows thread together in concern.
"Where are we?"
"An uninhabited island," the woman answers after a pause. "Somewhere in the pacific."
The silence lingers. It's not great news, as far as things go, but they're both alive and not seriously injured. Kara can work with that.
"How long have you been here?"
The woman opens her mouth to answer before closing it, jaw clenching.
"I'm not sure."
"You don't know?"
"I had, but… I lost track of time. At two months."
"And no one is looking for you? How did you get here?"
The woman's eyes glint with a shrewd intelligence, but her expression is carefully neutral. It reminds Kara a bit of her boss, Cat. Without the barely contained distaste, of course.
"A plane crash. And I haven't seen any other planes or boats. So far."
Kara can't help but think the way she's speaking, too, is somewhat stilted. Simplified. Unpracticed. But Kara also can't imagine being on an island alone for more than two months. She's been on this island for… well. Two days? And it's already too much to handle.
Kara breathes a heavy sigh, and the woman steels herself.
"I took the liberty of going through your things," she says. "I hope you don't mind. Resources are scarce here."
"No, not at all," Kara is quick to assure, smiling. "I'm not sure what made it after I got into the dinghy. I don't remember much."
"The dinghy itself," the woman answers, indicating it. "You had a first aid kit which I used for the," she motions to Kara's face, "cut at your eyebrow. A knife, a whistle, some food and water, several flares. Did you not have a radio or a GPS beacon?"
Kara briefly remembers the beacon clutched desperately in her hand, but nothing further than that.
"I did, but if it's not here, I must've lost it," she internally berates herself. The one thing she needed most. "It must've gone overboard."
The woman nods solemnly.
"Unlucky. It was a big storm. Are you an experienced sailor?"
Kara almost laughs at the question. It's weird to hear herself referred to as a 'sailor.' It would've been more impressive in a context where she hadn't just sunk her ship.
"This was my first long range trip," Kara admits, embarrassed. "I'm not sure if my boat was built for that kind of weather, but I… did my best."
"Hm," the woman answers, and the baritone of that sound is almost familiar. Like Kara had heard it while she was sleeping.
"If we broke that down," she indicates the dinghy instead. "And built a raft, maybe we could use it as a sail. And get off this island."
"Shouldn't we wait for help? I called for rescue."
"We could. But like I said, I haven't seen anyone since you've been here. No boats. No planes."
Kara's listening, she really is, their circumstances are dire after all. But she can't help but notice that when the woman turns to search the horizon, the fine features of her face come into profile, and she is… next level pretty. Actress gorgeous. The light green of her eyes reflect in the sun, and the chiseled line of her jaw cuts across the aquamarine shore behind her. Her lips are red, pouty, and her hair is fairly long, too, seemingly brushed straight and laying near her waist line, black as night. With ethereally fair skin despite having been here for months, she looks like some kind of otherworldly model.
"What's your name?" Kara blurts.
The woman turns back quickly, eyes guarded. The silence of the question sits between them for eons.
"I'm Kara. Kara Danvers."
She thinks they'll shake hands, but the woman doesn't move forward, merely continues to watch her.
"I almost forgot," Kara adds, looking around eagerly. "Where is the dog?"
"Big, black, cuddly," Kara describes, using her hands in a petting gesture.
Lena very visibly tenses with understanding, her hands wringing in front of her. It's a painfully reserved action for their circumstances and for her total lack of undress. Like they're in a board room or something.
"Oh. That's… difficult to explain."
Kara waits expectantly while Lena continues to fidget.
"Just a minute," she says.
Without further comment, Lena turns and walks up the beach, disappearing into a dense growth of palm trees. Kara's not sure if she's meant to follow or not, craning her head to get a better view, but a few minutes later the dog emerges.
Well, it sure isn't a dog, Kara corrects herself. The legs are thinner, the head and snout more narrow with pointed, triangle ears and a bushy, sickle-like tail. And it's huge, much bigger than Kara remembered in her delirium. It's very obviously a wolf, a big black one.
It purposefully walks down the beach and up to Kara, leaving giant paw prints in its wake. It stares soulfully at her with shining, liquid gold eyes, cunning in their human-like intelligence, and…
Kara had only heard of it in fairytales. She'd thought it was just a fun way to teach children about alphas, betas, and omegas, but she'd never really thought it existed. Even the accounts of it being possible from hundreds of years ago, it was easy to believe they'd been spun wildly out of proportion by alpha-obsessed historians.
No one could actually shift into a wolf. That was crazy.
But apparently not. The dog is Lena. And Lena is the dog. Except the dog is actually a wolf and capable of supernatural powers.
It's a hard to pill to swallow first thing after waking up from a near death experience and marooned on a deserted island; the idea that her only other companion is a werewolf of sorts. But wolf Lena is actually not very scary at all. She's very playful and affectionate, especially compared to her standoffish human counterpart.
When human, Lena is as quiet as she is mysterious. She attacks the task of building a raft with a zealotry Kara hasn't seen since Cat wrote a smear piece on Perry White. Kara's still skeptical, hoping to see a plane or boat on the water at any moment, but she offers to help anyway. She's good with knots.
Shut up, not that kind. It's a byproduct of spending months on a boat.
But that does bring up an important point… Lena is an alpha. An alpha alpha. So alpha that in the real world, Kara might've been afraid to be alone with her, her scent like charred cedar, enticing as it is powerful, but Kara is fairly certain there's nothing to worry about. She keeps a twelve foot distance from Kara at all times, the scent of her status only coming in snatches on the wind, and as far as modesty is concerned, Lena always wears the same outfit, she's never indecent. She also watches Kara with a kind of cautiousness and reserve like she's the shape shifting predator.
But Kara's working on it. She wants to get to know her. How could she not? A real life werewolf.
Outside of her companion, Kara has had to make some adjustments for her newly unfolding island life. First off, she's relegated to the clothes she arrived in. A cotton white shirt, her foul weather gear, and jeans (she turns those into cut-offs.) She still has her shoes and glasses too, thank god, she's grateful for it every day because the island is pretty. It would be a crime not to see it. It’s lush and green in the second hand rain of the passing storm and covered in the alluring scent of bright, tropical flowers. Kara stands on a rock, not far from Lena fishing, and gazes at the spectrum of color rolling off the waves, prismatic. The unbridled beauty of it, it's breathless in its grandeur.
But Lena doesn't seem share her same appreciation of the view, growling loudly at the water instead.
"Are you okay?"
"Oh, I'm sorry," Lena rights herself awkwardly. "I don't—normally do that."
"Did the fish offend you?" Kara jokes.
"No," Lena answers softly, but her eyebrows are still drawn. It seems like she wants to say something more, but she doesn't.
This happens, Lena's reticence to speak, but it almost doesn't matter. She doesn't have the best control of her pheromones, Kara's found, broadcasting her feelings with clean-cut clarity within a mile radius. Kara can smell the thinly simmering anger and frustration now, no words needed. Maybe that's simply the toll of two months of being stranded on an island, a loss of hormone etiquette.
Kara reaches out to touch her arm, comforting, and Lena instantly meets her gaze, tense.
"Do you heal?"
"How is it that you’re still so pale? You had a sunburn yesterday."
Unlike Kara who is becoming tanner and tanner with each passing day, Lena remains the same, unchanged in appearance as that first night in the surf.
"I do," Lena swallows. "When I shift."
"Is it fun, being a wolf?" Kara asks, smiling.
Lena grits her teeth, looking back at the water.
"I have trouble catching fish. I wish I was a bear."
"Or a weredolphin," Kara quips.
Lena's eyes sparkle, a smile forming at the corner of her mouth.
"I thought that, too."
It's the most they've discussed the wolf thing, Kara has come to call it in her mind. It's also the closest they've stood together, and Kara finds she's still rubbing Lena's arm, unconsciously breathing in that scent Lena is always giving off, a kind of come hither Kara can't ignore even if she wanted to. Glancing down, Kara finds no bite mark at the unmarred skin where Lena's shoulder meets her neck, and a flutter of feeling bursts forth from inside her.
Surprise, for one, that an alpha like this one is unmated. Lena's beautiful. She seems educated. She oozes the kind of alpha scent omegas typically slaver over, caramel and burnt citrus. Why would she be single?
Secondly, there's a relief that Kara's not, well, the only one. They seem to be of a similar age, and it can feel like a badge of dishonor not being mated by now.
But then there's the third emotion, subdued but by far the riskiest one. It's a twinge of possessiveness that runs through Kara like a hot oil. She tries to suppress it, but based on the pupil dilation in Lena's eyes, she's not all that successful.
"Excuse me," Lena steps away from Kara, Kara's hand falling away from her arm. She makes a hand signal like she's planning to hunt in the forest.
As a wolf.
Kara's life is so weird.
Kara watches her disappear into the trees and sighs, heavy. At least as a wolf, Lena has virtually no scent. Not alpha, not human, not quite even animal. She sleeps as a wolf by Kara's cot every night, always at her side, stretching in the early morning and making not so subtle attempts to head butt Kara's hand for pets.
Kara wishes she saw even a tenth of that self-expression with Lena as a human.
She returns not long after Kara has given up trying to catch Lena's fish and begun tying logs together instead. Lena rubs coarse fur up against Kara's leg, turning to show Kara a dead spider the size of a hand inside her mouth.
"Ew!" Kara cries out in response, jumping to her feet.
Lena drops it in the sand like a trophy, smiling with big white canines, tongue lolled out. Kara sidesteps the dead thing until she can kneel down, taking the wolf's head in both of her hands.
“What am I going to do with you?”
Lena's ears go back, and she leans forward and licks Kara's face.
1 month ago.
When Kara stumbles back to the boat, it's late. She's had a lot of tequila. That's what tourist ports in Mexico are for – too much tequila, right? Too much flirting and dancing with alphas, one of which had even asked to come back to her room. But she'd declined. Something about him, it reminded her of—well, she's not going to think his name right now.
After a few near misses to get her key in the door, she prepares an ice cold glass of water and chugs it whole in her kitchenette. Her phone is already in her hand, unlocked, and she's dialing her sister.
"Have you been drinking?" is the first thing Alex asks after their mutual hellos.
It's annoying. Her sister can always hear it in her voice. And although Kara has a knee jerk response to lie, just to peeve her, she goes with the truth.
"Yep. Have you?"
"Yep," Alex pops the 'p' in the same tone. Kara's pretty sure she just heard a gulp. But it sounds like wind down wine night, not full blown, let the waiter make a margarita in your mouth night like Kara's had.
She wanders back into her cabin, flinging herself onto the mattress.
"Some new Pinot Noir Kelly likes. It's a little too sweet. I miss scotch."
"Mm," Kara answers lazily, not sure if she has the will to change herself for bed. It's totally normal to sleep in your clothes. When in Mexico.
"It’s late," Alex prods gently in her ear, and Kara's eyes flutter back open. "Were you out?"
"Yeah," she answers in a drawl.
"It was fun, but…" she fades away again. They're close enough that Alex takes the cue to wait. Kara hears another gulp.
"I met a guy. He asked me back to his place. He could smell my heat, even through the suppressants I've been taking."
"Did he tell you that?"
Kara sighs, running a hand through her loose blonde hair. It had gone from cute and curly to alarming levels of disheveled as the night had worn on.
"I just feel—lost. You know? Like there's no place for me in the universe."
"That's not true, Kar. You've just had a string of bad alphas. It's not a judgment on you."
"A string? I've had a life of bad alphas. I have to wonder at some point if it's not me."
"This alpha tonight, he kind of looked like him. Brown hair. Nicely trimmed beard. Similar build."
Kara turns over on her side, phone pressed between her ear and the pillow. She can just make out the dottings of a few white stars through the slim, rectangular porthole window on the wall.
"I wonder what he's doing right now."
"Sitting on a tack, I hope."
Kara immediately snorts with laughter, the goofy kind Alex always makes fun of her for.
"Alex," she chides with no bite.
"What? It's true. I honestly hope he never gets laid again. I hope he's impotent for life."
Kara laughs, and it feels good spiraling out of her. She turns onto her back.
"Sometimes, I don't know why I even went on this trip. So much of it reminds me of him."
"Well, you know how I feel," Alex answers protectively. "I don't want my sister alone at a bar, much less on the Pacific Ocean. You weren’t even interested in sailing before you met this clown."
"I'm good at it, though," Kara's quick to reply, feeling equal measures defensive and proud of her experience. "And it's fun, it really is. I've never felt more free, in control of my own—I don't know, destiny. But… it makes me think about how we always went where he wanted to go. We always did what he wanted to do. Even this itinerary, he made it."
"Yeah, I know. I've been telling you he's the definition of a knothead. A world class idiot."
"He told me to stay Cat's assistant, you know. He said I was great at serving other people."
Alex breathes out harshly on the other end of the line, a sound Kara is so intimately familiar with from dinners and double dates with her and Kelly and Kara and Mike. Every time Mike said something stupid (endearing, Kara used to think), her sister would make that sound.
"Yeah, I bet he did."
"I'm just tired of being second fiddle," Kara continues. "I want to be my own hero."
"You can't just keep going along with whatever they say. You have tell them what you want, too, Kara."
Kara sighs again, lost in the abyss of the black, starry night just outside of her boat.
"I don't know what I want."
"Look what I found in the forest!" Kara bounds out of a mangrove thicket.
Lena startles from the mast they'd been working on, the raft splayed out and partially assembled on the beach. Kara presents the unopened bottle of champagne, glass hot to the touch. She found it in the forest while looking for more rope lashing.
"Did you know this was here?"
Lena gazes at the bottle with familiarity.
"I may have thrown it out there."
"Really?" Kara asks, practically buzzing with eagerness. "I was thinking maybe we could build a fire today. A big one for ships to see. And drink this while we wait."
Lena, for some reason, has never seemed to like the idea of building a fire or of using the flares. But there must be something to Kara's cheery determination because she reluctantly agrees, and they spend the afternoon collecting as many fallen leaves and broken branches that they can pile onto a huge bonfire on the northern shore.
The flames lick high into the sky as the sun sets into a navy blue twilight, wispy clouds briefly obscuring the vast array of twinkling stars as they move on the wind.
"You ready?" Kara asks, holding the champagne by the fire, the heat of it bringing a flush to her cheeks.
"I have these, too," Lena offers her a sleeve of unopened coffee cups.
"Decadence!" Kara laughs, and Lena might even smile.
She's opened up a bit more in the last week. Kara's never felt so quickly intimate with another person, but maybe it's just the result of their intense isolation. It's more than that, though, she thinks. Lena has an apt mind when it comes to building their raft, adjusting and changing designs as Kara teaches her boat mechanics. She always listens, never interrupts. It's nice.
Lena gazes down at the bottle between them, the cork already partially lifted. With one quick yank, it practically explodes from the tip of the bottle, too long in the heat with all that pressure. The warm foam runs out and over Kara's hand as she holds it steady to pour into both hers and Lena's cup.
"Do you think it'll taste good?"
"It's going to taste disgusting," Lena answers, and Kara laughs again.
After Lena helps her pour slowly, meticulously down the side of the cup as if Lena has some sort of experience with serving wine, Kara takes a big drink. She feels like it hits her the second it strikes her tongue. She feels giddy, light. Maybe it's from dehydration, maybe it's partially because she wants to feel drunk here. With Lena.
Who is staring at her with a smirk like Kara has just committed some sort of social faux pas. She's holding her glass up.
"Cheers," she says,
"Oh no, I'm so sorry," Kara giggles, and they touch cups.
It really doesn't taste that bad. It's gone flat, yes, but it still retains some flavor. It might as well be liquid gold on this island. And it sure hits her in the right way, making her feel warm, just a touch goofy and risk-taking.
The cup is empty by the time she's ambling over and picking up the flare gun, checking the chamber.
"Should we try it now?" she asks, pointing it up towards her face.
Lena moves quick, so quick, Kara isn't even sure what's happened. All she knows is the residual wetness from her hand had caused her finger to slip, to pull the trigger. The flare went off, loud, piercing, and Kara expects the impact of it but it never comes. It shoots sideways into the sky, bright red, before making contact with the water and flaring out. Lena stands next to her, shoulder to shoulder, one hand on the flare gun, the other sporting a gruesome burn.
"Oh my god! Are you okay?" Kara shouts, genuinely beginning to panic. She takes fierce hold of Lena's hand by the wrist, inspects the angry burn, skin seared away to pink and red. Lena winces, but otherwise doesn't move.
"No, don't worry."
"This is a bad burn, Lena, we should go put it in the water!" Kara tries to drag Lena to the shore, but the other woman resists, yo-yoing Kara back to her.
In front of Kara's eyes, Lena's hand, just her hand, transforms into a paw and back, all five fingers wiggling and perfect.
"It’s fine, see?"
Kara's not sure what she sees. She's never seen anything like it. She keeps running her hand over and over the newly mended skin, not quite believing.
"How is this possible?"
Lena shrugs, palm flexing against Kara's fingers.
"Perks of being an ancient blood line mystical creature, I guess."
"I'm so sorry, again," Kara says, anyway, still stuck on the idea that she not only almost flared herself in the face but hurt Lena.
"Really, it's fine," Lena insists with a tilt of her head. "Now come on. Let's eat."
Kara tries, but she can't continue to protest when Lena pulls her steadfastly by the hand (that Kara won't let go of) to the giant, uprooted tree log she'd dragged to the fire. Kara finds a feast there, at least in terms of their island proportions. There's several types of skewered fish, crab, and even what Kara thinks might be a few rocky-looking mollusks. It's impressive what Lena has cobbled together from both the island itself and Kara's emergency rations. They put their backs against the log while they eat, sitting on the cooling sand, the wind bringing both tangy smoke and soft breaths of warm air on the breeze.
Which is a welcome distraction when Lena moans after taking a bite of one of Kara's high calorie chocolate protein bars. Kara's hair stands up on the back of her neck at the sound of it.
"This is religious," Lena comments, unselfconscious. "I've been dreaming about this. I'd forgotten what chocolate tasted like."
"I love food, too," Kara replies, and then sort of hears how dumb that sounded. She shakes her head to refocus, pulling a crab leg apart with perhaps a little too much zest, juice spraying everywhere. "God, I can't wait to be back. What's the first thing you'll eat?"
"I used to always eat salads, kale mainly—"
"Horrible," Kara interrupts, and Lena smiles indulgently. "Please don't say you'll eat kale first."
"No. But ever since, you know," she motions to the island, herself. "I've been fantasizing about steak. Eating something big. Like a whole cow."
Kara laughs at the idea.
"Well, that's in character."
Lena's still smiling, lips pressed together, head tilted in a fond expression that Kara's not sure she's ever seen Lena make. Kara doesn't get to enjoy the benefit of seeing those slightly too sharp teeth. She takes another long drink of her coffee cup champagne, too buzzed by this point to have much social grace to control what comes out of her mouth next.
"So, you're an alpha. And apparently a werewolf. Isn't that some sort of legend?"
"I thought so, too," Lena looks away, picking apart another piece of chocolate and savoring it.
"Have you always been this way?"
She shakes her head, chewing.
"When did it happen?"
"Here," Lena sighs after a swallow. "It was… a bad day. I wanted to—well, I think it was trying to protect me."
Kara's eyebrows pinch.
"Why do you say 'it?' Isn't 'it' you?"
"Yes, and no," Lena answers thoughtfully. "I don't really have access to my memories. I don't think like a human, not clearly. I can understand your words if I focus, but otherwise it's difficult. But the second I shift everything comes back, and being a wolf, it's like being drunk. I don't really remember anything until the next day."
"So, how I'll feel tomorrow?"
Lena laughs softly. It's a rare sound, and an addicting one.
"You’re different as a wolf, you know," Kara adds after filling up her cup of champagne. She fills Lena's, too.
"How do you mean?"
"More cuddly. More Emotive. You make goofy, vocal little wolf sounds."
"I do not."
"Yes, you do!" Kara sits up higher, inclining towards Lena. "The other day, you chased your tail to make me laugh. We played fetch. You just seem… happier."
"I—" Lena seems momentarily at a loss for words. "Well. It's a nice escape, I won't lie. And it's definitely been an adjustment."
"How big was your plane crash?" Kara picks at more of her food. She's wanted to ask, but had never really found the right moment. "If you don't mind me asking. I'm surprised I didn't hear about it."
"It was just me," Lena answers, face somber, toying with the wrapper of her energy bar. "And the pilot."
"On a private plane?"
"So, you're rich? And this is your champagne?" Kara jokes.
Lena reaches to take the bottle from her. She inspects the faded, curling label, rolls it in her hands.
"Veuve was actually one of the first omega-run wineries back in the 1800's. Her husband had died, and the name actually translates to 'widow Cliquot.' She's credited for inventing the first ever Rosé champagne."
She hands it back to Kara, who takes the bottle.
"I bet you say that to all the girls."
Lena actually laughs louder at that, and Kara places the bottle in the sand.
"You'd be surprised."
"Not a lot of omegas to impress on a deserted island?" Kara smiles, teasing.
Lena shakes her head and only stares at her. Her scent has gone warm, like heated sugar, something coaxing with a hint of forbidden. Kara takes a breath through her mouth lest it go too much to her head.
"Were there other survivors? On your plane."
"No, but Paul's—the pilot’s suitcase washed up on shore. These are actually his clothes," Lena indicates the stained white button down.
Kara had wondered why she wore that. It's sad knowing now.
"I’m sorry. That's horrible."
"It's fine," Lena picks at a nail. "Not much different than a boat sinking, I’m sure."
Kara bites her lip. She hates remembering it. It's the least control she’s ever had, the most at nature’s mercy. A metaphor for her life, really. A boat mastless on the open ocean, a failed attempt at something big.
"It was my first trip, can you believe it?"
"You mentioned that. And you went sailing alone?"
"No, not at all. It's impressive," Lena answers with a kind of intense, defensive tone. "Where did you start out?"
"Oh," her face goes slack. "And you live there?"
"That's where I'm from," Lena adds after a moment, almost like an afterthought.
"Really?" Kara grabs her elbow. She knows she's being a bit too touchy, more than Lena usually allows, but she doesn't seem to mind right now.
"What are the odds," Lena charms instead, but there's something darker to her eyes. Kara ignores it in favor of the bubbly, champagne-induced serendipitous feeling.
"I must’ve missed it in the news when I went sailing."
"Maybe," Lena shrugs with a bit too much practiced apathy. "Why did you go sailing? If you don't mind me asking?"
That douses Kara's high. She leans back on the log, letting Lena's elbow go.
"I guess there was someone I wanted to get away from."
"Hm," Lena nods, looking into her cup and drinking.
"My boyfriend—I mean, well my ex-fiance. We were supposed to get married, become mates. This trip was actually our honeymoon. But I took it without him."
"He cheated on me. With someone at the office. We work at the same place."
She can see the realization visibly hit Lena, her scent going noticeably cooler.
"Oh, I'm sorry. That's not right."
Kara can only shrug.
"That’s why I decided to go alone. I wasn't sure if I could face our mutual friends. I just knew they'd take his side. I knew he'd tell me it was the first time. That it wouldn't happen again. But…"
She can feel herself rambling, but how else was she supposed to explain she couldn’t hold onto a prospective mate? The shame of being cast aside for someone else?
She takes a breath, resettling herself.
"I've been told my whole life that I just have to accept what comes to me. That I'm reactive, submissive, just supposed to go along with someone else's plan. I wanted one thing for me."
Kara could say more, but she stops there. She's always hated that, the expectation that she's fated for a life where she was never going to be fulfilled. Have kids, be the picture perfect omega, bored and still wanting things that 'didn't make sense.' With Mike, he'd almost convinced her, she would've done it. But then he—
She glances over at Lena to find her staring into the fire, the light dancing and flashing gold in her eyes. She's aimlessly drawing some sort of symbol with her pointer finger, a rune in the sand before she starts speaking.
"I understand that. I've been loyal to someone when I knew better. I ignored the signs. It’s easier to live in denial than to believe that someone you love can betray you like that. I never broke free. How could I? How do you stop loving someone even when they do that to you?"
Kara stares at Lena. It's hands down the most she's ever revealed personally.
"I’ve never had anyone in my life I could trust," she finishes.
Lena turns to look at Kara, eyebrows slightly pinched, a thick strand of hair framing the side of her face.
"Sometimes, I feel like it's my fault. Like I'm the huge failure," Kara shares, smiling with self-deprecation.
"Don’t say that."
"First, I can't keep my fiancé, then I sink my boat. I almost killed myself with a flare gun not twenty minutes ago."
She runs a hand over her face to push the building tears away, but Lena takes them both in hers, anchoring her there.
"Stop," she soothes. "You are not a failure. You’re a survivor."
She squeezes her hands.
"You did break free, that's more than I can say. Then you were alone, and you saved yourself. You may have even saved me by landing here. You’re my hero, Kara Danvers."
They hold eye contact for one long, watery moment before Lena smiles softly and drops Kara's hands. The moment passes, but it feels like a bedrock between them. Foundational. Solid.
“What about you?” Kara attempts a light-hearted change of subject, still pressing at an eye with her fist and clearing her voice. It's also the least transparent way she can ask if Lena is single. There's a vexed, tiny wriggling part of her that wonders if Lena was left by someone she loves, the person who betrayed her. If Lena's still with them, still in love with them…
"Is there someone looking for you? Back home?"
Lena shakes her head, looking back into the fire.
"Were you dating?"
"You’re not a virgin?" she asks, but it isn't judgmental. A genuine inquiry. Lena doesn't seem to take insult to it either way, which is honestly surprising for an alpha.
"No. But," Lena lingers. A wave crashes nearby. "I haven’t been with an omega.”
Kara considers her.
"My family, I suppose. They've always been against it." Lena swallows before her next question. "Have you only been with alphas?"
"Not exclusively," Kara answers thoughtfully. "But mostly. You know what they say," she pokes Lena in the thigh. "Once you've been with one, you've been with them all."
Lena laughs, tipping her head back, and a great relief spreads through Kara. A catharsis from sharing something deep, maybe one of her most defining insecurities, and then Lena laughing after like nothing has changed. It's also a relief that Lena isn't seeing someone, isn't hiding some secret locket whose picture she checks every night.
Kara watches the fine lines of Lena's throat bob, eyes flowing down the length like running water. She's reacting to it, unconsciously pumping out a certain kind of pheromone. It's meant to be comforting, lax, to help them process the heavy moment, but it also isn't all that innocent. She can't help it. Kara always gets a little flirty, a little messy when she's drinking. Or as Alex refers to it, "just drunk enough to make a mistake."
"Is that what they say?" Lena asks, lifting an eyebrow and turning back to look at Kara. And oh, that isn't fair.
Kara becomes acutely aware in that moment that their feet are touching, brushing back and forth. She wonders if she did it, if she migrated over there at some point, put them in complete counter angle to each other. The blush in her cheeks feels warm. There's a significance, a specialness to being close to Lena, close and touching someone, something that seems so guarded, so aloof.
Normally, Lena would politely disentangle herself, but she isn't doing that now. Instead, Lena's scent is curling off of her, curious and inviting. She wonders if Lena even knows she’s doing it. Regardless, it's making Kara feel wanted. Bold.
"Your hair looks nice that way," Lena says, eyes moving over Kara's face with palpable touch. "I meant to tell you."
It takes Kara a few moments to realize she's referring to the braid she's been doing her hair in for the last few days. Bathing in the salt water ocean has been wreaking havoc on it, making it tizzy and curly. She touches the end of it.
"I can do yours. If you want?"
"Sure. Get up here," Kara pats the log behind them.
After a reluctant moment, Lena turns in the sand and situates herself on the log, back to Kara. Kara shoots up eagerly and moves behind her, beginning to tease her fingers through Lena's long, black hair. She'll admit, a little bit at least, that she simply luxuriates in the soft touch of it for a few indulgent moments. It's so straight and silky. Then, she cards her fingernails unnecessarily rough over her scalp, back and forth a few times, until she knows she's done something right. Lena makes a noise in her throat, and it compels Kara to be risky, teasing. In a move that is more champagne induced than reason, Kara gathers Lena's hair in a fist and pulls just enough to be felt. Lena makes the noise again and turns to look at Kara over her shoulder, eyes black.
Something about her predator's gaze makes Kara freeze, but with anticipation, her heart leaping. Lena's scent has intensified, like heat off of a hot coal, burnt cinnamon and apple. Kara knows what she's done. It was a challenge of sorts, and the reward has her panting, taking in lungfuls of Lena's reply. She's testing the limits, unconsciously following the omega instinct to nip at Lena to get her attention, to be bratty, but she can't help it. She thinks to pull Lena's hair again, gets as far as flexing her hand to do so before Lena growls suddenly.
Unlike the fish in the water, it's a wholly different command, a sexual one, and it has Kara instantly dropping to her knees in the sand, hands on either side of Lena's waist as she turns her neck to the side in submission.
It's so fast, Kara's brain hasn't fully caught up with the action yet. All she knows is that Lena, horrified, jumps up from the log. Kara turns her head back to Lena at the movement, a pang striking through her so soundly, it rings like a bell.
"Where—?" she starts, but Lena's already backing away.
"I'm so sorry," she hisses quickly before disappearing into the night.
The next day, Kara has a pounding headache and sucks at least six coconuts dry. She doesn't see Lena. Not hide nor hair. Not for hours and hours.
She pretends to entertain herself by working on the raft on the beach, but it's half-hearted. She's trying not to think about what happened. And woefully failing. She keeps checking the tree line for Lena, but she doesn't see anything, not even the stir of a few branches. No golden eyes watching.
It doesn't make a lot of sense. Nothing happened between them that doesn't happen every night, at every bar and night club in America. Was the growling excessive? Sure, but it was effective, cutting right to the core of the matter. Kara had been playing with fire and aiming for such a response. If anything, she was to blame. Although, it's something about the way Lena left, about the way Lena is still gone that dampens Kara's spirits.
She feels kind of rejected.
Especially when she'd submitted so quickly. Kara would say she's done that before, but she hasn't. Not really. Not like that, so instantaneous and dramatic. Even she doesn't have the denial capabilities to ignore being that flushing wet between her thighs after something as simple as a growl. It would be a little embarrassing (especially when it keeps happening again, all day, every time she thinks about it) if Lena didn't already seem embarrassed enough for the both of them.
It's a simmering dejection that remains until nighttime when she's preparing for bed, until a figure stands just outside of the hut, firelight and shadow leaping across her face.
"Lena?" Kara asks, sitting up on her elbows. "I was worried. Are you okay?"
"I'm sorry—I didn't mean," Lena starts awkwardly, placing a hand on the wooden frame but still not entering. "I wanted to apologize for last night. I don’t know why I did that. It was so offensive, I'm sorry."
Kara simply stares back at her, confused. It's sort of amazing, not being the oblivious one for once. Kara knows exactly why Lena did that, it seems fairly straightforward.
"You didn’t offend me," she tells her, but Lena's not listening, still in her head.
"I just don’t have control. Yet."
Of what? is on the tip of Kara's tongue to ask, but something stops her. It's this kind of strange behavior that led Kara to ask if Lena was a virgin. She feels like she's missing out on critical information, but also that if Lena wanted to share, she would. She won't push it.
So, they move back into a stiff routine, one similar to when Kara first arrived. It's tormenting. Lena does let Kara finally braid her hair (which she accomplishes with far less meandering) after it gets deeply tangled in the woods. Even though she sits there, posed as awkward as a statue and jumps up immediately when Kara is done. It's odd. But still kind of endearing.
Endearing. It's weird to think that word. About someone else.
The raft is coming along, too. It’s nice to have a project. It makes her feel alive, here on this island, even if things are weird with Lena. Who else can say they've hand built a raft? Who else has survived for days, weeks alone and without contact? Who else knows a werewolf?
Something about it all makes Kara hesitate. Linger.
"Should we really do this?" she asks Lena one day as they're surveying the raft for weaknesses.
Kara looks out over the big open ocean. It's choppy, white caps lifted by stronger than usual winds. She really doesn't want to be in a storm again. She doesn't want their raft to sink.
"Isn’t it safer to stay here? We have two more flares. We have enough food and water. We can’t be lost forever."
After all, Lena provides everything they need. There's a warmth to being taken care of the way she is here. They have water, food, shelter. Company, even. And Kara has her contributions in building the fires, cooking, teaching Lena sailing. It's equal. There's a simplicity to it, and she's longed for this kind of purpose.
Lena looks at her with a solemn understanding.
"I know you probably don't want to be on a boat again, especially not on the ocean. But if you didn't drift too far off course, we must be close to the French Polynesian shipping lanes you described. It can't be more than a few days trip."
Kara toes at the sand, still unsure. Lena takes a step forward.
"I've been here for so long," she says. "I miss the world. I want to go home."
Kara nods with painful understanding. Again, it kind of hurts her feelings, but she knows she's being selfish. She shouldn't ask Lena to stay.
"I'm going to go search for something that can strengthen the rudder. I'll be back."
Kara doesn't know why she does it, but she follows Lena at a distance for the first time. She waits until she sees her black-blur wolf form trot into the forest, nose to the ground, until it's silent on her side of the island. Then, she explores until she finds the spot where Lena must change, her white shirt, her undergarments neatly folded under the shade of a palm tree. Without really thinking, she picks up the shirt and crushes it to her face, inhaling.
It makes her dizzy. It's useless to deny that she's sailing into a headwind trying to fight her attraction to Lena. Yes, the situation itself is insane. She knows trauma brings people together. But it also feels primal, instinctual, impossible to resist.
She folds the shirt and places it back where it was. It's when she's standing that she feels the first spasm in her stomach, like being struck swiftly in the gut, and she winces.
It all makes sense.
Kara returns to camp thinking hard, and it's not even an hour before Lena is back, dressed, and holding a rectangular-shaped rock.
"I was thinking this might be a good—" she starts.
"There's something I should tell you," Kara cuts her off, and Lena looks at her, expression concerned. "I'm due for my heat. Soon. Maybe in the next few days."
"Is that okay?"
"Yes, of course. That's perfectly natural."
But Lena looks anything but natural.
"I can stay a wolf," she adds.
"Okay," Kara answers, stilted. "That's probably wise."
She's disappointed, even though she kicks herself for it. It's stupid to think Lena wouldn't want to avoid her. Avoid her even more, she should say, but she tries to calm down that particular strain of omega brain as she settles into her heat, taking painful root over the following day, her cramps flaring. She mostly keeps to their hut, and Lena leaves out food and water for her. There's an approaching storm, however, that really turns it into one of the worst heats she's ever had.
She can't help the anxiety that boils over her skin as the storm breaks at around midnight, pelting the shelter with big fat rain drops. Kara's learned to sleep in pretty difficult conditions, but for some reason in this heat addled state, she's terrified, assaulted over and over by images of colossal waves, ear splitting thunder, glass breaking as the boat heaves sideways. The loud running water, the incessant drips into the shelter, it has her heart racing, and she shivers in fear under her thermal blanket.
"Lena?" she calls out when she doesn't feel her near.
There's a shuffle in the sand, and Lena stands in the downpour, eyes gold and glittering in the dark night, lightning flashing behind her.
"Can you come in here? I need you," Kara asks, and the big black wolf enters immediately.
Kara holds out her hand, and Lena nuzzles it before placing her head on Kara's stomach. The cramps and fear seem to abate as Kara strokes her fur, over and over.
It's the best sleep Kara's ever had. Deep. Dreamless save for… a feeling. The warmth of a fire, being safe in a dry place during a storm, covered by a thick blanket.
It makes sense when Kara stirs awake, and there's something different, something she's never woken up to before. Something warm and comforting behind her. Something enticing, her nose following the scent like freshly baked bread. Or coffee. Lulling her into wakefulness and pursuit. She shifts, and there's the electric buzz of skin on skin contact, and Kara's eyes open.
Looking down, there's an arm slung around her waist that squeezes. It holds her so closely, so tightly, like she'll never be let go. There's black hair, silky and fanning across Kara's neck and chest. It's a balm, a relief, and Kara relaxes back into it, making another discovery of sorts.
Lena is human. Lena is naked. And spooning her from behind.
Lena is naked. She can feel her, semi-hard against her backside, and Kara's entire body heats up, spiking when it's already too hot from her heat. From the island.
Kara grits her teeth, torn between two options, wholly abandoned to a third as she undulates a little, testing what all she can feel. Lena tightens her grip at the movement, makes a back of the throat kind of noise, a grumble. A muted growl. Kara's wet again instantly, although she always is during a heat, but this is more. It's worse with an alpha nearby, especially unmated, especially pressed right up against her with a scent that is piquing, stretching awake and interested.
Kara wonders vaguely when Lena changed, why she changed back into human, but it doesn't feel all that relevant to this moment. It’s difficult to think anything over the repeated fantasy loop of Kara's knee pressed up against her chest, Lena driving into her from behind. They’re already completely entwined, Lena's face buried in Kara's honey blonde hair. Kara had stripped herself of her clothes, so there's absolutely nothing between them as Lena's large hands spread open, running up and down the ridges of her sides, over the muscles in her stomach.
“Kara?” Lena asks, a question that's more of a whine. Kara can smell the change along the fractured lines of her scent, burning hot, needy in a rut-like musk.
It's a little rude, honestly, a scent like that at a time like this, but Kara isn't exactly behaving either. She doesn't make much of an effort to control herself, choosing instead to let her heat call to Lena in much the same way. It's a gaudy thing to do, a window display that leaves absolutely nothing up to the imagination.
Come inside, it says. Stay.
Lena breathes deeply, moving Kara's hair away from her neck. She growls again, and Kara exposes her throat, submits fully to Lena plunging her face there, to squeezing even tighter as she breathes in strongly.
Kara can fully feel the outline of her cock now as Lena continues to run her lips, her mouth over her neck. Lena sucks hard, and Kara gasps as she leaves a mark over her pulse point. It's unbelievably intimate, something really that should only be reserved for partners, but Kara will give Lena anything she wants in this moment.
In an effort to show her as much, she lifts a leg and positions Lena's cock between her thighs from behind. There's a wetness, a precum as she closes them again around it, rubbing her thighs together and making them both moan. Lena's hands move up in a frenzy at the sensation, exploring her breasts, pinching at both nipples. Her hips jog in a lazy rhythm, and Kara can see the tip, just the head bobbing back and forth between her legs. Not that she's tried to check Lena's… situation out before (she has), but she's only ever gotten a glimpse, a thin outline at best. She can see it better now, the broad head, girthy as it is long, bringing the most tantalizing pressure as it touches the hood of her clit over and over. It's larger, too, than she was used to when she'd been with—well, let's just say, she's not worried about whether Lena can serve her desires.
Kara moans again, lost in it, seriously considering something as lascivious as presenting, when Lena suddenly removes herself, rolling on top, hands on both sides of Kara's head to hold herself up.
"I shouldn't be here," she tells Kara, throaty and low.
"But I want you here. Right here."
Kara has a new angle, a new freedom to stroke her hand up and down Lena's length. Lena's eyes roll back before she growls again, taking the offending hand and pinning it above Kara's head. She can still feel the hard press of Lena's erection against her stomach, and a wetness absolutely soaking the cot in an unvoiced request. Her desperation is beginning to take on sharp edges as her heat pitches.
Not fair, not fair, not fair. Why is she so far away? Why can't she touch?
"You're in heat. This isn't really consent," Lena seems to struggle, breathing hard, pupils still fully dilated, nostrils flared. "You don't know me."
"I know you," Kara inclines her head, doing something exceedingly unfair in return. She catches Lena's lips in a kiss, using her teeth to snare.
Lena makes a kind of strangled sound before reciprocating. Their lips slot together in a puzzle, a back and forth give and take, until Lena gives up the game completely and dives in, dominating. She compels Kara's mouth open with a tongue pressed against her lips before licking fully inside. Her free hand, her thumb hinges behind Kara's jaw, holding her head in place. The taste of her mouth, it's like something ancient and smoldering. A volcano, powerful and on the edge of eruption.
And it makes her thrilled. She smiles against Lena's lips as their breasts and stomachs and legs meld together. Lena clenches at the hand still held above Kara's head.
"I want to touch you," Kara pleads.
But it's difficult for Kara to hear her, hard through the satisfying sensation of being pinned down and finally caught. Also, Lena's not protesting with her hormones or her body. She smells extremely aroused. She's scent marking Kara like crazy, all but saying mine over and over as she sucks another mark at her collar bone, but she keeps Kara's hands trapped.
Her inner omega is not happy with it, she can't help it. There's Kara as a person, and Kara as omega. Whether she likes it or not, there's a drive to fulfill someone else’s desire, find someone who can also fulfill hers, and she's being stopped in her attempt to do so.
"You don’t want this?" she asks, sounding a little more pitiful than she'd like.
Lena swallows, looking Kara up and down.
“You don't want me."
“Not want you?” Kara can’t even conceive of it, and she pulls Lena into another crushing kiss, impatiently brushing her hair back behind her ear when it comes loose, caught between both of their mouths. Kara's trying to tell her with the kiss, her body, her scent, everything, that she wants her.
It appears that Lena is somewhat persuaded, enough to that she releases Kara's hand in pursuit of touching her nipples again. Kara wastes no time in shamelessly running both hands down Lena's back, squeezing her ass, encouraging her hips forward. She's greedy, fingernails digging in, smelling the core of the gland at Lena's neck. She's drunk on it.
"I want you inside me," she says.
And for a moment, it seems Lena might actually obey. Her cockhead is positioned just at Kara's entrance, pushing, nudging, tempted. Her pheromones are overpowering, intense like never before, and it's like nothing Kara's ever experienced. Like a drug. The most exquisite bliss, a total surrender.
But Lena pulls back again, mouths tearing apart. Kara tries not to groan from the loss off her lips, and she looks into Lena's eyes questioningly. What Lena shows her, however, are the sharp points of her canine teeth. Kara's breath hitches at the sight.
"Your teeth," is all she has the wherewithal to say, not so much a question as a statement. They're—presented for a mating bite.
"I'm worried I’m going to bite you."
Kara is having a difficult time understanding the problem while her brain is full throttle and chanting mate, mate, mate. An unsuppressed heat is intense. It feels like she's been charmed, intrigued, tortured for weeks, and she finally has what she wants, right here in her hands.
But she can't say yes. She also can't say no, eyes gazing down past pale breasts, pink nipples, to what can only be a knot forming at the base of Lena's cock. Her mouth waters at the sight of it. She wants that.
"I trust you," she breathes.
Lena's face falls, her eyebrows furrow.
"You don’t understand—I haven't told you—" Lena stammers in reply. "I’m sorry, I can’t. I can’t do this to you.”
"Lena," Kara groans loudly when Lena backs off of the cot, but it's too late. She sees the black bushy tail exiting the shelter, and Lena's gone.
She presses her heels of her hands to her eyes, wanting to scream. There is a very small, very distant part of her brain that completely understands this logic. She knows the odds of pregnancy are high. She knows she would very much not like to be pregnant and stranded on a remote island. She knows a mating bite is not undertaken lightly. But the very large, very present heat-addled inner-omega part of her brain is beyond pissed.
tell me what you think! or come harass me on social media @hrwinter
Chapter 5: Chapter 5
i know it's been awhile, but finally got an update out! my wife hasn't beta read it yet, so it's probably littered with typos, but let me know what you think :)
(See the end of the chapter for more notes.)
9 years earlier.
It's a white, dreary day. Half an inch of snow blankets the vast grounds of the boarding school. Above Lena, the tall red maples have long since lost their autumn splendor, the branches hanging spindly and brittle, bark wet with half-melted snow. A cutting wind whips up, burning her cheeks as she crosses the quad, passing several abandoned lawn chairs, hers a lone pair of tracks in the otherwise untouched landscape. It's a Sunday, so school is relatively empty.
As she continues her walk, the Faculty House's dual towers rise up in front of her to frame a big, wooden door. It's stately, built with weathered red bricks and recently-painted white carved accents around the hundred year old warped windows. She sighs when she looks at it, pausing, before she resigns herself to climbing the steps, old black metal lamp posts ushering her way forward on both sides like obedient, tireless soldiers.
This is bullshit, basically.
The assistant headmaster awaits her inside, that much she knows, and when she enters, it's warmer in the foyer, but not by much. Further down the hall, the faculty secretary barely looks up, but she nods once, indicating Lena to wait in the office above. Wordless, Lena climbs, careful not to touch the overly ornate wooden banister and giving the giant portraits of old white-haired alphas, long dead, a wide berth.
All because she'd been in a fight at school. Over an omega she'd been visiting in town.
Her name was Eve. She smelled sweet, almost at least. If Lena focused hard enough, she thought she could smell something appeasing through the weight of her suppressants. Lena liked her smile. Eve didn't treat her like a Luthor, like she was someone to be either probed or avoided. She'd just served Lena beers, knowing she was underage, and asked her what it was like to go to that 'big fancy school up on the hill.'
"That townie?" Lockwood, an alpha in the class above her, had scoffed just outside the library, cigarette half smoked and reeking.
Lena had stopped to look at him, and he'd laughed while taking a long, pretentious drag.
"That's the only person that would touch you with a ten foot pole," he gestured towards her with the orange-lit tip. "You’re the runt. You’re not even a real Luthor."
He'd blown smoke in her face.
She can still feel the burn of those words like they'd been branded on her body by the tip of that cigarette. The Luthor household had never been easy, not for her. She'd even consider herself fairly adept at ignoring jabs and jibes. A wall. Stoic.
But something about that had nicked her armor, had caused her temper to flare.
The alpha was standing close, the smoke still billowing out of his mouth like a dormant dragon, but there was another smell. The fetid rank of rut pheromones. It had made her see red. She'd faked with her left, which he was expecting, and he'd dodged. She can remember the ever so smug smile of victory he'd had on his face. Before she'd punched him solid with her right. She'd broken his nose.
Luthor or not, she was efficient. Lillian and Lex had taught her that much.
The door to the office is already ajar when Lena reaches it, so she enters. She side steps a green leather couch before gazing up at the wood-paneled walls. There's a stained glass window to her right which must've cost a fortune. And through it, Lena can see it's begun snowing again outside.
She should've brought a scarf.
Sighing again, she turns, her eyes traveling over a glass cabinet filled with dusty books. A desk. A leather folio, and…
"Hiya sis." He has his feet kicked up on top of the assistant headmaster's desk. She can see the mud on the bottom of his boots.
Lena's mouth is still ajar. Was there any realm her brother didn't wield power over? That he didn't control? How had he even gotten here in time for her meeting? How had he known?
He hasn't even removed his jacket, where flakes of snow have lightly dusted his shoulders, pearlescent against the cloth yet somehow not penetrating. Or melting.
Nothing could ever touch Lex, not even water.
"I thought you'd be happy to see me instead of Mr. Rawson," Lex remarks with a feigned expression of hurt, but Lena's learned at this point she really needs to appease his ego, not his feelings.
She closes her mouth, clears her throat.
"I am. I'm just surprised."
"I promise I'll be lenient," he smiles, amused but a threat.
He spins in the wooden, antique red leather chair, and it creaks rhythmically as he goes back and forth. He appraises the office, judging, a spoiled school boy whose father owns everything. Lena wonders how much you have to donate for this kind of latitude, for this blatant exception to the rules. One hundred thousand? Half a million?
"So, you got in a fight. Did you win?"
"That's my girl," he claps his hands together, the green of his eyes cutting back to her. She's sure he would've bet on it if he could. Lex loves a fight that draws blood.
"Why did it even start?"
Lena doesn't answer that, careful not to move her hands, but one still twitches accidentally of its own accord. Lex loses his humor as he watches the minute movement, his lips hardening into a line.
"We don't need any more scandals in the papers," he warns.
"There's nothing to write about."
"So, it didn't have anything to do with that omega you've been visiting in town?"
Lena feels her breath catch in her throat. She wonders if Lex can see that, too, suspended in her lungs.
"We actually own Lockwood's company, did you know? A trifling business, a steel mill of all things. I can have his father fired," he snaps, and it's loud in the small room, like a gun shot. "Just like that. Do you want me to, Lena?"
She recognizes the terms of a deal, the brokerage of a trade.
But what's one bully for another? She takes a risk.
"I haven't been visiting anyone—"
"I thought you knew the rules."
The chair croaks with another back and forth turn. It's snowing harder, enough to lightly tap the warped glass like a breath of fogged air. Lena stays still as the snowfall mounting on the window sill.
It's bullshit. It really is. The double standards. Lena had seen Lex on the cover of some trashy magazine, admittedly when she was in town visiting Eve, but she'd seen him inside a black SUV, women falling out of it at some club.
Why was it that all of Lex’s rules never applied to him? Why was he immune to scandal but she wasn't?
"No to mention," he continues, steepling his fingers. "It's common."
Lena's cheeks burn anew at the implication. He doesn't say it, but Lena can hear it.
"You're the best of the best, and you deserve the best," he adds with such sincerity, such brotherly affection, she might've been fooled.
"But you don’t get to make mistakes."
There it is.
"Dad's not here to protect us anymore. You need to be better than these impulses, Lena. You're not an animal."
Lena bites down so hard, it draws blood from her inner cheek. She can taste it on her tongue.
"You don't know that it was a mistake," she counters after a moment of consideration. "She didn't sell anything to the papers."
Lex smiles at this, almost sad. Like he pities her.
"No. Because I already bought her."
"You what?" She hates the surprise in her own voice.
"I paid her. I pretended I was a big shot reporter from Metropolis. Clark Kent," Lex spins again in his chair, amused by his own brilliance. "I told her who you were, that I'd pay for a story. She was just biding her time until you told her something she could use."
Lena feels the ice outside running as coldly as if it were going through her own veins.
"You can't let anyone in. They'll take advantage of you. Be better than your worst self. Trust no one. You know that now, don't you?"
A moment passes that could be an infinity. But it passes all the same, and Lena nods, curtly, still reeling, still wondering what else might have transpired between Lex and Eve. She's blushing with fury, with hurt, and she can't stand that her brother can see it.
"So, that's settled," and it is because he said so. "I told the headmaster that we'll enroll you in anger management. Community service. How's that sound?"
Like he's doing her a favor when really it's just another inroad into her private life, another battle lost in the war for more, more, more information. A therapist with the voice of her brother, reporting back after every session.
But what choice does she have?
This next part always costs her.
"Thank you," she parrots.
Kara is not happy with her. But Lena isn't doing so hot either.
Her animal id has been ripping up trees and digging holes, specifically a two foot deep trench around their hut like some sort of makeshift mote, a kind of repressed expression of protecting her would-be mate.
It's honestly embarrassing. Lena tries not to think too much about it. And she can't think about it, not really while in wolf form. The only thing that goes through her feral mind is that she can't leave Kara alone, but she can't enter the hut either. Hence the mote. Hence the digging.
It's days of torment before she feels safe enough to transform back to human, before she can tell that Kara is moving about normally again, no longer heat sick.
Lena's on all fours in the shallows of the beach when she changes back, soaking wet. She catches a glimpse of herself in the reflection of the rolling ocean, and she looks a mess, splattered in blood, mud, and sand. Her golden yellow eyes stare back at her, otherworldly and judgmental.
This is her fault. Why had she shifted back to human? Why had she been up on Kara's bed? It's not like the temptation hadn't been there before, so why now?
She splashes water in her face, eyes squeezed shut against the brine.
It had been unconscious, she knows that, like answering a very distinct, very desperate call. A call meant only for her. A call to protect Kara, to satisfy her. And she feels stupid, hugely ashamed for having caved to it. Even if it felt as natural, as primal and instinctive as breathing, she should have had control.
Why has she never had control on this god forsaken island?
Lena splashes water onto her face again, rubbing at the gritty sand, running her fingers through the tangled mass of her hair.
And how was she even supposed to have any kind of control with Kara? An omega washes up on the beach in a place that suppressants have never touched, and Lena has been nothing but preoccupied with Kara’s health, her well-being, and her everything else. She drives Lena crazy.
Kara hums to herself when she's focused on a task, in vaguely recognizable renditions of pop songs from all eras, the 80s, 90s, and recent. She'd converted the jeans she'd arrived in to cut off shorts, a special torment that revealed her tan, bronzed thighs, flexing when she'd pick up shells on the shore to inspect. Kara is tall and broad shouldered, a creature made of mostly shapely arms, legs and abs. And Kara is touchy, nothing presumptuous, but it's driven Lena to near madness. Her constant proximity, her fingers always at Lena's elbow. She's much happier, too, right after she’s eaten, drunk on the sun and golden. And she smells divine.
Lena's not sure if it's a perk (or a curse) of being unsuppressed, but Kara's scent is strong in her nostrils at all times, sweet with summer sweat and vanilla icing. It's natural, no faux aesthetics like Lena remembers from back home, just a primal and intoxicating perfume.
Just the thought of it again here on the beach sends Lena into another tailspin, reminds her of being neck deep in that smell and inhaling. She remembers panting, canines drawn. Tasting the inside of Kara's mouth, her skin, smelling how wet she was, how she wanted—she'd wanted something. Everything. Reduced to this thing driven purely by—
She splashes her face with water, hard, and shakes herself violently from the vision. There’s something desperately absurd about falling in love with this perfect creature while stranded on a deserted island. Sometimes she wonders if she made her up. A fantasy. A hallucination. Sometimes she thinks she died and went to heaven. Sometimes hell.
She splashes herself again, drawing herself up from the waves.
Lena has to get off this island before she does something even stupider than she already has.
Before Kara had come, a part of her had stopped trying, had let herself imagine being here forever. No responsibilities. No fears. Safe. Lonely but no one to hurt or to hurt her. But it was one thing to give up on herself, but another thing entirely to give up on Kara Danvers. It tips a growl from her just imagining something bad happening to her.
She wades to the shore and finds her clothes folded under a palm tree like always and dresses. After, she goes to the raft again, stands over it with her hands on her hips.
It's comprised of a dozen or so very thick palm tree logs, lashed together. There are cross beams for support, using wooden pegs to hold them together (Kara had thought of that.) There's also a small mast at the front, a sheet of rubber from the dinghy as a sail.
"The soft bottom of the dinghy is damaged," Kara had told her, inspecting it closely. "It may not last another storm if we’re unlucky."
She'd also thought it was too thick to make an adequate sail, but they really didn't have anything else. It would simply have to do in combination with the large paddle they'd carved, ruddering and steering from the back of the boat. There's also a small tent in the middle, covered by the bright orange exposure canopy that had been in Kara's dinghy, thermal blanket as a bed. It would be a welcome relief from the sun, but it also promised the kind of proximity that would likely become an issue for future Lena. They'd sleep below the canopy, bright orange and visible from a distance. Together. No way for Lena to transform…
She doesn't want to think about that. All that matters is that it's coming together. She hopes beyond hope that Kara's right about the boating lanes, about it not taking long for them to be found.
Speaking of, Lena's ears perk at a rustle in the sand behind her, and she turns, making eye contact with Kara for the first time, well, since—
"You have—uh, blood still," Kara touches her own mouth and cheek as she looks at Lena. "On your face."
As greetings go, it's hardly the warmest. It's been days since they'd properly spoken. Lena wipes awkwardly at her mouth with the white sleeve of her shirt, gazing at Kara over the top of her forearm.
Her hair is honey blonde and tussled. She looks absolutely gorgeous. It sets Lena's primal alpha brain off with a chant of mine mine mine, but Kara isn’t hers to have.
She pulls her arm away, and Kara sits with exhaustion on the felled palm tree alongside the raft. It almost reminds Lena of having a visitor in her office, seated on the couch. The informal way Jess used to sit there at the end of a long day, kicking her heels off. The difference, however, here is that Kara is radiating insecurity. A kind of deep-rooted lack of fulfillment that could suck all the water clear out of the ocean.
"Is it done?" Kara asks somewhat terse, glancing up at Lena with eyes an opalescent blue.
From her tone, Lena can practically feel the argument waiting to happen, vibrating in the air around them.
"I think it's ready to test. If it floats, we could sail out by tomorrow morning."
Kara looks down, kicking at a mound of sand.
"I'm still not sure if this is a good idea."
Lena herself pretends to inspect the rudder paddle for the fortieth or fiftieth time, attempting to quell the annoyance Kara's doubt provokes.
"It's the best we've got. We have to get off this island."
Kara looks up at her, a kind of mulish stubbornness set to her jaw.
"We can use the flares, you know."
"We've gone over this, there's no one to see them."
"Then we can wait—"
Lena’s spine steels. She's so tired of this conversation.
"You see this as a temporary, don't you?" she finds herself replying heatedly, standing back up to full height. "I've been here months. I'm tired of waiting."
Kara's face goes slack, her fight deflated. It's the least eye contact Kara has ever made with her, eyes groundward and diverted.
"I'm sorry," Lena quickly amends. "I didn't mean to snap."
Kara toys with her fingers, hands in her lap.
"No, I’m sorry. I should’ve been—I should be more careful of your instincts. I wasn't trying to tell you what to do."
At that, Lena can feel her brows go hard, her teeth clench.
God, she's such a fool. An amateur.
"What happened before—," Lena starts, tense and awkward. "It was my fault, not yours."
Kara looks up, eyes shrewd like they may be having two conversations at once.
“You’re an alpha, Lena," Kara states as if this is the most obvious thing in the world.
"I know, but I’m not a monster."
"I didn’t—" Kara quickly adds, clearly confused by the sudden leap of logic. "I didn't say that. There’s nothing wrong with—"
She takes a breath and pauses, closing her eyes briefly, a fluttering of golden blonde lashes.
"I'm just worried about—I mean, what’re you going to do when you can’t get away from me on that raft? Have you thought about that?"
"I—I don’t want to get away from you," Lena defends, flustered.
"You can admit it, Lena," Kara wipes at her eyes, like the tiredness penetrates to the very core of her bones. "You don't like being around me."
As she finishes, another bout of that same hormone punches the air. It's Kara's distress, Lena realizes. Her rejection. Lena can’t help it any more than she could help entering that hut and sleeping with Kara, arms wrapped protectively around her while she was in pain.
She steps closer, hand running up the length of Kara's arm, from wrist to bicep to shoulder.
"That is not true. You—I—we both know that."
Her finger brushes at the sucked mark she'd left at Kara's neck, slopes down to the one at her chest too, all defining, physical evidence that she does, in fact, want to be around her. Kara shivers as Lena's hand drifts back to her side, eyes still shiny and wet.
"This situation is… unusual. Extenuating."
"Crazy, you mean," Kara laughs, rubbing at an eye.
"We just have to keep moving forward," Lena tells her. "We have to get back to our lives."
"And then what?" Kara levels her with her most intense gaze yet.
"I—I don't know. I just know we can't stay here."
"You don’t deserve it."
"And you do?"
Lena tucks a loose thread of hair behind Kara's ear.
"You won’t want me when we're off this island.”
Kara looks resigned at that, nods her head weakly.
"Fine. We can leave in the morning."
The float test is a success. Kara and Lena exchange looks of glowing pride, even if it's tempered by jittery nerves. They're really going to do this. They're really going to sail a makeshift boat and survive on the Pacific Ocean. It's sort of incredible. It makes Lena giddy. And terrified. It doesn't take a genius like Lena to realize that even being a supernatural werewolf won't help her out on open water. Especially not in a storm when all they've got to float on is a pile of logs.
But they have to try.
The next morning, Lena pushes the raft down into the shallows, and it bobs on the lapping water while the surf has yet to fully come in. It's early, beams rising orange and hitting shell-pink off the clouds closest to the horizon. Farther up, there's still a touch of night royal blue to the sky, tinging the clouds deep purple, looking soft as rose petals. It's a painter's paradise.
Lena gauges the wind. There's enough of a breeze to use for their sail. The water is smooth, too, innocent as if the very same sea hadn't capsized Kara's vessel, surrounded and attempted to drown Lena on this island for months. But now, it's tranquil as a dove. Lena might even miss this place.
Kara rises not long after, checking each of the logs again, pulling anxiously on all of the rope lashing to make sure they're firm.
"Does it look good? Do you think it'll hold?" Kara has asked this question a dozen times, but Lena indulges her.
"It looks good to me. I trust your judgment."
Kara kicks at it, like the logs are new tires on a car.
"You know, I still can't believe we made this."
Kara bends down to inspect what she had informed Lena was a 'reef knot.'
"Knots are actually really cool," Kara rambles with nerves, unconscientiously pulling the cord tighter to their exposure canopy. "The Inca's only written language was in knots. There's actually a study of theoretical knots, knot theory in knitting. A rope is usually the weakest at the knot. That's where it breaks. If you ever want to loosen a knot, you just roll it," Kara demonstrates and Lena's eyes must betray something in her protracted scrutiny of Kara's hands because then Kara quickly adds,
"Wow, I need to stop saying the word knot."
"Please," Lena answers in a clip, and Kara abruptly stops, turning back to the hut with burning cheeks.
Kara returns a few minutes later with a small amount of supplies: the emergency first aid kit, water, the flare gun case. She places them gingerly under the exposure canopy, surveying it like there's really any other spot to place them.
"The middle is the safest, right?" she asks.
Lena shrugs, adding her own things to the pile: food wrapped in leaves, her hand-made fishing spear, the knife and whistle. After her time here, it feels like she should have more things, something tangible she could show to demonstrate the hardship she'd endured. But maybe that was the proof in and of itself. She's been stripped of everything.
Everything except Kara.
She adds the last item, the seat floating device that had saved her life. It would be their pillow.
"I know we've gone over it already," Lena turns to Kara hesitantly. "But let's go over it again. One last time."
Kara nods solemnly,
"So, I know roughly where we are. We'll use the stars to guide us," she points upward. "The oar for direction. It should take about a day to sail towards the ship routes. We'll use our flares if we see anyone. Hopefully, we'll get lucky."
Her expression turns dark as glances out over the water.
"I won’t let anything happen to you," Lena tells her.
What she really wants is to touch Kara, to hold her, but she doesn't. She simply orbits closer, doing her best to release a calming, protective scent. It seems to work when Kara looks back, looking a touch more resolved.
"We'll be fine. It's only one night."
Lena smiles softly.
"You should know, I float pretty well as a wolf," she adds, and this gets a soft laugh.
"I doubt it."
"I do. I'm good at swimming."
"I'll believe it when I see it."
Lena snorts, and without much more conversation, they push off.
As the raft breaks water, the paddle works well, Lena taking the brunt of the work while Kara sits cross legged at the helm, providing directions. Kara had been right about the sail, it seems too thick to catch much of the day's light wind, but regardless, the docile water and Lena's enhanced strength means they make good pace.
Lena gazes over her shoulder while she rows, looking back at her island as it gets farther and farther away. It's weird seeing it at this distance. She's dreamed of this day, of finally seeing the last of those shores, those god damn coconuts and palm trees, but it's still unsettling as it disappears, becoming smaller and smaller until it's nothing at all.
She feels grief at the loss of it. While it hadn't been voluntary, it had still been home. It had kept her alive. She can't help but feel grateful.
She gazes forward again, back at Kara, her golden hair glinting halo-like in the sun. She would find a new home.
As the morning wears into midday and eventually dusk, the water remains calm, still bucking the raft up and down gently. It's nothing compared to the way it had been during the storms, and there's still not a cloud in the sky. Lena hopes it stays that way. They're both contemplating the weather while Lena unrolls the fish, doling out each portion.
"It's beautiful," Kara comments, gazing out at the sunset, eyes squinted into the dying light.
Lena doesn't say anything, staring at Kara in profile before forcing herself to eat the charred fish.
As the sun dips slowly below the horizon, Kara scans the night sky eagerly, pointing out stars and planets to Lena as they slowly emerge. Lena shelves the paddle for now and rolls the exposure canopy back to one corner, giving them a full view of the sky as it drifts into deeper hues of blue and black. There's a harvest moon rising, every star twinkling. The air is still warm and humid, tacky and sticky, but it's dreamlike to be floating so close to the water like this, to hear the sounds of wood knocking against the waves. For once, it's soothing. Lena spreads out on her back, listening to the joy in Kara's voice as she tells a story about Maui and the Chief's Fishline, and it's like a cradle rocking her to sleep.
"And that one?" Lena points when Kara takes a lull.
"That area is called the Kite of Kawelo. It comes right after Manaiakalani. A good way to remember the sequence of stars in this area is to imagine a bowl as Ke Ka, a backbone as Iwikuamo’o, a fishhook as Manaiakalani, and a kite, as Ka Lupe."
Lena smiles up at Kara, impressed.
"Were you always this interested in astronomy?"
Kara shakes her head.
"No, not until I started learning about sailing. I was planning to sail all the way to Hawaii, and I wanted to use the right names for everything. I also really liked the idea of sleeping beneath new stars, it's fascinating. They're the only guide true sailors ever had. That's what could make storms and clouds so treacherous."
Outside of her voice, the vast and stretching silence is surreal. Lena's not sure she's ever experienced something so ethereal, a peace like this out on the open ocean.
"You didn't study them?" Kara breaks the spell, turning her face from the heavens to look at Lena. Her blonde hair is silvery white in the starlight, her blue eyes more gray in the dark.
"I was…" Lena pauses, thinking of the heaviest weight she's born since meeting Kara. Her name. "So busy with two STEM degrees and a masters in engineering, I didn't have time for electives I might've enjoyed."
"That's a shame."
Kara moves to lay down next to Lena, placing her glasses to the side and stretching out like a cat on top of their shared thermal blanket. Around them, the water is shimmering mirror glass, a doubly reflected sky. It feels like space with stars above and below, their raft a ship suspended and free from gravity.
Kara turns to her, face cradled in her hand, elbow bent beneath her.
"Can I ask you a question?"
Lena nods, the back of her throat feeling suddenly dry.
"Why did you leave? The other night?"
Lena doesn't need to be told what night she's referring to.
"I mean, I know it wasn't safe, but that doesn't feel like the whole story," Kara adds with a touch of timidity.
Lena can't quite bring herself to look at her while she says it.
"You wouldn’t want to get into bed with a Luthor."
"Luthor?" Kara asks quietly.
"That's my last name," Lena turns on her side, too, bringing them face to face, a sleepover the likes of which Lena never had. Being out here like this, it's what she might have imagined a camping trip was like. Or the intimate morning ritual of sharing a bed with someone. She can see the wet of Kara's lips, hear the hushed quality of her voice, like they're trading secrets under a sheet. She can see the wheels turning in her head.
"Yes, that kind of Luthor," Lena confirms, glancing away. It's too hard to see Kara's reaction this close.
"Us being together…" she continues, "I might've bitten you. If we were saved, my brother might kill you. It’s not safe. Trust me, I’d ruin your life."
"You don't know that."
Lena doesn't reply, still gazing at the wooden log just beneath Kara's shoulder.
"Now that I think about it," Kara adds contemplatively. "I remember seeing the headlines about you while I was in Mexico. I didn't know—I didn't recognize you."
Lena laughs at this in self-deprecation.
"I imagine I don't look quite the same."
Kara doesn't laugh with her, though, eyebrows still threaded in concern.
"The whole world is looking for you, Lena."
Lena's laugh withers into silence, going still as the open water around them.
"You could’ve left before I arrived. Why didn’t you?"
"What do you mean?" she stalls.
"You could've created a fire. Flagged down ships or planes. You were there for months. Did you not want to go back?"
"I needed a sail," Lena shrugs, a half-truth.
"That's not true. I've seen you. You're resourceful. You wouldn't be there unless you wanted to be."
Lena considers the question, interrogated into a corner. Kara should do this for a living.
"I think… my brother did this to me."
"I couldn't trust planes or boats. I can't trust anyone."
"You can trust me," Kara reaches out to touch Lena's face, delicate as a wisp of smoke.
At the touch, Lena uses absolutely every cell in her body not to think about what it had been like to kiss her. Kara glances down, in much the same boat both literally and figuratively.
Trust no one, Lena tries not to listen to Lex's words reverberating in her mind.
"When you came, I didn't want to be—," Lena gestures awkwardly to her body. "An alpha. My whole life, I thought... I didn't have to. Not with drugs."
"You took suppressants?"
Lena nods again. "For a long time."
Kara mulls over this, chewing on her lip, before finally saying,
"There is nothing wrong with you."
She strokes Lena's face again before letting it fall and twine into Lena's fingers.
"Lena Luthor." Kara repeats to herself, smiling slightly. "You've been holding out. You're not only rich, you're a billionaire."
Lena smiles at that.
"You mean you're not?"
"Oh no," Kara humorously rolls her eyes. "I don't even live in a good part of town."
"I've never asked…" Lena pauses. "What do you do? For a living?"
"It's not very impressive. I'm a personal assistant. Kind of par for the course," she adds with dark humor. "Great at serving, remember."
Lena squeezes her hand. Several minutes pass where Lena's eyes become heavy, the strain of the day, the relief of telling Kara who she is, making her feel weighted and like she can finally give in to rest.
"I'm sure you're much more than that," she murmurs softly. "What do you want to do?"
Kara takes her time in answering, a wistful expression on her face.
"I want to be a writer, I think."
Mindlessly, Lena pulls Kara closer by their conjoined hands, and she easily follows, cuddling into Lena's body.
"I’ll be the first to buy your book," Lena says.
Kara hums, curling into Lena's chest, hand spread into the unbuttoned shirt and naked skin at Lena's collar. The rocking of the water lulls them both into a quick and easy sleep.
When Lena begins to wake, she's surprised to find that they've switched positions during the night. She's once again cuddling Kara from behind, one arm slung under her neck and head, the other circled around her waist. It's not dissimilar from the last time they were in this position, the primary difference being that this time, they're clothed. And no one is in heat or rut.
Being here again, it feels inevitable and the temptation twice as strong. She unconsciously squeezes at the fleshy part of Kara's hip, just as she had before, and nuzzles closer into the irresistible vanilla valley of her neck. She inhales sharply and inadvertently pumps out claiming, possessive pheromones, groaning when another part of her body rouses awake at the stimulation, at the feel of Kara shifting and pressing her backside against her, still asleep but obviously responsive.
In a way, it makes Lena angry. About the lie Lex had perpetuated. About how it was wrong for Lena to be with an omega, the way he had always implied that Lena would never be able to control herself.
"One moment of weakness, that's all it takes."
Hating to give him any sort of credit, however, Lena could sympathize ever so slightly. With Kara supple and squirming against her, it would be all too easy to think, just a little kiss. Just a little touch.
As if summoned by her increasingly indecent thoughts, Lena startles fully awake after what feels like a bucket of cold water is thrown directly in her face.
Sputtering, she sits up quickly, and Kara shifts in her sleep, scrunching her face in protest.
"Five more minutes," she slurs in her sleep.
Blinking the salt water from her eyes, Lena looks left, looks right, before she gets hit with another face full of water. Cursing loudly, she wipes her eyes again, only to hear the same enormous sound that she'd missed before, like a deep and massive exhale, followed once again by a great big ocean spray.
It's a whale, Lena finally realizes, swimming right alongside them. Huge. The sound was the blowhole, exposed to the air. Lena gapes at it, her mind almost too tired and foggy to realize what she's seeing.
"Kara, Kara—" she stammers, thinking to show her the whale, but she hears another sound. She sees another movement in her periphery, the great red and black hull of a cargo ship. She hears the mechanical hum of an engine, the sound altogether foreign to her ears on the otherwise placid and silent ocean.
"Shit," she says to herself, scrambling through their possessions to find the flare gun case.
"What is it?" Kara sits up, groggy as she blinks into the sunlight.
"There's a boat," is all Lena says before she's loading the gun and aiming up and out over the water.
She fires, and it's deafening. The whale seeks deeper waters, disappearing beneath the waves. Lena feels a kind of disappointment that she hadn't shown Kara, but it also feels like some sort of omen. A miracle. She might've slept through seeing the boat entirely if it hadn't woken her.
The boat stalls to a stop not far from the raft. With her sharpened senses, Lena can just make out the busy ant-like scrambling of a few crew members hustling over the deck, the even smaller movements inside the high, white bridge of the control room. Not even a half hour later, they've sent a boat out, retrieving Kara and Lena and pulling them aboard, all speaking in hurried, rushed French.
Lena's so overwhelmed, she completely forgets she can speak the language. She imagines the withering and disappointed look her mother would give her, but when they're hoisted to the top deck and surrounded by steel cargo containers of ocean rusted reds, greens, and blues, it rushes back to her. Lena speaks with them in broken French while Kara goggles at her, and Lena gets an understanding that the captain is coming to see them. A crew member points at Kara and says something unintelligible, points back up to the bridge. He points at Lena, too.
Luthor, he says, heavily accented, and despite herself, it makes Lena's blood run cold.
Luthor, Lena Luthor. Kara Danvers.
They must recognize them. It makes Lena antsy, and she bodily blocks Kara, placing the other woman at her back. Kara snakes a hand up her shoulder and squeezes.
"Not here," Kara whispers, and Lena looks down to find her hands partially changed, they've become furry and black. With a moment of focus, she controls herself, and they fade back to a pale white. Human.
No one notices, but it's too much, suddenly, being here. There's a dozen new people crowding around her with strange voices and loud noises. And the smells. There's a smattering of betas, but it's the alphas she makes prolonged eye contact with, watching each of them shrink back slightly. Lena is, of course, grateful to be saved, but the threat isn't gone. Who knows who these crew members are.
On high alert, she nearly jumps out of her skin at the sound of a speedboat racing towards the ship. At first, she has a wild, fearful thought that it's Lex, come to finish the job. But it's—
"Mike?" Kara breathes out loud as he climbs up and onto the cargo ship deck.
"Kara!" he shouts when he sees her.
Lena watches in horror as the Hallmark movie moment plays out in front of her. Mike comes running across the open plane between them. Kara tenses beside her in shock as he reaches her, scooping her up into a romantic hug, crying tears of joy. All while Lena stands there, cold and still as unthawed ice.
"I can't believe I found you," Mike says into Kara's hair, and Lena bristles.
The cargo ship crew found them, not him. Lena shifts on a pendulum, suddenly feeling very defensive of the crew while they watch on with curious interest. A few leave to return to their posts.
"Alex has been worried sick. I called to tell her, she's ecstatic I was already in the area."
"You were?" Kara replies, sounding outside herself. Her eyes shift nervously to Lena.
"I can't believe you're alive. I can't believe you were all alone out there," Mike says, running a hand over her face like he's assuring himself that she's real. Like Lena's not standing there at all.
"I wasn't—well, I wasn't alone," Kara holds an outstretched hand towards Lena.
Lena's not sure what comes over her then. As Mike turns to make eye contact, noticing her for the very first time, his scent offends her. He stinks. She hates everything about him. She growls loudly, baring her teeth at Mike, fangs out.
If the moment weren't so serious, the full, two foot jump Mike makes away from her would be comical. Even at a new distance, he instantly turns his neck in submission. Several of the crew mates do, too, averting their eyes. This appeases the animal part of Lena, she wants him nowhere near Kara or herself, but the human part of her is immediately embarrassed.
She bites back the growl, attempts to regain composure. Mike glances up from the deck floor, awkwardly looking at her before, to Lena's absolute mortification, he glances briefly for a claim mark at the base of Kara's neck. Kara seems to notice, too, instantly stiffening and pulling at the bare covering of her tank top strap, as if that would hide anything.
"I'm sorry," Lena gruffs, breaking the tension. "That was uncalled for."
"It's okay," Mike answers, shoulders still tense. He makes no move to come closer.
"Could I make a phone call?" Lena asks, turning back to the captain still on deck with them, whose eyes are wide and round. He doesn't appear to understand.
"Puis-je passer un appel téléphonique?" she repeats, miming a phone and trying to school any sort of instinctual growl out of her voice to prevent it from becoming a command.
The man limply directs her to an inner cabin.
After her call, Lena's shown to the crew accommodations and motioned to wait in what must be the mess hall. After her display on deck, almost everyone is careful to maintain a great gap of distance between them.
So be it. Her mood has been soured from socializing, anyway.
Walking towards the end of the rectangle room, there's a galley, wall lined with silver pots and pans and wood paneled cabinets. The cool blow of air conditioning is strange on her skin. Lena approaches a coffee maker, staring at it. She fingers a sleeve of coffee cups, not too different from the ones they'd drunk hot champagne from.
Everything she'd imagined is here. Food. Drink. Readily available.
It's weird not to be here with Kara, not to share in the marvel of the common luxuries they'd been so long deprived of. But she remembers Mike back up on deck, the hug, the stroking of Kara's face, and her jaw locks.
Kara had said 'cheating ex-boyfriend', but he had also been her fiancé. He was the reason for her trip. He'd been important to her. Things could change, especially after a traumatic event. Lena had even told Kara that she wouldn't want her, anyway, and maybe she didn't. She wouldn't.
Emotions spiraling, she crushes the coffee cup to near dust and looks up to find a crew member staring at her, mop in hand.
She needs to be alone.
She rushes away to find a bathroom and locks the door. She paces back and forth. It's only minutes before can resist the urge, before she's removed her clothes and shifted into a wolf. Sighing with relief, she lays her head down on the cold, laminate tile. She pants lightly, mind blissfully empty until a shadow breaks the line of light from under the door.
"Lena?" she makes out her name, a female voice. Kara. She doesn't get up, turning her snout back to the corner.
"Lena," Kara says again. "I know you're in there. Please shift back. I want to talk to you."
But Lena can’t. She’ll spray hormones all over the place again. She’ll telepath her feelings. Her heartbreak, her disappointment, it's not fair to anyone, especially Kara.
Kara waits there, anyway, a thump on the door like she's rested her head there. Then, there's an unusual noise, loud and rhythmic through the walls of the ship. Kara's feet pace away, and Lena jumps up, shifting back to human. She dresses again.
Outside, the thing hits the water with a loud rumble. Reemerging back out on deck, Lena finds Kara and Mike looking down at a boat plane of all things, huge banana-shaped pontoons on each side, big white wings dripping with water. And even more disbelievingly, Lillian, Lena's stepmother, is hanging her head out of a window with an impatient look on her face like Lena's late for a board meeting.
Lena takes a breath, steeling herself. She ignores Mike and addresses Kara. She's changed into normal clothes and holds two hot cups of steaming coffee in her hands. Lena gulps at the scent, wondering if one is supposed to be for her, but stays focused to task.
"Are you safe here?"
"Yes," Kara answers, and Lena forces herself to believe it. "But Lena—" she takes a step forward.
Lena stalks away to the edge of the ship and strips her clothes off. She thinks she hears Mike gasp from behind her as she jumps off the ship with the grace of an Olympic diver. The impact of the water hurts, but she swims to her mother's plane anyway, climbing up onto a step ladder a few minutes later, naked as the day she was born.
Lillian looks down her nose at Lena.
"Do you always have to be so dramatic, dear?" she chides before motioning for the plane to take off.
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"I know you've gone quite to seed and have been living without civilization, but can we at least maintain a modicum of decorum?" Lillian carps at Lena, lobbing a towel towards her lap.
Lena makes no move to further cover herself, opting to glare at her step mother instead.
The pilot pays them no mind, starting the deafening engine of the plane and revving up for takeoff. In a moment of weakness, Lena shifts her attention back through the water splattered window and finds the frozen figure of Kara, still staring in their direction from the top of the ship.
She looks so small.
The plane lurches forward, jerking Lena's head away, and gains speed, slowly lifting into the air. The bottom that falls out of Lena's stomach suddenly reminds her how much she hates flying after months of not so much as even thinking of a vehicle, much less a plane. When she opens her mouth to say something to that effect, Lillian quickly shushes her with a hand. She hands her a pair of black headphones.
Lena sullenly slips them over her ears, muffling the roar of the engine to a distant hum.
"Johnathan," she hears the voice of Lillian through the speakers, not even the electricity offering a respite from that lilt of Connecticut snobbery. "Will you switch your frequency to channel four?"
The pilot nods, adjusting something on the control board, and Lillian gazes at Lena with that ever present air of unmet expectation.
"After your brother not even money can buy silence, I'm afraid."
Of course. The currency of information was never too far from a Luthor's mind.
Lena shifts uncomfortably. It's strange to be back around Lillian again. To be around people at all. She wants both to scream at her mother and never say another word to her again. She's certainly angry, but she's even more curious. How had she gotten here so quickly? Where had she been? What was happening with Lex? Inadvertently, she realizes she's been pumping out aggressive pheromones when she smells the overwhelming punch to the air, but Lillian doesn't look away. Or submit.
"Please," she replies instead. "You should know, I'm familiar with these theatrics from your father. Although this brand is certainly more," she waves a hand in the air, "wild."
She sniffs to punctuate the comment, and Lena almost growls. Instead, she closes her eyes and readjusts herself in the squeaky leather chair. She crosses her arms over her otherwise bare breasts.
"So, you knew."
Lillian tilts her head to the side, exposing her neck. Lena wonders if it's unconscious or intentional. Knowing her, it's likely the latter.
"You think I bore his bite and didn't know what he was?"
Lena clenches her jaw.
"You arrived awfully quickly after my call. Did you have business in the outer remote regions of French Polynesia?"
Lillian rolls her eyes.
"If you're asking if I knew where you were, the answer is yes."
Lena does actually growl this time, feeling around the edges of her sharpened fangs with the tip of her tongue. The pilot's shoulders tense. Lillian has the good form to lean away, retreating further into her seat.
"So, you knew and you left me alone on an island for four months?"
"Surprised?" Lillian counters with a lift of her eyebrow. Lena could kill her.
"Stop that," she adds, and the growl cuts off in Lena's throat. "It's uncouth."
"Why didn’t you tell me? Reach out to me?" Lena snaps. "Do you have any idea what I’ve gone through?"
"Not quite alone, from what I gather," Lillian corrects. "By the way, what was that whole display on deck? Was it all for her?"
Lena hates the imperious implication of her tone.
"Don't change the subject."
"You didn't claim her, did you?"
"Of course not."
Her stepmother actually looks relieved.
"Back to why you left me to die—"
Lillian groans, reaching inside a compartment for a bottle of champagne. She inspects it with some derision.
"That's why there were no planes. No boats," Lena continues. "You stopped them from searching this area."
"I called in a few favors."
"And you let Kara suffer, too."
Her bottle green eyes snap up at that.
"You were both in the safest place in the world. No one would find you, I saw to that. Plus, we didn't spend a small fortune giving you all that military training for nothing. I knew you’d be fine. You're a smart girl. Isn't that what you were always telling me?"
It was so like her mother to play down Lena's ability to survive for months on end with nothing but a sleeve of coffee cups and a hunk of metal. Lena glowers.
"I saw the raft, impeccably resourceful, and I tipped her so-called fiancé off. You almost ruined everything—"
"Me? I ruined everything?"
"But Lex was arrested this afternoon, so really this all fell right into my lap. Serendipity."
Lena would bite her head off, literally, if she hadn't said one thing of import.
"Lex has been arrested? What are you talking about?"
And why was Lena chronically three steps behind and off balance? It reminded her of the many chess matches she'd played and lost to Lillian as a child.
Lillian opens her mouth to make another derisive joke, a deflection, a half-truth, but Lena's temper flames and the hot surge of pheromones once again smothers the cabin of the plane.
"Be direct for once in your life."
Lillian's nostrils flare and she hesitates as if she almost can't resist the command.
"I knew it was Lex," she breathes out quickly. "When you went missing. And it's not like it was easy, Lena. I didn't know you were alive. He lied about where you crashed. I've spent half your inheritance trying to find you and compiling all the evidence to build a case against him."
Lena sharply cuts over the form of her stepmother. She does look thinner. Worn. Not so polished by a dozen or so facials, "spa treatments", and chemicals. Not the paragon of perfection Lena had always seen her to be.
"A case against Lex?" Lena repeats. There are many things in this world she thought she'd never see, and Lillian betraying her own son was one of them. "You chose me? Over him?"
"It wasn't exactly a choice," Lillian mutters, still looking dour at having caved to Lena's prior directive.
Lena laughs, mirthless and hollow.
"Not a choice? You've never loved me. You told me I wasn't even a Luthor."
"Obviously. You let me find out on that fucking island, and now you take my side. Why?"
Lillian doesn't answer, toying with the empty champagne flute in her hand, and Lena no longer cares about courtesy, about playing fair.
"Tell me why."
Lillian tenses again, closing her eyes and breathing the scent of Lena's command as shallowly as she is able.
"Lex killed your father."
The pheromones drop off immediately, and Lena's eyebrows furrow hard. Lillian breathes a sigh of relief.
"I didn't tell you because if Lex knew you both shared a bloodline, he would've killed you. He knew your—" Lillian motions at the overall state of Lena's naked body, "condition passed through the family. He thought it would come to him. He waited for years."
"And when he didn't inherit it—"
"He'd had big plans for that kind of power. He wanted to make it public. He wanted the world to know what he was. An alpha to rule alphas. And then nothing."
The blow must've been huge, Lena thinks, and she can't help but revel a little in imagining Lex's stinging disappointment.
"When Lex had presented when he was younger, he'd found out about your father. And your father, well. Lex was not the alpha he’d hoped for. He could’ve avoided the scandal of adopting you. The drama. But he insisted. He said we couldn't risk letting the trait pass to a blood descendant outside of our family. I, for one, didn't even know you existed."
Lena hears the harsh, bitter note of the words. Lillian pours herself a glass of champagne, and she waits for her to continue.
"And Lex, yes, he humored you," her lip curls up in memory. "At first. When he'd assumed you'd be an omega. But as time wore on, he became impatient. He became suspicious. Lionel told him it could skip lines, but Lex didn't believe it. I believe he thought your father was holding onto the power because he didn't trust him. So, Lex thought he'd speed up the process."
Lena can't help the fleeting look of horror that crosses her face. Her brother, he hadn't even been that old when their father died. How had he made it look like an accident?
"How could you let him get away with it?"
"I didn't," Lillian answers sharply. "I couldn't find any proof. Young as he was, your brother still knew how to clean up a mess. Nonetheless, I knew you were in danger when it still didn't manifest within Lex. I told him it had to be triggered. I was trying to buy you—us time. But when you went missing, I–I knew. I knew something must've happened."
Lena thinks back to the boardroom at L-Corp, to the conversation with Edge. The way he'd submitted, the veins of his neck bared and vulnerable for the ripping. The way she hadn't seen Lex. Had he too submitted?
"You let him control me. You encouraged me to stay on suppressants for fifteen years, mother."
"I was scared," Lillian admits. "And clearly I was right to worry."
"You gelded me."
"Hardly. I saved your life."
Glaring at each other, Lena still must concede… she may never know the full extent or reasoning behind her stepmother's actions, black or white, wrong or right. Maybe Lillian could never fully turn on her only son. Maybe the bitterness of an unknown child, an unknown affair, had tipped some of the scales out of Lena's favor, had bred the cruelty she had known from her for most of her life.
But she was here. And she said Lex was arrested.
"Now," Lillian clasps her hands as if they've moved on from that topic. "Onto business. Does Ms. Danvers know?"
Lena's teeth clench protectively at the mention of Kara, sharpening once more behind her lips. But she only nods curtly.
Lillian briefly closes her eyes in annoyance.
"Your father went to great lengths to keep that a secret, you know," she chides. "I suppose we can buy her off. Not that anyone would believe her, anyway."
She begins to pour the second glass of champagne for Lena, placing her own aside in a drink holder to her left.
"We're not paying her off," Lena warns. "We can trust her."
Lillian stops mid pour, the bubbles fizzing half-way up the glass, gazing at Lena with an expression of utmost incredulity.
"Do you even know who she is?"
"She's a personal assistant. Hardly anything to start a war over, mother."
Lillian smirks, just slightly, barely there, but after being handed her ass so many times in her life, Lena knows when Lillian is preparing to savor something. She makes that same expression before a five course meal. It can't be good.
"She's a personal assistant to Cat Grant, the owner of the biggest media conglomerate in the world. And thanks to you, she has the inside scoop on a story of a lifetime featuring not only you, but Lex, Metropolis' most famous and soon to be incarcerated Man of Tomorrow."
Lillian lets that sink in, and honestly Lena feels like she's going to be sick.
"And what do you think she’s going to do with that kind of story? Wallpaper her apartment? You really can be marvelously naïve sometimes, Lena."
Lillian shakes her head in displeasure but finishes pouring the glass. She offers it to Lena, but Lena doesn't so much as twitch a muscle to take it.
She can only sit there, face impenetrable, feeling cold. Of everything, this may be the worst news yet. She can hear her brother in her mind, telling her he was right all over again. Right about Eve. Right about her alpha nature leading to a scandal, an expose. She hunches over suddenly, head in her hands, overcome with emotion.
She has a very acute, very painful vision of a possible future. She's holding the fine, glossy print of a published CatCo article and reading every vulnerable thing she’d ever shared with Kara. Her heart threatens to stop at the fear of it.
"Look, dear, we'll make it right," Lillian seems to pity her. "No one will ever know. I'll buy that entire cargo liner, and everyone will sign nondisclosure agreements."
She rips her hands away from her face and resolutely looks out and over the ocean she hopes she never sees again.
She's not sure how much time passes before she hears her mother speak once more.
"You didn’t bite her? You're sure?"
"I think I'd remember that, thank you," she snaps back with a sharp look in Lillian's direction.
"You should know it’s not the same for you," she explains. "A bite… not only is it unbreakable, she'll share several aspects of your power."
Lena plays with the towel in her lap, pinching the edge of it between two fingers. It's not like it matters now. A reporter. There's no one to bite.
"What was it like? With him?" Lena asks instead, feeling tentative for the first time in the conversation. Memories of her father are painful, made more so by the newfound knowledge of her brother's treachery.
"Not easy," is all Lillian feels inclined to share. There's a silence where her mother gazes out of the window, too, before finishing and refilling her champagne flute. "Will you keep it?"
"What do you mean? You can get rid of this power?"
Lillian shakes her head. "No, you can't get rid of it. I meant, you don't have to use it. Although, I can't imagine why you wouldn't. It's how your father built his empire."
Lena squeezes the towel again before releasing it.
"I don't care about empires. If I used it, it would be for good."
Lillian scoffs, sipping her fresh champagne.
Kara's gaze is still fixed despondently in the direction of the plane she can no longer see, the white speck having disappeared into the blue sky some minutes ago. Mike clears his throat behind her, but Kara ignores it, opting instead to set the coffee intended for Lena aside. She bends down to pick up the faded, mottled button down shirt Lena had always worn, had discarded on the ship deck just before she'd jumped.
It's soft between her fingertips. She's half-way to lifting it to her face, burying herself in that scent when Mike interrupts, having followed her up to the edge of the ship. He picks up the second coffee for himself.
"Well, that was… something," he says. "I still can't believe you crashed on an island with Lena Luthor."
Kara doesn't reply, still palming the shirt in her hand. She hates the way Mike says Lena's last name, like an insult, a taboo curse word.
"Did you see her eyes?" he adds, dropping his tone to a conspiratorial hush. Kara thinks back to the piercing gold of Lena's irises, the last thing she'd seen before Lena had said goodbye.
"It must’ve been a trick of the sun."
As they walk back to collect her things, she thinks it's almost a relief that someone else has met Lena. Kara won't lie, she's been a little worried that she'd hit her head hard during the shipwreck. That she’d made the whole thing up in an island isolation induced lunacy. But it's Mike that's met her. Mike with that disastrous first encounter. Kara had felt Lena's growl at the base of her spine. In the bottom of her stomach, all the way down to her—well.
He was right. Lena was something.
Kara doesn't share any of these thoughts, though, electing to maintain her silence on the ride back to Papeete. Blessedly between the roar of the engine and the spray of the water with each loud and crashing bounce on the ocean, it's too loud to be conducive anyway. So, Kara just bundles herself up under a towel in the back seat and stares unblinking into the horizon.
It's only when vibrant green mountains come rolling into view, two volcanic cones interrupting the cloudless sky above Tahiti, does Kara notice they've arrived. They dock at a small pier where Kara can see luxury huts, likely part of some resort, extending out and over the cyan blue water further down the coast. There's other huge yachts parked beside them, too, more extravagant than anything Kara had ever sailed.
It feels so at odds with what she's been through. She knows she should feel relief at the sight of civilization, at the first steps on land that will bring her back to National City. She knows she should be happy, but she isn't. She thinks instead of the crudely-made hut she and Lena had called home. This isn't really where she wants to be. Everything stands before her, waiting, but it's wholly unwelcome.
She doesn't say anything still, not even when they arrive at the hotel room hastily reserved, and Mike perches himself on the edge of their suite bed. The only formative thought she can muster is that Mike better not think he's sharing that bed with her now or ever.
"This place costs almost a thousand a night," Mike attempts light-hearted conversation. "Can you believe that?"
Kara doesn't answer, walking over to the window. An afternoon breeze has picked up and sways the nearby palm trees.
"Your luck getting stranded in paradise," he adds, sounding more forced and overly cheerful by the moment.
"Paradise," Kara repeats, turning to look at him for the first time. Mike's charming smile cracks under the scrutiny, falling.
God, Lena had never done that. She'd never made light of how bad their situation was. She'd never made everything feel this unnatural, this difficult. Kara experiences a wayward desire to run a hand through her fur again, coarse yet full and responsive. A phantom part of her brain even has her hand twitching forward while imagining it.
"Where is Alex?" she asks instead, forcing her hand to drop slack back by her side.
"Her flight lands in a few hours."
Kara almost groans out loud. She's not sure why a few more hours with Mike feels like it'll become such a chore. He's right in front of her, mere feet apart, three and a half steps at most, but he's never felt farther away. A foot note of the past. Alex, at least, she’d thought of constantly. Eliza and her family, too, of course. Even Cat. But her thoughts of Mike had been sterile, septic since the very first day of her voyage. Not a single positive association remains.
"Why are you here?" she asks more harshly than she intends. Maybe a few of her finer social skills have fallen by the wayside, as limp and brown as the kelp that had washed up on the shore of their island daily.
"Why am I—" he scoffs, shocked and dropping the false cheeriness act. "Are you okay, Kara? You seem off. You've been weird ever since we found you."
"You didn't find me," Kara snaps for some reason. "The crew members on that liner did."
"I've—I've been looking for you this whole time."
"What? Three weeks?"
He seems to be at a loss for words.
"I’m here to save you," he says finally.
"I don’t need saving! I am not some damsel in distress!"
Wow, she rarely raises her voice, and she can still hear it echoing off the thin walls. She never shouts at anyone, but this… it's overwhelming. This anger. This grief. She hadn't wanted to be found. Not by him, not by anybody. She can hear his teeth snap shut, smell the burn of his annoyance in his pitching scent.
She had not missed the smell of his pheromones.
He opens his mouth, and she hopes he might shout back, say something harsh in return (she deserves it), but instead he shakes his head after a moment and runs a hand through his hair.
"Wow, this is not how I thought this would go."
Kara rolls her eyes and irritably looks back through the window. He never listens to her.
"Is this about Lena?" he asks, raising his hands higher when Kara glares back at him. "What happened on that island?"
She feels no compulsion at all to tell him. His irritability seems to grow.
"You have a mark on your neck, did you know that?" he points, brows furrowing in anger. "No, actually, you have two marks."
"So, what? What do you care?"
"You smell like her, too," he continues, indignant, as if she hadn't said anything at all. "She's scent marked you. It's just—it's not—"
"It's not what, Mike?"
"Proper!" He finally exclaims.
"You’re telling me what is and isn't proper?" she starts. "You? How proper is it to screw your colleague in your company's office supply closet?"
He, at least, has the good grace to look briefly embarrassed.
"That was a long time ago," he scrabbles weakly. "But I'm the one that's here. Now."
Kara refuses to hear his unspoken words.
She's not here. I am.
"I didn't ASK you to be here, Mike," Kara reiterates. "And you weren’t there. Not when I needed you the most. Not for months and months. You cheated on me."
"That's over," he tries to placate, and it almost seems practiced, something he'd stood in front of the mirror and performed like he did with his office pitches every night before bed. "I'm so sorry. It was the biggest mistake of my life. I just want you back. I want us back."
Kara can't help the traitorous tears in her eyes, tears she swore she wouldn't let Mike produce again. She'd wanted to hear this. Once. She'd wanted this version of Mike. But now?
"It's too late," she tells him.
"But we've been through so much together," he pleads, but Kara interrupts him with a humorless laugh. Mike's mouth falls open.
She puts her hand on the window sill to steady herself, squeezing tight.
"You're right. We have been through a lot. Like that time when you promised to be at my sister's rehearsal dinner, and instead you ran off and got wasted with your friends. I apologized for you all night, I apologized to you when you told me I was controlling for being upset, that you needed to have 'fun with the boys' every once and awhile. An omega wouldn't understand, you said."
"Kara, I'm sorry. I tried to contact you after you left—"
"I'm not done. Then, there was the time you got the reporter promotion at CatCo before me, even though you knew I wanted it. You knew Snapper hated me. You knew he'd choose you. You told me to stay Cat's assistant. That it wasn't the right time. You said you would convince him to hire me, but you never did. It's been a year. A year in which you stole my ideas and never gave me credit, had Eve do all of your work for you, and then you had sex with her. At work. You didn't ever apologize for that."
"Kara, I get it. I know I messed up. I'm trying to apologize now."
"No, I don't think you do. I don't think you are. I don't think you get that I gave my heart to a lying jackass who disrespected me at every turn, and now after I've left him and never looked back, he claims to be reformed. I can’t trust you to take care of me or provide. I can't trust you not to leave me for the first idiot blonde that crosses your path. And I don’t want you for a mate."
It feels good to say out loud. Finally. To his face. It feels true. But Mike is staring at her, speechless, with actual tears in his eyes. Why does he even care now? He never did before.
"I think you should leave. I need—" Kara waves her hand in front of herself. She just needs him out of her sight, "to call my sister. And Eliza. And, god, probably Cat. It's been a long day. It's been a long few weeks."
"Okay," he rises from the bed. He walks to the door, hand on the knob when he takes one last look at her, clearly waiting. Clearly hoping. But she has nothing else to say.
She turns her back on him and looks out the window with a stupid longing that maybe she'll see a plane on the horizon again.
The reunion with Alex involves a lot of crying, hugs, and indecipherable, high pitched babbling. She's not sure how long they stand there in the hotel room foyer, clutching each other tightly.
"Kara, god," Alex pulls back, smoothing both her hands over Kara's face. "I wasn't sure I'd ever see you again."
Kara can barely see her Alex now through her own bleary tears, but she smiles back.
"I'm so happy you're here."
Alex chokes back another sob, trying to regain control of her breathing, and she looks around the room for some kind of distraction.
"Wait, Mike left?"
Kara closes her eyes, takes a deep breath. She shrugs.
"I don't know. He might still be roaming around here somewhere, hoping I'll take him back."
Alex glances back at her, examining, her face pinched as if surprised.
"I'm sorry, I didn't know he'd be here," she says. "I was so happy you'd been found, I almost forgot it was Mike who was calling. I also didn't know—how you'd feel about him after what happened."
"You thought I'd suddenly forgive him?"
"Trauma does strange things to people."
"Not this trauma," Kara mutters, returning to the bed and sitting down.
"What happened to you, anyway?" Alex lingers in the doorway before sitting next to her, shoulder pressed up against Kara. "If you don't mind me asking. Are you okay?"
"I'm okay, but can we talk about it later? Can we just go home?"
Alex holds her hand the entire way back to National City, never letting Kara stray too far out of her sight. Not that she wants to. The lights inside the airport are so bright, the commotion and voices of the crowd so loud. The flight itself, even, is a bit grueling at fourteen hours of travel time. But Alex is with her the entire journey, drooling onto her shoulder as she finally surrenders to sleep.
Kara stares out of the plane window, wondering idly if Lena is already back. How she's doing. If she slept. Is she dreaming of their island? Or is she not dreaming at all?
Kara can't help but circle back to the same thought over and over. Will Lena try to find Kara back in National City? Will she try to reach out? Kara lost her cell phone in the wreck, but Lena knows her full name. A billionaire like her, she certainly has the resources to track her down. Kara wants that. She's eager to hear the comforting purr of Lena's voice. She's desperate to tell her that everything is fine. Mike is not in the picture.
But that will have to wait.
After what feels like three lifetimes, Alex is unlocking Kara's apartment door, a sound she hasn't heard in nearly four months. They shuffle inside, careful to be quiet since it's nearly five in the morning.
"Oh no," Kara whispers softly, padding into her kitchen. She touches the dead leaves of a fern Eliza had given her. "It's dead."
"Look, Kara," Alex sighs, putting their bags down at the threshold. "You know I don't have a green thumb."
Kara gazes around the rest of the apartment. It's been so long, it's almost unfamiliar. It's quiet, but nothing like the island. She can still hear the ambient noises of the city night drifting up from the street below.
"Come on. Let's go to sleep," Alex drags her by the elbow toward the bedroom.
After changing, they slip under the covers together. Her sister turns to look at Kara, lifting a hand to her cheek, pressing softly there, just looking and looking at her.
"I just want to make sure you aren't going anywhere," Alex retracts her hand back on the under the sheet, but that same anxious expression remains. "I feel at any moment you could just… disappear. That's what it felt like. One day you were there, one day you were gone."
"I'm right here," Kara comforts her, even if it doesn't altogether feel like it's true. "I'm not going anywhere."
When Alex's short breaths taper off into quiet snores, Kara turns over on her back, still unable to sleep. It feels like she left a part of herself on that island. She feels like one half of a whole.
So, she reaches for the new phone Alex had had shipped to her apartment earlier that day. She switches it on, monotonously going through the set-up process. She re-downloads her favorite apps, mourning briefly for her lost photos and game progress on Candy Crush. Then, she does what she's been thinking relentlessly about for hours. Kara succumbs to the inevitable, like an addict ritualizing after a hard day. It comes on like a secret, alone, and in the dead of night. She opens Google and types in, fingers hovering hesitantly above the keyboard,
The high is sweet. Kara stares at photos of Lena in glossy magazine write-ups, blurry paparazzi candids, and shallow who-wore-it-best CatCo pieces. Sometimes her hair is up in a bun, severe and regal with blushed cheeks and pale eyes. Other times, it's down in waxed ringlets, casual as she waits for a taxi. But none of the images are anything like the wild creature Kara had encountered on that island. It's almost hard to reconcile that both individuals had ever coexisted as one.
She falls asleep that way, who knows when, with her phone propped up on her chest. She wakes half-way into the next day with a note from Alex that says breakfast and coffee are on the counter. Her phone has been placed on the bedside table, and she wonders vaguely if Alex saw. If Alex knows about Lena. She picks up her phone to see if she had closed the damning search browser, but instead finds a text from Cat front and center on her message dashboard.
How had she gotten this number already?
Cat Grant: I know you've barely made landfall, but can we meet? That eclectic little place you like with the dirty glassware?
Noonan's, Kara remembers, and her mouth salivates at the thought. She'll definitely be eating twice today. Maybe even three times. She's on the hobbit schedule.
She wonders if Lena ever got her steak. She pushes the thought away.
It takes her entirely too long to get ready. She has so many clothes, has she always had this many clothes? The city is much like the airport, too. Bright. Loud. Crowded. Kara hugs the buildings, staying as far away as she can from the thick of it.
"Kiera," Cat greets when Kara arrives at Noonan's, but for some reason today she's feeling a little acidic. She does something she almost never does.
"It's Kara," she corrects.
Cat smiles, considering her. There are giant, black sunglasses poised on her slim face. She looks sharp as ever in a short-waisted blazer, black jeans, and a chunky gold necklace.
"Kara," she relents. "Come here."
She holds her arms open, and Kara hugs her. It goes on a little long, long enough that Kara's eyes are the wet in the corners again, the telltale difficulty of her breathing beginning to set in just as Cat pulls back. She squeezes Kara's shoulders, the pinch of her sharp nails through her blouse a comfort.
"You owe me a coffee, yes?" Cat says. "It's the least you can do after sinking my boat."
Kara laughs, wiping at her mouth, her eyes.
"Of course. Your usual?"
"With soy. I'm on a kick."
After Cat grills the waiters relentlessly about the quality of their ingredients and whether they're ethically resourced, they pick a comfy spot near the windows but still in the corner and out of view from the entrance. Kara holds her coffee close, relishing the smell, in everything she's missed in the last four weeks.
Everything but Lena.
"So." Kara starts, nervous despite knowing Cat as well as she does.
"Do I still have a job?"
"That depends," Cat plays coy, adding more sugar to her coffee with a sigh of discontent. She looks up at Kara after, face set in resolution. "Do you have a story for me?"
Kara had guessed what this meeting might be about. And she was right. She couldn't remember the last time Cat had actually gotten her own coffee, so she knew this must've been big, important.
Kara stares down at the cheerful blue cup they'd selected for her at the counter, into the foam of her own drink. The barista had poured it into the shape of several interwoven hearts.
You can trust me, she'd told Lena.
"No," she answers.
Cat leans back in her chair, skeptical, her mouth hidden for the moment behind her coffee as she lifts it to take a drink.
"You’re telling me," she begins slowly as she sets the mug down. "That Lena Luthor returns from the dead, stinking of power. And after being stranded on a desert island for months, some of which was with an employee of mine, that you won't tell me a word?"
"It's not personal," Kara smiles sadly. "I won't talk to anyone."
Cat's fingers flex white over the handle of the mug. "No one?"
Kara bites her lip, shaking her head.
"I won't lie," Cat admits in a huff. "I’m so mad I want to fire you. You should know that. I'm veritably itching with the desire."
"I'm sorry, Cat. I’m not saying never," Kara answers. "I’m just saying not now. And you’ll be the first one I call. I promise."
"I god damn well better be."
Cat considers Kara for a moment longer, and Kara escapes that scrutinizing gaze by drinking her coffee. She takes a bite of the indulgent éclair she'd also bought. God, it's so fucking good. Food is really the best thing.
"Did she make you sign an NDA on that island or what?" Cat asks after the fact, and Kara shakes her head, still chewing.
"Did something… happen?" Cat insinuates, and Kara almost blushes. "Although, I can't imagine it did. Everyone knows Lena Luthor is suppressed up to her ears."
Kara's jaw stops working. Was that public knowledge?
"But she wouldn't have had them on an island, would she? And she must've been there much longer than you," Cat works out aloud, eyes up toward the ceiling in thought. "So, you were trapped with her, an alpha unmated like that, and nothing happened?"
Kara doesn't answer.
"And you won't talk about it."
"I won't," Kara confirms. "And Lena won't either."
"How do you know that? We could get scooped."
"I just do."
"So, you're still in contact with her?"
Kara's heart stutters. It hasn't been long, but Cat's was the only message she'd gotten today.
"Um—no, we're not exactly… speaking. Yet."
Cat considers her.
"Did she know you were a reporter?"
"Well, I wasn't…" Kara thinks with a pang of sudden guilt, "at that time. I told her I was a personal assistant."
"Did she know you worked for me?"
Now that Kara thinks about it…
"Well, there's your answer. I can't imagine she'll be happy about that," Cat takes another drink of her coffee.
They sit there for a few more minutes, the éclair turning sour in Kara's stomach.
"I think I hate you, Kara Danvers," Cat sighs heavily. "But a promise is a promise. You report to Snapper as of tomorrow."
"And you better say yes before I change my mind," Cat snaps. "I won't forget. You not only owe me a boat, you owe me that story."
2 months later.
Lena had waited for the story to break. Every day since she's been back in National City, she's waited for Jess to send her the link, to show her the article, rolled tightly into her fist as she offered it to Lena first thing with the rising sun.
But Jess's hands have been empty. Her messages nothing to do with Kara Danvers. There's been no breaking news, no nothing.
Lena didn't try to find her. Outside of a cursory request of Jess to make sure Kara had arrived home safe and sound, Lena hadn't looked her up. At the same time, she can't bear the idea that she exists in a world without Lena, every day, going about her business. Lena thinks about her out in National City walking, on a train, a bus, in a car, the way their paths may have crossed before the island, the way they might still now. What would she say? What would she do?
She tries to quell the fruitless mental exercise yet somehow it's always the last thing she imagines in the quiet moments before bed, in the uncommon mid-afternoon lulls where she glances out of her window and into the blue-gray sky beyond. Blue like Kara's eyes. Blue like the rolling ocean that they had set sail on with only a hope and a dream of savior. It's inconceivable that there should be reminders everywhere, here in a city they'd never shared, but there are.
Lena misses her. She misses being a wolf, too, having room to run. She even misses being naked. Coming home to her high profile job, her empty luxury apartment, the stress and constant on the go nature of her life, is like slipping back into heels she hadn't worn in years, familiar and uncomfortable in all the same ways. Sometimes she wishes she'd been pronounced dead. Would that have been so bad? Starting over? Finding a new life of anonymity? It was never in the cards for her, a Luthor, but she can't help but fantasize about it, anyway.
Especially today when she's just finished a deposition in the ongoing legal battle against her brother. She made sure bail was denied. Not that he could post it. Most of their assets are frozen by the government, including hers and Lillian's, reducing them to their litany of offshore accounts.
"What's it like to be poor?" she teases her mother, but Lillian only lists out the next twenty four meetings she has for the day.
It's not quite the homecoming she'd hoped for. She's gone back onto her suppressants, too, but even they don't seem to be strong enough to tame some of her more savage urges.
When one publicist tells her that she needs to make more public appearances (to "humanize" herself, to curry favor with the mindless masses), she says no. He doesn't listen.
"Maybe even go on a date," he continues, and she growls loudly at that. He shuts his mouth.
"No," she repeats.
"You need a therapist," Lillian hisses angrily to her in the limo after. "You're a ticking time bomb. At this rate, everyone in National City will know what you are by fall."
She's not wrong. Even Lena knows she has enough baggage to fill a Boeing 737.
So, Lena has started seeing Kelly Olsen. Lillian had her sign an NDA a thousand pages long, but Lena felt grateful for the fact that she at least had never had any association with Lex or LuthorCorp. It offers her a shred of comfort when she's otherwise baring her soul to a complete stranger.
Kelly is warm, though. She listens. She tells Lena that she is deserving of love, whether she can believe it or not. That she is good enough. She tells her to work on her positive affirmations. It's stupid, but Lena does it, hating her reflection every morning when she tells herself,
I am not a monster.
She even eases off of the suppressants again, maintains a much lower dosage. Kelly assures her that she doesn't need it, that she can control herself. She does have less outbursts, despite feeling the desire to do so on a near constant basis. And omegas, god, they notice her in a way they never had before. It's overwhelming. The attention is constant. Begrudgingly, she does agree to go on that stupid arranged date with an up and coming actress, but it all feels false. Insincere.
She brings it up in therapy.
"What's the problem?" Kelly asks, always relaxed and conversational. "You're single. You mentioned being alone was one of your greater fears after your experience on the island."
"I don't feel—" Lena answers, jagged and awkward. "Open."
She clenches her jaw. She doesn't know how to explain it. She can't trust anyone. Anyone but…
"I hadn't been alone on the island, not the entire time. We…"
"You had something," Kelly finishes for her.
"And you haven't pursued it?"
"I just don't know if it was real. If it wasn't a product of our stress, our isolation there."
Kelly crosses her legs in her chair, leaning back and thinking. She taps her pen a few times on her notebook.
"What you had could be real even despite your circumstances there."
"I know that," Lena breathes hard through her nose. "It's just—this person has revealing information about me. It keeps me up at night wondering when they'll go public."
Kelly pauses again before answering.
"But they haven't."
"No," Lena admits.
"So, maybe they're not planning to?"
"Maybe they're waiting."
"Has it occurred to you that your trust was mutual? That maybe they won’t divulge your secrets? It's been two months. They could be waiting on you to affirm the relationship."
"What do you mean?"
"Have you spoken since you've been back?"
"Maybe they feel rejected."
Lena doesn't say anything to that. She thinks instead of the many times she had let Kara make the first move, had rejected Kara's advances.
"She doesn't want to be with me, anyway. Who would?"
"Lena," Kelly chides. "That's you erecting the barrier to intimacy, not her. Why do you do that?"
"My family—my brother… made it impossible. He told me not to trust anyone."
Kelly considers her, the pen tapping once, twice.
"We don't talk about him much, you know."
Lena gazes at her, not sure how to respond.
"Why?" Kelly continues.
"I don't want to talk about him."
Lena grumbles angrily, pushing a hand over her eyes.
"I feel like he's always there. I'm always thinking about him. Everything revolves around him. I just want one space that isn't his. That's solely mine."
"Your brother is a big obstacle to you," Kelly notes. To what, Lena wonders? Her growth? Her goals? Her life? "Have you confronted him since you've been back home?"
Home, Lena thinks bitterly.
She shakes her head.
"Do you think it's time?" Kelly asks.
She's not sure, but it's what sets the next few events in motion. It's why Lena privately arranges a trip to visit Lex in jail. She refuses the presence of her lawyer, to Lillian's discontent. The trip will be recorded by the FBI, no doubt by every governmental agency, but she doesn't care. They won't be able to smell the pheromones in the room. Let them enjoy her cutting the sharpest image Metropolis County Jail has ever seen. She's only been wearing suits since her return, and for this one, she selects the three piece navy blue pinstripe.
After a horde of screenings and nearly two hours of waiting, she's led to an empty cell block, all rooms empty save for one. When she passes in front of the metal bars, Lex glances up from a relaxed position on his cot. He's reading a book, and Lena expects Nietzsche or something similarly contrived, but it's actually a romance novel.
Her brother's gaze slides up and over her with the kind of practiced impartiality only a Luthor household could inspire. He drops the book to his chest. The cover appears to be Medieval themed.
"Don't tell me," Lena continues with a smirk. "Has Sir Martin already deflowered the fair maiden or are they holding that particular ravishment until the end?"
"You tell me, sis, I know this genre was a favorite of yours."
Lena clenches her jaw a little at the callback to her lonely youth. He clasps his hands together, smiling now and interminably arrogant.
"To what do I owe the pleasure?"
For a long moment, Lena forgets why she's here, the emotions roiling inside of her and overwhelming all her careful logic and reason. She forgets what she even wanted from this encounter. She'd tirelessly imagined conversations, comebacks, and putdowns. She'd had nightmares of simply screaming and crying. He’d try to touch her and she’d run away. She hates that her unconscious is still afraid of him. She hates that she can still be charmed by him, sympathize with him, a man that tried to kill her. Her own brother who had manipulated and gaslighted and controlled her. She knows that somewhere in Lex’s mind, he thinks this is love. He probably tells himself that he's protecting Lena. A favor. A tit for tat. She wants to believe it, too. She'd wondered if she'd see any remorse, any concern when they finally met face to face, but…
It's not promising.
Lena gazes around the cell in lieu of answering him. It's spartan, but certainly more equipped than a high profile, multi-count felony murderer deserves. There are more than a dozen books, a high end chess set, an actual vintage oil painting. Her brother always knew how to pull strings, exactly which palms to grease.
"This looks comfortable," she comments.
"When I'm through with this place," he smiles, all teeth, "it'll be a regular Four Seasons."
Lena flashes her golden eyes in annoyance, and Lex raises an intrigued eyebrow.
"Give me that book," she commands.
His eyebrows pinch as if he's undergoing some kind of internal struggle, but he rises nonetheless. He crosses the small cell and hands the book over. Lena takes it and, sure enough, it's not actually a romance novel. It's filled with code, markings, and maps. This should be entertaining to puzzle out later.
As she flips through it aimlessly, Lex seems to come back to himself.
"Now, that's a fun party trick."
"Fun, yes," Lena answers passively. "I suppose I should thank you.'
She looks up, and they're standing close. At this range, she can see the burning ember behind his cool, green eyes. The desire to destroy, dominate, throttle her from that seething place behind the bars. A part of her wishes he were that reckless, but he never has been. He plays the long con.
"And why is that?"
"Without you trapping me on that island and leaving me to die, I would've never accessed it. I might've gone on exactly as I had," Lena answers. "A pawn under your thumb. I might've never known my full potential."
The ember simmers, sparking.
"It should've been mine," he tells her.
She steps closer, practically nose to nose with him.
"You thought this belonged to you?" her eyes shine gold. She makes sure the camera cannot see. "You thought if I was out of the picture, you could just, what, take it?"
She wraps her fingers around the cold steel bars, close to where his neck is, imagining. Squeezing. She feels her pointed fangs elongate.
"Let me tell you something that mother and father always knew. Something I think you’ve always known, too," she takes a long pause, indulging in Lex's full attention.
"The truth is, Lex, you don’t deserve it. You’re unworthy."
He growls low in the back of his throat. He doesn't open his mouth, doesn't bare his teeth, but he doesn't have to for Lena to understand the intent.
"Little Lena," he chides after a moment, another wolf-like smile. "You were right on one count. You were a pawn under my thumb. But what you don't realize is that you still are."
"Am I?" Lena challenges with a tilt of her head. "I could make you crab walk out of here until the guards open fire. I could make you drink that candle wax. I could make you hold your hand in the fire until there was nothing left."
She holds his gaze, pausing a moment.
"There are a lot of things I could make you do. Confess to your many crimes, jump off a bridge. Many things that you deserve a dozen times over, and you'd have no voice to object, no choice."
Lex's pupils constrict into tight black circles.
"You're too soft for that. Too weak."
"Perhaps. But I think you'll find I have surprising depth of feeling reserved for the man who killed my father."
Lex actually smirks at this, self-satisfied. It makes Lena furious.
"I think you're confused, dear sister. Father died in a tragic accident."
"Maybe you will, too," Lena stands back from the bars, her teeth dulling back to flat points. "I suppose only time will tell."
"You can't walk away from me," he growls at her back as she does exactly that.
"I can, and I will."
"Face me," he challenges again, and she pauses, turning to look. He looks thin and desperate, grasping and weak. It's comforting.
"You hate me too much to leave me here. To let other people dole out the punishments you'd love to take for yourself."
"I do hate you," she admits. "I just love me more."
She takes three more steps towards the hall before remembering the book in her hands. She holds it up.
"This lacks tremendous subtlety, by the way. I expected more."
"That was never my strong suit," he says, eyes glittering. "You'll see soon enough."
"I'm sure," she bites back. She considers her next words. Lena looks at Lex one last time.
"If you ever so much as put a foot outside of this cell, I’ll rip you apart."
Lena breathes cleaner after the encounter, clearer. She feels optimistic enough that she makes good on a promise that's been fermenting and several months in the making. She buys Cat Grant a new boat and has it delivered to her slip at the marina in National City harbor.
I must confess, Cat text messages her later that day. I prefer the company of omegas if this is some kind of grand romantic overture.
It brings a smile to Lena's face. Rare.
I want nothing of the sort (no offence, of course.) Merely an exclusive interview with one of your reporters.
Any of my reporters? Not one specifically?
Lena doesn't reply immediately, not sure what all Cat Grant may or may not know, but Cat gives up the game quickly enough.
Kara Danvers will meet you on Thursday at 1 PM, xoxo
So, she does know. Something, at least. And it's so soon. Is Lena really ready?
Thursday morning, Lena flusters over what to wear after a night of barely sleeping. She even has a big enough lapse in judgment to text her secretary for advice. Jess replies in a heartbeat, lightning quick, despite it being six AM.
The maroon suit. With the lace up to the throat.
The maroon suit, yes. With the lace up to the throat. That'll work.
She tries not to scratch at the fine lace all morning, dithering in her office between conference calls and meetings. At a quarter til, she begins to sweat in places she hasn't remembered since the island. Why is she so nervous? It's not as if Lena had planned to never talk to Kara again. How could you after an experience like that? She'd just needed to understand the lay of the board with Lex. How contained he was in jail. Whether he might know who Kara is. She hadn't been ready to protect her yet, but now…
At least, she's in in an environment she controls. Although, Kara had never met her in this environment, had never known this side of Lena. What if she doesn't like it? What if Kelly was wrong, and Kara didn't want to see her? Kara hadn't reached out to her either within the last two months. Anything could happen. She could be angry.
Lena nearly throws the antique paper weight she'd been juggling in her hands when Jess' voice shrills through the speakerphone.
"Ms. Danvers is here to see you."
"Send her in," she sets it down firmly on her desk.
Then, Lena stands in the middle of her office, still as carved marble, back ramrod straight and fingers pulling at each other while she waits.
When Kara enters, it's with the ghost of a smile on her face, likely lingering from the interaction with Jess. Everyone likes Jess. But next Lena sees the smattering of freckles on her cheeks, evidence of their time together in too much sun. Her hair is bright blonde, too, still sun-kissed by highlights, half pulled up in a ponytail, half falling over her shoulder in gentle waves. She's wearing a blue sweater with a preppy white button down poking through at the top. Her lips are a coral pink. The tanned skin of her legs are just visible below a dark grey skirt, and Lena suddenly remembers those torturous jean cut-offs. Her reverie is jolted, however, when her eyes make it back up to Kara's face to find her staring right back at Lena through her black-rimmed glasses (they seamlessly dovetail her otherwise perfectly professional appearance.)
Kara stops in her tracks, hovering just barely inside the office, her mouth piqued in an 'oh' expression that Lena has never seen before. If Lena were the gushing, emotional type, she'd cry and embrace Kara, but… she can't.
"Kara, hello. Come in," Lena motions inward to the office instead.
Kara stutters forward and smiles a little awkwardly. She places her book bag by the couch, but waits for further instruction from Lena who, spiraling, jerks into action.
"Please," Lena indicates the couch, and Kara sits.
Lena sits near her, smoothing out one of the pant legs of her suit before crossing her legs. Kara's cheeks are pink, her mouth slightly parted. There's a visceral reaction in her scent as well: excitement, fear, a little bit of interest as Kara rakes over the suit.
It was the right choice.
"I have donuts here," Lena picks up a bag on the coffee table that Kara hadn't noticed yet. Glancing down to it, Kara's pupils completely dilate. She gasps and grabs at the bag.
"I figured you'd like them," Lena smiles as Kara rips into it.
"Oh, I do," Kara says. It's the first time Lena's heard her voice, and it's just as lovely and kind as it had been before. "Donuts are my favorite food group."
Lena resists the urge to correct her, and Kara offers her one of the pink sprinkled donuts. She takes it, humoring her with a small bite. She's still a kale kind of girl (despite the occasional craving for rare meat.)
After Kara is done, humming with contentment, she seems to remember herself, a more serious façade falling over her features. She reaches for a pen and notebook from her bag, balancing them on a leg and wiping her face with the back of her other hand.
"So, you wanted to discuss your new position as acting CEO of LuthorCorp?"
Lena furrows her eyebrows, putting the half eaten donut back on the coffee table.
"I know you changed some of the C level executive suite as well," Kara prompts. "And we can go over that, too."
"Well, we can if you want."
"Isn't that… why you requested the interview?" Kara asks tentatively.
"No, I—" Lena falters. She may as well be honest. "I just wanted to see you."
"Oh," Kara quietly mouths, staring back down at her blank notepad again.
They lapse into an awkward kind of quiet, and it makes Lena's skin nearly crawl. She'd known it wouldn't be easy, but she'd thought they'd gotten off to a good start. Outside her full story windows, the sky has gone a formless cotton white. A few droplets of rain begin to patter the glass.
Kara smiles finally, almost sadly, still looking down at her lap.
"It's been—a long time. I didn't think you wanted that."
"I’m sorry," Lena shakes her head, gesticulating with her hand as if she can wave away two months of absolute radio silence. "I'm sorry it’s taken me this long to reach out. I wasn't sure I was ready yet."
She wasn't sure if she could trust Kara. But she hasn't seen an article. No exclusives. Maybe she can.
"Are you ready now?" Kara looks up, the baby blue of her eyes hopeful and just that little bit of challenging.
Lena doesn't answer for a moment, fidgeting with her hands again. She calls on her confidence, and tries to remind herself what Kelly's told her. She wants this. She does deserve it. She places one elbow on the back of the couch and inclines her body towards Kara.
"I hope so."
Kara's eyes briefly drop downward, a flicker of a flame, before she's gazing back into Lena's eyes again.
"Did you think about me?"
"Every day," Lena answers without hesitation.
"I can’t sleep without you, you know. You were always—right there. I felt safe."
Lena buzzes with the desire to change forms, it's been so long. She can't remember the last time she'd rumbled the way she had with Kara, deep in her chest when she'd run a hand through her fur. The awkwardness from before has dissipated, too, replaced with a headier tension.
"You were right, though," Kara continues, taking a breath, the blue rim of her irises suddenly much thinner. "We didn’t know each other that well. And it wasn’t the right time. I was a mess— you were…"
"A mess, too, you can say it," Lena smiles.
"Yes," Kara mirrors the smile. "But I still want to know you."
"I want to know you, too," Lena echoes. "I want to, I don't know, at least be… acquaintances. Maybe even friends?"
"Friends," Kara repeats with a brief scrunch of her eyebrows. Regardless, she's moved closer at some point, her hand splayed out on the couch between them, pinky just touching Lena's pant leg.
"Are you…" Lena searches for the words as she gazes down at that exploratory pinky finger. "Are you back with—?"
"No." Kara cuts her off quickly, moving closer again. Now, their knees are touching.
"And that woman I saw you with? In that CatCo article?" she asks, fanning Lena's face with her words. Her breath smells sweet, like the donut from earlier. "That stupid actress?"
"She's won an Oscar," Lena scoffs, but she's hardly committed to defending a woman she can barely remember.
"I don't care. Are you dating her?"
A full half minute passes after Kara nods, barely noticeable, like she's made a mental note and reaffirmed a decision in her mind. It's not hard to guess what about. She's staring at Lena's mouth and licking her own lips wet once, twice. Lena doesn't move at first, registering that Kara is exuding a scent that she can only interpret as a call. A come hither. She doesn't have the tools to ignore it, and she doesn't want to. That's when, all at once, they meet in the middle. Kara crawls into Lena's lap, and Lena guides her in further by the elbow.
Lena pushes a river of blonde hair out of the way, and their mouths connect. Her hand brushes back from Kara's shoulder, up the tendon in her neck and behind her head. She smells so good, her scent now burning hot like a cinnamon apple pie in the oven. Kara's hands press down on Lena's shoulders, anchoring her there. Lena parts those bubblegum pink lips with her tongue and their bodies stitch together like elaborate embroidery.
Some things never change. They've barely talked. They haven't worked through a single issue, really. Lena is still riddled with problems, a child barely enrolled in a twelve year school of therapy. There's a long road ahead. But they want to be here. They want to try. It's the one promise they can make, the one thing that matters.
When Kara digs her nails into Lena's shoulders, when her kisses become nips, bites, Lena growls low. She picks Kara up, both hands on her full ass, and rearranges them on the couch. She situates herself on top, between Kara's legs, and grumbles out a loud sound of satisfaction. Kara gasps into her mouth at the noise, running her hands under Lena's maroon suit jacket, pushing it off of Lena's shoulders until she's forced to draw back and shrug her arms out of the sleeves. It drops to the floor.
While she's sat up, Kara's traces her fingers over the sheer lace, her index finger following the bust line all the way until it dips in the middle. Lena stares down at her with blown green eyes and ravenous hunger. Kara looks for a moment thoughtful.
"I want to go on a date," she says, and Lena laughs at the simplicity of the request. Of the fact that despite everything they've been through, they haven't actually sat across from each other at a restaurant. They've never shared a shred of normalcy. She salivates at the thought of it (at the thought of many things), but before she can reply, Jess' voice booms loudly across the office from the intercom on Lena's desk phone.
"Ms. Luthor," she says, and somehow Lena can detect an arch note of judgment in her voice. "Your 1:30 is here."
Lena rolls her eyes, her back curving and her head lolling onto Kara's shoulder.
"I don't want to," she complains. Kara strokes her hair.
"I know you're busy."
Lena rears back, kisses the tip of Kara's nose.
"Tonight. We'll do dinner."
"Steak?" Kara suggests coyly, her cheeks still blush pink.
Lena smiles with pointed teeth.
finally done! may add an E rated epilogue at some point, suggested caption by @littlemousejelly "(not) swallowed in my puss-sea." come yell at me on tumblr/twitter @hrwinter !