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Won't You Stay?

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Her hands freeze, key inserted into the lock and turned to open, but her breathing starts to come in a little faster and she needs a moment, just a moment, to brace herself before she enters the empty apartment.

She’s not sure why she volunteered for this duty.

That’s a lie, of course she knows.

She wanted to spare Alex the pain.

Why she thought she was any better equipped to deal with this she honestly has no answer.

 

This morning…

 

Nia presents J’onn with a plant. His head turns in question and amusement.

The super friends, minus Kelly who is out at the moment, are gathered in the Tower and Lena stands to the side trying to be unobtrusive and unnoticed, typing and trying to help Brainy parse through the fractured Phantom Zone looking for their missing Kryptonian.

It’s still strange to her that they haven’t kicked her out yet, well…all except for maybe Brainy, still surprised that none of them have said anything negative about her hanging around the Tower. She wonders, bitterly, if it’s only a matter of time. Only until they are frustrated and angry for all Lena’s failed attempts to bring her back.

She stabs a little more aggressively at her tablet. That’s an ungenerous and piteous thought to make about them and herself, that’s her insecurities speaking and she’s trying not to let those have too much power over her. These people were her friends, are her friends she corrects herself, and perhaps things weren’t as they were before, but she was trying and so were they, in their own way. They let her help and that was more than Lena could say she might have done in their place. She forces herself to relax her shoulders and breathe evenly, flicks her eyes up occasionally, watching them.

“What’s this?” J’onn asks, taking the small pot with the happy slightly floppy green leaves bouncing on the way.

“It’s a Maranta plant. We had a little community garden at the Cat Co. retreat, and we got to take a plant home if we wanted,” Nia explains, “I wanted to give this one to you…it means gratitude.”

J’onn looks pleasantly surprised, but furrows his brow a little, “Why do you feel grateful to me?”

Nia shrugs a little shyly, “I just wanted to say thanks for being…” she pauses seemingly not sure how her next words will be received, “…well…you’re space dad,” she says looking down at the ground, cheeks pink. “and I wanted to tell you thanks for always being there and taking care of us.” Nia continues to stare at the ground, her shoulders the slightest bit rounded in anticipation for whatever J’onn’s response will be and it’s clear she anticipates some sort of rejection.

J’onn’s hand comes to rest on Nia’s shoulder, and it seems to startle her into looking at his face. His smile is kind, and his eyes look misty, “I love it, thank you,” he says with utmost sincerity. Nia deflates in relief and smiles back.

Lena hears a sharp intake of breath to her left, low and quiet but she’s standing close enough to Alex that she hears it, though she doesn’t think anyone else does. Nia and J’onn are absorbed in their conversation, Brainy and M’gann watching them both with unconcealed fondness. She watches as Alex turns away, grim faced and silent, and makes her way to the balcony unnoticed. But Lena sees. Can see the tension in her shoulders, the tight fists her hands have balled into. She looks to the rest of the group wondering who will go after her, but no one else is paying attention. Lena wonders if she should go, or send someone else, would Alex even want her to? Is it worth it to try if she’s just going to be turned away?

No, she should go.

She and Alex haven’t spoken much, not that Lena expected them to have some huge heart to heart, but Lena knows that Alex is missing her sister and she thinks that if she can be there for Alex, this might be another small way to make amends.

So, she follows.

Alex stands hunched over the railing, hands clutching a key, and seems to be staring at it with something like anger.

Lena doesn’t say anything, she just leans against the railing, gaze on the horizon before them. She just stands and waits, knows that Alex will speak if, and when, she wants to.

After long minutes, Alex lets out a strangled breath, “I haven’t watered her plants,” she says, quietly. Lena can hear the self-reproach in her voice, and Alex sucks in air like she can’t get enough, “Whenever she’s gone or recovering for too many days,” she grinds out, “I always go take care of her plants, she hates dead plants, dead things, they remind her-…” Alex’s words catch and shakes her head, but the ones she says next send a sharp pain straight through Lena’s chest, “I take care of them so she doesn’t have to come back to dead things in her own home,” and Alex turns to look at Lena, unshed tears threatening to fall, and Lena can feel her own eyes start to well.

She thinks she understands. It’s so, her sister doesn’t have to associate death with her apartment, like Krypton and her dead planet with no more plants, or animals, with no more life.

“I haven’t gone to her apartment in weeks,” Alex confesses, and it bursts out of her in a rush of air, and the stricken look in her eyes is almost too much for Lena to bear. The guilt and the sadness are etched into the lines of Alex’s face, “she was supposed to be home already,” her voice is raspy, and Lena hears that sentence for what she really means, ‘I was supposed to bring her home already’, and she stares directly into Lena’s eyes with mounting horror, “what if,” tears finally spill over Alex’s cheeks, “what if all the plants are already dead, Lena?”

‘What if she’s dead already?’ That’s what Alex means, and witnessing such a strong determined woman, who has made the impossible possible in the past, contemplate the death of her sister propels Lena forward sliding her arms around Alex, and they cling to each other.

“They’re not,” Lena manages to croak out, and she squeezes her eyes shut, willing no tears to fall. It’s too much. Alex is breaking and Lena’s own self control is starting to fray. First Brainy, now Alex. She’s been avoiding thinking about how much time it’s been since the Fortress, she’s been focusing on the things she can control, because if she doesn’t, she knows her methodical mind will calculate every terrible permutation of possibilities that will leave her broken and bereft of her best friend.

So, she leaves that one box in the corner, like a hypocrite after her conversation with Brainy, it’s full to bursting and the only relief she has given herself is a journal. She started it the first night back from the Fortress, a way to sort out her thoughts from those few days stopping Leviathan, about her reconciliation and subsequent loss of her friend. It morphed into a recounting of her day almost like letters or one sided conversations so she wouldn’t forget all the things she wanted to tell her when she returned, and it’s turned into a sort of pressure release valve to ensure her little box doesn’t burst open.  She needs that box still, needs it because she knows she needs every ounce of brain and will power to figure out how to bring her home.

Lena hugs Alex tight, forces herself to take even draws of air, and whispers, “I’ll go,” even as she knows offering this could break her. Being in her space could be the thing that cracks her self-possession and implodes the box in the corner of her mind.

Alex tries to draw back, a strangled protest in her throat, but Lena holds fast not letting her pull away, “Please,” Lena begs, and Alex stops struggling, fingers digging into Lena’s back, “let me do this for you,” and then more quietly, “let me do this for her.”

There’s silence, and Alex’s fingers relax, no longer gouging into her, and Lena feels a shift though they haven’t changed positions and realizes that Alex is no longer clinging but hugging her, almost cradling Lena, and that almost breaks her too, because Lena knows even without having experienced it before, only borne witness to, that this is how Alex holds her sister.

Without meaning to Lena leans into it, because no one has ever held her like this, nothing has come close, except maybe the other Danvers’ hugs but those were different, and no, she won’t think about why those were different just now, and instead she wonders if this is what people with caring older siblings get to feel. Safe and warm and loved, and for a moment she remembers Lex and realizes any warmth she perceived from him growing up was a lie. It’s here in a warm firm embrace that she finally gets why Alex was always deemed the ‘best big sister’ by her best friend, because this is what family really feels like.

Lena stays just long enough to appreciate it, not nearly long enough, not nearly as long as she would like, pulls back just before she can let it unravel her hard won control, before Alex can inadvertently open the box.

Alex watches her with such sympathy it almost makes Lena cry, not used to such a soft look from anyone aside from the other Danvers sister, realizing she’s never had anyone especially Lex, look at her with such filial care and understanding.

“You don’t have to…” Alex starts, eyes worried now for Lena.

“I want to,” Lena says with steady conviction, and she finds that it’s true even if it might later unbalance her tenuous self-control. That box has other things crammed into it not the least of which is the real reason why Lena was so heartbroken about the superhero’s identity, why Lena’s reaction was so disproportionate to realizing that her best friend had lied and was perhaps something more akin to a roman- but she can’t dwell on those things because the box is closed, damn it. For now.

Alex looks at her for a long time, silent with a still watery gaze, finally she nods slowly, and presses the key into Lena’s hands. She doesn’t let go right away, instead holds Lena’s hand between both her own, and waits for Lena to meet her gaze.

“Thank you,” in a fierce whisper, and Lena hears all the reasons for Alex’s gratitude without her having to say them at all.

She nods and heads to the door, but Alex’s voice catches her, “Lena,” turns to look at Alex, “I’m glad you found your way back home to us,” she says with utter sincerity, and Lena’s body curls slightly into herself as if struck by a physical blow. Her answering smile must be some terrible mix of anguish and elation from those words because Alex’s lips press into a line of concern.

She struggles to maintain steady breaths and flees before Alex can tear apart her fragile heart anymore with kind words and soft touches. Lena can’t afford to lose it. Later. Later, when she’s back, Lena will allow herself to fall apart, but not yet.

Not yet.

Chapter Text

She left, more like fled, the Tower already planning on a safer task for herself that didn’t involve having an emotional meltdown. Instead, she went home so she could supervise the final boxes of her penthouse getting packed and moved out by the moving company, most of her things going into storage, a few bags of essentials going into her car. She decided she would stay in a hotel while she was hunting for a new apartment. Technically she could have stayed in the penthouse, it was hers after all, but the building and land was owned by LuthorCorp and she was loath to let Lex have even an indirect line of connection to her after her parting words to him. Best to cut him out completely in every way.

Now hours later she’s standing in front of this door, mentally shoring up the box in her mind, and bracing herself for whatever emotional upheaval may follow.

She takes one long steadying breath and turns the knob.

It’s exactly as she remembers it, she scoffs mentally at herself, what else did she expect?  The soft evening light is filtering through curtains and casting long shadows across the floors and furniture. It’s clean and tidy as usual only a few dishes in the sink and a light layer of dust on the flat surfaces is the only indication that no one has been in here for weeks. It could almost seem as though she was going to be coming through the door at any moment, and the thought makes Lena’s chest tighten knowing that she won’t be, not yet.

It’s not as bad being here as she thought it would be, in fact, it fans the little flame of hope Lena has been harboring in her heart about getting the Kryptonian back because being here almost feels like she’s in her presence again, wrapped up in a warm hug. It soothes Lena more than anything else has and she takes a moment to just be still, lets the vibrating knot of anxiety in her chest calm for a moment wrapped in familiar comforting sights and smells.

Sometime later she sets about to begin her task, which doesn’t take very long, and does the few dishes in the sink, and folds the sweater on the bed, and straightens the shoes and clothes near the rack, and figures that dusting wouldn’t be too much trouble either. She finds any and every task she could possibly do until the apartment is practically gleaming and the sun has long since set.

She doesn’t want to go.

Lena sits on the couch biting her lip wondering if taking apart the wobbly chair in the kitchen and putting it back together in better shape is overstepping.

She sighs.

The box is starting to bulge at the seems again and she knows what she must do, retrieves her journal from her bag and settles on the couch, hesitating only a moment before pulling the blanket on the back of the couch around herself.  

She opens the front cover.

For Kara.

Lena runs her fingers over the words she wrote last week when she decided that she might give this journal to her to have, as a way to catch up on the things she missed, and the things Lena didn’t have time to say in person.

She sighs and turns to the page she started earlier while the movers were packing her things and continues.

I’m at your apartment.

Alex gave me the key. She was worried about your plants. I am happy to report that though a few were a little sad and wilt-y, they are all very much alive!

I found myself not wanting to leave, so I hope you don’t mind that I basically did a deep clean of your apartment. I changed and washed the bedding too. I’ll come back in a few days to do it again in case…you’re not back yet. I know how much you enjoy freshly washed bedding to fall into after a long day. So, this way your bed will be ready for you to throw yourself into when you get back.

She can feel herself relax, she yawns, the box in her mind slowly settling, and she reclines against the arm of the couch with a pillow to prop her up and continues writing her unfiltered thoughts in a slightly sleepy haze.

Is it strange I miss you a little less here? In your home? Surrounded by your things? Things that aren’t you but when I look at, I can’t help but imagine your smile as you pick out a comfy sweater to wear or your favorite mug to drink hot chocolate out of.

It’s been difficult these past few weeks without you.

Hell, it’s been awful this past year without you.

I’m sorry.

Again.

I know I’ve said it before, and we hashed some of this out in my lab when you said you were ready to start to forgive me, but I can’t help but feel like I didn’t-don’t deserve it.

You astound me, you know?

Maybe it’s the feeling of comfort she feels here in this apartment, safe and secure, Lena lets all the words she hasn’t allowed herself to really think flow out of her pen, laying out her vulnerable heart right onto the pages before her.

Besides, it’s not like she’s actually decided she’s going to give this over for her to read so really this is just cathartic for Lena, a better way to process her emotions than keeping it boxed up.

When you trusted me with Myriad, I was absolutely floored. How could you just have that much faith in me when I barely had any in myself?

I wanted to tell you in the Fortress that I appreciated it and that I would do everything I could to be worthy of your trust again, but…time was short and there were so many other things I wanted to say too.

I thought there would be more time after we stopped my brother, but well, so much for that...

I wish I had the time then but mostly I wish I had the courage to hug you, and to…tell you everything else.

To explain that I had figured it out, that I had been blind to my own feelings, that maybe I was really lying to myself about how much you really meant to me. That I didn’t want to admit it even to myself lest I change things between us, but then Lex had to stick his nose in and made it so my family hang ups compounded the issue and I lost all rationality.

It was like my family took the one and only good thing I had in my life and they twisted it into something awful, like they always do, and I reacted like I always do, and, well, you know what happened, it was just…terrible, to put it mildly.  

But my actions are my own and I accept responsibility for them, and it wasn’t fair to put all the blame on you.

You were not responsible for the actions of my family and I realized something else the day that I left Lex and LuthorCorp.

Neither am I.

It’s why I was finally able to walk away with no regrets and feeling lighter than I ever have in my whole life. I can see all these possibilities before me, but I also look back on a lot of regrets.

I’m sorry.

I wish you were here, home and safe.

I wish I could have been a better friend to you.

I wish I could tell you that you were and are the best thing that’s ever happened to me.

I wish I could tell you that you have been my single greatest inspiration to do and be a better person.

But the thing I think I wish the most is…

I wish I wasn’t such an enormously emotionally repressed coward so I could tell you in no uncertain terms and without any expectations of reciprocation, because you deserve to know the truth regardless, that I am, and always have been…

…unequivocally…

…irrevocably…

…in love with you.

 

Lena startles awake when her phone buzzes, it's morning, the sun bright and dazzling coming through the large windows, and she’s disoriented enough that she doesn’t realize that she’s twisted up in the blanket and ends up almost falling off the couch. She spends much too long trying to find her phone hidden in the depths of the fabric.  

“Brainy, hi,” she says a little flustered when she answers.

“Lena. Come to the Tower, immediately, there’s been some important developments,” his tone is excited, and that can only mean one thing, she feels hope grow brighter in her chest.

“I’ll be right there.”

She throws her things into her bag and runs out the door

Chapter Text

Two days later…

They come through the portal and she falls to her knees in a heap, left and right hands full of her father and Nxly’s robes, respectively. She looks up and sees figures, but she can’t really focus to make them out.

She’s so tired.

“It’s ok,” a voice says, “you’re home, we’ve got you.”

It’s a familiar voice and soothing so she let’s herself release that last thread of self-control she clung to the entire time she was in that hell hole, finally slips and lets the darkness take her.

She’s home.

Some interminable time later she wakes a little and feels the warm glow of the sun lamps on her skin, and she can feel a pressure in her hand and against her side. She knows it’s Alex from years of waking up exactly like this holding her hand tight and slumped over her bed, sleeping. She still feels groggy and tired, her strength still sapped and can only open her eyes partially especially against the harsh light of the lamps, struggles to stay awake long enough to make sure this isn’t a dream.

The first thing she sees is a figure standing near her feet, head bowed and frowning in concern over a tablet and sun lamp, green eyes flicking back and forth, dark hair pulled back into messy braids, dark circles under eyes, shoulders stooped with exhaustion, and she thinks it’s the most beautiful she’s ever seen Lena look. Her heart skips a little and she hears a distant echoing beep of her heart somewhere behind her, Lena’s head snaps up to the monitors and then down to her face.

“Kara?” it’s strained and hopeful, barely a whisper, and Kara tries to drag her eyes open, but the pull of sleep grows too strong, she drifts back into nothingness.

The next time she wakes everyone is there. They are staged in various spots around the room. Alex is seated immediately to her left holding her hand but looking at a tablet Kelly holds standing next to her. Nia is leaning against her bed on the right side scrolling through her phone while J’onn and M’gann stand against the far wall heads bowed in low conversation. Brainy is monitoring screens immediately to her right next to another bed which holds her father’s sleeping form.

And Lena…

Lena is standing at the foot of her bed again typing away at her tablet, as beautiful as ever and she feels her eyes prick with the sting of happy tears.

She’s home.

No one notices she’s awake, and Kara doesn’t mind because she can take a second to really savor and appreciate this moment of being surrounded by her loved ones after so long an arduous journey home.

Lena’s eyes flick up and down and then come back up again, lightning quick, to lock with hers in mild shock. Her mouth parts slightly and Kara can see her breathing grow a little more deliberate. She watches as Lena’s face relaxes into an indescribable look that has Kara wondering what she’s thinking but all she can focus on is that it’s so very soft.

Alex glances up and sees Lena’s face then and looks to Kara exclaiming. Then it’s a rush of people surrounding her bed and Kara smiles and smiles, nodding and getting squeezed in so many hugs with rushes of words and people that swirl around her…

…all but Lena....

Lena stays rooted to her spot and doesn’t move.

She just watches with tears in her eyes that refuse to fall, clutching her tablet to her chest, with that oh so soft smile on her face.

Kara’s eyes keep dragging back to Lena’s while she’s talking to her friends as if there’s magnets drawing her back every so often to deep green eyes.

Lena continues to stay unwaveringly tethered to her spot at the foot of the bed.

After a couple more minutes of fussing from everyone Kara finds that she’s desperate to hear Lena’s voice, so she asks, “You ok, Lena?” and Kara thinks in any other situation she might be a little embarrassed by how all side conversations cease and six pairs of eyes slide first from Kara then to Lena to await a response.  

But Lena doesn’t say a word, she just smiles a little wider nodding gently and takes one hand off the tablet she’s still clutching at her chest to press her palm to Kara’s boot clad shin and squeezes once.

Kara feels it like a brand as those six pairs of eyes turn back to look at her, Alex’s gaze in particular feels hot and burning with curiosity but she refuses to meet her sister’s eyes, she wishes she and Lena were alone so they can finally have a proper and real conversation. One where they’re not surrounded by all their friends and preferably not before they have to save the world and there isn’t any time.

Zor-El starts to convulse then and the focus shifts. There’s scrambling and stern voices and it becomes a blur to Kara’s tired mind.

Later, once he’s stable and he sleeps, recovering from his grievous injuries sustained protecting Kara during their escape, she explains who he is.

Everyone is appropriately astonished and then she frowns, “Wait, where’s Nxly?”

The super friends look at each other, and Alex asks, “The woman?” Kara nods, “She poofed out of here without so much as a word after you collapsed. Should we be worried?”

Kara sighs but she’s not exactly surprised, “No, she’s not-…she’s a 5th dimensional imp, like Mxy,” and Alex’s eyebrows shoot up, and her mouth starts to open but Kara quickly adds, “She helped us escape, she just wanted to be free, I don’t think she’ll come back to start anything.”

Alex looks skeptical but keeps her thoughts to herself.

Nia decides that a party is in order and gets started on procuring food and drinks while Kara goes to shower, Alex produces a bag with some of Kara’s toiletries and comfy clothes and she squeezes her sister tight against her in gratitude.

She feels better overall, well…partially at least, she doesn’t quite have her powers back, and her mind feels heavy. Standing under the hot water cascading down her face and shoulders she weeps covering her mouth, biting her knuckles to keep full body wracking sobs silent, shuddering uncontrollably in relief to be home and grief for the visons that started to take their toll on her mind and dim her spirit.

In the end just before they made it through, she had to fight so hard to keep pushing forward, dragging her nay saying father behind her lest he give up or bring her down completely.

Kara was determined though, she had unfinished business to attend. The twisted memories she encountered in the zone had revealed certain things that happened in other timelines and universes and it made her wonder, forced her to reflect on her own feelings, it nagged at her to the point where she spent precious hours she should have been sleeping and resting, turning over false memories of Lena…and herself.   

Her father still sleeps when she’s finally dressed, and kind, generous, M’gann offers to sit with him while they all go upstairs to eat and celebrate Kara’s return.

Kara sits on the couch squished tight between her sister and Nia overflowing with pot stickers as her sister continues to shove them into her hands and on her lap.

“Alex!” she says laughing, “You know I love pot stickers but even I can’t eat this many right now!”

Alex’s face does this complicated sort of procession that pinches and twists her face into amusement, grief, relief, and then back to amusement and finally she gives a somber, “I know,” that has Kara halt her eating.

“Alex?” Kara starts to grow worried, but Alex rushes to reassure her.

“It’s ok, Kara, we can talk about it later. Let’s just enjoy right now,” and proceeds to steal a dumpling hoping that it will distract Kara, it doesn’t, but Kara pretends it does and plays her part of indignant younger sister like everything is normal.

But everything is not normal.

She tries to pretend that it is and forces herself to listen to Nia to catch her up on the goings on at work and the world.

She tries to pretend that her heart isn’t racing, anticipating that all this happiness and the people before her are visions that will disappear in a moment, or twist into some vile version of death instead.

She tries not to stare at Lena talking to Kelly a short distance away, whose voice she hasn’t heard properly in what feels like eons.

Lena who also seems to be having an equally hard time not letting her gaze drift to Kara. Their eyes meet more than a few times, and every single time they exchange small smiles, and Kara turns back repeatedly to try and pay attention to whatever Nia and Alex are saying to her.

A little while later J’onn is recounting their efforts to subdue the phantoms that escaped the zone, but the angle easily accommodates her ability to watch Lena and Kelly near the desk across the room and she’s not ashamed to admit that she’s not really taking in anything he’s saying.

Instead, she watches as Lena shakes her head at Kelly, a slight pleading but guarded look on her face, Kelly in turn gently grasps Lena’s arms and tilts her head down, concerned and soft, says something that makes Lena’s tense shoulders droop, and a shy nod of agreement follows. Then Kelly presses something into Lena’s hands that she pockets and watches as Kelly draws her into a tight hug that Lena returns, smiling gratefully at the other woman as they part.

Kara wishes her powers were back so she could listen, and then immediately admonishes herself feeling ashamed for wanting to so blatantly to eavesdrop on her friends.

It’s fine.

Everything is fine.

She doesn’t have to watch Lena like she’s going to disappear.

No one is going to disappear.

Everything is fine. The phantom zone is done. It’s over. No one is dead, all her friends are right here.

No one is going to disappear.

She repeats it like a mantra over and over. She stares hard at Brainy, willing herself to listen while he talks, but she’s concentrating more on focusing than hearing, but his next words jolt her.

“…shame Lena left LuthorCorp, I understand why she did it, but I can only wonder what Lex will do with the company now that she’s severed all ties,” he says, and Kara gapes at him, interrupting.

“Lena left LuthorCorp?!” she practically yells, and everyone turns to face her, and she searches for Lena, who isn’t here, and thinks that she saw her head to the restroom a little while ago and tries not to panic that she’s not in the room.

No one is going to disappear.

Brainy frowns, “Yes,” he tilts his head, “I mentioned that an hour ago in a previous conversation, did you not hear me?” and Kara blushes, because she most certainly wasn’t paying attention.

“I’m sorry, Brainy,” she says sincerely, “I guess I’m still a little out of it, can you explain again?”

Brainy looks at her with sympathy and doesn’t press her, then recounts what Lena told him about deciding to leave the company.

Kara just sits…

…in awe of Lena, and feels such immense pride settle in her chest toward her best friend.

She wants to talk to Lena.

She needs to talk to Lena.

Kara’s leg starts to bounce waiting for her to come back and her anxiety grows little by little at every passing moment that Lena decidedly does not come back. She tries to keep light conversation with those around her smiling insincerely and distractedly at whoever is speaking but there’s a sort of gnawing growing in her chest the longer Lena is gone.

She snaps finally, “Where’s Lena?” cold and harsh, practically demands from Kelly who was the one person Lena really spoke to the whole night. Kara’s not jealous of her.

She’s not.

Just because Kelly got to speak to Lena while Kara spoke to her other friends, who she absolutely loves.

She’s not.

Kara feels a distant sense of remorse for speaking thusly to sweet and kindhearted Kelly. Along with that remorse she realizes she is acting erratically, too fixated on one person. One person who she was fighting and at odds with for almost a year of turmoil and heartache, but she can’t bring herself to care about that right now.

There are matching surprised and concerned faces amongst her friends, but she’s too wound up with worry that Lena is gone…

gone again, maybe for good, maybe forever-

No.

That’s done, they apologized, they were on their way to mending their relationship.

Weren’t they?

Kara’s breathing is a little fast and she wonders which of her memories are the real ones.

Screws her eyes shut trying to stay in control.

Perhaps reconciling with Lena in her lab were the fake memories, not the ones where she and Lena were together and so incredibly happy only to have Lex come in and ruin it, like always, by telling Lena her secret before she could.  

Or the ones where Kara had told Lena her secret just before Lex could, and everything was wonderful, but he manages to shoot Lena before Kara can tell her the last secret she holds in her heart.

She’s not gone, she didn’t spend all that time in hell trying to claw her way back only to return to a world where Lena’s not in it. If that was the case, Kara’s not entirely sure she would have tried so hard.

Lena isn’t gone.

She’s not.

She’s not, she’s nearby…just in the other room…

“She left,” Kelly says softly, her face kind and full of concern at her outburst, but her words knock the breath from Kara’s lungs.

She can feel Alex’s hand come around her shoulders, pressing them tight together, she thinks Alex can see her coming apart.

“What,” Kara forces out in a gasp, strangled, and she stands ripping herself out of Alex’s astonished embrace. The others look on in stunned silence, daring not to speak.

“Why?” she demands, glaring down at where Kelly sits, and again there is a part of her that flinches at how sharp she’s being with her sister’s girlfriend, but there’s only patience in the other woman’s gaze, and understanding which for some reason makes Kara’s temper flare.

“She said she was exhausted and wanted to rest,” Kelly says, “she hasn’t slept in almost three days, Kara,” and she hears an unsaid, because of you, tacked onto the end.

She knows that’s not what Kelly means at all, but the dark twisted panicked part of her mind latches on to it and all her building rage turns into guilt that churns uncomfortably in her belly. It makes her go still and quiet.

It’s her fault Lena is exhausted and tired. The least she can do is let her rest and stop acting like some crazed and possessive freak because Lena is out of her sight.

Lena doesn’t belong to anyone. She’s her own person, and thinks in slight disgust of herself that she could be so covetous, what is wrong with me?

Kara feels Alex draw her back down to the couch and holds her close, rocking her a little.

Kara doesn’t notice as the others start to clean up, she just lets Alex hold her and she tries to concentrate on Alex’s heartbeat where her ear is pressed, comforted by the muted muffled sound, glad that her powers haven’t returned yet so she can squeeze her arms around Alex as hard as she wants.

Alex and Kelly take her home, it’s early afternoon, the sun’s bright light illuminating the apartment, it’s her favorite time of day to be home, to feel the warm sun on her skin and chase the lingering shadows away from her home and her heart.

She looks around and frowns a bit. There’s something different, subtle changes she’s not sure of, but she forces herself not to dwell, it’s unimportant, she was gone a long time.

Alex guides her to the couch, and watches as her sister picks up a blanket that’s strewn halfway across the cushions and partially on the floor. Kara tilts her head, she was sure that blanket was folded neatly on the couch before she left last, and wonders if maybe Alex has been coming to her apartment while she was gone. It wouldn’t surprise her; Alex usually waters her plants and cleans up a little.

They get settled on the couch, Kara burrowing herself into her sister’s arms like she used to as a child, and Kelly comes with tea. She feels more guilt clawing at her, Kelly was too kind and sweet, especially after Kara yelled at her.

She apologizes, shame faced and embarrassed, and fights the tears that try to burst forth from the other woman’s easy acceptance and forgiveness.

They talk, Kelly mostly leading the conversation, and Kara can see the shape of it as it takes on a decidedly therapeutic turn and she’s at once grateful to Kelly and guilty for taking advantage of her training outside a professional setting. It’s not Kelly’s responsibility to fix Kara, and it’s not fair to any of them, but she appreciates it nonetheless and makes a promise to herself not to take advantage like this again in the future.

They talk well into the evening, and Kelly helps her recognize that her erratic thoughts and behaviors are a result of her experiences in the Phantom Zone, that post traumatic stress is common after harrowing experiences, and she’s going to have to learn how to navigate her responses and find her triggers.

Kara sits silent for a while mulling over that revelation and finally, she asks Kelly if she could possibly give her any recommendations for a therapist. Kelly smiles and Alex squeezes her from behind, and the of course that follows loosens one of many knots in her chest.

She’s not alone.

She’s not.

She can do this.

Chapter Text

She’s alone in her bed and she definitely can’t do this.

Kara had convinced Alex that she didn’t need to stay the night, it had taken considerable effort and an endless stream of promises to get her sister to agree and now she’s regretting every ounce of effort she put into the endeavor.

It was fine at first. She gave both Alex and Kelly tight hugs goodbye and then set about getting ready for bed, starting to feel the pull of sleep as everything caught up with her.

She fell into bed and inhaled deeply, surprised at the freshly laundered smell that filled her nose, and feeling grateful that Alex was the kind of considerate big sister who remembered to do these little things for her and fell asleep with contentment in her heart.

It’s sometime in the middle of the night that she startles awake from a nightmare, a scream halfway in her throat, and her breathing uneven and ragged. The details are fading from her mind quickly but the feeling of unease sticks with her and she knows it had something to do with Lena.

A growing sense of panic is rising in her chest and she tries to remember the little tips Kelly taught her earlier.

Focus on breathing.

Focus on visible tangible things.

And on, until her chest rises and falls in steady rhythm.

The pit in her chest remains, the snippets of her dream coming to her in flashes, and she realizes that the worry and gnawing in her chest won’t let up until she can see, Lena.

Not until she can use her own hands to feel solid real, Lena, in her grasp.

She’s out the door before she can over think it or let her better judgement change her mind.

Her powers still aren’t back so she runs, doesn’t even think to try any other way to get to Lena’s penthouse. Kara almost prefers it this way, she can feel the wind in her hair and burning in her lungs, and she feels so real to herself in the moment that it helps calm her racing thoughts a little.

The building is only a few miles away and Kara arrives at the entrance panting and sweating, and hardly takes a moment before she rushes inside.

The security guard at the desk watches her with surprised and concerned eyes, someone she had made friends with a lifetime ago when she and Lena were still on great terms and she came by unannounced all the time, relishing in her unrestricted access to Lena’s home.

She gives him a tight smile and makes to move past him toward the elevators, but he bars her path, and Kara is struck with a thought that Lena has either restricted her access or never reinstated it after everything.

“Ms. Danvers, it’s wonderful to see you again, but I can’t let you up,” he says apologetically but firmly. Then his face softens as he takes in her sweaty face and ruffled pajamas, “Are you alright? Can I help?”

She ignores his kind words and pleads, “Please, I need to see Lena, it’s important. Can you call up?”

He frowns, and Kara deflates at his response, “I’m terribly sorry, but I can’t do that,” she’s about to protest, to yell, to beg, to fight, to do anything, when his next words surprise her, “Ms. Luthor moved out a few days ago.”

Kara feels simultaneous relief and panic, Lena hadn’t tried to keep her out but now she doesn’t know where she is.

She turns away from the guard and she knows she’s being rude, but she doesn’t care. She snatches her phone from her pocket and dials Lena, but it goes immediately to voicemail. She tries three more times until it sinks in that Lena won’t pick up, she calls the only person she knows can make this better.

“Kara?” Alex’s voice is a little hoarse from sleep, but Kara can tell she’s awake and fully alert for her sister’s late night phone call.

“Where is she?” Kara gasps into the phone, her heart hasn’t stopped racing from her run.

“Wha-?”

“Lena!” Kara yells into the night air as she exits the building, exasperated that her sister is taking too long to understand, “She moved, Alex!”

“Kara, wait, where are you?” she can hear rustling, and Alex murmuring to Kelly about what’s going on, but Kara is too focused on trying to figure out where Lena might be to pay much attention. She runs a hand through her hair and worries her bottom lip, trying to remember to breathe. Breathe. Breathe.

“I’m at her building,” Kara whispers.

“I’ll be right there.”

She slides into the passenger seat of Kelly’s car and throws herself into Alex’s arms across the center console. Alex holds her tight twisting in the driver’s seat as much as she can. Kara breathes easier in her sister’s arms and they stay like that until she finally feels some sense of calm.

When finally, she pulls away wiping tears from her eyes, she apologizes to Alex for waking her in the middle of the night, especially after the big show she made earlier of being ok.

Alex just looks at her gently, like she always does when she’s worried about Kara and says knowingly, “I can’t say I wasn’t expecting something like this, though I hoped it wouldn’t happen.” Kara gives her a grim smile in response and apology, and her sister asks what happened.

Kara tells her and feels a little sheepish when she gets to the part where her panic induced brain had her run about thirty blocks to get to Lena’s penthouse. Alex just listens without judgement, her patient older sister face firmly in place until she’s done. They sit in silence a little while and Kara tries to recall some old Kryptonian meditation techniques her mother tried in vain to teach her, maybe the Fortress would have a more complete texts, she needs to get a handle on this…

“I just feel…at odds with myself,” Kara says quietly, staring at her hands in her lap, “Like I’m happy to be home, but I just can’t be happy to be home,” frustrated and grasping for words, “I keep worrying that things- people will be taken away from me,” she frowns, brow furrowing, “and now that I say that out loud it was pretty stupid of me to think I would be alright by myself tonight, wasn’t it?”

Alex reaches across to clasp her hand, “No, not stupid, Kara, you just didn’t know what you needed then, you made a mistake but now we can do something different to help you.”

Kara groans, frustrated, “Why can’t it be as easy as just being happy to be home, Alex?” tears forming in her eyes, “Why can’t it ever be easy?”

Alex sighs in commiseration and brushes a few tears from Kara’s face as they fall, “I don’t know,” she whispers, “J’onn says it’s because nothing worth having is ever easy, and we can’t appreciate the good times without the bad.”

Kara scoffs, “Well, that’s dumb,” she says petulantly, “stupid J’onn and his space dad-isms.”

Alex agrees easily, a small sad smile on her face, stroking some of Kara’s hair behind her ear, “You want to come back to mine or yours? I can stay with you this time.” Alex says as she buckles herself into her seat and starts the car.

Kara latches onto Alex’s arm before she can put the car in drive, “Wait,” Alex looks at her in mild alarm, the question plain on her face.

She gulps and asks what she’s been impatiently waiting to ask, “Do you know where Lena is staying?” and can’t seem to meet her sister’s eyes, just stares at her own hand.

“Kara…” Alex says softly, and she can’t decipher the tone in her voice, but then she sighs, resigned, “she’s staying at Kelly’s old place, her lease isn’t up for a few months and she offered it to Lena now that she moved in with me.”

Kara gasps in surprise, “Kelly moved in with you!?” she squeaks, her heart filling with warmth for what feels like the first time in ages, feels a surge of happiness for her sister, and throws her arms around Alex again, “I’m so happy for you,” she says emphatic into her shoulder.

When she sits back again Alex’s chuckle, pleased smile, and light blush almost completely washes away the turmoil and anguish she felt only a few moments ago. Her small but genuine, “me too,” has Kara’s smile growing even wider.

Then Alex’s expression turns a little serious and she seems to be thinking intently on something, eyes glancing about Kara’s face, examining closely, when she says, “Kara, what’s going on with you and Lena?”

She practically feels the floor come out from beneath her and stutters out, “Uhh-I- what do you mean?” Alex watches Kara’s hand fly up to her face to fiddle with her glasses and realizes belatedly that she’s not wearing them.

“That,” she points to Kara, “why would that question make you flustered as if-…” something must click for Alex, and her expression is one of dawning understanding, “I kept telling myself I was projecting too much-…” she shakes her head in mild disbelief, and Kara struggles not to squirm under her scrutinizing gaze wondering what conclusion her sister has seemed to come to.

“What-…” Kara starts, but Alex continues to mutter to herself starting and stopping without every really finishing a complete thought, staring straight into Kara’s soul it seems, astonishment clear in her face.

“All the looks…from both of you- I thought- you were just- when she was ‘working’ with Lillian- and the office full of flowers!” Alex exclaims and Kara winces at the extreme change in volume, eyebrows going up, “Shit! Cat Co.! A fucking multi-bill-…Edge and the damn shipping containers!”

Alex tilts her head when she pauses next, “Mxy,” she just states the name and Kara can feel the slow blush that was creeping up her neck settle onto her cheeks as Alex stops in her rant, “You were prepared to change our entire timeline so you could have your ‘best friend’ back,” and it’s said almost like an accusation, her hand gesturing sharp between them in quotes around those words.

Kara swallows hard, can’t meet Alex’s hard serious look at first and feels retroactive embarrassment because she can see now in hindsight with the way Alex has laid certain events out what she probably should have seen years ago.

She clenches her jaw and forces herself to look Alex in the face, because the truth is Kara understands how she feels about Lena now, and for that she couldn’t possibly feel any type of embarrassment even if it did take nearly losing her and almost being exiled forever.

Alex meets her look and shakes her head, and she seems to be trying to suppress a sly smile when she understands Kara’s expression. Then looks up to the roof of the car with a grin and half laughs and half sighs muttering a long string of something Kara only catches part of, “…pinnacle of useless gays…” takes a deep breath and looks at Kara fondly, shaking her head again.

She waits for Alex to say whatever is on the tip of her tongue, “You want to go see her,” she says softly, a statement not a question. Kara nods solemn and serious, “it’s pretty late,” glances at the clock, wincing, “almost two thirty, you sure you don’t want to wait until a more reasonable hour?” hopeful.

Kara clenches her jaw and looks at Alex with all seriousness, “I think I’ve waited long enough.”

Chapter Text

She has no plan.

Kara stands in front of the door hoping one will just…come to her.

It does not.

Alex being a highly trained government operative with years of procedures and rules ingrained into her is not pleased by this revelation, but never it let it be said that she doesn’t allow her sister to make her own mistakes.

But the big sister in her can’t let Kara go without a few contingencies in place.

Call Alex for a ride at any time if needed.  

Call Alex for anything for any reason no matter what, if needed.

Take Alex’s spare key to Kelly’s just in case.

This last one Alex implemented when Kara mentioned that Lena’s phone had gone directly to voicemail. There were only a few reasons that would be the case and the worst one was because Lex was up to something and Kara really really hoped that was just Alex being paranoid.

She was feeling more even keeled in general if a bit tired from being up half the night. Her talk with Alex and Kelly and then her subsequent talk later in the night with Alex helping her more than she cared to admit.

She’s determined to see Lena because she misses her and she wants to really start to mend their relationship, and there’s important things she wants to say.

She fidgets in front of the door and realizes just winging this may not be a good idea and she probably should have brainstormed with Alex… she takes long steps away from the door drawing out her phone and calling her sister.

“I just dropped you off, I can’t imagine it went that badly,” Alex says in lieu of hello, teasing. Kara paces slightly taking three measured steps back and forth, repeatedly. This isn’t an emotional spiral she’s happy to note, just some nerves making her shoulders and stomach quake in tandem. Whatever else is going on with her, Lena brings her comfort, and she doesn’t feel apprehensive about speaking to her, she just doesn’t know what to say.

“You were right, I should have some sort of plan, otherwise I’m just going to be rambling about nothing,” Kara says in a rush. Alex laughs lightly, agreeing.

“Kara, bottom line, what do you want when it comes to Lena?” she asks getting straight to the point. Kara blows out a breath, stops pacing and looks down at her feet, one arm clutched around her stomach.

Ideally, she wants to be with Lena, but she knows that there’s some stuff she needs to work out personally and between them before she can realistically be in a relationship, and of course Lena has to actually reciprocate her feelings. Ultimately, though she just wants her best friend back in her life, romantic or otherwise.

She nods to herself and tells Alex.

“Ok, then that should be your focus. Building your relationship back up into a solid and healthy place, I imagine everything else will probably just sort of fall into place, romantic or not,” Alex says almost matter of fact.

Kara nods agreeing, feeling good about this, “Right, fix our friendship, I can do that,” it’s a clear goal, even if the particulars are not but it’s something to help her focus, like she wanted, “When did you get so good at this stuff?” teasing lightly.

She practically sees Alex shrug in response, “Kelly’s really good at her job, I just steal it all from her,” and Kara can hear the pride in her voice when speaks of her girlfriend. Kara smiles, and that warmth she felt before about Alex being happy with Kelly comes back in a rush.

“I’m glad,” Kara says sincerely, “thanks for everything, Alex, I didn’t say it before, but you’re the best big sister anyone could ask for,” and she’s getting a little choked up with how much she loves and appreciates Alex in this moment.

“Always, I love you,” Alex’s voice is just a little too tight and Kara knows it’s because she’s getting a little emotional too. She reciprocates and says goodbye before they can get started on a sister cry fest.

Kara huffs out a breath and goes to the door.

She knocks.

She knocks.

She knocks a little louder.

Louder still.

Now her nerves are starting to edge a little into worried territory and she forces herself to breathe. Lena is not an especially deep or heavy sleeper, and she really wishes she had x-ray vison right now. She rationalizes to herself all the reasons about using the key Alex gave her and resolves to deal with any fall out with Lena later.

Her hands freeze, key inserted into the lock and turned to open, but her breathing starts to come in a little faster and she needs a moment, just a moment, to brace herself before she enters the apartment.

When she enters, she’s hit immediately with the pungent smell of scotch, and Kara tries not to let her worried thoughts control her, she can see even without trying to find a light switch, the moon is so bright tonight and illuminates everything easily.

It’s open plan, similar her and Alex’s apartment. She takes the few steps to the kitchen island where she sees Lena’s phone and finds the battery dead. At least that answered one question.

She looks around, the walls are bare, and it certainly looks like someone is in the process of packing, a few half-filled boxes are stacked near the door. There’s still some furniture though it’s sparse, a couch, TV still mounted to the wall, a small dining table with chairs, the kitchen island stools stacked in a corner.

She takes all of it in, and then her eyes zero in on the empty scotch bottle knocked over on the floor near the couch, an accompanying glass a few feet away tipped over, and her heart skips in worry as she walks around the couch, inhales sharply when sees another half full bottle stuck in between the couch cushions.

“Lena, no,” she whispers to no one, then calls out her name louder to be heard, her voice laced with worry. She makes her way towards the short hallway and sees the light on in the bathroom, the door cracked open a little.

Kara doesn’t hesitate, she calls Lena’s name as she opens the door and the sight before her sends a sharp stab of terror right through her chest.

Lena is on the floor half slumped over the toilet and half propped up by the tub right next to it, the sour smell of vomit fills the air and Kara rushes to kneel at Lena’s side, hardly daring to breathe. Lena groans when Kara pulls her into her arms head lolling to the side face pinching, breathing shallow, but it feels like Kara’s heart can beat properly for a moment again.

“Lena, wake up,” she rasps, voice tight and worried, Kara uses her free hand to support Lena’s sagging head to bring her face around to look at properly, her face is red and blotchy, usually perfect eyeliner smudged like she’s been crying and rubbing at her face, she calls out again when she gets no response, shaking Lena a little hoping to jostle her awake.

“Lena, please,” she begs, willing the tears she feels coming on to stop, she can’t fall apart right now, she needs to be here for Lena...

Finally, she sees green eyes flutter open, heavy lidded, she takes a quick fleeting moment to bow her head thanking Rao breathlessly.

Cold pale fingers reach up almost lazily to touch briefly at Kara’s cheek and then fall listlessly back down as if the weight is too much for Lena to bear, “Kara?”

She lets out a shuddering breath and nods with relief, “Yeah, it’s me,” she whispers, eyes flitting across Lena’s face, fingers smoothing damp slightly matted black hair down along her temples, compulsively.

This is not how she pictured being able to hold Lena again…

Lena’s lips tremble and her already red rimmed eyes well, she squeezes her eyes shut releasing the tears down her cheeks, “You’re not real,” she says voice thick with despair.

Kara shakes her head quickly, wiping tears from her best friend’s face, pleading “No, Lena, look at me, please” but green eyes stay resolutely shut, Kara reaches for her hand and presses Lena’s palm against her cheek, “I’m here, I’m real.”

Releases the breath she was holding when Lena finally opens her eyes again, staring at Kara’s cheek where their hands are pressed together, flexes her fingers a little where Kara feels more deliberate pressure from the rapidly warming palm, can’t help the one tear that escapes the corner of her eyes.

Kara can see that she believes her, but her relief is short lived because Lena turns to throw herself towards the toilet heaving into it, she stays close, grimacing in sympathy, drawing long dark hair away from her face, tugging out her own ponytail to use the band to tie Lena’s hair back. She leaves her side for a moment to moisten a washcloth and returns as Lena pulls away from the toilet, trying to control her breathing, eyes closed with a pained expression that makes Kara’s chest clench.

She kneels before Lena again, reaching out slowly so as not to startle her, but Lena jumps a little anyway, and Kara is relieved when she doesn’t pull away. Just clenches her jaw and breathes harshly in and out through her nose steadily, brows pinched together while Kara tugs her face gently to towards her and wipes tenderly at her face.

Kara forces herself to focus on this task and this task only, and not on the worry that swirls in her belly.

She starts at Lena’s forehead and temples, wipes the sweat and tears away, tries to gently wipe the pained pinch in her face to nothing, she succeeds only a little.

Strokes over flushed cheeks, and around the tight line of her jaw and finally over her downturned lips and lingers a little around her mouth, lipstick mottled, and half chewed off.

Kara watches as Lena’s mouth parts to draw in air, chin quivering, her eyes flick up towards Lena’s eyes and she sees fresh tears forming there and can barely brace herself before Lena curls into her and sobs, broken and gut wrenching, breathing uncontrolled, fingers twisting into the fabric of her shirt.

She’s stunned for a moment but recovers quickly as she draws Lena into her immediately, holding her tight to her chest, turning her own face up toward the ceiling reminding herself not to cry.

It doesn’t work.

She can’t help how her own heart aches and prickles from the sounds and feel of Lena’s full body sobs, loud and grating on the air.

Kara holds her and holds her, swaying ever so gently, eyes closed, face pressed into Lena’s hair, and she doesn’t whisper platitudes, Lena’s always hated those. Instead, she does as she promised herself some time ago to only tell Lena the truth.

I’m here.

You’re not alone.

I’ve got you.

Over and over, whispered into the crown of her head.

After a while, when Lena’s heartbreaking sobs have quieted into light hiccups, Kara’s tight grip slackening into soothing strokes along Lena’s back that also serve to calm her own heart, she decides that she needs to move them, more importantly to get Lena into bed to sleep.

“Come on, Lena, let’s get you cleaned up for bed,” she says quietly into the silence.

Kara pulls Lena up with her, steadying the other woman in her drunken state when she stumbles, pulls Lena toward the sink and lifts her onto the counter, Kara doesn’t have her powers but she’s still fairly strong regardless.

Lena is quiet, keeps her head bowed the whole time and lets Kara move her, breathing shallowly, back slouched, body almost limp. Kara spies Lena’s toiletry bag on the counter and pulls out some mouthwash which she gives a small cup of to Lena, who takes it lethargically and swishes in silence and spits it out when she’s done.

Still no words.

Kara pulls out her make up wipes next and stands in the space between Lena’s legs and tilts her chin up with gentle fingers and sets to work removing the last vestiges of ruined makeup around her eyes, dragging gently back and forth.

She feels a strange sort of calm settle over her then, she knows the whole situation is terrible and there’s going to be a long conversation about this later that will probably be painful for them both, but right now she’s…not content…but still, not quite peaceful, but quiet…one she feels deep in her chest…like this is where she’s supposed to be, here with Lena, even deep in whatever darkness and turmoil that has pulled Lena into this moment.

When Kara’s work moves to red stained lips, she notices Lena’s eyes drag open slow and tired, face slack, her eyes slightly vacant and distant, but when they focus on Kara’s eyes, the Kryptonian can’t help that her heart ticks up in speed a bit. She turns her attention back to removing the last bit of makeup on Lena’s face, but she can feel Lena’s mild hazy gaze roaming over her own.

“Why?”

Kara flinches in surprise at Lena’s gravelly voice and gapes at her.

“Why are you here?” she asks again when Kara says nothing, there’s something more behind that question besides the obvious, and it makes Kara’s throat tighten with emotion.

She looks at Lena for a long moment, a terrible pain building in her chest and some guilt that Lena must question why Kara would want to be here, to see her. That their friendship is still broken enough that Lena doesn’t know why Kara would help her right now.

“You left,” she states in answer, too simple by a mile but the absolute truth.

Lena left her encased in kryptonite.  

Lena left her at the Fortress with Myriad.

Lena left her yesterday amongst their friends.

“and I missed you,” she adds, like it’s an explanation and reason in itself, and Kara realizes that’s what it all boils down to even as it leaves her lips.  

Lena’s breathing quickens and her once slack face tightens with emotion and she bows her head again, dropping her forehead to Kara’s shoulder. She stands frozen unsure what to do, but Lena speaks again before she can work herself into a panic.

“I’m tired,” she breathes, so weary and exhausted. Kara latches onto that.

She can help with the tiredness; she can help Lena to bed like she planned.

Kara nods to herself once more and murmurs gentle commands to Lena as she helps her off the counter and steadies her, grasps her hands and walks backwards leading her into the bedroom, the bright moonlight coming through the bedroom windows lighting the way, Lena’s eyes fixed on Kara’s shoulder focused on not stumbling as she walks. Kara sits her on the bed and Lena locks her arms out on either side of herself leaning slightly forward with closed eyes.

Kara sees a suitcase at the foot of the bed on a high bench and goes to rummage for pajamas, she finds some sweats and pauses momentarily when she recognizes an old t-shirt she had given Lena years ago for a sleep over, a small spike of happiness that Lena kept it all this time.

She helps Lena into the clean clothes and discards the old, soiled ones into a far corner until she can deal with them, that’s a tomorrow problem.

She coaxes Lena under the covers and only hesitates for the briefest moment before sliding in next to her.

Lena lays face down, arms curled under the pillow, face turned toward Kara a little more than a foot away, her tired droopy eyes and slack expression growing increasingly sleepier, blinks coming slower and longer.  

Kara watches as one pale hand comes out from under the pillow reaching toward her, she catches it in her own and presses their hands to her chin and lips. She starts to feel the tension she’s been carrying bleed slowly out of her, as she lets out a relieved breath, feels herself grow drowsy as she watches Lena struggle to stay awake, feels her chest warm in affection as she catches glimpses of dark green eyes in the moonlight.

“I missed you too,” Lena whispers, light as air, and it’s the best ‘goodnight’ Kara’s heard said to her in years.

Chapter Text

Kara wakes slowly to the late morning light streaming through the windows warm on her back.

She keeps her eyes closed and relishes in the feeling of being well rested for the first time in ages, and she knows she slept hard because she notices that she’s hardly changed her position from when she fell asleep. She opens her eyes slowly and is greeted to the sweet image of Lena, also seemingly having not moved at all during the night, hands still linked loosely between them, bright sunlight shining on her beautiful features.

Kara frowns a little, contemplating, Lena’s much too relaxed face reminds her of Alex’s after she’s had too much to drink and passes out. She sighs and adds it to the list of things to talk to Lena about, trying to push her worry to the side for now since they can’t address it yet, and takes a moment to turn her thoughts to something more positive instead, Lena is safe and resting and Kara is here with her.

She lays in bed just soaking up the sun and appreciates the quiet, superpowers still dormant, and basks in Lena’s presence, her own heart beating calm and content, thoughts quiet and still for the moment. Kara reaches with her free hand towards Lena’s face hesitating and then lightly brushing loose hairs from Lena’s face, knuckles dragging over the swell of her pale cheek, Lena is so deep in sleep she doesn’t so much as twitch a muscle.

Kara sighs in disbelief that she can be so close to Lena again and feels so grateful and reminds herself that she can’t take this for granted ever again.

After several minutes of just enjoying the moment she finally rolls out of bed and stands in front of the window, eyes closed, arms stretching above her head, then looking idly out at the buzzing street below, and takes another moment to appreciate that she’s home.

Lena will probably be sleeping off the alcohol for a while yet and she decides to try and keep busy until she wakes. She finds her phone in the bathroom and heads out to the kitchen and living room and calls Alex, she sees Lena’s phone charger curled on the counter and plugs the dead phone in, her own cradled in her shoulder still ringing.

“Hey! Good morning!” Alex finally answers a little over bright, “I was just about to call you, how did it go last night slash this morning? You doing ok?” and Kara is a little concerned about Alex’s quick questions, something seems a shade off, she’s not sure what, but she’s feeling too content after a good night’s rest that she lets it slide.

“Yeah, I’m good, I slept really well,” Kara says simply without guile, smiling to herself.

“That good, huh?” Alex says a little slyly, and it takes Kara a moment to realize what her sister is implying.

“Wha-Alex!” Kara sputters, loud in the silence, face heating while she listens to Alex’s cackle on the other side of the phone, “No! We didn’t- Alex,” she says her name in an exasperated whine, eyes flicking toward where Lena is in the other room and lowers her voice to a normal level.

Kara grows serious when she recalls the previous night and tells Alex in a tone skirting toward angry and protective, “She wasn’t in any state to have a conversation, let alone what you’re implying, Alex,” she says with some heat.

She can hear Alex’s amusement curtail with a sharp click of teeth, and then asks with the utmost concern in her voice, “Is Lena ok?” and Kara softens hearing the genuine worry in her sister’s voice.

Kara blows out a sigh, touching her hand to her forehead, “She drank a bottle and a half of scotch sometime last night, I found her slumped over the toilet,” she says with no trace of her earlier tone, just grim resignation. Alex inhales sharply, “she threw up most of it, and was fairly coherent while I cleaned her up, otherwise I think I would have ended up taking her to the hospital.”

Alex is silent, and they just breathe together for a few moments, then she says voice soft and thick, “What can I do?”

Kara’s throat constricts and tears spring to her eyes, Rao, she’s so grateful for Alex, she inhales to steady herself and is proud with how normal she sounds.

She makes her way to the kitchen and pulls open cabinet doors finding them empty, “Can you stop by my apartment for some clothes and stuff? I forgot my glasses and…just my whole life really,” she says trying to lighten things a little, and opens the refrigerator, empty too, not surprising, “I don’t want to leave her alone, so if you could bring by some groceries so we can make some food that would be great.”

“You got it, Danvers Delivery Dash, at your service,” Alex says playing up her best commercial voice, Kara snorts a little rolling her eyes.

“You might actually have to start that for real now that you’re unemployed,” Kara quips, and then has a thought, “hell, I might have to join you if Andrea decides to fire me since I’ve been gone so long with zero follow up,” and that worries her a little, but she sets that aside too, one thing at a time, she can talk with Alex about that later.

Alex hums in agreement, “Ok, I’ll be by in a couple hours with everything,” Alex pauses, and then says tentatively, “Also, just a heads up, Mom is coming your way.”

Kara nearly drops her phone, and practically yells again, “Alex! What do you mean Mom is coming my way?!”

“I’m sorry! I was literally just getting off the phone with Mom when you called, and I was going to tell you, but we got sidetracked on the Lena thing!” Alex says loudly in an apologetic rush and continues hurriedly.

“I texted her you were back late last night when Kelly and I left yours, she was probably asleep, and then I got an irate phone call from her early this morning saying she was on her way, and I figured I had a few hours before she got here to sleep a little more but then I got another irate phone call a few minutes ago from her asking where you were because you weren’t answering your phone and you weren’t at your apartment.” Alex is a little winded when she finally finishes.

Kara takes as second to look at her missed calls and winces and grits her teeth when she sees at least five from Eliza, she didn’t notice them amongst all the notifications she has yet to go through from the last few weeks she’s been gone.

“You should have led with ‘our mother is coming to see you’, Alex!” Kara snaps annoyed, and presses fingers to the bridge of her nose, trying to calm down, “when do you think she’ll be here?”

Alex's sheepish and slightly high pitched, “Uhhh…a few minutes?” does nothing for Kara's frustration.

“Alex!” Kara groans, beyond exasperated, she was hoping she had more time than that.

“I’m sorry! It’s not my fault you don’t live too far from Kelly’s!” Alex exclaims, starting to get a little defensive.

There’s a knock at the door and Kara freezes.

“That’s her, isn’t it?” Alex says grimly, and then quick without waiting for an answer, “Ok, see you later, love you, bye!” and hangs up.

Kara growls at her phone and takes back every nice thing she’s ever said about her sister.

It’s not that Kara doesn’t want to see Eliza, she loves Eliza, it’s just she feels a little out of sorts, she just got back from hell yesterday morning, this isn’t her apartment, she’s worried about Lena in the other room sleeping off an inordinate amount of alcohol, and she still needs to have like a million conversations with her, she’s still grimy from her run last night and her hair is probably a mess, and her dad is in a mild coma at the Tower, and oh yeah her dad is alive by the way…

And ok, she maybe…definitely, needs to talk to Eliza.  

…she just doesn’t like to have Eliza bear witness to the craziness that is her life, wants her to be proud and not worry so much about her like she’s done Kara’s whole life, wanting to protect her from shady governments and evil xenophobes. Eliza’s done so much and loved her so unconditionally that she just wants to let her be happy without the shadow of Kara’s drama hovering overhead.  

Kara feels tears well up in her eyes.

But sometimes she just wants her Mom to give her a hug and tell her everything is going to be ok.

She throws the door open and practically bursts into tears when Eliza’s soft loving worried gaze comes into view and she nearly collapses to the floor when Eliza wraps her in a familiar loving embrace. It reminds her of Alex, it’s where her sister learned it after all, but it just makes her cry that much harder.  

At some point during Kara’s long crying session Eliza moves them to the couch and she sits curled up in her mother’s arms for what seems like hours but is probably more like minutes.

She’s not sure what exactly she’s crying about or for but it’s the type of cathartic crying Kara hasn’t done in a long time. Maybe it’s just a release of emotion, she doesn’t know, honestly, she doesn’t care she just feels better, a little lighter at the end while Eliza strokes her hair and rocks her gently back and forth, humming a Kryptonian lullaby that she doesn’t really know the words to but learned from Kara years and years ago. Kara almost starts crying all over again and presses into Eliza’s embrace relishing the feeling when she squeezes just that little bit tighter.

“I’m sorry,” Kara’s voice come out in a croak as she pulls away slightly to sit up, wiping at her face with the bottom of her shirt.

“About what, sweetie?” Eliza asks gently.

Kara shrugs feeling like she’s a teenager again like she doesn’t have the capacity to process her emotions, “I just keep making you worry with all the stuff I get myself and Alex into,” she looks down and fiddles with the bottom of her shirt, “I hate making you worry, you don’t deserve it after everything you’ve sacrificed and done for me.”

She feels Eliza’s warm hand bring her face up to meet her loving kind gaze, “Listen to me, sweetheart,” and pauses a moment to make sure Kara is listening, “You’re my daughter, anything I’ve done for you was done unconditionally because I love you. I am so proud of the person you’ve become and everything you and your sister do for this city and the world.”

She shrugs a little continuing, matter of fact, “Sure I worry. It’s my job to worry. Even if you stayed safe at work all day just sitting at your desk writing articles, I would still worry if you were getting enough rest or eating properly and having fun,” Eliza gently swipes the few tears that escape Kara’s eyes, “I’m your mother, it’s my prerogative, it doesn’t mean I love you less or am disappointed.”

Kara’s mouth twists and she throws herself around Eliza in a tight hug, breathing out a thank you.

“Always, sweetheart,” she says when Kara sits back, she tilts her head and says with no judgement or expectation, “is there anything you want to talk about?”

Kara gives her such a look, as if to say there’s too much, and Eliza smiles back understandingly, but she nods, “Yeah, there is some stuff,” Kara pauses and glances toward the bedroom, “just let me check on Lena, first.”

Eliza’s eyebrows go up in astonished surprise, “Lena’s here?” curious, and Kara doesn’t blame her, there’s a lot to unpack there, she blushes the tiniest bit at Eliza’s almost knowing gaze.

Kara nods, “Just give me sec, I’ll be right back to explain,” she digs a glass out from one of the moving boxes and fills it with water and exhales in triumph when she finds some aspirin in the bathroom medicine cabinet. She enters the bedroom and finds that Lena is still passed out cold and hasn’t moved. She places the water and aspirin on the end table and sits at the edge of the bed.

She reaches out to stroke lightly across Lena’s cheek, and this time her face shifts the smallest bit, huffs lightly at the touch, and Kara feels some relief to know she’s not as far gone into her drunken stupor as she was earlier.

Kara heads back to the living where Eliza has created a makeshift coffee table from a sealed sturdy box and a towel, two glasses full of water on top, and notes that she’s cleaned up the liquor bottles as well. She sits down and smiles gratefully when Eliza passes her a glass of water, once she’s had her fill Eliza asks after Lena and Kara replies with a short recap. She sighs and looks up at the ceiling thinking.  

Eliza waits patiently while she gathers her thoughts. Kara decides that she wants Eliza’s advice and thoughts about Lena because she’s not as close to the situation like Alex and the rest of her friends are, not to mention she doesn’t exactly want to start unpacking the Phantom Zone stuff just yet, it’s too fresh.

She starts from the beginning of their relationship so Eliza has all the context and then she can extrapolate and draw her own conclusions by the time Kara finishes. Kara speaks for a long time, and Eliza only interrupts occasionally for clarification on something otherwise she hums in places and squeezes her shoulder in others and is silent for the rest.

When she gets to the previous day and this morning, Eliza’s face contorts in sympathetic anguish for Lena and Kara both.

“Oh, sweetheart,” she breathes, and draws Kara into another hug.

Kara laughs a little, “Yeah, I know, it’s a lot.”

Eliza looks at her with concern, “And how are you feeling this morning, about everything Lena I mean?”

Kara thinks about it seriously, “I think that Alex was right, we need to fix our friendship first and foremost before anything else, I think part of me was hoping we could get to the potential dating aspect sooner than later,” Kara blushes a little here, “assuming Lena would even want that, but that should probably be put on hold indefinitely. After seeing Lena last night, and not to mention my own stuff, I think it’s best to let the rest lie until we’re both in better places.”

Eliza hums and nods in agreement, and Kara feels some measure of contentment being able to confide in her mother like this, like it’s not all hers to shoulder.

“For what it’s worth, I think, if or when,” Eliza starts to say with a grin growing on her face, “you and Lena get to the ‘potential dating’ part of your journey you’re going to be a very cute couple.”

Kara groans in embarrassment covering her face and wonders how Eliza can make her feel like she’s sixteen again talking about her first crush, “Moooom!”

Eliza just laughs at her response, “Seriously though, Kara, I think whatever happens between you two I’m glad you have one another,” she frowns a little as she contemplates Lena, “I didn’t realize how hard that poor child had it with her family and how rough this past year without you must have been.” Eliza looks at Kara seriously, “I’m so glad you found your way back to each other.”

Kara whispers a ‘me too’ and then startles when she hears a knock at the door.

Alex shoves in with a flying kiss to Kara’s cheek when she opens it, arms full of groceries making a line straight for the kitchen. Kelly comes in more sedately carrying a duffel of Kara’s things and gives Kara and Eliza a proper hug and greeting.

“Alex,” Kelly admonishes mildly, “say hi to you mom.”

Her sister looks appropriately chastised, especially when Eliza tilts her head and raises an eyebrow, but Kara can see a smile trying to fight it’s way to her mouth.

“Yes, say hi to your mother, Alex, Miss ‘I’m going to just send some very important information about your sister via text instead of calling’,” Eliza says with mild sarcasm, Alex bares her teeth and cringes into herself.

Alex walks sedately to her mother and apologizes sincerely, “Yeah, sorry about that,” then more playfully, “would you believe me if I said I was going through some stuff?” Eliza gives her a knowing look at her attempt at a joke and pulls Alex into a hug.

“Yes, actually, I would,” she responds seriously, Alex sags against her mother and squeezes her tight.

“I’m sorry,” Alex repeats.

“It’s alright, sweetie, just call next time, please?” Alex nods.

There’s a noise on the other side of the apartment and everyone turns toward it, Kara catches a glimpse of Lena going into the bathroom. She heads over and hovers for moment outside the door but doesn’t hear any vomiting which is a good sign. Then goes into the bedroom to see the water and aspirin are gone and takes the glass to fill with again. Alex hands her a Gatorade with a grim knowing look born from experience as she heads back to the bedroom. She sets both on the nightstand and makes her way back to the kitchen.

Eliza is chatting with Kelly, and Alex pulls something out of the microwave, “Here you go, leftovers from last night, I figured you haven’t eaten anything all day,” and Kara just about bursts into tears again when she sees and smells the pot stickers.

“Rao, I love you, I take back every mean thought I had about you earlier, you are the best sister,” Kara says practically shoving whole dumplings in her mouth.  

Alex smiles at the first part and then frowns at the second, something indignant about to come out of her mouth, surely, but the door to the bathroom opens again and they all watch the shade of a person that is currently Lena take stumbling steps back into the bedroom and disappear.

Kara chews hurriedly and wipes her hands on some napkins and makes her way to the bedroom again but Lena is already fast asleep, curled into the blankets, facing away from the sunlight streaming into the curtain less windows. Kara closes the blinds as best she can, but they only partially block out the bright sun. She pauses for a moment to watch Lena and is relieved again to see she’s looking more and more like she’s in real restful sleep.

Her family is gathered around the island when she returns, and they set about making a late lunch. Kara watches them all fondly and her chest feels full in this moment. Things aren’t perfect by any means but right now she can be happy that she has her mother, and sisters, and best friend close at hand.

In this moment she can let herself feel hopeful that though the next few days and weeks will be hard, at least she won’t be alone.

Chapter Text

Lena slowly wakes, can feel the bright hot sun on her face, and she groans as she turns over. Her body feels like death is surely trying to reap her and her head is pounding in time with her heart.

She covers her face with her hands and presses cool fingers to her eyeballs which offer momentary relief with temperature and pressure. It only lasts so long then she swings her head away from the sun and cracks one eye open experimentally. It takes a moment for her eyes to focus and there on the night stand she sees what are surely, heaven-sent items, water for the desert that is her mouth and aspirin for her throbbing headache. She scarfs down both and her parched throat is soothed for the time being.

Lena buries her head in the pillow trying to block out the light and waiting for the meds to kick in, just focusing on her breathing.

Her mind starts to wander, and it drifts to the day before recounting how she came to be in this state AND this too bright god-forsaken morning.   

 

Yesterday…

 

Lena seals the portal as soon as Kara and her unknown companions come barreling through, lest any chasing phantoms try to come with.

She watches astonished and hardly believing that Kara is only a handful of feet away, watches while she struggles to stand, swinging blindly to fend off would be attackers, even Lena can see from here she’s not all there. Her eyes glazed over and unseeing, flinging lethargic punches that even Lena could catch.  

Alex is there and catches Kara in her arms, “It’s ok,” she says trying to comfort her sister, “you’re home, we’ve got you,” her voice cracks a little with emotion but it seems to calm Kara and then her sister collapses in her arms. J’onn rushes over to help her.

Brainy and Nia are looking at the other two people on the ground warily, one is a man and the other a woman.

The woman groans and turns over, Nia stands a little way back torn between wanting to help and warding off danger, the unknown woman gets to her feet, and looks around at them, her eyes lands on Alex and Kara.

“You’re the sister then?” she says in slightly accented English, Alex frowns but nods once decisively, the woman nods, “Good, my part is done,” and before anyone can do or say anything she snaps and disappears with a blue mist left in her wake.  Everyone kind of looks around warily wondering if something will happen and Lena runs any and every kind of scan available to her but still nothing happens.

Brainy crouches down to the man and turns him over and Lena hears his sharp breath when he does. She looks down to see what’s made Brainy react that way and Lena is taken aback too. There on his chest stitched into his clothes just like Kara’s, rests a subdued but unmistakable glyph of the house of El.

“You don’t think…?” Brainy trails off as a he looks at Lena in shock.

“What are the odds?” Lena asks rhetorically, Brainy just stares and says nothing.

They move the…two? Most likely two…Kryptonians to the med bay, Lena following sedately at a distance behind J’onn who carries Kara, Alex hovering next to him, watches as limp blonde hair sways back and forth as he walks swiftly to the bed.

She’s still stuck in disbelief that she’s back, perhaps more like a bit in denial, after waiting and working so long, it seems surreal that all of a sudden, she’s just right there close enough to touch.

Lena swallows and feels a strange sort of detachment as she and Alex work in tandem to bring out the sun lamps and arrange them around Kara.

She’s spent the last two days catching only minutes of sleep with Brainy, working through every breakthrough after subsequent surprising breakthrough. Then by some combination of sheer luck and determination Kara had found a way to communicate with them, and finally together with Kara’s help Lena and Brainy were able to facilitate a way to create a stable enough portal through the fluctuating dimensions.

Now she’s helping Alex hook Kara up to the monitors to keep track of her vitals, while Nia and Brainy do the same for the other Kryptonian.

It’s…weird.

It doesn’t seem real to her in the moment.

Alex falls asleep clutching Kara’s hand early in the morning not too long after she’s returned, Lena knows Alex has hardly been sleeping, either hovering over Lena and Brainy as they worked, or going out to punch bad guys until the small hours of this morning. J’onn, M’gann, and Nia all head out to patrol. Brainy stays to help watch over the Kryptonians, well the male one at least, he seems to let Lena handle all of Kara’s outputs without saying a word.

Lena continues to live in slight denial, she treats her more like a patient, cold and detached, than her best friend newly returned, hardly daring to look up at Kara’s face, instead busies herself first with ensuring all of Kara’s vitals are within established parameters and then spends the next few hours calibrating every single sun lamp to excruciating detail to be able to produce the maximum amount of sunlight they possibly can.  

She’s frowning at the subpar output of one of the sun lamps and has just decided she might have to check it for faulty wiring when she hears an anomalous double beep on Kara’s heart monitor. Her own heart skips in worry as she looks up at the equipment and then down at Kara’s face where she watches her eyes flutter a little.

“Kara?” she says desperately in a whisper, and she can feel her heart start to crack, but Kara’s eyes still and Lena exhales trying to ignore the little box in her mind that’s starting to push against its restraints.

Alex stirs groggily and looks to Lena with a question in her face, Lena presses her lips together in an apologetic smile and shakes her head, says gently “Go back to sleep, Alex.”

A few hours after that she startles when Kelly’s hand rests on her shoulder.

“Sorry,” Kelly says sheepishly, and presses a coffee into Lena’s hands.

Lena looks down astonished, “Oh you didn’t-…”

Kelly cuts her off, “Lena, you’ve been working nonstop for days, take the coffee,” she says gently but firmly, and Lena relents.

Kelly comes around the bed to Alex’s side and Lena watches and she pulls her girlfriend’s hair back gently behind her ear, stroking down her head and back, soft and loving.

Lena tilts her head back firmly to the sunlamp she’s putting back together and tries not to feel like a creep for watching such a tender moment, especially when it tugs at her heart with longing for something similar for herself.

Alex wakes not long after that, an hour or so after noon, her smile beaming to see Kelly and to have Kara safe beside her.

The Martians and Nia return from their patrol and they ask for updates, Lena and Brainy relay the information, but nothing has really changed. They all stay strewn about the room chatting amongst themselves though they have nothing to do here, except for Brainy and Lena, of course.

Lena is frowning at the output of the sunlamp she just rebuilt, and huffs wondering why it’s still only at 97.4 percent optimization when all the others are sitting at a comfortable 99.6 percent.  

The hairs on the back of her neck raise like she’s being watched, it’s almost a skill she’s developed ever since she arrived with the Luthor’s, and her eyes flick up once quickly to glance around her to see if she’s just being paranoid.

Her heart stops, it feels like an eternity has passed while her brain catches up with what her eyes have already seen.

Kara is awake.

Her own eyes lock with familiar blue ones and Lena is floored by the look Kara levels at her. It’s an expression she’s seen fleetingly over the years, a blink and you miss it sort of thing, but here it is plain and devasting, a kind of serene and calm set to her eyes, the barest hint of a fond smile, and Lena knows it will forever be burned into her memory even as it leaves her feeling breathless.

She feels her own grim expression relax into something soft as her heart stutters and she struggles to remember to take air into her lungs and expel it.

Alex exclaims and Lena takes in a shaky breath as Kara’s intense gaze is broken as the others rush forward to give her hugs, there’s happy tears all around.

She feels Brainy’s hand on her arm as he whispers a job well done, and she feels Nia’s arm come around her for a quick side hug in elation, and she feels M’gann’s kind and proud squeeze of her shoulder, but she doesn’t see any of it.

Lena is paralyzed as she watches the pure joy on Kara’s face, watches smile after smile given to each of her friends in turn, and Lena’s throat feels too tight with emotion, tears welling in her eyes.

Then as if Kara can sense her distress, piercing blue eyes settle on Lena again, and distantly hears Kara’s question, but Lena feels too much in this moment, her throat unworkable, so she does the only thing she can and presses her hand onto Kara’s leg nodding reassuringly.  

The other Kryptonians monitors start to go haywire as he starts to convulse.

Lena doesn’t have time to be emotional now, she shoves everything of the last few moments into her little box not caring or really noticing that it’s about to burst…

Once Alex and Lena get him stable Kara tells them in a small voice that he’s her father, and Lena can tell that there’s so much Kara feels about that than the Kryptonian can possibly deal with right now, and Lena’s chest pangs in sympathy.

Everyone is quiet in the face of this revelation, but Kara’s inquiry over a certain ‘Nxly’ has everyone confused for a moment shifting gears, and Alex explains that she left almost immediately after Kara’s arrival, her distrust plain in her voice. Kara reassures them she’s not a threat and Nia breaks the tension with a clap of her hands.

“Ok! Let’s celebrate!” and she drags Brainy with her to get started on just that.

Lena literally bites her own tongue, it’s a hold over habit from when she was a child and Lillian was training her not to fidget when she was nervous or overwhelmed, because Luthor’s do not allow enemies to perceive any kind of weakness. She follows everyone upstairs, Kelly chatting happily to her, but Lena is only half paying attention, her brain is really focused on looking for an excuse to leave.

She doesn’t belong here.

These are Kara’s friends first and foremost and she feels like an imposter, especially when it’s her fault that Kara was sent to the Phantom Zone in the first place…

“I told Nia to get my favorite brand of whiskey, have a drink with me?”

Alex’s question jolts Lena out of her thoughts and she looks up at the older Danvers’ joyful and jovial smile. Lena nods and Alex practically skips away, she smiles, happy that Alex is happy. She returns with Lena’s drink but sets both on the table before them and pulls Lena into an unexpected hug.

It’s warm and comforting just like before and Lena’s breath hitches, tears prickling at the corner of her eyes.

“Thank you, Lena,” Alex whispers fiercely, “You’re the best,” and those words combined with a patent Danvers hug pops two seams on Lena’s little box, guilt starting to claw up Lena’s throat.

There’s a happy cheer when Kara arrives freshly showered and smiling bashfully at the attention, Alex leaves her side and goes to hug her sister, and Lena can’t watch.

She takes her drink and knocks it back in one go feeling it burn. She resolves not to drink anymore that night knowing her self-control is hanging by a thread, she just needed that one drink to smooth her frayed nerves.

Kelly sits down next to her and Lena does her best to school her features and body language into something more relaxed, Lena knows out of everyone, besides maybe Kara, that Kelly will be able to pick apart her defenses in record time if Lena’s not careful, and she can’t afford to be a burden here of all nights, with Kara freshly home and safe.

Kelly smiles, seemingly none the wiser to Lena’s inner turmoil, “How did the move go?” and Lena is oh so grateful for the superficial conversation. They chat amicably and Lena almost feels like she can relax a little when she feels the hairs on her neck raise for the second time that day.

Her eyes slide immediately to Kara and were it not for her impeccable self-discipline she’s sure she would have jumped at the intensity in Kara’s eyes when they meet hers. Lena can’t help the small smile that quirks at her lips, and Kara’s answering smile is almost a cocky smirk, and that alone causes Lena’s heart to race and her cheeks flush as both she and Kara drag their attention back to their respective conversations.

She freezes an instant when she notices Kelly looking back and forth between her and Kara, her brow goes up slowly and a knowing smile pulls the corner of her lips up, “Well, that’s interesting.”

Lena flushes to the tips of her ears, and panics, “Kelly, please,” and her voice is pleading and desperate for her not to ask.

Kelly’s amusement and teasing smile vanish in the wake of Lena’s earnest plea, her face morphing into quiet concern instead, she doesn’t say anything just reaches for Lena’s hand and squeezes.

“Tell me about that new portable water filtration device you’re working on,” Kelly says, and Lena almost let’s out a cry of relief, but she doesn’t, just bites her tongue, hopes the vibrating knot of anxiety in her chest will calm the fuck down for a moment, and focuses on telling Kelly all about the practical applications on a side project she had to put on hold a month ago.

Lena feels Kara’s eyes on her several more times during the course of her conversation with Kelly, and her own eyes inexplicably always turn to meet intense blue eyes. By the sixth time Lena is starting to feel overwhelmed, and she practically scrambles to follow Kelly when she goes to the desk to make herself a drink, hoping she can calm her racing heart for a few moments.

She needs to get out of here before she starts to really crack.

“So where are you staying?” Kelly asks.

“Oh, well I meant to check into a hotel but I’ve been here the last few days,” Lena shrugs like it’s no big deal, congratulates herself on her nonchalance.

Kelly frowns and gives her a caring look that has Lena tensing, “Lena, I really wish you’d take better care of yourself.”

Lena tries to shrug off the comment, it’s getting to be too much, why is everyone being so nice to her, when she’s the reason things went to shit in the first place?

Kelly reaches out to grasp her arms gently, and Lena’s hates how easily her eyes start to well at the other woman’s soft touch and look, “Listen, I think you need to rest, you’ve been up for days, I know you’re exhausted. You can crash at my old place until you find your own,” and Lena’s mind latches on to that for two reasons, because it’s an incredibly sweet offer and because it gives her an excuse to finally leave, “besides, it’ll save you some money now that you’re as unemployed as the rest of us.” Lena feels her shoulders finally relax a little smiling at Kelly’s joke, as she feels the press of Kelly’s key in her hand.

She pulls Lena into a tight hug, and she feels grateful even as her own guilt gnaws in her chest, she sends off a retort without even thinking, letting her wit cover any underlying uneasiness, “Fortunately for me I still have a very good accountant that wants to make money off my considerable personal finances so I don’t think you can put me in the same boat with you guys,” Kelly laughs, and then Lena looks at her with more seriousness, “I do appreciate it though, truly.”

Lena makes like she’s going to use the restroom and just never comes back.

She forces herself to drive the speed limit and makes it to Kelly’s feeling an utter sense of relief of having made it this far, she takes her suitcase and other bags up to the apartment. It’s still early afternoon and it’s bright even without the lights. She sets her phone and charger on the counter knowing her battery is about to die soon and takes the rest of her luggage to Kelly’s bedroom.

She sits on the bed and tries takes measured breaths, pulls her bag where she keeps her journal up onto her lap and looks for it, if ever there was a time to write, it’s now...

Lena starts to panic.

Like really panic.

She can’t find it.

It’s not here.

She’s lost it.

She tears her bag apart looking for it.

It has to be here, she had it only a few days ago…

She can feel herself starting to hyperventilate, tears streaming down her face and her eyes flick to her suitcase.

There are two bottles in there, gifts from Sam for her birthday the last couple years, she hadn’t wanted to leave them in storage, thought she might share with Alex when Kara got back…

Just one drink…

…to calm down.

It’s not just one drink…

She’s finished the first bottle by the time the sun goes down.

She’s not even using the glass at this point.

The next thing she sort of remembers are flashes of Kara’s voice.

Then heaving into the toilet.

That sobers her up some, but she still feels sick, and she tries to keep the feeling at bay, screwing her eyes shut and breathing through her nose.

Warm fingers on her face startle her and she thinks this is a whole new aspect to being drunk she’s never experienced, but the fingers are insistent, and she’s too sick and too nauseated to fight.   

A warm cloth strokes at her face and when she finally starts to feel the nausea recede, she chances opening her eyes to see what is going on.

It’s Kara.

What the actual fuck.

Kara looks like shit.

Her are tired, dark circles are starting to form, she’s dressed in rumpled pajamas, drying sweat stains around the neck and pits of her shirt, blonde hair falling around her shoulders, limp and greasy, and she’s not wearing her glasses.

And Lena thinks she hasn’t ever looked more beautiful.

Kara is alive and safe and here and then in the next moment Lena’s gasping, and she feels herself finally fall apart.

She clings to Kara’s chest and she lets out every sob she’s held back, every ounce of hurt and dismay, and just grieves

For her past mistakes

For her ruined friendship.

For the hurt she caused others.

For herself.

For everything.

Kara holds her but she can barely feel it, can’t even process the words that she murmurs, though the sound of her voice soothes her jagged heart a little.

She allows Kara to move her around as she likes, Lena doesn’t care, she has no energy, no will power.

She’s useless.

Lena comes back to herself a little when she feels a tugging near her mouth, opens her eyes and tries to focus.

She sees Kara concentrating on wiping her face clean, and her minds starts to whirl.

What the fuck is Kara doing here?

Lena’s ruined everything, why is Kara here trying to help her, when all Lena can do properly is destroy everything in her path?

“Why?” it takes Lena a moment to realize that she’s the one whose croaked voice fills the air.

Kara gives her such a heartbreakingly sympathetic look Lena almost starts to cry, she can’t stand it or the silence and demands more firmly.

“Why are you here?” Kara should not be here, not with Lena. She should be recovering with her sister not cleaning Lena up, not with the woman who betrayed her in such a terrible and ruthless way, who did horrible things just because reacted poorly to a secret that Kara didn’t owe to anyone.

Especially not to Lena.

“You left,” Kara says simply, like it was the single most terrible thing that’s ever happened to her, like the rest of Lena’s betrayals paled in comparison to the fact that Kara was left bereft of Lena, and it knocks the wind from her lungs, “and I missed you,” whispered with such heartbroken longing in Kara’s voice it nearly breaks Lena again, feels a heavy weight settle over her and weary to her very bones.

“I’m tired,” Lena says brokenly, she’s just so tired of all of it, can’t even hold her own head up as she collapses slightly against Kara, she wants to sleep, to feel the nothingness of slumber but she’s too tired to even move herself.

Kara helps her again, and Lena’s too drunk to even feel guilty anymore she just let’s everything happen.

Then all at once she’s lying-in bed, struggling to stay awake, looking at Kara’s tired face staring right back at her.

It doesn’t feel real.

Lena reaches out to see if the vision will vanish if she touches it.

Kara’s very real hand meets her halfway and draws their hands tenderly and protectively toward her herself, and Lena just feels relief, that Kara is here, with her.

“I missed you too,” she whispers as she finally lets the world fade to nothing.

Chapter Text

Lena doesn’t notice the aspirin kick in.

She drifts back to sleep without realizing.

She wakes again sometime later to an insistent bladder, probably from the water she chugged earlier, and groans as she rolls out of bed using the mattress to help her up. Her head hurts a little less, but her body still feels hollow, and she keeps her eyes closed from the glaring sunlight, trying to get to the bathroom mostly by feel and manages to stumble her way there surprisingly quick.

…Lena leans against the vanity after washing her hands, taking steadying breaths feeling like this short trip was a marathon instead of just a few steps away from her bed, braces herself to make the return trek. She falls into soft pillows and curls away from the light streaming in from the windows, pulling the blanket around her face, and lets sleep claim her again.

Lena feels something brushing against her temple, and she frowns in annoyance, “Lena, I need you to wake up for a minute,” the familiar voice is soft, and she struggles to place it.

She cracks one eye open but all she sees is a dark shirt, a warm hand presses against her shoulder, “Come on just a few minutes and then you can go back to sleep,” the voice says, insistent. She growls lightly in the back of her throat, and if she were feeling better, she probably would have sent her patented CEO glare their way.

She huffs out a petulant breath and opens her eyes, the light isn’t as glaring though it still feels too bright to her sensitive eyes, and when she looks up, she’s surprised to see Alex looking down at her with concerned eyes.

Lena is both relieved and disappointed that it’s the other Danvers sister that is with her, and then her face contorts in confusion.

“What the hell are you doing here, Alex?” she says, in a raspy croaking voice.

Alex lets out a short laugh, “Good to see you too, Lena,” while opening and passing her a Gatorade, Lena sits up and leans against the headboard, and sighs as the cool liquid soothes her throat, “I’m here because I am a caring older sister, Kara’s showering and therefore unavailable, but mostly because I remember exactly what it was like to down two bottles of scotch by myself and what hell the next day was,” Alex says a little too kindly for Lena’s hungover mood.

Once Lena has her fill of Gatorade Alex hands her a plate with a few slices of plain bread, Lena grimaces, the thought of eating makes her stomach turn, Alex sees her expression, “Nope, none of that, eat the bread Lena, I know the thought of food sounds disgusting right now but you need something in your stomach that isn’t sixty proof scotch,” her voice gentles concern, “you’ll feel better later, I promise.”

Lena glares at Alex, more out of determination than any actual desire to be contrary, the truth is Lena feels raw and Alex’s kindness is going to make her cry, she looks away from soft eyes and huffs trying to cover her teary reaction and takes the damn bread chewing resolutely.

Alex smiles gratefully and a little smugly and just sits in silence watching her with such fondness that Lena squirms unused to such tender affections directed at her.

“I assume Kara told you what happened?” Lena says tearing bits of bread apart, anxious and embarrassed, feeling too exposed, waiting for someone to admonish her for her actions.

Alex hums an affirmative.

Silence stretches between them while Lena stares at her plate, munching on bread dutifully.

Then Alex says soft and unexpected, “I’m sorry,” Lena’s eyes snap up to Alex’s guilty averted face, watches as she looks up at Lena sad and ashamed.

Lena sputters in surprise, “What are you sorry about? You didn’t do anything wrong,” what the hell was Alex doing apologizes to her?

“I was too wrapped up in my own grief that I didn’t notice you were falling apart too,” Alex says, and Lena can hear Alex’s voice growing thick with remorse.

Lena shakes her head repeatedly in denial, as if trying to ward off Alex’s words, “I had Kelly, hell, even you helped me, but you were all alone, trying to hold it all together,” Lena’s eyes blur with tears, her downturned lips starting to tremble.

“Stop it, Alex,” Lena begs quietly, but Alex continues, seemingly determined to tear Lena’s heart up.

“I’m sorry, I wasn’t the friend you deserved, I promise to do better in the future.”

Lena slumps forwards burying her face in her hands, tears cascading down her face, shaking. Hungover and trying to deal with emotions is not what she had planned for today.

“I don’t deserve it, Alex,” she gasps, “you were wrong, I’m the worst, it’s all my fault,” tears still streaming, and she sobs once, loud and hiccupping when Alex pulls her face to her shoulder, holding her tight.

“Oh, Lena,” Alex sighs voice watery, “None of it was your fault,” she says firmly, and she won’t hear Lena’s protests, “We all made mistakes, all of us, we all could have done things so differently, but you?” Alex pulls back to force Lena to look at her face, straight in the eye, “You always just tried to do good, and I’m so sorry that I ever doubted you for even a moment,” both Lena’s and Alex’s tears continue to stream down their faces, and Alex yanks Lena back into a hug and squeezes her hard, willing Lena to believe in her words, “If you want to blame, then set it at Lex’s feet, he was the one with a rotten agenda, not you, or my sister, or any of us, just him.”

Lena shudders, she can hardly believe it, Alex, the woman who was her biggest skeptic in the beginning and so protective of Kara, stubborn to a fault sometimes, was defending her, comforting her, telling her it wasn’t her fault, it defied logic.  

“Why are you being so nice to me?” it’s not exactly the question Lena anticipates coming out of her mouth, but she finds that she wants to know the answer.

Alex’s breath hitches, pressing Lena tighter to her chest, “Because you’re my friend and I care about you Lena, you deserve kindness, especially after everything we put you through.”

Lena mulls it over in silence.

Part of her doesn’t want to believe.

A bigger part is desperate to.

She contemplates it seriously in Alex’s warm comforting embrace and starts to think that maybe she can believe Alex, that she can trust her a little with her fragile heart.

Lena whispers a thank you into Alex’s neck.

Alex sighs, “You better get used to having me around Lena, I’m not going anywhere, you’re not alone anymore,” she promises, Lena’s tears start anew for a different reason, a happier one, “I’m gonna be the annoying big sister you never wanted.”

Lena’s breath hitches at that, could Alex just stop being so wonderful for a second? She’s filling Lena’s chest with too much emotion and warmth. It settles the knot of anxiety in her stomach like nothing ever has before.

“If it’s you, I don’t think I’d mind too much,” Lena says in a small tentative voice.

“Good,” Alex sighs lightly, relieved, “I’d consider it an honor.”

Sometime later Alex helps wipe the tears off Lena’s face, waits for her to finish both the Gatorade and water, and takes the empty plate from her hands.

Lena feels tired in a different way, the way you feel after a good cry.

Alex helps her settle back into bed and tucks her in, Lena feels grateful tears escape her eyes from Alex’s gentle and kind sisterly gestures, feels even more fall as Alex wipes those away too.  

She falls into the first peaceful sleep she’s had in a long time, Alex’s comforting presence beside her.

When she wakes next, she feels infinitely better, not back to normal by any means, but her head doesn’t throb, her throat isn’t so sore, and she feels like she can move better if still a bit groggily. Lena checks her watch and sees that’s it almost five in the afternoon.

She feels gross and decides a shower is probably best, goes to her suitcase to grab some clothes, and then frowns a moment. She can’t hear anyone else in the apartment.

Did Kara and Alex leave? Maybe there was an emergency? Lena shakes herself, it’s not her concern right now, she’s a mess and she wants to feel like she has some semblance of control again, so the first step is a shower.

She cringes at herself when she looks in the mirror, she looks awful, her hair is tangled and her face is extra pale, eyes bloodshot from not enough sleep and too much crying. Once in the shower she heaves a huge sigh in relief, the hot water is amazing, and she spends more time than she usually does just relaxing under the stream.

She checks her appearance in the mirror when all is said and done, she decided on just changing into clean pajamas as she has no desire to leave the apartment, keeps her face makeup free, and pulls her hair into a ponytail, and instead of her contacts she pulls her glasses out from their case.   

Overall, she looks way better, even if her eyes have some lingering redness, and the bags haven’t gone yet.

Lena takes tentative steps out into the apartment and doesn’t see anyone, she sighs in relief, conflicted as to hoping Kara or Alex were here or not. She makes her way to her phone on the counter.

“Lena,” says a voice behind her and she spins putting her arms up in defense, heart racing, “I’m so sorry, sweetheart, I didn’t mean to startle you,” Lena sags in relief when she sees Eliza, taking a deep breath, trying to calm down. She has a book clutched in her hand and the reason she couldn’t see the woman was because she was laying on the couch blocked by the tall back.

Eliza looks at her so apologetically that Lena rushes to reassure her, “Oh, it’s alright, I just didn’t see you.” The older woman smiles and closes the distance between them, pulling Lena into a warm firm hug.

“It’s wonderful to see you again, sweetheart,” Eliza says softly, genuinely, and Lena feels her throat tighten at the tone, term of endearment, and wonderfully nice hug.

Why did all the Danvers women have to give such damn good hugs and make her want to cry?

Lena really does almost cry, because Eliza doesn’t pull away immediately, she holds her longer, and it’s the most maternal hug Lena’s had since she was a child.

Her hands fists tightly at Eliza’s back, she squeezes her eyes shut, basking a little in the moment.

When Eliza pulls back, she keeps her hands resting gently on Lena’s arms, smiling oh so softly at her, Lena averts her gaze unused to such doting attention a light blush dusting her cheeks.

“It’s lovely to see you again too, Dr. Danvers,” Lena says feeling a little shy.

Eliza clicks her tongue, “Call me Eliza, sweetie, I’ve said so before,” she insists squeezing Lena’s arms a little in gentle reminder. Lena nods, and Eliza’s head tilts scrutinizing, “How are you feeling?” kind and concerned lines forming around her eyes and mouth.

Lena shrugs, and starts to feel embarrassed when she realizes that Eliza must know something of last night if not all of it, and blushes looking down at her feet feeling small and timid, “Better,” she manages to say, and then her stomach answers with a loud growl.

They both look at each other in shock, and then Eliza’s face breaks out into a large grin and surprised laugh, Lena feels mortified, but Eliza soothes it away, rubbing her hands lightly up and down Lena’s arms.

“I guess hungry would also be a good descriptor, have a seat and I’ll make you something,” Eliza pushes her towards the island and Lena starts to protest.

“Oh, no, you don’t have to-…” but Eliza cuts her off with a decidedly maternal look and Lena clicks her mouth shut and goes to sit as directed.

Lena is at a loss for what to do and then blurts the first thing that comes to mind, “Where’s Kara?” and then rather belated because she doesn’t want to seem to over eager about seeing the Kryptonian, she adds, “…and Alex?”

Eliza pauses for moment and looks at Lena with a small smile, and it’s knowing in a way Lena doesn’t understand but it makes her blush all the same and she forces herself not to look away lest she give something away, though she’s not sure what exactly.

“Kara got a call from Brainy, it seems Zor-El has woken up, Kelly offered to drive Kara, and Alex got a call about some disturbance downtown,” Eliza explains easily.

Lena nods in understanding, “I hope she’s doing alright with that. I can’t imagine all of sudden finding my dead parent some decades later, alive,” and then Lena realizes something, “oh my god, both Kara’s parents are alive!” she had completely forgotten that she had met, Supergirl’s mother.  

Eliza looks at her with equal understanding concern, and then Lena feels abashed, considering who she’s speaking to, and then mortified because she suddenly remembers it’s her own mother who had trapped Kara and Alex’s father Jerimiah in Cadmus for years, the husband of the woman who was currently making her dinner.

She feels sick.

Eliza notices and stops to reach across the island to grasp Lena’s hand.

“How can you even look at me, Eliza?” she says at their joined hands, so ashamed, “My mother she kidnapped your-…” she can’t even finish the sentence, but Eliza understands.

“Lena, sweetie, look at me,” Eliza says gently, and it takes all of Lena’s self-discipline to do so, fearing what she will find, disgust, anger, loathing, but it’s none of those things, “You are not your family, and you are not responsible for their actions,” Lena blows out a hard breath, and she knows what Eliza says is true, hadn’t Lena said so herself only last week?

How quickly and easily she fell back into old habits.

“I know,” she sighs, “it’s hard to remember sometimes,” she admits.

Eliza nods, “Well it’s a good thing I’ll be able to remind you then, huh?” she says like it’s nothing, like it doesn’t mean absolutely everything to Lena.

Tears spring to her eyes and she looks at Eliza grief stricken, “How do you all do that?”

“What, sweetheart?” soft and all motherly concern, she comes around the island to sit next to Lena.

“Why are you and Alex and Kara so kind to me?” she leaves off the, after everything I’ve done.

Eliza looks at her for a long moment.

Then she reaches out a hand to cup Lena’s cheek, “Because we all adore you, and they’ve forgiven you, sweetie,” Lena inhales sharply, “don’t you think it’s time to forgive yourself?” soft and clear, but that revelation fairly knocks her out of her seat.

Lena looks down, that’s the root cause, isn’t it? Why she keeps circling back to this guilt over and over again, she hasn’t forgiven herself though everyone else has.

“It’s hard,” she whispers. Eliza hums in agreement.

“I know, it’ll take some time, but we’ll help you,” and reaches to give Lena another hug, tears leak out of her eyes again.

“God,” she says with a shaky breath, “I feel like I’ve been a complete an utter mess for the past twenty-four hours, what must you think of me?”   

Eliza just smiles her kind smile, and pats her hand, “That you’re human and you just need some help as any of us do from time to time.”

She gives Lena some vegetables to cut and slowly the tension lifts to something more lighthearted.

They chat idly.

Lena learns how Alex chose to inform Eliza about Kara’s return and the older woman’s fond but slight irritation and exasperation comes shining through in her voice, and Lena can’t help but to hide her smile imagining Alex’s chastisement.

Then the conversation turns to science and Lena’s astounded to learn that Eliza has read not just some of her published papers but all of them, “Seriously, all of them?” she asks, disbelieving.

They’ve finished making dinner and are eating and talking by turns, and it’s so easy that Lena can hardly believe how light she feels in the moment.

Eliza nods enthusiastically, “You have a fascinating and brilliant mind Lena, I found myself reading your more technical and mechanical pieces because I couldn’t get enough, even if I didn’t understand half of it, I could still appreciate how revolutionary your ideas could be for the whole world!”

Lena flushes pleased and feeling shy, no one has ever so vehemently gushed about her scientific contributions to her face before, especially someone as well-known and respected in the scientific community as Eliza Danvers, and it leaves a fizzing little happy warmth in her chest she didn’t know you could feel.  

There’s a knock at the door and both women frown, Eliza stands to answer it.

All Lena’s earlier contentment is replaced by a cold sharp dread that shoots up her spine when she sees Lillian in the doorway, unimpressed glance looking Eliza up and down.

“Lillian Luthor,” Eliza says, hard and tight, and Lena is startled by the abrupt contrast with the Eliza of only a few moments ago.

“Eliza Danvers, I presume,” Lillian says dismissively, though Lena knows her mother knows exactly who Eliza is, “I’m looking for my daughter, Mrs. Danvers.”

Lena can’t help herself; she hates how Lillian is talking to Eliza, “Doctor Danvers, Mother,” and then regrets speaking because Lillian fairly barges her way through into the apartment.

“There you are, Lena, where in God’s name have you been? I’ve been trying to contact you for days,” her mother says with cold irritation.

“Hello, Mother,” Lena says, and she can feel the mask she’s honed over the years to deal with her family, slide into place smooth and easy, the last day of vulnerability seemingly never having happened, “I think it’s fairly obvious I didn’t want to see or speak to you since I have blatantly not returned any of your calls.”

Lillian scoffs, like she’s dealing with an inconvenient child, “Well, that’s too bad because I must speak with you,” before Lena can say anything Eliza cuts in…literally.

Lena watches as the oldest Danvers steps protectively in front of her, putting herself between them, arms folding deliberately and confrontationally across her chest, leaning slightly in a provoking manner, chin tilted up in a provocative and utterly self-assured way.

She’s struck by a memory of Kara doing the exact same thing when Morgan Edge had come to her office, and she remembers thinking that Kara must have learned it from Alex, but it seems that both Danvers sisters learned it from their mother.

It’s a sight to behold.

Eliza taught her daughters well, but they don’t have the same gravitas and sheer presence their mother does, which Lena assumes, can only come by virtue of hard-won time and experience on this earth.

“Lena has just made it clear that she doesn’t want to speak to you, Mrs. Luthor, I suggest you take your leave now,” and the steel in Eliza’s voice also reminds Lena of Kara and she wonders what else Kara has unwittingly picked up from her mother.

“What an impertinent thing to say, Danvers,” Lillian says coolly, purposefully dropping her title as an insult, and Lena can see that Eliza has drawn Lillian’s full attention and Lena knows from experience that doesn’t bode well for anyone.

“I could argue you’re the one who’s impertinent, Lillian,” and the way Eliza says her mother’s name is like a retort and insult wrapped into one, and Lena can’t help but be impressed, “you barged into my daughter’s home without permission, I hardly think that gives you the moral high ground here.”

Lillian looks around in hums in disdain as she takes in her surroundings, “I’d hardly call this a home,” and Lena is mortified, her chest twisting in indignation on Kelly’s behalf, though she knows that’s exactly why her mother said it.

Eliza doesn’t even flinch and effortlessly does not rise to the bait Lillian has laid, and Lena is astounded by Kara’s mother ability to interact with Lillian without giving any ground.

“Nonetheless, you aren’t welcome, so show yourself out,” she extends a hand and takes a step forward and Lena is shocked to realize the move by Eliza is slightly menacing.

Lillian seems unruffled and immovable, but Lena grew up with the woman, and she can see the slight thread of wariness in the line of her jaw, and she feels a sense of giddy triumph on Eliza’s behalf, not many people can unsettle Lillian Luthor, but her mother is stubborn to a fault and simply responds with, “I am not leaving without speaking to my daughter.”

Lena realizes she needs to step in, or Eliza may very well come to blows with her mother and she definitely doesn’t want to have to explain that to Alex or Kara.  

“Eliza, it’s alright, I’ll speak with her,” Lena says touching her fingers gently to the older woman’s tense shoulder, and she almost gets whiplash by how quickly Eliza turns from steel to soft mom, looking at her with concerned eyes.

“Are you sure?” and Lena nods, firmly, “alright, I’ll be just out there if you need me,” and she gestures to the small balcony and takes her book to give them some privacy. Before she goes, she gives Lena a comforting squeeze of the shoulder and Lena’s chest warms at the solidarity, hopes it didn’t show on her face for Lillian to use against her.

Lillian paces the living room, glances around appraisingly at the things around her, eyebrow quirking in distaste when she spies the makeshift ‘coffee table’.

“Well?” Lena says, wanting to get this over with.

“I hear you’ve left LuthorCorp and sold all your shares to the company,” Lillian says, leveling a disapproving stare at Lena.

“I’m not hearing a question, Mother,” Lena says blandly.

“Don’t be tiresome, Lena, what the hell are you thinking? Pulling out of the company! Not to mention moving out of your penthouse to- what? Live here?” Lillian throws a derisive hand out to gesture at the apartment.

“I’ve decided to cut ties with Lex, Mother, his actions have put innocent people in mortal danger, and by continuing to indulge him I have made myself complicit in his deranged games, I refuse to do so any longer.”

Lena feels that same sense of imminent freedom she felt when she told Lex she was done, the sense that she doesn’t have to be like them, or with them, to belong to a family, that just there on the balcony is a woman who has been more a mother to Lena in the past few hours than Lillian has ever been in over two and a half decades. That her daughters and their friends have welcomed Lena into their lives as someone who shares the same values and morals.

Lena feels strong and confident in the wake of that thought, as if they’re standing there behind her in spirit.

She’s not alone.

Lillian presses her agenda, “Lena, this is not to be borne, I can’t have you severing ties with the Luthor name so publicly, what if the press starts running some nonsense about a schism in our family? I told you, our reputation is everything.”

“Mother, if you don’t let this lie then I will personally see to it that I give them an exclusive, airing every piece of dirty laundry and skeleton I know of, and I’ll have you know there’s a considerable amount,” Lena says calmly and matter of fact.

“You wouldn’t dare,” Lillian laughs, scoffing, “it’d just be hearsay, not to mention you’d be implicating yourself.”

Lena crosses her arms, “My best friend is a respected Pulitzer prize winning journalist at a distinguished publication, and whether or not anything I say can be substantiated is irrelevant, it would cause a scandalous uproar, dragging the Luthor name and reputation through the mud, exactly the opposite of what you want.”

She pauses making sure Lillian knows she means her next words, “The difference between us, Mother, is that I don’t care about the Luthor name or if I get dragged down with you,” she smirks knowing she’s won this chess match, “so please. I beg you. Try me.”

Lillian all but storms out in impotent rage.

Lena finds she doesn’t care.

She just feels light and free again.

Chapter Text

Kara exits the bathroom, freshly showered and changed into a casual outfit feeling more like herself than she has in…however long it’s been since she was sent to the Phantom Zone.

Except for perhaps the fact that her powers haven’t returned, she frowns looking down and flexing her hand into and out of a fist, she’s a little concerned but at the same time it’s a little bit of a weight off her shoulders. She doesn’t have to concentrate on blocking out sounds or being cautious with her strength. She’s not sure how much more stressful everything would be if she had to deal with all those things on top of the emotional baggage she’s handling right now, and it’s especially nice that she doesn’t have to hold back when she hugs her family. Best to look on the bright side for now and if it persists then she can go to her friends for help.

She almost runs into Alex in the small hallway as she’s coming out of the bedroom, closing the door behind her. Kara’s eyebrows lift, a little worried as to why Alex was in there in the first place, “How’s Lena? Is she ok? Does she need anything?”

She crowds her sister near the door wanting to check on her, but Alex gently holds her back by the shoulders, mildly amused by her sister’s fussing, “She’s fine, Kara, and sleeping again. I woke her up to eat and drink something, seeing as between you and me, I am the only one with any actual firsthand extensive experience with hangovers.”

Kara looks at her sister with fond appreciation for the way she’s concerned for and taking care of Lena, “Thanks, Alex,” her sister just shrugs airily in that way she does, equally fond smile on her lips. Kara tilts her head when she notices that Alex’s eyes are a little red, “Have you been crying, Alex?” she asks, a thread of unease coursing through her.

Alex waves a dismissive hand, “It’s nothing.”

“Alex,” Kara huffs out growing more concerned, eyes boring into her sister, who rolls her eyes.

“Everything’s fine,” Kara just tilts her head, jaw clenched jutting a little forward, waiting for the rest, Alex scoffs, relenting, “we just had a little heart to heart, it’s all good,” head tilting down to look at the ground a little embarrassed to be caught crying with her sister’s best friend. She looks back up at Kara, “We’re fine. She’s fine. I just wanted to make sure she was doing ok.”

Kara relaxes, and just looks at Alex for a moment, and then smiles in thanks.

She really does have the best sister.

Alex rolls her eyes again and pushes her to toward the living room.

Kara hears Alex’s phone ring while she makes her way to sit next to Eliza on the couch, deep in conversation with Kelly. She sighs contentedly when she leans against Eliza’s side and snuggles in a little deeper when her mother lifts her arm to accommodate her.

Alex comes to stand in front of them grim faced, “I’ve got to go, that was Nia she needs some back up downtown…” she seems to pause for some reason and presses her lips together not wanting to say anymore. Kara sits up, feeling the familiar call of an imminent confrontation on behalf of the people in the city and justice.

“What is it?” she asks, but Alex pushes her down on the couch as she starts to stand, and Kara makes an indignant noise directed at her sister, frowning in confusion.

“No, you’re not coming, Kara,” Alex says firmly, in no uncertain terms.

“What? Of course, I am!” she tries to stand again, but Alex just shoves her back down once more.

“You’re not, Kara, you literally just got back, but more importantly you don’t have your powers,” Alex says stubbornly, in her sternest voice, “you’re still recovering and I’m not going to let you run headlong into a fight you aren’t ready for.”

Kara scowls, “That’s not your decision to make! I’m Supergirl, I protect the city, I don’t need powers to help! I’ve proven that before,” glaring at her sister, she makes to stand once more, daring Alex with her eyes to push her down again, but instead she’s stopped by a hand on her arm from Eliza.

“Sweetie, maybe you should take a second to listen to you sister,” she says gently with concern, Alex’s mouth pulls into smug satisfaction that her mother is backing her up.

Kara looks scathingly at her sister and is preparing to get into a huge argument with her when her phone rings, she glances down at it and sees it’s Brainy, she answers it impatiently wanting to get back to this ridiculous conversation with her sister as quickly as possible, “Hello?”

“Kara, I need you to come back to the Tower, your Father woke up a little while ago.”

Immediate agitation at Alex comes down to a simmer instead of a boil as Brainy speaks.

“He tried to leave, he resisted all attempts to calm him, and I was forced to administer a sedative. Perhaps if you were here when he wakes again it would help to reassure him, we mean well,” Brainy is calm and collected and patiently awaits her response.

Dammit. She lets out a breath, “Yeah, Brainy, I’ll be there as soon as I can,” then clenches her jaw in resignation after saying goodbye. She presses her lips together tight and glares at the floor a moment before looking up at Alex, and says tightly, “My dad just woke up but Brainy had to sedate him so he wouldn’t try to escape.”

Alex’s hard pinched face relaxes a little in sympathy, but she doesn’t say anything for a long moment, she and Kara just taking the measure of each other with cool eyes, “I have to go, Nia’s waiting,” and leaves with a passing kiss to Kelly’s cheek as she does.

Kelly watches her go and then turns to Kara, “I can drive you to the Tower if you want,” Kara nods, and the twin soft looks from Eliza and Kelly are too much right now, so she looks away.

She leans forward to rest her elbows on her knees, scrubbing at her face, a growing pit in her stomach but she can’t pinpoint why, her knee starts to bounce a little as a result. She feels Eliza’s hand run soothingly up and down her back. Takes a measured breath trying to calm her nerves.

She glances at Eliza and finds her warm comforting gaze trained on her, and Kara pulls in a shuddering breath, “I have to go,” but she’s torn, she looks towards the bedroom, thinking of Lena, she doesn’t want to leave her, and she especially doesn’t want to leave her alone. She never wants Lena to feel like she’s alone ever again…but she also needs to go see her father.

The indecision makes her stomach twist, and she chews at her lip.

“I can stay here with her, sweetheart,” Eliza’s voice startles her out of her thoughts, and Kara’s eyes snap to her mother.

She feels her face pinch, and then a rush of gratitude, “Would you? I don’t want to leaver her-…” because she feels as if she’s abandoning Lena and then also foisting off her onto Eliza, there’s a pang of guilt in her chest on both counts.

Eliza smiles kindly, “Absolutely, I’d be glad to be of service to you both, go see your father and don’t worry too much about Lena, I’ve got her, I promise,” she says sincerely.

Kara lets out a relieved breath and hugs Eliza in thanks.

She takes a few moments to check on Lena but she’s still fast asleep, Kara spots the empty water glass and refills it, takes one last look to appreciate the elegant planes of Lena’s face, dark lashes against pale skin, slightly parted pink lips taking air in and out, her whole body relaxed deep in sleep, it’s a quiet beautiful moment Kara holds onto to calm the pit of something that’s been gnawing at her as she bids Eliza goodbye with Kelly in tow.

The first few minutes of the drive is quiet. Kara stares out the window, her thoughts fliting between guilt at leaving Lena, worried about how her father is doing, and irritation at Alex. Her knee bounces steadily, and she chews on the edge of her thumb without thought. She’s getting annoyed at how long it’s taking to drive to the Tower, and it very much makes her miss being able to fly. It’s ridiculous, she’s not sure how any stays in a car for more than a few minutes at a time.

“You want to talk about it?” Kelly says into the silence.

It startles Kara and she’s embarrassed by how much she jumps, a flush spreading across her face. She doesn’t say anything at first, then says a small “no” and Kelly doesn’t press.

Her knee starts bouncing again.

Silence.

The guilt, worry, and irritation is rolling through her again, she latches on to the last because getting mad at Alex is easier than dealing with her emotions about Lena or her father, plus it has the bonus of being familiar.

“Where does she get off?!” she snaps, and Kelly doesn’t even flinch.

She takes a deep breath, and tries to reign in her temper, “She doesn’t just get to decide that I can’t be Supergirl, it’s part of who I am! It’s intrinsically tied to me, but she just wants me sit on the sidelines like a child because she has some superior big sister protector control freak hang ups that she can’t set aside so I can be free to live my own life,” she stabs her hand forward repeatedly, imagining poking Alex in the chest to make her point, “I’m an adult and she doesn’t have to protect me anymore, I understand how the world works. Hell, I’ve lived here longer than I did on Krypton!” she clicks her mouth shut when that last spills out of her mouth, and she just stares forward breathing a little hard out of her nose, lips closed tight.

Kelly’s nod of understanding doesn’t sit well with Kara.

“You’re not going to defend her?” incredulous, Alex was her girlfriend after all, she expected some resistance.

She shrugs, “It’s not my place, sure I don’t agree with how she handled that situation, but I also don’t think she was entirely wrong, besides it’s a disagreement between the two of you, not me.”

Kara frowns, looking at the side of Kelly’s head, a little miffed by how unruffled and relaxed she looks in the driver’s seat, “Why do you think she’s not entirely wrong?” she says despite herself.

Kelly is silent a moment, as if thinking about how best to phrase what she wants to say, “Kara, you experienced something really traumatic and came back mentally, emotionally, and physically altered. It’s not unreasonable that you take some time to recover, you just got back yesterday, and you already want to jump into a fight. Older sister hang ups aside, you know Alex cares about you and your wellbeing,” Kelly turns to look at her for moment at a red light, “what if your roles were reversed and Alex was the one that came back from something terrible, and she wanted to go bust up a drug ring her first day home? What would you tell her?”

Kara hunches her shoulders a little and says grudgingly, “I’d tell her to stay home,” she basically growls it under her breath, mouth twisting around her words, “and recover, to let the rest of the team handle things for a little while, until she got back on her feet.”  

The other woman just lets that sit between them, letting Kara stew in her own hypocrisy. Then Kara says with no bite to her words at all, “Has anyone told you that you’re the worst?”

Kelly laughs good naturedly, nodding, “Yep, I lost lots of potential friends this way.”

They arrive at the Tower soon after and head inside.

Kara finds Brainy with her father in the med bay. He greets her happily, a pleased smile on his face, like he really missed her, and she returns it, placing a hand on his shoulder and squeezing in hello.

“How is he?” she asks after they exchange pleasantries.

He shakes his head scowling at his tablet a little, “I am at a loss, he has been under sun lamps the whole time he’s been here, but his yellow sun radiation cell saturation rate is only at point zero-zero-three percent, as a reference your typical saturation rate averages ninety-eight-point seven percent. His natural cell regeneration also seems to be subpar, but I can find no discernable explanation.”

Kara frowns, crossing her arms and looking at her father, “In the Phantom Zone if we got injured our wounds wouldn’t heal because time doesn’t pass there, could that have something to do with it? Could he have lingering effects because he was there so long? Or something he brought with him?”

Brainy presses his mouth into a line of thought, “It’s possible, I’ll keep looking but I may need some help with this.”

“We can ask Eliza, she’s an expert in xenobiology and Kryptonians,” Kara says, and Brainy nods in agreement.

“And I’ll ask Lena to weigh in too, her knowledge on Kryptonians is also considerable and she was instrumental in bringing you home and defeating the phantoms,” he says with almost smug pride in his voice, Kara smiles at it.

“Was she?” Kara asks curious, she doesn’t really remember anything of the day before when her friends were catching her up, her emotions were all over the place and she wasn’t paying any attention.

Brainy nods, “Her first day here as a super friend she spent the whole night prior creating a Proto-gun so we could capture the rogue phantoms, it’s a brilliant piece of technology.”

Kara raises her eyebrows impressed, and she imagines in her minds eye how Lena was probably giddy, maybe a little shy, but ultimately proud to show off her latest gadget. Her heart warms at the thought and also feels a little concern about Brainy’s off hand mention of her staying up the whole night, that definitely sounds like her Lena.

“Her inventions and inspired scientific prowess have improved our team’s efficiency and effectiveness by fifty-one percent,” he says fairly beaming at Kara, she laughs.

“By that much?” rather astonished.

He nods, “I wish we had brought her into the fold much sooner,” he states, and it hits Kara like a blow, though she knows that wasn’t his intention.

Her face falls, and she feels the lingering guilt she carries about not telling her secret sooner and the resulting aftermath, she grimaces a smile at Brainy, “Me too,” she says quietly, he nods and turns back toward her father.

J’onn comes in from the balcony then and he smiles wide when her sees her, heading straight for them and picking her up in a bear hug that has her laughing and pushing her melancholy thoughts to the side. She squeezes him tight right back and sighs a little a smile playing at her lips. He sets her down and leads her to a little side room with some chairs to sit.

“How are you feeling today?” he asks, all fatherly concern, she tilts her head fondly, and then nods a little solemnly.

“Better,” she says hedging, “Not great,” she sighs deeply, “but I’ll get there, I have a lot of help.”

He nods understandingly, “You do, and how are you doing with that?” he tips his head towards Zor-el and she feels her face scrunch involuntarily. She turns her head to the side, shaking it lightly, and then looking up gathering her thoughts.

“I don’t know honestly, I’m happy he’s alive of course, but he’s so…so different from the man I remember, like a shadow of himself,” she grits her teeth a little remembering how utterly negative and contrary he was in the zone. It had taken every last ounce of energy and sheer determination to keep pushing him forward towards hope and escape.

“Not to mention I’m still upset about him, you know, creating the Medusa virus,” she looks down at her twisting fingers, then looks up at J’onn with slightly stricken eyes, “and somehow I have to find a way to contact and tell my mother.”

Brainy interrupts them to tell her, her father was coming out of sleep, he stays with J’onn to give them privacy and not to antagonize Zor-el again.

Kara goes to his side.

She watches as he slowly opens his eyes clearly disoriented. He hisses as he tries to sit up, clutching his side where a large gash from a sword had cut him has been bandaged.

“Dad, stay down, you’re hurt,” she says urgently, his eyes are a little wild as they swing around to look at her.

“Kara?” and he stares hard at her like he can’t trust his eyes, and grits his teeth, “where are we?”

“We’re out of the Phantom Zone, we’re safe and with my friends,” she tries to reassure him.

“We made it?” he sounds skeptical like it might be trick, and she squeezes his hand nodding gently, hoping he will believe. She takes a moment to look at him, and he’s still pale and ragged like he was in the zone but there’s something else, he seems wearier and his eyes even that much more tired.

He lays down finally, seeming to finally accept that he’s safe for the moment. His jaw is clenched, and she watches as his eyes fill with tears, they spill down the sides of his face. She’s about to reach for him again to try and comfort but he jerks from her touch. It sends a jolt of pain straight through her heart, it twists like a barb when he turns his head, closing his eyes tight and says harsh and angry, “Don’t touch me. Leave me be, Kara.”

She backs away tears welling in her eyes from her father’s harsh words and rejection.

He’s sending her away again.

But this time it’s worse.

He’s sending her away because he’s angry and he doesn’t want her.

She can feel her breathing start to come in too fast and she walks away without seeing, just going wherever her feet take her.

She collapses against a wall somewhere leaning with one hand, the other pulling at the neckline of her shirt, her clothes feel too constricting, there’s a tightness in her chest stopping her from taking in air.

She can’t think about anything except that she can’t breathe.

And the walls in the hallway are too close, but she doesn’t know which way to go to get out.

She has to get out.

She squeezes her eyes closed, falling to her knees feeling lightheaded.

The lights in the pod are flashing at her.

Red.

Red.

Red.

The too bright explosion of her home flashes in her eyes blinding her, and her body slams to one side with force and everything hurts.

She gasps, trying to suck in air but it’s no use.

She can’t get out.

It’s dark and she can’t get out.

Why can’t she get out?

She can’t breathe...

...

There’s a distant voice calling her name.

It’s too far.

But it’s insistent.

She tries to focus on it.

“Kara,” and it’s a familiar voice.

“I need you to listen to my voice, Kara,” it’s Alex, and she can see the shape of her concerned brown eyes.

She still can’t catch her breath.

“That’s it, Kara, look at me, I’m here,” Kara watches as if from a great distance as her hand is placed on Alex’s chest, and she can feel the steady thump of her heart.

It calms her a little.

“Breathe with me, Kara, just focus on that, and me,” Kara nods, feeling like she’s been thrown a life preserver and tries and tries.

Finally, she can breathe a little easier after what feels like hours but must only be minutes.

They breathe together.

Just breathe.

Kara drags long slow deliberate breaths in and out.

Over and over.

Over and over.

Alex asks if she wants a hug and Kara nods feeling tears of relief fall down her face as her sister gathers her into her arms. They stay on the floor for a long time while Kara calms down and Alex holds her.

“Can I get you anything?” Alex asks, quietly.

Kara shakes her head, they’re sitting with their backs to the wall leaning against each other, Alex’s head resting against hers.

“Thanks,” it’s quiet and sincere, and all encompassing. Thanks for being here, thanks for helping me, thanks for being my sister.

“Always,” Alex responds just as sincere, and Kara feels a stab of guilt from their argument earlier.

“I’m sorry, I was a jerk earlier, you were just looking out for me, and I was being a stubborn ass,” she says.

She feels Alex shake her head, “Well, if you were being an ass, it’s only cuz you learned it from me, I shouldn’t have spoke to you that way, I’m sorry.”

Kara laughs lightly, “We’re just a couple of jackasses then, aren’t we?”

Alex agrees smiling and swings her arm around Kara to pull her into her side. They both sigh in tandem, and then laugh at themselves for doing so.

“I was scared,” Alex says quietly, and Kara turn slightly to look at her, brow pinching in concern.

“About what?” she watches Alex scrub her face with her free hand and looks off into the distance.

“Those first days you were gone, I lost it. I could barely function, I was a mess,” Alex looks down, and Kara just looks on waiting for her to continue, chest constricting for her sister wanting to comfort, but knowing Alex just needs her to listen right now.

“If it wasn’t for Kelly, J’onn, and even Lena, I probably would have just drunk myself into oblivion in despair,” Kara can hear her voice getting progressively thicker with emotion, and tears, “I didn’t know how I could live in a world without you in it. Like how does that even work?” she shakes her head at nothing.

“It forced me to actually face that, and I learned some stuff, you know? It was sobering and hard, but I really thought about it,” silent drops fall down her cheeks and Kara’s own eyes produce matching ones, she wipes them away quickly with her sleeve.

“When we got you back, I was so happy,” Alex turns a bright watery smile at her, pulling her in tight, and Kara can’t help but smile right back in answer, “And then earlier when you wanted to come with me, it just hit me again that I could lose you. Especially, right now when you don’t have your powers.”

She takes a deep breath in and then lets it out slowly, “So I’m not sorry for worrying about you, but I am sorry for how I conveyed it.”

Kara burrows herself into her sisters’ side and squeezes her arms around her, and Alex’s bruising hug feels wonderful and real and grounding. They stay there for a little bit loosen their hold and Kara’s mind mulls over what Alex told her.

“How did Lena help you?” Kara asks, and Alex scoffs laughing lightly.

“That would be the one take away you make,” shaking her head. Kara blushes, and looks at anywhere but Alex’s knowing gaze, but she answers anyway, “I was doing well for a while feeling good and hopeful about getting you back but then a few days ago something just knocked me off, I was spiraling because I had avoided going to your apartment. Lena gave me a hug and offered to go for me to take the pressure off. It was really kind of her.”

Kara freezes for a moment, thinking, “Wait, you mean you hadn’t been to my apartment until yesterday?”

Alex nods her head affirmatively, and Kara’s chest flushes with warmth.

Lena had cleaned up her apartment.

Lena had put fresh bedding on her bed.

Kara had said some stupid throw away comment years ago and Lena had remembered.  

Lena who had helped stop and capture the phantoms with her big, beautiful brain.

Lena who had worked nonstop for days without sleep to bring her home.

Lena who had comforted her sister.

Lena who had probably done a million more wonderful things and didn’t ever ask for a word of thanks.

Kara took a deep breath feeling her eyes and chest well with too much love for this wonderful kind and good human.

Rao, she missed her.

Alex stands and looks at her with a cocked head and raised eyebrow.

“You ok there?” and Kara nods standing up too, feeling better, even when Lena wasn’t with her, Lena made her feel better...

They head up to J’onn’s office and then Alex starts to act a bit strange. She asks Kara to stay at the Tower until she can come pick her up in a little bit.

“Ok, but why?” she asks, and it’s cute the way Alex shifts her weight from foot to foot like she can’t contain her excitement and finally answers.

“It’s a surprise, so don’t ask me anymore,” she says cryptically, grinning.

Kara is confused but her sister seems excited and happy, so she decides to curb her curiosity and agrees.

“You’ll love it, I promise.”

Chapter Text

Alex is leaving just as Brainy arrives and they exchange friendly greetings on the way past, Kara looks at him a little warily knowing that he’s probably come to talk to her about her father.

Sure, enough he starts right away with, “I spoke a little with Zor-el before he fell asleep, though this time without the aid of a sedative,” Kara nods and looks around the room, trying to keep calm, she doesn’t want to trigger another panic attack.

She clears her throat, “What did he-…” she swallows, eyes cast down, “did he say anything about me?”

He cocks his head, probably confused as to Kara’s reactions, and shakes his head, “Just that he appreciated my help,” that stings Kara, and she thinks bitterly that he can be so kind to others but not to her, his daughter, when she’s the one who saved his freaking life despite his best efforts otherwise.

Brainy continues oblivious to Kara’s thoughts, “and he asked for a brief explanation about his prognosis and then he went to sleep.”

She nods and is proud that she’s able to keep her eyes completely dry, “Thanks, Brainy.”

He leaves and she sighs taking a heavy seat on the couch, and feels a bit at odd ends now that she’s just waiting for Alex to come get her, she pulls out her phone and thinks that since she has some time, she should probably start on her back log of messages…

 

Lena sits down heavily on the couch with a deep sigh, her feeling of freedom and triumph at getting rid of Lillian is unfortunately a little short lived, she drops her face into her hands, dealing with her mother was always so exhausting in so many ways.

She nearly jumps out of her skin when she feels a warm hand on her back rubbing gently at her shoulder, she looks over to see Eliza’s apologetic and worried face.

“I’m so sorry about my mother, Eliza, I have no idea how she knew where to find me,” her jaw clenches in consternation, looking down at her hands, “though I don’t know why I’m surprised, her minions are very good at what they do.”

Eliza just shakes her head unconcerned for herself, “I don’t care about her, Lena, are you alright?” Lena feels the tension from her mother’s visit start to ebb in the wake of Eliza’s worry.

She nods, and let’s out a surprised oof, eyebrows going up to her hairline, when Eliza sits back more comfortably on the couch dragging Lena with her, arm steady around her shoulders, “Good.”

Lena feels those damn tears spring up again just slightly, was she really this touch starved that she fell apart at every kind hug?

When she and Kara had started to really become close friends, Lena was unsurprised to find that Kara was as free and affectionate with her touches and hugs as she was with her kind words and soft looks. Then when Kara realized that Lena was not averse to her advances she seemed to double down. It had both made Lena’s heart race and fill with an ever-expanding warmth and then worried that she was asking too much from Kara, if she was being too needy, but Kara never seemed to tire of it and Lena was too weak to help herself.

Once everything blew up, she felt the keen absence of all the warmth Kara had brought to her life and the full feeling of affection that Kara had filled her chest with was replaced by something dark and hollow that left Lena utterly bereft.

So maybe, she is touch starved, but more likely having grown up with the cold indifference of the Luthor family that she’s not familiar with the frequency of gentle warm touches that pass constantly between the Danvers, and her breath hitches the slightest bit in awe at the ease that they’ve decided to include her in their circle.

Eliza thoughtlessly picks up the thread of their conversation from before Lillian’s arrival and Lena follows suit, enjoying the calm evening with Kara’s mother.

Alex enters briskly and with a happy excited smile on her face, Kelly and Nia in tow, who call out hellos that Eliza returns. Alex sees Lena and Eliza cuddled on the couch and her smile widens even more somehow. Lena sits up towards the edge of the couch a little self-conscious and directs her gaze down toward her feet. She makes her way to toward them and Eliza rises to meet her in a hug Alex kissing her mother’s cheek affectionately, then to Lena’s absolute mortification (secretly pleased, actually) without missing a beat Alex leans down and plants one on her bowed head, like she can’t contain what has her so giddy and she has to pass it off to everyone.  

Lena is so shocked she feels her cheeks start to flush in embarrassment (nope, still pleased) at Alex’s unexpected familial attention. It has her flustered and she just sits quietly while Alex and Eliza stand before her as they’ve essentially boxed her into her space on couch, between the ‘coffee table’ and them on either side of Lena.

Alex’s smile seems to be infectious because Eliza can’t seem to help a similar one on her face.  “Did you make up with your sister?” she asks, and Lena wonders what that’s about, and continues to try to be unobtrusive. She looks over at Nia who is currently at the linen closet pulling out blankets into a pile and Kelly is looking through boxes in the corner, and Lena wonders what they are doing. She grabs Eliza’s book to pretend to have something to do while they talk.

Alex nods, and then her smile dims, “She had a panic attack at the Tower, something to do with her dad,” Lena’s heart clenches when she hears that, “it was lucky I found her when I did,” she says grim faced.

Eliza’s face is twisted in sympathetic hurt for her child, “How bad was it?”

“Like first Earth Birthday bad,” Alex replies, and Lena’s not sure what an ‘Earth Birthday’ is, but Eliza’s stricken expression makes her think whatever happened then must have been really bad.  

“Oh, my poor sweet baby,” Eliza gasps, clutching her hands together to her chest, and her expression turns to one of seeming understanding as she glances to Nia and Kelly, “so it’s a DFN, then?”

Alex nods seriously, “More like an Emergency DFN, wouldn’t you say?” and Eliza agrees.

She frowns in confusion, she racks her brain trying to figure out what the hell they are referring to when Alex looks down at her in mild reproach, “What are you doing, Lena?”

Lena smiles sheepishly, “Uhhh…reading?” holding up the book.

Alex rolls her eyes smiling, and drags her up to her feet, “Well, put it down and go pack your things up, you drove here, right?” Lena presses her lips together in confusion, not understanding Alex’s train of thought.

She nods slowly, brow pinched puzzling.

“Perfect, that means we don’t have to all squish into Kelly’s car,” she says relieved and pleased, before Lena can ask why she needs her car, Nia calls to Kelly who has sorted out a couple boxes from a stack in the corner.

“Do you have something I can put this stuff in?” gesturing to the pile of bedding, and Kelly nods.

Alex pushes Lena to the bedroom, she sees Lena’s keys on the nightstand and snatches them up without so much as a by your leave, “Pack up your stuff and bring all the pillows from the bedroom down to your car, we’ll meet you there.”

Lena is feeling very confused, and flustered, Alex doesn’t even give her enough time to ask what’s going before she closes the door to the bedroom, and Lena just stands there for a long moment, then sighs and decides to just do as she’s told. Gathering her few things and switches her glasses for contacts since she’s not sure what Alex has planned.

When she makes it down to her car and there’s only enough space for her luggage and the pillows she brought down, the back seat and trunk now full of blankets and boxes.

Alex waves to her across the parking lot and just yells, “Go to Kara’s!” and gets in Kelly’s car with everyone else.

Lena is flabbergasted.

What the hell?

They arrive at Kara’s and they make quite a sight carrying boxes and blankets that they fill the hallways with all their bulk, turns out the ladies had made a stop at Alex’s place to pick up all her bedding too before going to Kelly’s.

Her arms full of luggage and squished pillows, Lena very purposefully does not look at Eliza’s slightly amused smirk, and certainly does not blush at all when Alex tells her to lead the way, because she still has Kara’s key.

They basically burst into the apartment with all their puffiness, and Alex sets the others to work in the living room and Lena can see what it is that Alex wants to do, and she thinks it’s perfect. She’s about to try to offer her help but Alex drags her to the dining table where Kara’s laptop is.

“I’ve got a special mission for you Lena,” and she hands her a credit card, “I need you to buy every single one of Kara’s favorite foods from all her favorite take out places, and I mean all,” she says gravely, and then smiles playfully but still sincere, “I wouldn’t trust anyone else with this.”

Lena’s face breaks out in a grin and she laughs at Alex’s antics and replies in mock solemnity, “I promise I won’t let you down,” her smile too wide on her face to be taken seriously.

She sits at the table and while the computer boots up, she looks up at the women in the living room laughing and bickering about how best to arrange everything and she can’t help the sheer joy that seems to bubble up in her chest and seep into her eyes and by sheer determination alone she does not allow herself to tear up, because she’s been crying way too much recently, dammit.

It’s nice to really truly included with these wonderful strong women, like she actually belongs, and she turns her attention to ordering an obscene amount of food before she can get too emotional again. She sets Alex’s credit card to the side, that woman was unemployed now, and so was Lena but it’s not as though she’s not still a millionaire, as if she would let Alex pay for this, it’s a nice gesture from Alex but please...

She’s just finished organizing the little spreadsheet she’s made for all the orders coming when her head snaps up remembering, feeling like an idiot for taking so long, could her journal be here?

She stands to go to the couch hoping against hope, she gets down to check under the couch first but it’s clear, and then thinks perhaps it might be in between the cushions, but the cushions are all in various places being used for structural support or padding elsewhere and the journal is very much not there.

Nia notices her looking, “Can I help with something, Lena?”

Lena bites her lip anxiously when Alex and Kelly also turn to look at her, “Did any of you see a leather-bound journal anywhere near the couch or the rest of the living room while you were moving things?”

They all reply in the negative and Lena’s shoulders deflate, where else could it be?

Eliza comes from the direction of Kara’s bedroom and says to Alex, “Shouldn’t someone be picking up Kara?”

Alex starts a little, “Oh yeah,” as she looks at the time, and asks Kelly to go pick up her sister and Brainy while she puts the finishing touches on their surprise.

 

Kara and Brainy are picked up by Kelly instead of her sister and she’s wondering what exactly Alex has planned, she tries to get Kelly to spill but she just smiles serenely and shakes her head.

They arrive outside her apartment and Brainy asks permission to cover her eyes.

“Uhhh, what?” she asks taken aback but a little amused, laughing awkwardly.

“Nia, texted me and said I have to cover your eyes as you walk in,” he purses his lips a little, waiting for her reply, hands behind his back, seemingly unconcerned with what her response will be.

She looks at Kelly who is chucking and smiling and shrugs her shoulders.

Kara sighs shaking her head with a smile, takes off her glasses, and allows him to do as requested.

She hears Kelly open the door, and she and Brainy take matching steps into the apartment, and the first thing she notices is the overwhelming smell of food. Her smile starts to grow, and she estimates she is standing just next to her kitchen island.

“Ok, Brainy,” she hears Alex say.

He removes his hands, and she stands in shock, her mouth falling open a little, it takes her a moment to take everything in, Brainy and Kelly move to stand nearer the living room area, and it’s a sight.

The furniture has been shifted to accommodate the absolutely ridiculous number of blankets and pillows that have taken over her floor. It’s quite possibly to biggest kind of blanket fort she’s ever seen in her life. There’s light sheets acting as a sort of canopy over the living area held up with twine and fairy lights, blankets cover cushions and pillows of every kind lining the floor creating a sort of bowl shape that looks soft enough to fall into.

To her right is a mountain of food and it looks like all her favorites, and finally in front of her is her family.

All of them.

Her mother, and sister, Kelly, Nia, Brainy, even J’onn and M’gann,  

Her heart skips.

And Lena…

“Surprise Danvers Family Night!” and Kara jumps a little at their enthusiasm, she can feel the smile on her face is so very wide, and she can’t seem to stop grinning, tears start to pool in appreciation and her breathing starts to get a little rough with the love she feels for all of them.

“You guys,” she says drawing out the last a little high pitched, voice tight and watery. They are all grinning and smiling at her and she can’t believe they went to so much trouble for her.

Alex moves behind Lena and veritably frog marches her forward to stand a few feet from Kara, and she can see Lena’s absolutely shocked and stricken face, as she tries to resist.

Kara watches in surprise and confusion as she looks toward her sister, about to ask what the hell she’s doing manhandling Lena.

“We’ll give you two a few minutes,” Alex says and walks back to the others who all politely turn and chat amongst themselves, as if it they had all rehearsed it.

She turns back to Lena and watches as her wide green eyes slide to her and lock with her own.

They both promptly look away.

Kara tilts her head down to look at her feet, shuffling, one hand going to her hip, while the other reaches up to fiddle with her glasses, but she almost takes out her eye before she remembers she took them off.

Lena feels her face heat, and she clutches her elbow awkwardly like she sixteen again and she purposefully lowers it to her side but can’t help the slight clenching and unclenching of her fingers.

Kara’s mind races almost as quick as her heart and she blurts out, “How are you feeling? Better I hope.”

At the same time Lena says, “I’ve never seen you like this without your glasses.”

They both stop abruptly, and stare in shocked surprise, and then stumble over each other apologizing trying to get the other to speak first.

“You should…”

“No you…”

“Oh no, I’m…”

“It’s my fault…”

They stop abruptly at the same time again, and Kara feels the cringy awkward smile she’s giving Lena, and Lena’s is just as sheepish.

“Let’s start over?” Kara suggests, and Lena nods quickly.

A stretch of silence follows, but Kara is relieved it’s not awkward this time at least. Lena takes a deep breath, and Kara feels her own get knocked out of her when Lena looks at her again.

“Hi, thanks for taking care of me last night, you didn’t have to,” and her smile is small and a little tremulous, and it makes Kara’s heart skip.

Kara shakes her head waving that comment away, “Of course I did, Lena,” and adds after a moment, “I wanted to,” Lena’s breath hitches at that, and Kara can see there’s tears forming in her eyes, and she can feel her own start to build in answer. She clenches her jaw and wonders if it would be ok for her to hug Lena, if she would welcome such a thing.

“I missed you,” and Kara’s heart stops when those quiet words form from Lena’s thick voice, her quivering chin more pronounced.    

Kara lets out the next words with a rush of air, as she replies vehemently, low and quiet, “I missed you too.”

Then Lena practically throws herself into Kara’s arms, wrapping her own around her shoulders, face pressed into Kara’s neck.

Kara catches her around the waist and feels her tears spill from her eyes as she squeezes them shut in relief, turning her head to bury her nose into Lena’s hair and inhales sharply, almost curling herself around Lena.

She can feel Lena’s tears and ragged breathes on her neck, and she squeezes her a little tighter against her, feeling Lena’s answering squeeze.

“I’m sorry,” Lena whispers, a little broken and so small. Kara’s heart clenches.

“Later,” she whispers back, “For now, just stay with me,” it's a wish and a question rolled into one.

She waits in baited silence…

Then releases a relived breath when she feels Lena’s nod against her neck.

Kara’s world had narrowed down to only Lena to the point that she doesn’t even flinch when she hears rather distantly…

“Finally!” Alex exclaims, “God, I was about to go over there and shove them together if they took any longer,” she grumbles, to whom, Kara doesn’t really care to try to figure out in the moment.

She feels Lena exhale a light laugh, and they stand there for long moments swaying ever so slightly, until Kara’s racing heart starts to calm, and she feels happy, and so content.

Lena starts to pull away wiping at her tears, but Kara is reluctant to let her go far so she keeps her in the circle of her arms. She traces Lena features with her eyes, and she struck again by how beautiful she looks, red eyes, tear stained cheeks, and all. She feels her mouth pull into a fond smile.

Green eyes stay averted, hands resting lightly on her upper arms, looking at Kara’s neck for a few moments, before finally dragging her eyes up to look into Kara’s.

It’s electrifying when their eyes meet, and it sends a buzz of anticipation down her spine.

Kara feels her once calm heart tick up again as she looks into intense green eyes.

Something metal clangs in the silence, ringing and jolting, that it startles both Kara and Lena, snapping their heads to find the source.

Everyone is looking at Brainy, standing near one of Kara’s bookcases, his hand still in the air as though reaching for something. He’s looking at the floor in confusion, a metal tin Kara keeps up on that shelf now resting on the floor. Brainy reaches down to pick it up, and then looks around curious as to why everyone is looking at him.

“What?” complete innocence.

Nia lets out a frustrated growl with his name on her lips.

Kara and Lena both turn back to each other at the same time and their matching surprised faces quickly turn to breathless laughs and smiles.

Lena rests her forehead against Kara’s shoulder eyes closed and laughing fuller and freer than she’s seen in such a long time that she can’t bring herself to be upset with the interruption.

Her own grin is wide and happy as she looks at her family, and her heart feels full of warmth with the reassuring press of Lena in her arms.

Chapter Text

Eliza removes the last cushion from the couch and hands it to Alex, and her daughter takes it without looking, she’s distracted trying to convince Nia and Kelly how best to hang the fairy lights.

Nia and Kelly hum unconvinced and then they start to talk over each other, volleying ideas back and forth. She rolls her eyes fondly at the kids and when she looks back down, she sees a brown book resting in the corner of the couch. She frowns and picks it up, it’s a beautiful hand bound leather journal, she flips open the cover.

There in large exquisite and precise looping cursive is written…

For Kara.

She closes it, walks past three of her bickering children, over to Kara’s room to where the bookshelf near her bed is and slots it in neatly, last amongst the other journals she knows her daughter keeps. She runs her fingers along the spines of all the bound pages and looks a little around the room. She’s always liked this apartment for Kara.

It suits her.

Eliza looks at the time and notices it’s getting late and she heads back toward the living room where Lena and the others are talking and asks about who’s picking up her youngest.

Chapter Text

Alex drags Kara away to her room shouting something about changing into comfy clothes but Lena’s not really paying attention, she’s still feeling the lightness in her whole body from laughing harder than she has in a long time and finally, finally, being able to hug Kara properly in year.

But her smile dims just the tiniest bit as she watches Kara’s face fall her eyes never leaving Lena’s as Alex pulls her to the bedroom, expression disgruntled like she hates being pulled away from her, their eyes locked until Kara and Alex disappear behind the curtained wall.

Nia comes over and gives Lena a beaming smile, looking at her like she’s brimming with questions and Lena becomes the slightest bit wary but all she says is, “What can I get you to drink?” and the knot of apprehension in Lena’s chest releases, they walk toward the kitchen counter where essentially a small bar has been set up with all sorts of glasses, alcohol, and mixes, “Alex says you like a good scotch?” and points to a bottle of Alex’s favorite.

Lena’s stomach churns and swirls in protest and she feels a passing wave of nausea, “Is there anything non-alcoholic?” she asks, a little peaked. She’s not keen on drinking right now or getting drunk again anytime in the near future.

Nia nods not questioning and happily pours her a glass of lemonade, Lena sighs in relief, turning toward the mountain of food behind her on the island counter, drink in hand.

Kara comes back then and strides toward them smiling, she’s wearing sweats and an old soft worn tshirt, and no glasses and Lena’s struck by the strange amalgamation of Supergirl in Kara’s clothes. She’d seen it last night and earlier just now, but she wasn’t really able to sort out how she felt about it.

A part of her feels like an idiot for not seeing it before, of course, but another part of her is struck by how much more at ease Kara seems like this. As if here, like this, surrounded by everyone that loves her and knows her secret, she’s whole and complete, not the dichotomic split of Kara Danvers and Supergirl, and Lena wonders what kind of toll that must take on her best friend, to have to hide large portions of herself depending on which persona she presents in the moment. It makes Lena realize in some ways that she doesn’t really know this Kara, Kara Zor-el, and that she has yet to truly reconcile two people into one.

Regardless, she knows, has always known even when she was feeling angry and betrayed, that Kara as Supergirl or as Kara Danvers is fundamentally good and kind to the core, and still her best friend even if they have some things to figure out.

Kara comes closer and eyes the drink in Lena’s hand, she can see the slight clench of her jaw in concern. Lena knows it’s because of last night and she wants to reassure Kara, “Want some good old fashion homemade lemonade made by one Nia Nal?” she says mildly, gesturing to Nia next to her, “She says it’s organic, but I think she’s just trying to placate my clean eating side,” Nia laughs, and Kara smiles with relief and shakes her head.

She comes to stop by Lena’s side, but it’s just a tad closer than she normally does, it’s not at all something someone looking at them would notice, in fact there’s nothing to suggest anything at all, but Lena’s developed a very sensitive awareness to Kara’s proximity over the years and right now Kara has breached her usual line, it’s such a small and innocuous thing but it makes the hair on Lena’s arms rise.

“I actually just really want to dig into this food, I can’t believe you guys got all my favorites,” Kara says, with mild disbelief, “even some of the more obscure ones.”

“Lena ordered all of it,” Nia says proudly on her behalf, “I don’t know how she could possibly remember all of it though.”

Kara laughs a little, and the fond grateful smile she directs Lena’s way makes her flush a little and avert her eyes as she takes a drink, “Must be some kind of genius or something,” Kara says joking lightly, bumping her shoulder against Lena’s but she knows the comment is sincere, and it makes her blush a little harder.

Nia laughs, “Must be,” agreeing.

Lena helps Kara fill two plates of food, both for the hungry Kryptonian, “You’re not eating anything?” Kara asks a little worried at her lack of appetite and watching as others stack their own plates full of food.

Lena tries to suppress the smile at her concern, a little ball of warmth settling in her stomach, and shakes her head, “No, Eliza already made me a lovely and filling dinner earlier this evening,” she nods a little to where Eliza is talking to Brainy also not eating, “not all of us are blessed with a Kryptonian metabolism, darling.”

The endearment slips out without permission and she feels a spike of worry that Kara might not appreciate the familiarity, but it vanishes when she sees Kara’s pink cheeks and slightly wide eyes, a pleased quirk at the corner of her mouth.

They are moving toward the fort in the living area when Eliza reaches them first, “Oh no, you don’t, you know the rules,” slightly scolding, looking straight at Kara, who pouts a little and tries to protest.

“We have a Blanket Policy, you know that sweetie,” remaining firm in the face of Kara’s pout, which Lena quite frankly finds impressive. Lena is confused by the reference, but Nia asks what that is before she can, Alex chimes in from across the room.

“When we were kids Kara and I would stay up watching movies together, or I would read earth stories to her, and of course we ate a lot of snacks, we used to hang out in the living room, our room, the porch, anywhere. Mom kept finding crumbs or pieces of popcorn and chips in blankets, cushions, or our beds all the time. The last straw was when she found a whole half a pizza folded into a blanket. She instituted the all-encompassing ‘Blanket Policy’ that night, no food anywhere other than the kitchen or dining room, that applied even when she was visiting us in our apartments, she didn’t want to see it.” Alex laughs and Lena is chuckling by the end too.   

Nia laughs too, “Great pun usage, Doctor D!”

Though Lena’s mouth purses a little, in dislike at the pun and remarks to Kara, “I can see now where you get your love of puns, Kara.”

Eliza trains a lightly serious look at her, “Because puns are funny, sweetheart,” and Lena smiles, amused, because it’s the same argument that Kara always uses when they have this discussion, but Eliza doesn’t stop there, “and they are a sophisticated kind of wordplay infused and created with logic and wit.”

That gives Lena pause and she thinks about it seriously for a moment and then, “I suppose that is true, and I have to agree with you,” conceding, and Eliza smirks.

Kara gapes at her.

Lena turns a questioning eyebrow at her expression, “How-What! That’s all it takes for you to change your mind about puns?” indignant, “I’ve been arguing about puns being great for years! And you never agreed!” she flails her free hand a little exasperated. Lena can’t help her own smirk.

“That’s because you only ever vehemently stated that puns were funny and then proceeded to tell me increasing bad ones one after another,” she’s having fun teasing Kara this way, and continues to press, “Eliza presented a very concise, clear, and well-reasoned argument and I can’t find fault in her logic,” Kara continues to gape and Lena can see it’s turning into a pout, “I still don’t like puns but I can concede how they can be an intelligent and clever use of language.”

Kara grumbles a little, but she can tell she’s just playing it up. Lena’s teasing grin is wide on her face and Kara’s pout fades into something softer and more genuine.

Eliza clears her throat, and they both startle a little, “Go eat at the table Kara,” eyes flicking between them amused but serious in her words.

Kara resumes her pouting, “But Eliza!” her mother just raises one eyebrow blandly, Kara huffs petulant, and grabs Lena’s hand, which surprises her, and stalks over to the dining room table.

Lena’s a little concerned that Kara is really upset, she’s never experienced these kinds of familial interactions, so she’s not sure what’s going to happen, but her fears are all unfounded, Kara stops at the table setting down her food, and taking the plate in Lena’s hand and pulls out a chair for her to sit and smiles like nothing upsetting happened at all.

She sits, assuredly not feeling pleased self-satisfaction at the attention and chivalry.

She doesn’t.

 Before Kara can sit, M’gann comes over to her.

“I’m heading out, Kara,” she says giving her a hug, and Kara’s eyebrows pinch up in mild disappointment.

“Already?”

M’gann smiles, all warmth, “I’m taking patrolling duty tonight so you all can enjoy the evening, and I’ll be checking in on Zor-el,” and Kara’s face and shoulders fall a little in sudden appreciation, and something Lena can’t place but it’s a little dark.

Her mouths twists in resigned gratitude, “Thank you,” she squeezes both her arms, “I really appreciate it,” and M’gann just smiles serenely with a murmured your welcome, and then makes her rounds to the others to say goodbye.

Kara sits down, blank face turned down to her plates, and Lena can see her expression and thoughts have turned serious and introspective.

Lena bites her lip, wondering if she should…

“You ok?” she asks softly.

Kara takes a moment before she turns to look at Lena, and it’s strange to see this kind of severe world-weary look on her normally sunny and happy face, Kara shrugs indifferently looking away a little.

“Is it about your dad?” Kara’s eyes flick to hers in mild surprise, and then she sighs a little looking down, her jaw working, and then she’s shaking her head at nothing.

“It’s just…I don’t know what to do. Brainy says there’s something wrong with his body’s natural recovery response especially under a yellow sun, and then I also have to find some way to contact Argo to speak to my mother to tell her that her once thought, dead husband is alive,” Kara’s tone is hard and weary, and Lena’s heart constricts for Kara and her hardships, she reaches out a hand but stops halfway between them, unsure if her touch will be welcome right now. Kara continues looking sightlessly to the side, pausing for a long moment.

“He sent me away earlier,” and she swallows hard, Lena can see the tears building in her eyes, and watches as her breathing gets a little shallow, “For some reason it… it reminded me of the first time they sent me away,” her voice is steady but almost detached, and Lena realizes that this must be the reason she had a panic attack, “…when they sent me here,” and Lena’s heart breaks a little more as she listens, and she finally places that hovering hand on Kara’s leg, wanting to comfort.

And God, she feels her own eyes tear up in sympathy, Lena can’t even imagine the emotional whiplash of having lost her father, going to a hell equivalent, finding her dead father again who’s been there for decades, barely escaping while he’s grievously injured in the attempt. Then having to somehow contact your also once dead mother who’s nigh impossible to reach because she lives on the other side of the galaxy, literally.

Kara looks down at the hand on her leg and then finally looks at Lena like she just realized she’s there, and then looks away stricken, and apologetic, “I’m sorry, I shouldn’t’ve unloaded on you like that,” ashamed.

Lena shakes her head quickly, wanting to reassure, “Hey, no, I’m listening, I’m here for you,” she squeezes the hand on Kara’s leg, “if you want me to be,” she whispers fervently.

Kara’s mouth presses into a line, and her crinkle appears, “I don’t want to be a burden,” and Lena inhales sharply at that, because she understands. She hates being a burden too.

“You’re not a burden, Kara,” words sharp and sincere, as she leans in, “not to me,” she hopes Kara will believe her.

Kara looks at her in silence, face still tight, and she breathes a little bit harshly through her nose, searching Lena’s face.

“You were there for me yesterday, Kara, did you think I was a burden?” she says quietly, and Lena feels a pit of helplessness and despair growing in her stomach, how can they move forward, how can they begin to repair their relationship, if Kara won’t let her in?  

Kara’s mouth twists, “That’s not the same,” stubborn and unmoving.

“Of course, it is,” Lena replies, just as stubborn, “you helped me. Please, Kara, let me help you,” it comes out a little desperate, but she can’t help the feeling this is a turning point in how future conversations and interactions are going to hinge. If Kara rejects her here, how are they going to be able to fix this, if she can’t even let herself lean on Lena?

Lena’s breathing start to get a little ragged, as the silence stretches, as her mind races with the thought that this could be it, that this could be the real thing that keeps from mending their relationship.

Kara’s soft and broken, “How?” sends a rush of air out of her lungs and she drops her tense shoulders in unreserved relief.

Lena looks straight into Kara’s eyes, “I can listen if you want to talk, for starters, and I’ll work with Brainy to see if we can help your dad, and I might already have an idea or two about contacting Argo,” she says, clenching her teeth, hoping Kara will agree.

“Really?” and Lena’s heart breaks at her tone, like she can’t believe it’s possible that there’s a light at the end of the tunnel, and one lone tear escapes to run down her cheek.

Good lord, what the hell had happened to Kara in the Phantom Zone that she’s lost this much hope?  

Kara reaches down to grasp Lena’s hand in both her own, squeezing tight.

Lena reaches up with her free hand to wipe the tear from Kara’s cheek and nods, her throat too tight to let her speak.

Kara’s entire body seems to sag with relief, and her face is open in undisguised gratitude, and Lena feels like she won a goddamn medal or something in the face of Kara’s expression.

Lena looks to the side where the others are gathered around the island chatting and eating amongst themselves, wondering if they saw, but it’s only been a few minutes despite all the emotions and thoughts that were running through her during their exchange, and the others are probably too engrossed in their own conversations.

She turns back to Kara, clearing her throat, “You should eat, I know Alex wanted to play some games too, so if the ‘Blanket Policy’ is in effect we can’t really start until everyone’s done eating.”

Kara nods, and Lena sees Alex and Nia coming to the table to sit down and eat, plates leaden far less than the Kryptonian’s.

She doesn’t release Lena’s hand the whole time, using one hand to eat and gesture while speaking to Alex and Nia.

Lena is more than happy to give up her appendage if it brings the other woman comfort, she just sits facing Kara, elbow resting on the table, her head tilted into her hand, the other joined with Kara’s resting on her thigh, listening to her speak to her sister and friend, smiling softly to herself in silence.

“What!? No way! Lena’s my partner!” Kara says to Alex, indignant and scowling at Alex, “What about Kelly?”

They’ve all finished eating and are piled into the massive blanket fort.

After Kara finished her food, she had pulled Lena by the hand she had yet to release and settled them into a comfy corner of the massive pile of blankets. Lena felt a light flush fill her cheeks when Kara had sat down close enough that the whole length of their bodies from shoulders to thighs were pressed together, pulling a soft blanket over their legs.  

Everyone else had settled into a loose circle, with Alex and Kelly to Lena’s right, Brainy and Nia slightly in front of them, and finally Eliza and J’onn on Kara’s other side.

Then came the choosing of the night’s partners for the games, and Alex had immediately called dibs on Lena and that started the current argument between them.

“Well, you started the whole ‘No significant others’ rule two game nights ago cuz Kelly and I were dominating, and I only agreed since you were being such a whiny baby!” Alex retorts back, with a fling of her wrist, “I’m just following your rules,” she says mocking.

Kara sputters, “Well, pick someone else, Lena’s my best friend!” like it somehow means she’s entitled to be Lena’s partner.

Lena feels the blush on her cheeks get hotter, and then even more so when Alex suggests, “Well, let Lena pick!” and then she feels both Danvers eyes on her, expectantly. She feels a bit overwhelmed by the little war happening over her, but Eliza comes to her rescue before she has to say anything.

“Girls! Stop bickering, Lena isn’t some toy you can fight over,” Eliza says reprovingly, and her daughters have the grace to look at least a little ashamed, “Apologize to Lena,” they do, quietly, and Lena feels immediate relief, and nods her forgiveness.

“Good, now Lena’s already agreed to be my partner for tonight and per long standing Danvers’ Family Night rules the first person to request and be accepted wins,” Eliza says, smugly.

Kara looks between Eliza and Lena betrayed, “What? When? I’ve been with her the whole night!”

Lena blushes again, feeling sheepish, but Eliza answers, “I asked her while she was ordering food earlier this evening,” and it’s true, halfway between ordering, Eliza had stopped by her station at the table and asked if Lena wanted to be game partners. What she said next, had made Lena laugh, because Eliza wanted to be paired with the smartest person in the room so she could crush her daughters, and she knew she had to ask then while she had the upper hand.

Kara looks at Lena in astonishment, and she nods, “It’s true, I’m sorry, Kara,” and she tries not to laugh at how put out Kara is because she looks much too adorable, with her stern betrayed scrunched up face, and crossed arms.

Eliza and Lena do indeed crush the Danvers sisters and everyone else for that matter, and Lena thinks Kara would be upset at that but instead she always gets a beaming smile sent her way whenever she and Eliza win. It makes Lena’s own chest swell with happiness at winning but mostly from the warmth of Kara’s smile.

It’s the most fun Lena’s had in ages.

Sometime when the hour gets late enough J’onn excuses himself and Eliza says she’s tired and wishes everyone goodnight, dropping kisses on every forehead, even Lena, though she shouldn’t be surprised at this point. She takes Kara’s bed because ‘she’s too old be sleeping on the floor’ and everyone argues otherwise, saying she’s the youngest one of them all, trying to get her to stay but she just smiles and waves them off and goes to sleep.

They put on a movie and Lena’s eyes droop not even a few minutes in. She’s content and tired, despite sleeping most the day, and she struggles to stay awake, she’s very distantly aware that she’s dropped her head on Kara’s shoulder and should probably move, but when Kara brings her arm around her to pull her closer Lena can’t find it in herself to shift positions and falls asleep warm and happy, a smile tugging at her lips.

Chapter Text

She can feel the icy tendrils creeping into her mind, spreading slowly and inexorably down into her spine, like crystalizing moisture hardening into spikes of ice, she hated it when the Phantoms got too close, it was easier and easier for them to slip into her mind the longer she had stayed, the more often she was exposed to them.

They forced her to dream and relive her worst nightmares and memories, though for some reason they also showed her things that had never happened to this Kara, this iteration of herself, not only did she suffer her own monsters, fears, and past, but she also bore witness to the horrors of the minds from a hundred thousand different Karas who lived but lived no longer.

She dreamt the pain of those other Karas sometimes, after the Phantoms left her, cold and shivering, leaving her heart and bones aching and weary to her very soul. It’s sapped the strength from her already weakened muscles, and it confused her mind when she tried to remember if those were her memories or someone else’s.

Out of all the dreams she has from those other lifetimes, she hates this one the most, because the events leading up to it bear more than a passing resemblance to events in her own life, and it sticks with her even after she finally escaped that hell plane. There are of course some differences to this timeline, Kara had told Lena her secret before Lex could expose it, and the result was a year of getting closer, not torn apart, but everything that followed, Kara knows are sequences that could certainly have happened in her world, her life. She doesn’t always remember what she dreams, most fading quickly leaving only feeling and flashes of remembrance, as some dreams do, but this one and a couple others seem to stick with her, it’s more vivid and she doesn’t know why.

Her perspective and perception are doubled, as always, as is really only possible when you dream, she is both the body that is playing the part and the viewer looking on, like a movie where you can watch scenes play out before you.

It unfolds before her eyes the same every time, and she must watch and live it both, and she hates it. The body never deviates from the memory, cast into her role with no room for improvisation, her floating mind watching from all angles always has more to say, different every time, more desperate than the last.

No.

Not again.

Please!

I can’t watch again…

Not again.

Please!

Please…

She tugs and throws herself, straining at the bonds that hold her, kneeling and weak with the effects of the Kryptonite laced in the Nth metal chains lashed around her neck, shoulders, chest and hands bound behind her back, and the matching kryptonite made knife lodged in her shoulder.

The painful tendrils that course through her veins pulse and prick in time with her erratic heartbeat.

Her breathing is jagged and gasping but the too tight gag in her mouth prevents her from taking in needed lungs full of air or screaming too loudly.

She feels the never-ending stream of hot tears running down her face, watching him, impotent rage and terror coursing through her.

His fist lands another blow to Lena’s face after one too many snarky and biting comments to his ego, a hard kick to the stomach, and Kara pulls again against her bonds, sobbing, but it’s useless effort.

Stop it! Please!

Lena falls in front of Kara a few feet away, hands bound behind her back, her face a bloody mess starting to swell, her lip split open, tears filling her eyes.

Why!?

Why must I watch this over and over?

It’s not my memory!

Stop it! Please!!

Kara stares straight into painfilled green eyes, and cries muted and muffled behind the gag, wide eyed and terrified for Lena.

Lex paces a little eying them, his left hand holding a dead man’s switch, then makes his way to Lena.

“I’m going to ask you last time, Lena,” and Lex grabs a handful of hair to lift Lena up sharply, tilting her head back painfully, “you have two choices, and then I’ll let you go scot free,” he points to the struggling Kryptonian, “your one true pathetic love, your ‘best friend’, Kara,” he rolls his eyes at those words, “or the hundreds of children’s hospitals across the country I’ve rigged to blow.”

Kara tries to tell Lena, to choose her, to save the children but Lex twists the knife and throws Kara back hard against the ground even as she tries, scowling in disgust at her, and turns his attention back to Lena, when she shouts, “Leave her alone!”

“I will if you choose, baby sister,” he drags her up by her rumpled suit jacket and shoves her back, away from Kara.

Lena stares at Kara struggling to kneel again, tears streaming down her face, she grits her teeth and looks at Lex with utter loathing, “You’re wrong, there’s a third option you haven’t considered,” she says, chin defiant, back straight, like she’s in a board room making a deal.

His eyebrows raise, “Oh really? Now, I’m curious, go ahead, little sis,” crossing his arms.

“Me,” and Kara stills in shock.

No!!

He gestures her to go on, “My life for Kara and the children.”

Please, stop…

Kara shakes her head, yelling and straining, more tears falling.

Lex laughs in shock, “And why should I take such a deal?” but he leans forward still interested.

“Because it’s only since I started working with the DEO that they’ve managed to keep one step ahead of you, I know I’ve ruined a lot of your longest and best laid plans with their help. If I’m gone then your greatest obstacle will be removed,” she says spitting every word at him.

He says nothing, just looks at her in silence, calculating, and his eyes slide from Lena to Kara, contemplating, and then his blank face turns slowly into a sly malevolent look, turning positively giddy, and he throws his head back and laughs loud and hearty.

When he’s done, he looks at Lena again, “Oh my dear, dear, Lena, that’s possibly the best idea you’ve ever had” and he sounds absolutely sincere, his grin wide and manic on his face, “Not only will I be rid of your meddling, but your death will cause this pile of refuse," flicking his hand at Kara, "to suffer in a way so horrific and colossal, I couldn’t possibly do anything in comparison, and she’ll break into a million pieces. What was once a proud self-proclaimed god, will be reduced to nothing but a paltry shadow in the wake of her murdered sister and mother only a few shorts weeks ago, by yours truly,” he presses a hand to his chest in self-conceit, “and the death of her love,” he laughs, gesturing at Lena, so delighted, “and by your own hand too.”

He stares at her, his grin is even bigger than before, eyes too wide, “Yes, Lena, I accept.”

No, please!

I can’t.

I can’t watch it again.

Please, no…

Kara thrashes against her bonds, yelling, screaming, metal digging into flesh, blood smearing from cuts she made from the bonds with her struggle, muffled sobs going unnoticed by Lex.

No!

He cuts her bonds and hands her a gun.

Stop.

“Your word, that she and the children will be safe,” she says, evenly, staring at it.

“I promise,” he smiles wickedly, “I kept my word about bringing you two down, didn’t I? I’ll not even spare her a second glance when you’re done. Here, I’ll even stand down my men at the hospitals as a gesture, but if you don’t follow through or try to attack me, everyone will be gone.” He gestures to his dead man’s switch and then sends a coded message over the radio and receives a coded confirmation stand down back.  

Please. STOP! I can’t, I can’t…

Lena turns to Kara, tears streaming down her face, but her face is calm, so utterly calm.

“I’m sorry, my love. Don’t lose hope, Kara, keep fighting.”

STOP IT, PLEASE!!!

Kara throws herself repeatedly towards Lena, gasping and sobbing, shaking her head.

“I love you.”

NO!

Kara gasps Lena’s name, as she shoots up, her chest is too tight, much too tight, she can’t even take in a partial inhale of air, and instead of a scream that leaves her mouth, the name comes out almost whisper quiet, tears tracking down her face and heart racing.

She’s gone.

She’s gone.

She squeezes her eyes shut so she can’t see the blood but it’s still there even behind her eyes.

She’s gone.

 

Lena wakes a couple hours before dawn, feeling well rested and comfortable. There’s a warm weight on her waist and she wonders where it’s from, and then has a thought, that makes her breath hitch. She inhales deliberately through her nose to calm herself and opens her eyes, there in front of her, arm curled under a pillow, turned full to face Lena is Kara, her nose not even two inches from her own. Lena stops breathing all together, and then realizes that’s worse because now all she can feel and think about are the steady puffs off air from Kara’s slightly parted lips.

She closes her eyes and forces herself to control her breathing and her racing heart.

When she opens her eyes again her breathing is under control but her heart refuses to comply when presented with this lovely vision of a relaxed and sleeping, up close Kara. She swallows, she’s never been quite this close to Kara’s face and figures she probably won’t ever be again and begins an almost methodical examination of her, in fact quite other worldly, beautiful face.

She starts at her forehead, where she sees light colored hair turned ashen in the moonlight, falling loose and away behind Kara’s head, eyes travel to focus on the scar at her brow, and frowns that she definitely should have noticed that Supergirl and Kara have matching marks, but then she wonders how she got it and clenches her hand to stop herself from touching.

Her eyes sweep to take in her closed eyes and sloping nose, and full cheeks, smiling fondly when she remembers how Kara’s eyes squint when she grins too wide and happy, and then to full parted lips- she averts her gaze flushing, she really needs to stop being such a creep.

She slowly, ever so slowly backs away, and pauses a moment to gently guide Kara’s arm wrapped around her waist, down to rest in front of her, and feels a rush of relief to be able to not be quite so overwhelmed with Kara close and wrapped around her. She sighs a little and goes sit in one of the chairs that been moved near the window and curls up on it, pulling her knees up to her chest to rest her chin on.

From here she has the perfect vantage to look outside the window and survey Kara’s apartment and the people in it. She smiles when she looks at the bumps of people under blankets on the floor, and if she cranes her neck, she can make out the lump that is Eliza on Kara’s bed.

Brainy is lying flat on his back hands interlaced and locked over his stomach, feet perfectly straight out in front of him, and Nia is curled on her side facing him, her forehead resting against his shoulder, blanket pulled up to her chin with her hands.

Alex and Kelly are cuddled close, bodies slotted together, and Lena smiles because for some reason she never pictured Alex being the little spoon.

And finally, Kara, who is now clutching a pillow to her chest, and Lena’s chest pangs a little and wonders if Kara had missed her even in sleep.

Lena lets out a deep and slightly long breath.

She never thought that this could be her life. Last night she had so much fun! It was strange to think the whole night prior to that she had been so heartbrokenly sad and upset and just an absolute mess with how much stress and pressure she had put on herself on top of all the heartache of losing her best friend when she’d just gotten her back.

Now she feels some semblance of equilibrium, not completely, there’s still Kara and these new dynamics within the Super Friends that she’s trying to navigate, but it’s so much better. Just feeling like she belongs, when before, when she had created this rift with Kara, she felt like she was drowning, barely treading water, and built a wall so high that she suffocated too.

She still feels guilty for her actions, and she's trying to be as forgiving to herself as her friends have been, but she also doesn’t understand how they can just accept her back so easily, when she had behaved monstrously.

She takes a breath.

No, she needs to let all that go. Easier said than done, but she’s determined to try. She was hurt and sad and felt betrayed, and now, now she can start to heal properly, especially with Kara back, she won’t have her exile hanging over her head anymore.

She can focus on figuring out what she wants to do now that she’s no longer weighed down by her brother and his company.

It’s a bit daunting, for so long she had seen only one path and now it was as if there were too many before her, how would or should she choose?

She takes another breath.

No need to figure it out right now, there’s time. She has all the time, and no more stress of being a CEO that maybe she can really get back into inventing and tinkering in the lab instead of being stuck in meetings all day, she had the money after all, she could anything.  

She stares out the window, just letting her mind go blank, and it’s the first type of quiet she’s had in her own mind in what feels like years, watches the occasional car or person go past, and almost drifts off into a light sleep when she hears it.

Lena turns toward the sound, there’s low murmuring and then, Kara shoots up gasping for breath, and Lena startles when she hears her name rush past desperate lips.

She’s out of her chair and kneeling next to Kara as fast as she’s able, and freezes because she doesn’t know what to do, only that Kara had called for her in distress, and looks on as Kara shakes her head like she’s trying to stop something, eyes screwed shut, and face twisted with such anguish Lena feels tears spring to her eyes.

Lena’s own breath is coming too fast, throat tight with emotion, and she rasps out Kara’s name but she doesn’t seem to hear.

She tries again, this time with a hand to her shoulder, and Kara starts a little violently, Lena snatches her hand back. She calls her name again, voice still low and concerned, and finally Kara opens her eyes.

Kara’s face is pure disbelief as she looks at Lena, and her already ragged breathes grow somehow more so. She reaches a slow tentative hand to Lena’s shoulder, eyes looking directly at her chin, her jaw clenched so hard Lena can see the muscles working. Then she drags her eyes slowly up Lena’s face and when their eyes lock Kara’s hand at her shoulder closes so fast into a tight fist clawing her skin painfully at the neck that Lena winces and feels bunching and twisting fabric tight across her throat.

Kara's still breathing too fast and hard, but Lena is held riveted by Kara’s despondent and hollow gaze, and her own mounting panic at Kara’s state is finally bringing her out of her own shock at her friend’s behavior.

“Kara, breathe, you need to calm down, breathe,” she says, hoping her tone is soothing, but Kara inhales sharply when she hears her speak, and tears start to well in her eyes, Lena’s panic grows because somehow, she’s made it worse, and flounders for something. Anything.

She stays silent instead, and watches Kara start to reign in her breathing, and feels a measure of relief at that, but also still terrified by Kara’s wide slightly wild look in her eyes as they flit back and forth between Lena’s.

“Let me get Alex, she can help,” she says softly, not wanting to upset her more, but the tight clenched fist in her neck and shoulder jerks her a little as Kara shakes her head no, and stuns Lena when she slides a clammy cold hand up to cup the back of her head and drags her forward to press their foreheads together, fist still tight as ever in her shirt.

Lena just lets it happen, slack jawed and wide eyed, watching as Kara closes her eyes and really focuses on calming herself.

They stay like that for a long time, Kara breathing, and Lena stock still, knee pressed to Kara’s thigh, one hand laid flat on the opposite side where it came to rest to support herself when Kara had yanked her closer.  

As Kara finally pulls back, she doesn’t fully release Lena, and the other woman’s more even breathing relieves some of her worry, but she seems to be shaking as if she’s cold, and Lena hesitates because she’s nervous she’ll do the wrong thing again.

“Kara,” and is relieved once more, because she can see the wild look in her eyes has calmed into something more solemn, “what can I do?”

Lena’s heart breaks a little when she sees Kara’s quivering chin and watery eyes, then after long seconds, she finally starts, “Can you …” Lena waits patiently but oh so worried, “will you hold me?” so quiet and scared.

Her heart breaks some more but she nods quickly and arranges some cushions hastily to prop herself up and when she sits back, Lena’s barely opened her arms before Kara’s head and ear is pressed against her chest, arms wrapped tight around her back squeezing, and all Lena can do is squeeze right back.

Kara takes in one jagged breath and then seems to calm, Lena’s unsure what to do, and hesitates for a moment when she brings a hand up to Kara's head before deciding to just dive in, and runs her fingers a little through Kara’s hair, hoping this is ok, and she won’t upset her again.

It doesn’t upset Kara, it seems, because Lena can see the tightness in her shoulders loosen a little, and that gives her some confidence, so she presses a little harder at her scalp and scratches lightly, over and over.

Eventually, Kara is no longer shaking and clinging, her breathing is calm and measured, but Lena can’t see her face and hopes she’s fallen asleep.

She drags a blanket over them and watches the lightening of the sky stroking Kara’s back and through her hair, until eventually she drifts off to sleep too, calm herself, but worried and concerned over her love.

Chapter Text

Lena hears whispers nearby as she wakes, she sighs a little as her mind lifts from the fog of sleep, she can feel a warm weight on her chest, and she recalls the night before. Her arms tighten the smallest bit around Kara and opens her eyes only to shut them immediately, groaning a little at the pain of the shocking brightness, Kara’s apartment is nothing if not blinding in the morning sunlight. Before Lena closed her eyes again however, she caught a glimpse of two shapes near her feet, she squints her eyes open a bit to let them adjust.

She spots Nia and Alex sitting huddled together staring at her with unconvincing innocence on their faces, looking as if they might have been caught doing something they shouldn’t, and Lena frowns a little at them, as she fully opens her eyes.

“Good morning, Lena!” Nia says brightly but not overly loud, seeming to be conscious of a still sleeping Kara, with an equally bright smile as she looks between Kara and Lena, seeming very pleased.

“Yeah, good morning, Lena,” Alex says her mouth twisting a little into a smirk, and her voice sly and teasing, that it makes Lena flush as she responds.

“Good morning,” she flings the words at them, and averts her eyes taking in her surroundings so she doesn’t have to look at their too eager and questioning faces, and notes that most of the fort has been taken down, pillows and blankets folded neatly or boxed up, all that’s left is the small area she and Kara inhabit. She sees Eliza and Kelly moving around the kitchen most likely cooking breakfast, and Brainy sitting at the island drinking something.

She looks back at the two close by, dreading what might come out of Alex, “Did you sleep well?” it’s said pleasantly enough, not a hint of teasing, and it makes Lena wary.

“Yes,” drawing it out a little, eyeing Alex, “how about you?” she adds for lack of anything else to say, her face pinching a little.

Alex shrugs non-committal, “Oh just fine, not as well as you, I think,” her smile is wide and teasing, and she nods to Kara lying on her chest, and Nia snorts unexpectedly, her face turning a little horrified and sheepish right after, covering her mouth, and looks at Lena apologetically.

Lena calls on every ounce of her self-discipline so she doesn’t blush anymore that she already has and not let any iota of embarrassment show on her face, despite the fact that Alex’s sister is in fact using her as a pillow.

Alex crawls closer and sits close to Lena’s other side not occupied by Kara, looking down at her sister with frank amusement, and places an arm around Lena, easy and carefree.

Lena frowns skeptically, eyes narrowing, turning her face up to Alex, wondering what her game is and asks, “What were you and Nia doing just now?”

Alex shrugs again, leaning into her, and just grins, eyes sparking with mischief, and that makes Lena’s back straighten a little knowing it for the blatant lie that it is, “You know I’m starting to think you were right about being the older annoying sister I never wanted,” wry and a little sardonic. Alex chuckles and smiles a little wider, squeezing her should completely at ease, eyes crinkling, and nods her head toward Nia.

“Smile,” and Lena turns her head to look, completely on instinct and realizes too late that Nia has her phone directed at them for a picture. She scowls and glares at Alex, when she asks Nia how it looks, and if she didn’t currently have a sleeping Kryptonian on top of her she probably would have done something childish like tackle Nia for her phone to delete the picture (possibly send it to herself first), but as that is not the case, she just grinds out Alex’s name in displeasure instead.

“It’s great! Perfect! I already sent it to you,” and Lena gapes, mortified, and then has another equally mortifying thought, that the reason Nia and Alex were sitting at her feet was because they were taking pictures of her and Kara sleeping.

“Alex, are you trying to blackmail me or something?” she growls, and her annoyance grows with Alex’s nonchalance.

“Or something,” unaffected and completely annoying.

There’s a sleepy grumbling, “Alex, stop teasing Lena,” that comes from the direction of Lena’s chest, and all three turn to look at Kara, but she has her eyes closed and doesn’t seem to be keen on moving.

Alex looks down, “Hey, there you are, are you ok? Normally you’re up with the sun,” reaching over to press her hand to Kara’s face and neck as if checking her temperature, and there’s real concern in her voice and eyes that Lena forgives Alex her earlier teasing.

Then she ruins it again by saying with an evil smirk appearing lightning quick, “Though I suppose if I fell asleep on Lena’s boobs I wouldn’t want to wake up either,” and Lena’s ire returns tenfold, with a matching blush, she reaches out to her side quick as a viper to snag a loose pillow and hits Alex square in her cackling face, but she doesn’t even flinch hugging the pillow as it makes contact and holding fast so Lena can’t hit her again. Nia laughing in tandem.

Lena notices that’s Kara’s head has shifted up a little and blue eyes are open, pink cheeked, and glaring at Alex as her sister literally rolls on the floor next to them laughing, but she makes no move to leave Lena’s embrace.

“Alex, are the girls awake? Ask them what they want for breakfast,” comes Eliza’s voice from the kitchen, and Lena is mortified all over again realizing that the older woman has absolutely seen them cuddled together so intimately.   

Alex does as directed and they both answer, then, “Ok, now you guys really do have to get up, we have to clean up the rest of these blankets.”

Kara seems a bit reluctant but eventually pulls away and Lena feels a bit cold and finds that she misses the contact almost immediately, she stands at the same time as Kara and Lena looks at her with some measure of concern because of what happened the night before, and reaches a tentative hand out to touch Kara’s forearm, and asks, “Hey, how are you feeling?” but Kara doesn’t turn to look at her, just stays facing away, flicking her eyes up once to Lena’s face and then down almost immediately.

“I’m ok, thanks…for last night,” it’s said sincerely, but Lena doesn’t like the hesitant and reserved way Kara speaks to her, especially when Lena notices her shoulders are a little hunched and she refuses to meet her eyes, it makes her feel uneasy that she maybe somehow crossed a line but she’s not sure how when all she had done was as Kara asked.

Before Lena can respond Kara moves quickly to help Nia start folding blankets, obviously avoiding anymore conversation, and all Lena can do is help Alex trying not to worry her lip too much.

Kara seems to very consciously choose a seat where she doesn’t have to meet Lena’s eye across the kitchen table when they sit down to eat and Lena tries very hard not to let the nagging worry she’s done something to upset Kara grow out of proportion, perhaps she was feeling embarrassed, Lena could understand that.

“You ok, sweetie? You seem a little quiet,” she hears Eliza say to Kara, and her soft “yeah” has Eliza humming, and Lena thinks her friend’s mother doesn’t quite believe her, but she doesn’t press.

“So, what’s everyone up to today?” Eliza asks around the table, and Lena welcomes the distraction, so she doesn’t stew in her own thoughts in silence chewing and swallowing without tasting her food.

Kelly answers first, “I’ve actually got a couple interviews today downtown,” smiling at a round of pleased comments and good luck wishes. She feels a nudge at her foot as everyone asks Kelly questions about her interviews and glances up to see Alex looking at her with a furrowed brow and asks without words what’s wrong. Lena clenches her jaw for a moment and does her best to shrug her off and Nia’s question provides a great opportunity.

“I was actually wondering if I could catch a ride to the Tower with you, Lena, if you don’t mind stopping my place on the way so I can change clothes?” Nia asks a little shyly, Lena smiles reassuringly, her anxiety about Kara dimmed for the moment, ignoring Alex’s annoyed gaze at being brushed off, and she thinks it’s sweet how young Nia seems sometimes, especially knowing that she’s a superhero who kicks ass on a daily basis.

“Sure, no problem, if I can convince you to let me take a shower and get ready at your place, I am currently homeless, you know,” she jokes, Nia agrees quickly, smiling her thanks, and Lena takes her turn to answer Eliza, “I’ll be working on finding a way to contact Argo, and if you’d like, Brainy I’d be more than happy to help you with Zor-el if you need someone to bounce ideas off.”

Lena feels the hairs on her neck rise and she’s become familiar with the sensation now that she knows it’s Kara’s eyes on her, she turns to look but Kara has already directed her gaze back to her plate, and Lena thinks from her profile that she looks upset.

Brainy nods at Lena, “Yes, I would, thank you. Dr. Danvers has agreed to help as well, and if you need help with your project, I would of course be happy to return the favor,” Lena drags her eyes back and gives him a grateful smile and her thanks, then steadfastly does not turn her head to listen to Kara’s answer when Eliza asks her daughter about her plans.

“Oh, I just figured I go to the Tower, and hang out,” Kara replies, she sounds normal enough, and Lena swallows, wondering if it really was her that made Kara uncomfortable earlier.

The conversation continues, Kelly offers her car to Eliza so she and Kara can get to the Tower, she and Alex will take a car service to go their apartment so they can get ready for the day and pick up Alex’s bike to get around.

They clean up and Eliza waves everyone off so she can do the dishes, citing that she and Kara need to get ready still and everyone needs to go about their day.

Lena watches Kara head toward her bedroom and asks Nia to wait a moment for her. She follows Kara and finds her frowning a little angrily at her clothes rack, takes a slightly nervous breath then calls her name.

Kara practically jumps out of her skin and when she turns her head to see Lena, she immediately turns back staring at her clothes, clenching her jaw, Lena’s brow furrows worriedly, wondering what is going on with Kara that she can’t even look at her, when yesterday and last night she had barely let Lena out of her sight or touch. There’s a growing sense of panic building in her gut and she feels her breathing start to change, swallows and tries to force it away.

“Sorry about that,” she says referring to startling Kara, and when it seems she won’t get a response she continues, “I just wanted to say that you don’t have to feel embarrassed about last night-…” but Lena feels like she’s been slapped in the face when Kara interrupts, harsh and quick.

“Don’t presume to tell me how I feel,” still staring hard away from Lena, boring holes into the rack in front of her, arms coming up to cross against her chest, her tone sending a sharp spike of pain through Lena, and she scrambles trying to recover, and soothe.

“Oh, I’m sorry, I didn’t mean-…” she tries, but is interrupted again.

“Was there something you needed?” still sharp and angry, and Lena’s mouth falls open in shock at how Kara is speaking to her. She can feel her the hurt in her chest grow with accompanying tears on the way.

“N-no, I just wanted to check on you, see how you were doing,” Lena stutters, can feel her breathing get a little harsh in distress because this was so unlike Kara, and it reminded her too much of how things were before during their fall out.

“I’m fine,” she says firmly, turns her head downturned toward Lena still not looking at her, “I don’t need you hovering over me!” she practically spits out at her, loud and severe, flinging a hand down in sharp motion.

Lena inhales sharply, flinching, and takes a step back as if Kara’s physically struck her, “I’m-…” but Lena’s throat closes around the apology and instead just turns on her heel, grabs her things and practically runs out of the apartment, tossing a hurried goodbye to the shocked faces around her, barely hears the slamming of Kara’s bathroom door. She ignores Nia’s concerned look and gestures for her to follow and doesn’t wait, leaving the younger girl to hurry after her.

She refuses to cry.

She’s cried too much the last couple days.

She won’t cry.

She won’t.

When Nia slides into the car Lena has gotten control of her breathing and her eyes have not the hint of a tear. She glances at Nia noticing that the younger woman is sitting a bit tense in her seat, seeming to try to make herself a little smaller and unobtrusive, and Lena feels bad that her mood has this much effect on her, tries to put her at ease.

She clears her throat, “Anything in particular you want to listen to?” and she’s proud at how her voice sounds normal and calm, and not at all sad and hurt that Kara had practically sent her away.

Nia looks at her and shrugs saying she doesn’t mind whatever Lena wants and they drive without saying a word, listening to the radio.

Partway through the drive Lena realizes it’s not necessarily Lena’s mood that has Nia tense, and she decides that she wants to focus on that instead of replaying and dissecting her interaction with Kara to minute detail.  

“Umm, you okay Nia? You seem a bit…” she trails off not sure what adjective to use, and she sees Nia sort of jerk in surprise.

“Oh yeah, I’m ok, just…” she shrugs her shoulders, looking a little sheepish, “I dunno how to…I guess talk to you? We’ve never really had this much time together alone,” Lena is surprised by this admission, and she’s worried she’s somehow made Nia uncomfortable.

She thinks back on their interactions and can only recall times where Nia would greet her hello or say goodbye kindly, and occasionally Nia would swing by while she was working in the Tower to say a couple words or two then promptly leave after a few minutes’ interaction. Had Lena done something without realizing? At this point after her conversation with Kara she’s not willing to rule it out…

“What about when you gave me the tour of the Tower?” Lena recalls, Nia spoke through the whole thing, chattering about anything and everything she knew and wishing to impart all her knowledge.

“Well, that was different I had like a little mini job to do, I take my jobs very seriously,” she says a little gravely, and Lena knows that’s true, but she’s still concerned about why Nia would feel uneasy in her presence.

“Have I done something to make you uncomfortable?” she asks directly, hoping to get to the problem, she doesn’t want to have unwittingly created a hostile work environment and more than that she just likes Nia, and hopes, had hoped before, that they could get to know each other better, be friends.

Nia waves her hands in front of her, negating, “No! Of course not, it’s just…you’re Lena Luthor!” and Lena is surprised to hear her say it in a sort of awe-struck way and not at all in the derogatory way she’s used to people saying that phrase, “I’m just, you know…me! I have no idea what to say when I talk to you! But I do want to talk to you cuz I think you’re cool, and super smart, and elegant, and have great fashion sense, you always look so put together, and your beauty is like unreal, but you’re also really nice and not at all stuck up like how I imagine a lot of rich cutthroat business people to be and you’re Kara’s best friend so that means you must be amazing and I…just really want you to like me,” she finishes her ramble in a rush, and looks at Lena with wide eyes, worried.

Lena’s mouth drops a little in shock, and if she wasn’t driving, she would probably be staring at Nia, and she feels herself start to get a little emotional about Nia’s cute, kind, and sweet rambling tirade of what she thinks of Lena. She takes a calming breath and puts aside the quick thought of how much Nia reminds her of Kara, she doesn’t want to scare Nia because she’s burst into tears over the thought of Kara being upset with her for reasons she doesn’t understand.

“Oh Nia, that’s so sweet of you to say but I already like you,” Lena says glancing at her, trying to convey her sincerity in her voice and look, “I think you’re a badass intelligent young woman, and I am glad to know you.”

Nia squeaks out a quick and surprised, “Really?”

Lena smiles at her, nodding, “Absolutely, I was worried just now that I had upset you and you wouldn’t want to be friends with me.”

Nia lets out an unconvinced laugh, “No you didn’t!” smiling a little bashfully.

Lena nods emphatically, “I promise, I did,” and Nia’s resulting smile is wide and beaming, and it lifts Lena’s mood considerably, and she smiles genuinely right back at Nia.

As though they’ve opened the floodgates Nia’s friendly chatter fills the rest of the drive, and it’s a wonderful distraction, and it makes Lena feel like she’s not a complete failure at making friends. Nia asks her all sorts of questions ranging from where she gets her clothes to what boarding school was like and let’s herself be comforted in the presence of a friend.

They arrive at Nia’s and after her shower Lena keeps the bathroom door open while she applies her makeup so she and Nia can keep talking, painting her face expertly, making sure to take extra care, it feels like she’s applying armor, and she wants her wing tipped eyeliner to be sharp enough to cut, tries not to think too much about why that is. When’s she done she looks over herself, she knows she’ll most likely be building something today, so she chose something comfortable, jeans and a green shirt that makes eyes look killer especially paired with her make up, and a blazer because she’s a professional, and comfortable shoes, and finally her hair pulled back into a simple elegant bun to keep out of her face or falling into anything.

She takes a deep breath, nodding to herself, and turns to head out with Nia.

Brainy greets them and informs them that Eliza has yet to arrive so she makes her way to her lab, she feels comfortable calling it that only because J’onn had started calling it that a few days after she first joined the Super Friends, everyone had since referred to it as such, and she felt that she could take the liberty of ordering various pieces of equipment in anticipation of future team needs. She knows her foresight will come in handy today.

Sometime during her brainstorming session for a way to get to Argo, Brainy calls her to Zor-el’s side so she can weigh in on some discoveries they’ve made. Lena strides toward the med bay and when Eliza and Brainy shift she sees Kara standing next to her father, Lena just about trips over nothing.

She takes a second to control her breathing and schools her face into something professional, if Kara wants to be angry at her, then let her be angry, but Lena gave her word that she would help and she won’t let her feelings get in the way of keeping it, she’ll meet Kara’s emotion with cool intellect instead to get the job done.

Lena comes closer and Brainy acknowledges her first, then Eliza gives her a kind smile and side hug that has her façade almost breaking, but she manages to keep it in check. She spares Kara one long blank look, and she’s almost satisfied when her hard face looks away, but instead it makes her stomach churn with shame.

“We’ve learned a few interesting things,” Brainy says not noticing the tension and proceeds to explain their findings, looking over a sleeping Zor-el, “but before we continue, Kara, how did your father sustain this injury?”

Kara frowns recalling, “We were waiting for you guys to stabilize the portal for us to come through, but we had some goons chasing us, they had weapons, and they attacked us not too long before we came through. One had a sword, I didn’t see the guy at first, Dad pushed me out of the way and took the blow, and gave me the opportunity to fight him off,” she says it in a detached distant sort of way, and Lena grinds her teeth a little at the tone.

“You weren’t injured in the scuffle? He didn’t cut you with the sword?” Eliza asks.

Kara thinks a little and then shakes her head, “I don’t think so.”

Eliza and Brainy share a look and then dive into their findings.

First, the most glaring issue is the slash in Zor-el’s side, the wound has not seemed to have healed at all despite being perfectly stitched and sanitized, it continues to ooze blood very slowly but consistently and it’s only because it’s so slow that he hasn’t bled out. The edges of the wound have turned a sort of unnatural blue, he lifts the bandage to show them, and sure enough there’s a strange arctic blue coloring the edges to the large cut in the Kryptonian’s side.

Eliza takes over a bit here and says the wound itself also doesn’t seem come up on any scans.

“What? What do you mean?” Kara asks incredulous.

Eliza pulls up their findings on a nearby screen shows them, “Every single scan we’ve run shows zero evidence of tissue damage, look, it won’t even show up on a regular camera,” she pulls out her cell phone and switches it to video, and when they look through the small screen at where there should be a large gash, there’s nothing.

Lena is astounded. Eliza continues, they have more to show, the next step was to take a tissue sample and under similar scrutiny the cells all look healthy, but of course they know they that are not, if they were they would be healing under a yellow sun especially. So, working under the assumption that they can’t see anything wrong with the cells they tried measuring things they could. Eliza ran tests measuring the yellow sun radiation in his cells now versus Brainy and Lena’s initial data that first day.

“It’s decreased by a measurable five percent,” Eliza says gravely.

Lena’s eyebrows go up in astonishment, “How are his vitals?”

Eliza shakes her head grimly, “Steadily worse and worse, whatever this thing is doing to him, it’s slowly sapping his strength. Eventually his body is going to shut down.”

Lena hears a sharp intake of breath, looks up to see Kara’s stricken face, and Lena feels her mask crack, her own face pulling into sympathy for Kara. She might lose her father again, and Lena’s jaw and heart clenches for the pain she must be feeling, essentially watching her father slowly dying before her eyes, and her best hope for helping him are unable to even see what the problem is.

“How long?” Kara’s voice is hoarse and filled with pain, making Lena press her mouth into a hard line wishing she knew how to fix this.

Brainy shakes his head, “I estimate that Zor-el’s body will be fail to sustain itself in approximately ten days,” Kara gasps, tears filling her eyes, “With our current medical life support systems we can extend that estimation to twenty days.”

Lena watches Kara and her mind whirls trying think of something, anything that could be useful, Kara’s mournful eyes come up to lock with Lena’s and time is frozen for a moment. She wishes she could just run over and hug Kara, but she’s not sure she can take being rejected just now. Her mind flits as it considers and tosses out any number of possibilities, and then she lands on one, time resumes, and Kara has still not looked away from her.

“The fifth dimension,” she says to Brainy and Eliza, though her eyes never leave Kara, and her best friend’s wretched face changes to one of mild and dawning hope.

She looks to others as they contemplate, and Brainy nods, “That’s a good theory, dimensional and magical damage could explain his symptoms, not to mention the odds increasing since we know there was at least one fifth dimensional being in the Phantom Zone, who is to say there wasn’t also artifacts from that plane?”

“So do you think you can heal him?” Kara asks hopefully, but Brainy shakes his head.

“Unfortunately, even if we are correct, I do not possess the necessary knowledge on how to even begin to treat such a thing,” he says not unkindly to Kara, and Eliza places a hand on her shoulder trying to comfort, but Kara just bows her head dismally.

Eliza’s phone rings then and she steps away to take it frowning.

The rest stand in silence listening to the monitors beeping, and Lena’s mind is a myriad of possibilities, thinking, and thinking, Eliza returns.

Lena blurts out one of her more coherent thoughts, “Kryptonians,” she looks toward Kara, “Your people are highly scientifically advanced, surely they might have an idea on how to fix this?”

Kara looks at her with something like relief, and then her face scrunches in disappointment, “Maybe, I really don’t know, anything I personally learned about fifth dimensional beings was in passing, like knowing what types of animals live in what climate, I don’t know how much a full member of the guild would know.”

“But it’s our best bet, right? Who better to cure a Kryptonian than his people? With possibly more knowledge on the issue than us,” Lena says with determination, she’s going to see this through to the end, she’s going to try for Kara.  

“We don’t even have a way to contact them let alone get there in time before my father dies,” Kara says, darkly, face blank and stoic.

“I think I figured out a way to do both,” Lena says with some excitement, Kara’s face starts to show emotion again, a huge contrast to the moment before, “I can build another transmat portal, and if you have the coordinates for Argo I think I’ve devised a way to create a sort of fishing line to search for the other portal on their end, once we ‘hook’ it we can use it to safely travel back and forth, well I’ll have to do some tinkering on the other side for the return trip but I’m confident it’s doable.”

Kara stares at her with something like wonder, and her breathing seems to go heavy, her chin quivering the slightest bit. Lena tries not to read too much into it.

Eliza shares a look with Brainy, and he nods.

“Sweetie, there’s one more thing,” Eliza says softly to Kara, who raises her head to look at her mother, questioning with tear filled eyes that she doesn’t allow to fall, “I want to run the same tests on you that I ran on your father.”

“What? Why?” Kara looks between Brainy and Eliza, scared, and her eyes fall on Lena briefly sending a jolt of commiserate anxiety through her as Lena follows the logical conclusion of Eliza’s theory.

“Because your powers haven’t come back, sweetie,” her mother says with concern coloring her voice and expression.

“But-that doesn’t-I’ve blown out my powers before,” Kara protests stuttering.

Lena’s mind is reeling and she can feel panic start to rise in the back of her mind, if Kara’s affected the same as Zor-el then…

“I know, but we want to rule it out.”

They take a sample of Kara’s blood, too easy right now without her powers, Lena focuses on the data as she watches over Brainy’s shoulder as he runs the test, watches as the computer spits out what Lena was too afraid to really contemplate.

They turn to the Danvers.

Kara looks directly at Lena, and she knows.

Eliza places her hands on Kara’s shoulders after hugging her for a while, Kara’s face is devoid of tears, they continue to stay locked in red rimmed eyes, and she seems subdued, more resigned than anything.

“We need to do a full detailed body examination to find the injury, it must be really small for you not to have noticed, you’re not hemorrhaging yellow sun radiation at a very fast rate, in fact it’s amazing slow, miniscule but if this goes untreated…” she trails off, looking at Kara with motherly worry.

Kara nods.

They lock eyes and Lena grits her teeth, looking at her steadily.

Kara just looks at her with watery eyes, and Lena vows to fix this.

Even if Kara was being a jerk earlier.

Kara has to stick around so they can repair this sorry mess between them.

She’s not losing Kara again.

She won’t.

Chapter Text

Kara has to tear her eyes to look away from Lena’s sobering scrutiny, and tries to listen to Eliza when she speaks again, “I’m sorry to do this, because I know how important all this is, but I may have sort of…very slightly, abandoned my research partners in the middle of some important tests when I found out you were home,” Kara’s eyebrows shoot up guilt plain on her face, Eliza rushes to comfort her, “No, it’s ok, sweetheart! Don’t worry! They called just now so I need to step away for a couple hours and talk them through some of my portions of the experiment and the rest will keep until I get back.”

Her lips pull down in a frown, she’s starting to feel exhausted from these rollercoasters of emotions, she just wants to be still and quiet for a moment…like she was this morning when Lena was holding her and she could feel the love and affection surrounding her as she listened to Alex and Lena bicker like they were old friends…or family, she could almost cry just from the memory of it.

At the moment, the most pressing emotion, amongst a torrent of others that seemed to turn and change as swift as a bunny rabbit trying to outrun a fox, was guilt.

Guilt for taking Eliza away from her important work.

Guilt for sparing hardly more than a few thoughts the last two days about her apparently dying father.

Guilt for being such a freaking emotional wreak with her friends and family.

But mostly, especially in Lena’s presence again, she feels guilt for how she treated her when all her best friend had done was, be there for her and help her after a horrific nightmare, comforted her when Kara had felt so inconsolable.

And now she feels a fresh swell of anger at herself, at her father, at the circumstances, it’s bubbling to the surface trying to claw its way out, and she forces it down again, knows she can’t and shouldn’t speak to Eliza in any way except understanding, but it froths and pops at the surface of her control.

“It’s alright, I understand, you’re allowed a few hours to yourself Eliza, you don’t need to be here with me the whole time,” she hopes she sounds calm and supportive, just as her mother has always been to her, it’s no less than she deserves.  

Eliza’s lips pull a little into distress and uncertainty, but she takes Kara’s words at face value, “Thank you, sweetie, I appreciate that, I promise as soon as I pass this off, I’ll be right back with you,” she bends down to place a kiss on her forehead, Kara wishes she could feel the warmth of it, but instead there’s just ice. Ice so cold it burns in her chest, and she knows that’s not what she should be feeling.

“If you need to get back to your colleagues for a little while, Eliza, I’d be more than happy to loan you my portal watch, I know doing things over video call is not ideal, especially for the type of experiments you’re working on,” Lena offers with no hesitation, and Kara is punched in the gut again by guilt and shame, anger taking a step back, Lena was being so kind in offering that to her mother, just as she was trying to be kind and considerate this morning, but Kara had just lashed out at her like a jerk, worse even.

Eliza is all surprise, “Oh,” she seems to be a little at a loss, “you won’t miss it? I’d hate to impose.”

Lena looks at her with such astonishment, “Eliza, you made me dinner, tried to fight my mother for me to protect me, and brought me more comfort and kindness than she ever has, all in one afternoon, if anyone has been an imposition it’s me,” Lena steps closer to Eliza, pulling the watch off her wrist, “Here, please, take it, with my very sincere thanks,” placing it in a limp hand, holding them between her own palms, so emphatic.

Kara is just plain shocked now, Eliza had tried to fight Lillian Luthor? Why hadn’t she heard about this before now?

Eliza places her other hand on top of Lena’s pressing their joined hands together, “Always, sweetie and thank you, this will help a lot,” and she draws Lena into a hug.

Kara can just see Lena’s face, watches as she closes her eyes and she can tell that Lena is relishing the hug, holding onto it because she’s had so few motherly hugs in her life that she wants to savor it, it makes Kara’s heart hurt.

She feels like a such a fucking jackass, and then angry again at her selfish indulgence of her own feelings, when she had hurt Lena and was making it about herself again. She looks down at her clenched hands, trying to steady her breathing, willing her erratic thoughts and feelings to calm down…

Lena shows Eliza how to use the watch and then her mother is away in just a few moments, Brainy steps closer to them after she’s gone, “Lena, since Eliza will not be back for some time, would you please complete Kara’s examination? I would like to know the results as soon as possible and then we can get started on building the portal, there’s no time to waste,” he says with some urgency and apprehension.

Kara stiffens with how that will go feeling like she might crawl out of her own skin, Lena’s been pretty frosty towards her all this time and she herself hasn’t been much better, she keeps her mouth closed tight, this is important, and she can’t let herself get out of control again. Lena nods and looks to Kara fleetingly, motions for her to follow to a side private room, she does.

It’s so tense.

And awkward, and Kara hates it.

Lena speaks to her with clipped direct commands, her face impassive and her tone calm and professional.

Kara hates it, she could practically fall forever into the chasm of the distance that is between them right now, and she has only herself to blame for it.

Lena’s back is to her typing something into a tablet and she says remotely, “Strip to your underthings,” Kara jerks a little and her brain just about shorts storming emotions calming abruptly into this one instant of disbelief, this is not at all how she imagined the first time Lena asking her to take her clothes off would go, not by a mile, not by a thousand.

Kara gapes, “Wh-what?”

Lena turns to cast cool eyes on her, and Kara shivers a little, her shame and anger are still simmering but she’s determined to keep a tight rein on her emotions, she doesn’t want to lash out at Lena again. She’s still trying to figure out how best to approach that whole fiasco of a topic.

“I have to do a physical inspection with my actual eyes since any wounds won’t show up on scans,” and Kara is surprised by how patient she sounds, despite the starkness in her eyes.

Kara gulps and nods, now she’s anxious and nervous on top of being everything else.

Lena moves to grab a stool that stands a couple feet off the ground to put in front of Kara, instructs her to step onto it once she’s done, and turns her back again to give her some semblance of privacy while she slowly undresses.

Kara swallows thickly again, looks down at bare feet rubbing her forearms, feeling a little cold, and her stomach quakes slightly with nerves at being so exposed to Lena, and says softly she’s ready. From her peripheral, she can see Lena turn around, hears her clear her throat, and then pulls a rolling chair toward herself to sit, Kara flicks her eyes up when she rolls close, and is startled by the light dusting of pink she sees on her cheeks. It’s the first sign of anything but detached indifference in a while and Kara clings to it.

Lena is methodical as always, she has Kara bend her knees one at time to examine the bottoms of her feet, rolling the chair around to check every angle and surface. Kara clutches her biceps staring straight ahead, and does as she always does when she’s uncomfortable, she blurts things out, thinking back to this morning.

“It was really kind of you to drive Nia to the Tower today,” Kara is meet with silence, “I know she really looks up to you.”

Kara almost jumps when Lena responds, serious almost bland, “I like her. We both did each other a favor,” matter of fact and nothing else doesn’t even look up at her, Kara tries not to think about how Lena is currently examining her shins and calves, a frown of concentration on her face.

Silence.

Lena stands to continue her inspection of her torso as she draws higher in her careful meticulous way, moving slowly around her in a circle, Kara’s eyes darting all over the room, trying to keep her breath even.

“And Eliza,” she croaks, “that was nice of you to let her take your portal watch,” a long measure of nothing.

Just more silence, and then, “I was more than happy to assist her,” and the words themselves should be warm but the tone is still ice.

“Step down,” Kara does, and Lena takes the stool away, stands behind her as she examines her back and neck.

Then she moves to stand directly in front of her and Kara’s stomach flips because she’s so close, doing her work diligently, checking Kara’s shoulders and the expanse of her exposed chest for injury, and Lena’s still long enough for Kara to really take in her appearance, while her attention is elsewhere.

On any given day Lena is easily gorgeous, even without makeup her face is striking and beautiful, but right now with her look of concentration and effortlessly flawless makeup she’s absolutely devastating, and Kara feels a blush starting to spread from her neck up to her face and ears. Kara tries valiantly to fight it but her discomfiture increases when she sees Lena’s eyes widen slightly as she notices, but is kind enough not to look up at her face or mention it.

Kara jolts when she feels cold fingers reach out to grasp her elbow, Lena snatches her hand back, looking up quickly to her face and then away clearly apologetic, then seems to remember she’s mad at Kara and her face reverts quickly, but she says rather sincerely and softly, with no trace of earlier coldness, “Sorry, I was just going to check your arms and hands.”

“Oh,” she says, quietly, and lifts a hand to give to Lena.

She takes the whole arm and extends it, starting from the shoulder inspecting. Kara tries not to fidget, and she can’t help the goosebumps that break out along her skin as Lena runs her palms down the length of her arm, then splaying out her hand between twin cold ones, running fingertips along the palm to extend alien fingers flat, then turning it over.

Lena asks for the other hand just as softly as the first, and Kara is surprised as she watches her face tinge red, eyes still cast down toward her work. Kara knows Lena will repeat what she did on her other arm, but the knowledge still doesn’t prevent more goosebumps from forming quickly behind sliding pale fingertips.

She lets go, her gaze still avoidant, then her next words jolt her, “I’ll need you to check under your garments.”

That makes Kara blush, and this has started to edge into degrading territory but she’s grateful when Lena steps to the side with her back turned, while she does, face red and hot, all other emotions pushed to the side now.

When she comes up with nothing, she tells Lena and is directed to sit in the abandoned rolling chair, and Lena comes around to stand in front of her, Kara blows out a breath, her knee bouncing a little, staring at Lena’s belt buckle.

She watches as Lena’s hands come forward and pause for a long moment and then reach to tilt her head and face up.

Their eyes meet and it’s the most intense eye contact they’ve had in some time that Kara’s eyes dart away almost immediately, heart fairly jumping out of her chest, forcing deep breathes through her nose. She keeps her eyes closed but she can still almost feel the lines that Lena’s eyes draw on her skin as her hands tilt and examine every angle of her face. Kara lets out a shuddering breath and tries not to let it be too loud, when Lena lets go, feeling thankful it’s over and also oddly hollow.

“Can you take your hair out? I need to check your scalp,” this time Lena’s voice is a touch breathless, but Kara can’t bring herself to look at her face, and just nods, pulling out pins and bites back a moan when Lena’s fingers slide into her hair.

Rao, this is not something she expected would be happening today, just about naked and having Lena touch her. It was almost too much to bear.

She feels Lena pause over a spot near her temple and tries not to draw away when she leans closer, hears her sharp intake of air and Kara knows she’s found it, and the infinitesimal part of her that thought Lena wouldn’t find anything goes out in an abysmal puff.

Lena draws it to scale in amazing detail, with color pencil on a sketchpad since they can’t take a picture, it doesn’t take her long. It’s just a small thin slice, perhaps an inch long, but it’s enough to eventually kill her.

 Kara is relieved when Lena tells her she can dress and practically scrambles to put her clothes back on, but she can feel the heavy tension that has grown between them and she’s only partially dressed when she ends up blurting out more words, staring at Lena’s hunched back while she uploads the sketch to the computer.

“What happened with Lillian and Eliza?” because she’s curious and it’s the first thing that pops into her head.

Lena slams the tablet she’s holding on top of the workbench in front of her, and Kara jumps backwards in surprise, heart racing.

“Will you stop talking to me like everything’s alright?! Like you didn’t bite my head off this morning for no discernible reason I could fathom?” Lena shouts, deep breaths loud in Kara’s stunned silence, “You don’t get to do that, you don’t get to use me to comfort yourself, and then toss me to the curb after you’re done with me,” and Kara can only stare wide eyed as Lena speaks, voice exacting and severe.

“Le-…” but Lena rounds on her and stalks toward Kara in the small room, Lena’s hurt, and angry eyes feel like a slap in the face and Kara stumbles backwards one hand clutching the still open side of her button up and the other reaching behind her to catch herself on a table.

Lena interrupts her before she can finish saying her name, stops when she’s still several feet away, “You know, I spent years with the abusive assholes who are my family, it took me so long to finally realize that I didn’t have to put up with their bullshit, that I deserved better, that I was enough, you convinced me of that,” she stabs a finger accusingly at Kara, “and I was able to pull myself out from Lex’s never ending cycle of emotional destruction because I wanted to put me first, so I could finally be happy,” he voice chokes a little on the last word, and Kara is still too stunned to move, she can’t even think, she’s just being swept up in Lena’s words and emotions. She can see her breathing is ragged and her eyes are rimmed with tears, Kara just stares dumbly.

“I spent every spare moment I could trying to bring you back,” she says emphasizing each word, “because I thought it was my fault, because I missed you and I’d only just gotten you back, I shoved every emotion I had into the back of my mind just so I could function day to day.”

She claws at her chest, “It felt like my heart had been ripped out of my chest all over again when we lost you,” Kara inhales sharply still stricken silent, “Now you’re back and I thought we could mend this,” her voice cracks a little.”

“I thought I could have my best friend back but then you pull this fucking bullshit, and shut me out, and treat me like I don’t matter, that I’m not allowed to care about you, well I do, and you better believe I’m not going to let you die no matter how angry I am with you.”

Lena’s eyes bore into her own, “But you don’t get to treat me like that Kara, no one does. I tried to be understanding of how hard everything must be for you, because I cannot even imagine what it must be like, and you have every right to be angry, or scared, or whatever, and I’m more than willing to help you through all the ups and downs,” she says emphatically, “but I refuse to be your punching bag,” sharp and final, Lena pauses looking like she might be sick, like she can’t believe the words that will tumble from her mouth, “If that’s what’s in store for me if I stay…”

Her throat works as she tries to swallow, tears finally escaping and spilling from her eyes.

“Then maybe I shouldn’t,” her words are absolute, but Kara can hear the way Lena wants her to contradict them, begging Kara to tell her otherwise.

The silence that follows is deafening, but Kara is paralyzed, her mind blank, she can only watch Lena breathe as if she’s been running, wide mournful eyes staring back at her. It stretches too long, and Lena’s mouth clenches hard, waiting and waiting, as the silence stretches even longer. Kara’s mind starts up slow and lethargic, and she thinks, knows, that she must do something, say something, but her body will not cooperate, mounting panic building in her chest.

Lena nods slowly, “Right,” she breathes out, and Kara can tell she’s holding back a sob, “I’ll finish what I promised to do, so you can go to Argo, and then I’ll be out of here by the end of the day,” she whispers, “Going forward I’ll coordinate my efforts with Brainy if Argo can’t help you.

Kara watches as Lena turns to leave as if from a great distance, feels her hand come up too slowly, and then all at once, her panic catches up with her, “Wait,” she gasps, but it comes out too quiet, and she wills herself to move, she’s out the door, and sees Lena stalking across the room wiping tears from her eyes, Alex is striding towards Lena concerned and clearly just returned from a mission, she meets Lena halfway, and pushes her backwards to stop when it’s clear she won’t on her own, “Hey, what’s wrong?” she asks voice growing alarmed, and concerned.

Lena shrugs her off and brushes past her, and Alex is clearly rattled by her behavior, “Ask you sister,” Lena grits out hard but clearly holding back tears, and she leaves throwing herself down a stairwell.

Kara meets her sister on her way to go after Lena, but Alex catches her by the arm, looking at her still mostly unbuttoned shirt, very confused, practically yells, “What the hell is going on?” Kara tries to pull out of Alex’s hold, but her sister just whirls her around, “No you don’t, Kara, tell me what’s happening,” mouth and face all hard lines.

“Let me go, Alex, I have to fix this! I fucked up so bad!” she tries to protest, the panic she felt earlier has grown into something unmanageable, she can feel an attack building, Alex can tell and shakes her head.

“No, not until you calm down, you’re in no shape to fix whatever the hell is happening until you get yourself sorted out,” and her voice brooks no argument, she won’t hear a word from Kara, just drags her along all to too human like.  

When she’s finally able to speak without potentially kicking off a panic attack, Alex makes her tell her all of it. Kara tells her about Lena comforting her after her nightmare, leaves off what it was about, knowing that in itself might start an attack, and how she woke up feeling so great and content with Lena.

Then her thoughts had spiraled, first in embarrassment for how she had acted after the nightmare, then her fears that Lena wouldn’t want to deal with all her baggage and hang-ups and that had led to her feeling like a burden on others, and then she had gone one further that everyone would leave her because why would they want to deal with all her crazy emotions.

Finally, she became irrationally angry and decided that the universe wouldn’t be able to take anyone away from her if she pushed them away first.

Later when she saw her father who was sleeping too much and dying now, with no discernable cure, led to a whole host of ups and downs between hope and despair that made her tired, and then on top of that she’s infected too, and of course the cherry on the very tip top Lena was justifiably angry with her for being an asshole to her, and when it came down to it Kara had not said what she ought to have in the moment when Lena need her the most.

Alex just has an increasingly more and more concerned look on her face, eyebrows ticking higher and higher. When Kara finishes, she hugs her hard and tight, and Kara sags against her, feeling utterly spent emotionally and physically, she doesn’t even have tears right now, just grim resignation.

She pulls back as Alex speaks, “Kara…this is not sustainable,” soft and tentative, “I really think you need to speak to a professional cuz this is way too much for anyone, I love you and I’ll help you no matter what as best I can, but I am not really equipped to help you deal with this,” Alex’s eyes are filled with tears, like she can’t believe she has to tell Kara that her big sister can’t fix this.

Kara feels her own tears finally start come too and wishes so hard that she could just be done with this, that she could just be happy to be home, and not ruining everything with all her crazy thoughts and emotions. She wants to be able to just hang out with Alex, not make her shoulder her emotional burdens, and she wants to fix things with Lena so badly, but she’s worried it’s ruined irrevocably.  

She rests her head on Alex’s chest while she rubs her back and shoulders, and nods, “I know, I know, I need to but there doesn’t ever seem to be any time, I just want things to be quiet for a moment but there’s always the next something, I’m so tired, Alex,” she rasps, sobbing and feeling so completely defeated by her own mind.

They stay there for a while, until Kara has some semblance of calm, and Alex agrees to help Kara go speak to Lena. On the way down to Lena’s lab Kara rehearses what she wants to say, tries to keep it short and to the point, and hopes that Lena will at least listen.

They enter the lab and Kara’s face goes a little slack with awe, Lena and Brainy have made amazing progress, there’s a matte white arch in the middle of the room, thick and a little bulky, and cables running the length of the floor connecting it to sockets and various other pieces of equipment.

Kara is confused though because the amount of progress they’ve made is too much to have done in one day, Alex seems to have the same thought and asks the question out loud and waits for Lena or Brainy to pause in their work to answer them.

Lena is seated at a workbench with a computer typing, and swivels in her chair to look at them then turns back to her screen, her face fleeting and impassive.

“I started this project weeks ago, worked on it whenever I couldn’t sleep, after the DEO was demolished and the transmat portal destroyed, I thought Kara might want to visit her mother and people,” she says like it’s no big deal that she’s basically reinvented a whole alien technology for Kara’s benefit, almost exclusively. She feels a spike of shame again for how she’s treated Lena, “Can I help you with something? We’re quite busy.”

It’s a dismissal and Kara’s courage flags in the presence of this angry and cold Lena, “Lena, may I please speak with you privately?” she manages to say mostly with a steady voice, Kara hears the typing on the keyboard stop for a few seconds, and dares to hope a little, but then it resumes.

“I don’t know, Kara, you didn’t seem to keen to speak to me in our two previous private conversations,” she says icily.

Kara’s lip trembles, she looks to Alex who nods to her encouragingly, whispering, “don’t give up yet she’s just upset.”

She takes a breath and says more firmly, “Please, Lena, I would really like to have a proper conversation,” and holds the air in her lungs until it starts to burn in her chest, when Lena finally sighs heavily and walks to her little office.

Kara’s not sure she’s supposed to follow until Lena looks back expectantly and then she’s scrambling.  

She closes the door behind her, and it muffles the sounds of humming equipment, it’s loads quieter inside and it makes Kara acutely aware that she can hear her own heavy breaths.

Lena stands facing the small window in the equally small office, arms crossed, and Kara sees her straighten her shoulders then turn around, mouth pursed, green eyes dark and wary, still tinged with red.

The silence stretches before them again, her own shoulders feel too stiff, her hands wringing and twisting, and Kara can feel a little tendril of panic start to set in, she needs to speak before she loses her courage.

“I’m sorry, I’m so sorry, Lena,” she says rather brokenly, willing herself not to start crying, she has to get through this apology before she can fall apart, “You were right about everything, I was an asshole this morning, and I shouldn’t have spoken to you that way, you don’t deserve it especially after you helped me last night,” she swallows.

Lena’s stare is too piercing, but she forces herself not to look away, “I spiraled into this really bad place this morning and I lashed out at you, it was wrong of me and still no excuse. I’ve spoken to Alex twice now and Kelly about how I probably need to seek professional help.”

“I don’t want to destroy my relationships with the people I love,” and Kara’s eyes well with enough tears to blur her vision of Lena, still stoic and unmoving, “I don’t want to ruin my relationship with you, it would be the single greatest regret of my life if that happened,” she whispers urgently.

Lena turns her head sharply to the side at that admission, eyes closed, jaw tight and working, Kara continues, “I understand if you’re still upset with me, and you need some time, but I do want to try and fix this, it’s all I’ve wanted this whole past Rao forsaken year,” she says the last in a small desperate whine, a few tears spilling.

She gulps, “So yeah, that’s all I wanted to say.”

Lena’s head turns forward, but it’s bowed, and her eyes are still closed, heavy breaths coming into and out through her nose, she shakes her head a little, but Kara doesn’t know why, and the knot in her stomach twists, not sure if it’s because she doesn’t want to try or something else?

Kara grits her teeth when Lena still says nothing after a while and she sets a hand on the doorknob about to leave, tears coming a little faster. Lena finally speaks, and it makes Kara collapse a little against the door in relief.

“You can’t do that to me again, Kara,” she says in a rush, and Lena’s voice is no longer that brutal cold dispassionate tone that Kara has come to loath, instead it’s small and scared. Kara nods her head urgently, eyes wide, her heart racing with hope.  

Lena looks up at her, beautiful eyes so heartbroken, “I’m still upset, but that’s all I’ve wanted too, Kara, to fix us,” her own tears spilling, “I just want to help you,” and the way her voice breaks, cracks open Kara’s chest.

“I know, I know, I’m sorry,” Kara says vehemently, taking a couple steps forward, catching herself from gathering Lena in her arms, “I’ve been a stubborn idiot by not letting you,” she’s crying freely now, chewing on her lip because she really wants to hug Lena right now, but she thinks that might be too much.  

Lena stares at her and Kara looks back, it’s awkward, but she doesn’t know what to do, so she does the only thing can think of, give Lena space to think, and calm down, but she hates leaving things still strange between them.

Kara turns wiping her tears, “Umm, I’ll-uh, give you some space then, I guess,” turning to walk toward the door.

“Kara,” Lena sobs, and its broken and strangled in its disbelief, “don’t I get a hug?” all yearning, and Kara is so relived she almost barrels Lena over in her haste to close the distance, both their jagged and stuttering breaths mingling between them.

  

“I’m sorry,” Lena mumbles into her shoulder, Kara starts, they haven’t spoken for many long minutes, just holding and breathing, “I shouldn’t have snapped at you like that, I was feeling raw all day after I left your apartment and then when you started talking to me like everything was fine, I snapped, because everything was so incredibly wrong.”

Kara shakes her head, turning to press her forehead into Lena’s hair, “No, you had every right to, I was being erratic all day and you didn’t know why, heck I barely knew why.”

Lena pulls back to look at her seriously, “Can you please just try to talk to me next time? Even if it’s just ‘I’m angry but I don’t know why’ that way I don’t take it so personal?”

Kara nods solemnly and whispers, “I’ll try,” gazing softly into intelligent, kind green eyes. Lena crushes herself back to into her chest, and sighs.

“Good, me too.”

Chapter Text

Brainy knocks on the door and forces them to separate reluctantly, he needs help calibrating some of the equipment to prevent a catastrophic meltdown of their hard work, she and Kara follow him out of the office quickly.

She lets her shoulders drop with a sigh when they’ve fixed the issue, and Lena admonishes herself a little for being away so long, simply to indulge in Kara’s embrace, all their progress could have very well blown up, quite literally, but she’s so happy to have sorted things out with Kara she can’t be bothered to hold onto her guilt too long.

This whole day had been exhausting emotionally. It was so difficult being at odds with Kara and not able to comfort her during the discussion over Zor-el’s illness because of her injured heart from this morning, followed by a tension filled medical examination, both awkward and charged, that left Lena torn between her still bubbling anger at Kara’s sharp words, worry over the Kryptonian’s health and life, and unbalancing of all, a carnal desire to throw caution out the window and run her hands along lean sculpted muscles intently, purposefully.

And maybe more…

Having to actually touch Kara towards the end had tested the absolute limits of her self-control and discipline, the side of her tongue still smarted and stung in her mouth where she had bit down on it rather hard when she ran her fingers through Kara’s hair during her inspection, the look of sheer pleasure on Kara’s face with closed eyes had been almost too much to handle.  

In fact, it was. Not too long after that she had snapped under the strain of too many conflicting emotions and underlying hurt, and the subsequent silence from Kara after her outburst had left her feeling hollow and alone, so she ran, trying to keep her heart from breaking apart again.

Kara following her to the lab with Alex in tow, contrite and teary eyed, was a little unexpected after her seeming indifference in the exam room, and she tried in vain not to hope that Kara was coming to try to repair things.

But she was immensely relieved to know that Kara did want to try, and she had felt her walls crashing down again, feeling exposed and vulnerable, hoping Kara would catch her if she jumped.

She did, thank god, but Lena was still feeling a bit skittish and so was Kara if her not quite hovering right now was any indication, she didn’t seem want to leave but she was also careful not to get in Lena or Brainy’s way, just watching and moving away when or if they got close, her restrained but slightly intrigued expression as she watched curiously, tugged at Lena’s heart.

Lena recalled the way Kara had said she didn’t want to be a burden yesterday, and she realized that she must be feeling a bit useless, unable to cure her father or herself, unable to contribute to the portal efforts, and not even having the luxury of going out and punching some bad guys as a distraction.

“Would you like to help?” Lena asks gently, watching Kara’s profile as she in turn watches Brainy fit some parts into a compartment.

Kara looks at her, skeptical and unsure, fingers fiddling with the cuff of her shirt, “Umm, yeah, but I don’t think I’d be very useful…” eyes turning downcast, worrying the corner of her lip. She seems calmer now, not so wound up, not so tight and about ready to burst, as she did this morning, and Lena’s relieved about that but this subdued Kara is not ideal either.

“Well, if you don’t mind some heavy lifting there’s some equipment in a storage room that I need brought out and wired up to the portal, I would be glad for your help,” and Kara’s small resulting smile is approaching buoyant and immensely grateful.

Lena shows her what she needs done and very consciously must not stare while Kara unbuttons and rolls up her sleeves, recalling running her own hands down those very forearms not too long ago, leaves her to it, rushing back to her workstation, focused on catching her breath again.  

A little while later, Nia comes striding in calling hellos to the three of them, but she goes straight to Brainy’s side and they chat for a few minutes. Lena is engrossed in both her coding and trying not let her eyes wander to where she has a good view of Kara carrying in large components of what will eventually be generators to power the portal, making it seem easy and light despite being otherwise, squatting expertly to place the bulky items down carefully, and working up a sweat…that she doesn’t notice Nia pull up a chair next to her, doesn’t know that Nia has a very good view of Lena’s face and the view before her.

“Hi, Lena,” pleasant and bright, as always. Lena jumps clutching at her chest, heart racing, and stares a bit at Nia.

“Oh Nia, hi, did you need something?” Lena casts her eyes back to her computer screen, clears her throat a little, and hopes that Nia did not catch her staring at Kara and starts typing again.

“Nope, just came to hang out,” she says innocuously, and then stays silent, Lena’s about to try and drum up some small talk when Nia stands and grabs a water bottle from the mini fridge in Lena’s office. When she returns, she sets it down, and then Lena watches as Nia very deliberately slides the bottle towards her.

She stares at the bottle a moment and then looks up at Nia’s small completely innocent smile, and braces for the inevitable joke that must follow, but she feels like she’s missed a step when Nia asks as innocent and without guile as her smile.

“How’s the work going? Brainy thinks it’s moving along pretty fast,” it takes Lena a moment to respond because this is not what she expected to come out of Nia’s mouth, wonders and hopes, that maybe the younger girl hadn’t noticed.

“Uhh-Yeah, yes, it is, he’s been a huge help, and Kara’s work will set us ahead of schedule too,” Lena feels a bit parched from her mild anxiety about Nia catching her and picks up the water bottle. Nia nods at this and then without looking away from Lena, eyes locked, she tilts just her chin toward Kara’s direction.

“Hey, Kara do you need some help?” loud to be heard over the distance that separates them, eyes watching Lena intently.

“Nope, thanks though, I’m fine!” she calls back, pausing a moment to wipe some sweat from her brow, frowning at her hand when it comes away wet, clearly unused to this phenomenon.

Nia smiles wickedly at this response, and just as Lena is taking a sip of water, she says low so only Lena can hear, conspiratorially and a little salacious, “She is, don’t you think, Lena?”

Lena chokes at the unexpected double entendre and is glad to be facing away from her computer so the water she spits out mists harmlessly in the air. Coughing a little, blushing hard, she forces herself not to glare at Nia, lest she confirm that thought without words. Instead, she tries to regain some dignity mopping up her slightly damp shirt, and levels Nia with a cool stare and calculates how to get back at this smirking self-satisfied twenty something year old.

“Look at what my amazing girlfriend brought for us, cuz she’s the kindest most considerate human on the planet,” Alex crows as she and Kelly enter the lab, laden with bags of food, setting them down on a nearby table, distracting Lena abruptly from her scheming.

Everyone makes their way toward the table, but Lena feels a bit exposed after Nia’s comment and stays stubbornly sitting at her desk typing away, thinking how now both Kelly and Nia had caught on to her, and wondered if she was being so obvious in her attentions toward a certain blonde.

Then without warning there are two hands clutching her shoulders, Lena squawks as she’s pulled away from her workstation, chair and all.

She twists her head back to see Alex’s resolute face, “You’re taking a break, Lena,” her tone, decided.

“But I’m in the middle of writing the portal code, Alex!” she says grumbling, and indignant.

Alex rolls her to a stop right in front of the table and tilts her head down with a knowing superior look, “I’ll let you get back to it if you can tell me truthfully that you ate lunch today,” daring her to prove her wrong.

Lena opens her mouth, and then closes it with a click and a resigned grim press of her lips as she glares at Alex, “That’s what I thought.”

She hears a chuckle and turns to see Kara looking at them with a true and genuine smile that reaches her eyes, watching them with such fondness that Lena feels her cheeks heat a little at Kara’s reaction and her own mild embarrassment over Alex’s fussing.

Alex hands her a shake and when she tastes it Lena realizes it’s her favorite, she furrows her brow at Alex, “How did you know this was my favorite?”

She shrugs, “You’re my sister’s best friend, she knows everything about you, and with how much she talks about you I guess I picked up some things by sheer osmosis.”

Kara laughs awkwardly, behind her own shake, looking away and blushing when Lena looks at her.

Eliza comes in and greets everyone, stopping by Lena to return her portal watch with thanks and a warm squeeze of the shoulder, she can feel Kara’s eyes on her, and a feeling of warmth spreading through her chest at the attentions of all three Danvers women.

The conversation varies, swinging from how Kelly’s interviews went, Eliza’s work, and of course the progress on the portal.

“By my calculations we should finish by tomorrow evening if we continue to work diligently,” Brainy says excitedly, “It’s really quite remarkable how much progress Lena made on her own,” he says proudly, almost preening on her behalf.

“That’s amazing!” Kara says with incredulous surprise, “what’s the plan after the portal is done?”

Lena sets down her food, and takes a moment before responding, “Well, after we power it on, we’ll begin a scan for the Argo side of the portal then once we get ‘hooked’ into it’s system we can remotely power it on. With the link established we should be able to go through,” everyone is listening intently, and she pauses when she sees that Eliza has a question.

“How exactly will you be scanning? I don’t imagine you have a satellite you’re going to launch to run it for you?” and Lena nods, pursing her lips, looking around at them hoping there won’t be much protest.

She turns her head a little looking up and to the side, her lips pulling back mildly sheepish, “Well…full disclosure, I may, or may not be commandeering a Chinese telescope,” and waits in the stunned silence, well all except for Brainy, who just smiles, he knew the plan already, then continues when no one says anything.

“We have the coordinates where Argo is located so that will significantly reduce the time I need to have control of the telescope, and I’ll recalibrate the sensors to pick up the particles that will identify the Argo portal, then it’s just a matter of doing a box scan to pinpoint the precise location, and bam we can send a signal directly from our portal to jump start the one on Argo,” her eyes land on Kara, there’s such unrestrained pride in her face that Lena has to look away.

Alex recovers first, “Well damn, Lena, that’s impressive,” she’s surprised that no one has tried to argue against her basically committing an act of war against another country.

She decides to just go with it, “Unfortunately, it’s not without risks. The portal will only work one way at first, and possibly be unstable, that is until we can install and configure the appropriate equipment and settings on the Argo end. Once the portal engages initially, I want to send a drone through and if we receive telemetry back then I think it will be safe to traverse.”  

She looks at Kara, “My hope is that you and your father will be able to go to Argo in two days at the earliest, best-case scenario,” Lena can see the heavy exhale and grateful smile from across the table Kara sends her way, Lena smiles back tentatively, it’s by far the fastest and safest way to transport Zor-el in his condition, if it works…

 

Kara finishes her task, and she alternates between asking Lena and Brainy for more work to do.

Lena startles awake when Kara says her name, her chin coming up from where it was resting on her chest, and smiles a little embarrassed at Kara, whose own bloodshot eyes stare back at her, Eliza comes in then and looks at their haggard faces, frowning in disapproval.

“Alright, I’m calling it, let’s get out here,” she says sternly, and when they start to argue, she puts up a hand, “You’re going to start making mistakes, and it’s not safe for anyone if you do, get some rest and come back in the morning.”

They resign themselves to doing just that. Lena, tired and bleary eyed, heads to her office where she has a cot standing upright in the corner for just such occasions and is about to drop into it when Kara’s voice startles her again.

“What are you doing, Lena?” Kara’s all tired eyes and slack shoulders, frowning in consternation at her.

“I’m rather homeless at the moment and I’m in no condition to drive myself back to Kelly’s,” she supposes she could portal there, but all her things are in her car, at least here she has a spare toothbrush in her desk and possibly a change of clothes.

Kara looks at her with a rather blank sleepy face, and presses her lips together, “Come home with me,” she says quietly, it’s almost pleading, and seeing the hesitation she adds, “I promise not to be a jerk to you in the morning, and if I am you have permission to knock some sense into me,” she jokes, but it falls a little flat in her exhaustion, “I hear you have a mean right hook,” someone must have told her about when she punched Lex, if the teasing tug of her lips is any indication.

Lena’s quiet in the face of the invitation, things are still a bit weird between them and she wonders if this might make it worse, “I don’t have any of my things,” she protests weakly, but the truth is she does want to go with Kara.

“I have a spare toothbrush and pjs, that’s all you need,” she replies easily, face still rather blank with her tiredness.

Lena sighs, and nods, Kara’s small smile is pleased.

She portals them into Kara’s dark apartment and feels the day catch up to her all at once and she lets Kara pull her by the hand, feels soft clothes pressed into her hands and directed to the bathroom. When she comes out, Kara approaches, and whispers softly, “Go lay down,” directing her to the bed, then heading to the bathroom herself.

Lena is too tired to put up any fight about probably sharing the bed with Kara, so she nods and groans when she slides in. Turns her face into the pillow and inhales deeply in relief to be horizontal and is further comforted by Kara’s scent filling her nose, her eyes so heavy that she’s already mostly asleep by the time she feels a distant shift on the mattress and soft, “Goodnight,” from somewhere close by.

 

When Kara wakes, she’s surprised at how well rested she feels, probably all the manual labor the night before, her muscles feel a little sore and tight, not something she’s used to. She sighs keeping her eyes closed enjoying the moment, so grateful that she didn’t have any nightmares. Ones she can remember anyway. She feels the warm sun on her skin, brings her hand up to smooth back her hair from her face, and takes a deep cleansing breath, her hand falls on her stomach, and she jolts a little when she feels a hand that is definitely not her own.

She turns to her head, and her heart skips and races when her eyes meet the unfocused heavy lidded slow blinks of one Lena Luthor just waking up. Kara has no words and hardly dares to breathe, lest she break the quiet intimate moment, she just watches as Lena’s eyes finally focus on her, even without super hearing, in the hush of the apartment, Kara hears the smallest inhalation of air rushing past parted lips.

Lena looks at her with a look Kara cannot decipher and can feel her own face is slack and calm, just watching Lena watch her. She’s not sure how long they stay like but eventually she feels Lena’s hand on her stomach very slowly curl into a fist, Lena’s bright clear eyes never leaving hers, and drags it slowly away from Kara purposefully.

Kara’s about to reach out to bring it back, when Lena’s phone rings, it’s jarring in the silence and it completely shatters this moment between them. Lena casts her eyes about for her phone and when she finds it, she turns her back to Kara to speak into it.

“Hi, Brainy,” Kara looks at the ceiling and takes a deep breath, sweet Rao, that was intense.

That was something.  

Kara swallows and gets up, goes to brush her teeth and tries not think about what kind of something that was, she’s still not in a good place, the last several days were crazy rollercoasters of emotion and she would like at least one where she’s not having a complete melt down, maybe that can be today, and tries not to dwell on what she would have done if she had been able to snatch Lena’s hand back.

When she comes out, Kara stops abruptly, Lena’s sitting up against the headboard, head leaning against the wall head turned to look out the window, her face calm and relaxed as she gazes out into the bright sunshine, it’s a heart stopping beautiful picture, Lena is so bright and painted in the golden tones of the sun, she glows, and Kara is suddenly filled with a desire to rush over and press her into the mattress and kiss her.

Lena’s eyes turn to Kara and she feels pinned to the floor, unable to move, then feels a rush of air, blow out of her when she speaks, green eyes flicking down to her hands in her lap.

“Good morning,” soft and quiet.

Kara swallows and croaks out a good morning, blushing, there’s a tension between them again, almost a little awkward but not quite, she looks down at her feet hoping that will help calm her racing heart.

“What did Brainy say?” still rooted to the spot.

“Oh, he’s already at the Tower working on the portal again, he wanted to run some changes past me before he implemented them,” Lena says evenly, voice still a little rough with sleep, it sends a shiver down Kara’s spine.

Kara nods, eyes flicking up, hands twisting a little in hem of her shirt.

She clears her throat, “Well, I’ll, umm, I’ll make breakfast,” and hurries off to do just that. She places her hands on the counter leaning over the sink trying to catch her breath, she hears the door to the bathroom close and finally feels calm enough to start on breakfast.

Lena comes out halfway through and asks if Kara would like some help, but she waves her off, handing her some coffee, and continues working.

At one point Kara turns and jolts a little in surprise when she sees Lena slumped over the island on a stool, her head resting sideways on her crossed arms, a fairly blank and neutral look on her face, just watching Kara move about the kitchen.

Kara feels the corner of her lip turn down a little, “You ok, Lena?”

Lena looks at her for a long moment and nods, contemplating, “Just happy to be here.”

Kara says a soft ‘oh’, and turns back to the stove, head tilted down, but she can hear the unsaid words ringing and weighted, I’m happy you let me back into your life, I’m happy to be here with you.

After a long pause, Lena adds, “I’m happy you’re here,” a little raspy like her throat is closing around the words.

Kara swallows thickly and can feel the sting of tears, but manages a whispered, “Me too,” it’s so quiet in the apartment but she’s certain Lena heard her.

They eat mostly in silence, it’s mostly comfortable but every now and then their eyes meet, and the underlying tension springs up to make things not comfortable again.

“Thank you,” Kara says into her empty plate, and then looks up to see Lena pause halfway to taking a sip of her coffee, her head tilting in question, “For everything you’re doing to help my dad…and me, even when I was a jerk to you yesterday.”

Lena grits her teeth a little, her forehead crinkling, “Kara, of course, I’ll do everything in my power to help you both,” she looks down at her coffee mug, frowning, “I should be thanking you, actually.”

Kara tilts her head, “Why?”

Shaking her head, “I know you’ve forgiven me,” she looks out the window to her side, “but there’s still a part of me that feels the need to make amends for last year, I did such horrible things to you, it amazes me you still want me around at all,” and hangs her head, taking a deep breath.

Kara looks at her for a long moment, “Lena,” waits for her to look up, eyes dry but reddening, “I do forgive you. I have forgiven you,” Kara looks down at her plate again, and gulps looking back up, “honestly, I feel the same, how can you forgive me for what I did to you?”

Lena looks at her for a long moment, serious, searching her face, and then corner of her mouth ticks up, “We’re quite a pair, aren’t we?”

Kara huffs out a laugh, feeling a real smile tug at her face, “Yeah, peas in a pod,” and her chest warms when that small corner of Lena’s mouth spreads wider in a smile, no more words need between them.

Then they just sit across from each other, smiling like a couple of goofs, and finally Lena asks, “What are you doing today?”

Kara leans back in her chair and crosses her arms, it’s something she was thinking about while Lena was in the bathroom, “I think I have to go to CatCo.,” Lena’s eyebrows go up, “Nia told me last night that she told Andrea I was doing some big story with Cat that’s why I’ve been gone, and if I’m going to be leaving for Argo in a few days then I probably need to show my face before disappearing again,” Kara scoffs, “Unless she fires me on the spot.”

Lena hums in agreement, “Do you want me to talk to her for you?”

Kara shakes her head no, “Thanks but I’m not sure what I even what to do about that yet, but I appreciate the offer.”

Lena leans her head onto her hand on top of the table, “Are you just going to wing it then?” smiling at her in amusement.

Kara smiles back rolling her eyes, “Yeah, probably, I’m sure I’ll be inspired in the moment.”

 

Lena portals back to the Tower, looking back at her once before she goes, a beautiful smile on her face, Kara lets out a content sigh, smiling at nothing, glad to have had a nice quiet morning with Lena...finally.

She gets ready and heads to CatCo. texting Nia to see if she knows if Andrea is in.

She is.

Kara receives lots of welcome backs and dodges as many people as she can when they try to ask where she’s been and what she’s been working on. She makes it to Nia’s desk, and lets out an exasperated breath.

“One of those kinds of mornings?” Nia says, and hands her a donut, Kara lights up and gives her thanks around her first bite. Nia shakes her head fondly, and then furrows her brow, and lowering her voice “Listen, I tried contacting Cat while you were gone to see if she could help me out with my…embellishment,” Kara almost snorts out her donut at that, “but I haven’t heard back.”

Kara shrugs, only mildly concerned, what could Andrea do to her that was worse than what she’d already been through?

“What are you going to tell her?”

Before Kara can answer a harsh voice says her name with a barking, “My office!” and she follows Andrea as ordered.

Kara couldn’t recount to you how the conversation with Andrea goes. She knows that she sits down, and she watches Andrea speak with a sort of detached feeling of indifference, watches as Andrea seems to be getting worked up and gesturing at her emphatically, but Kara just sits impassively and doesn’t hear anything except for the buzz of people in the office behind her.

Recalls the morning with Lena, and feels a sense of quiet build within her, a kind of calm she hasn’t experienced in a long time. All her anger and guilt and shame, all the emotions that have been tormenting her recently settle, they’re still there and she can feel that they can and will come back, but right now she feels still.

She notices at some point when Andrea looks at her with expectation that she’s been asked a question, “Where have you been, Ms. Danvers?”

Kara tilts her head and realizes that she has no desire to lie or come up with any kind of excuse for where she’s been. It’s a strange and unfamiliar feeling but she likes it. She doesn’t owe Andrea anything, “I was away on important personal business,” bland and kind of bored, but that’s the truth even if it’s vague.

Andrea is not pleased with this answer, “That’s it? You’re gone for over three weeks, on ‘important personal business’, that’s all I get?”

Kara shrugs idly, and Andrea’s face darkens, and she’s overcome with the urge to smile at her boss’s frustration.

“Why the hell are you smiling, Danvers? You’re on thin ice, I have half a mind to fire you,” she says hotly.

Kara’s smile widens to a grin, and she laughs with real mirth in her voice, “Go ahead.”

Andrea gapes at her.

“Actually,” Kara continues, pausing to enjoy the moment, “I quit,” smile still wide and she feels light and free in the wake of those words.

Andera sputters, “Wh-what? Danvers...”

Kara stands, looking at Andrea with not an ounce of remorse, “I quit!” with a laugh, and strides out of the office and heads to Nia’s desk, breathing deep, smiling widely at everyone she passes.

Nia sees her and has a sort of wary expression on her face, “What happened, Kara?”

“I quit!” she says again, happily, extending her arms out wide. Nia gapes at her like Andrea, and Kara laughs, tilting forward to close her mouth.

“What do you mean you quit?!” loud and incredulous that others nearby turn their heads to look at them, Nia lowers her voice, “Kara I don’t think you’re thinking straight.”

Kara shakes her head, “No, Nia, you’re wrong.”

Nia stutters out, “But what are you going to do? For work? For money?”

Another indifferent shrug, “Whatever, I want, maybe I’ll stay in Argo, maybe I’ll be a freelance journalist, maybe I’ll sell pot stickers on the corner, that’s the beauty of it, Nia, I can do whatever I want,” and it’s true, so many possibilities are before her now that she’s not chained down into thinking things have to be a certain way. She doesn’t have to lie all the time about where she’s going or what she’s doing, she can just go.

“Kara! There you are, I just heard you were back, I was starting to get worried, when you never returned my messages,” she turns to see William coming up to them. Kara lets out a surprised laugh at herself, covering her mouth with her fist, she had completely forgotten about him, forgotten his whole existence actually.

“Yep, hi, William,” she says a bit awkwardly, and steps back to avoid the hug he tries to give her, his hand landing on her shoulder instead. He looks at her a bit hurt and confused, but he perseveres.

“You alright?” she nods, “Ok, well, I was hoping we could get together for dinner, and you could catch me up on your adventure, I missed you,” he says, and it’s probably sweet and the smile he gives her is maybe charming, but all she feels is utter indifference towards him, why had she ever agreed to go on a date with him?

Oh, yeah, because she let her sister convince her while she was feeling sore about Lena.   

“I’m afraid I can’t,” Kara says.

His smile falters, “Oh, well maybe another time this week?” he asks hopefully.

Kara shakes her head, and looks at him seriously, “William, I need you to understand that you and I will only ever be colleagues,” she’s not usually so direct but this elation she feels has her feeling rather confident.

“Oh,” his face falls, in clear disappointment, and asks, “is there someone else?” Kara nods, “so it’s serious?”

Kara looks between his eyes, and then says matter of fact, “I’m in love with her.”

She hears Nia’s sharp intake of breath to her right and William’s face changes to one of surprise.

“Right,” he says awkward, and fidgeting, “I, umm, I’ll just go then,” and doesn’t even say goodbye, she looks at Nia’s surprised face, a smile pulling at the side of her open mouth.

Kara feels like she’s shed another weight and says goodbye to a sputtering Nia.

She walks around the park for a few hours, petting dogs, eating various foods from whatever street cart she comes across and enjoys the sun and the light breeze coming off the water, enjoying the day, ignoring her phone until it becomes an insistent buzz for minutes at a time.

“Hi Alex,” she says mildly.

“Where the hell are you, Kara? Nia said you quit your job and ran off,” Alex sounds equal parts worried and exasperated.

“I’m at the park and yes, I did quit,” she says simply, matter of fact.

Alex is silent, and then, “Wh-Why-Ho-…?” she sounds to be at a loss for what she wants to ask.

Kara laughs and says, “I’ll come to the Tower now. How’s that?” Alex agrees.

 

When Kara arrives Alex and Eliza greet her, and her sister starts right into her. She lets her grow hoarse and tired from her own one-sided argument. Eliza finally gets her to calm down, “Sweetie, we’re just concerned you’re making a life changing decision on a whim, especially after a lot of emotional upheaval.”

Kara nods understanding but she explains that she just spent two and half hours thinking through the decision and she still feels good about it. Alex throws her hands up and storms off, Eliza hugs her and goes after Alex.

She goes to sit with her father for a bit and feels the weight of worry settle on her again. He looks paler, and when she looks at his chart, Eliza has annotated that he hasn’t been awake for more than a few minutes at a time the last day, and when he is he doesn’t seem to understand where he is.

The worry starts to build, and she recognizes it this time, forces herself to stop and breathe and remember that there are people working right now to get him to someplace that will help, that there’s still hope.

She feels a buzz of a text, it’s Lena asking her to come down to her lab, she says a Kryptonian prayer over her father, one she hasn’t invoked in years and then goes to see her best friend.

“The portal is complete, and we have already taken over the telescope, I estimate a ninety percent probability that we will have a lock for the Argo portal in the next twenty-four hours,” Brainy says excitedly to Kara when she enters, and she smiles at his enthusiasm.

“That’s amazing Brainy, thanks for your hard work,” she gives him a side hug and then asks if Lena is in her office, he nods and then goes back to monitoring his screens.

She makes her way to the office and enters after a quick knock and call to come in.

Lena is seated behind her desk and Kara feels a rush of familiar feeling of joining Lena in her office, this might be a completely different office, but the warmth of feelings is still the same.

Kara smiles and Lena returns it, gesturing her to take a seat and moving her chair to the same side, “So full disclosure, Alex asked me to talk to you, she says she can’t deal with you right now,” looking at Kara amusement bright in her eyes.

She laughs shrugging, “I’d rather talk to you anyway,” and her smile widens a little at Lena’s pleased chuckle.

Lena just raises an eyebrow and Kara rolls her eyes good naturedly, sighing a little, “Yes, I quit my job, no I’m ninety-eight percent certain I won’t go back.”

“Why?”

Kara sits back a little in her chair trying to find the words to explain, “I loved working at CatCo. when Cat was there, those years as her assistant were hard, sure, but I learned so much from her, and I was so excited to be a reporter,” she thinks back on those times, looking out the window, “then when she left I kind of felt adrift, and had to find my own feet and my voice.”

“I was so proud and happy to be working on pieces that mattered, you know? But recently with all the stuff going on the last year between us and Lex and Leviathan,” slight exasperation at the last, “I haven’t done much reporting. Everything else took up too much time, not to mention I butted heads with Andrea a lot. I didn’t and don’t agree with the direction she’s taking the company,” she stops abruptly, cringing a little, “Sorry, that’s your friend,” apologetically.

Lena shrugs, “Doesn’t mean you have to like her, you didn’t say anything wrong, Kara, it’s just how you feel. Besides, she and I aren’t exactly close at the moment,” and gestures for her to continue.

Kara nods with a little relief, “Well, after I quit, I went to walk around and really think about why that felt so right to do. When I did that, I realized that I kept asking myself and wondering ‘what the heck am I still doing here?’” she gestures a bit emphatically, “I don’t need the added stress of this job on top of everything else I have going on, and I didn’t even want to be there most of the time anymore,” Kara looks at Lena a little sadly, “I used to love going to work everyday and now it feels like a chore,” resigned.

“So, when I really thought about it, for what reasons did I have to stay at CatCo.? For some misplaced sense of loyalty to Cat? Because it was my first job and helped me become a reporter?” Kara shakes her head to herself, “No, those aren’t reasons to stay. I told Nia before I left the office that there were endless possibilities, but I didn’t realize how true that was until a little later, and I could see them start to reveal themselves before me, it’s a little overwhelming but really exciting too,” Kara looks at Lena like she almost can’t believe it, and she takes a deep breath.

“And now that I left it’s like a weight I didn’t know I was carrying is gone, I feel light and now I have you back,” Kara swallows a little, “I feel like I can do anything.”

Lena’s smile is warm and she takes a moment before she responds, “ I think I understand what you mean,” Kara sits up a little, intrigued, Lena looks down at her hands, “When I told Lex I was done with him and leaving LuthorCorp,” she shakes her head in awe, looking up to catch Kara’s eye, “it was so liberating, and like you, I also saw all this potential before me, but you’re right it is a little daunting too,” Lena agrees, “but for myself I think it’s going to be great, even if I don’t know exactly what I want to do.”

She reaches out to Kara, griping her hand, “If you really think this is for the best, then I’m happy for you and I support you.”

Kara feels a little knot of tension in her chest loosen, she hadn’t realized that she wanted Lena to approve of her decision, to support her until she had it, and now she just felt gratitude.

She smiles wide down at their hands, moves to hold Lena’s hand in both of hers, and looks up tears pricking at her eyes, whispers, “Thank you.”

Chapter Text

Kara tells her she needs to go find Alex to see if she’s calmed down and gives Lena a sunny smile as she heads out of the lab, blue eyes never leaving hers, lingering a little at the door, giving her a small wave goodbye before stepping out.

Lena watches her the whole time, clenching her jaw a little trying to keep her own smile from getting too big for her face and looking like the lovestruck fool that she is, it’s already bad enough that Nia and Kelly know, she needs to do better, she doesn’t want to add every Super Friend to that list.

Once she’s out of sight, Lena smiles down at the floor shaking her head at herself, and then makes her way to Brainy’s side, “How’s the scan looking?”

Brainy’s head bobs, “Excellent, I was able to make some adjustments to your program and increased efficiency by five percent,” she nods approvingly, and he turns to give her a pleased closed lip smile and leads Lena to a workbench with various pieces of equipment half packed into a crate and two large hard-shell backpacks.

“I’ve begun compiling the most likely parts necessary to make the Argo side of the portal compatible with ours, I wanted your input on a few items,” he points out several choices, and they talk through the merits of each and deciding quickly on their picks.

Lena loves working with Brainy, it’s such a pleasure to work with someone so knowledgeable and efficient, the fact that he appreciates her just as much as she does him never ceases to amaze her.

He asks how she would like to pack the items and she shrugs, and then worries her lip a little, because they haven’t exactly discussed who was going to be making the trip across. There was significant risk involved, and she didn’t want to just assume that he wanted to stay or go. She clears her throat.

“So, do you want to flip a coin for who gets to go to Argo?” she tries to joke, but Brainy’s eyebrows furrow, his head tilting.

“Why would we do that? I was working under the assumption that you would be accompanying Kara to Argo,” he says perplexed, and Lena is all astonishment.

“Why would you assume that?” if anything, Brainy should go, overall, he’s much better working with technology and he would best be able to handle any bumps or snags that might arise, especially if the worst should happen.

He draws his lips back into a strange kind of unsatisfied frown, directing it her way, “Because Kara wants to show you around her home,” he says frankly, in that exacting way has.

Lena is taken aback, “Did she tell you that?” the thought of Kara wanting to show her around Argo, her home, makes her chest tighten a little, her heart picks up, flattered. It would be an honor…

His next words knock her down a few pegs though, “No, but knowing her as I do, and what she thinks of you, I know she would want to take you,” and he says it so factual, like it’s obvious to anyone, but Lena is not so sure, and her excitement dims.

She takes a breath, “Well, if she hasn’t said as such then I don’t want to assume, I would rather give us the best chance of getting the portal working, and I think that means you.”

They debate, trading arguments back and forth but, in the end, Brainy concedes that he is indeed the slightly better choice, but “I would like to state for the record that I do not approve of this plan on a personal note, though the facts bear you out in this instance, so I must yield,” he huffs, indignant.

Lena smiles at him and pats his shoulder consolingly.

It’s really just a waiting game now, until the scan is complete, so she decides to stretch her legs, eventually finding herself at the balcony all the flying Super Friends use as an entrance and exit.

Her phone buzzes and she’s a little confused by the unknown number, but when she reads the message, she sees that it’s from Eliza, apparently having gotten her number from Alex, she’s picking up dinner and wants to know what Lena would like.

It makes her smile too big at her phone, the type of warmth she’s starting to associate with the Danvers spreading in her chest, as she types out her reply, and then looks up to enjoy the view before her, smile still painted on her lips.

It’s nice, she hasn’t taken a moment to slow down for a while, or just be outside to enjoy the feel of sunlight and cool air. The sun is hanging low in the sky, the shadows growing long, and a soft breeze presses against her face as she takes a deep breath and sighs, closing her eyes against it.

She feels the hairs on her neck rise, and hears the soft sounds of footsteps coming closer, stopping next to her, but she doesn’t open her eyes, she knows who it is anyway.

When she turns to look after some time, Kara is leaning against the railing, arms crossed looking over the city rather serenely, the breeze tugging at wisps of her hair, the waning sunlight playing across her face, and it’s such a breathtaking sight that Lena is struck again by the same feeling of awe and gratitude from this morning that Kara is safe, and home, and here with Lena.  

It makes her breath shudder a little with the weight of that feeling, like she might cry, but she doesn’t let herself.

Waking up this morning next to Kara had been something altogether different than anything she had experienced in the past. It was so intense in its simplicity and stillness, Kara’s steady gaze, heavy like a great stone on her chest, that she could hardly breathe let alone move, her pale hand leaden where it rested on Kara’s stomach, connecting them physically just as much as their locked eyes.

She remembers the small hours of the morning when Kara whimpered her name, and she opened her eyes to see Kara shifting, and frowning in sleep, quiet calls of Lena’s name and partial negating words tumbling out of her mouth. Lena was at a loss at first, she knew enough not to wake Kara, but she couldn’t do nothing, so she rested a hand on her shoulder, leaning over her, heart twisting in sympathy, and called her name softly, telling her she was safe and home. Trying to soothe Kara with words and tone into gentle wakefulness or else just keep her calm in sleep.  

It seemed to work, Kara quieted and eventually her eyes opened slowly still sleep dazed and filled with tears, taking in deep calm breaths, staring at Lena for some time, and then drifting almost effortlessly back to sleep not too long after.

Lena had sagged in relief, a few of her own tears escaping down her cheeks, and she wiped them away quickly.

What did Kara dream about Lena that she was so distraught, two nights in a row? Two nights that Lena knew about anyway…

Lena hadn’t wanted to move back to her side of the bed, had let herself curl next to Kara’s warm body, watching the calm steady rise and fall of her chest, face tilted toward Lena, relaxed, Lena’s hand connecting them, a small balm to her aching heart, and drifted off to sleep again.

Kara looks at her now, and it sends a small jolt down Lena’s spine, she struggles to remember words.

“How’s Alex?” she manages to say, recalling Kara’s earlier mission, tries to get a handle on her thoughts to focus on the present.

She smiles, shaking her head in affectionate annoyance at her sister, “I finally got her to come around, J’onn and Eliza helped too,” rolling her eyes a little, and with a joke in her voice, “I told her we couldn’t start the Danvers Sisters Delivery Service if she was still mad at me and she just scoffed like she was still mad but I could tell she wanted to smile,” her cheeky grin making Lena laugh.

“Is that the career you’ve decided on then?” teasing, she can definitely picture Alex standing cross armed and stern trying to hold back a smile at her sister, rolling her eyes affectionately.

Kara gives an unconcerned shrug, it’s playful as they joke about this would be career path, Lena’s positive nothing will come of this idea, but it’s fun to jest about it nonetheless, “Why not? Once I get my powers back, I can travel all over the world again. I would be the best delivery person on the planet!” she throws her hands out to make her point.

Lena laughs and Kara seems pleased with herself for having been the cause, “Of that I have no doubt,” it comes out a shade too low, and a touch flirtatious, and Lena is so surprised at herself she can feel her ears burn a little hotly.

Kara seems to freeze a moment, her eyes widening, lips parting ever so slightly, and then she looks away, hand going to her face and then realizing she has no glasses, takes a detour to pull some stray hairs behind her ear, cheeks tinging pink, as she looks down at her feet bashfully.

Lena tries not to read too much into it, panics a little that she might have made Kara uncomfortable.

Kara clears her throat, chucking awkwardly, “How’s the scan going?”

Lena latches onto that like it’s a life preserver, “Good!” a touch too loud, pauses a moment, “Great, we should have a lock tonight or tomorrow morning I think,” Kara’s awkwardness evaporates, and she beams at Lena, it makes her feel like she’s just saved the world single handedly, and keeps talking, “Brainy is packing up the gear you two will take with you right now, I hope you don’t mind carrying a backpack full of gadgets on your way through,” she adds flippantly, and then frowns as she watches Kara’s face fall suddenly.

“What?” Kara asks tightly, her face growing hard.

Lena is not sure what she’s said to make Kara’s whole attitude change so abruptly and fumbles a little for words, her chest twinging in apprehension, and ends up just telling Kara something she already knows, “The gear he’ll need to get the portal to work on Argo,” and she gulps around a growing knot in her throat.

Kara’s lips pull back in almost a sneer, “I know that!” she snaps, sharp and biting, Lena recoils like she’s been slapped, at the extreme reaction, and watches Kara’s jaw clench as she grimaces, looking hard and angry at Lena. She’s so shocked, but it’s quickly being replaced by dread and some hurt as of course she’s reminded of yesterday morning and Kara’s outburst to her then, her worry turns in to dismay that this might mirror that event. Her heart starts to race, and her breath comes a little quicker.

Lena can practically see the muscles in Kara’s shoulders tighten as her body curls slightly forward, she turns sharply and stalks furiously away, Lena’s fear of a repeat of the day prior seems well founded, she can feel tears start to prick at her eyes as she calls Kara’s name.

She halts just before the archway, shoulders rising and falling noticeably with her hard deep breaths, and then slowly she turns back to Lena, her face cast down and sharply to the side like she can’t look at her, and the silence is tense between them.

Lena’s mind races as she tries to understand why Kara is so angry, but she can’t think of anything, and it just twists the pit in her stomach more.

Finally, Kara speaks, it’s slow, deliberate, like it’s taking immense effort to grind the words out, “I’m sorry,” that surprises Lena, “I shouldn’t have spoken to you that way,” Lena feels some relief at the apology, but her heart is still constricted in worry.

“Kara, what happened?” Lena asks softly, trying to be understanding, Kara says nothing, just stares resolutely at the floor, jaw working, “Please, darling, talk to me,” the whispered endearment comes out unthinking, pleading.

Kara swallows hard, and then after a long pause, chest still heaving, “I made assumptions and something just snapped inside me when I realized I was wrong,” words still slow and measured, fists clenched at her side, knuckles turning white, “but I never spoke to you about it so how could you know?”

Lena steadies her own breath, and takes a few steps closer to Kara, “What did you assume?” she asks, reassured that Kara isn’t angry with her and is trying so hard to do as she promised, to talk to Lena even when it got tough.

Another drawn silence, “That you were the one coming to Argo with me,” it’s almost a hiss as she breathes the words out, and Lena feels a sharp pang of guilt, they might have avoided this if she had only listened to Brainy, he understood what she had not, but there was no time to dwell on it.

“It’s not set in stone, I can come with you, I didn’t realize how much it meant to you that I go,” Lena says truthfully, “if circumstances were different, I would have assumed you would want to take, Alex.”

She finally looks up at her then, and the restrained anger in Kara’s eyes would be terrifying if she thought it was meant for her, but right now she feels only concern, watches as Kara’s mouth works to say the words evenly, and Lena hears the sincerity, “If I had to choose, I would still pick you, over Alex.”

There’s a weight behind those words that makes Lena’s heart skip, and she wonders how she could be more important to Kara than her own beloved sister, heart beating a quick steady time in her chest.

“I’d be honored to go with you, Kara, I’m sorry, I didn’t understand, thank you for telling me,” she says thickly, she wants Kara to know she appreciates the visible effort it’s taking her to talk to Lena and not just lash out at her.

Kara shakes her head at the apology, “No, I’m sorry, I don’t know why I’m like this,” she bring her hands up a little to look at them, “I feel like I’m about to burst with rage or sadness or both,” Lena can see that she’s starting to shake, “It’s too much, I don’t know what to do,” anguish and despair coloring her voice, Lena closes the distance between them wanting to comfort, places her arms around Kara and draws her head onto her shoulder.

Kara lets Lena hold her, but her fists stay straight down at her sides and she’s so rigid, Lena feels her shaking increase, “I don’t know what to do,” strangled and harsh, like she’s angry with herself for not knowing.

Lena’s chest twists at the tone, and her mind races to think of something, then, “I think I might be able to help.”

She leads Kara by the wrist down some winding staircases and they arrive in J’onn’s gym, she makes for the large hanging body bag in the corner, and Kara lets her fit padded fingerless gloves on her hands and gestures to the bag.

Kara stands in front of it, and gives it a punch, “You can do better than that,” Lena says a bit cold. She hits it a bit harder, “All of it, Kara, you don’t have to hold back,” Kara grunts in reply, gritting her teeth.

A few more punches and then it’s like the floodgates open, Kara punches and kicks with such ferocity that Lena’s almost a little worried, but from where she sits, she can see the hardness around Kara’s eyes start to dissipate a little, so she says nothing.

Later as Kara’s fists start to slow, sweat dripping down her face, and her breathing ragged, Lena waits patiently to the side with a water bottle and a towel. Kara leans forward and hugs the bag with closed eyes, taking deep gulping breaths.

She slides to the floor and sits, Lena comes close and sits just behind and to the side of her so Kara can lean against her, hands her the water which she gulps down greedily, and takes the towel to wipe her face when she’s done. Kara leans her head back onto Lena’s shoulder just behind her and works on controlling her breathing.

It’s quiet with only the sounds of Kara’s deep breaths, “Thanks,” she says gratefully between breaths, Lena nods and puts her arms around Kara tilting her head to rest against hers, and she feels Kara’s palm press into her forearm.

Lena feels wet droplets fall onto her arms, thinks at first that it’s just Kara’s sweat but it comes too frequently, and then she notices that her breathing has changed, and she knows that Kara is crying. There’s a little spike of pain in her heart at that and she squeezes Kara closer.  

“Rao, what is wrong with me?” Kara says watery and incredulous, “I’m a mess.”

Lena shakes her head, “Nothing’s wrong with you, Kara, you’re going through a tough time and you’ve already gone through so much,” she says emphatically, “It’s ok that you’re a little bit of a mess, with some time and help you’ll get better.”

Kara is silent for a long time.

“What if I don’t get better?” it’s soft and terrified, full of despair, and Lena squeezes her hard, her own tears springing forth.

“Then we’ll face it together, one day at a time,” she whispers, eyes closed, lips brushing into Kara’s temple, willing her to believe.

“Promise?” stifled in the midst of a sob.

Lena nods immediately, “I promise. Always,” Kara’s shoulders shake with a relived shuddering sigh.

 

Alex finds them still on the floor, just sitting, Lena holding Kara letting her calm down in her own time, she takes in their red splotchy faces with no small amount of worry kneeling in front them, “Hey, what’s going on?” reaching out to wipe gently at Kara’s face, and places the other on Lena’s shoulder simultaneously.

Kara sighs in resignation, “The usual,” with a grim smile, “I’m ok right now, Lena, helped,” her voice sounds so grateful and more like herself than she has in a while that Lena feels the ball of worry in her chest loosen.

Alex nods and gives Lena a thankful look along with the squeeze of her shoulder, “Ok, well, Mom brought dinner, that’s why I was looking for you two, hungry?”

Kara bobs her head, she and Lena pull apart moving to stand up, then both Lena and Alex dart forward to grab Kara when she starts to sway, unbalanced like she might fall.

“Whoa, you ok there?” Alex says.

Kara seems dazed for a moment much too long, and then focuses on her sister, “Yeah, sorry, must have been all the punching and crying, I’m ok,” she says, hand on her head, and it seems to be true because she stands apart on her own looking perfectly fine.

Lena frowns a little off to the side, concerned and makes note of it, thinking to herself.

Although, she kind of forgets when she feels Kara take her hand to tug her along, “Come on, Lena, food!” excited, that more than anything soothes her worry, and lets Kara drag her forward, feeling a surge of warmth in her cheeks when Kara doesn’t let go the whole way there.

 

J’onn, M’gann, Brainy, Nia, and Eliza are already sitting around J’onn’s office, but they don’t seem to have starting eating, “Finally! Eliza wouldn’t let us eat until we were all here,” Nia exclaims, grumbly, and a bit put out.

Nia retrieves her food when Eliza waves her permission, and Lena watches Kara be engulfed in hug when Eliza sees their pink faces, leaning back to cup Kara’s face gently in both hands, whispering something, Kara nodding, and reaching up to squeeze Eliza’s wrist. Lena was feeling a little intrusive since Kara has not released her hand, but then she’s surprised when Eliza gives her the same treatment. A little sigh of surprise rushing past her lips as Eliza smooths back her hair a little and presses a warm hand to her cheek, but she doesn’t pry, just smiles and directs them to their food.

Lena glances at Kara watching them, and sees a tiny, pleased smile playing on her lips, and she wonders why that is…

 

Kara reluctantly lets go of her hand so they can eat, Lena just smiles at her adorable pout, but Kara is drawn into discuss with J’onn and M’gann so it doesn’t last too long, she takes the opportunity to make her way over to Brainy and Nia.

They give her wide smiles, and Lena feels a touch of warmth at their reaction to seeing her, it still surprises her sometimes that these people like her and want her around.

“Hey, Lena!” Nia says bright and cheery as usual, and Brainy gives her an equally warm greeting if a little more formal, and Lena greets them back.

“So Brainy, I would like to talk to you about our earlier discussion…” she trails off not sure how to phrase the next part but Brainy beats her to it.

He nods in satisfaction, and says, “You will be accompanying Kara to Argo,” and Lena looks at him with incredulous exasperation, but he doesn’t let her get a word in, “I knew I was right about Kara’s wishes,” he says haughtily.

Lena is mildly annoyed by his superiority, but it dims to amusement when Nia smacks him in the chest with the back of her hand, “Don’t be smug, Brainy, it’s not nice to our friends,” he rubs his chest a little and apologizes to Lena, Nia basically ignores him and leans closer to Lena.

She raises her eyebrows in surprise as she draws back away from Nia a little, from her rather close proximity.

“Kara asked you to go to Argo?” she asks a little too enthusiastically, Lena nods as she responds.

“Uh, yes, she did,” brow pinching together trying to understand Nia’s mood.

Nia’s smile grows, “Was that it? Did anything else happen?” her eyes flick to Kara and back, she seems too excited to not be referring to something specific, but Lena has not one clue to as to what it could be.

“No, was she supposed to do something? Tell me something?” Lena asks slowly, making her confusion plain.

Nia searches her face and deflates, crossing her arms and pouting a little, and huffs, rather like a child, “No, nothing, never mind.”

Lena is about to press her, but Kelly calls her over with a question, and she catches up with her for a few minutes when she hears Alex, groan loudly and makes a show of saying Kara smells, her sister’s indignant compulsory response has them bickering, Eliza finally gets them to stop, and Lena offers her portal watch to Kara so she can go home to shower and change. Alex’s ‘you better!’ has Kara sticking her tongue out at her sister like the children they are, but it makes Lena’s heart warm that Kara seems to be feeling better.

Kara thanks her for the offer of her watch with a smile and warm squeeze of her hand, along with Eliza who decides to accompany her.

She heads down to her lab after dinner with the Super Friends, she wants to pack the gear she and Brainy were talking about earlier the way she wants and stands in front of the pile of technology with her hands on her hips, shaking her head and smiling a little ruefully, “That little shit, he thinks he such a know it all,” she says to the empty lab.

Brainy should have already packed everything but he knew that she would want to do it herself, even though he had agreed earlier that he was going, but now she knows that Brainy always knew Lena was going instead of him.

The little punk…

 

It’s approaching midnight when they get the alert, Brainy spreads the word amongst everyone and Kara practically bursts into the lab, her heart pounding quickly in anticipation.

“Kara,” Lena says with some surprise, “You didn’t have to come so quickly. Brainy and I still need to run our initial tests. It’ll be a few hours before we can think about going through.”

She shrugs a bit sheepish, “I know but I’m not going to be able to sleep regardless so I’d rather just be here,” but it turns out to be a lie when she starts nodding off in her chair, Lena takes pity on her and brings out her cot and pushes Kara on to it so she can stay nearby and still get some rest.

“What about you? Don’t you need to sleep?” Kara says sleepily, half sitting up and hanging on to Lena’s wrist.

Lena smiles down at her seemingly wide awake, “I’ll be fine, darling, I’m way too wound up with excitement to be able to sleep just now, I’ll wake you when we’re done,” pushing gently on her shoulder to force her to lay down, “Sleep.”

She does.

Kara dreams but it’s mostly a strange conglomeration of Lena and Brainy speaking in science and technology terms, and her father as he was when she was a child, straight backed and confident, walking between them giving them suggestions or light criticism of a particular component or configuration.

When Lena wakes her it’s still dark but the purple light in the portal arch is bright and fills the room.

Kara stares at it in awe, “Is it stable?” she whispers, keeping her eyes trained on the portal.

Lena hums, “As stable as we think it will get, there were minor fluctuations, but we sent a drone through,” she brings Kara around to a monitor where there’s a video feed, and Kara’s eyes fill with happy relieved and astonished tears.

“Is this live video?” she asks just to be sure, because it’s almost too much to believe that there on the screen is a feed of the familiar walls and equipment of her father’s lab.

Lena nods and lets out a surprised sound as Kara sweeps her up in a tight hug, spinning her around in circles, squeezing Kara’s shoulders tight and pressing her face into her neck as her feet swing out wide from under her, laughing.

Kara sets her down and rests her forehead against Lena’s smiling wide, eyes closed, and says breathlessly, “You’re the best,” and feels hope grow in her chest, and marvels that its intelligent, kind, beautiful, Lena that helped it grow.

Chapter Text

Kara returns from her apartment, with nothing but the clothes on her back, knowing she can get whatever she needs on Argo. She’s wearing one of the dresses that her mother gifted her on her last trip, it’s white across her chest and shoulders, the body a light pale blue flowing and soft, the crest of her house white on white, subdued on her chest and all the more subtle. Not a shout, as it was here, to a foreign and alien world, a small piece of her annihilated planet and people, a reminder to herself and others of who she was and the decimated might of the once great house of El to which she belonged.

No, this symbol was etched delicately with care and consideration, was more in the tone of conversation, a quiet statement of fact, ‘Here,’ it says, “this is my legacy to be bequeathed to my descents as it was conveyed to me, take of it what you will.’

When the portal to Argo was destroyed, she had been so certain she wouldn’t see her mother again, at least not until she could find time and the means to go, now here she was, with both, but with a rotten mission to complete, to save her life and that of her father’s, to somehow tell her mother that her dead husband lived but was yet dying.

A man who by rights should be dead many times over, and man who was not the one she remembered.

She stands over his resting form, and breathes deeply, consciously, in time with the rise and fall of his breath.

Breathe as I breathe.

An old Kryptonian idiom, an English equivalent of ‘to follow in my footsteps and learn from my mistakes that you might do better’.

Her father used to say it all the time to her as a child, when she would help in his lab, and she would make a mistake, tears in her eyes because she did not want him to be disappointed.

“Come, inah,” he soothed, kneeling before her, drawing her into his arms, “failure is only one step on the path to success, you may take that step many times before the journey through, breathe as I breathe, and you will be a greater scientist than I, a better person. Just as my parents taught me, and all our ancestors before them, as you will with your own children, that the House of El will endure.”  

Her eyes water at the memory, tears spilling down her cheeks. Kara hasn’t allowed herself the time to really contemplate her father, she had pushed her thoughts and feelings, to the side about him to focus on more pressing matters, allowed her friends to care for him, suppressed her guilt at letting them, while she tried to sort out her unpredictable feelings and moods after the Phantom Zone.

He’s dying slowly in front her right now.

He looks exactly as she remembered him the last time, she saw him before they sent her away with Kal, but his skin is grey and drawn now, and the wound in his side refuses to close.

His last words to her, a few days ago, harsh and angry to leave him alone echo in her mind, they had left a gnawing gaping hole in her stomach, but it’s her father and she refuses to leave without saying goodbye first.

She presses a hand gently on his chest, over the glyph of their house, and breathes with him.

His eyes flutter, she inhales a little, sharp, surprised, and when his eyes open to focus on her she sees pained recognition.

“Inah,” he whispers, hoarse and weak, it makes her heart skip just as it did the first time her said it to her in the Phantom Zone.

“I’m here, dad,” she whispers back, leaning closer, tears coming faster.

He looks at her, searches her face, eyes flicking back and forth frantically.

“I’m sorry,” heavy with regret, but for what Kara isn’t sure, for yelling at her the other day? For sending her away with Kal? For dying now in front of her?

His hand travels slowly to rest on hers atop his chest, squeezing weakly.

“I’m going to get you help, dad, just stay strong, I’m going to fix you,” she says a little harsh in her delivery, trying to convince herself too, her voice cracking, wiping her tears away angrily.

His eyes fill with tears, they run rivets down the sides of his face, and he says nothing, but she can see the doubt in his eyes, the same dimness she saw whenever he tried to tell her to give up on her hope while they were trapped, and she’s angry because this is not her father, not this shell of a person.

It claws at her chest.

Why won’t he fight?

Where is the set of his jaw when his experiments failed, determined to try again and again? Where is the calculating of new and endless possibilities that you could see whirling behind his intelligent eyes? Where is the steel in his back as she watched him defend his work and theories in front of his Science Guild colleagues even as they sought to dismantle it?

It is not this man.

This is not her father…

…and yet he is.

It’s the same man, the same curve of jaw that smiled at her in pride when she was awarded the certificate for successful completion of Kanar-Onn. The same eyes filled with mirth, laughing loud and happy with her mother when she regaled them of her adventures with Thara. The same strong back that leaned down to scoop her into warm safe arms when she broke her leg running and playing.

He’s there somewhere, lost in his own mind where he’s forgotten who he really is.

Kara’s anger burns in her chest, she won’t lose him to this sickness or himself.

She won’t.

She’ll fight for him, she’ll help him find his way back to himself, she must.

“I’m going to Argo, and I’ll bring you to mom, I’m going to find cure,” she vows recklessly, “you have to keep fighting, dad,” she begs.

His brows go up in surprise, and he clenches his jaw, and looks at her face for it seems an eternity, and he nods, the smallest of small sparks of hope in his eyes, it calms some of Kara’s anger, “I believe you,” still so weak and raspy, “you saved us before.”

Kara bows her head over their hands in relief, pressing her lips to his knuckles, tears falling in a torrent, and she nods repeatedly.

She stays with him until he falls back into peaceful sleep, it doesn’t take long, she’s grateful that he at least doesn’t suffer from the wound, he’s just tired, his strength sapped.

 

Lena is in the lab with Alex, but Kara hovers near the door when their conversation makes her come up short, sees that Lena has a small bag of personal items set at her feet, arms crossed and talking to Alex seriously.

Lena looks a bit tired in the early morning light, Kara knows she hasn’t slept more than a couple hours after confirming the telemetry from the drone. The portal is currently powered down next her.

“I really think you guys should postpone your trip through until after you’ve had some rest, Lena,” Alex says matching Lena’s crossed arms, tone and face worried and determined.

Lena shakes her head, stubborn, “Every moment we waste not going through decreases the time and chances of finding a cure for Zor-el and Kara.”

Alex presses her lips together, “You have to take care of yourself too, Lena, this careless disregard for your own health is reckless, I know you’re determined to help but if you keep pushing yourself like this it’s going to get you or someone else hurt because you’re too tired and make a thoughtless mistake.”

“This coming from the woman who hardly slept while Kara was gone, how many times did you keep Kelly up with worry because you were out late fighting bad guys when you should have been resting? Then subsequently got injured because you were too tired and scared the hell out of Kelly?” Lena spits out lightning quick.

Kara can see Alex almost rises to that, but she takes a deep breath instead and says evenly, “It’s true, I have been known to do that, but at least it’s something I’m actively working on being better about,” that surprises Kara a little, and it sends a little spark of pride through her chest, “You on the other hand hardly give yourself a second thought, you have to be reminded to eat or sleep,” Alex softens a little here, “You know you’re more to us than just a big brain to build gadgets and save the day, right Lena?” that makes Lena turn her head sharply away, “You don’t have to work yourself to the bone for us to want to keep you.”  

Kara can see Lena’s breathing change like she might be holding back tears, and still, she says nothing.

Alex drops her crossed arms, “I just want you to care about yourself a little more,” takes a step forward, and reaches a handout to Lena’s shoulder, “like we do.”

Lena shakes her head a little and brushes past Alex to stand in front of a computer, and says with her back turned, “I appreciate the concern, but we don’t have the luxury of waiting, we’re going as soon as our last scans come back clean and Kara’s here,” her voice sounds strained, and it sends Kara further into the room.

Kara appreciates what Alex is trying to do, she herself has tried to the entirety of their relationship to get Lena to care more about her own wellbeing. Honestly, she’s glad she has someone else to remind Lena, but Kara knows her best friend is stubborn and while she’s gotten better over the years, Lena tends to fall back on old habits when things get tough.

Alex sees her, “Kara! You get her to go sleep!” and moves to stand by Kara’s side as if to be a united front against Lena’s stubbornness.

Lena turns to look at her and her face softens into shock and a bit of awe and looks Kara up and down in a way that has her flushing a little, Lena’s eyes flick back to Alex and her face hardens again.

“Maybe Alex is right, Lena, you should rest up for a little bit,” ignoring her racing heart Kara says carefully, knowing that Lena in this state will dig in when pressured too much.

The stiff line in her shoulders and back give away her thoughts before her words, “I am perfectly capable of gauging when or if I need to take a break, we’re going,” she glances to a screen to her side, “within the hour.”

Kara frowns shrugging her shoulders in apology at Alex, knowing they’ve lost this battle, and her sister crosses her arms and scoffs grumbling loudly about Lena being stubborn.

They stand in silence for a little bit, Alex looking at the portal grimly, “You know when all this is done, I want to take you and Eliza to Argo sometime,” Kara blurts, and Alex looks at her with some surprise.

She smiles, “I’d like that,” Alex says placing a hand on her shoulder, and Kara knows that Alex understands her outburst is kind of an apology, for not being able to take her this time and her desire to show Alex her home too.  

 

Everyone is gathered and she’s hugged them all goodbye except for Alex who has Lena by the shoulders, “We’re not done with our talk,’ she says pulling Lena into a slightly reluctant limp hug, “be careful,” at that, Lena brings her hands up to grip Alex back tight, her face dropping its tense edge as she leans back smiling a little at Alex.

It’s Kara’s turn next and she squeezes her sister hard with closed eyes, “See you later, take care of each other,” directing the last at both of them and gives them one last look each before stepping back.

Brainy taps some buttons, “Portal reestablished successfully,” he says.

Kara and Lena step toward it, one large backpack each and a crate suspended between them by their hands.

They take one last look back and then Kara turns to look at Lena, an excited beaming smile on her face, Lena’s is more restrained but it’s beautiful all the same.

“Ready?” Lena asks.

Kara nods happily.

“Wait!” Brainy calls, “There’s an anomalous fluctuation,” he calls fingers flying over his tablet, Lena turns but doesn’t move from her spot.

“We haven’t had a fluctuation for hours. Is it within acceptable parameters?” she asks, voice tight.

Kara’s heart starts to beat a little faster, feeling the beginnings of dread that they might not be able to go, waits with bated breath as Lena and Brainy trade questions and answers.

“Risk assessment?” Lena says at last.

“I estimate a ninety three percent chance of safe arrival, which is down five percent from previous estimations, risk deemed acceptable if you should still wish to go,” Brainy directs the last to Kara, and she can feel Lena’s eyes on her.

She takes a breath, and nods resolutely.

 

Several things happen all at once when they arrive.

The light of the portal winks out as soon as they come practically almost flying through, the crate is ripped out of her hands and lands with a crashing screech, Kara hears a thud and a grunt from Lena as they are plunged into darkness.

Kara’s knees slam into hard stone with spiking sharp jarring pain into a dark icy cold, and the silence that follows is too eerie for her scrambling mind.

She lands hard on her hands and knees gasping for breath from the sharp pain, her father in a heap beside her, she urges him up and tries to help him run, ice creeping down her spine and dread filling her constricting lungs.

They have to get away.

The phantoms are getting closer.

She can’t watch Lena or any of her family die again.

She has to run.

She has to ignore her racing heart and the burning in her lungs and just run…run…

She has to run.

Kara gasps for breath, she stands but she can’t see, her already panicked mind reeling, searching for a way out of the darkness but there isn’t one. She reaches blindly, taking hasty steps forward and trips, she flails trying to find something to cling to, but there’s only a sharp jolt and the world goes dark.

 

Lena’s head is ringing and her chin stings, teeth aching, she groans a little as she turns over heavily clutching her head. She takes stock of herself and she’s ok for the most part except for sore hands and head, the tang of blood on her lips from where she bit her tongue a little. She’s grateful she didn’t take the whole thing out when her face connected with the floor.

She opens her eyes but it’s just as dark as the back of her eyelids and she calls, “Kara? Are you ok?”

There’s only silence.

Ok, don’t panic.

“Kara?” she calls again, shrugging off the backpack with a thump, and reaches into a small side compartment where she had put a headlamp. She puts it on and turns the light to as bright as it will go, she looks around a little and sees the crate they brought rest against a pillar which much have stopped its sliding trajectory. She turns her head and sees the gleam of the bronze portal. Lena frowns in dissatisfaction and some distress, the portal was supposed to still be open, they just wouldn’t be able to go back until they set up on this side, but at least they would have been able to let their friends know they were alive and ok, they were probably freaking out right about now.

“Kara,” she calls again, and sweeps the light on the floor, and her heart stops when she sees the heap near what looks to be a console. She rushes to Kara’s side.

No.

No.

No.

“Kara!” she turns Kara over and her face is too still, blood matting the side of her head and hair, she freezes.

It’s too much blood.

No.

Lena’s breathing is ragged and she tries to reign it in, closes her eyes a moment, she can’t panic, if she does then…her fingers find a pulse and she sags in relief over Kara’s chest.

She forces her storming feelings to the side.

She needs to keep it together to get Kara help.

Lena looks around for the exit and sees some stairs leading up, Kara told her that Zor-el’s lab was below her parents’ home, and Lena rushes upstairs calling for help and Alura’s name.

The darkness doesn’t let up until she pulls the door open at the top of the stairs, and then she’s bathed in morning light streaming into a home that’s more windows than walls. She races around the open plan rooms hardly taking in anything, calling for Alura or help to anyone that might be listening.

It’s silent.

She finds a door the outside and flings it open onto a large sprawling lawn and calls once more but still she receives no answer, no sign of movement or people.

She’s out of breath and she doesn’t want to leave Kara for too long, she hurries back down to the lab and sits over Kara, willing her racing heart to calm so she can think.

Think.

There’s a noise overhead that makes her snap her head toward the stairs. She watches the lights come up in the lab, and whirling noise of gears and mechanics.

A kelex comes down the stairs, and Lena feels a few tears of relief escape her eyes.

It comes closer, “I heard a distress call, do you require assistance?”

Lena nods, practically yells, “Yes, she’s hit her head badly, there’s blood!” her breathing still too fast but it’s going to be alright now they can get help.

The kelex comes closer and looks down at them, “Kara Zor-el, daughter of High Council Member Lady Alura, severe head injury, contacting local authorities,” it pauses as it seems to do just that, and turns to her, “Unknown alien, identify yourself, your species, and planet of origin, or suffer the consequences,” tone still bland but Lena new it to be very real threat.

“Lena Luthor, I’m a human from the planet Earth,” she shouts quickly, and hears more whirling gears.

“Updating personnel directory, Earth classified, ‘friendly’, standing down Peace Officer contingent,” that makes Lena’s heart skip.

It called the cops on her, the little shit…

There’s voices above and Lena feels as if time has warped.

A man and woman come down the stairs, they rush to Kara’s side and Lena backs away, everything seems muffled and distant.

She follows as they take Kara to some kind of hovering vehicle, floating a foot off the ground, she gets in and watches them tend to Kara’s wound, stares and watches Kara’s face for a flicker of movement but there’s nothing and everything else fades away.

It’s as if a bubble pops when they take Kara away further into the sterile building, there’s a man holding her arm, asking her who she is, but with the bubble popping comes all her shoved aside emotions and sheer panic.

Kara’s badly hurt and it’s all her fault.

It’s all her fault, she must have calculated something wrong…

It’s all her fault.

The words spiral in her head and she tries to rip her arm out of a strong grip, trying to follow Kara.

“Please, I need to go with her!” she pulls again but this time she’s dragged backwards, a sob tearing out of her throat.

“Only family is allowed beyond those doors, who are you to the patient?” the male voice says, not unkindly but firm.

Lena turns her tear-stained face to him and stares uncomprehending, her mouth opening and closing.

She needs to get to Kara.

“Lena?” says a soft voice, astonished, they both turn to the voice.

“Lady Alura,” the man greets, deferential.

Alura comes to a stop in front of her and places comforting hands on her elbows, but turns her face to the man, “I received an alert from kelex that my daughter was being transported to medical care for a head injury.”

Lena watches unable to do anything but cry and clutch Alura’s arms, shuddering, thoughts still racing, trying to control her breathing.

Here is someone familiar, she can help…

“Yes, she’s been taken for treatment,” he glances at Lena, “You know this young woman? You’re of course welcome to go back, but she was trying to force her way further into the building.”

Alura’s eyebrows go up in surprise and she glances at Lena and the man continues, “What is your relation to the patient, miss?” he asks again, determined to do his job it seems.

Lena drags her eyes from the floor and looks up at him, then closes her eyes, “I’m her-…” but the words close around her throat, and she stops abruptly unable to continue for a moment around the lump in her throat, she swallows trying to work through it, wonders how the words ‘best friend’ will go over with this man and his rules.

Alura watches her worriedly, turns to the man, and then quickly speaks on Lena’s behalf, “She’s my daughter’s surahth uvrreosh.”

The man’s eyebrows almost disappear into his hairline, “My deepest apologies, my lady, we will make a note in the directory, please come this way,” he leads the way through a door and Lena tries to feel some relief, but all she can think of is Kara’s face and hair matted with blood.

Lena starts to pace as soon as the man leaves after informing them Kara is just finishing her treatment, wringing her hands, eyes darting around the private waiting room, sparse except for some chairs, and small low tables. Before he left, he had turned to Lena with a kind understanding look and said, “Your surah will be just fine, her wound while severe is easily mended now that she’s here, be easy. You’ll be able to take her home once she wakes and after a brief checkup.”

Alura watches her for a moment, and moves to stand next to where she paces, “Lena,” but Lena hardly spares her a glance.

Then before Alura can say anymore or try again, “I’m so sorry! It’s all my fault!” loud and abrupt, she stops and keeps her eyes trained on a spot above the door, tries in vain to breath properly, to control her racing thoughts.

She feels more than sees Alura come closer finally standing in her line of sight but Lena stares resolutely at the spot she’s picked.

“Lena,” she says gently, she forces her head to tilt down so she can look into hazel eyes, they aren’t the same color as Kara’s, but the shape and softness around them are, and it makes Lena’s breath hitch, “Breathe with me,” kind eyes pull her in, and she does as she’s directed.

“Thank you,” Lena breathes out once she’s calmed down, so grateful and now bordering on mortified at how she’s been acting, especially when she was trying to force her way into following Kara and Alura had come upon her pretty much having a meltdown, “I’m sorry.”

Alura shakes her head, kindly, and looks at her for a long searching moment, “You’re worried for my daughter, no need to apologize for that,” smiling softly at her, and leads her by the hand to sit down.

“Now,” grasping Lena’s hand in both of hers, “I hope you might tell me what you and Kara are doing on Argo, not that I am not thrilled to have my daughter home, though a bit shocked to find her unexpectedly in medical,” curious and patient and Lena is struck by how much Alura’s presence reminds her of Kara’s warmth.

Lena clears her throat, and wonders where to begin and how much to say, “Well, as to the reason, I think it best that Kara tells you that,” and she sighs a little, “As to how, I was able to build a transmat portal and we were able to devise a scan to find and connect it to the portal in your husband’s lab.”

Alura’s shock and surprise is plain on her face, “How? We are impervious to scans, it’s what keeps us safe from outside forces.”

She nods, “That’s true, but we weren’t scanning for life signs or communications, we scanned for the transmat portal specific radiation particles, it’s an altogether different and specific scan than what anyone would normally be looking for, and not one your shield would necessarily filter out,” Lena watches Alura’s amazement grow even more.

Alura shakes her head in wonder at Lena, “I already knew you were a highly intelligent woman what with your being able to synthesize Harun-el, but you may have easily surpassed some of the more brilliant minds on Argo with the portal. How long did it take you?”

Lena blushes and tries to deflect a little, “Oh well, I already have a lot of experience with portals but building a transmat portal able to connect through your shield was a bit of a challenge.” Alura raises her eyebrows a little, expectant.

“Umm, from conception to completion about a month,” Lena says in a rush, and adds quickly, “with help from a friend, I would never have finished so quickly in the end without him,” and Alura laughs lightly in disbelief.

Shakes her head smiling, “You are truly remarkable, and humble too. I am glad to know my daughter has a friend like you. She always speaks very highly of you.”

Lena flushes, Kara spoke to her mother about her?

“She was injured coming through the portal?” Alura asks, and Lena is grateful for the change in subject.

She shrugs a little unsure, frowning, “I don’t know exactly, when we came through the portal practically spit us out, I landed on my face and I think I passed out a little,” Lena hisses as she touches her chin in remembrance, and Alura winces in sympathy, “when I woke it was pitch black, I pulled out a flashlight, and found Kara knocked out on the ground, but she should have landed closer to the portal, not all the way by the console, so I’m not sure what happened.”

Lena’s stomach churns with guilt, it’s all her fault…

Alura nods and pats her hand, “Well, we can ask Kara soon enough.”

 

Kara grimaces as she starts to wake, she has a splitting headache, “Well, hello, Kara Zor-el,” says a voice to her right, she squints one eye open and is relieved the lighting in this room is low, and cautiously opens her eyes.

A man stands at her side smiling down at her, and she gapes at him, eyes flicking to his crest and back to his face, “Kir-Neth?!” incredulous, mouth gaping in surprise, he chuckles and smiles nodding. He’s just as she remembers him, tall, thin, gray hair spreading into white at his temples, dark olive skin contrasting nicely with his maroon tunic.

“Well met, Kara, the last time I saw you I was patching up a broken hand,” he looks up, tapping a finger to his chin, contemplating “you had fallen from the side of your house, I believe you were trying to scale it faster than one Thara Ag-far,” his smile is fond and reminiscent.

Kara huffs out a sigh in disbelief smiling, and then it dims, and she wonders if this is a dream, “Where am I? What happened?”

“You’re at the Argo Care Medical Facility, you seem to have hit your head in a fall.”

She sighs a little in relief and then frowns, she hit her head? The last thing she remembered was looking at Lena before they went through the portal.

Lena.

A spike of worry goes through her heart, “Where’s Lena!” and she tries to sit up to get out of bed, but her head spins and she slumps back against the bed pillows propping her up, groaning and holding her temples.

Kir-Neth places a hand on her shoulder and says soothingly, “She’s fine, in fact she and your mother should be here shortly.”

She sighs in relief, Lena is fine, and her mother will be here soon too, it does more to calm the knot of anxiety in her chest than anything else, and she allows Kir-Neth to run through some basic visual and brain function tests while she waits for them, trying to ignore her headache.

It doesn’t take long and when he’s done, he gives her a warm smile, “Alright, you are good to go home whenever your mother and surah arrive, he stands and moves to a monitor to input some information.

Kara freezes.

Her heart skips.

Wait.

“What-…?” she starts to ask, but the door opens and in comes her mother and Lena.

A rush of air leaves her at the sight of an unharmed if a bit disheveled Lena, Kara worries a little at her chin which looks like it’s starting to bruise, and then notices that Lena is red in the face, flushed from cheeks to neck. While Kara would normally find that entirely adorable, she wonders what has her so flustered, especially because she won’t meet Kara’s eye even as she comes to stand at the foot of her bed.

Her mother comes to stand closer and reaches down to give her a quick hug and kiss on her cheek, which Kara returns.

Kir-Neth speaks before she can.  

“My lady Alura, wonderful to see you,” her mother shakes him warmly by the hand, returning his greeting, and he turns to Lena with an even larger smile on his face, “and a pleasure to meet you Lena mish nim El.”

Kara’s jaw drops, and she’s so shocked only a little whine of surprise leaves her throat.

Blue eyes shift from Kir-Neth to Lena, and they lock eyes for one intense moment, and then Lena looks away the blush on her face deepening if that was even possible.

She feels her mother’s hand close her mouth and turn her chin to force her to stop gaping at Lena.

“How are you feeling, Kara?” and it’s said normally enough but she can see her mother is trying to tell her something else with her eyes and face, something she doesn't want Kir-Neth to know.

‘Just go with it,’ it says.

Kara stares at her mother for a little bit and then turns back to Lena gulping, and tries to pretend that it’s not at all a surprise that her mother is here accompanied by her...

…she blushes hard at the thought…

betrothed...

Chapter Text

“When did my daughter tell you she was Supergirl? I was under the impression last we met that you did not know, and you were only friends with ‘Kara Danvers’,” Alura asks mildly, all curiosity.

Lena’s whole-body tenses.

She and Alura chatted a little more about the portal technology and how things were working out with the Harun-el synthesis, and Lena was pleased to know that the Kryptonians had begun making more to replenish the diminishing supply. Alura had conveyed her heartfelt and genuine thanks so profusely that Lena was red from the praise, especially coming from Kara’s mother.

It was already wonderful that Kara had a kind, warm, intelligent mother, but it was bordering on ridiculous luck that the Kryptonian had two. Not that Lena begrudged her them, Kara had lost so much, if the universe saw fit to gift her with two amazing women as mothers, then Lena was beyond grateful.

“Umm, well it’s a bit of a long story,” Lena looks down at her hands a little abashed, recalling her behavior, but she wouldn’t hide the truth from Alura if she wanted to hear it.

Alura smiles warmly, “We seem to have some time, don’t we? I would love to hear it, if you would like to tell it,” and there’s no pressure in her tone or countenance, which Lena is grateful for, but she also feels compelled to confess her sins, especially after how much Alura had just commended her. It made her lingering guilt about last year bubble to the surface.

Lena gulps and gives Alura a brief recounting of the inception of her and Kara’s introduction and subsequent friendship, she mentions Lex and is unsurprised to learn that Alura was told everything about him from Kal-el during his stay on Argo with his wife and newborn children. That gives Lena a bit of pause, last she remembered Superman only had one child, not twins.

It saves her the trouble of explaining how vile her brother is so she’s able to skip ahead and explain her side of events involving Reign and her tension with Supergirl, all the while Kara Danvers was still acting as if nothing was the matter between them, she doesn’t sugarcoat her own actions during that time, in fact with hindsight she’s being a bit ruthless in her examination of her past behavior and barrels on.

Alura listens and frowns when Lena finishes that part of the tale, “I have to say I am a bit disappointed and surprised by how my daughter treated you, I know she was scared and upset, but it seems a bit unlike her, though I suppose I haven’t known Kara as an adult very long…, ” she tilts her head in mild astonishment as she considers, brow furrowing, “and she still hadn’t told you her secret by this point?”

Lena is surprised that Alura seems to be taking her perspective of events so well, she would have assumed the older woman would have sided with Kara immediately and defended her, but then Lena remembers that Kara long ago once mentioned that Alura was ‘a kind of lawyer’, and she’s also currently a member of this city’s High Council, she would have to be level headed and impartial when dealing with her people’s problems, it’s nice to see she’s also extending that courtesy to Lena.

She shakes her head no and Alura gestures for her to continue.

She spares no detail and when she gets to the part where Lex was on the other end of her gun, Lena takes only one deep breath before she states distantly that she shot her brother. It’s seems a little strange that she doesn’t feel remorse for killing him, only grief for the brother of her childhood, the one she thought loved her.

Lena steels herself to face Alura’s reaction to her confession and is shocked only to see sympathy and red rimmed eyes, is shocked further still when Alura rests a comforting hand on her arm.

She openly gapes at it, Alura gives her a grim understanding smile, “I know all too well how difficult a position it is to be on opposites of a disagreement with your sibling, especially when it has such high stakes for others,” Lena feels her face contort in confusion, and Alura continues staring off to a point in the distance, “My sister and her husband,” she shakes her head sadly, “they were misguided in their attempts to right the injustices of our government, they killed and hurt a lot of people on the way, I was forced to convict them for treason,” Alura looks down at her lap shamefully, and says with quiet guilt, “I sent them to the Phantom Zone.”

Lena inhales sharply, open shock and surprise plain on her face, what was with this family and the damn Phantom Zone? It seemed to haunt them. It made Lena’s chest clench in guilt and sympathy to know that Alura still didn’t know more recent events about that cursed place, and that it would only make her suffer.

“I told her that her actions were reprehensible but I agreed that our government hiding the truth of our dying planet was wrong, though I myself had been complicit in it for some time, I vowed to do my best to continue her work to save our home,” Alura raises her eyes to the ceiling, tears gathering in hazel eyes, “but our efforts were too little too late,” guilt and despair coloring her voice.

Alura wipes the tears from her eyes, Lena can only watch in extended shocked silence, and then reaches out to clasp her hand in her own, trying to comfort. Alura shakes her head in apology, and smiles a little, “I’m sorry, I didn’t mean to make this about me, you’re telling me your story, I only wanted to tell you that I understand how hard a decision that must have been for you.”

Lena feels the squeeze of Alura’s hand in hers, and the weight of their shared understanding gaze, tears start to well in her own eyes, she didn’t expect to be comforted when she came to this moment in her story and this unforeseen connection that’s just been forged between them leaves her with an unexpectedly pleasant warmth in her chest even as a few tears escape her eyes. 

She takes a deep breath and tells Alura what happened after she shot Lex, that with his dying words he revealed Kara’s secret, grits her teeth as she explains her extended, vile, and manipulative actions toward Kara, bursts into tears when she recalls Kara finally coming clean, and her stubborn refusal to just let go of her hurt and tell Kara the truth so they could both heal.

Instead, she had obstinately rode the inevitable train wreck toward mutually assured destruction and how she had rebuffed all Kara’s attempts to reconcile until she was left suffocating alone with only her broken heart for company.

She stops for a moment trying to gain control of her rapid breath and streaming tears and is shocked by Alura once again when she feels herself drawn into a comforting hug, and her sobs redouble.

Lena forces herself to calm down and pulls away so confused as to why Alura would hug her and is about to ask when she catches sight of her face, it’s soft and concerned and seems to ache to make things right. It makes Lena’s breath catch and her heart twists painfully because it reminds her of Kara, and she knows, she knows that if she had only set aside her pride and hurt for a moment back then and gone to see Kara immediately after Lex had revealed her secret, that this is the face that would have greeted her instead of the ice-cold indifference she was met with when she came begging Kara for help.

She wrenches her eyes away because she doesn’t deserve such kindness, and grinds out the rest of it, about the mess that was saving the multi-verse and waking up to a new world where Lex was ‘good’, and of course her ridiculous egoism thinking she could fix people by taking away their baser instincts and finally realizing that Lex was using her as always and to nefarious purpose.

She speaks of how she finally went to Kara apologetic and contrite, and being met with cool measured untrusting looks, and how it felt like a weight and fog had lifted from her chest and mind when Kara said she could start to forgive her.

Lena speaks more about her feelings in these moments than she means to tell Alura, about how after the tentative reconciliation where Lena thought it would be days, weeks, even months of winning Kara’s trust back, she was stunned and shocked when just a day later Kara allowed her the use of the thing Lena had stolen from her and then trusted her to use it for good despite previous appearances otherwise. That Kara had said she knew what was in her heart, that she could think of no one else in the galaxy that she would trust with it.

It made Lena want to sob all over again, but she reigns in her emotions so she can finish and tells Alura how selfless Kara is and how she allowed herself to be used as a distraction even unto her own death to protect the planet, and how Lena couldn’t and wouldn’t let her brother kill Kara despite his best efforts.

She leaves it at striping Lex of his immortal powers and saving the world because the rest is Kara’s to tell.

The silence rings in Lena’s ears, she chances a look up and finds Alura watching her and studying Lena closely, seeming to be contemplating seriously if the small furrow of her brow is any indication.

Lena starts to grow a little worried at the scrutiny but then Alura’s face breaks out into a gentle smile that makes Lena both feel better and a little like Alura knows something she doesn’t.

Alura shakes herself a little and says a little brightly seeming to try to break the melancholy tension, “Well, that was quite the story, thank you for sharing it with me, Lena, truly,” she says sincere and squeezing both of her shoulders with warm hands and a kind look.

Lena drops her face in her hands and shakes her head because she doesn’t deserve such acceptance, her residual guilt and heartache over her past actions weigh heavily in her chest. It’s no wonder Kara was the way she was, surrounded by and learning from such forgiving and kind people, while Lena had the Luthors who were the absolute antithesis of the Danvers and House of El.  

“Why aren’t you angry with me?” she shouts, exasperated, “It defies logic!” Lena is starting to get angry now, Kara, Alex, Eliza, all the Super Friends, and now Alura, she pushes herself out of seat, feeling too much to be still, “I did horrible things! I was monstrous! And everyone keeps giving me another chance, keeps forgiving me! I helped Lex! I almost-…,” she stops short, rage cooling, replaced by mounting horror.

Alura looks at her calmly, soft and concerned, “You almost what Lena?” she’s silent, refusing to meet Alura’s eye, stares resolutely at the floor fists clenched, “Say it,” Alura coaxes gently.

“I almost became him,” she whispers.

That’s her real and true fear, that’s why she still feels so guilty and why she can’t forgive herself, because she can’t forgive Lex for what he did to her, what he did to everyone she cared about, not to mention the world.

She almost became Lex and it was her own fault because she chose to keep turning away from her friends, chose to turn from Kara so many times, to the point where it was still unfathomable to her that Kara could forgive her so completely.

Lena sits heavily and feels completely and utterly exhausted. She can feel the heavy weight of her limbs, her eyes are stinging from not having slept in something like twenty fours hours at least, and her heart is heavy with the weight of so much regret.

But mostly, more than anything right now, she misses Kara.

She wants Kara to hold her, to comfort.

Her breath shudders hard in her chest when she remembers her unmoving and face smeared with blood.

Lena closes her eyes, shakes her head, and instead pictures her the other night, arguing playfully with her sister happy and smiling, that’s the one she wants, that’s the Kara she misses.

She misses her easy presence, her soft smile that warms her no matter how sad or cold she feels, the security of her hugs, and how wonderfully at ease and understood Kara makes her feel.

How it had taken Lena so long to realize she was in love with Kara, she has no idea.

Lena despairs a little that she might never get the chance to tell her, there’s too much right now, Kara is too overwhelmed with everything going on, she’s just barely started to process her homecoming and the trauma of the Phantom Zone. Lena doesn’t want to make things awkward or ruin the progress they’ve made despite several setbacks in their reunion and risk not being able to help Kara through this difficult time.

She can wait.

She can wait for Kara to be more settled, past all this turmoil in her life, and then Lena will tell her and endure whatever the consequences. 

Alura’s hand on her shoulder startles her, she had completely forgotten she was there, “I’m sorry,” Lena whispers, she has now had a meltdown with both Kara’s mothers present and she wonders that maybe she needs to see a professional…

“It’s alright, my dear, I can only imagine how difficult this all must be, I was happy to listen,” Alura says kindly, “I know things like these are not easy to overcome nor done very quickly as much as we would wish for it,” Lena looks into her eyes and realizes Alura is referring to the destruction of her planet, and Lena feels a pang of shame, her difficulties are nothing compared to that.

Lena thanks her and Alura nods smiling in her soft comforting way, they sit in calm silence for a little while and Lena appreciates it. It gives her time to collect herself.

Then she notices Alura shift looking a bit uneasy, clears her throat, “Lena, there’s something I must tell you, and I apologize because I think I may have put you in a most uncomfortable position, and now after hearing everything you’ve been through with my daughter, I think I may have unknowingly compounded your troubles,” the guilt and contrition on Alura’s face, make Lena worried not for herself but for Alura, but she’s not sure what the other woman has done, so she asks.

Alura sigh deeply and grimaces, “I think I need to give you a little cultural lesson before I can explain,” Lena nods, “Our people are and have been very insular for many thousands of years, we value our autonomy and privacy very much as well as tradition and ceremony, and these values manifest themselves in a many different ways.”

“One way in particular is with things medically related. If a person is sick with fever and bed ridden, only family members can be with them. It comes from when our ancestors were still fighting amongst themselves on Krypton vying for control of resources and land, and only family could be close to an injured or sick general or high-ranking members of their house, lest they be poisoned or assassinated,” Alura purses her lips a little in recollection.

“The tradition waned for many hundreds of years but then when those who would later be the Daxamites rebelled, it was renewed with force because there were many targeted assassinations by the rebels to gain power and control of the guilds and great houses. It has been many centuries since then, but the tradition still holds, to the point that even when your child is sick, no one may visit, only immediate family, and of course a doctor should one be required. It’s also enforced here in our public medical facilities,” she gestures a little around them, and Lena’s face pinches a little listening intently, realizing this has to do with how Alura had got her access to see Kara.

She’s only just now remembered that Alura had said something specific to the man in the front, but Lena has never heard the Kryptonian language spoken out loud though she has learned how to read and write it expertly.

“If you had told them in the front that Kara was your friend, they would have barred you access from coming to see her and if you had tried to force your way you would have been arrested,” Alura explains.

Lena’s surprised by how serious they take this rule that you could be arrested instead of just kicked out of the building.

“When I saw how distressed you were about Kara, I made a quick decision thinking that it wouldn’t have many consequences or bearing on anything,” Alura presses her lips together in apology, and Lena is starting to feel apprehensive at Alura’s demeanor, “but now that you’ve told me your history with my daughter, and knowing now how you feel about her, I think I’ve made a terrible mistake.”

Lena swallows and her heart races.

Knowing how Lena feels about Kara? Good lord, had Alura figured it out too? Or did she just suspect?

Was she this fucking obvious? That Alura could tell with one conversation?

There’s a knock at the door and it opens, the man from earlier pops his head in and tell them that they can go see Kara.

Lena jumps up and goes to follow him, forgetting everything else, just wanting to see Kara, and make sure she’s ok, he leads them to a door and then leaves them, Lena stops in front of it and then turns back to Alura.

“What did you tell them I was to Kara?” Lena stands dreading the answer but already an inkling is in the back of her mind, gnawing a little making her heartbeat faster, a flush forming on her neck, because it’s the only one that makes sense.

“Her future wife.”

Lena takes a sharp breath, nagging feeling confirmed, and feels her blush bloom hard on her face.

“Fuck.”

 

Kara watches Kir-Neth guide Lena to her side grinning widely and practically coos at the two of them when he has them close together, “Lovely, absolutely wonderful!” he crows, so pleased, and Kara can only feel the burning sensation in her entire face, “I’ve known Kara since she was a baby, and it makes my heart and soul so glad to see her here now with her match!” he clasps his hands together in elation, while Kara very determinedly does not look at Lena, mortified at how this is happening to her right now, even more so thinking how Lena must feel to be tied to her in this way.

Kara knows that there could be no other way for Lena to be standing here with her if they had told the staff anything else, but she wonders how and why it came to be.

“What is it you do Lena? You’re from Earth if I understand correctly,” Kir-Neth asks affable and curious.

Lena stutters a little, and Kara knows it’s because she probably doesn’t exactly want to say she’s unemployed but her mother steps in for her, “Lena is the scientist who created the synthetic Harun-el for us,” she says rather proudly, and Kara’s heart warms a little at her mother’s kindness to Lena.

Kir-Neth’s happiness turns to shock and solemnity, he turns to Alura, “Truly?” he says in disbelief, but when Alura nods her confirmation, he takes two steps forward to Lena and slowly with grave respect, one hand across his waist and one behind his back, he bows deeply eyes closed, head tipped down. Kara inhales sharply, she hasn’t seen such a formal bow in decades, and it pricks tears at Kara’s eyes to see him direct such an honor to Lena.           

“Health and long life to the woman who has secured the prosperity and longevity of the future generations of Argo,” Alura seems to be surprised at the gesture as well but moves to stand behind him and to the side, as though she were presenting him to Lena’s court, as if this were a true Kanar-Kluv, ceremony of gratitude, where a gift or service is so immense it cannot be repaid properly.

“Lena Luthor mish nim El, the lives saved by your work will be countless and immeasurable. I bore witness to the children and elders who died and suffered when we departed Krypton until the Harun-el could be used to save them, I spent countless nights with my colleagues worrying over our slowly dwindling supply, calculating to the day how long it would last and what could be done, as we marched inexorably to extinction,” he tilts his head up and the tears in his eyes make Lena gasp, Kara looks up at her, sees her quick breaths, and shocked expression, hand coming up to her lips, “I never thought I would be able to thank you in person, and I am grateful to Rao that he has guided me to your path so I might do so.”

Lena gulps and seems at a loss what to say, and Kara reaches out to hold her hand, Lena clings to it but doesn’t seem to notice her otherwise, completely in amazement at the scene playing out before her.

Kir-Neth straightens, then kneels one leg at a time and sit on his heels, hands out to his side turned up to Rao and head bowed, her mother bows her head but does not kneel, “May Telle guide her mind, may she prosper in Rao’s shadow, and live forever in his light,” it’s an old prayer, written in the Book of Rao, not typically used in this ceremony, but one common to those who worship Telle, as most of the Science Guild do, “So too on the great House of El, who have toiled and suffered in his name and for his people, may the union between the daughter of the house and her intended be joyous and prosperous,” Kara blushes again because she and Lena are not really betrothed… 

That last part he said is not traditional usually, but the ceremony allows for some extras and personal notes should the speaker wish toward the end.   

“Let it be so, in Rao’s light,” he finishes.

"In Rao’s light, so be it,” Kara and Alura say together as is proper.        

Kara remembers the words she has to say next, but she wants Lena to be able to respond to Kir-Neth if she wants, and squeezes her hand, Lena looks at her, eyes a little panicked and Kara tries to smile reassuringly, just jerks her head a little toward him.

Lena gets the idea and clears her throat, takes a breath, and Kara is in awe of Lena’s ability to speak so well even with no preparation, “Thank you…sir, I appreciate your heartfelt gratitude, I myself am gratified to know that I was able to help your people, creating it initially was done to save someone whom I loved, and then given freely as a gift to someone who in turn loves all of you, and the knowledge that you all will be safe here on Argo is reward enough for me.”    

Kara feels her heart swell with love for this amazing person, the smile on her face is beaming.

Rao, Lena was amazing, it was perfect.

Then it’s Kara’s turn to speak as it’s her responsibility as representative of her house, “Rise, Kir-Neth, the House of El receives your gratitude and…well wishes,” Kara stumbles a little, she should have said ‘martial blessings’ there but she couldn’t bring herself to since they weren’t actually engaged, “with happy hearts and souls, in Rao’s light so be it.”           

The Kryptonians repeat it, and Kir-Neth rises, his smile still a little watery and her nods happily at them, then turns to her mother, “Alura, we must gather the others and do a proper Kanar-Kluv for Lena, I know for certain there are others who will want to be apart of the ceremony to express their gratitude, and it would be a wonderful way to introduce your daughter’s surah to the rest of the community.”

Kara shares a stricken look with her mother and feels Lena’s hand in hers tighten hard enough that her knuckles slide and grind together, Kara squeezes back but doesn’t look just yet, she wants to know what her mother is going to do. She hopes she’ll figure out a way to back out or something, but her hope is dwindling even as she looks at Alura’s serious face.

“Oh, well, Kir-Neth, that sounds like a lovely idea, but I don’t know, the girls may not be here long enough for us to get one organized,” and it’s a good attempt on Alura’s part, but Kir-Neth is persistent.

“Non-sense, we can put one together as quickly as necessary, when will you be returning to Earth?” he directs the last to them with a bright smile, and Kara looks at Lena at the same time, matching grim expressions, Lena shakes her head at Kara a little apologetic, and says with some resignation, very grudgingly, clearly wishing she could lie, “Our way home is temporarily disabled so we will be here for the foreseeable future until I can fix it,” Kara feels a spike of surprise, she hadn’t remembered that, didn’t know the portal wasn’t functioning, the memory loss most likely from her head injury.

“Excellent! It’s fortunate you’re here Alura we can get started with council permission right away, can we speak in my office for a bit? We can give the young ones some time alone,” and it’s said with a touch of suggestiveness that Kara feels her blush high on her cheeks and dares not look at Lena.  

Alura gives them both a huge apologetic face, and a mouthed, ‘I’m sorry’, and follows him out the door.

It’s silent.

Kara can feel her hand in Lena’s is a little sweaty but even in the awkward silence she doesn’t want to let it go.

“I’m sorry!”

They both stare at each other a moment, gaping in surprise that they’ve both yelled at the exact same time the same exact thing.

“You’re sorry?!”

They gawk at each other once more, having spoken again together, same tone and inflection of incredulity.

Then they burst out laughing, and it relieves so much tension that she’s been holding in, all the good and bad. It’s strangely cathartic.

“We need to stop doing that, it’s ridiculous,” she can’t help the grin on her face, and she loves the matching smile on Lena’s lips while she nods in agreement. They just look at each other for a long time in silence.

Kara sighs and looks away feeling the weight of everything coming back to her, she moves to sit up all the way and to make space for Lena to sit, facing each other fully.

She looks down at their joined hands and then jolts a little when she feels fingers unexpectedly on the side of her head near her wound, Lena jerks back hissing an apology.

Kara shakes her head trying to reassure her, “It’s ok, you can look, you just caught me off guard,” and turns her head to better let Lena inspect, and closes her eyes against the feel of Lena’s fingers in her hair, her stomach flips.

“It looks almost completely healed, just an angry line covered in…goo?” Lena says in awe and confusion.

She laughs a little and nods, “It’s a biopolymer that acts as a sort of super skin, it boosts the healing rate of the affected tissue by something like five hundred percent, my skin with either absorb it or else flake harmlessly off once it’s done.”

Lena gapes at her, “Five-…that’s amazing!” and Kara thinks that she’s going to go on a big nerd rant and ask questions like she’s seen her do before, in that way Kara finds adorable, but instead she watches Lena’s eyes well with tears, and her breath hitch, her lips pressing into a line, and then all of a sudden Lena’s arms are squeezing around her neck in a tight hug, knocking her backwards.

Kara falls back toward the pillowed and angled upright bed, her bent leg that was making room for Lena kicks out while she holds tight to Lena rubbing her back frowning a little, “Hey, what-what is it?” she asks gently, accepting all of Lena’s weight on top of her, and she finds it rather comforting.

It’s silent for a long moment, she can feel Lena’s shuddered breathing, a few of her tears slipping down her neck, “You were just lying so still on the floor…and there was blood,” Kara’s chest clenches, she understands.

She has her own flash of memory of Lena and a pool of blood, she twists her face so she can press her face into Lena’s neck where she can feel her steady heartbeat in the warmth she finds there and lets out a stuttering sigh of relief.

Eventually, Lena releases the clinging hold to her neck and shifts so she’s resting on her side, her cheek on Kara’s shoulder, Kara’s arm wrapped around her where she lays, one hand curled under her chin resting on Kara’s chest, the length of her pressed into the Kryptonian’s side.

It’s probably the most intimately she’s ever held Lena, and she thinks it might be a problem because she finds she’s rapidly starting to love it.

“The portal went down when we came through, it wasn’t supposed to, the fact that it did means something went really wrong,” Kara can hear the guilt in Lena’s voice, and she feels a stab of worry that it might be irreparable.

She pushes that thought away and says, “You’ll figure it out, we’ll figure it out, we always do,” she thinks she sounds convincing even as her own doubts start to creep at the edges of her mind, dark and waiting to pounce when she’s weak, but right now she has Lena, and she feels safe and confident of that big brain of hers and her abilities.

Lena’s breath hitches a little, “I hope so,” she’s silent for a long while and then, “I didn’t know,” pauses, Kara’s not sure what she’s referring to at first, “Your mom found me up front trying to follow the medics with you, but they wouldn’t let me in, and then she was there, and I don’t really remember much, I was too worried about you, next thing I know we’re in the back waiting for you to finish your treatment, and your mom telling me about how Kryptonians are very rigid about family and medical care.”

Kara hums and then laughing a little, “Yeah, I thought I had amnesia for a second when Kir-Neth mentioned my fiancée was coming with my mom.”

“That must have been a shock, I know I wasn’t expecting to get engaged in the first couple hours on being on Argo,” she says dryly, and Kara chuckles.

“Me neither, but there are worse people to have as a fake fiancée,” Kara says rather sincerely, here heart skips faster and she tries hard not to imagine what it would be like if it were real, she might not ever come back from that fantasy.

Then she has a thought and asks with a laugh, “Did I ever make you watch My Fake Fiancé with Melissa Joan Hart and Joey Lawrence?” Lena shakes her head, “We’ll have to watch that when we get back, I’ll put it on the list.”

“You’re not mad?” Lena asks a little shyly and more than a little worried, and Kara is surprised, of course she’s not mad.

She’s honored.

Even if this is fake, she doesn’t think there would be any universe where she wouldn’t be thrilled.

“Definitely not mad,” Kara says with a squeeze around Lena, then adds a bit more seriously, “a little concerned with how this is going to play out with everyone else, especially with the Kanar-Kluv Kir-Neth wants to do…”

“What is that?” Lena asks, and Kara thinks she sounds a bit sleepy, and then sure enough she feels Lena trying to suppress a yawn and remembers that Lena hasn’t slept in a long time, but she answers her.

“It’s a formal ceremony of gratitude for when just a ‘thanks’ aren’t enough, it’s one of the older Kryptonian traditions and they don’t happen a lot. The only one I got to attend was when I was about ten and honestly, I don’t remember why it was happening only that it was a huge deal for the whole city, even my parents said it would be the first time they attended one.”

Lena hums and she sounds like she’s about drift off to sleep, Kara smiles fondly and leans her head against Lena’s temple a little and pulls her tight, “I can tell you all about the boring official stuff we’re probably going to have to do,” Lena shifts the tiniest bit closer and her smaller softer hum of agreement is so adorable it warms Kara to her toes, and she starts listing off all the mundane details that will accompany such a ceremony.

When she twists her head to look down at Lena a few minutes later, she’s sound asleep, and Kara just leans back and smiles to herself, closing her eyes, and follows her into peaceful slumber.

Chapter Text

Kara can feel a presence nearby.

She takes stock as she shakes the fog of sleep from her mind.

It’s a bit difficult…

Remembers she’s currently on Argo in the care facility and Lena’s warm body tucked in next to hers, comfortable and sleeping.

She opens her eyes and finds her mother standing over them with a bit of a smirk and Alura quirks her eyebrow at Kara in a way that that has her flushing a little.

“Hi, mom,” she says softly, not wanting to wake Lena.

Alura is silent a moment, seeming to contemplate Kara and Lena, her eyes flicking back and forth, the corner of her smile ticking up a little.

I knew she held a special place in your heart as your friend, inah, but I did not realize you had given it to her to hold,” Alura says just as softly, but in Kryptonian.

Kara’s heart clenches twofold, to hear her language smooth and without accent from another, unlike Kal’s halting broken speech, and because her mother has somehow deduced quite quickly what Lena means to her.   

How did you know?” Kara asks surprised and feels her blush grow a little hotter. Feels the Kryptonian words come back to her a little stiffly, it makes her chest clench in a different way with worry she might be forgetting her native tongue for not having used it in so long.

She told me her tale, about you and your friendship,” she says simply, and her face twists a little in concern and care as she glances at Lena, “She has suffered,” Alura looks back at Kara, and there’s some mild disapproval in her eyes that makes Kara feel like a child again, “and some of it in no small part thanks to you.”

Kara looks away in shame, she feels Alura’s fingers pull her chin back up to meet her gaze, “But you have suffered too, inah,” there’s an apology in her eyes, and Kara’s breath hitches a little, feeling tears burning behind her eyes, “but that is my fault, and I am sorry.”

She thinks it’s an apology for sending her away, for never trying to find her, for her judgment just now of Kara’s past actions in regard to Lena, and Kara doesn’t really know what to say in response to all that. She takes a deep breath, a few tears escape her eyes as she nods, not sure how she feels.

Lena starts to stir, probably from their voices and Kara’s jostling, she wipes her tears away quickly as Lena sits up rubbing her eyes, then freezes when she sees Alura watching her.

Kara is a little confused when she sees her mother give Lena a small lingering smile. Kara frowns when Lena turns away with a flush on her cheeks.

“How long did I sleep?” Lena asks evenly, Kara can tell she’s exhausted from the way she controls her voice to keep the sleepiness out and the slight slump of her shoulders. Lena frowns when she looks at the spot she just vacated, “sorry, I didn’t mean to fall asleep on you,” Lena says with worried furrow of her brow.

Kara just smiles, “It’s ok, I fell asleep too, and I don’t think we slept very long,” she looks to her mother with the question.

Alura shakes her head, “No, I was only gone for little over an hour,” and she looks at them both, a grimace and apology on her face, “Kir-Neth called up the whole council and things have spiraled very quickly out of my hands, I am sorry,” she clasps her hand in front of her in a way Kara recognizes. It’s her mother’s way of keeping her hands from fidgeting, “in addition to the Kanar-Kluv, it was suggested that we also do a kanreosh afterwards,” Kara drops her head into her hands with a groan, “they want to invite the whole city to both,” she groans louder and twists to press her face in the pillow, shouting a quick exasperated ‘mom’ before her face is engulfed.

She hears Lena’s voice ask what they are talking about and Kara tries to not let the knot in her stomach grow too big.

They can’t do a kanreosh!

“It’s a sort of engagement party,” Kara says, muffled in the pillows, before her mother can, she sits up and avoids Lena’s eyes, “there’s a really formal and ceremonial part in the beginning that’s fairly short and then the rest of the night is just a party, eating drinking, games, that kind of stuff.”

“When I spoke to the other council members, they were insistent on the Kanar-Kluv but I was able to postpone giving them a clear yes or no on the kanreosh, but I have to say there was significant pressure from them about having one for you.”

Lena’s brow furrows, “Why is it so important?”

Kara stares down at her hands, trying to quell the nervous tick in her heart, also not comprehending why the council would want to make this such a spectacle.

“As you know, we are now a small fraction of the once vast population of Krypton, we lost many great houses in their entirety, we are still even now struggling to rebuild those that remain,” Alura paces a little as she speaks.

“The limited Harun-el in the past restricted us to how many children we could allow to be born and the number of crops grown per year. Cap limits were set to which families were allowed more or fewer progenies,” her face is a little pained in remembrance it seems, she looks conflicted to Kara’s eyes on this point.

“There was some understandable upset and disagreements about how the council allotments were decided. When you gave us the means to create more Harun-el the council allowed for the increase of both these things, you were hailed as a hero, and the people know your name even if they do not know your face,” Lena gapes at Alura, but Kara feels a flash of pride that Lena is getting the recognition she so deserves.

“Not to mention that Kara, when she arrived here the first time, created a buzz amongst the people,” Alura emphasizes her next words to Lena, pressing one hand into the other, “A daughter of one of the oldest and most prominent houses of our people had returned to us alive and well, when surely, she should be dead with the rest of our planet,” Alura pauses a little for effect, “and yet she was able to deliver us our salvation, even if it was created by another,” then adds with a slight shake of her head, “and of course we cannot forget she is also the slayer of the World-killers.”

Lena’s eyes are a bit wide as she takes in this information from the perspective of the Argo citizens, “Kara has become a sort of celebrity, if you will, a person to be revered, like an ancient lost Knight of Rao, come home from a distant land to slay a dragon and save the people,” Alura takes a breath, and looks at them both a moment seriously, “It holds a certain weight for Kryptonians.”

Kara is stunned. She had no idea that was how people were thinking of her.

“Now imagine that this once lost daughter and savior returns home with the vaunted hero and creator of their people’s salvation and that they are engaged to be married,” Kara feels her own breath hitch a little because she hadn’t appreciated the point her mother has been trying to make until now, Lena’s sharp little inhalation tells Kara she understands as well.

Alura gives them a slightly bitter smile, and Kara thinks it’s because of her role in this, “It is the type of story that no Kryptonian can resist drawing parallels to our history, of which there are several in the Book of Rao. As I explained earlier,” she says to Lena, “tradition is very important to us, and such things carry immense weight and so too will this marriage union I so unthinkingly created,” she takes a deep breath of regret, “Again, I cannot express how sorry I am to have put you both in this position,” her face is pained and full of apology, and Kara reaches out a hand to comfort her, which her mother takes gratefully even as her expression remains unchanged.

It’s silent while they ruminate over what they’ve heard, Kara is feeling a bit out at sea and she watches Lena’s concentrating face like she’s trying to make sure she understands the salient points.

“So, what are our options?” Lena asks, turning her distant gaze to Alura.

Her mother tilts her head back and forth a little, thinking, “From what I can see there are three options,” Lena nods, listening intently, “You go through with both ceremonies and at the end you will be officially engaged to be married according to Kryptonian custom and law,” Kara’s heart skips at that, she locks eyes with Lena briefly and they both look away immediately, “You attend the Kanar-Kluv but refuse the kanreosh, or finally I come clean about lying about your relationship,” Kara makes a distressed noise in the back of her throat.

Lena frowns, looking between them, alarmed at Kara’s reaction, “What are the consequences to that?”

Kara answers, “Kryptonians regard marriage as the most sacred of bonds, once you are bound it can never be undone, we don’t believe in divorce, and with the Matrix to ensure compatibility, any unsuitable marriages would be rejected before they started,” Kara looks at her mom with a grimace, “If she tells them she lied about us, it’s only a few rungs down from treason, she would be forced to step down from the council by the other members or else the people would call for her removal, then she would be shunned by the general public for the rest of her life for her transgression, for lying about something so important.”

Lena’s face is the definition of astonishment, and once Kara is done speaking, she says, “Ok, let’s set that aside for a last resort or just in the plain ‘no’ pile,” Alura looks at Lena in surprise.

“You won’t even consider it? It is my fault that you are in this predicament and it’s probably for the best that I take responsibility for my thoughtless actions, I, of course, understand how important this is to my people,” Alura says seriously.

Kara can see both her mother and Lena essentially start to square off in what could be a clash in a battle of wills, she shrinks a little not wanting to get in the middle of them.

Lena’s chin is raised in that defiant and determined way she has when she’s commanding a board room of stuffed shirts to bend to her will, but her voice is kind but brooks no argument, “You helped me when you didn’t have to, you comforted me when by rights you should have scorned me,” Kara frowns at that, and wonders what she’s referring to, “perhaps your actions have landed us in a bit of a tricky situation, but I don’t think the solution is your disbarment from a job you value and hold dear where I know you must be a great service to your people. I think looking at the other options first is reasonable before we go off and make you a pariah in your own home while we return to ours, consequence free.”

Kara nods her head in agreement, “I think she’s right, mom,” and Alura looks between them and deflates.

“You shouldn’t have to pay for my mistakes, either of you, I’ve already allowed too many others to do so,” Alura says quietly, looking shamefaced at the ground.

Kara reaches forward and clasps her mothers’ shoulder, “That’s not what’s happening, mom, let us help you. We can work together to figure it out,” she waits for her to look up into her eyes and says, “El mayarah.”

Alura gives her a watery smile, and agrees, “But if we cannot figure out another solution or we cannot come to an agreement I will simply come clean, agreed?”

Lena agrees grudgingly and they start to talk through the other two options.

The option for participating in only the Kanar-Kluv doesn’t seem to be a viable option either. Alura explains that it would be the highest insult to the people if they go through with one and not the other, it would be seen as a snub from the couple. That it could potentially cause a riot of angry Kryptonians to go marching through the streets.

“It would be that extreme?” Lena asks eyebrows high to the sky and incredulous.

Alura nods a little, “To have you both essentially turn your nose up at what they believe to be an important part of your future bond not to mention the allegorical weight I mentioned before, it would be tantamount to declaring war on Kryptonian culture and the very people themselves.”

“They would see it as a personal attack,” Kara says as she thinks about it, clenching her teeth, arms crossed, looking gravely down.

Lena lets out a slow breath, “And our final option, to go through with both? What are the ramifications?”

“Your engagement would be recognized officially by Kryptonian law, and cannot be severed except by extreme circumstances,” Alura states.

Lena purses her lips, “Such as?”

“Death or if the Matrix decrees your compatibility too low to sufficiently support a lifelong marriage, and also very occasionally if you find a more suitable match during the course of your engagement,” and Lena looks at Alura with wide but understanding eyes, and her mother’s mouth twists in anguish, “I had no idea this would get so out of hand, I thought initially it would be fine. Kara would recover and eventually you would be on your way back home, and in the meantime, I could calm your distress about Kara, and it need not go further than a few people, and that would be that.”

Kara starts to feel a sense of guilt starting to gnaw at her, for putting Lena in this position, there was no good way to get out of it without it hurting someone or making them uncomfortable. She’s not angry with her mother and Lena doesn’t seem to be either but the whole situation just stinks.

Lena crosses her arms as she thinks some more, “Is there a time limit to how long an engagement should be?”

Alura shakes her head, “No, a couple may choose how short or long their engagement is, they can wait as little as a few days or many years, it doesn’t matter when you actually do the bonding ceremony because it almost becomes a forgone conclusion.”

“Then why have a bonding ceremony at all?” Lena asks, Kara feels her guilt grow, why was Lena even bothering to contemplate this?

“Because only a fully bonded pair may seek permission to have children,” Lena nods in understanding, at Alura.

Kara’s heart pangs a little, when she was younger, she had wondered what it would be like to approach the council with her mate and ask permission to have a child, to pass down her legacy to a small being who was part her and part the person she loved.

It hurt now because she loved Lena, and it scared her a little how much she wanted all this to be real. That Lena would want to be bonded to her and to have a family, but it was all fake.

But if they went through with this it wouldn’t be fake to Kara. She knew she would enter surahth uvrreosh with Lena with her whole heart and soul even if they never completed the bonding ceremony.

Kara didn’t want anyone else.

She would be faithful to Lena and honor her as she had been raised, as Lena deserved, as was right, even if it broke her heart that Lena didn’t feel the same, and only thought of her as a friend. This whole thing didn’t mean anything to Lena except as some strange foreign ways that she was being forced into because she associated with Kara and her mother.

Rao, Lena must feel so trapped and upset.

“Kara?” she jumps when she feels Lena’s hand on her arm, “Are you ok?”

She swallows are the lump growing in her throat and nods.

Lena frowns at her, and she knows her best friend is going to try and get it out of her, so she asks quickly, “So what do you want to do?”

“Me?” astonished and disbelieving Lena breathes out, “Kara, this is a huge deal for you, if we go through with this,’ Lena’s eyes are full of concern and it makes Kara’s chest ache with how much she just wants to lean forward and kiss her, “you’re basically saying that if you fall in love with someone you wouldn’t be able to come home to marry them, especially if they end up being a Kryptonian,” and Kara’s heart fills with warmth at how considerate Lena is. She’s looking out for Kara’s future and her heart, but Lena is so wrong because it already belongs to someone, to her.

Maybe she should just tell Lena now.

I’m in love with you, so marry me because I don’t want anyone else.

Yeah, that would go over really well.

Lena is still staring at her waiting for an answer and Kara is at a loss, she looks away for a moment.

“It-…” Lena stutters a little and swallows, “I don’t mind doing this, Kara, god knows I’m never going to get married,” that takes Kara aback, Lena looks down and away a moment, “who would marry a Luthor?” and the casual dismissal of herself makes Kara angry, not at Lena but at the world who kept telling her that she wasn’t good enough, and no one wanted her, “Honestly, this is probably the closest I’ll ever get to being engaged let alone married, “ she jokes, “and it’s not so bad if it’s you,” Lena smiles at her reassuringly, but Kara can see the very slight tinge of red in her eyes and it makes Kara want to cry too.

Kara’s heart wrenches and she reaches out to crush Lena to her chest, holding her tight, “Don’t say that Lena, you’re the most amazing person I’ve ever known, anyone would be lucky to have you,” and she almost adds ‘I know I would be’ but Lena’s hard exhale, the one she knows means she might cry startles her, and all she can think of is holding her tight and willing her to believe her words.

She notices her mother watching them and realizes she had kind of forgotten she was there, Lena pulls back from their hug and there is not a trace of a tear on her face, Alura speaks, “So, what have you decided?” her face pinched with concern for them both.

Green eyes lock on hers and Kara nods, Lena says, “Let’s do this.”

 

Alura types out a message on her hand held and pauses a moment, “Last chance to change your mind,” she says, but both Kara and Lena say nothing and Alura sighs a little, “very well,” and sends it.

“Well, now that is sorted out, why don’t you tell me why you’re here? Lena, said it wasn’t her place to tell me,” Alura directs at Kara, and Lena sees her best friend’s face blanche, realizes that Kara had forgotten for some time why they were here in the first place, what with injuries, fake fiancées and unexpected Kryptonian ceremonies cropping up at every turn.

Alura’s face draws up in alarm and she reaches for daughter, “What is it, Kara?”

Kara gulps and Lena watches her take several deep breaths, guilt plain on her face, “Mom,” she croaks, her voice breaking, and it makes Lena’s heart break a little in turn, “sit down, please,” Kara tugs on their joint hands to pull her mother onto the bed and Lena jumps up hastily wanting to make room and to not intrude.

“I’ll just-…” Lena starts, thinking to give them some privacy, Kara flings a hand out to catch her jacket.

“Stay, please,” she begs, a little breathless, tears filling her eyes, and Lena can do nothing but comply pulling a nearby chair closer while Kara reaches for her hand to hold, the other clutching Alura’s who is now seated in front of her with a truly worried and anxious face.

“Mom,” she starts, gulping, tears starting to stream down her face, “I’m so sorry, I should have told you straight away, I’m a terrible daughter, I was so distracted and-…” she hiccups a little and it pauses her rant, Alura’s face growing even more distressed by her daughter’s panicked rambling.

“Inah, it’s alright, whatever it is, be easy,” Alura’s gently trying to calm Kara, stroking a hand lovingly down her hair and wiping tears.

Kara shakes her head, chin trembling, “Mom, I was-…” but Kara can’t seem to continue, cast her gaze around the room, at a loss for words, and then she looks to Lena beseeching, squeezing hard at her hand.

“Kara was sent to the Phantom Zone by my brother, that’s the part I left off during our conversation earlier,” Lena says into the silence, and at first Alura’s expression doesn’t change, then it’s grief stricken, her hand flying to her chest while she looks at Kara who nods at her mutely, face contorted, “she was there for about three weeks, and we were finally able to bring her home just this past week and,” Lena gulps and looks at Kara, she needs to be the one tell her mother.

“Mom, I found dad,” she rasps out, “alive.”

Alura simply stares at Kara for long drawn-out moments.

“What?” she says finally, “No, he can’t be alive,” denial and disbelief ringing in her voice, shock plain in her face.

Kara nods sadly, “I found him, he was there for years, he said it was a last-ditch effort to get off the planet,” voice watery, clinging to her mother still.

Alura continues to stare flabbergasted, and her breathing starts to grow heavy and labored, and she clutches at her chest, “No,” she whispers, Lena can see the tears running down her face, “my love, no.”

Kara’s tears run freely down her face and her breath shudders, “I’m sorry,” Kara says tremulously, “there’s more,” she gulps, and Lena squeezes her hand a little not knowing what else to do, “he-he’s sick, he has a wound that won’t heal,” Kara hiccups harshly, “he’s dying,” she gasps out, and Lena feels her own tears spilling down her face as she watches this terrible scene play out before her, heart breaking in sympathy.

Alura sucks in a watery breath and covers her mouth.

Lena says Kara’s name softly, she doesn’t think it will be a good idea to tell Alura about Kara as well, but it’s too late, “I have it too, it’s tiny but we don’t know how to cure it, it’s why we came, to get help,” Kara says it in a rush and Alura stops breathing altogether staring in shock once more.

She collapses in front of Kara suddenly, sobbing broken gasping things that make Lena’s heart twist, Kara curls around her mother, and the sight of them and their soul shattering sobs are too much for Lena, she closes her eyes and turns away tears running down her face, she feels like an intruder, but Kara is still clutching her hand like a lifeline and she won’t abandon her.

They’re murmuring in Kryptonian and then Alura straightens, and whatever is being said is getting harsher, Kara shaking her head, and she keeps saying the same thing, “Zha, jeju, zha.”

Alura rips herself from her daughters grasp tears still streaming, and she looks at Kara with stricken guilt-ridden eyes and self-disgust, and then leaves abruptly, Kara calling after her, “Jeju!”

Lena is so shocked that she simply sits frozen, gaping.

Kara doubles over herself and sobs heart wrenching and full bodied, Lena blinks and then practically vaults herself into the bed beside her love, and she feels Kara’s arms come around to cling at Lena’s back almost immediately, every loud wet gasp in her neck leaves Lena’s heart just a little more shattered, she rocks Kara gently and cries silently with her.

 

When Kara calms down they’re leaning against the angled bed almost in complete reverse of their earlier nap positions, and Kara starts trying to wipe her face with the sleeve of her dress, Lena stops her, “Here,” and pulls a handkerchief from her jacket pocket.

Kara sits up a little and gapes at her, Lena tilts her head, “What?”

“Have you always carried handkerchiefs?” she asks, her mood lifting a little.

Lena shrugs and nods nonchalantly.

“Why didn’t I know that about you?”

She huffs, and says dryly, “Because you never needed one before.”

Kara stares at her a moment, face still tear streaked and a little snotty, and barks out a surprised laugh, and then looks down, then lets out a sad sigh, “Thanks,” for the handkerchief, for making her laugh, for holding her, for being there when she told her mom, all of it.

Lena just hums in reply, and gives into the urge to smooth golden errant hairs along her temple, Kara closes her eyes as she does, and says, “I’m tired, is there such thing as transmat portal jetlag?”

She smiles subdued, “I don’t think so.”

Kara opens her eyes to take in Lena’s face, and frowns, “You’re exhausted.”

Lena’s eyebrows go up, and it’s true, her eyes feel so heavy, but Kara is her priority right now.  

Then she feels Kara’s hand come up to her jaw, and Lena can only suck in a breath in surprise, while Kara gently tilts her chin up, still frowning at her, Lena’s heart racing when she notices Kara’s proximity, blue eyes intent on her face, the crinkle on her forehead making an appearance.

“Your chin is bruised. Did you fall on it?” and Lena gulps, nodding at the question, Kara’s fingers brush a tender spot, Lena hisses in pain and jerks back involuntarily, Kara snatching her hand away and pulling back with an apology.

Lena tries to take a not so noticeable lung full of air, and brushes it off, telling her racing heart to calm the fuck down.

“Let’s get out of here, I just want to go to bed and hope tomorrow is better, and you really need to sleep too,” Kara says like she hadn’t noticed she almost gave Lena a heart attack.

 

When they finally make outside, after some quick questions from what Lena can only assume are nurses of a sort, she flinches at the cool night breeze and curls herself a little closer to Kara who always seems to radiate heat.

Kara sees it and wraps a warm comforting arm around her back, Lena is not so proud that she won’t try to leech as much warmth from Kara as she can, and brings her own arm up around Kara’s waist, and it doesn’t hurt to have an excuse to press up against her favorite Kryptonian.    

More than that though Lena can tell Kara is still reeling from her last interaction from her mother, she more subdued that normal, face a bit slack and normally sparkling blue eyes, dim.

Kara’s face turns a bit grim as she looks out before them, and says quietly, “I’m not exactly sure how to get home from here.”

Lena shrugs, “Someone has to know where your mom lives, right? Let’s just go and ask around.”

Kara nods and they set off but before they have walked very far a hovering vehicle stops alongside them and a woman steps out, dirty blonde, and a bit older than them but not by much, she seems to be wearing a uniform, and the smile on her face as she looks at Kara is bright and genuine.

“Kara!” the woman exclaims happily, as she comes closer, Kara pulls away, and is engulfed in a hug, and Lena is a little taken aback by how comfortable Kara is with woman, feels a stab of jealously and pushes it roughly aside.

“Thara,” Kara says a little muffled in her hello, they rock a little side to side in their hug, and Lena thinks that they must be very familiar with one another, she starts to feel a little awkward, “How did you know I was here?”

They pull apart, and ‘Thara’ keeps her hands on Kara’s arms.

Lena is definitely not jealous.

“Well, one of the perks of being the Chief Peace Officer is getting all the important news first, I saw a report you were admitted to medical, and I requested a notification when you were released so I could come see you!” Thara says happily, a grin splitting her face.

Kara smiles a little weakly, thanking her, and then she turns to Lena stretching out a hand, Lena takes it faster than she normally would and comes to stand at Kara’s side, “Thara, this is-…” but she’s interrupted by Thara’s gasp.

“Lena mish nim El!” she clasps Lena’s free arm and gives it a warm pump up and down, holding Lena’s in both of hers even after she’s done, looks at Kara positively beaming, “that was in the report too! It’s wonderful to meet you, congratulations to you both!” loud and so emphatic that it can only be genuine, and Lena’s mild jealously ebbs in her enthusiasm, her thanks is small and soft.

Kara’s face is tight, “Thanks, Thara,” and to her credit, Thara notices, and then flicks concerned eyes between them.

“Everything alright, Kara?” and Lena can admit it’s sweet, even as she grows more and more tired just standing, starts to lean heavily into Kara’s side.

Lena can feel Kara’s sigh, “It’s been a long day and we don’t exactly know how to get to my mom’s.”

Thara seems only too glad to leap to the rescue, “Let me give you a ride, hop in,” they climb into the back of the vehicle, and Lena dozes the whole way, her head bobbing, and is aware distantly of Kara and her friend chatting a little.

Kara’s voice jolts her awake when the arrive, and Lena let’s herself be led inside, a quick farewell thrown over her shoulder to Thara.

There are soft low lights running along the floor to light the way and Kara leads her up some stairs and to a bedroom. Lena feels a sense of déjà vu when Kara presses soft clothes into her hands, and she’s so tired she just shucks off her clothes not knowing or caring if Kara is around, pulls on the sleep shift, and practically throws herself face first into the bed she sees in front of her.

Lena hears a sleepy chuckle when she lets out a loud relieved sigh, and it takes a huge effort to turn her head, but she’s glad she does when she sees Kara’s face turned toward her on the pillow next to her, one corner of her mouth turned up fondly.

Her eyes close but she hears Kara’s whispered question, “Is this, ok? That I stay?”

Lena nods, and opens her eyes to look into clear blue ones, and breathes out in a hush, “Always.”

 

Chapter Text

Lena stretches first thing as she wakes, feeling so much better now that she’s rested, but midway through she freezes remembering the events of the day prior. She looks to her side where Kara should be but the Kryptonian is not, nor hovering around the room, she presses her lips together in slight disappointment.

The sun streams through the floor to ceiling glass walls that make up half the room and Lena stands to take a look outside crossing her arms in the morning chill. Her view is of the rear part of the residence, the nicely manicured lawn contrasts nicely with the wild look of the plants and trees that dot the large yard and lines, what Lena assumes, is the property line. Argo seems like a beautiful place and she hopes she’ll be able to see more of it and with less pressing circumstances hanging over her head.

She sighs and notices that her travel bag is on top of what looks to be a dresser, a smile tugs at her lips knowing that Kara ever the considerate friend must have brought it up for her this morning. Lena pulls open a couple drawers and when sees they’re empty, she pulls some of her things out to fill them, might as well get a little settled in since she’s not sure how long they will be here…

There’s a door that leads to what appears to be a bathroom and she takes some time to brush her teeth and reflect on the day prior.

She sighs at herself for her erratic behavior for Kara’s wellbeing, she was certainly overwrought with worry, but she wonders if maybe some of her reactions were exacerbated by her lack of sleep and underlying guilt for the portal not staying open as she had hoped.

A pang shoots through her chest with that same guilt twisting sharply, Alex was right, she should have taken some time to sleep before leaving, maybe she would have caught whatever the issue was before they left, because now they were stranded unless she could figure out what went wrong.

Stop.

She shouldn’t jump to conclusions yet. Maybe it wasn’t her fault, maybe it was something outside her control, and before deciding they were stranded, she should take time to examine the portal.

Sighing a little, letting her shoulders drop in resignation, she finishes up in the bathroom after changing into a spare set of clothes, and wonders which option might be a good idea, ask Kara for some more appropriate Argo clothes to fit in better or continue as she is.

She’s not sure which would be prudent especially given everything Alura told them yesterday about how she and Kara were basically celebrities, engaged to be married celebrities. As the CEO of a multibillion-dollar company and member of a notorious family, Lena is no stranger to the scrutiny of the public eye, but it’s a bit unsettling to know there’s something similar happening to her here on what is basically an alien planet where she should no such notoriety, but here she is about to embark on a ceremony that will tie her utterly and completely to one of their people, a high ranking and important someone apparently.  

Lena takes a moment to really let herself think about being engaged to Kara, yesterday she had been so tired she couldn’t really process it and she was just trying to get the facts so she could try and make the best decision for everyone involved.

Apparently, the best decision was for her and Kara to go through with this fake fiancée business, except the more they had discussed it yesterday, Lena realized that once they completed the ceremony, according to Kryptonians and Argo law she and Kara would be engaged for real, no matter if they were in a platonic or romantic relationship.

Lena feels a blush coming on, god, she never thought she would be engaged to be married, let alone to the woman she was in love with, with kind wonderful Kara, she never even dared dream it. She felt so honored to be included in Kara’s traditions and culture and she wished all of it was real so she could immerse herself in Kara’s heritage, and all the things Kara had thought were lost when her planet was lost.

Lena makes a promise to herself and Kara then, even if the circumstances leading to the engagement were not exactly as they should have been, the least Lena could do, was to do her best to honor and uphold Kara and her traditions.

A stab of regret flashes through her, Lena was basically taking away Kara’s ability to actually get married here amongst her people in the future, with her family, she knew this wouldn’t have any bearing on things back home, but if Kara followed Kryptonian tradition as Lena suspected she would, even on Earth Kara would not allow herself to become involved with anyone else in order to uphold the commitment she would make to Lena. It made her feel a little sick with guilt and sorrow for best friend, how could Kara not hate Lena for backing her into this?

But Lena could see no other way if they were to keep Alura from reaping the full consequences of the fallout. If they allowed her to take responsibility it sounded like it would completely ruin her life, while she and Kara would just go home and things for them would be absolutely unchanged, but Lena couldn’t possibly live with the knowledge of that.

Her heart clenches a little when she remembers Kara’s words and tears prick at her eyes, anyone would be lucky to have you, but the problem was she didn’t want anyone, she wanted Kara, sweet, beautiful caring Kara, not some nameless stranger.

Kara who would barge into her lab with bright smiles reminding her to eat, gently tugging on her hand to come to bed and sleep, spending countless quiet evenings watching movies or reading a book while Kara typed away next to her writing an article, pressed silently to her side enjoying the warmth of her body that spread effortlessly to her heart.

It was Kara she imagined growing old with...

She shakes herself out of her thoughts, and lets out a resigned scoff, wipes the corner of eyes, and straightens her back, now was not the time to have a pity party about her unrequited love, she had things to do, and she had a literal deadline for both Kara and her father that she could not afford to miss.

The second floor is quiet as she makes her way toward the staircase, it’s bright as the bedroom was, Lena remembers vaguely taking in all the windowed walls while she was running frantically looking for help and she makes her way down to the first floor listening for Kara.

She hears voices distantly and follows them to where Alura and Kara are sitting across a table from one another, empty plates and cups in front of them, speaking quietly, hands clasped across the table.

Kara sees her first, and gives her a smile, it’s not quite her usual sunny disposition but it’s more settled and calmer than the night before after her mother had left. Lena feels a rush of relief at both Alura’s presence and Kara’s relaxed attitude.

Lena murmurs a good morning and receives two back, Kara scoots a little and makes room on the bench at the table for Lena to sit, which she does. Alura stands and brings her a bowl of soggy colorful, textured chucks mushed in together, and when she looks at Kara in question she answers, “Umm, it’s kind of like oatmeal? It’s a mostly a grain, we boil it with water and add some fruit. You’ll like it, it’s very nutritious and healthy, it’s why we usually have it for breakfast,” she takes a bite and finds it mildly sweet and she does indeed like it.

Lena raises an eyebrow at Kara, smiling mischievously, “So that means you hate it?”

Both Kara and Alura laugh, and it surprises Lena though it shouldn’t, that they laugh the same, and she feels a rush of pride at having caused the twin Kryptonian smiles directed her way.

“So, Kara’s eating habits have not changed as she’s grown?” Alura asks Lena amused, and looking at her pink cheeked daughter, who gives her mother a light glare, crossing her arms a lightly and grumbling with a small pout.  

Lena laughs and bumps her shoulder lightly into Kara’s, and she can see the Kryptonian is trying to suppress a smile, Lena turns to Alura who explains her meaning, looking at her daughter fondly, “When she was a child, I had the hardest time getting her to eat anything that wasn’t fried or sweets.”

“Well not much has changed, Kara still loves those things and at every opportunity tries to ruin my diet. She doesn’t quite understand moderation,” she teases, Kara turns her pout to her, and Lena tears her eyes away to turn toward her bowl to take another bite of her breakfast before she does something stupid like kiss the adorable pout off Kara’s face right in front of her mother.

Alura laughs at Lena’s quip, and says seemingly without much thought, smiling, “Her father was just as terrible.”

Everyone freezes and the tension shoots up, Lena looks up and sees the stricken looks that pass between mother and daughter, Kara reaches across the table to her Alura who has turned her face down towards the table. The older woman takes a breath, squeezes Kara’s hand, and looks up with tears in her eyes, “Is. He is just as terrible as Kara, he taught her after all.”

Lena watches the watery smiles pass between them, Alura glances toward Lena, “I’ve already apologized to Kara, but I wanted to apologize to you too, I reacted poorly,” Lena doesn’t think anyone has the right to tell Alura how to react to the knowledge that her long dead husband was alive, yet also dying again.

“You don’t-…” Lena starts.

“I want to,” Alura cuts her off, and Lena can only nod, she feels Kara’s hand slip into hers and she grips it tight, “I was overwhelmed as you can imagine and after I calmed down, I went to see my voishesur raozhium,” Lena looks to Kara for clarification.

Kara tilts her head a little, screwing her lips to one side thinking, “Best translation is someone who helps or teaches to safeguard and guide the mind or spirit, the equivalent of a therapist or psychologist,” Lena nods and looks back to Alura.

Alura nods her head agreeing, “After the destruction of our planet you can imagine there was a lot of emotional and psychological turmoil and grief amongst all of our citizens, the need for the voishesur raozhium grew exponentially and over the years through sheer necessity it has grown to become an integral part of our way of life.”

“I went to see my raozhium and spent a long time talking with her as well as in reflective mediation after,” Alura states, “Later, I took a long walk and I returned here late in the evening,” Lena is relieved to know that Alura sought help during her emotional upheaval and is glad to see her more like herself.

It’s quiet for a long moment and Lena feels Kara’s had tighten a little in hers, she looks and finds Kara staring down at the table, “I’ve asked mom to book an appointment for me,” quiet, with slightly heavy breaths, “I think it will good for me to talk to someone that might be able to help me process what happened to me…” she gulps, “in the Phantom Zone,” and then she looks up at Lena, her face pulled into quiet expectation, and Lena realizes that Kara is seeking her approval.

She squeezes Kara’s hand a little and turns to face her a little more fully, “I’m glad, I think that’s wonderful, darling,” and she does, she hopes that this will help, it breaks Lena’s heart every time Kara’s emotions become too much for her and Lena can do nothing or very little to help her.

Kara’s shoulders lose their tension, and she smiles at Lena in relief, “We also thought it would be a good time to talk to Kir-Neth about this,” Kara gestures to her phantom zone injury.

Lena nods her agreement, “That’s great, I’m going to head down to the portal to see what’s what, hopefully I can get it working or at the very at least working enough so we can send a message home.”

Kara deflates a little, and Lena tilts her head, “I-well, never mind,” she looks away, and it pulls a concerned frown from Lena.

“What is it?” she asks softly.

Kara’s shoulders shrug a little in feigned nonchalance, still not meeting Lena’s eyes, “I was hoping you would come with me to the appointments,” she feels a tug in her chest at how unsure Kara sounds, “but you have important stuff to do,” Lena feels like a jerk for not realizing, Kara was feeling a bit exposed with not one, but two doctor visits and she wanted Lena to come with her.

“Of course, I’ll come with, I’d be happy to,” she squeezes Kara’s hand and the grateful smile she receives warms her, pulling a smile at her own lips, Kara asks if she’s sure, a little tremulous and hesitant, “Positive, darling.”

Lena takes a few minutes before they leave to go down to the lab to setup a diagnostic program to run in her absence, as she makes her way there, she finds that she has to halt at the top of the stairs before she goes down, her heart skips a little remembering yesterday’s events, and after a deep breath she steels her herself to go down the steps.

She’s relieved, and so grateful to Kara, because her equipment is stacked neatly in a pile and when she chances a look at where Kara had lain so still, there is no trace of blood.

She opens the crate and gets the few pieces of equipment she needs hooked up quickly, and starts the diagnostics running on the portal, then heads back up to where Alura and Kara wait.

 

Kir-Neth greets them all warmly and leads them to an intimate sitting area in the large office, perhaps it should be considered a lab because there are beds and various pieces of equipment, large and small, placed around the room.

He offers them tea, but Kara declines, Alura and Lena follow suit, they sit on the couch opposite him, Kara in the middle between her mother and Lena.

Lena can see Kara’s leg start to bounce a little, even as she allows her hands to sit relaxed in her lap, and the rise and fall of her chest is a little too quick.

Kir-Neth asks them what brings them in, friendly and jovial, but then he frowns when he takes in their serious looks.

Kara’s jaw is clenched, her gaze directed to a point somewhere past Kir-Neth, and Alura takes the initiative. She explains to Kir-Neth who sits with ever growing shock and surprise at how Kara was sent to the Phantom Zone and found Zor-el stranded for some decades there, and that during their escape he was injured protecting Kara, but she too was nicked by the deadly blade their foe wielded, and after their rescue Zor-el’s wounds refused to close. Lena frowns a moment wondering how Alura knows all this, then remembers that they had time to chat this morning while Lena was sleeping.

Kara is silent and resolutely refuses to engage in the conversation except to answer an occasional question posed by Kir-Neth, and even then, her words are clipped. Lena can’t take not doing anything any longer, and more for her own comfort than Kara’s perhaps, she reaches out to grab her hand, then feels her heart skip a little when Kara laces their fingers together, grips tight, pressing their hands into her stomach, Lena clenches her teeth in worry over Kara, and lets her thumb rub circles on her hand.

Lena picks up where Alura leaves off when she gets to the medical portion of the story, and tells him everything she knows about the illness, watches as his surprise turns to interested concentration, and when she’s done, his sits for some time in quiet contemplation, asking a question every so often.

Finally, he nods to himself and asks Kara if she will allow him to examine her and take a sample from the wound.

Kara nods stiffly after a moment and Lena has no choice but to follow since her hand is still clutched tightly in Kara’s grip, he directs her to sit on the edge of a bed and Alura stands a little to one side. He examines the wound for some time, frowning and humming intermittently. After a few minutes he steps away to grab some instruments and collects tissue samples.

He leaves them alone in the lab for some time, and silence stretches before the three of them, Kara fidgets running her fingers over Lena’s hand, her dangling foot flicking rapidly, her breathing a little labored but even. Lena catches Alura’s eye and the share pained concern looks over Kara, she steps forward and wraps an arm around her daughter, both Lena and Alura share a relieved look when Kara presses herself into her mother’s side, though her fidgeting continues.

Kir-Neth returns carrying a large box and he sets it on an empty space, he pulls out a strange piece of equipment and…a sock.

That…is weird.

After some time, he turns back to them with a grim face.

Lena’s heart starts to race, and she grips Kara’s hand tighter.

He doesn’t say anything for a long time, just looks between Kara and Lena, and it makes Lena’s chest twist with anxiety, finally he speaks, “Your deductions were correct. The wound was made by a 5th dimensional blade,” Lena feels a flicker of relief to know that they had summarized accurately, “as were your hypotheses that it is preventing the wound from closing, there is a touch of magic clinging to the cells of the affected areas, it leeches…” he pauses, trying to find words to explain properly, “the very life out of the cells and prevents them from healing properly, until eventually there is no life to draw.”

He looks curiously at Kara, “How have you been feeling the last few days, Kara?” she shrugs, and mutters out a fine, Lena frowns and feels a nagging sensation in the back of her mind, “No unexplained fatigue or dizziness?”

Lena clenches her jaw and feels a spike of worry.

Because Kara had been sleeping more than usual, but Lena hadn’t noticed in the moment, hadn’t Alex mentioned that Kara slept in too long? In the gym when Kara had been inexplicably dizzy when she had been sitting and resting for a long time and took too long to recover from it. She had said she wasn’t tired the night the portal connected to Argo, but she had started to fall asleep immediately despite her previous energy and vigor, even just yesterday Kara had seemed just as fatigued as Lena even though she knew Kara had almost a full night of rest.

Lena sucks in a sharp drag of air, and looks Kara in the face, “Kara,” she calls gently, but Kara stubbornly refuses to meet her gaze, jaw tight, and her posture rigid, that alone seems confirmation, but she tries again, “darling,” it comes out a breathless whisper, and she can hear the worry in her own voice.

Kara inhales sharply and closes her eyes, “It’s nothing,” a spike of terror runs through her and a knot forms in her stomach.

“What is?” Lena coaxes, hoping not to spook her into clamming up.

A long pause, “There’s been moments when…my vision blurs, and my head spins,” Kara grits out the words like they’re stuck in her mouth, refusing to come out.

Lena feels the knot twist and churn in her belly, her heart starting to beat faster, and she tries not to sounds accusing when she asks, “Why didn’t you say anything?” soft and concerned.

Kara practically vibrates with barely restrained rage, Lena holds fast to her hand even as Kara jumps to her feet, words bursting forth from her mouth, “Because everything else is already wrong with me!” throwing he free hand up in the air, and refusing to meet anyone’s gaze, Alura and Kir-Neth stand back shocked, “I can’t control my emotions!” she makes a fist and cringes into herself, shouting into the silence, “I’m sad! I’m angry! I’m depressed! I’m angry again! I was lashing out at you!” she says with self-loathing, and gestures toward Lena, “I was scared about my dad dying! And I’m so unreasonably angry with him too! And I shouldn’t be! My dad is alive, but I hate the man who’s come back!” she spits out, glaring at the ground, Lena hears Alura gasp, but Lena can’t spare her another thought or glance because her heart is breaking right in front of her eyes, “I’m not me!” Kara says with utter anguish, and finally she turns tear filled eyes on Lena, “I’m not me, Lena,” broken and so exhausted.

Lena stands still in shock and then she does the only thing she can, and pulls, yanks, Kara into a fierce hug as she curls around Lena and sobs into her neck. Lena has to bite back her own sobs and tears as she presses Kara into her, hard as she can.

“Who am I? Who am I, if I’m not me, Lena?” the words burn her skin as Kara breathes them whisper quiet across her skin, they tear her heart to shreds, and she has no explanation, a library full of knowledge in her mind and she has no answer for Kara, so she says the only thing she knows to be true.

“You’re Kara, you’re my, Kara, you’re still you, I promise,” firm and resolute, as sure as she has ever been, though she has no foundation, no facts to base these words on, she says them as sure of her words as she is for her love of Kara.

Kara’s fingers twist in her jacket at her back, the strong cords of her arms an excruciating vice around her ribs, but Lena doesn’t care, she would endure a hundred thousand times worse pain than this if Kara needed her to.   

 

Kir-Neth and Alura seem to have left to give them some privacy, Lena registers a flicker of gratitude, but her entire focus is on Kara, who is leaning against the bed, and slumped against Lena, seemingly unable to support her own weight. Lena stands in the space between Kara’s feet, the Kryptonian’s cheek pressed to her shoulder and arms wrapped tight around her waist.

One of her arms grips tight around Kara’s back and shoulders, anchoring her in place and the other runs pale fingers through silk blonde tresses, it seems to comfort Kara so keeps doing it, drags her fingers through the fine hairs at her temple and back in a curve, down past her shoulders, in long strokes, until they are free, then ascend to start again, slow and steady, over and over.

Kara’s breaths are shudders that slowly subside, but Lena continues, unwavering in her task, her own broken heart still feels jagged but mending a little as Kara does.

The she feels it shatter again when Kara asks, “Why are you still here?” Lena freezes, shocked by the question, her hand pauses mid stroke, and she cups the back of Kara’s head, just holding her, she can feel Kara’s jaw clenching and unclenching at her shoulder, “I’m not worth all this trouble.”

Lena has to force her breathing to stay even, though her eyes shed tears uncontrollably, “You don’t want me to leave,” it’s not a question, she knows that’s the last thing Kara wants, “you are worth it, and I want to be here with you.”

Kara lets out a hard breath, “But why? It doesn’t make sense,” voice breaking again, “it’s too much, I know it’s too much to do this with me.”

Lena can feel her chin trembling and she has to work to make her voice steady, but she manages it, “You’re the best thing that’s ever happened to me, Kara,” she takes a deep ragged breath, “and I love you,” voice catching in her throat, “isn’t that reason enough?”   

Kara’s lets out shuddering series of breaths, a keening noise escaping the back of her throat, and she turns her forehead to press hard into Lena’s chest.

 

Alura enters carrying a tray, Kara still hiding in the shelter of Lena’s arms, breathing almost calm once more.

She and Kara’s mother share a long, troubled look, but Lena thinks she also sees gratefulness directed toward her. Alura sets the tray down on the bed and presses a gentle hand to Kara’s face, “Come have some tea with me, my love,” Kara doesn’t move at first, Lena wonders if she even will, but then slowly, she pulls away.

Lena doesn’t go far, watches Kara take a small cup from her mother, inhale the steam and take a sip, her eyes stay downcast but Lena can see some tension leave her shoulders, and she presses her lips together almost ruefully, he voice a little watery, but with a touch of awe, “It’s my favorite,” her eyes flick up to her mother, “I haven’t had this in so long,” eyes closing in bittersweet pain and appreciation. Lena feels the shards of her heart catch and crunch as they slide over each other, how many times must Kara suffer?

Kir-Neth enters and steps into the room a little hesitantly though this is by right his lab, Alura waves him closer, and he does as bid, but he doesn’t try to address Kara though he does look at her with heartfelt concern, instead he turns to Lena, “May I speak with you in private?” she frowns glancing at Kara, but she makes no move to indicate she’s even heard him. Lena nods, she squeezes Kara’s shoulder before she goes, and follows him outside the room.

He sighs deeply, when the door closes behind him, and presses a hand to his temple, and then looks up at her with weary resignation, “Lena,” he pauses, “I must speak to you about the rest of my findings,” Lena feels alarm start to grow in her chest at his grave expression, “I didn’t want to upset Kara even more after all this, though of course she deserves to know, but it may be best if it comes from you.”

Lena can feel her breathing grow a little shallow, in wary anticipation, and presses her laced fingers tight together, waiting, he watches her a moment and seems to understand that he must get to the point, and quickly, “You theorized that Zor-el has only survived as long as her has because the yellow sun radiation,” she nods, “Kara’s body has an excess of radiation in her cells due to how long she’s lived under a yellow sun, it acts as a buffer and deterrent to the imp wound,” his eyes look stricken, “but now that Kara has been on Argo, where we do not have such a luxury,” his jaw works a little to grit his teeth, “the wound is depleting her reserves of radiation rapidly.”

Lena stares at his chest, and says numbly, “How long?”

He kooks down and shakes his head, “Months, three at the rate of depletion, her strength will start to wane noticeably in as little as three or four weeks.”

“If I can get her back to Earth?” Lena hears herself ask from a distance.

“Two years, I would say, though perhaps less.”

“Do you have leads for a cure?”

“Yes, but not strong ones.”

“You’ll do everything you can,” she says it cold and harsh, the world coming back into focus for a moment, he looks a little surprised at her biting words, but he nods, understandingly, “I’ll get her home, that will buy us time. Does Alura know?” the numbness she feels is all encompassing but she knows the pertinent questions to ask.

He shakes his head no, “It’s your right to hear first.”

She doesn’t remember what else she says to him or he to her, and all of sudden without noticing, she’s in the lab again watching Kara and Alura from a distance, Kara seems to have relaxed enough to be able to speak to her mother, looking her in the face, better than before and her avoidant gaze.

As Lena comes closer, Kara turns her head to watch her, and tilts it a little with a trace of concern as she takes in her expression, Lena throws her arms around Kara, breathing deeply, and she’s grateful when Kara just holds her back.

“What is it?” she asks, but Lena shakes her head and begs.

“Later, ask me later, please,” Kara squeezes her arms around her in reply and they stand in desolate silence.

 

They stand in front of the door to the voishesur raozhium hand in hand, Kara taking a deep breath and looking at Lena with a little panic, she grips her hand tighter trying to reassure, but part of her doesn’t want to let Kara out of her sight, though she knows that Kara needs this.

“I’ll wait,” Lena says, but Kara shakes her head, serious.

“Mom says the first meeting could be really long since it’s the assessment,” Kara looks at her with worry, “I know you’re anxious to get started on the portal,” and it’s true but if Kara needs her here, Lena will stay.

Kara turns to face her fully, and reaches for her other hand, looking down at them, “I’d feel better if I knew you were doing that, and I know if you stayed here, you’d probably start taking random things apart to keep yourself occupied,” she says with a thread of humor that has something loosening in Lena’s chest, though not completely.

Lena doesn’t feel like joking, “Are you sure?” if Kara is certain then she would definitely feel better going back to work on getting the portal fixed, so she can-nope can’t think about that now.

Kara bobs her head, looking between Lena’s eyes, still solemn and somber, “I’ll see you later,” Lena nods and then reaches up to lay a hand on her cheek, feels Kara’s hand come up to hold it there, and then leans forward to press a lingering kiss on the opposite one.

When she pulls back, she watches Kara’s eyes flutter open, subdued surprise in her eyes.

Lena leaves.

 

She throws herself into fixing the portal all afternoon.

She combs meticulously through her code to see if there was a reason on her end that the portal might have malfunctioned.

Her stomach drops when she sees it.

Further down, another.

Her breathing starts to come in a little too fast and drops heavily onto the crate behind her.

It was her fault.

Heart racing and tears pricking behind her eyes she finishes going through the code.

Good lord, if she had made one more mistake, she would have killed them.

Tears continue to well in her eyes, but she presses the heels of her hands to her face to stop them.

She needs to fix this…

 

Hours and hours later the purple light of the portal engulfs her, she releases a shuddering breath of relief and pulls up the audio-visual monitor she brought to be able to communicate with it’s twin back home.

She chews on her lip anxiously waiting for it the loading screen to give her either a confirmation or failure notification for connection. Lena is so engrossed in her tablet that she misses the figure coming toward her. She sees the shape of a person out of the corner of her eye but it’s so unexpected that she yelps and nearly flings the tablet at her side in self-defense, and then Lena sees that it’s Kara, staring in awe at the portal, “You did it!”

Lena shakes her head, trying to calm her racing heart, “Only partially, we won’t be able to travel back yet, but we should be able to talk to them, if someone will just pick up,” she growls.

Then suddenly, she’s looking at Eliza’s astonished face, “Eliza!” she yelps at the same time Eliza says her name. Kara moves quickly to her side to see and Eliza nearly bursts into to tears when she moves into frame.

“Oh, thank goodness! You’re both ok!” Eliza looks absolutely terrible, her hair is disheveled like she’s been running her fingers through it a lot, and there are bags under her eyes.

They catch her up a little and reassure her that they are fine, but Lena has pressing matters, “Eliza, where’s Brainy I need his help.”

Eliza grimaces, “He’s not here.”

“Well, when will he be back?” Lena asks exasperated, so close yet so far, as always.

“He won’t, at least not for a while. He and Alex…” she trails off and Lena feels Kara stiffen beside her.

“Alex and Brainy, what Eliza?” Kara presses urgently.

Eliza purses her mouth a little, her brow pinching, “They took J’onn’s ship and are on their way to Argo.”

Chapter Text

Alura stands over her daughters’ bed and takes a moment to appreciate the picture before her, her heart warming at the sight.

Kara lies peacefully in sleep her face relaxed and still, the curve of her jaw is all Zor-el and she’s noticed the more time she spends with Kara, that though she has not seen her father in many years, she lifts or tilts her chin in such a way that it reminds Alura of her long dead beloved husband. It sends a pang of familiar sorrow through her heart, but she's long accustomed to it, and instead she focuses on what is real and tangible before her, lest she chase the memories of a dead life.

The familiar jaw is tilted down and to the side pressed lightly to the crown of Lena’s head, where it rests on comfortably on her daughters’ shoulder, in fact Lena herself is tucked easily against Kara, held securely in place by a suntanned arm. They make a sweet picture with Lena’s hand tucked near her chin, and Kara wrapped protectively around her even in sleep, she takes a holoimage of them with her handheld to maybe tease them with in the future.

After, she contemplates Lena, thinks back on everything that the young woman had revealed about what happened between her and Kara, and she’s still astonished at how very forthright Lena was about her past transgressions, almost as if she wished for Alura to punish and condemn her, Instead, she remembers feeling sorry for the poor child, listening to how her daughter had hurt Lena, though Lena herself had done an admirable job of painting Kara in the best light, but Alura could see how Kara had wounded the poor woman.

Alura smiles a little, she could see quickly how much Lena cared for Kara, and it was obvious at the end of her tale that she was absolutely devoted to her daughter, it made her heart happy to know that there was such a person who so genuinely and completely loved her only child. She could not have chosen a kinder, more intelligent, or good person than Lena, even if she had the pick of everyone on her long dead planet.

During Lena’s speech, she had started to gather an inking that perhaps Lena’s feelings were not unrequited, she may not fully know her daughter as an adult yet, but she had raised Kara, and she knew her essence, who she was in the core of her heart, and Alura could pick the threads of Kara’s motivations even from Lena’s biased perspective.

Seeing them now Alura can see she was right, and she doesn’t need Kara to tell her in words what she can see plain before her.

She confirms it from Kara anyway when she wakes.

Alura sees it more concretely in the way Kara is so in tune and considerate of Lena’s thoughts and feelings, she does it thoughtlessly and without effort as if Lena’s needs and desires are equal to her own and must be tended to accordingly.

She laughs a little to herself while she watches them, they become completely blind to the world around them as the speak to each other, even Alura herself is forgotten while they discuss the ramifications of going through with the kanreosh. Lena’s concern over ruining Kara’s marriage prospects is rather laughable, even as it is sweet of her, because Alura can see very plainly that her daughter would love nothing more than to marry Lena, tomorrow if she could. Kara’s equal obliviousness to Lena’s ardor is nigh on exasperating.

Alura still feels guilty about putting them in this position but a small part of her wonders if maybe it might not help these blind lovestruck fools find their way to each other.

She wonders if there might be any way for her to help it along, she knows they must come together on their own, that even if she knocks their heads together now and tells them their love is requited it wouldn’t work.

No.

Better to help them in more subtle ways if she can…

Chapter Text

Kara trades I love yous and goodbyes to a very relieved Eliza, and watches as Lena cuts the connection and moves immediately across the room, pulling some items from the crate they brought with them.

She frowns, Lena seems more preoccupied than she normally does when she’s working on a project, there’s tension in her shoulders that’s unusual. Even while Lena was working non-stop to get to Argo, she was never so rigid, Kara always liked how Lena seemed to relax into her work, that despite any significant challenges, she reveled in immersing herself in the process.

In fact, Lena had been acting a little strange for a while now, not overtly noticeable, just something that tickled at the back of Kara’s brain, earlier Lena had gone to speak with Kir-Neth and when she returned, she had practically barreled into Kara’s arms seeking comfort. Lena hadn’t wanted to talk about it and though Kara had been concerned by her attitude she dropped it as Lena asked. It was only right, especially after Lena had spent so long comforting Kara during another one of her emotional outbursts.

Then later just before Kara went to her appointment with the voishesur raozhium, Lena had seemed particularly torn between staying and leaving to go work on the portal, so Kara made the decision for her. Even more surprising was when Lena had leaned in to kiss her cheek goodbye.

Rao, that was…Kara blushed remembering it, though in the moment she had been too stunned and the lingering melancholy from earlier hadn’t allowed her to appreciate it, but it did buoy her spirts and helped steel her courage when she went to speak to the raozhium.

That meeting had gone…well? She’s not sure how she feels about it.

Adasa Diz-Myr was as kind and friendly as Kara expected, a bright white welcoming smile that contrasted against dark skin had settled some nerves in her chest. She was much older, gray peppering her hair, and she stood almost a foot shorter than Kara, small and compact where Kara was tall and broad shouldered.

They sat in what could almost be someone’s living room, comfortable, intimately arranged furniture and hot tea waiting for them on a low table. Adasa had introduced herself, not like Kara imagined an Earth doctor would, then again, she wasn’t exactly sure how an Earth therapist would introduce themselves.

She spoke about her family lineage, and how she survived Krypton’s fall, and what lead her to her current profession, and somehow by virtue of ordinary back and forth conversation Kara found herself a couple hours later in the middle of telling her how she came out as Supergirl, abruptly realizing that somehow this woman had gotten her to explain in fairly intimate detail almost her entire life up until that point.

Adasa had merely smiled reassuringly and asked if Kara was uncomfortable knowing now how much she revealed to what amounted to a perfect stranger. But Kara found that she didn’t mind, it was…liberating to be able to talk about her fears and frustrations so openly, being able to speak to another Kryptonian especially, who understood the terrible weight of losing her world, and she found that despite having only just met Adasa she felt at ease with her, she was funny with a wry wit that reminded her of Lena, and she obviously took her job seriously with careful attention to her patient.

So no, Kara wasn’t uncomfortable, in fact, she found herself getting a little emotional thinking that finally she could have some help with these terrible feelings and outbursts she had been having recently, and things didn’t seem so hopeless after all. She had apologized to Adasa for her waterworks, but the raozhium was kind as ever and took the reins of the conversation easily again.

At the end, several hours later, her voice a little hoarse and her eyes a little red, having glossed over her time in the Phantom Zone (a lot) and delved only mildly into her return home and reason for coming to Argo, Kara felt a little overwhelmed and oddly a little lighter. It was a strange feeling, but she sat in silence while she waited for Adasa to say something.

Finally, Adasa had simply said that she would like to help Kara center herself if she was willing to put in the work, and that it would be hard to face the demons from her past and present, but she was confident that Kara could do it.

The calm silence that followed while Kara thought was almost comforting, and ultimately, she nodded and asked what she needed to do.

Adasa outlined a schedule for Kara for the next few weeks, one that surprised Kara in its intensity. When she commented on that, Adasa had agreed but explained that Kara had just returned from a traumatic event and needed more time to devote to it especially because she had very blatantly been avoiding it, not to mention previous unattended difficulties and traumatic events, and once they reevaluated at the end they could see about a new and less rigorous schedule, if appropriate.  

Starting the next morning Kara would spend thirty minutes communing with Rao in solitary meditation, then an hour with Adasa speaking privately, another hour in silent mediation but this time with a group, followed by an hour of group session work, and finally another half hour to reflect on the morning’s revelations or thoughts to center oneself before going back into the world.  

After she left Adasa’s office she decided to go for a walk around a market, the afternoon breeze carrying murmuring voices from nearby, her feet moving her without much thought. She pulled out the handheld her mother had provided, to both she and Lena so they could communicate, and she had sent a message giving them an update on her whereabouts. Her mother replied fairly quickly, saying she would be in meetings all day mostly to prepare for their kanreosh. Kara feels a little flutter of excitement in her chest about that, and then tamps it down because she should be appropriately serious and upset about roping Lena into being her fiancée.  Lena did not reply, though Kara was not surprised, she knew she was most likely engrossed in her work.

She walked amongst the other Kryptonians feeling calmer than she had in sometime, though she could still feel her more volatile emotions ever present, but dormant, and she could appreciate the kind happy smiles thrown her way, surprised whenever more than a few people would offer her free items from their wares, and then remembered that her mother said she was kind of a celebrity and hero in Argo. She turned down most of it, though she did feel a little guilty at taking the food from vendors freely. She missed lunch and only had tea today and she was famished!

About and hour later she was on her way home, and had received a call from Thara inviting her, Lena, and Alura to dinner at her home and so she could introduce her children to them. Kara accepted a little tentatively because she was unsure if Lena could or would come with her and declined on her mother’s behalf.

 

Her eyes land on Lena first, frowning in concentration and mild annoyance at the screen in front of her, hair thrown up in messy bun, arms crossed seeming to be waiting impatiently, teeth chewing at her lip, and Kara thinks she look adorable.

She moves closer looking at the working portal and stares in respect and amazement at the testament to the prowess of Lena’s ability and intelligence, she exclaims her excitement and turns back to Lena who is less than impressed with herself, and grumbles about how they need someone to answer on the other side.

Her face changes abruptly and with a shout of Eliza’s name Kara rushes to her side to see. Kara listens in slightly shocked silence as Eliza explains that once they went through the portal and it had shutdown contrary to expectations, and after all attempts to bring it back online by Brainy, Alex had grown frustrated with Brainy’s lack of progress and announced after a day of fruitless endeavors that she was taking J’onn’s space car to Argo and see for herself what had happened to Lena and Kara because she refused to believe that they were anything but alive.

Brainy insisted on accompanying her, stating that he had more experience flying a spaceship, and that if the portal was broken on the Argo side, then he would be able to help Lena fix it posthaste. Their estimated time of arrival was somewhere in the vicinity of two days.

They chatted a little longer with Eliza reassuring her they were both fine, and with emphatic wishes from them both for her to get some rest and not worry about them too much, and after a heartfelt goodbye with her foster mother Kara lets out a rush of air releasing some tension, but Lena seems to be entirely unable to relax and starts immediately on getting back to work.

Kara’s brow pinches as she watches Lena.

When was the last time she took a break or ate?  

“Lena,” she calls gently, but Lena just hums distractedly putting together some piece of equipment, Kara takes a few steps closer repeating her name a little more insistently, but Lena is muttering to herself completely absorbed in her work, finally Kara has enough and when Lena tries to brush past her, Kara catches her by the elbows.

Lena makes a disgruntled noise and glares at Kara in mild annoyance, “I think it’s time for a break, Lena,” she says looking into her eyes, hoping she won’t fight her too much on this, but Lena shakes her head.

“I can’t Kara, I have to get this working, I’ve wasted so much time,” Lena looks away, and Kara frowns at the frantic look in her eyes, Lena really does need a break.

“It will keep for a few hours,” Lena tries to pull away at that but Kara tightens her grip a little to keep her in place, “You’re going to burn yourself out, you need to rest and eat, I promise you can come back straight away afterwards, I’ll even help you,” Lena lets out a deep breath still refusing to meet Kara’s gaze, eyes downcast, but she thinks she might be reaching her, “Alex will be here in a couple days and then you’ll have both Danvers sisters bugging you about taking some time to yourself, better to already be in the habit before she gets here,” she jokes, trying to coax a smile, but it seems to be the wrong thing to say because Lena turns her head to the side inhaling sharply.

Kara is confused, alarm starting to grow in her chest, Lena tears out of her grip while she’s distracted, and turns her back to Kara, but she catches a glimpse of shame on Lena’s face before she turns away.

“I need to fix this, Kara,” she whispers, and Kara’s heart breaks a little at her tone, she knows Lena tends to take responsibility for things unnecessarily and overburdens herself with worry that she’s not contributing enough, but Lena got them here in the first place. It’s an amazing feat in and of itself, sometimes she wishes Lena would take a moment and enjoy her accomplishments a little more, sure things hadn’t gone to plan but they still have time, and Brainy was coming soon too, so he could help, she didn’t need to complete it right now.

Lena stands a few steps away, her back rigid, and her hands fiddling with the device in her hands, but Kara can see her melancholic air, how she’s struggling to keep the fatigue out of her shoulders, and the clench of her jaw, it propels Kara forward to wrap up Lena from behind, arms locking over Lena’s across her shoulders, Kara’s head tilted against hers, she closes her eyes and presses herself tight to Lena’s back, worry for Lena spiking through her chest.  

Kara feels Lena tense at first, fingers still and no longer fidgeting, then she lets out a trembling breath, “I know you want to fix this immediately, but please, just take a couple hours off,” she feels Lena bring one hand up to Kara’s forearm, and she worries for a second that Lena will try to pull out of her arms, but it merely rests there so she continues, “Thara invited us for dinner with her family, I’d like my best friends to really meet and get to know each other, and this way you can relax for a little bit, eat, and probably sit down for a second, then I promise we’ll come straight back so you can keep working if that’s what you want.”

A long silent moment passes, and Lena finally lets out a heavy rush of air, and presses her head to Kara’s, squeezing the arm in her hand, “Ok,” she breathes.

 

Kara waits for Lena on the couch in the living room, she’s already spoken to Thara on the handheld and her enthusiastic response makes Kara smile while Thara gives directions to her house, after she hangs up Lena is coming down the stairs and already seems less troubled than earlier, Kara can feel some of her own earlier apprehension about Lena subsiding.

The smile on her face grows a little wider as she watches Lena come closer, the other woman had wanted to clean herself up a bit before they went to meet Kara’s friend, she had been working all day and didn’t want to show up looking rumpled. The sight of her makes Kara’s heart race a little, Lena has only changed her top and put on one of her simple blazers and combed her hair into a sleek ponytail, but it’s one of Kara’s favorite looks on Lena, put together but still soft, not her sharp boardroom look, though Kara liked that one too for other reasons…

Kara grins at her as she comes to a stop in front of her, “You look great!”

Lena’s cheeks tinge a little pink, smiling shyly, “Thanks,” and she clears her throat, her eyes flicking up and down to take Kara in, “So do you,” and perhaps it’s the tilt of Lena’s head, or the quality of her voice, but the words send a shiver down Kara’s spine and her neck starts to feel a bit warm, she shifts nervously eyes going to the ground, her hand going up to her face, but her glasses are on Earth and she ends up pulling some of her hair distractedly over her shoulder instead.

Kara murmurs her thanks, and mentally tries to get it together, looks back at Lena, and unthinkingly offers her hand, and her stomach flips, she’s absolutely horrified at herself, she’s never so blatantly asked or offered to hold Lena’s hand for no other reason than to do just that, almost every other time it had been in the heat of the moment meant to comfort.

This isn’t a date or something! She berates herself.

What an idiot!

Why would she think that was a good-...?

The side of Lena’s mouth and one eyebrow ticks up, and she takes Kara’s hand.

Kara’s heart races, and ratches higher when Lena laces their fingers together, and she starts to wonder if…

“You’re really taking this engagement business seriously,” Lena says mildly, and Kara’s disappointment hits her like a freight train.

She laughs weakly, hoping her smile doesn’t cringe too much, “Heh, yeah, I guess so,” and she wants to kick herself, of course, the dang fake fiancée bullshirt business, she holds back the sigh that wants to burst from her chest.

Lena tilts her head in concern, face pinching a little, “Everything ok?” her warm hand squeezes Kara’s.

“Oh yeah, absolutely!” a little loud, avoiding Lena’s scrutiny, and she tugs Lena abruptly alongside her as she makes her way out of the house.

They walk in silence, hand in hand, Kara watches Lena’s reaction to her surroundings, they haven’t exactly had time to visit Argo with all the drama happening and Kara really wants to show Lena her home, she wants her to like it here, Lena halts them by the monolith in front of the property with her house's glyph on at the top, words inscribed underneath.

“The bond that links your true family is not born of blood,” she inhales sharply in surprise as Lena translates, Kara seems to always forget that Lena knows how to read her language, it sends a lightning bolt of pride and something else she can’t name through her, all Kara knows is that she loves that Lena can read it, “but of respect, loyalty, and joy in each other's lives,” her emotions and the familiar words rolling off Lena’s tongue make her eyes burn with unshed tears, “if the family is together, the soul is in the right place,” Lena pauses and sees the separate but no less important family motto below it, “stronger together.”

Lena looks at Kara, her eyes narrowing ever so slightly in concern at her reddening eyes, but she doesn’t say anything, let’s Kara speak in her own time, “It’s a quote from one of the founding members of our house, Tistra-El, she was a war orphan and became a warrior dedicated to protecting the village that took her in and raised her, she brought together a group of disparate warriors from all over and made them her family and created the House of El.”

Lena smiles at her fondly and squeezes her hand, chuckling, “Kind of sounds like you,” Kara laughs, a little bashful, shaking her head, she couldn’t possibly compare to Tistra, Lena bumps her shoulder, “Oh come on, don’t tell me you don’t see the parallels, ‘a warrior protecting a city’ with ‘her friends’, that’s you and the Super Friends to a T.”

Kara can’t help the smile growing on her face, nor the blush from Lena’s gentle teasing, and concedes, “I guess it kind of sounds similar,” and Kara’s smile grows at Lena’s slight exasperation and eyes rolling fondly at her stubbornness.

They continue walking, “What happened to her?” Lena asks.

Kara sighs a little, she always admired Tistra and loved when her father would tell her stories, “Oh she had a ton of adventures, eventually retired. Actually, she fell in love with and ended up marrying one of her friends,” Kara and Lena lock eyes and she has to look away after a moment, Lena says a quiet ‘oh’, and she can feel a blush starting to burn on her cheeks.

Ok, maybe there might be some parallels…

Kara clears her throat, “We actually have a replica of one of her swords,” Lena is intrigued, “Yeah, it was originally created to serve in ceremonial combat when necessary, there were a lot of replicas made over the centuries when one broke or was too old, and now it’s mostly just for decoration, though it’s always made of the highest craftsmanship, exactly the same, I cut myself on it once when dad had me clean all our ancestral artifacts when I was learning what they all meant and their history,” Kara says smiling a little in remembrance, she hadn’t recalled that particular memory in a long time, “I’ll actually have to carry it for our kanreosh,” she adds, and feels her fading blush come back when she says ‘our’.

Lena looks at her with a familiar teasing smile, “I’m sure you’ll cut a fine figure, very dashing sword and all,” and deliberately gives Kara a once over that has her blush scorching on her face, neck, and ears.

Rao, was Lena…flirting with her?

No, she couldn’t be, she was just joking around.

Kara fumbles for words, and finally coughs out a ‘thanks’, and resumes walking in silence, trying to combat her raging blush.

Lena speaks, “How was your talk with the raozhium?” and the way Lena has so effortlessly pronounced a word she has never spoken out loud nor even heard of before today, sends an almost visceral spike of attraction for Lena straight through her core.  

It has her fumbling again, and then as she remembers how it went, her racing heart and mind slow, and she says a bit restrained, “Umm, it was…it was good, her name is Adasa Diz-Myr, and she’s really great at her job, I was spilling my guts without realizing it at first,” Kara gulps a little, she feels Lena’s hand tighten in hers and she squeezes back, and she explains the schedule that Adasa has made for her.

Lena brings up her other hand to grasp near Kara’s elbow, bringing them closer as the walk, and peers up at her with no judgement and asks, “How are you feeling about that?”

Kara’s heart stutters a little at that question, and she shrugs, “Fine, I guess,” looking away, Lena waits, and she says, “part of me is a bit,” Kara shrugs unsure how to explain, “like I’m not sure that I need quite that much therapy, right?” turning to look at Lena.

The silence stretches a little as Lena looks at her a little unsure and concerned, “I don’t think I’m the most qualified person to ask that, darling,” biting her lip a little, apologetic.

Kara sighs and shakes her head, “Sorry, that wasn’t fair of me to ask you,” looking up at the ever-growing darkening sky.

“Do you not want to go?” Lena asks softly, gently, Kara scrunches her mouth to one side contemplating the question, looking down and kicks a rock out in front of her.

“Maybe?” she says at last, and then after adds quietly feeling her eyes burn, “I didn’t think I was that broken.”

Lena inhales sharply at that and pulls Kara to an abrupt halt, presses a hand to Kara’s cheek to make sure she’s listening, “You’re not broken, Kara,” her voice low and empathic, “you’re struggling, you just need some help and I think it’s incredibly brave that you’re doing this,” Kara looks at Lena’s earnest face and swallows.

“You think so?” she whispers, and brings up a hand to grip Lena’s wrist, the other still laced between them.

Lena nods, resolute, “Absolutely, goodness knows I’ve always been too much of coward to go to therapy.”

“Lena,” Kara protests, she hates when Lena says self-deprecating things like that, she is not a coward.

“Darling,” she deflects, “I think you should do whatever you’re comfortable with, but I worry about you, and I will always help you to the best of my ability, but I’m not exactly equipped to help you navigate some of these things you’ve been experiencing,” and the way she says it, Kara can tell Lena hates that she can’t fix this like she could a machine.

Lena pulls her into a hug and Kara melts into it, breathing a little harshly, “Alex said something similar,” Kara says into her shoulder.

Kara feels Lena’s hum, and she replies a little dryly, “Hmm, I always knew there was some brains under that brawn,” and Kara scoffs a little in laughter, she knows full well that Lena knows Alex is smart.

She pulls back and looks at Lena, sees her calm breathing, face so intent on Kara, a little drawn in concern and affection, and she nods, “I should at least try before I quit, right?”

Lena smiles softly and agrees.

 

They arrive at Thara’s and are accosted at the door by two children, a boy and girl, who pepper them with lightening quick questions asking about how Kara stopped the Worldkillers and how Lena made more Harun-el, though they seemed a tad more interested in Kara’s exploits, but both stare up at them in awestruck wonder.

Thara and Lir-Al both stand behind a child each and press the children into their legs, trying to calm them, Thara with an exasperated look on her face, “I’m sorry they’ve spoken of nothing else since I told them you two were coming, apparently word has spread to their school about your kanreosh, and I have now been deemed the most awesome mother for having known you,” she directs the last at Kara, and it pulls a laugh from everyone.

There are smiles and introductions made all around, the children proudly proclaim to be Mada, age eleven, and her younger brother, Nir-Al, age nine.

Kara and Lena are bombarded with questions again all throughout dinner and it has them both laughing and smiling at the little ones, Kara finds herself watching Lena interact with Mada, and it warms her heart to see Lena relaxed and explaining her scientific process to an eleven-year-old who seems to be following along fairly well.

Nir-Al pulls her attention away again and not too long after dinner, the children are sent to get read to bed with Lir-Al shepherding them upstairs, with groans and pouts on their lips.

“Thank you so much for indulging them,” Thara says gratefully when the children head upstairs, and she leads them to the sitting area so they can get comfortable, handing them glasses of fresh pressed juice.

Kara sits and Lena sits next to her on the small couch across from Thara, “Mada seems very scientifically inclined,” impressed, and Kara can tell she’s enjoying herself, it makes her happy to know and she’s pleased how Thara and Lena have gotten along, in between the children interrupting anyway.

“She certainly is,” Lir-Al says happily, as he comes down the stairs and sits down next to his wife, and looks to them with a sly smile on his face, “have you two talked about how many children you want?”

Kara chokes on her beverage, and sets it down sputtering and coughing, she feels Lena’s hand on her back rubbing gently, she can feel the blush around her ears, and refuses to look at Lena.

They’re saved from having to answer when Thara says indignantly on their behalf, “Lir! That’s rude!” smacking him lightly on the shoulder.

Her husband just laughs and says only mildly apologetic, “Hey, we had that question thrown at us for years until we had ours. It’s my turn to continue the tradition, and it was only fair that I collect my due,” Thara glares at him a little and apologizes to them.

Lena waves off her apology, and Kara’s grateful for Lena’s ability to rise to the occasion, “It’s not something we’ve discussed,” she says rather diplomatically, with no trace of embarrassment in her voice, Kara’s not sure of her expression but that’s only because she still refuses to look, her own face feels very hot.

Thara nods and starts questioning them in earnest about their relationship, seeming very interested, and Kara begins to realize, with a mounting sense of panic, that it might have been a very bad idea coming here, because she and Lena haven’t discussed, at all, the story of their ‘romantic’ relationship. That might have been a prudent thing to do but she has been so distracted by everything else.

“We met when she came to interview me for an article,” Lena says easily, and proceeds to tell a truncated version of their friendship, Kara thinks that’s probably the way to go, keep everything close to the truth so she doesn’t have to remember too many details about the lies, “and somewhere along the way I realized that my platonic feelings had turned decidedly not platonic, and she chuckles along with Thara and Lir, who tell their own story of how they met, smiling softly at each other.

“What about you, Kara, were you completely in love with Lena from the first or did it take you a while? I seem to recall you were always a little blind when it came to noticing you had a crush on someone,” Thara says teasingly.

Kara’s brain freezes at the question and she starts to feel her heart rate increase, her eyes widen in panic and she realizes she’s taking too long to answer, she almost jumps a foot in the air when she feels Lena grip her knee lightly. Kara snaps her head to look at her, and sees a pointed look on her face, “Yes, darling do tell, I don’t think I ever asked you,” voice teasing, contrasting starkly with her face, there’s the slightest edge to her voice you wouldn’t notice if you didn’t know her, but Kara does because she knows Lena very well.

Kara can’t help the slightly crazed awkward chuckle that escapes her lips without permission, Lena widens her eyes and grips her leg a little tighter, basically telling her to get it together, and Kara can only ramble as always does when she’s nervous, “Uh-well-I just wanted to get to know her in the beginning,” Kara says directly to Lena’s face.

“I was kind of awestruck after that first meeting and I remember thinking that I really wanted to see her again,” Lena’s eyes tick up a little, “Slowly we started to become friends, and I couldn’t seem to get enough of spending time with her, I loved talking to her and went out of my way to make up excuses to see her or invite her to lunch,” Kara still hasn’t looked away from Lena, every word of truth pours from her mouth, and she watches as Lena’s lips part ever so slightly.

“She became my best friend and somewhere along the way I must have fallen for her, but I couldn’t tell you when or how, I was in the middle before I knew that I had begun,” the last is one of her favorite quotes and it slips from her lips like she’s been waiting only for this moment to say it.  

Lena’s breathing has become steadily more deliberate and her chin tilts down a little as she looks at Kara seriously but otherwise blank, and Kara can’t tell what she’s thinking as green eyes flick back and forth between hers, and the world seems to slow down a little as she stays in this moment with Lena, and it feels like something significant is passing between them, but she can’t for the life of her understand what it is.        

Thara makes a delighted noise, and it startles both Lena and Kara, they both turn toward her.

Kara can feel her racing heart again, her blush has not subsided, and she manages to croak out a passable change of subject, asking about some landscape piece she remembers from the last time she spoke to them, that gives her enough time to get her body back under control, leaving only the tiniest bit of thought to the fact that Lena has not removed her hand from Kara’s knee.

But her hard-won calm is short lived when, Lir-Al asks, “Oh, and how is your friend?” Kara feels her stomach drop in dread, hoping he won’t-, “Mon-el, was it?”

Kara practically slams her hand over Lena’s when she feels her start to pull away, and she gulps a little, griping Lena’s hand tight, her heart racing once more, “He went back home to his wife,” Kara grinds out quickly enunciating harshly on the word trying to make it clear, because she doesn’t want Lena to think-to think what? That Kara hadn’t brought her ex-boyfriend home to Argo before she had brought Lena? Because that’s true even as in this moment she hates that she brought him and not her, but that’s hardly anyone’s fault, there were extenuating world shaking circumstances.

The conversation thankfully turns more mundane, she and Lena chat almost normally with Thara and Lir, but Kara can feel an undercurrent of tension between them.

Kara both dreads and can’t wait to leave, but eventually it can’t be put off and they bid their goodbyes.

 

They don’t speak as they walk back, Lena has her arms crossed against the cool night air, though it doesn’t bother Kara, and she seems to be lost in thought as they walk, eyes straight on the ground just a head of her.

Kara hates this weirdness between them, and after a few minutes of tense silence she bursts out with, “I didn’t choose to bring him!” Lena startles and they come to a stop, Kara wringing her hands a little, “We were looking for the Harun-el you needed, and it led us here,” she flounders not sure what else she wants to say, “and it wasn’t planned,” she finishes lamely, looking at the ground and then gathers her courage to look up again.

Lena studies her face for a long while and then purses her lips a little, and simply says, “I believe you,” Kara practically deflates at that and they resume walking, but there’s still something just a smidge off and she doesn’t know why or what it is.

She sees Lena shiver against another cool breeze and Kara can’t help herself even if things are strange between them, she wraps her arm around Lena’s back and feels a rush of relief when Lena presses closely into her side, tucking her head a little toward Kara’s shoulder.

Kara sighs, this is fine, they can deal with whatever this is later, right now Lena is at her side, and she wouldn’t rather be anywhere else.

Chapter Text

When they arrive back at the house, they part ways, Kara’s ask if Lena would like some help in the lab is declined with a shake of her head and avoidant eyes, it makes Kara sigh dejectedly when she disappears down the steps.

She spends the next half hour moping around the house trying to find something to do, she changes into pajamas for comfort emotional and otherwise, then walks around the house aimlessly, finally she just ends up cleaning for lack of anything else to do, and when she hears the front door open, she perks up as Alura comes further in.

“Mom!” Kara rushes up to her mother and gives her a hug, it sends a flash of memory through her mind of when she was a child and would do the exact same thing with the same excitement and inflection, Alura seems to be struck by the moment too because she holds Kara just a little tighter and a little longer than is probably necessary.

Alura leans back and grasps Kara’s arms smiling at her warm and affectionate, but she must see something in Kara’s face, despite her efforts, and her mother’s smile dims a little in concern, “What is it?”

Kara shrugs at loss for words or even where to start, Alura leads them to the couch, sits her down and asks about her day, and Kara recounts it for her. She mentions her therapy schedule and the unexpected impending arrival of her sister and Brainy, to which Alura suggests giving Thara some notice so there isn’t a repeat of when Kara and Mon-el were ‘greeted’ as hostiles by the kelex caretakers.

Kara agrees sheepishly thinking she should have mentioned that when she was with Thara earlier, and continues her retelling of the night, and getting Lena to agree to take a break and going to Thara’s for dinner, tries to leave out some of her more embarrassing moments involving Lena but Alura pulls them out of her anyway, her pressed lips doing little to hide her amusement at Kara’s expense.

“It’s not funny, mom!” Kara huffs glaring a little at her mother, but Alura’s restrained smile stretches to almost break across her face.

“On the contrary, my dear, but let’s not argue about that,” and pats her hand consolingly, “I have some news that might be a good distraction,” Kara sits up a little at this, “the council has agreed to hold your kanreosh in four days.”

“So soon!” Kara squeaks, and Alura nods, “Why? Not to mention how? That can’t possibly be enough time to get everything organized for the entire city,” she had hoped she would have more time to mentally prepare, and logistically speaking she didn’t anticipate them being able to get everything together sooner than two weeks at minimum, but four days was outrageous.

Rao, she was going to be officially engaged to Lena in four days, her stomach flips at the thought.

“We were already prepared for the celebration of Zhaokhir Kanzeht that same day, and the council thought it would be a wonderful idea, not to mention frugal, convenient, as well as being an auspicious day to be engaged to have all three combined,” Alura says with some sheepishness knowing this is a bit overwhelming.

Kara gapes at her in complete disbelief, and feels a bit lightheaded, her head dropping into one hand, groaning.

Not only was it bad enough they had to stand up in front of the whole dang city to do a Kanar-Kluv and kanreosh, but they also had to do it on the biggest holiday for Kryptonians, which tradition held,  if you were lucky enough to complete your kanreosh on such a day, you would be blessed with long-life, marital felicitation, and strong healthy children, it was a huge deal too for her family in particular because Tistra-El was married on the same day.

Kara was always one to take pride and joy from her people’s culture and traditions but right now it felt like a personal attack on her that the thing she wanted most to be real wasn’t and yet it seemed like at every turn the universe taunted her by giving her signs and happy blessings for this very fake marriage.

This thing just kept getting bigger and bigger and more significant, it was utterly ridiculous.

Alura seems to understand her frustration and pulls Kara into her side, stroking her back while Kara leans into her.

They’re quiet for a long time and Alura starts a bit hesitant, “Kara,” she sits up a little to look into her mother’s apprehensive face, “Perhaps, it would be best if I just tell everyone the truth.”

“No!” Kara shouts at that, and then more softly, “No, mom, we already agreed,” and only once Alura has grudgingly nodded her agreement does Kara sigh in relief and looks down at her hands.

Alura looks at her with soft motherly concern and pulls Kara into her arms again and holds her for a long time.

 

Later after Alura has gone to bed Kara stays up waiting for Lena to come up from the lab, still not brave enough to go down and pester her to bed.

She’s reading the ceremonial texts on her handheld to make sure she doesn’t screw up anything too badly for their big day when another dizzy spell hits her. Kara grimaces as her vision blurs and the room spins, it’s a good thing she was already sitting, or she might have fallen like the first time this happened.

It passes after a little bit and she sighs, resuming her reading…

She falls asleep a few minutes later…

 

Kara startles awake, her heart racing and she takes in gulps of air, closing her eyes against the tears. Once she has her breathing under control, she makes her way straight to the lab to find Lena, it’s late and she knows she hasn’t left, she’s certain she would have heard her if Lena came upstairs.

Once at the bottom of the steps she frowns because she doesn’t see her at first, and a small spike of worry hits her when she remembers her dream, but it quickly disappears when she finds Lena on the other side of the console slumped over fast asleep.

She sighs in relief, then in exasperation at Lena’s work habits and picks her up, her heart jolting when she feels Lena curl toward her in sleep, one errant hand sliding up and around her neck, pushing under the collar of her shirt, it makes Kara’s suck in a sharp breath, a shiver running down her spine, and goosebumps break out along her skin.

Kara steadies herself and takes Lena upstairs, tries not to think too much about Lena’s breath on her neck, and fingers under shirt.

She’s a bit winded by the time she gets to the bedroom, she pinches her brow in confusion, that shouldn’t have happened, she may not have her powers, but she shouldn’t be tired so quickly and thinks…

…maybe it’s the illness

Lena shifts a little and Kara moves to the bed to set her down on the edge, kneeling in front of her, Lena’s weight still slumped against her, Kara tries to coax her awake but all she gets are grumbles, so Kara pulls the blazer from her shoulders and removes the band holding up her hair, probably lingering a little too long running her fingers through silky black hair, but who can blame her, especially when it has the unexpected consequence of pulling little sounds of contentment from Lena that make something decidedly not platonic twinge in her stomach.

…and she has now officially crossed into creeper territory, so she lays Lena back on the bed, fighting the blush and shame in her face, pulls off her shoes, and tucks her in.  

She stands at her side of the bed and hesitates, biting her lip, wondering if it’s still ok that she shares the bed with Lena, a flash of the night before, Rao had that only been yesterday? and she remembers, heart skipping at Lena’s adorably sleepy ‘always’ when Kara asked if it was ok that she stayed.

Kara decides that she would rather stay than go, she’s definitely noticed that she sleeps better with Lena around, and it quells the queasy feelings of anxiety that plague her when she’s apart from Lena that always come after her nightmares. Besides, she’ll most likely wake before Lena as usual, and she can probably avoid anything awkward in the morning.

She climbs into bed and scoots closer, turned on her side watching her sleep, jolting a little when Lena turns onto her stomach slightly to curl into her pillow, facing Kara, and she’s worried for a moment Lena might wake up and kick her out, but her eyes stay closed.

Kara drifts off to sleep, lulled by Lena’s soft breathing…

 

Lena wakes very much confused, her face pulling into something deeply puzzled and sleepy, she sits up a little abruptly looking around the room and the vacant spot next to her, then flops back on the bed, hand over her still tired eyes, and thinks back to the night before.

She groans a little remembering the absolute rollercoaster of ups and downs that was yesterday, all the way from Kir-Neth basically pronouncing Kara’s death sentence, of which, she still hasn’t told Kara, adding more guilt to her mountain of shame for being the cause of the portal malfunction and her dismissal of Alex’s vaticinating words admonishing her to rest. Plus, she didn’t even want to think what Alex would say when she got here and found out how right she was in her warnings to Lena, and how reckless she had been with her beloved sister’s life. Not to mention the cherry on top of Kara’s inadvertent guilt trip echoing Alex’s words, it had left her breathless with a gnawing in her chest.

Then when Lena had turned her back to Kara hoping to regain some equilibrium, the Kryptonian had curled herself around Lena’s back leaving her breathless in a different way and then her guilt riddled heart couldn’t bear to reject Kara’s repeated tender and care filled proposal to take a break and meet her childhood best friend, in fact she had almost burst into tears right then.

While she was changing into less soiled clothes, she had allowed herself exactly three minutes to cry, then wiped her face, and proceeded to shove everything into that flimsy box in her mind she thought she was done with, but clearly, she hadn’t wanted to get rid of, and went downstairs the picture of calm and collected, congratulating herself that Kara didn’t seem to notice anything amiss.  

She was feeling a bit nervous and off-kilter about going to meet Thara’s family as what amounted to Kara’s girlfriend, the subsequent result was that her nerves reduced her to flirting to feel more in control, but Kara’s adorable fumbling responses had made her preen and made her forget for a while all her worries, just reveling in being close to Kara even if it was to keep up the pretense of being engaged.

The whole evening had felt like a date and she let herself indulge a little more than she should have, but Kara had thrown her for a loop when Thara had asked when Kara knew she had fallen in love with her, and all she can remember are blue eyes staring at her with such serious fervent intensity as Kara spoke words that Lena hadn’t even dared dream, her heart and mind chanting what if, what if, what if, with hope blooming in her chest, only to be shattered when Lir-Al had asked after Mon-el.

Mon-el, Kara’s love, and Supergirl’s too for that matter now she knew the truth, who had been sent away, and had come back, who Kara had stumbled onto to Argo with, in search of the mineral Lena had so desperately needed to save Sam.

Her mind was filled with too many thoughts and emotions, and only heard distantly Kara say rather harshly that he had gone back home to his wife, with such vehemence she didn’t know what to think, and only felt from far away Kara squeezing her hand hard as she spoke. She allowed herself to be on autopilot the rest of the conversation, thinking mostly instead about how she didn’t know what had transpired between Kara and Mon-el during his return, did Kara still love him, was that what her tense response to the question about him had been about? And Kara was sore on the subject? It wasn’t something they ever had the opportunity to discuss, and now it made her feel sick, with some jealously yes, but mostly that if Kara still had feelings for him and he had left to be with his wife then she could hardly want Lena’s attentions, and now Kara was being forced into a marriage contract with her.

She had been startled out of her thoughts on the walk home when Kara yelled without prompt that she hadn’t chose to bring him to Argo, but it brought up more questions than answers, though she could see by Kara’s serious expression that she believed it to be true, and Lena had told her as much. So, did Kara not have feelings for Mon-el now? It was all too much, and she was cold and the little box in her mind that she had shoved into a corner was starting to press ominously outwards at the seams.

She had allowed Kara to pull her close to share her warmth but all she could think about was every manner in which Lena was letting down Kara, and the only tangible way she could fix anything was to get the damn portal working, so she bent her mind to that task grateful for the silence as they walked back so she could think.

Kara had kindly offered to help in the lab but Lena wanted to be alone so she declined, and practically ran down the steps as fast as she could without breaking her neck.

She let herself be distracted by work for who knows how long and the last thing she remembered was sitting down to configure some pieces of equipment.

Lena is fairly certain that Kara brought her to bed, and her heart constricts with guilt once more for all her transgressions to Kara all over again when she was only ever been kind and generous to her.

She dresses and makes her way downstairs with some trepidation, not knowing what she will say when she interacts with Kara, but she only finds Alura, and she feels a small measure of relief, tries to greet the older woman with some warmth though she doesn’t think she succeeds very well if Alura’s purse of lips is any gauge.

Alura comes to her side and sits her down on a bench and serves her some breakfast all faster than Lena can decline and say she only wants something light before she heads back down to work.

Lena forces herself to smile and watches Alura watch her, and she raises an eyebrow in question, and the Alura laughs a little.

“Kara made me promise to ensure you ate a full meal, she said you would probably try to go straight to work if I didn’t,” an amused smile playing on her lips, and a light blush graces Lena’s cheek at Kara’s thoughtfulness in the face of her mother, the guilt wrenches in her gut again.

“Where is Kara?” Lena can’t help but ask face tilted down to her bowl.

“She left a little while ago for her morning mediation, she won’t be back until a little after mid-day I think,” Alura says easily, Lena chides herself for forgetting, and then looks up when Alura says her name, “I was actually hoping you could spare a few hours to come with me this morning, there’s some things we need to do,” and she explains the particulars of how and why the council has decided that three days hence Lena will be officially tied to Kara and this family.

Lena agrees to accompany her around her racing heart at the thought, and they set off for the market after breakfast, for the first time this morning she feels some of the oppressive cloud of her thoughts lift as Alura speaks proudly about any important landmarks, introducing her to people along the way who are immensely happy to meet her, a huge contrast to what she endures back home, and basks a little in the easy way Alura jokes and puts Lena at ease.

They arrive at a shop of some sort, and they are shown to a private room, Lena is drawn to one wall where a series of digital images are displayed, faceless figures with detailed and articulated clothes ranging from dresses and robes to more tailored type suits. A man enters who greets Alura warmly, apparently the proprietor of the establishment, Lena is introduced very briefly, giving her the name Zami, but Alura draws his attention immediately and speaks quietly to him while he nods, she hands him a parcel that she brought from home, and he leaves.

Lena contemplates the drawings and starts to put two and two together turning to Alura, raising an amused eyebrow, but before she can ask Zami returns, and he claps his hand in front of himself clearly excited.

“Well, Lena mish nim El, we have some choices to make, your future jejumin wants to ensure you have all the appropriate attire afforded to a member of the great house of El,” Lena flicks her eyes to Alura, who only smiles and sits in a comfortable chair in the corner.

“Thank you, Zami, I would greatly appreciate your expertise in such matters,” she says with her most pleasant voice, she wonders what exactly is in store for her this morning. He has her stand in the middle of the room and explains they will run a quick scan for her measurements.

Then, he leads her to the wall and flicks the images away to make it blank, “Let’s start with the big ceremonial clothes to get that out of the way and then my apprentices can get started putting that together while we work on the rest of the everyday garb,” and sets to asking Lena questions about what styles, looks, and details she would like in her formal wear, flicking examples to the screen of each so she can agree or disagree.

Next, they choose her colors, this process actually takes much longer than she thinks it would when he brings it up, “For the ceremony, you must wear your two primary colors that represent who you are at your essence, your everyday attire may be anything you’d like. Kryptonians choose their personal colors on their twelfth name day, but we will need you to choose yours now,” he calls up a screen of words with a flag at the top and he gives her a brief breakdown of the Kryptonian flag and the eleven virtues and what their colors represent.

Her eyes land on the explanations for blue and red and realizes that Kara’s suit color scheme is no accident, though many speculated that she and Superman wear red and blue to appear affiliated with the country they live.

Lena knows now that is entirely and unequivocally wrong.

Blue stands for peace and is placed at the top of the flag to symbolize peace above all things, as peace leads to beauty and prosperity.

Red is for Rao, the sun, and represents the religious symbol of a power greater than the self and a sense of community and morality, a symbol for selflessness and generosity, thus the color of Rao- the great gift giver, is the symbol of altruism.

It makes Lena take a sharp breath as she contemplates Kara and those colors, it hits her hard that Kara had been stating something to the whole world but only she knew the meaning, and Kara tried to live those very virtues everyday regardless, it makes her chest swell in love for Kara, and gives her new appreciation and insight into her best friend.

Lena spends a long time considering the colors and words before her, once she makes her selections, she asks Alura for her opinion, but she simply smiles genuinely and says they are perfect. Zami asks her to choose a few accent colors as options and then has her take a seat next to Alura.

He calls up a blank digital canvas and pulls a long sleek stick from his jacket and she watches in amazement as he draws big sweeping lines across the wall, elegant and effortless, the lines forming into a beautiful vision of sweeping fabric. Lena is astonished as her own face appears before her eyes in a series of sure strikes from his stylus, uncolored but beautiful in its economy of lines, her face serious, eyes piercing as they look straight ahead, chin tilted down almost in challenge to the viewer, he adds colors to the clothes only and Lena is in pure awe as he paints the exacts tones and hues she had pictured in her own mind. Once he’s satisfied with the garb he almost thoughtlessly paints in the color of her skin and with only a few strokes paints the contours of her face.

Lena is absolutely gob smacked, the finished piece can only be considered a masterpiece to her eyes, and he had done it in under twenty minutes. It’s almost life size taking up at least five feet of the wall and is so detailed she might think it a photo if she didn’t know any better, but if she looks closely enough, she can see the strokes of color and lines.

He asks what she thinks and if she would like anything altered, Lena shakes her head no and he smiles at her effusive compliments, though he humbly accepts them he says that he’s had some sixty years to practice his craft.  

Once the drawing is sent to his apprentices, he calls Lena to his side again and they choose a variety of more casual attire and this time they are not constrained on which colors she can pick, it goes by faster than the formal wear.

She thinks they might be done but he summons someone from another room and a young woman comes in carrying some neatly folded clothes. He hands them to Lena, and she gulps, staring at the place where she runs her fingers over raised elegant stitching, “Lady Alura asked for these to be altered for you from her personal collection as a gift, with some adjustments for a touch of your Earth style, which we will do for some of your other pieces too,” she looks at Alura with a slightly stricken expression, and she clenches her jaw, breathing a little harshly through her nose, trying not to cry.

“I couldn’t possibly…” Lena trails off, and looks away, Alura stands and reaches out to knock her chin up gently.

“You absolutely can,” she says smiling softly and oh so kind and affectionate, Lena’s eyes fill with tears, because she really doesn’t, she couldn’t possibly be worthy of such an honor, but Alura doesn’t let her protest anymore and pushes her to a side room to change.

When she’s done and comes out, Zami changes the wall to be a mirror and Lena can’t help the ragged teary breath that comes out of her when she sees her reflection, it fits perfectly, and her fingers brush the stitching at her shoulder again with gentle care. Alura comes to stand next to her and places an arm around her, Lena starts to feel the pressure of overwhelming conflicting emotions, and a few tears leak out of her burning eyes.

Alura pulls Lena into her shoulder, holds her tightly, and Lena just tries to breath properly because she loves that she’s going to be apart of Kara’s family, that her mother and adoptive family have all taken her in and she hates that the reason she’s here now with Alura is not because Kara has legitimately asked to marry her, and the box in her mind starts to split a little with everything else that’s weighing on her.

 

They leave the shop after Lena calms down a little and she’s grateful that Alura doesn’t try to get her to talk about why she almost had a meltdown at the tailor’s, she merely starts up a stream of commentary about the city and landmarks just as before, but now when Alura stops to talk to someone she doesn’t need to introduce Lena, they know immediately who she is.  

Lena feels a clawing in her chest with the need to do something.

Something to repay Alura’s kindness and Kara’s never-ending generosities.

It hits her as she’s reading a sign and she turns to Alura, Kara’s mother looks at her in question, “I need a favor,” she says apologetically but Alura ever kind nods her acceptance even before Lena tells her what it is.

 

Kara takes one last deep breath in, holds it, and exhales slowly, feeling a little more centered.

She opens her eyes and stands, making her way out of the small room, and out of the building.

The afternoon is a bit dim today, the dome that acts as shield and sky simulating overcast weather, and Kara takes stock of herself as she makes her way slowly home.

Today was draining, it had started a bit shaky too, Adasa had walked her through the mediation exercises she wanted Kara to focus on for her first half hour and then left her to try and do that, but Kara wasn’t sure exactly what she was supposed to be thinking while she focused on breathing and ‘communing with Rao’ and she had grown frustrated not even five minutes in.

When she finally made it through the excruciatingly long thirty minutes, she and Adasa began the next portion in her office and Kara told her about her frustrations in the meditation, saying that maybe it wasn’t for her, Adasa nodded understandingly but asked her to keep trying and if after a week of sessions she still couldn’t get it then they could revisit it, Kara grumbled her acceptance and after Adasa put her at ease again in her almost magical way, the hour had breezed by.

The next hour was spent in meditation again but this time though she was still silent she was in a room with a dozen other Kryptonians seated in a circle, and after the session leader rang a small bell time commenced. She ended up fidgeting a little in the beginning but partway through she realized that if she was quiet enough, she could hear the person next to her breathing, so she decided to breathe in time with them. It reminded her of when Alex helped her calm down after a panic attack, and the thought of Alex helped focus her a little, but the hour still dragged on. The group session was with the same meditation group, in fact they didn’t need to leave the room, the session leader simply rang the bell and after a short break they came back together to talk.

Kara didn’t know what to expect at first, but it seemed very similar to what she had seen on tv about group therapy, people taking turns speaking about what troubles they faced on an ordinary day, and it was amazing how much Kara related to some of them. It tugged at her heart when someone mentioned they missed the color of Rao when they looked at the sky on Argo, because she had the same thought countless times over the years on Earth, and she got it.

The last half hour of meditation was a little easier, she mostly spent it thinking about what she had heard from the others, and it gave her a sense of kinship and belonging that made her want to weep with relief, because she wasn’t alone.

She thinks that maybe she can keep doing this.

Her handheld alerts her to a message from her mother.

Alura wants her to go to the tailor to get her ceremonial attire sorted and to see the jeweler about a bracelet for Lena.

Kara stops in the middle of the sidewalk, people almost bumping into her from behind, heart racing because she forgot.

She forgot that she had to get Lena a bracelet, and it was making her feel all sorts of emotional because it really hits her that she’s going to be irrevocably bound to Lena. That once she gives it to her there will be no going back. She has to step into the doorway of a shop to lean against the wall while she tries to catch her breath. Tears prick at her eyes because things aren’t well between her and Lena right now and she hates it.

Once she calms, she makes her way to the tailor and is surprised to see Zami, the same man who made her robes for her twelfth name day when she chose her colors, he’s so much older than she remembers but his smile is the same. He greets her warmly and they chat for a few minutes.

“I met your surah earlier this morning, I liked her, very smart, I was surprised that she could read our language so well,” Kara feels a flash of pride on Lena’s behalf, and smiles at him, “and strikingly beautiful, her sharp chin and piercing eyes especially, I can see why you like her,” he winks at her and Kara blushes to the tips of her ears and nods mutely.

He asks for her preferences and she watches in wonder for the second time in her life as he draws her the most wonderful design, once he’s done, he sends it off and asks if she needs anything else, she thinks a moment and requests a few more items for everyday and then has a thought.

“Can I see the design you made for Lena?” she asks a bit eagerly.

He smiles regretfully, “I am sorry, my Lady Kara but your mother exacted a promise from me not to show you, I wasn’t sure that you would, but it seems a mother does indeed know her offspring,” he chuckles.

Kara pouts a little at her mother’s meddling but sighs in resignation and makes her farewells.

She hesitates outside the jeweler and then braces herself as she goes in, the shop is small, and it has only a small desk and a woman sitting behind it. Kara makes her introductions and sits when invited to by Thir, Kara feels her knee start to bounce involuntarily, and there’s some nerves building in her belly as she waits for Thir to say something, but she just scrutinizes Kara for at least a few minutes.

Thir stands abruptly and Kara is taken aback by the suddenness, she disappears in the back, she returns with a rectangular case lined with fabric, and inside are three small octagonal cylinders about 3 inches long and perhaps an inch in diameter, they are all a metal substance, silver in color though they differ in shade.

“Choose for your, surahth uvrreosh,” Thir says evenly as if she has no interest in Kara’s selection, though Kara supposes she really has no reason to, Kara scrutinizes each and then chooses the one she thinks would suit Lena best, and lets out a ragged breath trying to quell her nerves, when Thir turns around to take the pieces to the back. She returns to inform her that the bracelet will be complete and delivered to her residence the night before the ceremony, Thir sits and bids her farewell rather briskly.

Kara’s brow shoots up a little and she leaves with a rush of air blowing through her lips when she exits.

Her stomach rumbles and she bites her lip, pulls up Thara’s contact information and calls her, after a few seconds Thara’s holoimage appears and she smiles at her friend’s exuberant response. Kara asks if she maybe wants to get a late lunch, Thara agrees enthusiastically and directs her to a restaurant.

 

Thara arrives in uniform of course and hugs Kara tightly, and they exchange pleasantries.

“Lir and I had a wonderful time last night, it was so great to meet Lena! She’s lovely, you’re a very good match I think,” Thara says, and the genuine comment pulls painfully at her chest, Kara thinks so too.

Kara reciprocates the sentiment about dinner, but Thara isn’t done, “I’m sorry Lir put you on the spot about kids,” sincere and apologetic.

“Don’t worry about it,” Kara tries to wave it off nonchalantly, but she thinks her voice comes out too high, and clears her throat, her friend doesn’t seem to be convinced.

Thara is on a roll today because she says with apology, “I’m also sorry about Lir bringing up Mon-el, I could tell that was a bit of a sore spot between you,” Kara gapes in shock, she didn’t expect her to put it so bluntly, but then Thara always liked to cut to the heart of matters, she’s just not used to it anymore, it’s probably what made her such a good Chief Peace Officer.

Kara looks down at her plate fidgeting a little, and grinds out with a grimace, “Yeah,” and cuts herself off before she can say more.

Thara tilts her head and asks, “What happened there?” blunt and concerned, it reminds her a little of Alex.

She looks away pursing her lips and shaking her head a little, “He was someone I thought I could change and fit the idea of what I wanted in a relationship, but it was never going to last,” she says firmly, because while she did care for Mon-el she wasn’t in love with him anymore, she thinks now that she never really was.

Her friend nods her head, “And Lena?”

Kara doesn’t really know to say but when she thinks of Lena, really thinks about the type of person she is and how she makes her feel, her chest just expands with love, and she’s feels a compulsion to get up and leave, to go figure out what the weirdness is between them so they can fix it. She looks up at Thara opening her mouth to try and articulate it, but Thara just grins widely at her and Kara knows she understands.

They chat a little more and then Kara comes to the point of why she wanted to meet with Thara and explains that her sister and friend will be arriving in a day or so via a Martian spaceship. The information makes Thara frown and purse her lips, but she nods, “Alright, but there’s going to have to be forms filled out, I don’t know which ones, I’ll probably have to make them up, but I’ll ensure they aren’t listed as hostile.”

Kara sighs her relief, and they pass the rest of the hour speaking about inconsequential things.

 

She arrives home and finds her mother at her desk working and makes her way over to offer a hug and kiss then flops on the couch feeling a bit tired. Kara turns her head to the backyard which is now easily accessible that the walls have been folded away so it makes the whole living room a kind of seamless open-air patio. She takes in a deep breath of air and lets it out slowly, just resting, still, and feels the pull of sleep.

“Kara, it’s time for dinner,” she feels a gentle shake at her shoulder from her mother as she speaks and tries to sit up.

There’s the flash of her mother’s face and a little of a dark shape that must be Lena, but her vision blurs and the room tilts as she tries to stand, she collapses into the couch, twin gasps of her name reaching her ears.

After a few moments it subsides and she can see her mother kneeling in front of her, Lena just behind her staring at her with a tormented expression plain on her face, wringing her hands and pulling her fingers like she does when she’s feeling anxious and out of sorts.

Her mother touches her face and asks gently, “Feeling better, inah?” concerned.

Kara nods, “Yes, I’m fine,” smiling, but it nags at her that she fell asleep, it’s strange because she slept a long-time last night, “how long was I out?”

Alura smiles at her relieved, “The whole afternoon,” Kara frowns, she doesn’t normally ever take naps and if she does it’s only for a few minutes and never for hours at a time, she hears a sharp intake of breath from Lena who seems to have come to the same conclusion.

She looks up to see Lena’s anguished face turn, tears filling her eyes, Kara can only watch for a moment as Lena takes hurried steps away from them. She feels a stab of worry and hops up quickly catching her by the arm, Lena’s labored breaths reach her ears, and her worry only grows.

“Lena, what’s the matter?” she asks confused as to why she’s reacting so severely, but Lena refuses to turn around, head twisted as far from Kara as she can make it go, her free hand coming to swipe harshly at her eyes.

“Nothing,” Lena bites out, a blatant lie of course, she’s being extra stubborn, and that makes the alarm in Kara’s chest rise even higher, Lena only gets like this when she’s really upset.

Kara swings around to face her more fully, and her heart constricts when she sees how much Lena is crying, harsh breaths shaking her shoulders, eyes still refusing to meet her gaze, but before Kara can even think to comfort Kara takes in Lena’s clothes, and she can’t breathe.

Her shock is paralyzing because she didn’t realize how much this would mean to her.

She takes in the whole of Lena’s outfit, it’s black, Kryptonian tailored trousers that fit Lena perfectly, an open square high collared jacket with a white blouse underneath, but the stitching high on the left shoulder anchors Kara’s gaze, there, small, but still visible from a fair distance, bold, and in stark white thread is the unmistakable glyph of the House of El.

Her house.   

It sends a jolt of the same feeling she felt yesterday running through her while Lena was reading her house’s words on the monolith, and she realizes with a jolt that it’s possessiveness.

As if Lena was hers.

A part of her family.

Which she already is. A huge part of her chosen family, in fact, but it means something different seeing this physical symbol on her chest, and knowing Kara is going to formally accept Lena into the House of El in a few days.

She gulps, feeling her mouth go dry and her breathing become more deliberate.

It reminds her of how she felt when she first returned from the Phantom Zone, and it makes her feel a bit sick. She shouldn’t feel possessive of Lena, she’s her own person.

But Kara feels it all the same and shame runs through her at the thought.

Lena doesn’t notice her shock and in Kara’s stupor she’s able to pull away and brush past her, the world finally catches up to her.

“Lena,” Kara calls firm and worried, watches her take stalking steps out towards the yard, starting to panic because it feels like the situation is getting away from her and Lena won’t let her in, “Why are you shutting me out?” she yells feeling her heart beating fast, worried that something has changed irrevocably between them because of yesterday at Thara’s, and Lena moves further away not listening, it makes her anger simmering under the surface boil to the surface at the hypocrisy, “If I don’t get to shut you out, then you don’t get to either,” she shouts, anger starting to color her words.

The moment she sees Lena stop in her tracks Kara closes the distance between immediately, and she glares at the back of her head a few feet away and tries to restrain her anger again because Lena is hurting about something and she should try to be understanding.

She comes around to face Lena again, reaches out to place gentle hands on her arms, Lena’s breathing is heading toward hyperventilating, and the tears have not ceased, and she still won’t look at Kara, her head bowed.

“Let me help you,” then Kara remembers yesterday when Lena had rushed into her arms, and grits her teeth, “What did Kir-Neth tell you?” Kara demands, her panic and worry over Lena and barely restrained anger have bubbled to the surface and it’s bleeding through her control, Lena inhales sharply at the question and tries to pull away but Kara doesn’t let her go and drags her back, “No, Lena you wanted me to ask you later, it’s later, what did he say?” low and firm, she can feel her own chest heaving and struggles to remember to take measured breaths.     

A sob tears through Lena and she shakes her head, her hands coming up to twist into the fabric at Kara’s waist, “I’m sorry,” she gasps, it cuts straight through Kara’s chest, “I meant to tell you, I always meant to tell you but I wanted to do something to help, I needed to fix it, to fix what I could,” it comes out in a jumbled rush, and a distant feeling of fear growing tendrils around her heart.

“What did he say?” Kara says keeping her voice as even as she can, but her jaw clenches after the words leave her mouth and the fear starting to take root.

Lena lets out a harsh sound, and shakes her head, Kara pulls her chin up, the pain and anguish in Lena’s face is like a lightening bolt through her body, painfilled watery green eyes finally meet her own and she knows.

Kara rips herself away from Lena, all the anger she had been holding back for Lena’s sake is let loose in her chest, hot and raging, not even the grief-stricken and distressed cry that leaves Lena’s throat is enough to cool it.

“How long?” Kara all but yells, hard and unforgiving. Lena stays silent, chin trembling, and it stokes the fire in her chest higher, “How long?!” shouting, she takes one furious step closer into Lena’s space, and watches her flinch turning her face, eyes screwing shut like she’s waiting patiently for Kara to strike her. That breaks through her wrath long enough for guilt and shame to rear their heads that Lena could think Kara would ever touch her in anger, and she steps back. It sends another spike from an old fear of accidently harming others because of her super strength straight through her, but the anger in her chest is too big and it twists and consumes every other emotion to fuel itself, “Tell me,” low and cross.

Lena still has her face turned away, but she forces herself to look at Kara, red eyes pleading, “Three months,” Kara’s vision starts to darken at the edges, hardly taking in any air, and she barely registers Lena’s repeated, “I’m sorry.”

The anger is the only thing keeping her going right now, “You should have come to me right away, you should have told me!” she yells, throwing her hand out sharp, like her words, wanting them to cut, her tongue feels like a knife, “I thought you learned your lesson,” Kara spits out with disdain, and she watches the words land almost like she plunged a dagger straight into Lena’s chest, watches her curl inwards and take a step back, pure suffering and sorrow in her expression.

Distantly, Kara knows that was too much, that Lena doesn’t deserve it, but her rage doesn’t let her take it back, and she won’t hear Lena’s apology, and she needs to get out of here, she can’t be here anymore, she says as much, “I need…I need to get out of here.”

She turns and starts stalking off, Lena’s sobs redouble behind her, but she doesn’t turn even though they pierce her heart in their desperation, it’s her mother’s voice that jolts her into stopping, she doesn’t turn around, and Kara has a flash of memory from when she was desperately trying to chase after Lena after her outburst of anger in the lab, a lifetime ago it seems.

Kara turns her head a little to speak, recalling the anguish she suffered when she thought she lost Lena forever, and no matter how angry she may be, she won’t put Lena through that, and says as evenly as she can, “I’ll come back later to talk, but I can’t do this right now,” and leaves without another word, the darkening sky matching her mood perfectly.

Chapter Text

Lena sobs for a long time.

She’s hunched over her own knees where she’s collapsed to ground, trying unsuccessfully to control her breathing. Feels from a great distance Alura’s arms gather her into a warm hug and all she can do is hold on for dear life.

She fucked up so bad.

Alura says comforting things into the crown of Lena’s head, stroking her back and rocking her gently, but Lena can’t hear them over her own guilt and shame.

 

Time loses all meaning or sense.

She feels listless and unmoored.

Somehow, though Lena can’t recall how, they’re sitting on the couch, she’s pressed into Alura’s side tears still trailing down her cheeks.

Her eyes start to droop, she feels tired, weary to her soul.

She misses Kara.

Though she has no right to.

 

She’d fallen asleep on the couch, cried herself to sleep most likely, Alura had covered her with a blanket and tucked a pillow under head.

The sky is still dark when she wakes.

She stares unseeing at the ceiling.

A warm breeze from the yard, walls still folded open making the room feel vast and isolating.

The numbness has set in.

Her tears have subsided.

There’s only a hollowness in her chest. It reminds her of when she left Kara in the Fortress encased in Kryptonite.

She ticks off her mistakes in her mind, one by one examining her actions rather dispassionately, like she would a scientific problem, it does nothing but reinforce her hypothesis that she’s not suitable for any kind of relationship, friendship or otherwise.

She turns her head to watch where the facsimile of a sky is dark, fake stars glittering in the inkiness.

Hours must pass but it hardly matters to her.

A light, the artificial sun grows brighter.

There’s a shape not too far away.

She realizes it’s a person seated cross legged on the bench under the tree in the yard, still, as a statue.

Lena can recognize Kara’s silhouette anywhere.

She feels a tug, curiosity, and a desire to go see her.

It’s the first sensation she’s felt in what seems like an eternity and it surprises her.

Then again, she never could stay away from Kara.

The sound of her footsteps seems loud in the hush of the morning, and she comes to sit next to Kara, pulling one leg up onto the bench facing her fully.

Kara sits straight backed, crossed legged, palms resting loosely over her knees, her face a little pinched in frustration, not at all what Lena expects of someone supposedly in meditation, but despite Kara’s posture she detects a certain amount of exhaustion, weariness.  

Lena traces all the lines and planes of Kara’s profile with her eyes, and there’s a small faint far away prick of relief that Kara did as she said and came back.

Minutes go by and Lena wonders if Kara knows she’s here but then she finds that she really doesn’t care either way, she just sits and memorizes the picture before her for lack of anything else to do.

“Kara, Lena,” Alura’s voice startles them both, she looks apologetic, “Thara says she’ll be here shortly with your sister and friend,” Lena stands and heads down to the lab, that’s probably the best place for her, she doesn’t want to intrude on Kara’s reunion with her sister, and Brainy will surely find his way down at some point.

She says a quiet thank you to Alura for the night before as she passes, pausing only a moment when the older woman presses a warm hand to her forearm, and then Lena leaves.

 

It’s not too long later that she hears footsteps, and she watches Brainy come down the steps, his fingertips pressed together as is his wont, and she feels the smallest measure of relief that he will be able to help her get this portal working.

He greets her with a wide smile, happy to see her, in fact he lifts a hand to squeeze her shoulder warmly, if she weren’t so numb right now, she probably would have thrown her arms around him.

“You’re alive and well,” he says more matter of fact than anything else, “I told Alex that the likelihood of you and Kara dematerializing in the portal stream was only eight percent, but she insisted on coming herself despite my predictions that you would have your side of the portal able to communicate again within two days of your arrival,” he seems put out that Alex doubted him, “was I correct?”

She nods that he is, and he becomes rather smug, “I believe an ‘I told you so’ will be in order,” clasping his hands a little, and then looks at the portal pleased with what he sees, “I told Nia we would contact them as soon as we could, may we do so now?”

Lena shows him the equipment and leaves him to it, she hardly needs to help him, she gives Nia a wave from across the room when he turns the camera to face her, fake smile plastered on her face, and it falls as soon as Brainy’s attention is gone.

When he’s done, she shows him what’s she accomplished and he dives in, they work in perfect tandem that she can almost forget the night before when Kara took her heart away with her.

 

“Brainy, I need to speak to Lena alone, will you give us the room?” Alex’s voice makes Lena freeze, and a spike of distant guilt and worry flash through her chest, and it lingers, it’s more feeling than she’s felt all day.

She’s not sure she cares for it.

Lena doesn’t hear Brainy leave, but she can hear and feel Alex’s presence behind her somewhere.

She keeps working.

Tries to keep the familiar growing and gnawing guilt from churning her stomach but it’s quickly turning into a useless endeavor now that her judgment has come in the form of Alex Danvers.

“Lena,” her name falls from Alex’s mouth, a little firm and admonishing, Lena takes a breath and lets a blank cool mask fall into place, and she turns.

Alex stands a few feet away, hands on hips, her mouth pressed into a thin grim line, but that’s all Lena takes in as she stares at her chin, unable to look Alex in the eye.

They stand in silence.

Lena sees her mouth twist in frustration, she lets out a disgruntled sound, “For the love of…,” and then Lena’s engulfed in a tight hug.

It surprises Lena, it almost feels like Alex was worried about her, like she was scared she almost lost Lena, but that’s ridiculous, it’s her fault Alex almost lost her sister.

Her arms hang uselessly at her sides as Alex hugs her, “I swear you and Kara and going to put me into an early grave with the amount of worry I have to endure for you both,” she says, light like she’s joking, but the squeeze around her shoulders, tells Lena that Alex was actually worried.

That...

That doesn’t make sense, Alex should be furious with her for fucking things up.

Alex pulls back and Lena sees the red rimmed and concerned eyes looking softly at her and she can feel tears start to burn behind her eyes because she doesn’t deserve this kindness.

“It’s my fault, I made some mistakes, I could have killed us, Alex,” Lena says evenly, trying to get her to understand.

Alex frowns, and searches Lena’s face, “You’re both alive, that’s all that matters, Lena.”

Lena huffs confused, “Alex, you were right, I should have listened you! It’s my fault,” and then it’s as if the words can’t leave her mouth fast enough, “If I had only listened you I wouldn’t have had to come all this way because you were worried, and I could bring Kara home before she-…” her breath catches sharply, and she looks at Alex with panic.

“She told me,” Alex says, bland, it almost sounds uncaring, but Lena can see Alex is merely trying to stay in control of overwhelming emotion.

“Then you know that I have to fix this! It’s the only thing I can do,” Lena exclaims, and looks down shamefaced, quiet, “I should have listened.”

Alex says nothing for a while.

Lena thinks she’s convinced her, but instead she feels Alex’s hands on her shoulders, heavy and warm.

She glances up and sees Alex’s eyes land on the crest stitched in her jacket and her brows furrow for a moment, then she shakes her head ignoring it for now apparently, “Stop it,” Alex meets her gaze, serious, “stop trying to take all the blame, so what if you made a mistake,” Lena tries to protest, “No, Lena, you’re allowed to fuck up, as long as you own it, and try to do better next time, maybe ask for some help, that’s all we want, that’s all we need from you.”

Lena shakes her head disbelieving, “Alex, if I had listened-…,” but Alex cuts her off.

“Listen to me now, Lena,” her eyes boring into hers, checking to see if she’ll comply, Lena nods almost eagerly, “There’s two lessons I need you to have learned from this,” Alex’s face is pinched with the utmost severity, Lena braces herself, “It’s ok to makes mistakes, and your annoying big sister is always right.”

Lena lets her shoulders sag in exasperation, “Alex, I’m being serious,” she almost pouts, “the portal-your sister-…” she stutters.

Alex’s smirk is annoying, cutting her off, “So am I,” the smug look fades, “but we’ll figure out the rest, Lena, together, Brainy and I are here now, and we’re gonna help you.”

Her eyes well with tears that she refuses to let fall.

Alex squeezes her shoulder affectionately and then gives her a grim expression, “Now, I need you to go upstairs and find Kara,” Lena pulls back a little in shock and dismay, about to argue, but Alex holds her in place, “Nope, you don’t get to avoid this, you two…,” Alex shakes her head a little, “things are hard right now for both of you, you love each other so much, but at the same time because of that, you’re also able to inflict the most pain on each other,” she tilts her head down at little, forcing Lena to look her in the eye, breath catching because Alex makes a point, “you guys need one another, she wants to talk to you too, I hate seeing you both like this, really talk so you can get to a point where you can support each other and stop this useless heartache, please.”

Lena breathes deeply, and sees Alex’s stubborn set of her jaw, and nods because it’s exactly what she wants too.

 

Kara doesn’t return from therapy until afternoon, Alex informs her when she’s back and Lena takes a fortifying breath before going in search of her.

She finds her in the same place and it’s a little strange at how much things seem like a continuation of the morning, as if this is how things would have played out if Alura hadn’t interrupted them.

Kara once again sits straight backed, crossed legged, palms resting loosely over her knees, her face once more pinched in frustration, and there’s still the thread of exhaustion and weariness.  

Lena sits, one leg pulled up so she can face her fully, and she traces all the lines and planes of Kara’s profile again because she can.

They stay that way for a long time…

Kara turns to face her, the bench is small, and she places her legs on either side, but she’s still close, head bowed examining her hands in front of her, then her head comes up a little and she stares at the point on Lena’s shoulder where the El crest is stitched.

Her brow still pinched a little, but otherwise impassive, staring at the symbol for a long time.

Then her eyes finally travel up, and she can almost feel Kara’s blue eyes roaming over her face, until they settle looking her in the eye.

Kara reaches out toward her slowly, ever so slowly, giving Lena more than enough time to pull away if she wants, and grasps the hands in her lap.

Lena does not pull away, lets Kara pull their joined hands between them, brushing her thumb over Lena’s knuckles once, twice, Lena looks down at them, feels the warmth a little uncomprehendingly.

But Kara has always been warm.

Has always been able to warm Lena when nothing else can.

When their eyes meet again Kara tilts her head a little, hunching forward, takes a deep breath in, and slowly breathes it out.

“I’m sorry,” eyes never leaving Lena’s, “I’m sorry I yelled and took my anger out on you,” she sees the self-admonishing press of Kara’s lips, and her voice constricts on the next words, “I shouldn’t have told you that thing about learning your lesson,” that makes Lena’s chest twinge in painful remembrance, Kara’s voice is full of sorrow, her eyes turning red at the edges, “that was wrong of me on so many levels, and I should never have said it.”

Lena’s breathing is still calm and even, she knows she should probably feel something at this point about Kara’s apology, but it doesn’t really seem to reach her yet, she just let’s Kara speak.

Kara swallows a little thickly, “After I left last night I went to walk around to cool down a little,” that does not surprise Lena, “it didn’t really work, then after some length of time I called Adasa and asked if we could talk,” that was interesting, but still Lena says and does nothing, she can feel the blankness in her face, “she helped me sort through my anger a little, and while I am upset you kept that stuff from me, I want you to know that I don’t blame you,” that makes Lena inhales sharply, Kara looks between both eyes, wanting to convey sincerely, “and I don’t hold you responsible for any of the things that have gone badly recently,” firm but earnest, “I know you Lena, I know you tend to shoulder the responsibility when things go wrong.”

Lena feels her breathing change a little.

“I also went to see Kir-Neth last night,” surprise at that Lena must admit, “he explained everything, and I understand that if I can get back to Earth under a yellow sun then we’ll have almost two years to figure this out,” she speaks slowly seeming to be in no rush whatsoever despite having been told her life has a nearby expiration date.

Kara pauses and looks back and forth between Lena’s eyes, “That’s why you were so desperate to get the portal fixed,” and it’s not a question, but Lena finds herself nodding, the faintest sting of tears behind her eyes, and Kara sighs a little, Lena can see concern and apology in her expression, “I’m sorry,” desperate, eyes wide, “I should have realized that you would take the portal malfunction personally, you worked so hard on it for weeks,” Lena’s chin trembles, “there was so much riding on it, and then when it failed you probably felt like you failed me.”

Lena can’t look at Kara, but her words are true, so she says nothing.

“You didn’t fail me, you haven’t, I hope you can believe me,” Kara pleads, Lena still can’t look up, can’t face the truth Kara tries to lay before her.

A long pause.

“Lena,” Kara starts, but her voice catches, tears fill her eyes, “Lena, I’m tired,” Kara whispers, the weary resigned way she says it tugs at something in her chest, “I’m tired of all the bullshit that keeps happening to me, to us,” low and teary, “but mostly I’m tired of being at odds with you, when we don’t have to be,” Lena feels herself start to quiver a little, it builds in her stomach, Kara grips her hands a little tighter, “and I know there’s still sore spots between us because of what happened, they’re like…” Kara trails off looking for words, frowning at their joined hands, thinking.

“Bruises,” Lena supplies, and Kara looks up nodding in agreement, squeezing.

“Yeah,” she huffs, “exactly,” eyes sparking in relief that Lena gets it, “healing but sharp and painful when we graze them or press too hard, but they’ll get better with time.”

It’s the type of sentiment that Lena expects from Kara, and she desperately wants to believe it.

Kara gulps a little.

“I want to ask you something, Lena, and I don’t want you to answer right away,” Lena feels her chest start to heave a little in anticipation, “I know we’ve said we have forgiven each other,” Kara pauses, and searches her face a moment, her face growing a little apprehensive, “but do you trust me?”

Lena lets out a ragged breath, and tears build in her eyes, and it’s like the dam of her emotions has broken open.

Does she trust Kara?

After everything? After the big lie that shadowed their relationship? After the heartache and sorrow, it had left her with? After everything that has transpired between them?

Lena forces deep breaths through her nose, clenching her jaw tight and a few tears escape her eyes, Kara follows their path down her cheeks, her own face soft and open, worry for Lena plain in her eyes and the set of her mouth.

“You need to know that I trust you,” Kara’s eyes and voice are serious and so steady with conviction, “even if I flinch at an old wound or fear, I trust that you only want what’s best for me, that your motivations and intentions have always been good.”

Kara pulls one set of their hands to her chest, presses the flat of Lena’s against her heart, she stares feeling the steady rise and fall of Kara’s breathing, so full of life, “I’m going to make you a promise,” Lena drags her eyes up to look between watery blue eyes, “ I promise to do my best to manage my anger, and most especially to not take it out on you, to let you help me,” Lena watches the bob of Kara’s throat, “I trust you to take care of me even when I can’t do it myself, I hope I can do the same for you, if you’ll let me.”

She feels paralyzed with awe. How? How could Kara say that so easily? As if it wasn’t such an excruciatingly vulnerable thing to promise, that she could trust her own person with Lena so completely? That she wanted to do the same for Lena?

“So, Lena, I’m asking you,” Kara’s breath hitches, forcing her to pause, “do you trust me?”

She’s silent for a long time.

Lena thinks back on what her life was when she was growing up with the Luthors, her life as an adult trying to make a name for herself outside of them, when she worked with Lex this past year, and compares her life before and after Kara, the years before the fallout, the year without her, the past month helping Kara’s family find her, and this past week with her.

Her life no matter the bumps along the way, has always been better with Kara in it.

And despite everything she finds that she still does trust, Kara, even during the fallout she still did.

“Yes, I do,” low, certain, assured, Kara’s shoulders seem to lose a little tension Lena didn’t see before, and the smile she gets in return is small but relieved.

Kara takes a deep slightly shaky breath, nodding a little, “Then I need you to hear me when I say this next part, Lena,” blue eyes flicking between green, words coming slow and emphatic, “Trust me when I say, you don’t have to shoulder all the hurt and mistakes and turmoil that happens in our lives,” Kara’s voice rasps into a whisper at the end filled with emotion, “you, alone, don’t have to fix everything by yourself,” tears run down Kara’s face.

Lena’s own tears are running faster, Kara looks down at the emblem at Lena’s shoulder, and raises her hand to cross over to cover it with her palm, pressing firmly, the warmth from her hand spreading through Lena’s chest, she locks eyes with her again, “That’s what this means, Lena,” Kara’s voice is hoarse and her eyes are pleading with her to understand, “it means we don’t have to face anything alone, it means there’s always going to be someone by your side, to support you when you’re weak, to help you fix your mistakes, to forgive you for them, for you to lend your strength when there’s need of it.”

Kara swallows around a lump in her throat, removes the hand over the crest to grip her hand again, and Lena can only try to stem the tide of tears that fall from her own eyes, “Lena, I know the Luthors treated you badly, I know they hurt you in ways I don’t understand yet, but I need you to trust me when I tell you that we are not them,” Kara takes a shuddering breath, voice quivering, “not Alex, or Eliza, or the rest of our family,” pauses to inhale, “you were forced to be a Luthor,” and Kara leans forward a little, and says vehemently, “but we choose you, Lena.”

That stabs at Lena’s chest and twists, she slumps forward over their joined hands, and she sobs, eyes squeezed shut, her forehead knocking into Kara’s unexpectedly, but she doesn’t pull away.

It hits her hard, because it’s all the things Lena didn’t know she wanted or needed to hear, it’s what she’s wanted since she was a child, to belong to someone and for them to belong to her, and here Kara is telling her that she has not one person but a whole family’s worth. She knew intellectually, of course she did, she had the felt kinship before, most especially this past week with Alex and Eliza and the others, but to hear Kara say the words unequivocally, breaks some old and gnarled thing in her chest and lets it fall away.

“We’ll keep choosing you, but you have to choose us too,” Kara continues, pressing her forehead into hers gently, “you asked me before to let you help me, and I’m trying Lena, Rao knows that it’s hard, but I’ve been trying,” she smiles a little sardonic, “and failing too, as you know from last night,” her smile drops into something somber, “but you have to let us help you too, to take care of you,” her voice is so quiet, and filled with such imploring anguish, “you have to let yourself lean on us,” more ardent, “on me.”

Lena’s body is shaking with overwhelming emotion and her ragged breathing, Kara pulls back, and lifts a hand to tilt her chin up so she can look into her eyes, “That symbol,” Kara’s eyes flick to her shoulder and back, “belongs to you now, Lena.”

Lena pulls in a lung full of air, and she can’t look away from intense unwavering blue eyes, “You will forever belong to this family, that bond will never waver or be torn asunder no matter what, come what may,” resolute and steadfast, as only Kara can be, and then she just looks at her for a long moment.

“I also need you to understand that however the kanreosh came to be,” she pauses, a little breathless, “I freely choose to be bound to you,” Lena inhales in surprise, gaping a little at Kara, “as you will be to me, if you choose the same, our bond can never be broken,” Kara’s gaze is piercing, it holds Lena’s breath in her lungs, “and we will both have to work at being on the same side, even when we disagree, even when it’s hard,” her breath hitches, “but even if you choose not to go through with this, I still want those things because I refuse to let you disappear from my life.”

Lena is stunned.

The whole time Kara was speaking she was just stunned.

She doesn’t know what to say exactly, she can hardly process it all, but she understands what Kara is ultimately saying.  

Lena swallows hard, her parted lips still taking in sharp puffs of air, as she stares at Kara, mind racing, but there was only ever going to be one answer she could possibly give.

“I choose you too,” she whispers.

Kara’s face falls into the very definition of relief and her whole body seems to follow, because she slumps forward forehead falling to Lena’s chest a moment and then she hooks her chin over Lena’s shoulder crushing her into a tight hug, which Lena returns whole heartedly, and she can’t help the ‘I’m sorry’ that falls from her lips.

Lena just feels Kara press her almost painfully tight to her chest, “I know, I know,” she breathes, “I forgave you ages ago, I’m sorry too, so sorry, I hope you can forgive me too,” solemn and grave, “but I don’t want to be sorry anymore Lena, can we just wipe the slate clean?” she pulls back a little, her brow pinching, “I know it’s not as easy as all that but…,” Kara trails off biting her lip and Lena understands, there’s no time, and she just nods acceptance, because Kara is right about a lot of things, she needs to stop trying to fix everything by herself. It’s so exhausting and it makes her spiral into self-loathing, she knows that, it’s one of the reasons she had to cut Lex out of her life, tangling with him perpetuated too many of her unhealthy tendencies. And she needs to let herself lean on her friends, on Kara, she wants to, but it’s always been hard to break bad habits, but she’d much rather be at Kara’s side letting her help even if Lena slipped up along the way.

Lena wants to try at any rate.  

She tells her as much.

Kara looks at her with such tenderness, Lena’s breath catches in her chest when she feels the soft brush of knuckles across her cheek, and fingertips smoothing the hair at her temple.

Lena needs to know then, eyes searching, what Kara meant when she said she chose to enter kanreosh with her, because it still felt unclear…  

“What can I do better?” Kara asks earnestly, before Lena can ask, “I want to know what you need from me,” that takes her aback a little.

No one has ever asked so directly before what she wanted or needed from them, she swallows and is a little at a loss at first, Kara waits patiently, “I-I just,” Lena can feel the words at the front of her mind, on the tip of her tongue, she bites them back as is her habit, but she forces them out, she said she would try after all, “remind me you want me around,” rushed and whisper quiet, but Kara hears her clearly, and all the unspoken things that Lena means by it.

The smile she gives Lena is soft and beautiful, it fills her with warmth, “I can do that,” she says confidently, and surprises her when she pulls out the handkerchief Lena had given her days ago, folded and clean, gently wiping at Lena’s face.

Lena’s smile is shaky, and her heart blooms with warmth, of course Kara would keep it on her to reciprocate Lena’s kindness, “And you? What can I do?” pulling Kara’s hand down to hold it.

Kara’s smile fades into something serious, and she’s quiet for a long time, there’s a distant sort of look in her eye for a long stretch of silence, then she swallows a little, sighs, and focuses back on Lena, “Stay.”

Lena nods, serious, unflinching and resolute, “I will,” and she understands all the things Kara can’t say, too.

“KARA!” it makes both of them flinch hard in surprise.

It’s Alex’s voice coming from inside, maybe a touch angry but definitely exasperated.

Kara flinches, “Do you know what Alex was up to before you came to find me?” wary of Lena’s response.

“She was talking to your mother,” Lena says, brow furrowing, and Kara grimaces like Lena told her she kicked a puppy, her quiet, ‘damn’ is almost inaudible.

“LENA YOU GET YOUR ASS IN HERE TOO!” that jolts her, she feels an unexpected kind of terror grow in her chest, and she and Kara share twin stricken looks.

Kara pulls her up and they make their way hand in hand back to the house, rather reluctantly.

Alex stands in front of the couch, arms crossed, head cocked, and a decidedly not pleased look on her face, Brainy stands behind the couch off to the side merely observing, hands in their usual place fingers pressed together.

As they come closer, Alex drags a nearby wooden bench directly in front of the couch and points to it, scowling.

They sit, hands still linked, and Lena thinks she has an idea why Alex is upset.

It’s silent while Alex looks back and forth between them, peering down at them from where she stands a couple feet away, her mouth twists a little, and she stares at the glyph on Lena’s jacket, then she turns her eyes on Kara pointedly, Lena feels Kara flinch.

Alex seems satisfied by Kara’s reaction for some reason, and she sits heavily right across from them on the absolute edge of the couch, back ramrod straight, arms still crossed.

“Explain,” she demands, and waits, taking it for granted that someone will speak.

Kara explains and Lena stays absolutely silent, she doesn’t want Alex’s severe eye to turn to her.

Alex says not one word, her face does not flinch, there’s not a flicker of anything on her face, and Lena wonders if that’s the years of training with the DEO, she also sees Brainy’s normally impassive face start to grow a grin, it’s smug and pleased, though Lena’s not sure why he would be either of those things, while Kara explains how they basically trapped themselves into marriage, well almost marriage anyway.

When Kara finishes, Alex just stares at her sister.

Brainy’s grin is face splitting and he throws his head back letting out a loud ‘ha’, mirth filling his voice, “I can’t wait to tell Nia.”

“Shut up, Brainy,” Alex growls without looking, and he does but his grin remains.

Alex looks at them for a long time, then inhales slowly, uncrosses her arms slowly, consciously, presses her palms together, bows her head, touching the tips of her fingers to her mouth and then bows her head more tapping those same fingertip points to her forehead like she’s trying to knock something loose there. Then, Alex laces her fingers together in her lap and sits back, almost flopping against the back of the couch taking another long slow inhale and exhale, she stays there for some long moments, staring at the ceiling, head titled back.

Lena’s not sure what is going on, she can only sit still hoping that whatever is happening will end sooner than later because whatever this is, is uncomfortable.

Alex sits up again, hands still laced together in her lap looking at nothing to her right, and she drags her eyes to Kara and leans forward, looks at their clasped hands resting on Kara’s thigh for a while, she sucks at her teeth, “So you…?” Alex says the truncated sentence with a quick pointed look at Lena, and tilt of her head.

Kara’s face inexplicably flushes at this.

Lena watches confused and fascinated at the shorthand between the sisters, it happens lightning quick, “Kind of…you called…”

Alex nods, possibly apologetic, “Will you…?”

“Maybe…?” Kara says unsure, pressing her lips to a line.

Her sister makes an exasperated noise, “But you’re…?” incredulous.

“We already agreed…” Kara says firmly, looking her sister straight in the eye, resolute.

Alex throws her hands up, turning away from them, and it’s like the uncomfortable tension leaves the room as soon as she does, “You’re both absolutely ridiculous, and I hate you for making things so unnecessarily complicated, if you’d just-…”

Kara growls Alex’s name harshly cutting her off.

Her sister clicks her mouth shut, glaring back at Kara, “I can’t believe you two idiots are engaged before me and Kelly!” the slight hint of a whine.

“Well, why don’t you ask her!” Kara retorts mockingly, jutting her chin forward in challenge, this has now somehow, unaccountably turned into sister banter.

“Maybe I will,” Alex tosses back, “You don’t know my life!”

Kara gives her an exaggerated look that mirror her words, “Um, yeah I do, you literally tell me.”

Alex seems to flounder a little at the truth of that apparently, then tosses out a disconnected rejoinder, “Well, you have to explain all this to mom because I can’t even with you right now,” starting to walk away.

Kara calls back a bratty, “Yeah, well I couldn’t even with you, first!”

She watches Alex flick Kara off without turning around, Lena’s mouth hangs open a little, brow scrunched together, exasperated and confused, but also bordering on amused. Kara looks at her expression and smiles a little sheepish, “I apologize in advance for her,” she shrugs her shoulders, “Welcome to the family?”

Lena stares for a moment, and then a real true laugh bubbles out of her, unexpected.

Kara smiles at her like she’s the sun come out on a rainy day.

Chapter Text

Kara watches Alex’s retreating figure, her sister is being her usual annoying self but she’s grateful Alex is here at all, especially after the night she had, but she’s most thankful for Lena, who’s shoulder and hand are still pressed into hers warm and solid, who said she would ‘stay’ with Kara, Lena who said she would freely choose to be bound to her too.

Rao, it’s almost too much.

It’s certainly the opposite end of the spectrum of where she was last night.

That makes her stomach turn a little when she recalls it.

Last night was horrible.

She was horrible.

Especially to Lena.

Her chest twinges when she recalls the terrible things she had said to the woman she loved, it still surprises her that Lena is here despite it all, so she just keeps being grateful, though the word is inadequate to describe how she feels.

After she left and walked around the quiet streets of Argo, wandering aimlessly, tears running down her face, self-pity, grief, anger, guilt, shame, all of it swirling never ending in her mind, in her chest, and stomach.

Somewhere along the way she found a tree to sit under.

It seemed friendly and nonjudgmental.

There she stayed for some stretch of time until she had calmed enough to reflect on her behavior, and she realized this was probably one of those times a qualified professional would be helpful, so she went back and forth debating an untold number of times, but eventually she called Adasa, and the raozhium was kind enough to meet Kara at a nearby park where they talked at length.

It was exhausting to say the least.

Once she and Adasa parted ways, Kara was still feeling raw and exposed, at least she wasn’t raging but she needed to do something, to feel in control of anything no matter how small, frustrated she couldn’t just punch her way through this like most of her problems, so she called Kir-Neth and received answers to all her questions about her prognosis and what she might do.

When that was done, she found her tree friend again and watched the artificial sky and familiar constellations of her dead planet as they moved slowly overhead.

She’s not sure how but her mother eventually found her late into the evening. Alura sat down next to her and Kara could see the sorrow and tears in her mother’s eyes that immediately led to her own spilling hot and fast, letting herself be held in the warm comforting arms of her mother.

They spoke of many things.

Things they haven’t had the time or desire to talk about, Krypton, the decision to send Kara and Kal away, her father, his work, his return, her death sentence…so many things. They cried and argued a little but mostly it cleared some lingering shadows over Kara’s head and heart when it came to her family. It’s not ‘fixed’ by any means but it’s a start at least.

In time their tears and words slow and stop, they sit in comfortable silence, and Kara finally stops biting back the question she had been dying and dreading to know for the last few hours, “How’s Lena?” soft, gritting her teeth in anticipation.

Alura doesn’t answer immediately but Kara can tell she’s weighing whether she should tell Kara, but ultimately says, “She cried herself to sleep,” Kara can tell she’s trying to keep her mild disapproval and reproach from her face and voice, but the wrenching in Kara’s chest and her own self-loathing is more than enough to overshadow her mother’s light admonishment, in comparison...

 

Kara rests her head on her mother’s shoulder, arm in arm, as they walk slowly and make their way back home.

They enter the property through the back yard, Kara sees the bench under the tree in the yard and leaves her mother’s side to sit, Alura wishes her a goodnight with a tired smile and a kiss on the forehead.

Kara pulls out a small notebook, Adasa had encouraged Kara to write her thoughts down, so she entered a nearby shop and found a notebook in a small bin of assorted items, the people here not having much use for paper and pen and so the selection was virtually nonexistent.

Journaling is something Kara is familiar with, she’s kept a journal almost the whole time she’s been on Earth, and she wishes now that she had thought to turn back to it when she returned from the Phantom Zone.

She writes.

For hours.

Words pouring out of her under the bright non-moon over head that illuminates everything around her, scattered thoughts flitting anywhere between her arrival on Earth, her relationships with her Earth family, Lena, the Phantom Zone, her dreams, anything and everything. It’s a jumbled mess but it’s not for anyone but her. She’s filled more than half of its tiny pages and wishes she had thought to bring one of her larger spare journals from her apartment.

The sky starts to lighten the tiniest bit and Kara takes a deep breath, contemplating her written words. She closes her eyes and imagines it Rao rising before her and not a reproduction, tries the whole meditation thing but instead of deep breaths and a clear mind, she focuses on deep breaths and reflects on her life and actions. It’s not pleasant most of the time, but she forces herself to think of the positive too. This isn’t what Adasa necessarily meant for Kara to do, but it feels better to Kara than trying to sit still too long without thought, she can work on that later.

She hears slow footsteps drawing closer and feels a presence sit beside her.

It’s Lena.

She knows without looking.

Kara doesn’t stop her ‘meditation’.

Instead, her thoughts turn to Lena exclusively and thinks about what she wants to say to her. She’s tired of the push and pull between tension and comfort, she just wants to have Lena by her side so they can face the universe throws at them together. Kara knows it’s mostly her fault in the sense that her emotional volatility is unbalancing them, so she makes a promise to herself and Lena that she’s going to make her mental recovery a priority, so Lena and her family don’t have to shoulder all the fallout.

 

Her mother calling out for them startles her out of her thoughts.

 

Her breath catches a little when her eyes land on Lena next to her turned toward her mother’s voice, she looks tired, her face ragged and it doesn’t seem like she’s slept very well, it sends a pang of guilt through Kara knowing she’s the cause.

Lena stands without looking at her, face slack and blank, that makes the guilt twist harder, watches her stop by her mother’s side a moment to murmur something and then disappears into the house.

 

She sees Alex from across the front yard and Kara’s filled with longing and relief that her sister is here, they meet halfway colliding into a bruising hug, both crying, they rock back and forth for a long time. Kara feels a little bad that she can only spare Brainy a small smile and hello.

Her greets her warmly regardless, understanding, and asks after Lena, Alura answers and shows Brainy the way inside.

Kara drags Alex inside, her sister demands an update about everything and obliges her, conveniently leaving out her engagement to Lena. Alex hugs her tight when she mentions starting Kryptonian therapy and then again when she explains what they found out about her illness, rocking her back and forth, clinging tight.

“We’ll figure it out,” Alex promises, and Kara turns her face into her sister’s neck breathing hard, but so relieved she’s here, even if it was a bit reckless for Alex to just come with little planning or invitation to an insular community, Thara could have decided to blast them out of the sky…

 

Alex pulls back after a while and then looks at her with grim watery eyes, “You need to apologize to, Lena.”

Kara nods eagerly, “I will,” she looks at the time, “but I have to leave soon for my session.”

Her sister nods understandingly and she says goodbye to Alura and Alex both, feeling a little like she’s being sent off to school, it makes her laugh at the random thought.

When she returns, she goes to sit under the tree again and tries to recall the feeling of calm she felt in her last mediation session. It doesn’t work very well but she had been proud of herself for spending at least the last bit of one of her mediation sessions with a blank serene mind.

This time, however, she does as she did this morning and thinks again on what things she needs to say to Lena.

 

It’s like déjà vu when she feels Lena’s presence next to her again.

And like before Kara does not turn to her.

She thinks until she’s certain of her heart and her words.

The apology comes first as it should, but Lena is impassive. It makes her nervous but there’s other things to say so she pushes through. She tries to be as plain and sincere as she can, laying her heart open, hoping Lena won’t crush it too badly, though Kara may deserve it.

Eventually Kara’s words seem to break through whatever barrier of Lena’s emotions there was, and her heart is both relieved and squeezes in sympathetic anguish to Lena’s gut-wrenching sobs. Kara presses on and when she comes to the part where she tells Lena she chooses to be bound to her, she stops short of saying everything she probably should.

She’s laid herself bare and though Lena seems to reciprocate her desire to be close, Kara is still hesitant to lay this last bit at Lena’s feet.

Lena’s unwavering blazing gaze, earnest and heartfelt words when she says, “I will,” in response to Kara’s ask of her, makes her stomach clench, and her heart fill with courage. Maybe she was wrong.

She should tell Lena, now… 

 

Alex’s yells curtail their conversation however, and she knows that they have to go see her, but her waning courage is replaced with trepidation and wariness about her sister’s tone.

Lena tells her Alex was speaking to her mother last, and Kara knows that her sister has learned about the kanreosh, she lets out a mild curse and pulls Lena up from the bench, refusing to release her hand and relieved that Lena does not try to pull away.

She can feel Lena’s unease next to her while they are seated across from Alex, and Kara doesn’t blame her. Her sister is being rather ridiculous and overbearing right now but Kara knows her and the fastest way to get them out of this is to do as she asks.

Kara rolls her eyes at the melodramatic sighing and posturing, and when Alex finally flicks her eyes to Lena to ask if Kara has told the other woman how she feels, she gives a clipped response, cheeks burning.

Alex’s apologetic expression mollifies her slightly and her question about whether Kara will tell Lena is just as unfinished as Kara’s.

Kara thinks about that, her earlier courage has faded and she’s feeling doubtful again, so she answers thusly.

Alex’s face pinches in dissatisfaction, disbelieving that she and Lena are apparently going through with the whole pageantry.

She tells her sister in no uncertain terms that they are, and Alex merely huffs out a whiny reply about how she and Lena are engaged before her and Kelly.

That sits wrong with Kara for some reason, and she flings back a retort which devolves into familiar banter, Kara feeling smug pride at having gotten Alex to retreat even if she does get the middle finger.

She’s still preening a little at her victory when she looks at Lena for the first time in a long while, and then feels sheepish at her having witnessed such childish behavior between her and her sister, apologizing.

Lena’s shocked face turns into an unexpected burst of laughter that surprises Kara but fills her with such happiness at her mood, Kara can’t help but smile back at her like the idiot Alex claimed her to be.

She just stares at straight at Lena’s mouth, and feels her own smile fade a little when she sees Lena swallow deliberately, the warmth from her shoulder and the press of their palms becomes suddenly prevalent, Lena’s chin tilts down the smallest increment, green eyes staring at her intently.

“I have been pondering the question of finding a cure for you and your father, Kara, there is an avenue of inquiry that bears looking into,” Brainy says, Kara’s head snaps so quickly to him she feels a twinge in her neck, glaring at him, and Lena’s accompanying squeeze of her hand hurts a little.

Her heart is beating a touch too fast and there’s a slight flush building on her cheeks, but she refuses to meet Lena’s gaze and instead glares at Brainy who is currently looking into the distance his head tilted in thought, seeming still lost in his own head.

He turns his attention to them and frowns a little when he sees Kara’s face.

Lena speaks first, “What is it, Brainy?” she sounds a touch breathless and annoyed.

Kara presses her lips together and tries to focus on the important things he’s saying that pertains to her life and that of her father.

That’s important.

Not gazing longingly into Lena’s eyes…or staring at her lips…

Brainy suggests they gather the others and they all make their way to where Alura and Alex are speaking in the kitchen.

“… sleeping in the same room? Good lord,” Alex is in the middle of saying, her sharp exhale ragged and growling, hands clutching in front of her like she wants to squeeze something. Alura gestures to them as they enter and Alex turns, glaring at Kara and Lena’s still clasped hands, raising an eyebrow but says nothing.

“Brainy says he might have an idea to help me and dad,” Kara says ignoring her sister entirely and speaking directly to her mother. Alex perks up and asks him to explain.

“Since the Kryptonians are unable to help the only other beings who have knowledge are of course the Fifth dimensional people themselves who would have created the blade that injured them, perhaps Kara’s friend Mxyzptlk would be able to help us?” he raises an inquiring eyebrow to Kara.

“If I knew of any way to contact him, I would have suggested we do that ages ago, but he’s only ever appeared of his own volition and usually for his own reasons,” the corners of her mouth turn down a little, if only it were as easy as just calling Mxy and asking him to fix this, “but I’m sure he would help if we could reach him.”

Brainy nods and paces around the room a little as he speaks, hands behind his back, “I have been ruminating on a design to create a wave amplification device specifically coded to transmit into the Fifth Dimension.”

“We would need something Fifth Dimensional to amplify though,” Lena adds, her face contemplating, “It could feasibly work, but do we have or know where an object or Fifth dimensional artifacts could be found?”

Alex shakes her head, “Any of the ones I know of would have been in the DEO, and as we know that’s gone not to mention I have no idea where such things would have ended up when the government came to clean up the site,” crossing her arms looking down at the floor thinking.

“Would it be possible to create a tracking device for such a thing?” her mother chimes in.

Brainy nods his head, “Yes, it is, but it will take time, so if possible, I would like to avoid any extra unnecessary steps.”

“What about Kir-Neth? Kara’s doctor here,” Lena says for Brainy’s benefit, “he had some kind of Fifth Dimensional machine in his lab, maybe he can help? He’s already trying to figure out a cure on his own.”

Kara agrees, “That’s true, I know he would be more than willing to help us,” looking at her friends feeling hope grow a little, her eyes lock with Lena’s and she squeezes her hand with a smile.

Lena’s answering one is a little bit excited and that lifts Kara’s spirts even more, if Lena thinks this stands a chance, then she’s definitely on board.

“Ok, so Kara and Brainy will go see Kir-Neth, and I’ll give Lena a hand fixing up the portal,” Alex’s eyes flick to Alura briefly.

“I’ll get started on making up the guest rooms for you and Brainy and then probably start on dinner soon,” Alura says easily.

Kara nods emphatically, “Please! I haven’t had lunch and I’m starving!” everyone chuckles at that, and everyone begins to move out of the kitchen, Brainy hovering near the doorway waiting for Kara.

Lena seems to be lost in thought, eyes distantly looking at nothing to the side, Kara tugs on their hands a little, and Lena seems almost a little surprised to see her, she smiles and shakes her head at Lena’s absorption.

“I’ll see you later then?” Kara mentally kicks herself at such an inane comment, of course she would, but she’s feeling a bit shy all of a sudden, but Lena’s smirk at her question is fond and amused.

“Of course,” sure and easy, Kara exhales a little releasing her tense shoulders and steps forward to wrap Lena up in a hug.

It’s longer than their hugs goodbye usually are and Kara loves it, she pulls back, and before she can think too much about it she presses a kiss high on Lena’s cheek, and practically runs out of the room without looking back, ignoring Lena’s sharp inhale, and catching Brainy by the arm as she goes.  

 

Kir-Neth receives her and Brainy jovially as usual, and after brief instructions, they dive into telling him their idea.

He nods along excitedly, “Yes! A marvelous idea, in fact, I am happy to tell you that we have three Fifth Dimensional artifacts here in the building,” he leads them to the machine Kara had seen on her previous visit, “in fact, I am using one to power this device, I’ve been hoping it could help me find a way to cure you.”

Brainy visually assesses the machine in question, hands behind his back walking around it, peering at it from afar and then up close, checking every angle, until finally he nods, “This will do nicely, I’ll need to disassemble it immediately, where are your tools?” he asks, happily, but then he spots something, “Ah! Here they are,” and helps himself.

Kir-Neth barely has time to protest before Brainy has picked an armful of tools, and then says a little weakly, “Help yourself.”

Kara smiles apologetically at him, “I’m sorry he…gets a bit excited about these things,” watching Brainy pull out the side panels of the machine, with what looks like practiced ease.

Kind Kir-Neth’s smile is bordering on becoming a grimace as Brainy bangs around on the inside of the machine, “It’s no trouble,” though his winces when Brainy tosses a metal piece on the table, clanging loudly, says otherwise.

Brainy asks after the artifacts, and Kir-Neth leads them to another nearby table and tells them he only has one at the moment.

It’s a sock.

Like a regular tube sock, white with red stripes at the top, starting to look a big dingy.

Kara helps occasionally but Kir-Neth is more helpful than she is, and she can feel herself growing drowsy with nothing to do, she stayed up the whole night and it seems to be catching up with her.

She tells Brainy she’s going home and to call if he needs anything, but he’s engrossed in his work and hardly spares her more than a goodbye.

 

When she arrives back home Alex is coming from the direction of the lab with empty dishes, “Did-…”

Alex cuts her off, “Yep, I’ve already fed Lena, you’re welcome,” and Kara scowls a little at her for being annoying, but also grateful to her for looking after Lena.

Kara follows her to the kitchen and gives her mother a quick kiss on the cheek, but her focus is mainly on the food before her, her stomach has been rumbling for hours and she was worried she would waste away before she would get to eat next.

Alex grills her on what happened with Kir-Neth, and Kara fills them in between bites of her dinner, pleased to be able to tell them some good news.

“Brainy thinks he can finish it tonight and get it started on sending a signal, then it’ll just be a waiting game, whether it works or not, or Mxy or some other imp answers or not could be anyone’s guess,” Kara shrugs a little, but she still feels good about this plan despite there being a chance it won’t work or could backfire entirely.

Alex nods seriously and then heads back to the lab to keep helping Lena, it’s still fairly early evening but all of a sudden Alura wakes her up from where she apparently started to fall asleep into her bowl. She frowns grumpily at being woken, but Alura just laughs, “Come, Kara, lets get you to bed.”

She must be very sleepy because the next thing she knows she’s in her pjs laying down in bed while her mom strokes her hair, frowning again wondering how she got here, but she’s feeling more awake and asks for her little journal which her mother hands her and gives her a kiss goodnight while she starts to write.

 

Alex yawns and Lena catches it too, yawn stretching her face long and wide.

“Ha! Ok, let’s go, time for bed,” Alex says sternly but kind.

Lena pulls out her earbuds and frowns at her a moment opening her mouth to protest, Alex straightens like she’s getting ready for a fight, but Lena pauses closing her mouth, peering at Alex’s stoic face, and gives her a small smile and nods.

Alex deflates with a skeptical look, giving Lena bit of side eye like she’s waiting for the other shoe to drop.

Lena raises an eyebrow.

Alex narrows her eyes a little at her, “You’re not going to come back down here after I go to bed or something are you?”

She laughs and shakes her head, putting away some materials, and straightening some items, but she can still feel Alex’s distrustful gaze.

“This is weird,” Alex says when Lena faces her.

She shrugs making her way towards the stairs, “Kara and I talked about how I need to let you guys take care of me sometimes and not take on so much by myself, so I’m trying to do that.”

“Oh,” soft and surprised, “that’s good, glad she finally got you to listen, I was prepared for years of manhandling you into submission,” Alex jokes, but it rings true on a certain level, Lena chuckles but she’s also appreciative that Alex was willing to devote so much time and effort into Lena’s wellbeing, for years apparently, that alone tugs at her heart in tender affection for Alex.

“Maybe some firm words in the future to remind me, but I don’t think manhandling will be necessary,” Lena says yawning again.

They say goodnight when they reach the second-floor landing, Alex stops a moment with a slight purse of her lips, looking at the door Lena is about to enter, it gives Lena pause, she raises an eyebrow in question, “What?”

“Nothing,” Alex says too innocent, and turning away, Lena calls to her but she refuses to answer, “tell my sister goodnight,” she says instead, there’s an underlying meaning to what’s she saying but before she can try to decipher it, Alex turns back with a mischievous glint in her eye, “actually, give her a kiss instead,” and promptly closes the door with a smirk on her face.

Lena jolts in shock, mouth falling open, feeling her face flush at Alex’s suggestive tone, but she’s long gone, and Lena can only shake her head ruefully, though she shouldn’t be surprised by Alex’s teasing at this point.

When she enters the room, the lights are on and she spots Kara right away on the bed, the sight makes Lena smile, her chest swelling with warmth at the picture of Kara peacefully sleeping. She’s on her stomach, arms curled under her pillow, hair loose and wild over her back and shoulders, Lena draws closer without thought, and she spots what looks like a notebook and pen just above Kara’s head, she picks them up and places them on the nightstand.

Lena sighs a little shakily as she recalls their earlier conversation and starts to get ready for bed.  

It’s strange to think that only last night she had cried herself to sleep over Kara thinking that perhaps she had broken them forever, feeling herself turn numb at the thought of losing her again. She shivers and pushes it from her mind, that’s not what ended up happening, in fact after their rather cathartic and heartfelt chat she felt good, surer of her place by Kara’s side.

Though, Kara saying she wanted to be bound to Lena was bordering on romantic and had sent her heart racing, but she had been unable to clarify with Alex’s interruption which was frustrating. Then later Kara kissing her cheek was another tease that had her wondering, but she was too worried she might overstep to really let herself believe it could mean more.

She inhales and exhales a few times slowly and tries to clear her mind turning out the lights, no use worrying right now, she’s tired, she slept very little and poorly last night, and right now she just wants to drop into bed, which she actually kind of does, jostling the bed a little too much. She winces when she hears Kara shift and her breathing change a little, she freezes hoping she hasn’t woken Kara up.

“Lena?” comes the sleepy rasp to her left, Lena feels awful about waking her.

“Yes, go back to sleep, darling,” she whispers, arranging herself on her back, letting out a small content sigh to be lying down.

There’s shuffling, her heart rate spikes with adrenaline waking her up completely, because Kara Zor-el Danvers has just purposefully wrapped herself around Lena. Kara, sleepy eyes closed the whole time, allows one hand to blaze a burning trail along her stomach and around Lena’s opposite side to tuck under her back a little, her other sliding easily under Lena’s pillow, head coming to rest next to hers, one ankle hooked over Lena’s, and the whole front of her pressed warmly into Lena’s side.

Lena gulps and tries to take steady breaths.

What the fuck

This is amazing, and warm, and wonderful.

But also…

What the fuck?

“You ‘k?” comes the mumbled words near her ear, low and almost unintelligible, she turns her head, and there, only a few inches away, are Kara’s closed eyes, face slack with sleep.

Lena swallows and mutters an affirmative and feels her racing heart start to calm, this is fine, it’s totally fine, it’s not like she and Kara haven’t cuddled before.

With those thoughts she’s takes a slow breath closing her eyes, but Kara doesn’t seem to be done speaking, “Goo’ tim’ lab?” Lena bites back a laugh at Kara’s attempt to make conversation right now while she’s half asleep.

She smiles wide instead, sliding her hand along Kara’s warm arm to hold, appreciating the lean muscles she finds there, if Kara can wrap herself around Lena like a koala, then she deserves this, dammit.

“Yes,” she whispers once more, “Go to sleep we can talk more later.”

Kara sighs deeply, Lena feels the air rush along her neck, and she shivers a little, “K, ‘night, love you.”

That makes her stomach clench, and she gulps. Good lord, Kara was going to give her a heart attack.

But it’s fine, it’s not like Kara has never said to her before either.

Well, never before while cuddling intimately with her in bed, as they go to sleep…

Lena stares at the ceiling, then turns to look at Kara’s sleeping face, whispering, “Love you too.”

Chapter Text

Kara sighs.

It’s warm and comfy.

Her nose filled with her favorite scent.

She scrunches her face at loud sharp unexpected knocks.

She decides to ignore it and presses herself a little further into the soft warmth in her arms, sighing in contentment.

Kara frowns a little when said ‘soft warmth’ has now become rather rigid, she takes a moment to really think about where she is.

Then it’s her turn to imitate a plank of wood.

She opens her eyes and sees mostly a mass of dark hair, and a blush starts to flood her cheeks when she realizes that she is spooning Lena.

Lena who is just now slowly turning her head and shoulders to peer back at Kara with sleepy confusion, which she would probably find adorable if her current thoughts weren’t entirely focused on how intimately Kara is pressed to Lena’s back and hips, legs tangled together.

The loud knocks come again and they both turn to peer at the door with sleepy confusion.

Alex comes barging in with a huge grin on her face, Kara knows exactly what’s going to happen in the milliseconds before it does and tries to shield Lena as best she can. Her sister launches herself into the bed and lands squarely on top of them both, everyone letting out a grunt and forced exhalation of air, shrieks of protest filling the air.

“Alex!” Kara groans, trying a little in vain to hold up her sister’s weight so it doesn’t crush her and Lena, “why do you always have to do this?” she whines.

After she and Alex had finally become close as sisters, anytime Alex beat Kara to wakefulness she would insist on waking her up, and since her sister was basically indestructible and could carry her weight easily Alex decided it was a fun past time for her to dive bomb Kara. Not to mention Alex was a big softie and loved to cuddle so it was also an excuse to be close to Kara, not that she needed one, but it was used, nonetheless. Kara normally didn’t mind so much but right now it was rather annoying.

“Morning!” Alex says cheerily, grinning down at them, arms wrapped around them both, and she presses a wet kiss to Kara’s forehead and then to Lena’s temple. Kara can only see the side of Lena’s face since her back is still pressed into Kara, so she can’t make out what Lena could be thinking or feeling.

Kara glares at Alex and tries to shove her off, but her arms are trapped, and her sister has all the leverage right now.

“I do this because it’s tradition and you two had me worried for days, this is your reward and punishment,” Alex states haughtily, Kara scowls at her, “and your mom sent me to tell you that you’ll be late for therapy if you don’t leave soon,” that startles Kara and she wriggles under Alex frantically, growling to let her out.

Alex smiles unconcerned and amused, let’s her out, and Kara rolls away off the bed, grabs some clothes, flings herself into the bathroom to wash her face, brush her teeth, and combs through her hair quickly, braiding it into something quick to put up.

When she exits the bathroom, she’s stopped short when she sees Alex, cuddled around Lena in the exact spot that Kara was, it makes her chest flare up in equal parts jealousy and affection. Jealous that Alex is curled around Lena who seems to be indifferent to Alex’s presence, eyes closed, Kara can tell she’s awake, just resting, and affection to see her sister and Lena at ease enough to be snuggling.

Alex sees her and gives her a smug grin, “Have fun at therapy!”

Kara glowers, “Why are you being so annoying lately?” she has time to bicker with her sister…she’ll just run to first meditation.

Alex huffs, indignant, “Rude! Here I am coming to spend quality time with my soon to be sister, and you accuse me of being annoying,” her face feigns exaggerated hurt, and Kara feels her frown deepen.

“Definitely not the Danvers I want snuggling me,” Lena says drily eyes still closed, Alex and Kara both gape at Lena a little, Kara’s heart ticking faster, then Lena says after a long pause, “it’s too bad Eliza isn’t here.”

Alex throws her head back and laughs loudly, amused, and then manhandles Lena into turning over so she can press her into a hug, Lena’s face scrunches playfully trying to pull away as Alex speaks, “But Lena!” elongating her name in a whine, “I give the best cuddles!” laughing at Lena’s struggling.

“I am seriously, once again, reconsidering this whole big sister thing if this is what I have to look forward to,” Lena grumbles, she’s stopped struggling and her head is pressed firmly to Alex’s chest, arms crossed while Alex’s are wrapped firmly around her, but Kara can see the amused quirk of her lips and knows she doesn’t mean it.

Alex shakes her head, “Nope, you’re really stuck with me now that you’re marrying Kara tomorrow,” looking straight at Kara with a shit eating grin on her face.

That strikes Kara straight through her chest.

Rao, their kanreosh was tomorrow!

Her face goes red, she glares again at her sister stuttering, “I-it’s- we’re not getting married, it’s-…”

Alex cuts her off, waving a hand dismissively, “Yeah, yeah, I know not a bonding, blah blah blah,” rolling her eyes, “but it’s just as good as.”

She’s not exactly wrong, but Alex is purposefully trying to get a rise out of her just because she can, and all Kara can do is give Alex her best combination of a scowl and pout.

Lena cuts in before Kara can try and retort, “Aren’t you running late, darling?” Alex finally allows Lena to pull away so she can sit up looking sleep mussed and concerned and so soft, Kara is immediately distracted, all other thoughts and feelings fly out of her mind.

“Yeah, darling,” Alex mocks putting emphasis on the endearment, gagging a little to the side, Kara feels a flash of annoyance but Lena smacking her sister in her smug face with a pillow fills her with glee instead, she and Lena lock eyes in solidarity and delight.

The words catch up to her then and she yelps, “Shoot!” checking the time.

She throws goodbyes over her shoulder and races out the door, tossing another farewell to her mother on the way when she passes.

Sweaty and breathing hard, she makes it with a minute to spare.

Barely…

 

Kara returns home later feeling a bit mentally drained, Adasa wanted to get into Kara’s arrival on Earth and the challenges of juggling losing everything on top of having her task of raising and taking care of her baby cousin taken from her. It’s something she doesn’t like to think or talk about. She’s talked with Alex about losing Krypton and she thought she had processed the loss of her planet as well as she could on her own but thinking about not being able to teach Kal about home and his people was always avoided. Being abandoned by the one person left in the universe who was her family and connection to her dead planet was apparently more of thing than she realized.

During their conversation Kara realized how much she wanted someone to share those things with, and as she spoke about how when she first arrived on Earth and trying to fit in, she started to suppress her comments about her comparisons to home, even to the Danvers despite their encouragement. Things like, on Krypton we-, back home there was-, this reminds me of-, and so on. At first it was because she and Alex were at odds and her sister would get frustrated with her constant comparisons, but even later when they were friends and true sisters that feeling of burdening others with her memories lingered so she didn’t let herself talk about it, with Alex especially because there was an underlying irrational fear that Alex might not want to hear like she didn’t in the beginning.

Now that part of her planet survived and she was able to experience things long forgotten she wanted to share her joy with those she loved, especially with Lena and Alex, but circumstances as they were she hadn’t been able to just slow down and take Lena on a tour around her home to show her sights and landmarks, or her favorite park or anything. She’d only taken Lena to the hospital and Thara’s which hardly counted, she didn’t realize how deeply she felt about it and how truly important it was to her that Lena know these things about her life.

Talking through the revelation had been tough but it left her with a better sense of why she reacted so viscerally to Lena connecting with her language and culture, and probably had something to do with why Kara always seemed to feel a bit overwhelmed whenever she saw Lena wearing the El glyph.

She draws in a deep breath before heading inside and finds her mother at her work desk, Kara sinks into the hug from Alura and her mother must sense she needs a bit more comfort because she continues to hold on tight, stroking her back.

Kara pulls back and smiles the tiniest bit teary eyed.

“Anything you want to talk about, my dear?” Alura asks with a concerned tilt of her head.

Kara shakes her head, she’s fine, really, just a little emotional still from therapy, she tells her as much and asks after her friends.

“They are all downstairs, Brainy returned and says he was able to get the amplification machine up and running, so now we wait,” Kara exclaims her excitement and Alura smiles hers, “your sister asked me to send you down when you got back,” she adds, and Kara nods about to turn away, but Alura calls her back a moment.

“Zami, is coming shortly to deliver your garments, so please come up with Lena when you’re done with your sister,” Kara nods and heads down to the lab.

In one corner, Brainy is lying on the floor head inside some compartment, and Alex bent over him holding a light and handing him or taking tools. Her eyes land on the opposite side of the room, and her heart skips a little in happiness when she sees Lena.

It trips a little more when she sees that Lena is still wearing the jacket with her house crest, but she’s paired it instead with jeans and a green blouse that brings out her eyes, the sleek black Kryptonian jacket some how works with the Earth garb, Lena’s dark hair pinned back at the top of her head and the rest spilling over shoulders.

Lena’s typing on a tablet as usual, but her head turns toward Kara as if she can feel her gaze, and her gentle smile hello has Kara’s breath catching in her chest as she walks closer, Lena reaches up to pull earbuds from her ears, pocketing them, and as Kara draws close enough Lena steps into her space to wrap an arm around her waist in a half hug, both murmuring quiet hellos.

Kara keeps her arm around Lena so they can stand side by side, “How are things going? Mom said that Brainy got the amplifier working,” Lena nods excitedly, and swipes and taps on her tablet and tilts it to show to Kara, leaning a little more fully into her side.

“Yeah, he was able to make a remote monitoring device, so we don’t have to have someone constantly at Kir-Neth’s lab,” Lena starts speaking in more technical and science jargon but Kara’s not really listening, she’s too busy smiling at Lena’s enthusiasm as she geeks out about what Brainy was able to do, and Kara takes a moment to appreciate how beautiful Lena is immersed in something she loves that she glows from the inside out.

Lena tilts her head up, the corner of her mouth tugging upwards, eyebrow raised, “Are you even listening to me, darling?” fond and amused.

Kara nods enthusiastically without missing a beat, “You were explaing how awesome and smart you are,” a little cheeky and definitely teasing, but also pleased it’s the truth.

Lena turns her head a little to the side, bashful, eyes closing as she laughs, her grin wide and so beautiful, Kara’s chest swells a little in pride that she’s made her laugh that way.

Her breath comes out a little rushed when Lena directs her full smile back at her, her heartbeat just a touch elevated as it always is now when she interacts with Lena.  

“Oh good! You’re here, Kara,” Alex comes closer, Brainy still tinkering away in the corner hardly paying them any mind engrossed in his work, Alex looks to Lena, “Can you call home, please?”

She realizes that Alex is making good on her comment about how she wanted Kara to tell Eliza about her impending nuptials, her sister must see her slightly panicked expression because Alex reaches out to grab her arm, “Oh yeah, this is happening.”

Lena directs Alex to the monitor, giving Kara a small apologetic look, she sighs and pouts at Alex, but her sister refuses to look her in the face, the only sure way of not falling for her tricks. Kara scoffs a little and after a short wait, Nia’s smiling face shows up on the screen waving cheerily.

“Hi, Nia,” Alex says after Kara and Lena give their greeting, “Is my mom around?”

Nia nods happily but before she leaves to fetch her Nia’s grin turns teasing, “So Kara, what’s it like being a walking talking trope?”

Kara groans rolling her eyes, “Just go get Eliza, Nia!” she exclaims feeling a slight blush forming, she’s not sure if Nia is only referring to the fake engagement or to the fact that she’s in love with her best friend or both but whatever the case Kara is not a fan.

Nia cackles at her reaction and returns with Eliza in short order, it’s clear Nia hasn’t told her foster mother the news because she asks after their health and wellbeing and then Kara asks about her father, who is stable and still slowly deteriorating as expected and Eliza looks at them a little expectantly.

Alex nudges Kara, both sisters glaring at each other, Eliza purses her lips at her daughters, but waits patiently, Kara sighs and then starts haltingly, “Well, umm, I have some news, Eliza.”

“Big news,” Alex adds unhelpfully, and too pleased knowing how uncomfortable Kara is, she elbows her sister a little, but Alex doesn’t care or seem to notice.

“Yeah, uhhh, you see…Lena and I are,” Kara trails off avoiding Eliza’s curious gaze.

Alex interjects again, despite saying it was Kara’s responsibility to tell their mother, “They’re getting married!” she shouts gleefully.

Kara flushes and growls at Alex indignantly, “Alex! No-we’re-it’s not,” she tries to backpedal, but Eliza is already responding.

“Oh!” her hands fly to her mouth over her face splitting grin, “That wonderful, sweetie! Congratulations to you both!”

Kara stutters out more incoherencies, and she catches a glimpse of Lena on the other side of Alex face pink and looking away off to the side, Alex seems keen to keep throwing fuel on the fire, “Tomorrow, mom! It’s happening tomorrow,” Kara really wishes she had her laser eyes right now.

“It’s not a bonding ceremony, it’s an engagement!” Kara shouts, trying to regain control of the conversation from her sister.

Eliza looks a bit confused, she knows just enough about Kryptonian culture and traditions that she’s not sure why Kara is pointing out the difference since one lead to the other, “Well, I think it’s wonderful regardless, sweetie, as you know I knew you two would make a lovely couple.”

Kara chokes on air and realizes that through her rambling she hadn’t explained why they are doing this, so now Eliza thinks she and Lena are actually together, which to be fair, that’s what Kara wants but it’s not exactly how all this came to be.

“She does?” Lena sounds surprised and tilts a little around Alex to look at Kara with an arch of her brow that sends shivers down her spine and her face growing hotter than she thought possible.

Eliza’s, “Welcome to the family, sweetheart,” to Lena is warm and heartfelt and thankfully turns her attention away from Kara so she feels like she can breathe again. Lena gives her thanks and then Eliza checks her watch, she has a video conference to attend and wishes them well telling Alex to take lots of pictures for the event tomorrow.

Kara tries to glare holes into her sister, avoid looking at Lena too long, and calm her racing heart, it doesn’t work very well on any count…

 

Zami arrives with two attendants all of them carring stacks of boxes, some white, and some black, the colors correspond to whom they belong.

He greets them all with a deep bow and Alura directs the attendants where to store the clothing, Kara and Lena are sent separately to check for fit on a few articles, which doesn’t take long.

Kara finishes first and is seated on the opposite side of the couch as Alex, head propped in a hand where her elbow is resting on the arm of the couch, the other extended along the back, her mother comes to join them after bidding Zami farewell, she takes a seat in an armchair across from them, Lena returns from changing back into her regular clothes, Kara flashes a smile her way in the middle of saying something to her sister.

Lena hesitates a moment in front of the couch and then very deliberately sits right next to Kara, fitting herself under Kara’s arm flush into her side like she’s done it a million times, like it’s a habit, like it’s her rightful place.

Kara’s brain grinds to a stop.

She should probably breathe, but the wind is knocked out of her again when Lena places her hand on her thigh, to Kara it seems to burn right through her trouser leg.

Her jaw clenches as she stares a bit widely and wary of the hand on her leg…

She jumps a little when Lena’s fingers squeeze lightly and Kara’s eyes flick up to Lena who is looking at her in question, her green eyes glancing to the side meaningfully, Kara looks around and notices her mother and sister with matching amused tight-lipped looks, she wonders how to two people so utterly unrelated can look so similar.

Kara gulps and looks at her mother a bit beseeching, she’s grateful when Alura takes pity on her, “I asked if you wanted to go over the events for tomorrow,” Kara nods briskly, not trusting herself to speak, feeling the flush around her neck slowing thankfully, hoping maybe it wouldn’t reach her face.

Alura begins with a nod folding her hands in her lap, “Our day will start early tomorrow, after breakfast we will all dress.”

Alex cuts in here, “Uhh, I didn’t exactly pack formal wear,” grimacing, shoulder hunching a little.

Kara reassures her, “They just dropped off a bunch of new clothes for me, there’s some nicer pieces in there, you can borrow some of mine,” Alex agrees, relieved, apologizing for interrupting and asks Alura to continue.

“Once everyone is dressed, Kara and I will leave for the Theatre, this is where all the events of tomorrow will be broadcast to the whole city. Lena and Alex will be picked up and escorted to the Theatre by Thara and then events will unfold as dictated by the ceremonial texts I sent to you, and which I understand you both have been studying?” Alura directs to Kara and Lena, they both reply in the affirmative but Lena chimes in with a question.

“Is this how people here get engaged normally? It seems a bit over the top to do all the time,” her cute curious look taking over her face.

Kara answers, “No, normally it happens very much like it does back on Earth, someone presents their intended with a bracelet, like you would an engagement ring, and they set an appointment with the council office to check for their compatibility on the Matrix and if they are deemed suitable they are registered officially and can be bonded formally at a time of their choosing,” Lena listens intently, and Kara feels a small warmth spread in her chest at her genuine interest.

She smiles and speaks as if Lena is the only one in the room, and this information is for her benefit only, “But for us, since it’s going to be more formal it’s going to follow the old way when a house was either arranging a union or the heir to the house wanted to seek permission to have their personal choice accepted by their head of house.”

“So tomorrow, I will ask mom, as the head of my house permission to enter kanreosh, I will present you to her, she will submit you to the Test of Character and ask you three questions to assess your worthiness. She will accept your suit after you answer and present us before the council and ask on our behalf to be submitted to the Matrix for compatibility.”

Alex interjects seriously, “What happens if the Matrix deems you two incompatible?” no one says anything for a moment.

Kara is aghast, the thought had never once crossed her mind...

Alex bursts out laughing heartily, gasping a little, “Sorry, I just heard how stupid a question that was,” grinning and motions for Kara to continue.

Kara gulps and wills her heart to calm after the spike of fear that shot through her, “Once it approves,” she grinds out with determination, like it’s a forgone thing, “the council will issue the Right to Challenge, which is basically like the ‘speak now or forever hold your peace’ bit in Christian weddings.”

“After the appropriate one minute,” her voice has been smooth and even as she explained, but it catches a little here, she swallows, “I will present Lena with her bracelet,” the fingers on her thigh tighten ever so slightly, Kara watches Lena’s eyes flit between her own, her breathing a little shallow.

“That reminds me!” Alura exclaims with a wide smile, “the bracelet was delivered earlier, would you like to see it?”

Kara and Lena turn a bit in surprise at Alura.

Lena nods a bit hesitant and seems to take a bracing breath.

Alura returns with a long thin beautiful wooden case, Lena reaches for it with slightly trembling hands, and settles back next to Kara, who pulls her arm down from the back of the couch and wraps it around Lena’s waist, leaning closer to see as she opens it.

Lena’s sharp inhale is quiet, but Kara can feel it.

Her own breath is shaky.

It’s exquisite.

The silver that’s not actually silver has been bent into the smallest and tightest possible links to create such a fine weave that it almost looks like uninterrupted solid flat metal until you look closely, it feels and shimmers like liquid when Kara reaches out to trace her fingers over it, the clasp is a seamless solid square with the faintest engraving of the glyph of her house that can only be seen in a certain angle of light, and Kara knows that the clasp is designed in such a way that once it closes there is no way to undo it, short of cutting it off, but doing that would be extremely difficult given the strength of material.

“It’s magnificent,” Lena breathes, closes the case and gives it back to Alura, she clasps both her hands together in her lap, leaning back looking pensive.

Kara can see the tension in her jaw, her eyes distant, Kara grips the hand at her waist a little, and Lena looks up at her, Kara’s pinches her brow in question and Lena smiles, small but sincere, takes a deliberate breath, “What happens after the bracelet presentation?”

Kara knows Lena knows what happens, in fact the only person who doesn’t is Alex, but she can see Lena wants to move past…whatever this was, “Uh, not much really, the council will officially register our names in the city records, and then they make an official statement to the watching Kryptonians, something short to the effect of ‘these two are now engaged’.”

“Speaking of, are there going to be people attending in person?” Alex asks Alura.

Her mother nods, “Yes, the Theatre holds some ten thousand, those attending have been chosen by random lottery because there were too many who wanted to be there.”

Alex’s eyebrows raise, impressed, “Dang, I didn’t realize that many people would want to see my baby sister get married,” Kara shoots a low ‘not married’ at her sister that’s completely ignored, “what was the pool size?”

Alura tries to keep her smile from growing too big and says mildly, “Half the city population applied.”

Kara jerks back in surprise.

Alex and Lena both look at Kara waiting patiently for her to explain.

Kara gulps, and says shakily, with a tremulous smile, “That’s a little more than two million people,” chuckling awkwardly, her sister and Lena’s almost identical expressions of surprise would be funny if Kara wasn’t still reeling a little in her own shock. She didn’t think that many people would want to attend.

Alura moves the conversation along, “After the kanreosh, Kir-Neth will lead his colleagues and several prominent members of the city in Kanar-Kluv for Lena,” Kara takes a brief aside to explain to her sister the basics and reason for the ceremony and then her mother resumes, “Finally we wait for mid-day where we have been invited to participate in the invocation of Zhaokhir Kanzeht and the official start to the rest of the days celebrations, the honor of reciting the opening prayer has been bestowed to me.”

“Is mid-day significant?” Alex asks, and Alura nods.

“Yes, on Krypton it would have been when Rao was at it’s highest and brightest, by tradition and consensus it has always been deemed the appropriate time to begin, after the invocation then it’s mostly just parties the rest of the day. We will follow the council to a nearby building where lunch, drinks, and dancing will be held, but you don’t have to stay there since the revelry will not be confined indoors. In fact the whole city will be a series of parties bleeding into one another in the streets.”

Alura looks at Kara and Lena apologetically, “Well, Alex will be able to come and go as she pleases, these two will have to stay for a receiving line of well-wishers for at least a few hours,” gesturing to the couple on the couch.

Kara groans flopping a little to the side in displeasure, “Can’t we just accidentally disappear? Do they really need us to be there?” pouting at her mother hopefully.

Alura shakes her head merely amused at her daughters’ antics, apparently immune to Kara’s signature move, “It’s tradition, and if you don’t there would be an angry mob hunting you, besides they would follow you around regardless trying to extend their felicitations. Once your required allotted time is over you can do what you like.”

Kara grumbles a bit when she hears Lena’s soft chuckle next to her, “You don’t want to spend three hours chained next to me while we talk to strangers?” she turns to Lena’s teasing smile, “I seem to recall you doing exactly that at a couple galas I dragged you to in the past, too good for me now?” Lena’s hand is resting on her thigh again, the gentle squeeze that comes with the question sends Kara’s heart racing and she flounders.

“No! I mean-Of course not, I mean-I love- I didn’t mean to say-…” the rambling is expert level, her rising blush is as swift the words pouring out of her, the old habit of adjusting her glasses tries to rear its head, only her arm around Lena prevents it so she ends up shifting uncomfortably in her seat instead, avoiding Lena’s gaze, Alex’s unhelpful laughing reaches her ears from a distance.

Lena’s genuine laugh, lightly flushed cheeks, and wide grin as she looks at Kara catches her attention, and she stills, struck by how much she wishes she could just lean over and kiss her.

Her interactions with Lena today have all been a shade more intense, and she is starting to suspect that Lena is deliberately flirting with her, purposefully pressing the edges of their usual boundaries.

Kara starts to wonder…and let herself actually contemplate that Lena might reciprocate her feelings.

Alex says something low to Alura that Kara doesn’t hear, but Lena’s eyes widen a bit, and her eyes turn down and away, biting her lip almost shyly.

Ok, perhaps she shouldn’t kiss Lena in front of her mother and sister the first time.

She turns resolutely away and tries to think of something else to say.

Her mother beats her to it, “Well, Kara, I think it’s time you get started on the most important part of all this as the daughter of the house,” looking at her in mild apology, but firm.

Kara thinks a moment wondering what it could be, “Aww, mom!” she whines when it comes to her mind what it must be, “When was the last time they were cleaned? It will take hours,” it’s not that hates this task, but it will certainly be lengthy if it hasn’t been done in some time.”

“I go once a month as required but I’m not nearly as good at it as your father. Take your sister or Lena to help,” Alura says unconcerned, all sympathy seeming to have vanished in the wake of Kara’s whining.

“What does she have to do?” Alex’s grin at her expense is really starting to annoy her.

“Clean and polish all the El relics most especially Tistra-El’s sword which she will be taking with her tomorrow, and any other pieces she wishes to take,” Alura explains, giving Kara a ‘and you better not cut any corners’ look.

Kara looks at Lena, but her hopes are immediately squashed at Lena’s expression, “I’m sorry, darling, Brainy asked me earlier to help with the final steps on the portal,” that perks Kara up despite her disappointment.

“You’re almost done?” the proud grin on her face is too much to contain, Lena nods and Kara wraps her up in a tight hug, “That’s amazing! You’re amazing!”

Lena laughs at her enthusiasm and tucks her chin a little into Kara’s shoulder, “Thanks,” the heartfelt quiet thanks is sweet and fills Kara with warmth.

Kara sees Alex looking at them smugly and then starts making kissy faces and rubbing at her shoulders, and finally an exaggerated gaging face pointing a finger into her mouth. She scowls indignantly at her but schools her face back into something normal when Lena pulls back, none the wiser.

“Alex can help me then,” Kara says with cunning, and her sister balks.

“Uhh, no, I’m helping Brainy and Lena with the portal,” she tries to argue but Lena is on Kara’s side and says without missing a step.

“Brainy and I have it handled, you should help your sister,” Lena’s smirk is shrewd and calculating and Kara finds it immensely attractive.  

Alex whines, “Aww come on, Lena, why would you do this to me?”

“Consider it your comeuppance for being annoying the last couple days, you only have yourself to blame,” raising an eyebrow, daring Alex to argue with her. Kara beams smugly at her sister, pulling Lena a little closer into her side, and sticks her tongue out at Alex, who is sputtering searching for a comeback.

Alex frowns grumpily when she can think of none, and folds her arms across her chest, resigned, flopping into the couch like the big child she is.

 

Lena presses a kiss to Kara’s cheek as they part ways that’s just shy of her mouth Kara almost swoons at her lightheadedness. Alex rolls her eyes and drags Kara away from the spot she hasn’t moved from since Lena kissed her.

She tugs her arm out of her sister’s grip and leads the way to a door that goes down to a separate basement from the lab but on the same level.

It’s not an overly large room, it’s brightly lit and there are several pedestals in the center of the room with assorted objects displayed, tall rectangular recesses in the walls in equally spaced intervals, four in total, various kinds of old styles of Kryptonian garments and pieces of armor from different prominent figures of her house.

Alex is suitably impressed and takes a walk around the room peering at many of the items she comes across with interest.

Kara approaches the first item, her father always had her do this in a certain order, oldest piece to newest, the only exception being that Tistra’s sword be last. She gently lifts the heavy medallion and takes it to the table nearby where the cleaning tools are kept, Alex comes to her side, pulling up a stool.

She doesn’t actually need Alex’s help, her mother really suggested she take someone because as her father did with her, she needs to say the story of each out loud, to remember and reflect on their houses’ many accomplishments and mistakes.

Part of Kara wishes it were Lena here with her, but she’s also glad it’s Alex. After her revelation this morning about unconsciously keeping some of her Kryptonian heritage from her sister she wants to share this with her, especially on the night before such an important day.

The words come to her easily, the stories flowing effortlessly from her mind, and she almost cries because she was so worried she wouldn’t remember, but the familiar sights and smells help to recall the long afternoons she spent with her father once a month to come here and partake of the ritual. Alura told her once that Zor-el had started bringing her before Kara could do much more than hold herself upright. Her mother would come upon them, Kara seated on the tabletop in front of him, holding some small object or toy to hold her interest while he cleaned and worked meticulously, speaking all the stories to her as he had been taught them.

Though Zor-el was the younger brother he and Alura bore the first heir to the house so they were given the responsibility to safeguard the family treasures when Kara’s grandparents passed away.

The tears do fall when she remembers an early memory of him allowing her the honor of cleaning her first piece. It was an immense point of pride as a child, to be allowed the privilege of holding and caring for them.

Alex listens quietly, handing her tools when asked, and gently wiping the occasional tears that fall from her eyes. They pass the hours in comfortable solitude.

 

Alura brings them dinner to eat while they work, Kara entrusting some of the not easily breakable pieces into Alex’s care to clean as she speaks their story.

 

Kara and Alex make their way upstairs yawning a bit, they find Alura, Brainy, and Lena standing in the living room speaking lowly.

They make their way over but her mother intercepts them and says they all need to get to bed for the big day tomorrow.

At the landing Kara hugs her mother goodnight, and bids Brainy the same, but before she can say the same to Alex, her sister pulls her along to her room, “Come on you, you’re staying with me tonight it’s bad luck to spend the night with the bride,” Kara sputters trying to tug away from her sister, “say goodnight to Lena.”

“What? Alex, that’s not a thing here!” she protests, but Alex keeps dragging her, she looks back at Lena who is trying to bite back an amused smile and seems unwilling to help.

“Have a goodnight with your sister, I’ll see you in the morning, darling,” she disappears into the bedroom.  

Kara gives her sister her best scowl, but Alex just gets ready for bed while she huffs angrily.

 

She jerks awake.

Hand going to her chest.

It wasn’t the worst of her nightmares. Mild compared to the ones she’s been having, and calms her breathing quickly lying back trying to go back to sleep.

She flips to her stomach.

She flips onto her back.

She lies on her side facing Alex watching her sleep.

Finally, she climbs slowly out of bed and makes her way silently to Lena’s room, Kara pauses when she gets to the foot of the bed, and she’s startled a little when she hears Lena’s sleepy voice almost immediately, “Kara?” she doesn’t say anything too surprised in the moment, “bad dreams?”

She lets out a harsh breath nodding, not sure if Lena can even see her, but she watches as the shape on the bed scoots back and pat the space in front of her, she almost dives into the bed in relief. Lena pulls her close and Kara turns her head to press an ear to listen to Lena’s slow steady heartbeat.

Kara lets out a relieved sleepy sigh and drifts off to sleep wrapped safe in Lena’s arms.

Chapter Text

Lena wakes to the sound of knocking.

Her eyes squint in the morning light as she lifts her head off Kara’s back.

Kara who is currently lying on her stomach curled around a pillow sleeping peacefully with Lena curled around said Kryptonian, she frowns a bit considering how unbothered Kara is by the knocks despite how loud they were and rolls out of bed when it’s clear whoever it is won’t be barging in.

Lena’s greeted to soft ‘good mornings’ from Alex and Alura.

She steps aside to let them enter and raises an inquiring eyebrow at Alex who is holding a try with breakfast, “I see Alura is making you behave today,” she quips to Alex, who shoots her an easy smile.

“I have the rest of forever to exercise my big sister rights,” with a big grin and wink at Lena.

Alura sets herself on the edge if the bed, “Kara,” she calls softly reaching a hand to her shoulder, but Kara does not stir, Alura turns her head a little in puzzlement, and shakes her daughter a bit, “Daughter, it’s time to wake, I know you don’t wish to be late for your own engagement ceremony,” Lena’s brow pinches in some concern for a moment, but Kara stirs reluctantly.

She rubs at her face and yawns, eyes landing on her mother, then her sister hovering behind Alura holding the tray, and finally on Lena standing at the foot of the bed, smiling sleepily, croaking out a good morning and sitting up.

Alex swoops in to place the tray over her legs, and then gives her sister a serious worried look, “Are you feeling alright, Kara? Did you not sleep well? I was a little worried when I woke up and you were gone, but I knew you’d be with Lena.”

Kara shrugs a little unconcerned, “I feel a little groggy. I had a bad dream, but I slept fine after I came here,” she smiles reassuringly and sincere at Alura and her sister, “I’m alright, I promise,” then turns to lock eyes with Lena.

There’s definitely fatigue Lena can see around her eyes though most of that could be attributed to her just waking up, but Kara’s smile is genuine, and she tries not to worry too much.

This was an expected symptom, she forgets for long stretches that Kara is still sick, and she really shouldn’t...

It’s going to be fine.

It will be.

There was still time.

“Alright, we’ve already eaten, I am going to get ready, and I’ll be back shortly to collect you to help you dress and then we can make our way out,” Alura says, smoothing back some of Kara’s wild hair and pressing a tender kiss to her head, she stands and before she leaves, she gives Lena a slightly drawn out hug, warm smiles passing between them when they part.

Alex gestures for Lena to get back into bed, letting her sister know with a stern look and words that half the food is for Lena and not to eat all of it, Kara pouts a little, but she brightens when Lena climbs back into bed next to her, snagging a piece of fruit off a plate.

She can feel a smile pulling at her lips when Kara’s hand slips into hers and adds another tick under her mental list of ‘Kara might be into me as more than a friend’. It’s a list she started yesterday after Eliza’s comment that she thought they would make a cute couple. Up until this point, she kept shutting down that avenue of thought for a multitude of reasons, not the least of which were her sins of the last year, and also a general disbelief that someone as amazing as Kara would or could possibly see her in such a light. Eliza making that comment meant that it had to have come up in conversation, that Kara herself might have brought up the topic.

Now that she wasn’t so overwhelmed with all the stress of the last few weeks and some of her emotional burden lifted, she had started piecing things together, that comment from Eliza, Alex’s teasing, Alura’s knowing looks to Lena and Kara, devoted heartfelt words from Kara herself, Kara’s seeming desire to touch or hug her at any opportunity (even more than before the year of hell), prolonged gazes, to name a few. So, despite her insecurities and lingering guilt she was at the point where she could not ignore the possibility.

Lena, however, is a scientist, and her heart has been broken before, by the woman in question in fact, so she tried to take a slight mental step back in her interactions with Kara yesterday to try and observe a little more objectively.

When she saw Kara sitting on the couch the previous day, there was room for Lena to sit between Alex and Kara with ample space on either side, but she had chosen to sit flush against Kara, well one, because she just wanted to, and two, to gauge her reaction. The results had been interesting, Kara did not seem upset or uncomfortable, more shocked at first than anything, and then after her initial surprise and rosy cheeks had faded a little, she seemed…pleased, content even, later going so far as to pull Lena that much closer with an arm around her waist.

As she lay in bed last night, she started to look back on other interactions between them, things that at the time she had brushed off as inconsequential, wishful thinking, or even believing herself to have been projecting her own feelings onto Kara’s actions or words. She even thought to go further to back to the beginning of their friendship and wondered at some of Kara’s behaviors, like going around the world to pick up all her favorite foods. That was a bit excessive even for her best friend, maybe one overseas stop but multiple in one go was going above and beyond.

After some time ruminating, she was starting to see that there weren’t any real platonic reasons for some, for many actually, of the things Kara did, nor seemingly any friendly reasons she tolerated most of Lena’s decidedly not platonic actions…

 

Alex hadn’t left yet, apparently making good on Kara’s promise to let her borrow some clothes for today. So, Lena let herself laugh and be amused as Alex treated them to a Kryptonian fashion show while she and Kara ate breakfast. Jokes passing easily between the sisters, Lena chiming in occasionally but mostly content to lean into Kara’s side smiling at the easy loving banter and being grateful to be included. It soothed an old broken part of her heart that Lex had blown up and continued to subsequently smash to bits over the years.

They finally settled on a tunic and pants combination, deep dark solid red top coming down to mid-thigh, the typical square high-necked collar, black trousers, the centered El glyph on her chest outlined in matching black piping. The sleeves and pant legs were a bit long but not very noticeable, and otherwise fit Alex well despite it being tailored for her sister.

Alex looked at herself in a mirror apparently pleased but Lena watched Kara and could see her getting a bit misty eyed as her sister traced her house crest with some consideration, turning back to them and sharing an affectionate look and smile with Kara that seemed to make Alex’s eyes turn a bit red too though not a word had passed between them.

Kara huffs out a shaky breath that could have been a pleased, though emotion filled, laugh as she looks at Alex a grin growing on her face, her sister’s matching one is adorable, and Lena’s heart fills with love in this moment for how much they love each other.

Alura enters then, in a sweep of flowing white fabric, carrying a large black box, one of the ones Zami dropped off, it’s Lena’s and she sets it down on the bed.

Lena takes in Alura’s impressive clothes, her dress is similar to what she wears daily though this one seems a bit fancier with gold trim and piping, simple and elegant, the crest of her house white on white, the robes thick and voluminous, folding and flowing down almost to the floor but coming just shy of it, a sweep of fabric thrown over one shoulder, her dark hair a stark contrast falling in waves over her shoulders, and it reminds Lena of how Kara wears it as Supergirl.

She can see where Kara gets her excellent hair genes from.

Everyone exclaims their compliments to Alura who smiles and accepts them humbly and gracefully and turns to look at Kara expectantly, “Say goodbye to your sister and surah, we’ll get you dressed and then be on our way. I spoke with Brainy just now, he said he would meet us, apparently there were a few more things he wanted to do this morning.”

Kara turns to her and she feels some nerves flutter in her belly at her soft warm tender expression, her eyes searching Lena’s face like she was trying to memorize this moment.

This was happening.

She was really going to be bound to Kara for all time.

And when Lena thinks of it like that, especially in conjunction with her little mental list she feels rather like an idiot for not suspecting that Kara might view her in a more romantic light, and she’s hit with a flash of memory from the other night when Alex was fed up with them after she learned about their engagement. How had she overlooked that very recent memory? Especially Alex’s smug teasing face later when she told Lena to kiss her sister, good lord, she must know something Lena doesn’t. It starts the wheels turning in her head more and makes more damning ticks on her list.

Kara draws their linked hands into her lap so she can stroke Lena’s hand with her free one, fingers tracing the veins and bones up to her wrist in a thoughtless pattern, she looks up and Lena’s nerves tick up with her heart as she looks into familiar blue eyes, “Last chance to back out,” Kara says with a smile but Lena knows it’s meant seriously, that if she wanted to leave Kara would not stop her, it makes her chest clench in appreciation and she swallows the lump that’s grown in her throat.

“Not a chance, darling,” she says seriously, but her smile is wide and happy, Kara’s grin grows in response, white teeth peeking out as she lets out a relived puff of air, as if Lena would have done or said anything else.

Lena leans forward sliding her arms around Kara’s shoulders pressing her face into her neck, it’s her favorite way to hug Kara, to feel her warmth on her nose and cheeks, and be surrounded by her comforting scent. Kara tilts her head down and presses Lena tight to her chest, breathing deeply.

Alura calls Kara’s name gently and they pull apart reluctantly, Kara’s hand tugging at Lena’s even as she climbs out of bed until finally, she has to let go or drag Lena with her, eyes never leaving hers, and Lena wonders again what a dolt she’s been that she never noticed the way Kara looks at her, it makes her want to laugh because it’s not new, it’s only that Lena can see it more clearly for what it really is, could be, and it makes feel like she can do anything, tackle any problem or hardship so long as she had Kara by her side.

Kara finally breaks their gaze and gives her sister a tight hug, Lena can’t hear the whispered words between them, but she doesn’t begrudge them that.

Alura gives Lena a smile as she puts an arm around Kara after hugging her sister, “We will see you soon, inahmin,” Lena’s smile is too big and bashful at that last, and they leave, heads bowed between them as they disappear out the door.

She looks to Alex, and raises her eyebrows in question at Alex’s excited look, “You ready for this, lil sis?” Lena laughs in surprise at the pet name and Alex’s enthusiasm, and nods firmly.

Yeah, she is.

 

Kara paces a little in front of her mother one hand griping the hilt of Tistra-El’s sword firmly, so it doesn’t swing as she turns sharply.

Alura sighs affectionately and catches Kara by the shoulders, she stands a bit taller from her position on the one step in front of the low dais, “What has you so nervous, Kara?” she asks kindly.

She looks past her mother’s shoulder to stare at the huge white metallic sphere centered toward the back of the stage that was a mobile portion of the Matrix, connected from a distance to the vast machine that resided under the council building. It was only used when ceremonies such as this could not be held in their head office and they had need of a remote solution, this solution allowed them to take the capabilities of the Matrix anywhere for instant and public results to the city center or in this case the Theatre.

Kara had only ever been in the Theatre a few times as a child, it was the largest and oldest of its kind, so old in fact that it had no other name than for its use, several millennia old, it had stood unwavering during war and peace, a relic and monument to Argo City and Krypton, a testament to their enduring longevity and history. When she learned about Greek and Roman amphitheaters in high school, she was always surprised at how much they resembled and reminded her of this one, it made her well up in tears the first time she saw a slide show of them.  

Hers, this one, was covered unlike the ones in Europe and the materials used to build it was the same kind of crystal as the Fortress back home, a light airy blue, and there were technologies in place here that no stadiums or venues had on Earth. A not quite fully opaque crystal barrier dome had been erected between the semicircular stadium bench seats, and the large flat empty half circle of the orchestra with the raised stage opposite, was what currently gave them some privacy, it blurred the figures on the other side and silenced their conversations.

The masses on the other side would not be able to see or hear anything until one of the numerous attending Kelex’s in charge of it was given the order to turn it transparent and essentially press unmute on the action in the pit, like a two way mirror from the occasional cop show Alex made her watch, it made Kara feel better that she could pretend there weren’t thousands of people on the other side watching such an important even in her life, she would much rather it was just her family but it couldn’t be helped in this instance.

She eyes the rest of the council members a fair distance away in the back corner of the stage standing in a circle speaking amongst each other, all in matching white and gold like her mother, though the design of the garb is unique to each.

Her mother turns her chin gently to gaze into her eyes, waiting patiently for an answer, Kara’s hand comes up to smooth a palm over Heda Kom-El’s vambraces, the general who negotiated the end of the Daxamite insurrection, she had chosen them to wear because she had always looked up to Heda for her relentless desire to protect her home and people, though when Kara was younger she didn’t quite understand her compassion toward the seceding rebels during their negotiations, where Heda went so far as to ignore the councils wishes on certain terms of surrender.

That had led to her death eventually.

A few years later on the day of her bonding ceremony, a once loyal subordinate had been plotting to kill her intended so Heda would suffer as he did when he lost his wife to Daxamite rebels years prior, incensed over her leniency with the rebel surrender. During the revelry after the bonding while she was soft and slow with drink, he attacked her bond mate. Heda was able to deflect the knife blow with these very vambraces in the last moment, she flew into a rage and killed him but not before he managed to mortally wound her in the struggle.

She died in her wife’s arms before help could get to them.

After this terrible tragedy the House of El vowed never to be caught unawares during such an important day again, and thereafter for every kanreosh and bonding ceremony the couple in question would drink not one sip of liquor or spirit during the course of the celebrations in vigilance and remembrance.

Kara had explained all this to Alex yesterday while she was polishing the black matte metal with care, and she asked her sister to fulfill an important role the next day, that of Lena’s protector, to stand in Kara’s place while they were separated in the time leading up to the ceremony. It was an honor that the House of El bestowed on only their most trusted friends or family members and Kara was so glad that her sister was here so she could ask her.

Alex’s eyes had welled with tears that spilled over her cheeks and she had wrapped Kara in a rib crushing hug croaking her acceptance of such an honor. Kara’s own tears streaming down her face.

She felt along the slight indentations of the sharp angular designs in the metal, her fingers tracing along her familiar crest near the wrist and averted her eyes as she thought about Heda, and that maybe she should have picked something different. She had only been thinking of her ancestor’s fierce protection of her family and people and was only now realizing that maybe Heda’s story might not be the best to be reminded of on this particular day…

It was too late now, she had chosen.

Her mother was still waiting for an answer, “I…I’m not sure,” she says truthfully.

Alura nods understandingly, “Are you regretting going through with this? It’s not too late to change your mind,” her fingers drifting to smooth errant hairs and nonexistent wrinkles in her clothes.

Kara shakes her head, “No, not at all,” she purses her lips, and looks to the side thinking, drumming her fingers on metal and then rubbing her hands together a little, “No, I think, it’s just the anticipation, I keep thinking something bad might happen,” there’s an undercurrent of déjà vu, and she worries that she’s remembering something from the Phantom Zone, a different Kara’s reality where this scenario played out badly, but she had been given thousands of visions, many she didn’t remember and others that stuck with her vividly, so if the memory is there in her mind it’s elusive.

She pushes it away and focuses on the feeling of mother’s hands pressing firmly on her shoulders to help calm her too fast heart and breath, watches her mother’s chest rise and fall and tries to match it.

Alura gives her a sad smile, and her eyes flick over Kara’s shoulder, and she smiles more happily holding her face forwards before Kara can turn to look, “Perhaps this will help calm your heavy heart and raise your spirits,” she release’s Kara’s chin and ignores her questioning look.

Kara turns and is frozen with disbelief.

Her mouth hangs open in pure shock.

She can’t believe her eyes because there, walking toward her with Brainy are three people who should definitely not be here.

Kara runs and crosses the distance wrapping Eliza up in a hug so exuberant she spins her around once feeling her laugh through her whole body, before setting her down to pull back to look at the huge grin on her face, and then hugging Eliza close again eyes closed.  

She opens them and looks at J’onn and Nia standing side by side with huge grins on their faces, J’onn watching them, solid steady warmth radiating from him as always, and Nia with her hands clasped at her chest vibrating with barely concealed joy, bouncing on her toes, waiting it seems impatiently for her turn at a hug.

Eliza releases her and Nia swoops in before J’onn can, rocking Kara from side to side, practically yelling her hello, and Kara asks incredulous, “How are you here?” shouts really, instead of a more appropriate response.

Nia lets go and J’onn takes his turn, she can feel his laugh rumble through her own chest, and she sinks into the comfort of his hug for a moment.

Kara steps back from J’onn, and Brainy answers, “Lena and I fixed the portal last night!” he exclaims in pride, a huge smile on his face, “Lena suggested we invite them and keep it a surprise for you, she said she knew you would want your family to be here,” he says coming up to stand next to Nia putting an arm around her shoulder.

She’s floored.

Just absolutely astounded by their presence, and she can feel her tears building.

Rao, how was Lena so wonderful? Her chest felt too full of love and emotion and she was going to turn into a sobbing blubbering mess in a moment if she wasn’t careful.

Out of the corner of her eye she sees her mother walking toward them, Kara turns and Alura comes to stand in front of Eliza, “Mom,” she stops short, she meant to introduce them, but Kara’s overwhelmed by this moment. A moment she imagined many times before, introducing her mothers to each other, but the lump in her throat prevents her from saying anything more.

Kara doesn’t have to say anything because Eliza and Alura give each other such soft kind grateful looks that without a word they’re hugging, and it breaks Kara’s fragile control, so now she’s sobbing in big shoulder heaving gasps that only grow when she feels two sets of arms draw her into their hug.

“Oh sweetheart,” Eliza murmurs, pulling back accepting J’onn’s handkerchief to wipe Kara’s face with tenderly.

Kara tries to reign in her breathing but it’s so hard when both her moms are standing in front of her giving her such concerned looks.  

She does eventually, accepting another hug from Nia who gives her a brief update on her dad, and informs her that Kelly and M’gann are holding things down while they’re away. Kara nods her thanks, still not quite able to articulate herself very well squeezing her friend into her side.

Grateful. Grateful. So, grateful, for her family and friends.

 

Lena and Alex wait where a Kelex had designated.

They’ve only just arrived a few minutes ago and Lena can feel her nerves starting to bubble up from her stomach, she wrings her hands and tugs the front of her jacket down to smooth it but it’s already perfect.

Alex raises an amused eyebrow, Lena can tell she wants to say something teasing, has probably wanted to say something for a while but hasn’t, she appreciates Alex’s restraint, and is surprised when she just reaches over to pull one of her hard wrung hands into hers and squeezes gently, giving her an encouraging smile.

“Remember it’s just Kara, forget about all the other crap, you two were always going to end up together, today is just a more official way of declaring it,” Alex says gently with a sincere smile and kind eyes, it calms Lena enough so she can take a steadying breath.

“You think?” Lena asks shyly, she’s going to keep adding to her little list right up until Kara professes her undying love or she gets an honest to god kiss, so she’ll take anything Alex will give her.

Alex bobs her head and huffs out an annoyed but fond breath, “Inevitable I should think,” rolling her eyes a bit, and adds because she apparently can’t go for more than twenty minutes without teasing, “and in like an hour I can’t be mad at you for trying to get into my sister’s pants.”

Lena squawks indignantly, pulling her hand from Alex’s grasp to swat at her shoulder while she laughs, but she can’t help her own smile and is a little mad that Alex’s joke has relieved some of her anxiety.

The Kelex returns and gestures for them to follow, Lena had called up pictures and schematics of the Theatre on her handheld while they waited for Thara to pick them up and is unsurprised when the helper robot leads them down the corridor and through a tunnel that opens directly onto the orchestra.

Kelex gestures for them to stay back, “Please wait here until Kara Zor-El summons you,” it waits for Lena’s agreement and moves to hover behind them.

Lena gulps and looks out into the empty space in front of her, her eyes pick out Alura quickly, Alex and Lena are standing diagonally to the stage. Behind Kara’s mother a large white sphere with a golden band running horizontally around it, hovers some twenty feet behind her and the matching white clad council members are arranged in a semi-circle behind the sphere, what Lena assumes must be the Matrix. She smiles when she spots Brainy and their surprise guests, their backs toward Lena facing the center of the action, she’s so glad they were able to make it.

Her breath catches and stutters when she allows herself to look at Kara.

Kara stands at an angle to Lena so she can’t see her face or garments fully but what Lena does see is magnificent. The whole ensemble is reminiscent of Kara’s super suit with a similar color scheme, but where her super hero suit is understated, despite the bold colors, and economic in its use of fabric, this is…a master piece of sleek form fitted blue sleeves and trousers, run through with straight and angled red and gold piping, an open sided skirt that flows from the golden belt at the front and back of her waist, knee high red boots that are…armor plated? on the shins and knees in a dark matte metal.

Lena’s eyes drag back up and take in Kara’s well-defined arms, the forearms encased in similar colored vambraces to her boots, one had on her hip and the other griping a simple but well-designed sword hilt, the sheath it’s housed in, a muted silver, and which matches the simple elegance of the hilt. It’s flat and straight and reminds Lena of an Earth equivalent saber. Her gaze travels higher and catches on the large crest of the House of El in bold gold, eyes tracing the planes of Kara’s strong shoulders and the column of her neck covered by a stretch of fabric almost to her chin.

She notices how Kara’s golden hair falls in gentle curls over her shoulders, some of it pulled back from her temples to tie elegantly behind her head and Lena’s breath catches again when she takes in Kara’s serious expression as she looks at her mother, but it only serves to make her look more strikingly, dangerously beautiful, like some avenging war goddess come to smite the villainous and unjust.

Finally, her eyes follow the curving flowing train of red fabric attached to one shoulder, it pulls toward her opposite hip where drags on the floor and pools around her feet, as if Kara had walked to her spot and then spun around not bothering to fan it behind her.

Lena feels something press under her chin and click her mouth shut, and she jerks back to look at Alex, whose smug and amused expression means that Lena was absolutely caught ogling her sister.

She’s saved from Alex’s teasing when her attention snaps to the stage at Alura’s voice.

“Why have you summoned me for an audience, daughter?” she says loud and with only a little of the warmth she reserves for Kara, but this is a show and ritual wrapped into one so it’s to be expected, and Lena’s so grateful she can’t see the multitude of people in the stands watching this play out.

Kara’s chin comes up a little in what Lena recognizes as her Supergirl expression, it’s even more imposing with this more warrior type look, and Lena makes a note to add some ideas to her sketch book dedicated to Supergirl’s suits, maybe add some of these Kryptonian elements she’s learned about…

“I, Kara Zor-El, the heir to our noble house, come to seek your permission and submit for your judgement the life partner of my choosing, my future bond mate, the part of my heart that lives outside of my chest and walks in the world,” Kara says with the utmost seriousness, and Lena knows it’s the ritual words for a Kryptonian who brings their own selection for approval from the head of their house, but Lena swears Kara says it with feeling, like she means the words completely.

Maybe she does…

“Do you come to me freely with only love in your heart, daughter?” Alura continues with her next part, just as serious, it’s meant to confirm that the heir isn’t being coerced or trying to gain some sort of political or social standing by bringing forth a suitor not previously approved of by the head of the house for those same reasons. It seemed bit hypocritical and controlling in Lena’s opinion but then again this was an ancient ceremony from a time when arranged marriages were the rule.

Kara nods once solemnly, “Yes, mother, my mind is clear, my heart is bound to this one and no other,” meaning her conscience is clear and free of political machinations, and she is acting solely for love’s sake, “I declare, Lena Kieran Luthor, as my intended,” that sends jolt through her, Kara saying those words makes something clench tightly in her chest.

“Then bring forth your suitor that I might pass judgment,” sweeping an arm out to invite Kara to do so.

This is her cue, and she starts to walk just as Kara’s intense clear blue eyes land squarely on her.

Kara’s gaze is like a lightning bolt down her spine, she shivers involuntarily.

She can practically feel Kara’s eyes as they drag up and down her frame, she watches as her slaw jacked surprise turns into something else, teeth clenching, chin tilting down a little, eyes boring into Lena’s in a look that she didn’t know Kara was capable of, it resembles something of a smolder, it sends her heart racing, face flushing, and a spike of desire straight to her core.

Lena doesn’t look away, she doesn’t want to, probably couldn’t if she tried, and she congratulates herself when she arrives next to Kara without tripping over her own feet, hand linking with Kara’s already outstretched hand, Kara murmurs a thanks to her sister without looking, Lena had forgotten she was walking beside her, and then her intensity seems to dial back, offering Lena a true Kara smile that has Lena smiling right back and her heart filled with love for this complex woman before her.

A soft clearing of Alura’s throat pulls Kara’s attention, and there’s the ‘soft flustered Kara’ Lena knows and loves, though with further thought Lena would certainly be willing to explore ‘intense dark eyed Kara’ at greater length in the future, she puts a pin in it as they both turn to Alura, who is trying to hold back a smile with a playful arch of her brow.

 

Kara swallows thickly and takes a steading breath, “I present Lena Kieran Luthor, mother,” and feels Lena bow at the waist over her arm next to her and struggles to pay attention to Lena’s part but finds herself reliving the last couple minutes instead.

Dear sweet, Rao.

When Kara turned to watch as Lena entered, she nearly fell over, practically swallowing her own tongue.

Lena’s black riding boots were low heeled, sleek and shiny, they drew Kara’s eye first with their measured unhurried steps clicking on the crystal beneath her feet.

Kara’s gaze drew upwards.

Lena was a walking figure of dark colors. Her trousers tucked into boots were a deep dark satin green that shimmered a little in the light, the matching jacket, well structured, and form fitted, closing at her top right shoulder, the crest of El smaller than Kara’s own bold choice on her left shoulder, but still prominent, especially in the bright gold stitching. That same color piped elegantly along the seams and edges of the jacket’s high mandarin collar, around the sleeve cuffs, and in a few sparse lines to accentuate Lena’s figure along her torso and through the trousers around her thighs.  

Kara’s eyes finally took in Lena’s face, she had painted her lips blood red, a stark contrast to her pale skin and the dark swirl of colors that were her garments, hair pulled back into a sleek bun, though Kara could see a cute braid on one side along her temple, eyes shaded with a dark blue, which now that Kara looked closer matched what she originally though was a black cloak, it was in fact, a midnight blue, it clasped at her right shoulder at an angle held in place by a beautiful gold Celtic knot.

The cloak billowed as she walked toward Kara.

It was almost menacing but the look on Lena’s face softened the effect for Kara, rosy cheeks cute in contrast to her clothes, in fact, now that her initial shock had worn off, she found the entire ensemble rather sexy, Kara had always loved the way Lena could command a room with just the arch of her brow, this vision of Lena walking toward her wearing Kara’s crest, about to be inextricably tied to her awoke some primal need for Lena.

Kara couldn’t tear her eyes away, barely noticed her sister walking a pace behind Lena, everything fell away, and she was overcome with a desire to drag Lena to some place private where she could put her hands and lips on some very un-platonic places.

Lena’s cool hand grasps hers and she takes a step back from her thoughts to breathe, remembers why she’s here, murmuring a thank you to her sister for bringing Lena safely to the place where they would officially declare their intention to be bound to one another and it cools the burning under her skin and fills her chest with something warm and expanding with love for this insanely intelligent and beautiful soul before her.

“Who are you, Lena Kieran Luthor, that my daughter finds you worthy of her heart?”

Kara jolts back into the present, she’s beyond surprised, her mother was supposed to ask Lena in English, not Kryptonian, but she’s even more stunned when Lena answers with perfect clarity, sure and even, with no trace of an accent, “A scientist, a lost soul, an orphan, no one. I know not why your daughter would entrust me with such a gift, though I will cherish and guard it unto my dying breath, with the last scintilla of my waning strength.”   

Her hand squeezes involuntarily around Lena’s and she gapes openly, Lena’s return grip is warm, her eyes flicking to the side to look at Kara, the corner of her mouth turning up in a pleased smile at the Kryptonian’s reaction.

Why?

When?

How?

Why, was easy, because Lena was amazing and cared about her and knew how much it would mean to Kara.

When, was a little more difficult. Though now Kara remembers her pocketing some earbuds a couple times and wonders if maybe she had gotten her hands on some sort of language database. It would be easy enough to do, especially if her mother helped.

How could Lena have learned it so quickly? Well, that must and could only be attributed to Lena’s genius. She already knew how to read and write it, for an average person surely it would have been a difficult task to do in a few days, but for Lena? How easy must it have been for her to hear the words and apply them to familiar script? She, who already knew how to speak more than a few Earth languages with flawless accents.

What was one more in an alien world?

Kara thinks of the hours she spent working on the portal and knows now that Lena split that time not only working on her difficult task but also learning how to speak her language for a foreign ritual that was so very important to Kara for so many reasons.

Rao, it makes her want to breakdown in tears again and kiss Lena senseless, until she can pour every ounce of love and gratitude straight into her.

She thinks on Lena’s response to her mother, every answer given must be unique to the speaker, it need only follow the formulae laid out in the texts, and Lena had nailed it, though it tugged on her heart the way Lena described herself.

Kara would spend everyday proving to Lena that she was home, she had a family, and she was someone to be loved and cherished.

“What protection and comfort could one such as you provide to my only beloved child?” Alura asks as bit imperiously, Kara knows it’s only for show, she knows her mother adores Lena, but it makes her press her lips together in consternation anyway.

Lena replies again in Kara’s native language and the way it flows off Lena’s tongue is effortless, “Only the fruit of my mind and my labors, to create, to build, to invent in search of a way to shield her from the horrors of the universe, to offer my helping hand, to speak gentle loving words, to shoulder half of her burden. A beloved daughter would also become a cherished friend, companion, and wife.”

Kara feels tears welling, and she tries in vain to stop the harsh breath that escapes out of her nose, every word is beautiful, it flows with a melodic cadence that Lena should not be able to have created in an alien language she just learned this week.

But here she is doing just that.

“Why should I accept your suit?” the final culminating question, Alura smiles at Lena, Kara realizes it’s filled with pride, her mother is also impressed by Lena’s responses, it makes her own chest swell with pride too.

Lena shakes her head in almost as if to say that she didn’t know, “That is something only you can answer, my lady, I can only tell you that she has chosen me and if you accept, I will spend my days working tirelessly to be worthy of such an honor,” her voice constricts towards the end, and Kara grips her hand a little to comfort.

They wait in silence, Alura looking between them considering, as if weighing Lena’s words, they know she’s going to approve but the anticipation starts to gnaw at her a little.

Her mother nods to herself, “Your suitor is humble, and her words come from the heart, as they should, I will accept and request on your behalf the councils’ blessings for your union,” she and Lena seem to let out a collective breath, and their eyes lock for a moment, smiling.

Alura gestures for them to follow and they take the two steps up together, coming to a stop behind her mother, and in front of the blank faces of the council.

“Brothers and sisters of the council, my daughter and heir to the House of El comes to me with a love match, will you grant your permission to submit Kara Zor-El and Lena Kieran Luthor to the test of compatibility, so their union might be assured of a good and long-standing match?” Alura says the words with grave seriousness, her hands held out in supplication.  

The council stands in silence for long seconds, Kara can hear her own heartbeat in her ears pounding loudly, again she knows they will not deny them but still she waits with bated breath.

As one, they tilt their heads down in a bow, hands clasped solemnly in front of them, and again as one, they take two steps back to allow Kara and Lena the space to come around to the other side of the white gleaming orb.

They do and Alura steps forward to place a hand on the Matrix, a panel slides back and Kara lifts Lena’s hand with hers and places them side by side, palms flat on the black smooth surface revealed to them inside the sphere, and they wait.

There’s no lights or noises, only the silence, the sounds of people and fabric shifting.

Kara knows it doesn’t take very long, when she was a child, she and all her classmates learned how the Matrix took genetic material and parsed it out comparing with it the knowledge of your personal history and the history of their people and every person that lived in its city. It observed and catalogued every moment of Kryptonian lives, watching silently and without judgment, making annotations of personal relationships, decisions, behaviors, anything, and everything, distilling it into data and computing the likelihood of any given couple’s chances of having a long happy marriage, and compared it with the millions of couples that came before.

It had never been wrong.

Kara watches her mother’s bowed head as she awaits the results on her end.

Finally, after an eternity, but what is probably only a couple minutes, the Matrix spits out a crystal and Alura waits as one council member steps forward to accept it.

The older gentlemen inserts it into a portable viewing disc and examines the results.

After a moment he nods, Kara feels her shoulders relax and she lets out a relieved rush of air, she hears Lena’s shaky breath too, but she doesn’t look. The councilman turns away from the stage and the others to face the crowd, he gestures to the Kelex nearby and the dome which was solid and opaque disappears in a puff of steam that streams upwards, disappearing quickly, and Kara’s senses are bombarded by the sounds of thousands of people murmuring and shuffling, it’s shocking and she feels Lena press into her shoulder, she releases her hand and places it around her instead, Lena raises her arm to do the same.

The councilman doesn’t need to raise his voice to call for quiet, he doesn’t even say anything, simply waits as a hush settles over the immense crowd, it’s eerie how quickly it happens, and when it does he speaks, voice a bit raspy with age.

“I have the results from the Matrix of this prospective union between Kara Zor-El and Lena Kieran Luthor. I will proclaim their impending bond lawful and binding in the eyes of all Kryptonians and under the benevolent gaze of Rao himself. If there is any reason why these two should not be joined, speak now for it is your right to challenge if you have valid claim, but remember the penalty for perjury is not to be taken lightly,” he stands with his hands behind his back, and waits.

Kara’s heart races, they need only wait a minute, but the seconds stretch out making it the longest minute of her life.

Just when she thinks they are in the clear a deep voice rings out, and her head snaps to the right where a figure emerges from the darkness of a tunnel opening.

There’s a collective gasp from the stands but Kara can’t hear it over the rushing in her ears.

“I challenge this kanreosh!” the man says, he comes closer and stands in front of them all, he’s tall and broad, dark haired and fair skinned, brown eyes that look almost black.

Kara has never seen him before in her life.

The councilman considers him, seemingly bored and asks, “On what grounds?”

He looks not at Kara or Lena but surprisingly at Alura, her mother stands rigid and fuming in silent rage, glaring piercingly at this stranger.

“I am the rightful betrothed of Kara Zor-El,” he states, a smug smile curving his thin lips.

Kara doesn’t even know what to do or say.

She’s paralyzed with shock.

“What the fuck?” Lena breathes.

What the fuck indeed, Kara thinks.  

Chapter Text

“Oh, hell no! Over my dead body!” Alex growls loud and angry, she starts to menacingly stalk towards the man but Alura is nearby and quickly catches her by the arm, dragging her back, whispering harsh and quick, words rushing back and forth between them, finally Alex crosses her arms, unrestrained fury playing across her face, but she stays rooted to her spot next to Alura and glares at the man.

“How dare you?!” Alura seethes, taking two steps toward the man, her hand cutting derisively through the air with her words, “I have told you thrice now that my house does not accept your claim of hearsay to the betrothal of my daughter,” she spits the words out like venom.

Lena jolts at the words, and she glances at Kara who seems unable or unwilling to move. She looks back at Alura but can only see the side of her face, it looks twisted and so angry. She can only watch in shock as events unfold in front of her.

“It hardly matters anymore, Alura. I have now brought my claim legally before the council, you will no longer be able to interfere,” he says, with that still smug look, it makes Lena’s skin crawl, and she really wants to go over there and smack it off his stupid arrogant face.

Lena feels the arm around her shoulders drop, her eyes snap to Kara in concern when she notices her breathing has started to become a bit labored, she takes two steps away from Lena toward her mother, but Kara doesn’t seem to be aware of what she’s doing and stops abruptly, face grim and confused.

“State your claim,” the council man says gravely, with no thought given to the conversation that has just happened between Alura and the unknown man.

“Tubix!” Alura says with surprise, and turn to stare at the older council man, “You can’t seriously allow him to challenge her!”

He nods his head gravely, “It’s the law, Alura, you know I can not refuse him,” Tubix gestures for the man.

His smile is triumphant, “I, Zenn-Usk, the son and heir of my house, am the rightful betrothed to the eldest child of the house of El, my father, Lir-Usk and the then head of house, Seyg-El entered into a legally binding contract.”

“And where is this legal contract?” Alura mocks haughtily, the sneer on her face vicious.

“Destroyed with Kryton and the rest of my home, but surely my word is as good as any data crystal?” Zenn-Usk replies but he directs the answer to Tubix, seemingly without guile, completely dismissing Alura.  

Lena feels a sense of dread growing in her stomach, this man couldn’t possibly have a legitimate case.

Could he?

Zenn’s last words seem to finally jolt Kara out of her stupor, “Mother! What the hell is going on?” she snaps harshly at Alura. Lena reaches for Kara, but she steps away quickly towards her mother, the line and rigidity of her shoulders tells Lena that Kara is furious even if she can’t see her face.

 

Kara paces the length of the side room off the main stage.

Her mother had directed them there while she spoke to the council, promised that she would explain when she was done, but it had done nothing to alleviate the burning in Kara’s chest. She stalks back and forth feeling impotent, she had to gather up the long red cloth of her cape over one arm and grip the hilt at her waist in order to do so with any satisfaction, wishing she could punch something but the only things in the room are Lena and herself, so pacing would have to do.

Why did this always have to happen? Why couldn’t things just go smoothly for once? Why must there always be complications?

“Darling,” Lena starts, but she cuts off when the door opens, and in comes a Kelex to hover in the corner, they both frown at it.

Kara tries to keep her breathing calm, but her teeth clench and grind together as she waits impatiently for her mother to return, she sucks in air through her teeth in surprise when she feels a hand low on her back.

Her eyes snap to Lena, she can see the worried concern in her eyes and the lines around her mouth, she stares into green eyes that flit back and forth over Kara’s face, her pale hand coming up to trail lightly down her shoulder and forearm, tugging.

Kara resists at first, not wanting her comfort, Lena’s pleading and admonishing look reminds Kara of her promise, and she forces herself to loosen her crossed arms, lets Lena slip her hand into a slowly uncurling fist, feels Lena wrap herself around her arm, pressing reassuringly into her side.

She closes her eyes, bowing her head, and concentrates on Lena instead of the fire stoking in her chest, can feel Lena breathing steadily into her side and tries to match it.

It calms her more than a little.

Alura enters and they turn to her expectantly.

She looks unhappy and Kara begins to lose some hope that her mother would be able to rectify this.

Kara can feel her anger boiling to the top again.

“Start at the beginning, mother,” Kara says lowly, the anger in her voice peeking out.

Alura takes a steadying breath looking to the side and clasping her hands in front of her, when she looks back at Kara there’s tears in her eyes, and genuine remorse.

“A few days after Reign was defeated and I returned with the Harun-El that Lena provided. I received an unexpected visitor,” she says evenly.

“Zenn-Usk,” Kara spits out, with disdain, Alura nods.

“He had a story to tell me, that your grandfather, Seyg-El had met with Lir-Usk some years before the fall of Krypton, to arrange the marriage between the two heirs of their houses,” Alura’s mouth purses, “It was not out of the realm of possibility as Seyg-El had arranged your uncle Jor-El’s marriage to Lara, but I was still skeptical to believe him because Zor-El had never informed me of such a contract.”

Kara listens, half her attention on her mother, and the other half forcing herself to keep her breathing in time with Lena’s, her heart still pounding in her ears.

“Your grandfather was many things, proud, stubborn, xenophobic, traditionalist, but he was not secretive. If he had entered you into an arrangement, he would have told your father immediately to secure his agreement, to coerce him into it if necessary,” she says with severity.

Kara remembers her grandfather being exactly that, a serious gruff man, he had never spent much time with the family, and she only saw him for special occasions, he much preferred spending time in his lab, fulfilling his duty as patriarch only as necessary or required and no more.

Alura shakes her head, “I conveyed to Zenn-Usk that I could not and would not honor what could only be substantiated with hearsay, not to mention that it would be you who would choose your own match,” she grits her teeth, “He flew into an impotent rage when I would not be persuaded and left.”

Kara looks at her mother and shakes her head in disbelief, “Why didn’t you mention this yesterday when we were talking about today’s events?”

Alura seems chastised but responds evenly, “I didn’t think he would come, I underestimated his ambition and desperation, and with everything else I didn’t want to add another burden.”

That makes Kara’s temper flare, “We could have handled it,” she says tersely, “I’m not the child you sent away,” and clicks her mouth shut, watches her mother flinch, she hadn’t meant to say that but it’s an underlying resentment she’s recently acknowledged in therapy, but they don’t have time to get into now, she looks away letting Lena speak for both of them.

“Why try to convince you? If he had no proof what was the point?” Lena asks into the tense silence, moving things along.

“He attempted to entice me to his side, with flattery, I think he assumed that as a widow I would be susceptible to his charms, and when I did not succumb, he lost his temper,” she says, with derision.

“You said you turned him away three times?” Kara is grateful for Lena’s ability to keep a cool head right now because she definitely will fly off the handle if she has to lead this conversation.

Alura nods, “Yes, after his third visit I decided to discretely look into him and his history.”

“What did you learn?” Kara can feel Lena’s jaw move as she speaks, her chin is pressed into Kara’s shoulder, it comforts and cools the fire in her chest, a little.

“His family was involved in a scandal a few generations ago that relegated them to a lesser house, they have been marrying and maneuvering back into politics or positions of power ever since trying to regain their social standing, but after the fall of Krypton…” she trails off a little, but Kara picks it up.

“They lost everything they had been working toward,” Kara says, serious and unimpressed, “and when I returned, he thought he could worm his way into our family,” her mother agrees with a nod.

“He is the last of his house, save an ailing uncle who hardly knows his own name let alone his nephew’s, he is desperate to enter into a good high standing match, a year before your return he convinced or seduced, I don’t know which, the son of the House of Venth to bond with him but the Matrix rejected their match, he argued with the council for some time before being forcibly removed,” Alura presses her finger tips to the bridge of her nose, shaking her head.

“If the council knows his character from that incident why indulge his challenge now?” Lena’s brow furrows.

“Because of how official this event has turned out to be, this wouldn’t be a problem if it was just you and Kara telling the council you want to be bonded like most couples, since they insisted on the old way it is actually the House of El declaring it’s intent to wed the heir to their house, the ceremony itself holds significant traditional weight but equally important, legal weight, any who challenge a bond during this ceremony must be willing to stake their life on it, the penalty to perjury or refusal to participate after the fact, is death,” Alura explains.

Kara feels Lena jerk back, “Why so severe?”

“This particular ceremony is more ancient than most and the laws surrounding it have not been changed in millennia, they were originally implemented to discourage halfhearted rejected suitors or sweethearts from interfering in arranged marriages, but as our society changed there were still arranged marriages, yes, but instead of the parents arranging them it was the ones to be bonded that entered or willing sought out political unions. It’s generally accepted that if you challenge a bond you are taken at your word because you are willing to die for it,” Lena nods in understanding.

“So even though you would not accept his suit before, now in this very particular scenario he has a chance to get what he wants,” Lena shakes her head in disbelief, “So, what happens now?”

Alura is silent and the fire in Kara’s chest starts grow again, then her mother says grimly, “The council has agreed that if Kara will not accept Zenn-Usk’s claim then the challenge must be seen through.”

 

Lena feels Kara suck in a breath her whole body going rigid, “That’s ridiculous!”

This whole situation was ridiculous, and Lena was starting to get very fed up with all these obstacles that kept getting in their way. She hadn’t asked to be bonded to Kara but she sure as hell wasn’t going to let some jumped up little social climber try and take Kara away from her, not when they’d only just started to come to some unspoken understanding. An understanding that she would very much like to be stated explicitly and understood in no uncertain terms between them. In order to do that they had to get through this next problem…

Lena grips Kara’s arm a little tighter.

“There has to be some other option! It’s barbaric! No one has accepted a challenge in-,” she looks to the Kelex in the corner and asks.

It responds blandly, “The last recorded challenge to a bonding was four hundred ninety-two years before the fall of Krypton.”

She frowns, why was it barbaric? Lena’s mind starts to turn over possibilities and her stomach swoops when she lands on the most likely outcomes.

“See! Almost five hundred years!” Kara yells, imploringly at her mother, but she sounds agitated, the fury Lena had seen earlier is starting to come up again.

Alura’s eyes are red rimmed but she refuses to cry it seems, “I am sorry, Kara, only one council member sided with me when I suggested an alternative, they are determined to follow the letter of the law.”

Kara huffs out a growl angrily turning a scowl to the floor her shoulders heaving with large puffs of air, and she looks at Lena, her blue eyes wide and so serious in their intent, then she tears her eyes away and looks at her mother, “Fine,” she grinds out, “I accept.”

Lena doesn’t understand but the looming dread that been building in her stomach grows too big to be ignored, her hands are wrapped tight around Kara’s bicep and she digs her fingers in, “What are you accepting, Kara?” she whispers in a rush, scared, but Kara refuses to look at her, jaw set and unmoving.

She says Kara’s name again more urgently, “Tell me,” she demands.

“There’s a reason no one does these anymore, it’s from a time before projectile or energy weapons,” Kara seems to be dragging out the words, unwilling to get to the point quickly, “it’s trial by combat using swords, and it’s…” Lena’s heart skips fitfully in anticipation, finally Kara’s meets her gaze, stormy eyed, and swallows, “to the death.”

Lena’s inhale is a hiss of air, her heart races and she curses every god she knows the name of and all the universe.

Kara was already dying, now this?

“Kara,” Alura whispers, the name a sob on her lips, the sorrow in her eyes is unbearably hard to look at, “the challenge was not given to you, it’s for you.”

Lena is confused at first, but Alura’s words send Kara instantly into a rage, Lena watches almost in slow motion as Kara’s face drops into one of horror and panic, her mouth twisting into a snarl, her fingers curling, the sheer fury in her shout is sharp, and she tears out of Lena’s hands, “No! I refuse! Absolutely not!”

It dawns on Lena what Alura means, and she’s frozen in shock, can only watch as Kara charges toward the door Alura blocks, “Move,” low and dangerous, “I’ll tell them to change their mind. I’ll fix this.”

“They won’t Kara, I begged them, but they will not relent,” Alura’s tears finally fall, and she presses at Kara’s shoulders unwilling to move.

Lena stares at Kara’s rigid form, breathing loud and harsh like she’s been running, knows that Kara is planning to do something reckless.

Her voice is menacing, it scares Lena a little that she’s speaking to her mother this way, “If you don’t move, mother, I will do it for you.”

“Kara,” Lena calls softly, gently, her heart is racing, there’s a sort of calm that settles over her, despite her fear, as she accepts the reality of the situation, she has a task to do, she’ll do it for Kara, for both of them.

Kara’s breathing stops a moment at Lena’s voice.

She says nothing.

Lena takes a few steps closer to stand behind her, “Kara,” she calls again, still gentle, Lena sees her head bow, and there’s a tremor that passes through Kara.

Lena tugs Kara to turn, she does, but her face is turned away to the side, and her eyes closed, face scrunched tight almost in pain, breathing fast and shallow, “Darling,” she whispers, reaching up to tilt her chin forward, Lena can feel the tension in her jaw quivering, “look at me,” she pleads.

Kara shakes her head, breathing changing like she might start to cry, “Please, love,” she whispers, feeling her own tears starting to well, Kara lets out a wet ragged breath at the endearment, and looks up at Lena with utter anguish, it twists painfully at her chest, Kara’s hands reach up to grip her waist, Lena places hers on her shoulders, pressing gently to reassure her of her presence.

“I won’t let you,” Kara rasps, shaking her head again, “I can’t do it,” she looks down at the ground as tears spill down her cheeks, “I can’t, not again, not again,” closing her eyes again, rocking herself a little back and forth.

Lena doesn’t understand, “You can’t do what, darling?” though she dreads the answer.

Kara gulps, quivering mouth opens, and finally, “I can’t watch you die again,” that knocks the wind from Lena, and she can only stare, but Kara’s next words fairly rip her heart out of her chest, “I see it my nightmares constantly,” Lena’s tears fall, and she closes the distance between them, hugging Kara as hard as she can. She strokes her hair and rocks her gently, she feels Kara’s hands twist and grip the fabric of her cloak.

God, was this was what kept Kara up at night?

Why she always wanted to be by Lena’s side after a bad dream? Lena grits her teeth, looking at the ceiling, wishing for the umpteenth time that she could kill Lex, to punish him somehow sending Kara to the Phantom Zone.

Lena looks to Alura who is still standing at the door with her head bowed, tears running down her face, her face twisted in anguish, Lena doesn’t release her hold on Kara, but asks, “What happens if we leave?”

Alura startles looking at her, she shakes her head, but answers, “You will forfeit your suit, and be forever disgraced, if you ever returned to Argo you would be a fugitive, possibly sentenced to the death for not fulfilling your obligation, if Kara ever returned the council would force her to submit to the compatibility test with Zenn-Usk as the winner by default, and if found to be a match, as long as it met the minimum requirement, would be bound together.”

“And the consequences for killing him in this duel?” because Lena needs to have all the information, to know every possible outcome.

“None, it’s not considered murder, and you would finish the ceremony as the rightful suitor blessed by Rao’s might in your victory,” Alura states, red eyes tracing her daughters back with worry.

Lena sighs and nods, she swallows, turning her attention back to Kara who has calmed a little, “And you, darling, what would you think of me if I killed this man? Would you think me vile?” she whispers.

Kara’s grip tightens, her breath still a bit labored but steady, she feels the slight shake of her head no, “Never,” she murmurs into her neck, Kara pulls back, her tear-stained face red and blotchy, “but you shouldn’t have to do this, Lena, we’ll-we can go, we’ll leave,” she says in a rush.

Lena reaches up to cradle Kara’s face, “And force you into exile from your home? Away from your mother? Into possible marriage to this hateful man?” she shakes her head smiling with resignation, “That’s not an option, Kara,” wiping gently at the tears leaking out of Kara’s worried blue eyes, the arms around her tighten a little painfully, but Lena doesn’t mind.

“I’d rather you were safe, I don’t care about all that,” Kara replies urgently, but Lena shakes her head.

“Maybe not now, but you’ll care later, and I won’t let you make such a monumental decision if there’s a possibility for a better outcome,” if Lena can make the best-case scenario happen then she’s going to do it.  

“But-,” Kara starts, Lena cuts her off.

“Do you trust me?” Kara inhales sharply, her eyes flitting back and forth between Lena’s, she can tell Kara is recalling their conversation of a couple days ago, watches her lips press into a line, the crinkle in her brow growing even more pronounced.

Her reply is sure and steady, “Yes, of course.”

Lena smiles tilting her head, “Then have some faith that I’ll win, I know you’re scared, so am I, but I did not spend the last several weeks working relentlessly to get you back to lose you now because some jumped up arrogant imbecile is trying to ruin everything with his selfishness,” Lena grumbles the last, her hand pressing firmly to Kara’s chest to emphasize her words, green eyes locked with blue.

Kara gulps as she looks at Lena, her chin trembling, expression grim, and finally nods reluctantly.  

 

Alex charges toward them when they exit the room, the rest of their family on her heels, “What’s happening?” she demands looking between them, Lena knows the terseness is because Alex is feeling useless and doesn’t hold it against her.

She answers a bit vague, knowing that Alex will not approve of what will happen, and tries to delay her ire for a bit, “I’m going to accept his challenge, and knock him on his ass.”

Alex smirks in pride at that, but then she frowns, “Wait, what exactly does ‘accepting his challenge’ entail?”

Alura interrupts, she’s subdued and serious, clasping her hands in front of her like she’s holding on for dear life, “Give her your sword, Kara,” and there’s a collective gasp from the people around them and the protestations and questions start, Alex at the forefront as she queries Alura about what it means, the overlapping words redoubling fervently when Kara’s mother explains what’s going to happen.

“Enough!” Kara barks, and it’s said with such uncharacteristic vehemence that the others quiet in shock, “I hate this,” she spits out, “probably more than anyone, but Lena asked me to trust her, I hope you can too,” she says lowly, with such conviction and certainty that it almost doesn’t seem like the last few minutes of Kara begging her not to go ever happened.

Alex won’t be deterred despite her sister’s words, and protests again, pleading almost, “No way! Let me go! I’ll do it, you asked me to be her protector today, Kara,” she steps closer to them trying to catch Kara’s avoidant eyes.

“Alex,” Lena says with affection, her eyes growing watery at Alex’s protectiveness, just the knowledge of it makes her chest expand, feeling too tight, but Alex stares resolutely at her sister, knowing that whatever Lena will say will force her to stand down.

“You’ve both gone through too much,” Alex says tightly, Lena’s chest twists a little at the torment in her voice on their behalf, “Just let me do this,” still turned away, tears welling quickly, she finally looks at her, “please, it’s not fair you have to suffer this much.”

Lena’s tears finally spill down her face as she throws her arms around Alex, “You can’t, but I love that you want to,” she can feel Alex’s arms grip her tight around the waist, “best annoying big sister ever,” and feels Alex’s surprised laugh come out in half a sob.

“I love you,” the unexpected words are said with such tender warmth that Lena feels the wind knocked out of her, her own sob escaping from her throat suddenly.

Alex has never said those words to her before, she’s shown them to Lena with her actions and gentle touches but the words themselves are just as powerful, and mean so much to Lena, especially when combined with Alex’s hugs and affectionate teasing.

She gulps and croaks out, “I love you too,” squeezing Alex tight, and they finally pull apart.

Then she’s surrounded by the others, Eliza hugs her next, murmuring encouraging words, Nia grips her tight around the neck in a quick hug, parting with a reassuring tilt of her lips, Brainy smiles at her with a knowing grin that boosts her confidence, and J’onn’s heavy hand on her shoulder feels grounding, his comforting smile spreads warmth from his hand to her chest.

She lets out a ragged emotional breath, as she looks around, so grateful for all of them, her family. It sinks in a little then, maybe a lot, that she really does belong with them, that they love her, and the knowledge of it fills her again, as it did, back when she was telling Lillian to shove off, with a sense of confidence and strength that builds in her stomach and chest, a surety in the back of her mind that she hasn’t ever really felt before.

They back away as a group, Lena sees their eyes flick over her shoulder, and she turns.

Kara is behind her, a few steps away, looking stoic, resigned.

To Lena she looks almost like a something out of a storybook, a warrior, a general about to send a soldier to battle, but when her eyes lock with Lena’s her face softens, the faintest ghost of a smile, and she steps forward into Lena’s space, saying not a word.

She reaches up to Lena’s shoulder and undoes the cloak clasp, pulls the heavy fabric away and hands both clasp and cloak to Alex who stands nearby, Lena can only watch Kara’s face, trying to memorize the curve of her cheek, the slope of her nose, the shape of her lips…

Kara eyes the symbol of her house on Lena’s shoulder, fingers coming up to touch it briefly and then trailing along the seam of her jacket to pull the buttons and fastenings apart to reveal the black long-sleeved undershirt, tugs the jacket off Lena’s shoulders gently, handing that to Alex too.

Lena’s breath catches a little when Kara looks her in the eye again, bringing up her hand to undo the clasps on one vambrace, and then affix it to Lena’s arm with precision and care to ensure it fits snug but not too tight, she repeats the process on the other arm.

Her heart rate is elevated, she’s certain that won’t change for a while considering what she’s about to do, but Kara’s deliberate drawing of the saber at her hip makes it tick up again.

Kara presents it horizontally, the blade resting flat on her palms, waiting patiently for Lena to take it, her expression turning grim with displeasure for Lena’s task.

Lena takes it with both hands, examining it, and then steps away to test its weight and balance with a few quick slices through the air. She’s astonished by how light it is, it shouldn’t be this light for its size and length, and marvels at the exquisite balance as she drops into a familiar stance and thrusts forward.

She turns to Kara and feels a grin grow on her face.

It doesn’t matter that Lena has only ever practiced a nonlethal kind of swordsmanship in friendly competition, only ever learned how to sort of fight with a real sword in passing as lark to blow off some steam between her rigorous precise training schedule and endless repetitive drills, it doesn’t matter that she never tried to actually kill anyone like this, her confidence grows with this blade in her hand, and her family at her back.  

Alura steps forward, “This way, Lena.”

Kara cuts in front of her, “No, I’ll take her,” and Lena falls into step beside her.

She doesn’t know what to say, the distance to the orchestra where she and the oaf will fight is fast approaching and her mind is blank, her eyes flit around trying to think but her mind just takes in the dome that’s been erected again to block out the crowd, the council members huddled on the far side of the stage silently watching her and Kara make their way forward, the buffoon himself on the far side of the orchestra with his own sword making big sweeping cuts in the air, she thinks he’s showing off, and then they arrive all at once.

Kara looks at the deep groove of the line in the floor that curves around in a circle around the orchestra pit, she frowns at it, Lena takes one step over it and faces Kara.

She looks up from the floor, the expression reminds Lena of when she left Kara at the Fortress with Myriad in hand, and then like they’ve flipped roles Kara says, “Good luck.”

Lena’s chest tightens, smiles a little, she thinks it might come out as a smirk, “Thanks, but I don’t think I’ll need it,” with more bravado than she feels but it’s a wonder she feels any considering she’s going into mortal combat.

Tubix says something to a Kelex about raising a barrier, it draws Lena’s attention to the side for a moment.

She feels warm fingers jerk her chin back, and before she knows what’s happened Kara presses a firm kiss to her lips. It’s quick and chaste and Lena has no time to respond, a spike of something electric flits through her chest and spine making her inhale sharply, she stares in surprise and shock as Kara takes a step back, her expression serious, “Take it anyway.”

A crystal-clear barrier forms instantaneously straight up from the groove between them, and Lena draws in a lung full of air through her nose, pressing her fingertips to her lips, eyes still locked with Kara’s across the barrier between them, and nods resolutely.

She turns to walk to the center of what has now become an arena, watches Zenn-Usk swagger toward her, and grinds her teeth a little, she’ll fight tooth and nail to win this, to get back to Kara.

This idiot doesn’t stand a chance.

 

Kara watches as Lena walks away, her heart racing, and curses her culture and traditions of her people for the tenth time today, she had never before today truly realized how damaging and detrimental some of their older rites and rituals were, how rigid and unkind it made the people who enforced them.

Someone comes to her side and slides an arm around her shoulders, but Kara won’t tear her eyes from Lena until the end of this ridiculous event.

She holds the tenuous thread of hope in her heart.

The hope, faith, and trust she’s placed in Lena.

 

It’s possible this idiot might stand a chance.

Lena deflects a hard swing, sidestepping and putting distance between them, and she’s grateful for whatever this sword is made of or how the hilt is designed because the blow doesn’t sting her hand at all, and it should, or it would if this was an Earth made blade.

They’ve only been at it a couple minutes trading and deflecting blows, mostly just testing the other, it’s very unlike anything she’s used to. She knows she has to either try to end this quickly before she gets too tired and can’t block his heavy cuts, or she has to tire him out. It looks like he might have the advantage in fitness despite his bulk, and Lena curses herself a little for not keeping up with her own fitness regimen the last few months.

After her falling out with Kara, Lena had thrown herself into work, but also gone back to her old fencing regime to relieve some stress and anger, the old movements coming back to her with familiar ease.

Though the last few months she had wavered in her routine, and then threw it out the window completely while she tried to bring Kara home, Lena knew that it only took three weeks to lose most of your fitness progress and she was really feeling it now.

She spots an opening and goes to lunge, but he’s faster than she anticipates, and his quick deflection turns to a swing at her face, she throws herself backwards trying to pull out of his reach.

They pause a moment, chests heaving, and Lena feels a warm trickle down her cheek that slips onto her lips and she tastes blood, she bares her teeth at him, only just now feeling the sting of the wound, leaning into her stance waiting.

He laughs at her, all teeth in his slightly crazed smug smile, “I’m going to win, make this easier on yourself and let me give you a quick death,” he spits, “it’s more than a stupid inferior worm such as you deserve.”

Lena raises an eyebrow in challenge, not deigning to answer, as if it’s beneath her, it seems to irk him and he scowls, charging her. It’s a mistake, she steps to the side a little deflecting his sword, shifting her foot out to catch his as the momentum drives him face first into the ground.

She could end it in that instant he’s on the ground with his back to her, the tip of the blade need only travel a couple feet, Lena’s thrust is lightning quick despite her recent lack of practice, it would all be done and over if she did.

Her hesitation loses her the advantage and she must step away as he scrambles to his feet to face her.

He’s angry now, probably from the humiliation of his little spill, his loss of calculated concentration should be to Lena’s advantage, but he has more skill with the blade than she thought a man grown up in a highly advanced technological society should.

Zenn-Usk presses forward in a quick series of angry but precise swings of his sword, she deflects them all, but he feints, his blade darting forward, Lena has no time to admonish herself for falling for it, even as she tries to twist and dart away, cool metal slices through her side and she winces at the pain that blossoms, she’s on her back foot and he’s in her space grabbing her sword hand in a vice grip, she sees the flash of metal coming straight for her and she lifts her arm instinctually.

Lena braces for the pain but the blade is turned aside by the vambrace she forgot Kara gave her and she hooks her fist around and under his arm locking out his elbow and draws him forward to knock her head against his nose viciously, she stuns him long enough to yank her sword hand from his grip and then twists and pulls, with all her might, as fast and hard as she can, his locked arm firmly in hers, slams herself down to the ground on her knees, his height and the fury of her movement result in a loud pop.

His blade falls to the ground and he lets out a surprised yelp, falling to his knees, blood pouring down his nose, cradling his shoulder, Lena knees him quickly in the face and he falls backwards.

She’s breathing heavily and she watches the terror in his eyes as she lifts her blade, she has a flash of memory, standing over Lex after she shot him, and a wave of nausea passes through her. This isn’t the same of course, and while she doesn’t like this man, despite his plotting and ambition he hasn’t actually done anything to warrant a death sentence, not like her brother who is an actual murderer.

“Do you yield?” She growls at him, the point of her blade under his chin, he nods quickly, tears pooling in his eyes, “Say it. Loud.”

“I yield! I forever forfeit my claim, I am humbled before Rao and this warrior!” he yells loud and frantic in Kryptonian, it sounds like something she read in the database for a different kind of ceremony, but she appreciates that he said it in such a way that will help with the next part she has to say.

She turns toward the council, picking up Zenn-Usk’s blade and tosses it far to the side, she’s not an idiot, desperate people will always try their luck if given the opportunity.

Lena turns her chin up and looks at the gathered men and women across the clear barrier of crystal, and she says in her best CEO no nonsense this is your final offer voice, “I will not kill this son of Krypton for your outdated customs, one even your own people haven’t exercised in half a millennia.”

“Argo City is all that is left of your home, destroyed because your government and leaders could not and would not change even in the face of the utter annihilation of your planet. Will you continue that legacy, or will you be brave enough where your predecessors were not, to change for the betterment of your people and let archaic traditions finally die, or change and evolve? Will you feed your people empty words and promises for the better all the while standing by and letting it all fall apart again?”

Lena presses her hand to her side a little harder, the blood is spilling over her fingers and she’s a little lightheaded, the adrenaline in her veins dissipating, but she ignores it determined to convince them, “Will you accept his defeat instead of his death as tradition demands?”

She waits, forcing herself to take steady breaths as she watches the council bow their heads together, surprisingly she doesn’t have to wait long, Tubix steps forward and says in his loud but still raspy voice.

“To the victor, Lena Kieran Luthor, we offer congratulations, blessed as she is under the light of Rao and filled with his strength and might. The House of El is free to accept your suit. The claim from the House of Usk has been stricken down in lawful combat, let no one deem it otherwise,” as if those words are a passcode the barrier comes down, and with it Lena falls hard on her knees in relief, but more likely because of blood loss.

 

Kara races toward Lena, her blood pounding in her ears, the fabric attached to her shoulder slowing her a little with its weight, she practically slides to halt on the ground, and gathers Lena in her arms, cradling her in her lap.

Lena’s head falls to her side to rest against Kara’s shoulder, her sweaty forehead is cool against the side of her neck, Kara presses her hand over Lena’s blood soaked one, not daring to think of anything besides the fact that she’s alive right now.

“I told you I’d win, I didn’t need luck,” Lena says in an almost normal voice, but her body sags against Kara, “though I’m glad you gave me some anyway,” Lena is alluding to the kiss she gave her, and Kara huffs out a laugh despite herself.

Kara sees Kir-Neth across the way with a medcase in his hand and she sighs in relief, tears gathering in her eyes, “I promise never to doubt your swordsmanship again, zhao.”

“Good,” Lena murmurs, “I almost went to the Olympics you know,” the last sounds a bit delirious, and Kara’s heart skips in worry but Kir-Neth is here, already frantically pulling things out of his case.

“I do,” Kara whispers, watching him bat their hands away, tearing the fabric of Lena’s shirt open to reveal the gash in her side better, he takes what looks like a small gun and jabs it directly into the wound, Lena gasps at the shock of it trying to curl away but Kir-Neth holds her in place by the shoulder.

There’s a white substance that fills the entirety of the cut, then he pulls out what Kara recognizes as a medical handheld and passes it over the wound. 

They wait in silence, Kara just staring at him, clutching Lena, and his shoulders drop in obvious relief but he says grimly, “She’s lost a lot of blood, if she were Kryptonian it would be easy enough to synthesize some but…” he trails off looking at her with sympathy.

Kara jolts, and she thinks frantically, her eyes land on her family standing in a knot, a short distance away, all watching with worry, her heart skips with hope, Eliza has O positive blood but her sister…

She calls Alex’s name loud and a bit frantic, Kara sees her jump a little and then she’s crouching in front of them with wide worried eyes, Kara explains what they need, and Alex is already rolling up her sleeve before she’s finished speaking.

 

Kara inspects her hands after exiting the bathroom making sure all of Lena’s blood has been washed off, and she halts in her tracks partway down the tunnel to the same room Lena is resting in and lets out a heavy shaky breath.

Rao, that was close.

She can feel her breathing get faster and she knows she’ll start hyperventilating or spiral into a panic attack if she doesn’t get this under control. Kara looks around her and names the things she can see, and thinks of her family just down the hall, of Lena, alive.

Kara tries to clear her mind.

She tries to remember the calm she feels during meditation and is surprised when it works a little. It works enough that she can get her breathing under control, long enough to keep reminding herself of things that are good and true and not dwell on the fears of what could be.

Her mother finds her leaning against a wall, closed eyes, just breathing.

Kara feels her presence and looks at her.

Alura stands a short distance away looking chastened and humbled before Kara, and she thinks it has something to do with her earlier stinging comment to her mother, “Kara, I wanted to apologize.”

“What for?” Kara asks gently, she’s not angry at her mother now, in fact she’s ashamed for how she spoke to her earlier.

“You were right to rebuke me, about not telling you and Lena and Zenn-Usk, I had a fleeting thought of him during that conversation yesterday where I should have told you,” Alura’s hands twist, “we could have prepared and maybe intercepted him before this got out of hand, but I thought I knew better. I told you that I had learned from my past mistakes but in this instance,” she shakes her head ruefully, “I fell back on an old bad habit of making decisions for others, and I’m sorry, it was wrong of me.”

Kara swallows a lump in her throat and her mother continues, “I’m sorry for sending you away, Kara” tears run down her mother’s cheeks and Kara can feel her own welling up, “We could see no other way at the time, and I know it won’t change anything, but I regret sending you, though I do not regret ensuring you lived,” it’s a mixed up tangle of emotion that Kara strangely understands, and while she is glad for the apology she’s not sure if the underlying resentment will ever go away.

For now it’s soothed and Kara presses herself into her mothers arms for a hug.

“I’m sorry too, mom.”

 

Kara and her mother walk sedately back down the corridor and she finds her family all hanging out outside the door where Lena is resting, she frowns because they were all inside when she left a little earlier, though Alex is missing, and her eyebrows shoot up in surprise at the man talking to J’onn.

“Zami! What are you doing here?” she asks and then remembers her manners and greets him properly, he’s all smiles as usual.

“I brought Lady Lena her spare set of ceremonial garb,” he states happily, Kara is surprised and he answers her unspoken questions, “I always make two sets, it’s tradition in case something like this happens, as you know no one has had need of a second set for centuries,” he says a bit gravely, and then perks up, “though I have never been one to cut corners and it’s a good thing too, your surah is changing with your sister’s help.”

Kara brightens, “She’s awake?” everyone nods happily, and they inform her that Lena seemed to be in good spirits and her normal self, though a little tired.

A Kelex arrives to inform them that council would like to know if they should postpone the completion of their kanreosh and the subsequent Kanar-Kluv to allow Lena time to recover, but the door opens and Lena herself exits looking every bit as put together as she was before her battle, if a little paler.

“I don’t think that will be necessary,” she says with a smile and her eyes land on Kara, “What do you say, darling?”

Kara feels a grin split her face and stops herself short from sweeping Lena up into a hug mindful of her wound, reaching down to grasp her hands instead, and gazing into vibrant green eyes, “Let’s do this.”

 

For the second time today, Kara stands next to Lena, holding her hand, while standing in front of the Matrix and the council, though Lena is now wearing Heda Kom-El’s vambraces and Tistra El’s sword at her hip, it makes Kara’s chest swell with pride.

“The right of challenge has been completed and the rightful suitor acknowledged,” Tubix gestures to Kara and steps back into his place with the council.

She turns to Lena looking down at their clasped hands, and swallows.

This is it.

Her heart pounds, and she takes a steadying breath, dragging her eyes up to look at Lena. The expression she sees there is so soft and full of love that it nearly steals all of Kara’s breath, her eyes catch on the clear sheen of the medical corrective healing the cut on Lena’s face, and she’s hit by a rush of relief that Lena is ok, that she’s alive, tears accompanying her thoughts. Lena must see Kara’s mild distress over her wound because squeezes Kara’s hand reassuringly.

Alex approaches them holding the box with the bracelet, and Kara tears her eyes away for a moment to collect it, releasing Lena’s hands feeling the metal slide and slip across her fingers, she takes a breath before looking at Lena again.

The tears in her eyes have not subsided, and when she thinks about how after this moment she and Lena will be inextricably woven together, never to be pulled apart no matter the physical distance between them, it fills her heart to bursting, and she swallows the lump in her throat.

“Lena, will you accept this bracelet as a promise of my commitment? Will you accept this as a token of my love, strong, steadfast, and unwavering? Will you bind yourself to me unto all eternity?” Kara’s voice is thick with emotion but she’s proud of herself for getting through all of it without breaking down in tears. She stares into beautiful teary green eyes and waits hardly daring to breath for Lena’s response, Kara knows the words that should follow but for the life her she can’t remember any of them in this moment.

Lena’s smile curves along her face and it feels like it etches itself onto Kara’s heart, to her very core.

“Your words fill my heart with joy, my love. Such a gift was not expected nor required but nothing would bring me more happiness than for my soul to be bound with yours forever,” Lena’s words flow perfectly from in her mouth, and Kara is overcome with emotion and watches as Lena raises her left hand in offering between them and Kara lifts her own shaking ones.

They both watch as Kara slowly raises the bracelet around Lena’s wrist, press the clasp firmly closed, and just like that…

It’s done.

Distantly she hears the clapping and shouts of happiness from her family, but when she looks up at Lena there’s nothing else, only vibrant green eyes and a beautiful happy grin.

Kara surges forward and presses her lips to Lena’s without much thought, only a want and desire that her body followed through with, and when her brain catches up her mind races.

Was this ok? Things have definitely felt like they were leading up to this but it’s not like they’ve actually had the chance to talk about it. And sure, Kara kissed Lena earlier, but it was super quick, a good luck kiss, and Lena hadn’t looked mad or anything, but consent was important, you know? Not to mention that Kryptonians weren’t huge on PDA and kissing was definitely not a part of a kanreosh, did Lena know that?

All these thoughts running through her head in the space of a millisecond until…

Rao, Lena was kissing her back!

And all thought promptly flies out of her mind, she lets herself sink into the feeling of Lena’s lips against hers, oh so warm and soft, she tilts her head a little to get a better angle, pressing more firmly and insistently, her knees quivering when Lena answers in kind, one of her hands sliding up Kara's shoulder and neck to cup her jaw, it sends a shiver down Kara’s back that has her inhaling sharply through her nose, Lena pulls away, both breathing a bit raggedly.

Lena looks at Kara a little awestruck.

Before Kara can dive back in like she wants, she’s engulfed in a hug from her sister, and she watches Lena get drawn into one from Eliza and then a succession of hugs from the rest of her family.

Things move quickly from this point and it feels like Kara hardly has time to breathe let alone think about how…Lena had kissed her back…golly…

There’s still the Kanar-Kluv to do and her mother shuffles them, even the rest of her family into the correct positions around Lena, where tradition dictates her family members should stand.

Kir-Neth enters the orchestra directly across from them with a long procession of individuals and Kara gapes from behind Lena’s right shoulder, to see how many have come to thank her for her contribution in saving their home.

Though after a bit Kara hardly pays attention to the proceedings.

She’s too wrapped up in watching Lena flawlessly execute her part, in Kryptonian no less, and thinking about what it was like to actually kiss Lena Luthor that she’s not entirely sure when Kanar-Kluv ended and her mother started the invocation to Rao because now, she’s finishing up so the partying can begin.

Kara is answering a question from Eliza when feels Lena’s hand slip into hers, she glances to the side and sees Lena smiling widely as she converses with Nia, all of them in a small procession as they follow the council out across the street to the building where they have food and drinks waiting, and where she and Lena will have to receive well-wishers.

She smiles and continues talking to Eliza about her home, feeling so happy in this moment.

 

The banquet hall is huge, Kara and Lena are seated at wide table next to the one where the council will sit, their chairs are more like thrones but there’s some of Kara’s favorite finger foods and she digs in almost immediately, feeling ravenous, Lena laughs fondly at her, and Kara pauses to appreciate it, feeling her own smile grow.

The first well wishers approach the table drawing Kara’s attention away from Lena, they spend the couple hours smiling and talking nonstop, Kara’s only consolation is that Lena’s hand never strays too far, either resting on Kara’s thigh or forearm, or holding her hand.

 

Kara heaves a sigh of relief when a Kelex informs them that the receiving line has been closed and drops her head onto her folded arms on the table, she feels Lena’s hand run consolingly up and down her back, some of the tension of the day dissipating from her warm ministrations. She turns her head to look at Lena and finds her leaning on the table facing Kara, head propped up on her fist, smiling softly at her.

“Long day?” Lena asks, a lighthearted smile on her lips, Kara can’t help her own answering grin, and shrugs a little sitting up a bit.

“A bit, just some family drama this morning,” she retorts mildly, scooting a bit closer to Lena so she can grip around the elbow that’s resting on the table, “You?”

Lena rolls her eyes playfully, “Just typical Luthor stuff, imminent death and all that,” she says dryly, “nothing I couldn’t handle.”

Kara chuckles, her head bowing a little as she shakes it at Lena’s blasé attitude and reaches up to stroke Lena’s cheek where her cut is, growing serious, as she examines it. Lena freezes and Kara notices her proximity, feeling her heart pick up in pace, she swallows thickly, “It looks healed, we can probably peel off the top protective layer,” she whispers, Lena nods, and Kara sees her tongue dart out over her lips, feels a flush working its way up her neck.

Her mouth is dry as she removes the film over Lena’s cut and then gently wipes off the left-over flakes of gel to reveal unblemished skin, she leans forward slowly watching Lena’s eyes flutter closed as she places a gentle kiss where the cut had been, pulling back slightly to admire the dusting of pink over Lena’s cheeks, her eyes flicking down to parted lips, she swallows thickly leaning forward...

“Aww, you two are adorable! You were right, Kara, I’m glad we didn’t end up changing the timeline after all.”

They spring apart, Kara’s heart racing even faster than it was a moment ago and stares in shock.

There, lying on the table, head resting over his laced hands, looking up at her with a familiar smile and unbeguiling expression is, “Mxy!”

He shifts to spring up and lands behind their chairs, leaning his head down toward Kara, “That’s me! You called? What can I do for you, babe?”

“Babe?” Kara hears an undercurrent of displeasure in Lena’s voice, and turns to see an unamused expression and imperious arch of an eyebrow, but before she can say anything Mxy replies.

“Ah, allow me to introduce myself my dear, I am your favorite friendly neighborhood 5th dimensional imp, Mr. Mxyzptlk,” he bows with a flourish, presenting her with a bouquet of roses from behind his back, “but you may call me, Mxy, my dear Lena!” he thrusts the flowers into her lap and then reaches forward to shake her enthusiastically by the hand, “So wonderful to meet in person! I’ve watched so much about you!” her surprise and confusion are plain on her face, and she whispers the word ‘watched’ to Kara in question, brow furrowed deeply.

Kara chuckles awkwardly, gritting her teeth, and wonders how to explain all that to Lena.

So, really all she can do is shrug sheepishly.

Chapter Text

Mr. Mxyzptlk, or Mxy as he said he could be called…good lord, how do you even spell such a name? Was not at all what Lena expected.

Though she’s not sure what she did expect, all anyone had told her was that fifth dimensional imps were magically powerful, mischievous, and annoying, but of course, Kara, the equivalent of a golden retriever became friends with him, she always tried befriending everyone and to see the best in people. There was no surprise there, and she laughs a little at herself, wasn’t Lena pulled into Kara’s orbit for the same reason?

Mxy appears genuinely happy to meet her and that seems to be on Kara’s account, he is certainly friendly and warm toward them if a bit over exuberant in his manner and speech.

Though his little ‘babe’ comment to Kara had irked her.

She and Kara were currently sitting on a precipice of falling into ‘something more’ between them, but Lena wondered if her possessiveness was a bit much in the moment, though to be fair Kara was her ‘fiancée’, and by Kryptonian custom anyway they were as good as married, so she let herself feel that little spike of protective jealously.

The comment about ‘watching so much about Lena’ was especially strange, that’s not something she’s ever heard anyone say, but Mxy is quickly proving to be a strange individual, though Kara’s cringing sheepish look tells Lena that there’s something behind that comment that Kara understands, so she makes a note ask about it later.

Lena gathers all her diplomatic and business expertise and responds to his excited greetings, “It’s a pleasure to meet you as well, Mr. Mxyzptlk, though I can’t say I’ve ‘watched’ anything of you,” perfectly pleasant and polite, looking placidly into his eyes.

Mxy smiles at her, tilting his head, scrutinizing for a long moment, and turns to Kara, “I LOVE her for you,” he says, chuckling, with a gleeful grin as he fans out both his hands in front of him to emphasize his point.

Lena feels her eyebrows shoot up in surprise and watches Kara blush and stammer but Mxy is already moving onto the next topic, “I also adore these fabulous wedding outfits,” gesturing wide at their clothes, he drags Kara up by one hand holding their hands high above them, forcing Kara to spin while he nods appreciatively, he looks cheekily at Lena, “and I’m sure that you, Lena, love all this for you,” gesturing at Kara, wagging his eyebrows suggestively, she jolts a little in shock, and like Kara she’s thrown by his unexpected impertinence.

Lena feels a flash of annoyance that his comment makes her cheeks burn and leaves her a bit speechless.

Mischievous imp indeed.

Mxy seems not to care at all that he’s reduced them to blushing messes and also takes no notice when Kara’s feet get tangled in her long cape from his twirl, letting her fall back into her seat, while she sputters indignantly at him, which he ignores.

He snaps his fingers, producing a blue smoky haze in its wake.

Another, if more ostentatious, chair appears out of thin air behind him and Lena feels her own chair tugged along with Kara’s to face Mxy, who has dropped to lounge in his seat, one leg hooked over an arm rest as he places his elbow on the other to prop up his head, looking at Kara.

“My apologies for taking so long to answer your call but your, admittedly crude, ‘phone call’,” he quotes quickly with his fingers, “took some time to get through the-,” he pauses thinking for a moment, frowning at nothing, and then brightens, “interdimensional switchboard, and the operator wasn’t sure who to connect it to, so your call was circling around the ‘lines’ for a while. You’re lucky I went to check the call center at all and stumbled across it, but I was already there hoping for a message from…an old sweetheart I guess you could say,” he says the last a little dismissively.

Then looking between them, his smile beaming, “Was it an invitation to your wedding?” he asks excitedly, “Were you going to ask me to be your best man?” he sits up with a small gasp, looking at Kara with a touched look on his face, pressing his fingers into his chest, his shoulders and head drooping a little as he simpers with a whine in his voice, “Aww, was it because I helped you realize what Lena really meant you during our timeline workshop of the SuperCorp scenes for the Supergirl and Lena Show?”

Lena is taken aback, what, the what, and the what now? What Lena meant to Kara? A timeline workshop? SuperCorp? What the hell was he on about?

Kara’s high-pitched laugh is so very awkward and is so bad Lena cringes for her, she looks over at the Kryptonian and notices her blush is very pronounced and it makes Lena’s confusion and interest skyrocket.

“No!” Kara seems to hear how loud she is, grimacing, and hardly breaths while she rambles, “I mean-it wasn’t an invitation-this wasn’t a wedding,” her eyes flick to Lena a moment, “I suppose-it-I mean, it kinda was-is?” Kara drops her head in her hand and turns to the side muttering a quick ‘sweet Rao’ and then turns back to Mxy, “We called because we need your help with something else!” she shouts a little, with stubborn determination through her discomfort, untangling herself from the fabric of her cape and standing.

But before Kara can explain they are surrounded by a dozen Kelex, “Fifth dimensional being detected, authorities notified, threat level, extremely dangerous, remain where you are until the authorities arrive.”

Lena finds herself on her feet unsure exactly what to do, Kara steps in front of Mxy, because she’s a selfless protective idiot with a death wish and Lena hates (loves) that about her and goes to stand next to Kara, still unsure what she can do to help but never it let it be said Lena abandons those she loves.

She looks out past the surrounding Kelexes and notices that the revelry, which had been going in full swing while the three of them had been conversing in their own little bubble, has now lulled as masses of people turn their attention to the commotion happening near the council table.

“He’s not a threat, stand down!” Kara tries to command, but the helper robots do not comply.

“Daughters of the House of El, stand aside for your own safety,” they say in unison, and the combined slightly dissonant group of voices makes a shiver of worry shoot down Lena’s spine.

Alura breaks through the crowd, “Stand down, caretakers!” and to Lena’s immense relief, they do, obediently and quietly returning to other duties.

Behind Alura, the rest of their family gathers and Alex rushes forward past her, the rest following in her wake.

Alex shoots worried looks at them both, placing her hands on a forearm or shoulder each, “What’s-,” she starts but then she sees Mxy behind them, “You!” she exclaims.

Mxy smiles as if he hasn’t a care in the world and he wasn’t just detained by a bunch of potentially murderous robots, “Wonderful to see you again, Alex!” he notices J’onn and the others a little distance away, and waves, “I never got to ask, how did you and Papa J’onn like the little father-daughter paintball excursion I sent you to?”

Alex flounders a little and says with a pinched brow, “Uhh, it was fine, good…thanks?”

Mxy nods happily and just stands patiently looking at everyone.

Alura cuts in, “Perhaps we should take this somewhere more private?”

 

Alura has a Kelex show them to a room and tells them to get started without her, apparently Alura needs to explain to and reassure the rest of the council why they have a fifth dimensional guest and how he was not a threat.

Kara introduces everyone else to Mxy, and then gets straight to the point, “The reason we called was because my dad and I are slowly dying from a wound made by a fifth dimensional blade and we have no idea how to cure it.”

Mxy’s eyebrows go up in true concern, it’s the first bit of seriousness Lena has seen from him and it raises her estimation of him a little on the whole as he asks to the see the wound.

Kara tilts her head and Lena pushes back the hair at her temple to show him the cut, Mxy pulls out a magnifying glass from his pocket without missing a beat and stares at it and asks her to recount how she received it.

He’s silent when he’s finished his examination, crossing his arms, pressing the magnifying glass to his pursed lips in concentration, and with a snap he conjures himself an overstuffed armchair in the otherwise barren room, and then as an afterthought snaps seats for everyone else so they are arranged in their own matching love seats or chairs.

Lena blinks and then without knowing how exactly she got there she is surprised to find herself on Kara’s lap in their own overstuffed chair, her arms around strong shoulders in a hold that is not altogether unfamiliar since Kara has cradled her in a similar way a few times as Supergirl.

Their faces are a matching set of mild shock, and they both look away quickly.

Her gaze locks with Nia on the next love seat over where she’s sitting next to Brainy, and Lena watches her smile curve into something almost sinister, her blush deepens as Nia very unsubtly lifts her phone clearly taking a picture of her and Kara, Lena tries to look anywhere else and feels her ears start to burn.

She chances a quick peek at Kara to see her blushing as well, but she’s pleased when Kara doesn’t try to get up or shift them, instead Lena feels the hand around her waist grip a little tighter, and Lena tries to ignore Nia’s gleeful bouncing from the corner of her eye, and absolutely refuses to look in Alex’s direction, or heaven forbid toward J’onn and Eliza.

Lena’s not entirely sure if she likes Mxy or not but right now he’s made some points in his favor, even if Nia is ruining it (definitely not ruining) by taking pictures (she wants copies), and she proceeds to settle herself more comfortably against Kara.

Finally, his contemplation over for the moment, he asks, “And the blade that cut you?”

“Still in the Phantom Zone, I suppose,” Kara shrugs.

Mxy hums and then, “You said your father’s wound was much bigger?” Kara nods and describes it, Lena watches his eyes widen, it makes her stomach churn when she notices his grim solemnity, she hasn’t known him above thirty minutes and already she can tell that look is bad.

Lena can’t help not knowing, “Can you help them?”

He looks at her with rather a blank face, and takes a breath, finally nodding a little, Lena’s flare of hope is crushed a bit when he says, “Maybe,” it’s a far cry from what she was expecting, but it’s better than nothing.

The others ask for an explanation.

“Well, fifth dimensional beings are difficult to hurt, if someone, say, stabs me I can heal myself with a snap of my fingers, make myself invulnerable, or if I come across an injured imp then I can do the same, so-.”

Brainy cuts in, “Any weapons your people created had to be able to grievously injure while also not allowing for the possibility of self-recovery and bypass magical protections, that’s what that fifth dimensional residue does!” he says with excitedly, “It prevents the tissue from healing and also leeches life force from the injured party!”

Mxy frowns a little that Brainy has taken his thunder but he gestures his agreement, and Eliza chimes in, “That’s all well and good but I think we are most interested in, how do we cure it?”

Lena agrees and Mxy’s mouth twists as he leans forward to rest his elbows on his knees, and he sighs, “My people have never had doctors, for obvious reasons, and these types of wounds are curable by magic,” Lena perks up at that but she tries to keep her expectations low, “but it takes an immense amount of magic to do so,” he looks at Kara, “I think I may be able to heal yours on my own because of how small the wound is, but I would have to examine your father before I can say anymore for him.”

Kara’s fingers tighten on her waist and Lena turns to look at her, but Kara is looking at Mxy with restrained hope, “It won’t hurt you to cure me, will it?” she asks with concern, and Lena’s reminded with that question, of one the reasons she loves Kara, her unwillingness to hurt others even at her own expense.

Lena is glad to see that Mxy appreciates Kara’s concern too, and he gains another point for that alone, “No, it’s not painful,” smiling reassuringly, and then tilts his head a little back and forth, “though it will drain my powers for some indeterminate amount of time, but that’s not so bad a price.”

Kara frowns and Lena can see the protest forming on her lips but Mxy cuts her off, “One I would be willing to pay for my first and only friend,” he says sincerely.

That catches Kara’s breath, and she looks at him with gratitude, “If, you’re sure?” she tries one last time.

His smile is sweet and certain, “It would be my honor,” then sits forward a little in his seat, “Ready?” she nods, and Lena watches as he brings his hand out in front of him, eyes closed, fingers poised to snap, head bowed slightly.

They wait for some minutes, Lena and Kara sharing a glance, blue eyes a bit wide and worried.

Lena closes the loop of her arms around Kara to wrap her in hug, and presses her forehead to her temple, she sees Kara’s throat work and swallow and her free hand joins the one at Lena’s waist to squeeze her a bit closer for comfort.

They wait in silence for Mxy while he sits unmoving, finally he nods to himself and then snaps his fingers, his shoulders sag and he leans back into his chair.

The resulting sound is strangely loud and echoes a few times for no discernable reason, the puff of blue that usually accompanies his snaps is dark and dense.

He looks up at them and Lena is alarmed to see he looks fatigued, like he hasn’t sleep in a few days, his skin a bit pale and dark circles around his sunken eyes.

Mxy raises his hand and snaps, a tiny puff accompanies it, a little shot glass appears in his hand with some amber colored liquid, he frowns, “Not exactly a tumbler, is it?” but knocks it back, his grimace is a bit sad and disappointed, “iced tea…”

Lena stares in surprise and he looks a little impatient when he locks eyes with her, nods his head at Kara, she lets out a soft 'oh', and turns to Kara’s worried eyes which are trained on Mxy, her crinkle very prominent, but let’s Lena examine her head. She combs through Kara’s scalp and finds nothing, and then looks again just to make sure, and finally she looks up at Eliza and Alex wanting a second opinion in case it’s only wishful thinking on her part, Kara and Lena both stand so the two Danvers can check.

Everyone else waits, Lena chews on her lip, sees Eliza and Alex exchanges glances, and Eliza finally says, “Well, I would like to take a blood sample to make sure, but it looks gone to me,” with a warm smile to Kara, who looks at her sister.

Alex nods, “I agree, I would like to check the data but I think it worked,” and Kara throws her arms around them both in relief, the three Danvers smiling as their heads knock together, Lena feels her own rush of relief, it’s almost anti-climatic, all that running around and Mxy was able to fix it with literally a snap of his fingers, though she knows it took a toll on him.

Lena turns to him, and gives him her best most grateful smile, feeling tears well in her eyes, “Thank you,” she whispers, reaching down to grip his hand briefly.

He smiles up at her genuinely looking weary and then after a moment there’s a glint in his eye, “No problem, babe,” with a tired wink, and she laughs, letting him have that one. He’s earned it.

 

Alura returns to everyone hugging Kara happily and when she learns what’s transpired, she joins the party with her own hug, Kara sighs into her mother’s shoulder reveling in the familiar feeling.

“Mom, we’re going back today, right now,” Kara says when she pulls back, but she doesn’t ask the question she means to ask because they haven’t talked about if her mother wanted to see her father yet, or ever even, but Alura doesn’t hesitate to answer the unspoken question.

“I’ll inform the council that I’ll be leaving for a few days, maybe longer,” her eyes are a bit red, and her mouth tight, and Kara just nods her agreement.

“Alrighty!” Mxy says jovially, but his general demeanor is a bit dim compared to his usual self and Kara feels a stab of guilt, he wanted to do this, she shouldn’t diminish his gift by feeling guilty, better to be grateful, “I’m gonna need a ride, my normal mode of transportation is a bit kaput at the moment,” holding up his fingers.  

“I’ll take my ship back and the rest of you can take the portal, I’ll be a couple days behind you,” J’onn says amiably.

Alex frowns a little, “Do you want company? I’m the one that brought it after all,” but he shakes his at her offer.

“No, you go with everyone else, they may have need of your expertise, besides I could use a cruise around the stars, it’s been a long time, it will give me some solitude to meditate,” he assures her, “But thank you for the offer,” and then adds with narrowed eyes, “you didn’t get any scratches on it did you?”

Kara laughs at Alex’s indignant expression as she crosses her arms offended that he would suggest such a thing and replies in the negative with a resentful petulant scowl.

 

Getting physically through the day’s festivities is a bit difficult with the masses of people in the streets blocking roads and major thoroughfares.

Alura enlists the help of Thara and some Kelexes and amazingly they make it through the city quicker than anticipated but still longer than Kara likes. She finally has a real viable solution to save her father and it’s taking too long to cross the dang city.

She sighs in relief when they arrive home, Brainy starts to lead everyone down to the lab, and Lena removes the vambraces and sword for Kara to return to their rightful place.

“Let me just grab my things really quick, shouldn’t be more than a couple minutes, I’ll meet you at the portal?” Lena says as she makes her way towards the stairs a little hastily knowing Kara and Alura’s desire to get back to see Zor-El.

Kara agrees and quickly heads toward the relic room to properly store her family’s heirlooms, and then makes her way briskly to the lab where only her mother and Brainy await, Mxy, Alex and Nia already having gone through.

Alura extends her hands as Kara draws near and she takes her mother’s hand to hold onto, “I wanted to go together,” she says and Kara nods understandingly.

They turn at the sound of footsteps, Lena comes down with her bag full to bursting and hands Kara her small journal, “I saw it on the nightstand.”

Kara takes it and tucks it away, reaching for her hand, smiling affectionately her thanks at Lena, and they look at Brainy who gestures at them to go through.

“I’ll be right behind you. The portal is stable, and we can traverse it from either side,” he says reassuringly.

She takes a breath and walks through hand in hand with her mother and Lena.

The familiar walls of the Tower are relief to Kara, and she lets the breath she was holding blow out of her, both Lena and her mother let go her hands and Kara steps into a patch of sunlight, and feels…

Strong.

Better…she feels a lingering weariness dissipate from her body that she didn’t even realize was there, she looks down at her hands balling them in a fist for a moment, and then there’s a long piece of rebar in her face.

She looks up at Lena with a confused frown.

Lena smiles and tells her to bend it, Kara twists it into a pretzel with ease, and laughs looking at Lena, “You know I could have just done this to confirm my powers are back,” she hovers six inches over the ground with ease and Lena shrugs.

“I’m a scientist, I like to be thorough,” her teasing remark makes Kara’s heart skip a little as it always does when Lena smiles at her like that, fond and charming.

Kara sees Nia pacing a short distance away on the phone, speaking in agitation, but her attention is drawn to the opposite side of the room where Alex makes a frustrated noise where she’s standing next to M’gann “You haven’t seen her all morning?” she demands briskly.

M’gann shakes her head, “I was patrolling and came back to check on Zor-El, the three of us usually have lunch together about this time or just check in, but she mentioned that she had an interview today, maybe it ran over?” she tries to reassure Alex.

Kara frowns and makes her way to Alex, Lena and her mother in tow, greeting M’gann quickly, and asking her sister what’s going on.

“I called Kelly to let her know we’re back but she’s not picking up, I’ve called three times,” Alex presses her lips into a tight line, but Kara knows her sister is really worried, “she always picks up and if she’s busy she sends one of those, quick auto replies that she’ll call back soon, she has a specific one just for me.”

“I’m sure it’s nothing serious, Alex, maybe she got held up or didn’t hear her phone if she’s in an interview like M’gann said,” Lena’s voice is gentle and soothing, Kara agrees with her.

“Yeah, but if you’re that worried, I can go fly around town really quick and find her,” Kara offers, and Alex looks a little relieved at that, but her phone buzzes and all the tension in her body falls away.

“Kelly! Are you ok?” Kara focuses on trying not to eavesdrop, “Good, I’m glad, I was worried a moment,” Alex listens, “ok, great I’ll see you soon, love you,” her sister draws in a deep breath and says with palatable relief, “She’s fine, her interview did run a little over but she had a massive headache after, she fell asleep on the couch for a nap hoping to alleviate it, and didn’t realize her phone was still on silent in her bag.”

Alex looks at Kara and Lena gratefully, and then apologizes to M’gann for being short with her, but the Martian waves it away with a kind smile and turns to Kara.

She introduces her mother to M’gann and after short pleasantries tells them, “The fifth dimensional imp Mxy, already went on ahead to see your father, he’s usually awake around this time, Kelly or I try and sit with him, he likes to asks me to tell him about your life here until he drifts off to sleep again.”

Kara swallows and gives her thanks to M’gann, starting to feel some nerves grow in her belly, she feels Lena’s hand slip into hers, and she looks into concerned green eyes, “Do you-,” but Kara cuts her off knowing what she’s asking.

“Yes, please,” she pleads, Kara would much rather do this with Lena by her side than not.

Lena nods and Kara leads her mother at a sedate pace to where her father is resting, Alura walks beside them with her hands clasped tight in front of her stomach, with a grim serious look on her face, Kara wishes she knew how to comfort her.

When they arrive, Kara stops just at the top of the steps into the med bay still several feet from her father, Mxy is standing over him peering at the wound, he straightens when they arrive.

“Can you give us a few minutes, Mxy?” her voice comes out a little rough, and tries to clear it, “I’ll come find you after so we can talk,” he nods solemnly and leaves with sympathetic looks at them.

From here Zor-El looks much the same, pale and still, breathing shallow.

Her eyes fill with tears to see him thusly again, guilt clawing up her throat because his life and health kept getting pushed to the back of her mind while she was away, it made her feel like a terrible daughter.

Alura takes one tentative step forward, her eyes locked on her husbands’ prone body, her breathing a little labored, hands white knuckled and digging into her stomach, she doesn’t want to rush her, she knows it’s a lot.

Kara allows her to take her time and turns to move closer next to her father’s side, Lena close by, her presence solid and comforting, she reaches up to wipe some tears from her face, breathing deep. Lena releases her hand and winds her arms around Kara’s waist to hug into her side. She takes a shuddering breath and squeezes the arm around Lena’s shoulders in silent gratitude for being here, resting her head against Lena’s as they look down at her sleeping father.

Alura slowly makes her way to the bed on the opposite side, she stops near his waist, peering at his face and swallows thickly. One trembling hand reaches out slowly toward his chest, her hand hovering over the shallow rise and fall of his breathing, and then gently lets it rest there. The shaky breath her mother releases is broken, the tears in her eyes fall onto his arm, and the heartbroken apologies that spill from her lips wrench and pull at Kara’s chest.

Kara feels herself stiffen trying to control the surge of emotions rolling through her as she watches her mother, tries to keep her breathing even and the too many tears from falling from her eyes. Lena’s arms a vice around her and she clings to the feeling of it, trying to let it distract her from everything else.

Alura’s breath catches and so does Kara’s when they see Zor-El stir, his eyes fall half lidded on Kara and Lena, she sees his eyes roam over their ceremonial clothes, can see the slight question in the pinch of his brow, and then his attention turns, and Kara sees tears fill his eyes instantly.

He swallows thickly, his eyes flicking black and forth between Kara and Lena and her mother, and then remain steadfast on Alura, his breathing quickens, “Another dream,” he says with anguish, “a terrible beautiful dream,” he croaks with disbelief, tears trailing over the side of his face.

Alura shakes her head, “No, zhao, I’m here, we’re here,” she whispers, pleading with him to believe her, she presses her free hand into his and squeezes.  

Kara’s own breath shudders through her and she reaches out to his shoulder, to reassure him, “It’s real, dad, I promise, I brought mom like I said I would.”

His eyes widen but he still doesn’t seem convinced, “how can it not be a dream? My wife and my daughter here with…your clothes, you look as if, as if they’ve…” he gulps, not wanting to say it.

Alura smiles at him through her tears, “They are,” she says with pride, “They completed their kanreosh this morning in front of the council.”

Kara nods her agreement, “This is Lena, dad, she-,” Kara’s voice catches with all the emotions that make her chest feel too tight, grief for her father, resentment for how they sent her away, anguish on her mother’s behalf, anger for thinking they were taken from her and then regret for all the missed years they could have been together so she could reconcile with them, love for them both despite their flaws and mistakes, and so much love for the woman in her arms supporting her in this moment.

It’s hard to think, let alone try to explain who Lena is.

Lena who makes her laugh, who soothes her sorrows, who pushes her to see things from a different perspective, who cares about Kara and not just the alien who can do amazing deeds and protects the city.

Lena who performs amazing scientific and technological feats to save the world, to save Kara’s life, her friends and family, alien people she’s never met, and then is too humble to take credit for them.

Lena who she loves for all those reasons and more.

How does she explain to her father in just a few words?

But wonderful stupendous Lena reaches out with her left hand to grasp Zor-El’s and says softly, “It’s such an honor to meet you, sir,” in Kryptonian, and that makes hot tears flow down Kara’s cheeks again, and her heart swells once more with love for Lena.

His head comes up a little in surprise, his hand shifts to Lena’s wrist where his fingers slide over the bracelet there, he inhales a little sharply, and looks at Kara to study her face, his eyes drawing down to Kara’s arm around Lena and hers around Kara, then responds with heartfelt sincerity.

“And you, Lena mish nim El, I welcome you with open arms and warm heart,” his voice is raspy with emotion, and then he releases Lena to reach toward Kara, she catches his hand, and he brings Alura’s hand up to his mouth to press a kiss to her knuckles, and then to Kara’s.

He takes a long weak jagged breath holding their hands to his chest, “You did it, inah, just as you said,” pride clear in his voice and face, it makes her already too full chest fill to bursting.

Her mother bursts out in a sob, “I’m sorry, Zor-El, I’m so sorry, I didn’t know you languished for all those years alone,” her father releases her hand to reach for Alura’s bowed face to draw their foreheads together.

“No, zhao, it was a desperate escape by an equally desperate man, I did not think it would work, I don’t blame you, I am only grateful to be returned to you and our family,” he whispers, it only makes her mother sob harder in relief.

Kara has to look away a moment, closing her eyes, when she opens them she spots Nia a distance away looking at them with apology and seems torn about something, perhaps about interrupting, Kara tilts her head in question and Nia looks pointedly at Lena who’s back is to her.

She thinks it might be good to let her mother and father have some time alone, anyway, and pulls Lena with her to Nia.

The tormented look of apology still on her face, “I’m so incredibly sorry to interrupt,” emphatic and full of anguish, “but I got a phone call from work,” she bites her lip stopping mid-sentence.

“What is it, Nia?” Lena asks in concern, pressing her hand gently to Nia’s arm.

Her mouth twists a little and says, “It’s your mom, Lena.”

“Lillian? What’s she done now?” Lena says with mild annoyance and more than a little surprise.

Nia fiddles with her fingers, “I was given instructions to head to a press conference that she’s holding in an hour,” she grits her teeth, not liking what she’s going to say next and fearing Lena won’t either it seems, “rumor is she’s going to demand a nationwide manhunt for her daughter who has been missing for almost a week.”

Both she and Lena stiffen in shock, “Good lord, mother!” Lena grinds out through her clenched teeth in frustration, rubbing a hand over her forehead.

The heavy sigh that Lena lets out makes Kara frown in commiseration, and Lena looks at her with regret, “I’m sorry, Kara, I think I need to go sort this out before it gets anymore out of hand.”

Kara shakes her head, “It’s ok, I can come with you if you want,” turning to link their hands together.

Lena looks at her with an appreciative but also disbelieving look shaking her head, “Thank you, darling, but you should stay here, be with your parents, and talk to Mxy about what can be done,” Kara feels Lena’s thumb run lightly over hers, “I can handle, Lillian,” and then squeezes her hand in thanks and reassurance.

Kara nods her acceptance, she knows Lena can handle her mother, but Kara wanted her to know she didn’t have to deal with Lillian on her own.

Lena turns to Nia, “Need a ride? I’m going to need to borrow your bathroom again to get ready for the press conference, as much as I would like to give my mother a heart attack wearing this, I don’t think I want the world to see,” she says dryly.

Nia laughs a little and nods, “My roommate is at work, so we won’t have to explain all this,” gesturing to all of Lena with a smile, “as killer a look as it is.”

Kara smiles at them and then leans into the lingering hug Lena gives her, “Depending on what kind of damage control I need to do I might not see you until later,” Lena says into her shoulder, “Maybe not until tomorrow if it gets too late.”

She leans back furrowing her brow, Kara’s not a fan of that, “Wait, where do you think you’re staying tonight?” she asks, she won’t put it past Lena to try and disappear in the background so as not to be an nuisance, even though she most certainly isn’t.

Lena’s eyes dart away, and she shrugs noncommittal, Kara let’s out an irritated huff, “You’re staying with me,” she says resolutely, as if she would let Lena go anywhere else, besides there’s still a bunch of stuff they need to talk about.

Green eyes snap to hers with a worried furrow, “I didn’t want to assume, I wouldn’t want to be an imposition…”

Kara gapes at her.

After everything that’s happened?

She almost laughs at the absurdity of it, but then she remembers what Lena said when Kara asked what she could do better for her, it was that Kara remind her she wants Lena around, and takes a moment to think about it from her perspective, especially because they haven’t had a real conversation about what all this means for them.

Kara realizes that her response is probably born of uncertainty and old fears.

“You’re not, you never have been. In fact, impose all you like,” Kara says hoping that she will believe her and maybe recall Kara’s ask of her, that Lena will ‘stay’.

Lena breathes out as she smiles, looking down and nods slightly, then looking up again, “Thanks.”

They turn slightly toward Nia and Kara is taken a back a little by her friend’s expression.

Nia stands, her hands laced tight in front of her mouth, where both her lips are pulled in between her teeth seeming to bite down on them, her eyebrows high on her forehead, practically vibrating with giddiness.

Kara looks at her in alarm and concern, but Nia burst out with, “You guys are adorable, definitely my OTP!” and then swings forward to lace her arm through Lena’s practically skipping away with her.

A grin grows involuntarily in surprise on Kara’s face at Nia’s declaration and then she bites her lip trying to suppress it.

Lena sends Kara a wary look over her shoulder but lets Nia take her away, and Kara has a thought, “Let me know when you’re on your way to the apartment so I can meet you and let you in,” she calls.

They halt for a moment, but before Lena can answer, Nia says brightly, “Oh she can just use her key,” with a smirk on her face.

Kara’s eyebrows shoot up in surprise, looking in question at Lena who is turning a pretty shade of red.

“It’s-that’s-,” Kara always finds it adorable when Lena is flustered, “Alex gave it to me to water your plants, I still have it,” she says with an evenness that is clearly hard-won judging by the clench of her teeth and the glare she shoots at Nia.

Kara laughs feeling the smile on her face grow with pleasure and fondness and everything in between, “Perfect, then you can just let yourself in later whenever you’re done, I’ll see you at home.”

She watches Lena’s face turn something soft, surprise yes, but something else, but Kara isn’t sure what, but it seems to touch Lena, because she doesn’t say anything just swallows noticeably, nod, and then give her a genuine smile goodbye.

 

Kara takes a few minutes to watch her parents converse, just sitting in the feeling of seeing them alive, together, in front of her and then goes in search of Mxy, she finds him on the balcony he has his back to the railing and is bent over backwards, hands behind his head looking at the sky. She’s a little worried he’ll fall but then remembers her powers are back and she could easily save him.  

She joins him at looking at the sky.

“See anything cool?” Kara asks mildly.

Mxy hums a no.

Silence.

“Thanks,” she says.

“For what?” he queries.

Kara sighs and turns to look at the imp, he’s no longer bent over awkwardly and is instead looking curiously at her, “For healing me, for coming to help my dad, for coming at all.”

Mxy smiles and she’s a little surprised to the beginnings of tears, “Anytime, especially for an old friend,” but his face grows serious, “though I don’t think you’ll like what I have to say about your father.”

Kara’s heart skips in worry, and waits for him to continue, “Your dad, is very grievously injured as you know, I certainly don’t have to power to heal him myself,” her stomach drops in despair, his long pause is grim, but his next words give her hope, “I think if I could get another imp to help along with a magical amplifier we, and let me stress this, might, be able to heal him.”

She tries not to let her hope shoot too high, Mxy doesn’t sound very confident, “But it’s something, Mxy, we can work with that,” she says hearteningly.

He purses his lips at her skeptically, and then sighs, “I suppose you’re not the paragon of hope for nothing,” a smile grows on his lips and she grins back.

 

Kara gathers the rest of her family and has Mxy recap.

“So, you need a buddy and something to boost your power to heal him, do you have any leads on either?” Alex asks, hands on her hips.

Mxy grin sheepishly, “Kind of,” waggling his hand back and forth,” on the former, and no on the latter.”

“What do you mean, ‘kind of’?” Alex grimaces in slight annoyance.

He sighs and plops himself on top of a nearby crate crossing his arms, “Well,” he draws the word out, “no one else in the fifth dimension will help me, especially not for something like this that will drain your powers for some unknown length of time.”

Kara frowns, “How do you know no one will help you?”

Mxy cringes, scrunching his nose and hunching his shoulders up, “There might be a lot of bad blood and hurt feelings having to do with some things I did before I was reformed, I’ve been working towards fixing that but,” he sighs dejectedly, “that’s going to take a long,” drawing this word out too, eyes widening for effect, “time.”

“But you just said you might know someone?” Eliza asks, hopefully.

He nods, “Yeah, I haven’t seen her for a long time, but if I can find her and I ask, she’ll be obligated to hear me out, though I don’t know where she is exactly, I was hoping she would reach out but…” he trails off with a shrug.

“You don’t have any ideas?” Brainy cuts in.

Mxy hums a little, “I have some inklings of places she might go, but no where concrete, no, and it’s not like I could start looking until my powers come back.”

“Why’s that?” Alex asks.

“Because I need to be able to travel to all the different dimensions to go check out my theories to see where she might be,” he lifts his hand to her, “and I can’t currently summon myself a margarita, let alone travel between dimensions.”

“So, we have to wait on finding your friend, what about a magical amplifier like you said?” Kara asks, trying to focus on what they can do, instead of all the stuff that’s impossible at the moment.

“Well, that’s a little easier but not by much, either I have to find one in the fifth dimension or find one here on your world, I know for a fact that there are several fifth dimensional artefacts hanging around your planet, it would just be a matter of finding the right one,” he says with some hope coloring his voice.

Brainy chimes in, “If you can help me with building and fine tuning a scanner then I think we could get started on that part of the plan fairly quickly.

Kara smiles and perks up, “Great! I think that’s an awesome plan, Mxy recovers and helps Brainy build a scanner to find what we need and then try to convince this friend to help once he’s better and we find her, I like it!”

 

Eliza and Alex subject Kara to some tests and finally after much griping that her powers are back and she feels fine, they finally let her go. 

Kara leaves her friends to go see her parents again, her father is sleeping again but she stays at her mother’s side and they hug and converse or stand silent vigil by turns. They pass the rest of the afternoon that way.

It’s later in the afternoon when her mother suggests that Kara go home, she protests at first but Alura tells her she should get some rest, she’s had a long day, “And don’t you want to spend your evening with Lena?” she asks with a soft knowing look, Kara relents and goes home.

She flies for the first time in what feels like ages and she spends more time in the air reveling in it for some time, floating lazily through the clouds, and then wonders what Lena is doing. She texts her asking what she’d like for dinner and doesn’t get a response back for almost ten minutes, must be busy then, Lena says she’s fine with whatever Kara picks and trusts her to pick what Lena likes.

Kara smiles at that and then gets another text saying she probably won’t be back for a couple hours yet, so she holds off on ordering and heads home.

She strips off her clothes leaving them in a heap and takes a hot shower, after she’s pulled on her pajamas she goes about folding and storing her ceremonial clothes, she pulls out her little journal from one of the pockets placing it on her bed.

Once she’s done with her task, she picks up her notebook and flips through it skimming through all her thoughts.

Rao, she sounds like a mess, and grimaces at some of the recounting from when she and Lena had fought. Now that the portal works as it should, she’s going to make sure she heads back to Argo to keep going to therapy, even in the short time she’s gone she feels a little more centered, a little more like herself, but she knows there’s still work to do.

There’s only a few blank pages left in this one and she has more regular sized blank ones she can start, so she stands to go to her bookshelf, frowning a little thinking on where exactly she should put this oddly sized journal in her collection. She settles on just setting on top of the others after carefully annotating the dates and is about to go decide on what to have for dinner when she spots a book at the end of the little row of her journals that is definitely not familiar.

She pulls it out and runs her fingers over the beautiful soft leather.

Inside, when she opens it, are words written in a beautiful flowing script…

For Kara.

She frowns.

This is not something she remembers ever receiving as a gift.

Kara turns to the next page and sees familiar precise cursive and her heart skips.

She practically falls into sitting on her bed when she reads the first page, her knees giving out…

…she reads…

…and reads.

Chapter Text

Lena looks over at Nia in the passenger seat and can tell she has a question on the tip of her tongue, she sighs a little and resigns herself to some teasing and interrogation, “Go on, Nia, ask me,” good naturedly, she knows Nia is just excited and, despite her teasing, Lena appreciates her restraint in curbing her obvious curiosity when it comes to actually asking Lena about her and Kara.

She sees the younger woman’s slight jerk of surprise, and then a bit subdued and hesitant, “How are you feeling?” Lena feels a little like she’s missed a step, her confusion must be clear because Nia adds, “Your injury. It looked really bad, and I was super worried, Brainy said you were going to be ok, but…”

Lena is shocked, today had been so chock full of events, surprises, emotions that she completely forgot about it, and here was sweet Nia chewing her lip over it and looking like she might cry from the memory.

It touches Lena deeply, and feels the little kernel of warmth she has for Nia grow bigger in her heart.

She reaches over to clasp her hand, and with a quick reassuring smile thrown her way, “I feel great, honestly, Kryptonian medicine is amazing. I asked Kir-Neth about how recovery would go, and he said the wound should be cleared up by tomorrow at the latest and I would have full range of motion in the meantime, considering where it is.”

Nia grips her hand, “So no pain?” she asks timidly, and Lena’s heart constricts at the worried tone and shakes her head.

“Nope, there’s a little bit of tightness and stiffness but no pain, whatever he gave me is working wonders for that, one of these days when there’s time I want to go back and see if I can learn more about their medical technology, I might be able to replicate some of it for use here on Earth,” her tone excited and the possibilities flying around in her mind, Nia’s chuckle has a touch of disbelief while she shakes her head, Lena frowns a little, “What?”

 Nia grips Lena’s hand in both of hers and gives an affectionate squeeze, her smile sweet, “Just you, you get roped into a fight to the death, almost bleed out from getting sliced open, and you’re more focused on the advanced medical tech they used to patch you up and how you can use it help others,” she pauses, considering a bit, “you’re just too cool, Lena, and I’m really glad to know you, and even happier that you’re ok,” her voice a little constricted at the end with emotion.

Lena feels her eyes getting a little misty, and shoots Nia a grateful smile, “Thanks, I’m glad I’m ok too.”

They’re quiet for a bit, Nia looking out the window, the silence comfortable, and then with unconcealed smugness, “I’m pretty sure Kara would have been pissed if her wife was incapacitated on her wedding night,” with a trace of suggestiveness in her voice.

Lena pulls her hand back and rolls her eyes, “Ok!” drawing out the word a little, fighting a smile and a slight flush, “I knew it was only a matter of time before the teasing started!”

Nia adopts a hurt expression, “Teasing? I would never, Lena!” with mock offense, “As a journalist, I am only interested as to how events unfolded over the course of this past week that you and your ‘best friend’, whom I definitely did not catch you thirsting over last week, are now in an unbreakable ‘to be married’ contract without there being some kind of intention behind it,” Nia leans toward her over the center console, a playfully shrewd look on her face, “tell me the truth Lena, did you use that big brilliant brain of yours to orchestrate your marriage to Kara cuz you wanted to skip the awkward talking about your feelings phase of your relationship?”

Lena can’t help herself, and bursts out into laughter, Nia seems pleased by the response, and sits back in her seat with a grin.

“You caught me! I confess, but in reality, it was a big convoluted evil Luthor plot, so now Kara can never testify against me in court,” she retorts, feeling more playful and carefree than she has in sometime, and a little surprised too. She normally only feels this way when she banters with Kara, Lena finds that she likes that Nia is able to pull this effortlessly out of her too.

They continue this playful line of conversation for a little longer until they reach Nia’s apartment, Lena leaving her cloak and jacket folded up in the trunk of her car and pulls out her suitcase to make their way up.

Nia kindly offers to iron Lena’s chosen outfit while she showers to save time and works through her routine quickly and efficiently, having had years to perfect it and shave off any unnecessary waste of time. Makeup and hair done, she halts as she dresses, her fingers skimming over the soft clear plastic type corrective covering the wound at her side, examining it in the mirror for a few moments.

It’s highly flexible, strangely soft, it feels more like a thin second skin, and it covers a line of white across the side of her torso that she knows is the biopolymer with some ‘additives’ according to Kir-Neth, though it was a deep long cut, there were no major organs nicked so the healing process was fairly straightforward apparently.

She takes a deep breath, and then puts on her blouse, pulls up her skirt, slips on her heels, and dons a Kryptonian jacket. Zami had made her more than a few, keeping them more in an Earth style, at the time she had asked him to embroider the crest very subtly on the inside of the jacket, she pulls it open now to one side to examine it to see if it might be noticeable to anyone in passing in case it flips open.

It’s hardly visible at all, Zami did an excellent job, the lining is black, and the crest is in a shade so similar as to be almost the same, Lena has to run her fingers over it and hold it at a certain angle in the light to see it at all, and only under close scrutiny. She smooths it back in place placing a hand over it, it’s nice knowing it’s there even if she can’t see it, as if her family, as if Kara, is with her, and Lena takes a moment to wonder if that’s how Kara felt when she wore her old super suit under her clothes.

She checks the time, they need to head out now if they want to get there in time, Lena pauses a moment when she sees a couple missed calls from Sam, one from last night and this morning, and grimaces, she makes a mental note to call her back once she’s done dealing with Lillian. She casts one last look over her clothes, hair, and face, sees that she looks every inch the badass business bitch the world has come to know, and collects Nia so they can make it to the press conference with a few minutes to spare.

 

Lena and Nia are about to part ways when Nia stops her a moment, “Do you know what you’re going to say when you get up there?” with some concern.

She huffs out a laugh, and shakes her head, “No, not at all,” Nia’s alarmed surprise is almost comical on her face.

“You’re just going to wing it?” she asks incredulous, Lena shrugs and leaves a flabbergasted Nia sputtering behind her.

Lena walks toward a side entrance she knows her mother likes to use in this hotel.

The hotel itself is owned by the Luthor’s and Lillian likes it for its elegant and understated but still luxurious look, and discretion, hence why Lena was able to enter without a mob of reporters ambushing her upon arrival, especially considering the rumor going around.

It’s the kind of place that screams money without screaming ‘money’ and Lena hates coming here only because Lillian loves it so much.

She sees Lillian disappear through the door into the conference room and knows that she has timed this perfectly. Lena approaches the door and gives her mother’s security detail a haughty raised eyebrow as she approaches, and he scrambles forward to open the door for her, she wouldn’t normally do such a thing, but she’s had too many run ins with many of them, especially this man in particular, finding them to be a strange combination of misogynistic sycophancy that sets her teeth on edge. He knows that Lillian would fire him in an instant if she knew that he had not treated Lena with utmost curtesy.

Lillian has just made her way to stand at the podium, the shuttering and flashes of camera are bright and steady, but when Lena enters with perfect serenity, they go haywire. Her mother turns to look at her, face unsurprised and gives her a charming maternal look that does not reach her eyes. When Lena approaches, giving her affectionate air kisses, griping her arms like a vice, she says through unmoving lips still painted into a smile, “Is this what it takes for you to visit your mother, Lena?”

Lena draws back with the appropriate look of affection on her face, turning her head away from the press to pull her hair over her shoulder and says lowly, also hardly moving her lips, “If you would take a hint mother, you needn’t resort to such melodrama,” she turns to take her mother’s place at the podium.

One of the reporters shouts to Lillian, “Mrs. Luthor, we were under the impression that you were going to demand a national search for the whereabouts of your missing daughter!”

“My daughter is here before your eyes, young man,” gesturing obviously to Lena, with a condescending raise of an eyebrow, “do you make the same effort to verify and vet your sources as you do on your own appearance?” casting a disapproving eye up and down his figure, despite his perfectly appropriate, if more casual attire.

There’s an uneasy chuckle that passes through the group and Lena decides to take charge, “Good afternoon, ladies and gentlemen, thank you for joining me today, and special thanks to my mother for organizing this press conference on my behalf,” her voice sweet but edged like a knife when she directs the last toward her mother, though she’s fairly certain none of the people present save maybe Nia can tell its fake.   

“I have an important and exciting announcement to make…”

 

Lena attempts to leave the conference immediately but Lillian links their arms as they leave and is forced to follow her into a side room, she feels her phone buzz, it’s Nia letting her know she’s waiting by the car.

Once the door closes, her mother rounds on her, “Where did you disappear to this time Lena? You weren’t at that drab apartment and you haven’t been seen at your little reporter friend’s home either,” Lillian perches herself on the edge of a couch, “I’ve allowed your leaving LuthorCorp but you’re still my daughter and I’d like to know what you’re doing,” she pauses a moment, “join me for a late lunch, so we can talk.”

The last takes her by surprise, and she laughs hollowly, “Why should I submit myself to such torture?”

Lillian gives her a reproving and long-suffering look, “And you say I am melodramatic? How many times must we have this conversation? You’re my daughter, and I am your mother, I think I am entitled to some quality time, am I not?”

“Not at all, but I know you, and if I don’t agree you’ll just keep pulling these over-the-top stunts until I relent,” she crosses her arms and tilts her chin down giving Lillian her best unimpressed look, “so I’ll make you a deal mother, I’ll come to lunch with you if you stop having your goons follow me or track me down from now on.”

“Only if you agree to answer your phone or return my calls when I try to contact you, so I needn’t resort to such tactics,” Lillian sends her an equally unimpressed look, leaning back into her seat.

Lena responds with a counteroffer, almost bored, “I’ll answer once every six months.”

“Once a week,” her mother counters back.

“Once a quarter, and I’ll make an effort to respond to your text messages at least once a fortnight, that’s the best I will do,” Lena says with finality, daring her mother to counter again or refuse, raising both her brows in challenge.

Lillian looks at her for a long moment, and with a put-upon air, “Very well, Lena, have it your way, shall we ride together?”

Lena shakes her head, “Send me the details and I’ll meet you there,” and with that she sweeps out of the room.

 

Nia is smiling and beaming when she spots her and Lena is surprised by the excited hard hug she gets, “That was amazing! It seemed like you really had a full thought-out plan going in, I can’t believe you pulled that out of thin air!” Lena loses some of the rigidity in her back that she always gets when she’s around Lillian as Nia hugs her.

She feels a spike of pride at Nia’s words, thanks her, and they get into the car where she explains her deal with her mother.

The restaurant is on the way to Cat Co., “You can take my car to work, and I’ll order a car service to come pick it up from your office,” she suggests easily.

The silence that greets her is unexpected and when she looks over at Nia, she sees shock and alarm painted over the reporter’s face, so she asks what’s wrong.

“I-I-y-you trust me to drive this?” gesturing around her, “this must cost a fortune, I’m not done paying off my student loans, so I definitely couldn’t afford to pay you back if I crash this magnificent machine,” her eyes wide and worried.  

Lena chuckles and tries to reassure, “I absolutely trust you to drive it, besides this car is advanced enough that it will prevent any accidents before you can react, I promise,” and as if she would make Nia pay for the car or any damage, it’s a nice sentiment but Nia’s wellbeing came above that of a car, and she would gladly pay for a dozen vehicles if it meant she was safe.

It takes the whole car ride to convince Nia to take the car and after a brief tutorial and pep talk Lena waves her off with a fond look as Nia goes.

When she gives her name at the front, they seat her right away, but of course her mother has not arrived yet, so she calls Sam while she waits.

Ruby answers, “Aunt Lena! Hi! You’re on speaker, mom is driving,” and she hears a hello from Sam, and before Lena can say anything Ruby says excitedly, “We’re in National City!”

Lena lets out a breath in surprise, “You are?! How unexpected!”

Ruby proceeds to explain that she’s been offered a soccer scholarship to National City University and they are in town to visit campus, though it’s one of two schools she’s torn between accepting, and they thought they would make a weekend of it to visit Lena and the rest of their friends too.

“That’s amazing!” Lena says sincerely and so proud, “Congratulations, I’m so happy for you, your mother must be extremely proud.”

“Absolutely, I have the best and smartest daughter,” Sam agrees, Lena can hear the smile in her voice, but then her voice turns serious, “listen, we were hoping we could meet up for dinner, I tried calling last night so we could plan something, I know it’s last minute, heck this whole trip was last minute. I had a couple big meetings get pushed back unexpectedly and freed up my weekend so Ruby and I thought we could visit campus and you, of course. Though I wonder if you’ll have time, my phone has been blowing up just now with coverage about your new ‘venture’, I gotta say I’m a little sad to be hearing about this from the news, Lena.”

Lena presses her forehead into her hand. She knows Sam isn’t trying to guilt her, and her friend has every right to be a bit upset considering Lena has been avoiding Sam for the better part of the year. She knew that if she had told Sam about everything that was happening at the time, Lex, the falling out with Kara, and her meltdown as a result, her friend would have been by her side and probably insisted on Lena actually dealing with her emotions and feelings about Kara, heck if Lena had allowed Sam to know what was going on things might have turned out very differently overall, maybe for the better.

A surge of guilt hits her when she thinks that, and another when she realizes that she had purposefully kept Sam in the dark because Lena hadn’t wanted to be comforted, she had slid into a dark place that told her she didn’t deserve it, and justified it by telling herself she didn’t want to burden to Sam after the whole Reign business, that she and Ruby deserved to be happy without Lena dragging them into more ‘super’ drama.

“I’m sorry, it’s-Sam there’s a lot that’s been happening,” she can feel her throat tighten, that’s an extreme understatement, today alone has been long, her body is already starting to feel fatigue set in especially after her unplanned melee this morning that’s left her a bit sore, she’ll probably be feeling that tomorrow, she sighs a bit wearily, “and today has been just one unexpected curveball after another, the latest thrown by my mother no less, I hadn’t planned on doing a press conference today at all let alone making that announcement.”

“Oh, Lena, honey, what’s going on?” Sam sounds so concerned, Lena can picture the face she’s making, warm and soft, she suddenly feels the urge to cry, and curses Sam’s innate ability to get to the quick of Lena’s heart even over the phone.

Lena spots her mother from a distance, and finds herself scrambling a little, she throws together a quick plan, “It’s too much to go into now, come by Kara’s later tonight, we’ll talk and we can all have dinner together, she’d love to see you two,” Lena knows that’s true, and hopes Kara won’t be too upset with Lena for inviting them over without running it by her first, she did say Lena could impose all she wanted…

“I’ll let you know when I’m on my way there,” Lillian is drawing closer, “I’m sorry, I’ve got to go, see you later,” and hangs up as soon as she hears Sam’s agreement.

Lena tilts her head up to receive her obligatory air kiss and uses the moments her mother takes to get settled to mentally prepare to deal with Lillian.

They order, Lena remains silent after that and refuses to make an effort in conversation, let Lillian be the one to do the work, she sits back in her chair, arms crossed, watching the other people in the restaurant.

“I was genuinely worried, Lena, you disappeared for days, where were you?” Lillian says evenly.

Lena is a bit surprised by that, there’s no underlying reproach that she can detect, she examines Lillian’s face wondering what her game is, “Not that it’s any of your business but I was out of town, I only just returned this morning, and had I been any later I would have missed your little ploy for attention,” she says with some contempt.

There’s a thread of vexation in her mother’s expression, “It was not a ploy, Lena, your obstinacy in accepting that I only want what’s best for you and our family is becoming tiresome.”

“I agree, it is tiresome, so why not let me live my life free of your,” Lena takes a moment to add some derision to the next word, “affections, and I will leave you and Lex to yours, so long as it doesn’t involve some egomaniacal plots take over the world, as is your son’s wont,” she throws out with some ridicule.

Lena watches her frown at that, and she’s certain something spiteful will come out of her mother’s mouth but she’s rather astounded when Lillian merely purses her lips and says with control, “Lena, I am trying to do better in regard to our relationship, I was hoping you would meet me halfway.”

She is completely and utterly shocked, her mouth literally falls open as she gapes at Lillian, and she scoffs out a laugh, she did not just hear that her mother was trying to ‘do better’ for Lena.

“For heaven’s sake, Lena, close your mouth, you look ridiculous,” Lillian says in that familiar supercilious way of hers, “is it really such a shock? I know you and I have never been particularly close but it’s not too late to change that.”

Lena closes her mouth and tilts her head in bewilderment at her mother, “Yes, it is, and I wonder at your change of heart, oh wait, you’d need one of those to be able to change,” she quips.

“No need to be spiteful, my dear,” Lillian responds, surprisingly mild despite Lena’s insult.

She scrutinizes Lillian, unable to decern what would bring about this desire to connect with Lena, “Are you dying, mother? Is that the reason for your newfound wish to be close to me?” it’s the only thing that makes even an iota of sense to her, maybe Lillian wants Lena’s help in saving her life.

Lillian releases a long-suffering sigh and says, “My birthday is coming up and it has reminded me that I am getting older, the years I have left with you and your brother are few enough and I would like to make the most of them.”

Lena says nothing, keeping her face perfectly blank, she hates that it tugs a little on her heart, despite everything, hates that even when she tries to cut the Luthor’s out she keeps finding hooks attached to her heart.

“I would like for you to attend my birthday dinner party next week,” Lillian says, and Lena is stunned for a second time, “It’s going to be a rather intimate affair, thirty people at most, and I want you to be there.”

“Oh, now I understand!” with dawning clarity, this makes a little more sense to Lena, “You just want to present the image of the loving Luthor matriarch and her two doting children, maybe throw me and Lex in the way of some potential matches to secure an even higher social standing. Who do you have in mind, mother? Politicians? CEOs? Foreign dignitaries?” Lena bares her teeth in a too saccharine smile, then lets it drop, “No, thank you, I would rather eat glass, and I’ve already told you I want nothing more to do with Lex.”

“Your brother will not be attending,” Lillian says grudgingly, and looks rather put out at that, her mother is full of surprises today, “he told me in no uncertain terms that he is much too busy working on a new project to be distracted and forced to mingle with my friends.”

“Ah, so I am second choice as always, you flatter me, mother,” dripping with sarcasm.

Lillian continues with only a mild look of disapproval at her tone, Lena is amazed once more that she’s letting her get away with so much, “I would prefer you both attend,” she says firmly, “and no, I will not be throwing you into an arranged marriage,” Lena has to concentrate very hard on not smiling at the thought that even if Lillian wanted to she couldn’t, her fingers brush over the bracelet at her wrist and feels a rush of warmth at the thought of Kara, “though I have invited an old beau of yours.”

Lena’s stomach drops, and she has to bite the side of her tongue to keep from doing or saying anything rash, she swallows a little thickly, wondering who on Earth her mother is referring to, there’s not that many choices.

“I know you were quite sweet on him, and you parted ways to come here and him to ‘find himself’ in a string of third world countries, but I learned he’s returned to the states and with a new technology, what’s the name of his company?” Lena feels like she’s balanced on the edge of a cliff clamoring for balance, unable to stop the forward momentum of this moment which will send her over, “ah yes, Spheerical Industries.”

Lena nearly heaves on the floor with the wave of nausea that passes through her, but Lillian doesn’t seem to notice and keeps speaking, something to do with his company.

Her heart pounds in her ears and her breathing feels too rough.

Jack is alive?

The man she murdered to save Kara’s life was alive, it takes her a moment to understand how because of her distress, but the only explanation is that in this new timeline he had never died, that perhaps events leading to his death never happened, or she somehow saved his life, but she doesn’t know because she never lived these events.

“…I thought it would be nice for you to have an old friend there, though whether you two decide to pursue something more is of course up to you,” Lillian looks at her expectantly.

But Lena is still reeling and disoriented and the only thought that comes to mind is that she couldn’t possibly become involved with Jack, when Lillian asks why not she replies without filter, “because I’m already engaged,” and then blanches as soon as the words tumble out of her mouth.

She had no intention of ever telling Lillian about that.

Her mother’s surprised speechless expression is one Lena would normally congratulate herself on pulling from Lillian but she’s feeling too many things right now.

Lillian recovers and asks with plain curiosity, “To whom?”

Lena clenches her jaw and tries to get a handle on her emotions so she can speak to her mother without any more slip ups, “It’s none of your business,” she manages.

She’s rewarded with a slight eye roll, “Of course it is, as I keep reminding you, Lena, I am your mother and I would like to know with whom you agreed to enter into marriage with, something I recall you once telling me rather vehemently you would never do,” Lillian’s eyes flick to her left hand, and Lena’s heart skips wondering if she noticed the bracelet and what it could mean.

She lets out an inaudible sigh of relief when all Lillian says is, “I don’t see a ring.”

“We’re keeping it private,” Lena says through slightly clenched teeth.

Lillian gives her an appraising look, raising an eyebrow, “Ashamed of your fiancé, Lena? That does not bode well for your impending nuptials.”

“Absolutely not! It’s quite the opposite,” Lena spits out indignantly, a spike of anger shooting through her chest at the insinuation, and then forces herself to take a breath, she can’t afford to lose her temper right now, and she doesn’t need to explain her feelings about Kara to Lillian.

Her mother’s eyebrows raise in surprise, “I see, well then please bring your fiancé with you to my party, I would love to meet the person who has changed my daughter’s mind on marriage.”

“I’m not going, mother, I’ve already said as much,” Lena huffs out, this woman was so stubborn.

Lillian looks at her for a long-drawn-out moment, and then sighs a little, “Very well, Lena, I’ll make you another deal, you and your fiancé attend my birthday celebration and I won’t ever ask you to attend something like this again,” and then adds rather morbid and dramatically, “not even my funeral.”

Lena seriously considers it, having Lillian get off her back about attending galas and fundraisers would save her considerable stress and a lifetime of headaches, “I couldn’t possibly say yes without discussing it with my fiancée,” she hedges, Lena won’t rope Kara into this without her permission.

“Then I look forward to receiving your answer when I call in a few days for my first quarterly phone call,” Lillian says rather smugly, and all Lena can do is pick at her salad when it arrives and then excuse her herself because she has several people she needs to meet with, in the aftermath of their earlier press conference.

 

It’s quiet.

Kara sits with only the sound of her own breathing and the rush of blood in her ears.

She stares down at the open pages on her lap, shoulders and hands slack, as if all her immense strength has left her.

Kara can hardly believe it.

The words are written clear in Lena’s hand but still she can hardly believe that the woman she is in love with is…irrevocably…in love with her.

She swallows thicky and flips to the beginning of the journal.

The first read through was a whirlwind and she hardly took anything in, hardly processed any of it…

Lena starts on the day Lex sent Kara to the Phantom Zone.

She recounts the first few days almost clinically, stating facts explaining events as if from a distance, as if she can’t process the ramifications of events, and maybe she couldn’t at the time, most likely still reeling from them.

Kara learns about Alex’s refusal to watch her legacy crystals, Lena’s surprise at learning that Kelly didn’t know the ‘Super’ secret, Lena using Myriad to erase Kara’s identity from her mother and Lex’s minds, and anyone associated with them, and the eventual gathering of information so they could save Kara.

It slowly changes to more stream of conscious, Lena talking through her and Brainy’s failures and triumphs when it came to how to find her, Lena’s increasing insomnia the longer they went without progress and starting on the portal to Argo in distraction and anticipation for Kara’s return.

Her eyes burn when Lena writes of all her friends struggling to move forward without Kara, and she can read between the lines that Lena herself was not doing well, the way she wrote left little doubt as to how much guilt she carried, and it twists something in her chest.

Kara’s acute sight can see the tremble in the lines of the words, blots of the occasional tear, and scratches of frustration when an idea didn’t pan out the way they wanted.

She learns of Lena’s fruitless endeavor to testify against Lex, and Kara feels angry along side Lena when he’s exonerated, Lena’s fury and anguish are palpable when she writes about how Lex almost murdered a ward of sick children to get back at Lena, and it leaves Kara crying, and finally when Lena realized enough was enough that she needed to stop engaging with Lex and his twisted games so she could finally be free of his hold over her, is a revelation.

Kara feels her chest swell with pride in Lena’s decision and can read in her subsequent entries how much lighter and more hopeful she seems though her thoughts were ever bent on finding and bringing Kara home.

The last entry is Lena at her most open and vulnerable, it steals Kara’s breath even on a second and third reading.

Lena’s list of wishes leaves her with big vision blurring tears and she reads the words for the hundredth time.

I wish you were here, home and safe.

I wish I could have been a better friend to you.

I wish I could tell you that you were and are the best thing that’s ever happened to me.

I wish I could tell you that you have been my single greatest inspiration to do and be a better person.

But the thing I think I wish the most is…

I wish I wasn’t such an enormously emotionally repressed coward so I could tell you in no uncertain terms and without any expectations of reciprocation, because you deserve to know the truth regardless, that I am, and always have been…

…unequivocally…

…irrevocably…

…in love with you.

Kara can still hardly believe it.

Her head snaps up when she hears the door open.

 

Lena receives Sam’s text that they’re on their way and will be by shortly and feels a jolt of guilt when she realizes she completely forgot to mention that Sam and Ruby were coming over to Kara. Hopefully, Kara wouldn’t be too upset when she explains she was running around town and wrangling people and paperwork together to make sure her words at the press conference weren’t found to be a complete and utter fabrication.

She yawns just as the elevator stops on the correct floor, and rolls her luggage behind her, fishing out her key, breathing out a sigh of relief when she kicks her heels off next to door where she leaves her luggage, and places her purse on the island and shrugging out of her jacket.

Lena startles when she looks up about to call out to Kara and finds her all of a sudden at the other end of the island accompanied by a rush of air.

Kara’s wearing her favorite flannel pajama bottoms and a loose t-shirt, her hair pulled up into a ponytail, it’s one of Lena’s favorite looks on Kara, soft and comfortable, but it’s the expression on her face that makes a spike of apprehension shoot down her spine.  

Her face is slack and blank, but her eyes, Lena gulps, her eyes are probably the most intense she has ever seen them outside of the heat of battle.

Lena feels her heart rate skyrocket, and Kara’s head cocks a little and remembers that the Kryptonian has her powers back and can most certainly hear the pounding in her chest, that does nothing to alleviate her mounting anxiety.

Had something happened?

Sharp blue eyes never leave Lena’s, and she tries to keep her breathing even and not jump to outrageous conclusions about what has Kara acting this way.

Before Lena can open her mouth to speak, Kara steps around the island and takes two deliberate almost predatory steps toward Lena, the intensity in her face has not abated and Lena’s eyes widen, her breath stops altogether, and dread fills her entire body, as Kara lifts a familiar leather-bound journal up to her shoulder, expression never changing, shoulders rounded likes she’s ready to pounce, and keeps stalking toward Lena.

She wasn’t supposed to have that! Where had she found it?

Lena feels her breath come in too sharp and loud and practically jumps out of her skin when Kara asks, “Did you mean it? Do you mean it?”

Kara’s getting closer and without thinking Lena’s stepping backwards, her mind racing, but thoughts never staying long enough for her to make sense of them, all Lena can do is try not trip over her own feet.

She’s startled when her back hits a wall, with nowhere to go.

Kara steps in so close.

They’re both barefoot and Kara only has a few inches in height on Lena but right now it feels like the Kryptonian is towering over her, she can feel Kara’s body heat radiating off of her and short shallow puffs of air from parted lips.

She swallows, nodding slowly, with no other recourse but the simple unvarnished truth falling from her lips.

“Every word.”

Lena whimpers in surprise when Kara’s lips crash into hers, the thump of the journal a distant sound hitting the floor, breath effectively trapped in her chest, Kara’s now free hand sliding up into her hair to tilt Lena’s head in the angle she wants, the other wrapping tight around her waist to pull Lena flush against her.  

It takes her brain a moment to get over her initial surprise, but then she’s pressing herself hard against Kara’s lips, fingers scratching through golden hair pulling the ponytail out of its tie, Kara’s resulting moan hits her straight to her core. Kara pulls back only long enough for Lena to gasp a breath before she dives back in, her tongue demanding entrance.

Kara’s kisses and roaming hands are searing, and Lena can’t get enough both, nor the feel of silky tresses between her fingers and muscular taut shoulders under her hands.

Lena gasps into Kara’s mouth when she feels a hot palm run the length of her side reaching down to grab the back of her knee yanking it around her hip, skirt riding up as Kara presses her against the wall.

Seconds, minutes, hours pass, Lena hardly knows, but Kara’s kisses eventually slow, and she pulls back to rest their foreheads together, both breathing hard.

Good lord.

That was…

They lock eyes.

Kara’s eyes flit back and forth between Lena’s, “We should probably talk,” breathes labored, her expression is a bit muted from its earlier intensity but no less serious, “about a lot of stuff actually but first I just want you to know,” she pauses to swallow, and her voice constricts with emotion, Lena’s not sure what she expects to come out of Kara’s mouth but it isn’t the next words, “that I think you’re the most incredible person I’ve ever known, and I am just so incredibly in love with you, Lena.”

Lena’s chest expands with unexpected happiness, the look she gives Lena makes her heart skip when she realizes it’s not unfamiliar, Kara’s been looking at her like that for a long time, and she almost wants to laugh, because only Kara could kiss her utterly senseless, leaving her hot and wanting, and then turn around and say something so incredibly sweet that it makes her want to weep.

“I love you too,” she breathes, Kara’s smile is gentle and beautiful, Lena feels tears pool in her eyes, and she presses forward to kiss Kara again, though it’s a little difficult at first with their too wide smiles.

This kiss is slower, more heartfelt than desire, and she pours every ounce of repressed emotion she’s ever felt for her best friend into it, every bit of her heart that she kept locked away.

Kara's right, there's so much that still needs to be discussed between them. 

So many things still happening that require their attention.

Saving Zor-el, Lillian's overtures, Kara's anger, what should be done about Lex...

So much...probably more that's she's forgetting...

But right now with Kara pressed against her all the worries slowly fade and all she can think about is the warm comfort Kara brings to the far reaches of her heart and mind. 

And she thinks she's never been as at peace as she is in this moment in the arms of the woman she thought she lost forever. 

Who loves her back! 

It was unaccountable and yet here they were. 

Though with one deft flick of Kara's tongue even her fleeting thoughts vanish to nothing and Lena, perhaps for the first time in her adult life, just let's herself...

Feel happy and...

Loved

 

Chapter Text

Just a reminder to anyone that didn't see the changes. If you are looking for chapter 32 or the latest chapter be sure to go to my Stay With Me fic (click the link below to go to the 'Next work') and subscribe to that one for updates.