Kara’s time in the Phantom Zone has always been labeled into two parts. The Going There and The Leaving. In part, because those two things are the things that she was coherent enough to remember but mostly because she doesn’t like remembering the time in between.
Not liking it, was an understatement. Kelly would probably call it trauma. Yeah. That was the word. Trauma. It was 24 years of traumatic experience but it was easier to just refer to it as The Going There and The Leaving. Simply put, just a part 1 and a part 2.
Kara didn’t even know when The Going There began. All this time she thought, Krypton exploding behind her pod was the beginning of it. But later, when her aunt comes back for her, when an entire fleet comes for her new planet, when her hero dies by the hand of her sister, she will learn: The Going There started the moment her mother thought of using Kara to arrest her aunt. That realization was something she didn’t like. Some days she wishes she’d never come to that realization at all.
The beginning of The Leaving on the other hand was something she was awake to remember. She remembers the rumbling, she remembers the hum of the engines as it powers up, she remembers the pod slowly coming to life and then the whoosh!.
The exhilarating, wondrous woosh! that roared into Kara’s ears. Filling her with hope after sleeping a slumber of despair for so long. Of course, she wouldn’t know that ‘so long’ would translate to 24 years till she arrives on Earth and Kal rips her door open. Of course, the hope wasn’t replaced with the utter feeling of failure and defeat, till Kal flies away from her. Some days she wishes she was never awake for any of it.
There were two parts to Kara’s experience in the Phantom Zone; The Going There and The Leaving.
She’d never expected that there would be a Return.
Loss was something the universe had given Kara at 14 years of age. Others received dreams or new siblings but Kara? The universe handed her loss and then left quickly before answering any of her questions. The universe handed her the burden of an annihilated planet’s legacy, a race of dead people that only she can remember.
It was something she’d learned to live with, had moulded into her every day life, a permanent mark on her soul.
In her hands loss used to be a strange thing.
She used to be a daughter of one of the respectable families of Krypton. A high born. The progeny to Zor-El’s brilliance, the successor of the El’s legacy. She had never known loss, until one day she woke up and nothing was left. At first, she didn't know what to do with it except for crying and screaming and waking the entire house of a family she didn’t belong with, night after night after night. But soon, it became a part of her, became a kindling to a roaring fire.
Nobody had expected the last daughter of Krypton to burn, but when she did, it was brilliant and bold and the world had stood in awe of her flames.
And so, as she watched herself lose her father for the second time. She snatched loss from the universe’s hands before it even had the chance to hand it to her, she snatched it and claimed it for her own. That was where this was going all along wasn’t it?
Another loss, another mark, another kindling.
The only difference this time though, was, she isn’t sure whether she wants to burn brilliant, bright and bold or set the entire universe on fire for what it’s done to her for the second time around.
These were the thoughts that chased each other around in her head as she breathed heavily; sagging against the walls of a cave she’d found shelter in. Aside from misery and agony, caves are also one of the most abundant things in the Phantom Zone. The jagged spikes and hard rocks are slowly becoming home to her now.
No, not home. This isn’t home. Home is-
And then her brain stalled. Home is…
It felt like a headache was ripping her skull. The more she thought about it the more it hurt.
She knows where home is. Home isn’t this place, home is— home is— home is—
It was at the tip of her tongue at the edge of her brain.
She can’t remember. Didn’t she just see home not 30 minutes ago? An hour ago? Two seconds ago? Time doesn’t pass the same way, her brain throws at her and the pain starts anew.
But she refuses to give in. She knows where home is. Home is...is...is
Noonan’s is home! Or at least, it was a part of it??? Kara thinks and thinks and thinks.
And for a moment, Kara could swear that she smells the familiar aroma of coffee beans and sweet sugar in the air but then the thought vanishes just as quickly as it came.
She was grasping at the edges of that little snippet. She tries to picture the logo of the store, tries to recite the branches littered around National City, tries to remember how she had worked there once, tries to remember her order, tries to remember Alex’s order.
Alex!!!! Her brain lights up at the thought.
Alex is home too.
At this point, the pain was unbearable, she was barely breathing. It feels as if the more she’s trying to remember, the more something, someone?? Is blocking her. The chances of it being something seems more likely than it being a someone.
She remembers her father’s words of warning from just days before. Hours before?? Weeks before?
Just before she’s lost him again.
How this place will drive you to the brink of insanity, Kara held her tongue but she wanted to scream that she knew that. She knew what the Phantom Zone did to people. She knew what it had done to all those Fort Rozz escapees, what it had done to Astra, what it had done to her. She was fucking insane for 24 years! 14 year olds weren’t supposed to go through that.
The worst part is, it was her parents who put her there, her mother, her father. The same father she mourned and who not only minutes ago was telling her to give it up.
The same father she’s lost, again.
Pain flares at the back of her head, from her nape slowly snaking its way to behind her eyes. Kara suspects it’s something to do with the cave and the silver glow around the cave’s awning that she’s only just now noticing.
But it was too late now. Too late to get out nor to retreat even further. She has used the last ounce of energy she has in that fight with Nyx and this headache was only making her weaker. Headache, feels too juvenile a word to describe this feeling, this cleaving of her mind from the inside.
Alex, caramel macchiato and sticky buns were the last thoughts in her head before everything turned dark.
She steps out of the portal and the moment her foot touches The Tower, weapons and superpowers alike suddenly poise to strike at her.
Until, Alex whispers, “Kara,” lowers her gun slowly, arms shaking from shock and then she loses track of who crashes unto who first.
Just that she’s home and Alex is sobbing but so was she, and she’s never seen J’onn cry like this before but he cradles her and his sobs rumble out of his chest and into Kara. She can feel it rumbling between their embrace. The three of them stay in that position for what feels like hours until the voices of the others filter through and then next thing she knows M’gann is hugging her.
Brainy lifts her off the ground and it should surprise her that he could do that, but it doesn't. It feels like the most natural thing in the world as Kara laughs and Nia squeals at Brainy to put Kara down so she can hug her too. Nia’s squeals turn into quiet emotional sniffles the minute Kara’s arms wrap around her. And in that moment Kara realizes it isn’t just one sister she lost for a while there, she lost Nia too.
And then, her eyes land to the person in the back of the room. The person who didn’t run at her like the others. Whose heartbeat is now thundering so loud in Kara’s ears, now that her eyes have found her.
She looks as beautiful as ever and Kara feels her heart swell so hard she fears it could burst. For a moment, she thinks she’s survived the Phantom Zone just so Lena Luthor could kill her with one look.
The moment their eyes meet, Lena’s body lurches forward only to stop awkwardly halfway through, leaving her standing there, twiddling her fingers, eyes shining with tears, her whole frame shaking from holding back.
Kara is two steps away from running to her and she was absolutely going to. She realizes Lena is doing the thing she does best.
Kara was about to run to her—
But a shrill ringing breaks through their staredown, Lena breaks away from Kara’s gaze to look at her phone and then she is turning away; phone to her ear.
Later, Kara will think she should’ve run after Lena. She should’ve run after Lena, snatched the phone away from her and wrapped her arms so tight around her and told her how much she loved her, how much she missed her, how hard she fought just to see her again.
If she did, maybe they wouldn’t be here now. They wouldn’t be running inside an abandoned warehouse, trying to find where Lex had hidden Lena.
She wouldn’t be too late.
Maybe, if Kara did things a lot more different, she wouldn’t be here now; clutching Lena’s broken, bloody body to her chest and screaming at the sky.
How dare the universe hand her another loss?
When she opens her eyes, she gasps out Lena’s name. She jerks so suddenly, her head hits a low stalagmite and rattles the ground she’s currently lain on.
It takes her a long time to collect her bearings. She stares long and hard at her hands. It felt so real.
Lena’s blood on her hands. Lena’s pale face getting paler and paler. Lena dying.
She gets approximately two minutes of reprieve. These 120 seconds she uses to breathe in deep, lets herself feel the extent of her fear. The anger seeps deep into her bones but it was nothing compared to the grief in her heart at the thought of losing Lena.
Lena!!! Her brain screams, LENA IS HOME!!! Lena is ho—
And then the moment the thought comes barreling at her, the pain returns. It returns tenfold and Kara doesn’t even try to move.
She knows what’s going to happen next.
Alex finds her unconscious on the ground.
She yells for back-up in her comms.
Dreamer and Brainy and J’onn run to the portal.
J’onn fends off the Phantoms circling Kara long enough for Dreamer to create one of her forcefield tunnels in order to get Kara from the ground and unto the portal entrance unharmed.
These are the things they will tell her once she wakes up.
They will tell her how hard it had been for everyone, how perpetually dim those days without Kara were.
Kara will cry upon hearing all of it. She will cry because she saw her father again and she couldn’t save him, she will cry because why does it always keep happening to her?
What could she have possibly done to the universe that it would give her something this cruel?
She will cry because it’s been so long since she’s heard Alex’s voice and now she is right here, telling Kara that she did nothing wrong, that the universe just sucks. But it’s okay, because the universe can suck all it wants and Alex will always be there through all the sucky parts.
After the teary reunion, Brainy will come running into the room, just as the two of them are untangling from their embrace.
Brainy will then tell them that Sentinel needs to suit up. Brainy will be too emotional to say the words, “It’s Lena- Lena has- Lena’s been-”
“Brainy what is it? What's wrong with Lena?”
M’gann will say it for him.
“Lena has been killed.”
Kara will cry and cry and cry.
You know that painful lump in your throat that makes it hard for you to breathe because you are holding your sobs in?
That was how Kara woke up, with a painful lump in her throat that made her want to throw up. She didn’t even get to see her this time. She just woke up to a world where Lena was killed, and all she could do was cry about it.
And so, she cried. She cried and cried and cried and punched the walls of that cave. She screamed so loud and let the echoes of her screams resonate all around the hollow space.
The hollow space so similar to the chasm inside Kara’s chest.
Her screaming is cut off by a sharp pain shooting from her temple and immediately spreading. This time, the spread was much faster than the last. It knocks the breath out of Kara, steals the voice out of her shout and makes her submit.
She curls into herself. She struggles to fight off the call of slumber. Her eyes close against her wishes.
There are no portals this time.
All Kara remembers is that she touched a glowing stone on the murky soil west of her cave and then the next moment she is standing in The Tower.
Something was wrong.
Kara knew something was wrong, because the moment she was zapped in. Alex didn’t come running to her. Nobody did. They just stared at her. All of them wearing black.
“I’m back, I-I’m home.”
It alarms her that she felt the need to verbally say it. J’onn comes up to her, “Kara,” he says and he swallows, puts a hand on her shoulder.
J’onn looks like he’s going to tell her something. And that this something isn’t easy for J’onn to say. Alex takes one look at J’onn, realizes what J’onn was going to do and walks out.
“Wait— Alex! What- Where are you— J’onn what is happening?”
She wishes she never asked.
She wakes up again. This time she doesn’t bother to get up, doesn’t try to scream, doesn’t try to cry.
She just lays there.
The ceiling of the cave is the same shade of grey as of Lena Luthor’s tombstone. Never would she have thought that Lena Luthor and tombstone would be two things she says in the same sentence. It was J’onn who flew her there. In the dream? In the vision?? Kara doesn’t know anymore and frankly, Kara doesn’t care anymore.
Somebody left plumerias at the foot of her grave.
Plumerias, like her mother’s favorite flower. Like—
Like the one in Lena’s office.
Like the one back home.
She lets the dark claim her willingly.
The Tower is destroyed. There are no survivors. Just Kara. Standing there in the ruins of what once used to be their hideout. Behind her the still gaping portal is blowing puffs of cold air from the Phantom Zone.
It’s Alex, this time. A role reversal. Lena breaks the news to her.
“S-she died, Kara. I’m so sorry. I’m so sorry.”
Kara wants to die too.
It’s Lena and Alex.
Kara wants to laugh.
Of course, there would be a version where both Alex and Lena would be taken away from her. There was already a version where nobody survived. Why not this one too, right?
She should’ve known.
Eventually, she comes to one where it’s her who dies.
Isn’t it funny? That the thing she’s wanted—has been begging for—has come to life right in front of her, and Kara realizes, turns out it wasn’t what she wanted after all.
From where she's fallen on the ground she sees Alex bark orders. She hears hysterical screaming. She feels Lena kneel by her side.
Nia is slowly crumbling next to Alex’s side; she’s removed her Dreamer mask to let her tears flow freely.
“Don’t leave us, please, don’t leave us. Fight back, goddamnit, Kara fight back! We just got you back. Please, please, Kara, please. Not yet.”
She feels Lena’s tears fall down on her own cheeks.
She looks beautiful even with tears in her eyes.
Kara wishes she can move her thumb to wipe the tears from Lena’s eyes.
“I found her!”
Nia shoots up from where she was sleeping. Alex runs into the room. Brainy steps aside and lets her punch in the coordinates.
“Where is she?” Lena asks, suddenly materializing out of nowhere, startling Nia, green eyes frantically darting around at the monitor, waiting for the map to appear.
“There!” Nia shouts and points. There’s a little red dot blinking on the screen.
Lena shoves her, fingers flying across the console, zooms in and makes a 3 dimensional version of the landscape appear.
It’s a cave.
Kara’s inside a cave.
“I believe that’s what the Klamarian’s refer to as Caverna Tim-or,” Brainy states upon closer inspection.
They hadn’t noticed Alex behind them already gearing up.
“Then what are you nerds gawking around there for?! Suit up. Come on, let’s go!”
It spurs the whole team into action.
Nia was already in her Dreamer suit. She’s been sleeping in it for 2 nights in a row, now. Refusing to be woken up, just getting up to eat a power bar or to go to the bathroom. It was slowly nagging at Brainy, the way Nia wouldn’t move for extended periods of time until she jerks awake, exhausted and depleted from overusing her powers.
But this time, this time Nia doesn’t feel tired at all. She is pumped. She is hyped. She knows where Kara Danvers Zor-El is and they will bring her home.
The only one not running about the place in a flurry of guns, ammo and armor is Lena.
She is sitting perfectly still, in front of her monitor. She has to stay back, that has been the plan. If they ever find Kara’s coordinates, someone has to stay back and prepare The Tower for their return.
Lena knew it was going to be her. She didn’t have training to fight. She didn’t have any powers. All she knows is to throw a punch and she guesses that wouldn’t be helpful when faced with soul sucking creatures.
So, there she stays; controlling everything with her just a flick of her fingertips.
Besides, all their suits wouldn’t be upgraded if it weren’t for her. It was fine that she had to stay. She’s waited for Kara long enough, what’s a few more minutes of holding down the fort, right?
Lena might not have superpowers but she’s been gifted with enough intelligence to build the Superfriends trackers into the fibers of their suit, even have all of them linked directly to Lena’s supercomputer.
The one she’s had installed in The Tower much to J’onn’s protests. Lena didn’t have a job. She didn’t have responsibilities, she didn’t have to wake up at 7, go to work at 8 and be stuck in stuffy meetings.
She has free time and tonnes of money to rebuild The Tower’s entire tech department.
Brainy almost drooled when Lena pitched the plan to the team.
Lena also brought them Jess.
Or rather, Jess brought herself and nobody was man enough to tell her no. Who says no to a formidable American-Asian woman anyway? After Lena had emailed Jess about the recent developments regarding LuthorCorp. Jess had emailed her back almost instantly, telling her that she’s also just turned in her resignation and before she starts applying for another job, she asks, Ms. Luthor, do you need help with anything else?
Lena was floored with the loyalty that Jess had shown her. Instead of replying to the email, Lena called Jess. Upon answering, Jess expected many things from her boss, an eloquent thank you, a huge last pay, but she never expected to hear Lena Luthor sobbing into the line.
Jess asks if she could visit Lena in her flat.
“Like I mean, right now Ms. Luthor.”
“Lena, please, call me Lena.”
“Okay, Lena. Can I please go to your penthouse? Because, no offense, but you obviously do not sound okay, and I think I can help.”
“I’m actually not at my penthouse as of the moment.”
And that was how Jessica Huang was brought into the fold.
And also, if it weren’t for Jess, Lena thinks the rest of them would be lost.
As much as Lena was the brains of this operation, logically and legally speaking she wasn’t doing well.
The woman wasn’t eating and sleeping for fuck’s sake. For a woman who built a state of the art tech system in under three days, you’d think she’d realize that humans need to be healthy in order to function.
And so, it was Jess who handled Lena like she's done so many times before, handled all finances, handled all the press that all of them were bringing unto themselves. Jess enforced a No Flying Through the Balcony Unless Absolutely Necessary Rule and thus far it has worked.
Nobody was also allowed to use the main entrance. Only J’onn, the owner of the building, was allowed to be seen coming and going.
There were rag reporters at every turn and just one photograph of Dreamer, Sentinel and Guardian all going into the same building, would be a catastrophe. The young woman wanted to tear her hair out when she pointed it out and everyone was like, “Oh, yeah. Yeah, you’re right. Oh my god, yes, that makes sense.” As if the thought had never occurred to any of them before. Although, they were distracted with tracking a missing hero after all. So, Jess lets it go. She just shakes her head and makes sure each one of them has access to the secret entrance Lena designed.
Jess had also taken the time to go into the building opposite them, talked to the tenants and bought their silence. And then at the last minute, Jess thought, Hm, why not buy the whole block's silence?
The last thing these people—this team—needs right now, is a media frenzy.
She’s had enough practice with the youngest Luthor on that front.
Jess was also the one who organized them into shifts, pushed Alex to try to find a job at a local research center or even teach a bunch of self-defense classes. She made Nia go to CatCo on time and actually monitored all her deadlines, told J’onn to go do his private investigation stuff and made Lena eat three meals a day and sleep for about 6 hours every night.
Her and Kelly shepherded the team into a more reasonable routine.
Alex took the longest to warm up to her, though. Until the day Lena and Alex had a fight on whether or not they should tell Eliza.
It was a brutal screaming match.
Alex shouting that Lena has no right telling her what to do when it comes to her own mother. Lena screaming back that Alex has an obligation to tell her mother what really happened to Kara.
They all knew what it was really about, though. It was about Alex still being in denial. It was about Alex’s fear of Eliza labelling her a failure for not protecting her younger sister.
She didn’t want to tell Eliza. Because telling your mother news is one of the best ways to make that news a reality.
It was Jess who offered to find accommodations for Eliza once Alex finally found the courage and called her.
She bought Alex a six-pack of her favorite beer and sat with her till 4 am.
“Just once,” Jess says, “You get to drink this away, just once. And then you talk to Kelly about it, okay? I know we’re not really close, but well, I’m no stranger to family drama.”
Jess was not a stranger to loss too. She knows none of them are in their right minds with Kara gone. Everything happened so fast. And it really didn’t help that on every billboard and every LuthorCorp commercial you’ll hear about how perfectly perfect Lex Luthor is.
Everything happened so fast that Lena didn’t even question when she had known about Kara being Supergirl.
As if a ponytail and glasses would ever fool her, not to mention she’d seen Kara use a bit of superspeed now and again when she thought her best friend’s secretary wasn’t looking.
And so, the moment the Superfriends left for the Phantom Zone to find Kara. Lena Luthor immediately dialed one of her most trusted people in the world.
“Jess, I need you in The Tower, now.”
In twenty minutes, Lena was monitoring the team’s progress a thousand lightyears away, in the other room Eliza and Jess were preparing the med bed and the sunlamps.
It is now, in this moment, that it sinks in to her. This is real. This is real, they’re really bringing Kara back. They’ve found a way to find Kara, built a safe transport system into the Phantom Zone and if things go well, in less than fifteen minutes she will see Kara in the flesh again.
And she can’t help but feel the stirrings of fear begin in the pit of her stomach.
Sure, Kara had said that she trusts her again, but where exactly do they stand?
Does she even have the privilege of Kara’s friendship? Or are they merely allies?
It’s ironic, Lena knows exactly where her place is with the Superfriends, it took a long time and a lot of long talks but Lena now knows without a doubt that she belongs here, but well, now she doesn’t know where she belongs when it comes to Kara.
Kara’s been coaxing her to join them for years and now that Lena has, she’s now uncertain of their friendship with each other.
That’s always been the question with Kara isn’t it?
Are we really friends?
The red dot on the screen is joined by six more others on Lena’s screen.
They’ve arrived. They’ve located Kara. They’re right there with her right now.
Lena’s heart starts to race in her chest as the moment.
She tries not to imagine what Kara looks like once they find her there.
She tries not to imagine all the times she’s had nightmares about her being the one who finds Kara in the Phantom Zone.
Nia has been learning to project her dreams. Lena’s seen glimpses of what that piece of the universe looked like. She didn’t like what she saw, not one bit. She remembers how casually Kara had talked about it.
Whenever Alex asks Nia to project her dreams or asks Brainy to run the simulators, Lena walks out.
She takes it as her cue to leave. Don’t get it wrong it isn’t that Lena is afraid of the Phantom Zone. Oh no, if she could she had long rode a rocket ship there and rescued Kara.
It’s the visual coupled with the feeling of powerlessness along with the thought that Kara is out there, she’s there in that hell in outer space and it’s all Lena’s fault that she can’t stand.
That last one took a long time to shake off, it took a lot more than shaking off actually.
So, Lena leaves when they start to explore more about the Phantom Zone in VR and Nia’s dreams. She gets all of her information about the place, reading atlases from Brainy’s 31st century archives and other alien records, instead.
She has no idea what her friends are seeing there right now, what kind of creatures and all kinds of traps are set up for them. She hopes and prays to whoever it is up there that they bring Kara safe. That none of them gets hurt in the process.
She prays her family returns home to her in one piece.
Lena was brilliant enough to fix their suits with trackers that can remain linked back to her even if they were literally in outer space, but she didn’t have enough time to build a secure communication link.
Which means that the three of them, Eliza, Jess and her are staring at the screen. Watching seven multicolored dots move across the map, while they hear absolutely no news of how the team is doing.
The red one, Kara, remains unmoving, Lena notices, while the other colors circle around her. Lena does not want to think of the implications of that visual.
It either means Kara has been seriously injured and isn’t well enough to fight or Kara is…
She doesn’t dare finish that thought.
No, they will bring Kara home. They’ve got two Martians, a twelfth-level intellect Coluan, a human-Naltorian hybrid and two of the most elite human soldiers to fight for Kara.
They will save her, not to mention all of them are armed with tech made by Lena Luthor. There is no way Kara wouldn’t return home if she knew how hard they’ve been fighting.
Eliza must’ve noticed how tight she’s been gripping the edge of the console, because the older woman puts a hand atop hers.
“They’re going to be fine. We’re going to get them back. Don’t worry.”
Lena gives her a smile.
And then a portal opens in the middle of the room.
A strong woosh! comes out of the portal and immediately the three of them are running to the center of the room.
Inside, Lena sees Nia holding an entire ten yards of force field between where she's standing and the entrance of the portal.
J’onn is zipping around them fast, throwing off and assaulting Phantoms, Brainy is holding the portal open and there, in a dark awning of a cave she sees Kelly shielding Alex and M’gann.
A figure on the ground. Kara.
There was Kara. Kara was right there, lying unconscious on the ground and it’s taking every ounce of Lena’s willpower to not barrel through and carry her back here herself.
What good would she be if those creatures catch her? So, she stays there and she shouts, “Brainy, do you need help getting the portal stable?! I can hook you up to a closer power source if you keep it open long enough till all of you get back here!”
Brainy shouts something back but he is being drowned by the howling wind, so Lena takes it upon herself to do what she told Brainy.
Runs to the console with shaky fingers and with just a series of clicks and codes the portal opens much brighter and glows much more stable.
She hears Brainy shout and she smiles. Until she hears Nia say something that sounds like -can’t keep it up any longer, Alex! Alex! Now!
And then M’gann is heaving Kara unto her shoulders and Alex and Kelly are running for the portal, J’onn covering the four of them, Brainy waiting for Nia.
For a moment, Lena thinks, “This. This is what my life has become. I have alien friends. We are saving a superhero and there is a portal right in front of me right now. This is my life now.”
She shakes that epiphany out of her head
Alex sees her mother and shouts, “Mom, gurney! Gurney, she’s unconscious!”
Jess and Eliza run to fetch the gurney and Lena meets the four of them at the portal’s opening.
God, Kara was so pale, she was so pale being carried like that on M’gann’s back. Her cape is in tatters and her suit is soiled and dirty, there were cuts all around and her face, her wondrous beautiful face was so grimy and so was her hair.
There was nothing else in the world Lena wanted more than to cradle Kara in her arms.
Kara’s consciousness comes to her slowly; piece by piece. A bright light, a buzzing room, the quiet hum of an air-conditioner, and oh, her back is on a mattress, a soft, soft mattress. It makes her want to cry. She’s been sleeping on rocks for so long, she’s forgotten what mattresses feel like.
Her eyes remain closed but she’s lucid enough that she can decipher the buzz into separate voices.
“I cannot believe you didn’t change out of your suit! What did I tell you about hygiene and rest?”
“But, Jess— “
That was weird, was that Nia and Jess? What was Jess doing here?
For a brief window of a second, Kara’s heart drops. She’s in another dream-vision. She’s in—
“Would the two of you keep it down? Go yell at her in the living room.”
That was Alex. Wait— living room what?
“How’s she doing?”
Eliza! Eliza was here!
“Her vitals are fine, but I don’t think she has her powers. I was able to insert her Dextrose without using the red sunlamps.”
“She didn’t have sun there, honey.”
And then the conversation turns quiet and Kara hears Alex let out a quiet sob.
Then it gets muffled and Kara knows Alex is clinging to their mom. She wants to open her eyes now, she realizes.
So, she does.
She opens her eyes and she gets the frontrow view to Eliza and Alex sharing a teary embrace. Alex sitting down both arms wrapped around Eliza's torso, face soaking her mother's blouse.
“Hey, what about me?”
Her voice sounded scratchy and weak even to her own ears.
Alex breaks away from their mother, turns to look at her, gasps and flings herself forward to hug Kara.
Kara lets out a wet laugh, “I missed you, I really, really missed you, Alex.”
“I missed you too, loser.”
And oh, how she's missed this.
Eliza steps in to give her a hug too and Kara sobs in her arms and she lets herself fall apart in the arms of her mom.
Because that’s what Eliza is to her. A mother.
“Don’t you scare me like that, ever again, you hear me?”
“I promise, never again, Mom.”
It doesn’t matter that all of them know it isn’t true. Kara will be in far more dangerous situations again. Kara will risk her life again and again. But that doesn’t matter right now.
What matters is she’s safe and Eliza’s asking her to tell her what she wants to hear, even though they all know better.
She still wants to hear it anyway.
“Good,” Eliza says, squeezes her one last time and then pulls back to brush the hair out of her face, “I’m going to get you some food, you must be hungry.”
When Eliza said that, it was like Kara’s body remembered all of its functions likewise all of its needs, she’s never felt this exhausted and this hungry before.
Eliza sees her eyes light up at the mention of food and chuckles before exiting.
And now, it’s just Alex and her.
Her sister doesn’t look good. She looks older somehow. She looks tired.
Not that Kara can blame her, she understands what it must’ve felt like to Alex to lose her in a split second and not see her again for almost—
Her train of thought stops when she realizes she doesn’t know how long she’s been gone.
“How long have I been out?”
“12 hours. You need more hours under the sunlamps, so don’t even think about—”
“No, Alex,” she cuts her off, sits up on the bed, “I mean— I meant to ask, how long was I gone?”
Alex refuses to meet her eyes, swallows hard.
Kara moves her hand over hers and squeezes.
“It’s okay, I’m here now, we can go through it together,” she says and Alex eyes well up in tears again before letting out a strangled, “3 months, Kara. You’ve been gone for 3 months.”
“Oh, Alex, come here.”
At first, the mention of the time doesn’t even bother her, she was more concerned about Alex. She lets her climb in bed with her, careful not to jostle her IV.
Her sister says she's been dehydrated and she needed a boost. Kara knows that it’s no ordinary Dextrose. Lois must’ve given them some of Kal’s stuff from Argo.
They lay side by side in that cramped bed and Alex catches her up on everything.
And then and only then, does Kara realize she’s missed 3 months of her life.
“How’s Kelly?” she asks, not for her but for Alex because she’s missed the way her sister's eyes light up when she’s talking about the person she loves and besides, Kara doesn’t really want to talk about her side.
And so, Alex tells her that Kelly is now Guardian, and then she tells her—albeit more shyly—that she also has a hero name now.
Kara likes the sound of that.
“It suits you,” she tells her, “You’ve always watched over me.”
“I love you.”
“I love you too.”
Eliza finds them like that, feeds Kara soup and she's taken in approximately 20 swallows before she passes out again.
The next time Kara wakes, everybody is there.
Brainy bought her 3 dozens of donuts, Nia brought her flowers, Kelly bought her potstickers.
All of those made her cry, the colors of the flowers were so vibrant, she’s missed seeing colors. The Phantom Zone was all black and gray and sad. Nia almost pulled away in fear of doing something wrong that might’ve upset Kara when she started sobbing at the sight of roses. Kara just gave her a big ole bear hug and a wet kiss on the cheek.
But, there was one person though, one person that she hasn’t seen around and to be honest? She’s been too scared to ask about.
She still hasn't told Alex about the visions. How can she explain her fear of seeing Lena if Alex doesn’t know about the visions? Her sister would start asking questions soon, though.
Why hasn't she talked to Lena yet? Why she hasn't asked? Why was she so scared of—
And then, as she was just inhaling her third box of potstickers, mind going over how to talk to Alex and Kelly is snorting over whatever it is that Brainy said, Kara’s world stops.
Her supersenses—it seems—are back and the first thing it chooses to focus on is a familiar heartbeat.
Her head whips to the door and there, Lena Luthor, her best friend—the most beautiful soul Kara’s ever seen—is standing there.
She’s fiddling with her thumbs and it reminds Kara so much of the first time she’s fallen victim to those horror show visions.
Fear grips her and refuses to let her go.
She knows this. She’s seen this sight way too many times.
Lena takes a step forward, then pulls back, holds herself back and then—
Her phone rings.
Kara shoots out of her bed, in the next instant she is right in front of Lena.
Distantly, she hears Nia shriek and Kelly shout, “Kara, oh my god!”
It doesn’t even register to her that she’s used superspeed that her superspeed is back.
All she feels is that she knows who’s on the other side of the line and she’s got to stop Lena from taking the call and she really, really, really just wants to hug her.
Lena’s eyes are wide when she realizes the quick woosh she’s heard is Kara.
“I’m sorry, I didn’t mean to startle you,” she is quick to amend, “I just- I-” and then more eloquently, “Can we please talk?”
“I—” Lena hesitates, looks down at her phone, “I- I have to take a call.”
“No. Please, no don’t take the call, please trust me?”
“Kara, what are you talking about?”
Lena’s brows are furrowed in confusion now.
“Please,” she pleads, “Trust me, give the phone to Brainy, let him check it for you.”
“Kara, what—” she stops herself but then Lena takes a deep breath, looks straight into her eyes and says, “Okay, okay.” and then calls, “Brainy? Could you come here for a second?”
She lets out a sigh of relief and tension leaves her body and that’s when she realizes the cold tile of the floor beneath her feet and looks down to find that she’s barefoot.
Lena hands Brainy her phone and Nia hands Kara a pair of familiar fuzzy slippers. Alex must’ve made a run to her apartment, this morning.
“So,” Lena says, Kara can tell she’s nervous.
“You said you wanted to talk?”
“Yes,” Kara breathes out, “But first, can I hug you?”
This, Kara thinks, as Lena’s arms wrap around her and her shampoo invades her sense of smell and her warmth seeps into Kara’s body...
This is home.
Lena led her through the ‘living room’ and out to the balcony.
“I’m sorry I’m confused, living room?”
Lena chuckles and god, Kara’s missed that sound. Out of all the sounds on Earth, it was Lena’s laugh, Lena’s words, Lena’s voice she’s missed so much.
“Well, uhm everybody started camping out, there two weeks after you’ve…”
Lena's smile falters a bit but then she braves on through; omitting the words the both of them already knew, “And then Nia just started calling it living room, I mean, I guess it does look like a living room more than a heroes’ lair, now.”
And then Kara takes a good look around and Lena’s right, it does look more of a messy living room than a heroes’ lair.
There was a tangle of chargers on the cushions besides Nia’s laptop and Alex’s leather jacket draped over a couch, a couple of mugs sat on the coffee table. There were other knick-knacks too littered around, a Rubik’s cube here, a stress ball there, a couple of discarded pens and a lot of scratch papers filled with gadget designs.
She knows who to credit with those.
She’s missed so much. It hits her then She’s missed how all of this happened. How everyone had grown comfortable enough in The Tower that everyone considers it their second home.
Lena must’ve seen the way Kara’s eyes were roaming the place. Because she places a hand on Kara’s arm and the touch grounds her.
“Hey,” Lena says, “It’s your home too.”
She doesn’t know how to feel about that, but the way Lena says it makes Kara aware that Lena considers this place her home too.
Lena feels part of the team. Lena’s at home here, with her people, with her team.
The thought fills her with so much happiness but then—
If Lena became family while she was gone, what did Lena think of her now, then?
They stay quiet for a moment, which is driving Kara crazy, because she dragged Lena out here and now, she doesn’t know what to say.
“Kara,” Lena says the same time Kara says, “Lena,”
She smiles shyly at Kara and god, that smile. Kara wants to kiss that smile.
Even though Lena’s caught her staring at her lips.
“Okay, uhm I’ll go first,” Kara decides, averts her gaze and Lena gives her a small nod.
“Look, I’ll be honest, I- I don’t know how to do this and frankly, I’m not sure where I stand in your life anymore,” she admits and that seems to get Lena’s attention which just makes Kara’s palm get sweaty.
“There you are!” Alex shouts at the two of them and whatever was about to happen, whatever Kara has to say becomes completely eclipsed by the next words Alex says.
“Lex is back. We have to hide Lena.”
“What?” Lena retorts back, loudly, “What do you mean hide?”
“Your phone, you gave it to Brainy right?”
Lena nods slowly at Alex, then looks at Kara and holds her gaze as if to say something.
“We have reason to believe that he’s targeting an attack mainly for you,” Alex says and Lena isn’t really surprised.
The whole team is gathered now and Brainy is pulling up the details on how Lex had planted a bomb in her penthouse.
“Wait, you gave your phone to Brainy. How did you even know something was up?”
It was Kelly who asks and Lena realizes that it really wasn’t her it was—
Kara speaks up for the first time since they’ve been gathered here and Lena somehow finds herself wanting to close in on Kara’s space.
“Lena didn’t know. I did,” Kara tells everyone and Alex frowns for a minute, trying to comprehend.
She sees Kara tense up at the question and this time she lets herself be pulled into the gravity of Kara. She takes the three step gap between and sidles up to her.
Kara seems to notice their close proximity and proceeds, “I uhm— I had these…”
Kara’s struggling to find the word, “Visions, I guess you can call them that, when I was uh- when I was stuck in this cave in the Phantom Zone. It was— they were very, very awful dreams. And in each and every one of them I lose somebody I love. But—”
She stops again and the pause seems to kill Alex but Lena’s attention is all on Kara, Kara’s staring at her like she’s trying to tell her something, Lena reaches over and squeezes her hand.
It works. The gesture gives Kara the push she needs.
“But mostly, they were about Lena.”
A tear falls from Kara’s face and Lena aches to wipe it away.
“Cavena Tim-or,” Brainy interrupts, “In Latin, timor stands for fear. You were stuck in the cave of fears, Kara.”
“But didn’t you say it was Klamarians' who named the place?”
“Yes, well, you’d be surprised at who was present during humanity’s past civilizations.”
After that, Alex quickly asks the question she’s been dying to ask since Kara told them about her experience two seconds ago.
“What did you see?”
“In one of them, the first one actually, I came home. I came back here, though a portal. Lena’s in the back of the room. She steps out to answer a call, but she never comes back,” Kara chokes up and this time, Lena presses up against her and wraps an arm around Kara.
“I’m here,” she says quietly.
“She never comes back because Lex abducts her and then kills her. And every time I fall asleep in that cave, it was that. Again and again and again. Lena dies again and again. And I lose her each and every time. I- I lose you each and every time.”
Before anybody else can speak up after Kara’s little revelation.
Lena tugs at her, makes her look at her. Lena’s wearing heels, Kara’s wearing fuzzy slippers, it allows Lena to put a hand on Kara’s cheek and finally wipe away her tears.
“I am right here. I am not going anywhere, you will never lose me. You always have me, Kara. You’ll always have me.”
Lex planting a bomb was such a fucking insult. It’s infuriating. But Lena wasn’t mad that he wanted her to die but because that was the lamest attempt ever. It was an insult to Lena’s intelligence.
She knows her brother. He wouldn’t settle for something as pedestrian as this.
And so, Lena does something she hasn’t done in a long time.
She calls her mother.
“Your favorite child is attempting sororicide again.”
“Yes, I’m aware. At least tell me you’re clever enough to have run into a discreet location?
“I don’t run, Mother.”
“Hm. For this one I advise you do.”
“What is he planning?”
“Well, that’s a surprise, I thought you already knew. Given the fact that you weren’t running.”
“I have an inkling.”
“I’m telling you now, Lena. You should run.”
“Why would I?”
“Supergirl’s back, Lena. Think about it.”
How the fuck did Lillian knew they got Kara back?
It turns out Lex's grand plan was to make the Girl of Steel choose.
The city or Lena Luthor.
It took them a while to figure out how Lex knew Kara was home.
Because of course, it’s always the things right on your nose that you don't see.
Remember the story about Jess making the occupants around the whole block sign NDA’s and buying their silence?
Apparently, Lex Luthor bought them at a much higher price and made them talk. Money makes the world go round, indeed. Or in this case, makes the world explode.
He planted moles and surveillance cameras all round the area and when the team got Kara back, somebody made the call to Lex Luthor.
He was staging a series of explosions using all of the National City’s residential areas. If there are victims, there would be a need for a saviour. And who would be a better saviour than Lex Luthor?
The explosives were all planted throughout a group of small-income businesses that can be found in most residential areas. A salon, a bakery, a dentist clinic, you name it.
Lex bought out these properties one by one under a pseudonym. Goddamn pretentious bastard. And then had his goons plant the bombs.
And the most irritating thing is, they weren’t the simple kind of bomb. Cut the red, save everybody kind of bomb. No, this one was a high-tech, highly volatile kind of bomb. Lena would soon discover that the bomb was one of Lex’s designs.
A compact, almost the size of a notebook, a plastic rectangular thing that nobody would notice. If you left it in the dentist's office, they’d just assume somebody has left a power bank in their hurry. But as soon as one goes near it—
Lex succeeds in taking Lena.
The plan was to get to a safe house before anything happens. Make use of the transmatter portals because Kara says she doesn’t trust any of them driving Lena and she was still too weak to fly her anywhere.
Lex abducts her in the middle of transporting. Her entire being felt like they were turned upside down during that. He hacked her coordinates and grabbed her in the middle of the process. Her brother defied Laws of Physics just to get to her.
“You’re forgetting, I was the one who made those watches.”
She is gagged and cuffed, not the police kind of cuffs but the DEO kind of cuffs, the heavy biometric access ones.
She can only imagine Kara’s horrified face when Lena fails to turn up at the other side of the portal.
Lex drops the bomb on the floor, 5 steps away from her and makes his mandatory villain speech. Lena tuned out about halfway through.
Every hour that the Girl of Steel fails to show up for Lena and saves another neighborhood instead, the bomb gets closer and closer to Lena.
Don’t save me, Kara. Save the lives of others. Don’t save me.
The thing about using tech for bombs is that Brainy will most likely have a solution on how to solve it, fast.
"We encountered a similar problem back when I was part of the Legion."
"Well, you know what to do then?"
It’s Alex who saves her and...Lillian.
“Only you?” Lena jokes breathing heavily, as Alex removes her cuffs and Lex is down on the floor.
“Where’s the rest of the cavalry?” she says, standing up from the monobloc chair. Alex in all her Sentinel glory, waving a device that Lena suspects is for detonating the bomb.
“Actually…” Alex trails off, gestures somewhere to the entrance.
And like some well-timed cue, Lillian Luthor rounds the corner.
Her mother was wearing a long black coat and heels, hair flowing, half in an updo. She looked as she always looked, an expensive calculating cold bitch.
“Lena,” she coos, gracefully kisses Lena on the cheek as if she hadn’t just sidestepped her son who was lying on the floor unconscious with a broken nose, as if Lena wasn’t just held hostage fearing for her life and for countless others, as if half of National City almost didn’t blow up.
Just a typical Tuesday for the Luthors.
Alex was too busy detonating the bomb on the ground to explain what the hell Lillian was doing here.
Her mother leans in closer, Lena feels the cold metal of a gun being thrust in her hands, she whispers, “I told him not to harm you.”
And in that moment in time, Lena realizes what this is. Her mother didn’t come for her because she cared if Lena lived or not. This was Lilian’s cheap shot at redemption. Lex had obviously failed her. But Lena? Lena might just be her saving grace.
Lillian must’ve thought if she played her cards right, Lena would pull her up from the depth of her sins. But no more, Lena knows better now. She isn’t the same woman who Lillian Luthor can manipulate into her traps.
Lena knows better now.
The sun is harsh on her face as Alex, her and Lillian make their way out of the warehouse.
Lex was being taken care of by a SWAT team. Old agents of the DEO that remained loyal to Alex Danvers and just like her had a hunch that Lex Luthor was bad news.
They pile up inside a nondescript van.
Alex’s first words to her as she shuts the vehicle doors close and the van lurches, are, “‘You’ll always have me?'” she mocks, “I mean Christ, Luthor, I had a hunch that you were gay for my sister but I didn’t know you were that ‘gay’.”
Alex rolls her eyes, makes air quotations around the word ‘gay’. Lena snorts. Lilian looks like she was going to throw up.
On the ride back, Alex tells her that Lillian stepped forward saying she knew where Lena was, snuck into The Tower, which J’onn or any of the Superfriends didn’t appreciate.
“Your security system is predictable, Lena. I’m your mother not to mention I’m a Luthor.”
Lena pushed down the urge to punch her in the face.
“Kara was this close...” Alex holds her index finger and her thumb in a pinch. “-to heat visioning her.”
Of course, it would be Lillian Luthor who would know where Lena would be taken by Lex.
Apparently, the others were scattered around National City helping to evacuate residents.
They all know Brainy could undo all of Lex’s bombs and avoid any casualties, but still, better safe than sorry.
It was only when they are already stepping inside the Tower’s elevators that it occurs to Lena that she still doesn't know where Kara is.
“She solar flared looking all over National City for you,” Alex tells her as they walk into the medbay and she sees Kara’s sleeping form under the glow of the sunlamps.
Alex excuses herself after changing out of her suit, muttering “Idiots, goddamn idiots I swear to God-” under her breath and Lena pretends she doesn't hear.
Flying around National City all night long exerting her supersenses fresh from a 3 month stay in a sunless hell and after only 12 hours under sunlamps, resulted in this; Kara unconscious yet again, powerless and weak.
Lena pulls up a chair next to Kara's bed. Grabs her right hand and puts it against her cheek, her palm warm against Lena's skin and there, with only Kara and the hum of the sunlamps, Lena cries. The events of the last few months finally catching up to her.
She falls apart, clutching Kara's hand tightly like an anchor.
Kara wakes up exhausted and parched. She blinks her eyes open to bright yellow lights.
She groans, rubs her eyes trying to sit up. The moment she sits up she realizes she isn’t alone.
Lena was here, sleeping on folded arms on the side of her med bed.
That does not look like a comfortable position.
“Lena,” she tries, nudging her gently on the shoulder.
“Hey, baby, wake up.”
Lena rouses, hums a confused, “Mm?” and slowly opens her eyes. Kara is shocked to see Lena’s emerald eyes have turned into bloodshot, tired ones.
“Were you crying?” Kara whispers, shuffling on the bed to get close enough to cup Lena’s face.
Lena doesn’t answer, just lets her head be tilted, Kara’s thumb softly rubbing at her cheek, concerned blue eyes burning into her. Kara looks like she’s going to ask once again but Lena cuts her off, half-afraid that if she doesn’t do it now, she will never do it.
“Kara, I love you.”
There. She did it. It’s done. She's said it. She can't take it back.
Immediately, Kara’s thumb stills and her eyes widen.
“And I’m so tired of this, I’m so tired of you and me getting separated. With you not knowing how much I love you. How much it hurts every time you’re away from me. I’m so tired of not being with you, Kara.”
Her voice is heavy with emotion; exhaustion and overwhelming love bleeding into each other. She stares at Kara who’s still frozen, tears slowly falling, making her eyes shine like sapphire.
She feels Kara resume the movement of her thumb and only then does Lena realize she’s crying as well.
“I have you, right here, right now, but for how long? For how long? Because I know, I fucking know, Kara, this life. Your life. Our life. One way or another some disaster is going to get us again and I don’t want that to happen without me having told you how I feel. So, here I am,” she breathes out, “Here I am, telling you how I feel.” Lena puts a hand to Kara’s hand and cradles it, leans in to the touch, kisses her palm.
“I love you and I can’t hide it anymore. I don’t want to hide it anymore. I love you.”
“Lena,” Kara finally replies, breathless and emotional, “You saved me, do you know that? You’re all I’ve dreamt about the whole time I was away. You're the thing that's kept me alive. My home is you, has been you, for some time now and I didn’t even have the chance to tell you.”
Lena breaks when she hears this, as her mind takes her back to the past three months of missing Kara, of feeling so fucking lonely, of feeling so fucking scared.
“I love you, Rao, I love you so much. I can’t not love you. You’re everything, Lena. You’re my home.”
Kara has moved so close to her that she’s able to press their foreheads together as she murmurs, “I love you,” again and again and again.
“I’m tired of all of this too. I just want to love you, Lena.”
These are the words Kara utters before she presses their lips together.
“Hm?” Lena hums, distracted. It was a good day today. She woke up to Lena making pancakes in her kitchen, wearing nothing but Kara’s old yellow hoodie. The sight almost made her turn to goo.
It was her third day back after spending so long confined to The Tower’s bed under the sun lamps. She was sure it would be longer if Alex had her way.
Tomorrow, Lena will be arranging her affairs in taking L-Corp back. They both know she has a long way to go. Kara’s not worried though, if Lena did it once, she can do it again and just like before Kara will be with her every step of the way.
Now, they’re just lounging around lazily in Kara’s apartment. Lena curled up on her couch with a book and Kara on the floor writing on her laptop.
She came back to CatCo last Monday and now she’s trying to come up with a good enough email to send to Cat Grant and ask her for a favor. She loves Nia but Rao, did she really have to say Cat Grant to Andrea?
“Why was Jess yelling at Nia last week? I woke up to Jess’s voice, actually. And more importantly, Jess knows???!”
“Oh, darling, Jess has always known.”
Kara stops typing and turns around to prop herself up on the couch.
“What? I’m sorry what?” she blurts out, incredulous. Lena puts her book down and looks at her.
“Apparently, you haven’t been very subtle.”
“Wha- No! I can be sneaky! I’m sneaky!”
Lena snorts at her protests.
“Sure you are,” she purrs and if Kara wasn’t writing an urgent email, that voice would’ve made her destroy the couch
“—and uh Jess was yelling at Nia for not following Tower rules.”
“W-we have rules?” she says, Kara shakes off the straying thoughts out of her mind and focuses back on what Lena is saying. She hauls herself off the floor and unto the couch, Lena making room, lifting her legs and then putting it back down on Kara’s lap once she’s comfortably seated.
Kara’s hands start trailing up and down Lena’s bare legs on her lap.
“Will you tell me? I don’t want Jess to yell at me.”
Lena flashes a smile at that and Kara blushes adorably.
“Okay, okay. I’ll tell you, come here,” she answers and makes grabby hands at Kara. Rao, it’s a miracle Kara hasn’t died from the sheer cuteness that is Lena Luthor.
Kara shifts positions and fits herself horizontally, draping half of herself on Lena and Kara listens to the 5 cardinal rules of Jessica Huang. It mostly just says all of them should eat, sleep and balance superhero work and real work.
She wants to ask if somebody is paying Jess, but then realizes Lena Luthor is next to her and she would never let somebody like Jess work for free.
The thought of how utterly good and compassionate Lena is, makes her smile.
“Lena?” Kara mutters, nosing at Lena’s neck.
“Have I ever told you I love you?”
Lena laughs, “Once or twice.”
“Well, that wouldn’t do. From now on, it’s my mission to tell you I love you till I’ve said it a billion times,” Kara declares.
“Mm-hm. And even a billion doesn’t even feel like enough.”
“You’ll always be enough for me, Kara,” Lena says, looking down to her and kissing her temple, “You’re more than enough for me.”
“I love you, Lena.”
“I love you too.”
There are two parts to Kara Danvers' story The Searching and The Coming Home.
She never even knew she was searching for something, someone, till she found Lena, till she found somebody to come home to.