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As The World Caves In

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Lena watched in horror as Kara tried to perform CPR on William’s lifeless body, while Alex and Kelly searched the Tower for Esme. The deep pit of fear and guilt and shame soaked through her skin and deep into her bones as she understood exactly what had taken place here.

 

Lex. It was always Lex. She had known two years ago that no one would be safe with him in the world, and she had done what was necessary to protect her friends and loved ones, but somehow, somehow Lex had cheated death again and here he was, fulfilling all of her worst fears. And all because she hadn’t had the courage -- hadn’t been strong enough -- to do what needed to be done again, even after he had blown up a children’s hospital. 

 

She should have listened to Brainy. They should have taken him apart limb from limb and scattered the pieces across the galaxy. There was no honour in dying at the hands of a madman. There was no nobility in sparing the life of someone who had no qualms about taking someone else’s.

 

If she had only had the courage, the ability, to take his life without losing herself, William wouldn’t be dead and Esme would be safe. This was her fault. His blood was on her hands. And god forbid if anything should happen to Esme. Alex had been ready to blow her to smithereens for fighting with Kara, she’d probably strangle her to death if anything happened to Esme. Lex was her responsibility. He was her brother, and it was up to her to fix this. 

 

Walking back to her lab, she dialed his number on Zoom and waited for him to answer.

 

“Lena! To what do I owe the pleasure?” He looked pleased with himself, happy with the suffering he had inflicted on her family.

 

“You murderous piece of shit,” she growled, her voice trembling in equal parts rage and fear. “Where’s Esme?”

 

“Temper, temper,” he tutted, shaking a finger at the camera. “The littlest Danvers is safe. For now.”

 

“If you lay a finger on her --”

 

“Relax sis, she has something I want and once I have it, you can have her back! Well, in exchange for the rest of the totems, of course.”

 

Lena paled. The rest of the totems. Of course. Esme was the love totem and also a powerful bargaining chip. There was no way they’d come out of this without giving up the rest of the totems. Kara would never let any harm come to Esme, and as her parents, Alex and Kelly would be willing to sacrifice anything to get her back. It was the perfect plan. Unless…

 

“What if I gave you something else in exchange for her?”

 

Lex sneered. “What could you possibly have that I would want more than the totems?”

 

Lena took a deep breath. 

 

“Me.”

 

Lex retained his smug expression, but she could see in his posture and in his eyes that he was listening intently. 

 

“And why would I want you?” 

 

Lena smirked. “Because I’m the one thing you’ve never been able to control. The one variable that has, time and again, thwarted your plans. I’m a wild card. And I’m the only one on this team who knows how you think and can anticipate your moves. Take me out of the equation...and the board is clear.”

 

Lex crossed his legs, looking off into the distance, and Lena knew she had him.

 

“So, what’s your offer exactly,” he asked, looking at her suspiciously.

 

“Simple,” she replied, crossing her arms. “I meet you somewhere. You bring Esme. I help you get the love totem out of her. She goes home. I come with you, and I’m yours to deal with as you see fit.”

 

She watched anxiously as Lex thought it over, spinning his pinky ring on his finger. She knew it was a tempting offer to him. For all his megalomania and dreams of ruling the world, he had always been just a little too obsessed with her. Nothing irked him quite like when she defied him. Of course, that usually just enraged him, and when they were younger she had suffered horrible abuse at his hands, but they were older now. Now, his obsession with her sat heavily in his mind, and she was counting on it to scratch and gnaw at him until he gave in.

 

“Fine,” he said curtly. “Meet me in the Fortress of Solitude in one hour.” 

 

He hung up the call and Lena nearly collapsed under the weight of her pent up anxiety. She could do this. She could get Esme back. Yes, Lex would have a totem, and he would have her, but Kara and the rest of the team had the rest of the totems, and would surely find the Destiny totem soon. She had faith that they could stop the two of them without her. 

 

At that moment, Kara came into her lab, her hands shaking and covered in blood, and Lena rushed forward, pulling her over to the sink.

 

“Are you alright?” She asked quietly, grabbing a scrub brush and quickly scouring the blood off of Kara’s hands. 

 

“He’s dead,” Kara croaked, staring down at her crimson stained fingers. “William’s dead.”

 

“I’m sorry, love,” she replied softly, adding more soap to the scrub brush and scrubbing harder.

 

“It was Lex,” Kara said, swallowing harshly, her tone absorbing some of that bite. 

 

Lena stopped scrubbing and looked down at the pink dyed water flowing off of the blonde’s hands, steadily avoiding her gaze.

 

“I know,” she replied in a whisper, “I’m so sorry.”

 

“He took Esme.”

 

“I know.”

 

“We have to get her back.”

 

“We will.”

 

Kara opened and closed her fists, staring into the metal sink, her elbows bent and resting on the sill. 

 

“I hate him,” she whispered, tears falling to mix with the water in the sink. “I wish he was dead. I -- I know I’m not supposed to want that -- I know I’m supposed to be better than him, but I just -- I really wish the Monitor hadn’t brought him back. It wasn’t worth it.”

 

“I agree,” Lena said quietly, tentatively resting a hand on her back. “I’m going to fix this, Kara.”

 

“How?” Kara asked, gripping the edge of the sink as she pushed herself up. Lena heard it groan under her weight. “You can’t bring William back. You can’t kill Lex again.”

 

“No, but I--”

 

“This isn’t your fault, Lena,” Kara cried, darting forward to cup her face in her hands. Lena had to try not to flinch away at the suddenness of it. “You don’t have to keep paying for his crimes. He’s your brother, but it doesn’t mean you carry his faults. The two of you are separate people. You have to stop feeling guilty for what he does.”

 

Lena stared up into Kara’s tearfilled cerulean eyes full of wild fear and desperation and nodded. 

 

“Let it go,” Kara breathed, staring into her eyes with a burning intensity.

 

Lena nodded again, but even as she did, she knew it was a lie. 

 

Kara nodded in response and dropped her hands from Lena’s face. 

 

“I’m gonna gather the team so we can figure out what to do -- where to start -- with Esme. You coming?”

 

Lena shook her head. “I’ll catch up. I’ve -- I have an idea but it -- I need to look into it.”

 

Kara nodded and turned to leave and Lena knew somewhere deep in her bones that this was the last time she was going to see her.

 

“Kara,” she said quickly, walking quickly over to the blonde. Kara turned to look at her inquisitively and Lena wrapped her arms tightly around her broad muscular back, pressing her face into the sunshine smell of her neck. She inhaled deeply and sighed. 

 

“I’m sorry,” she whispered, her brow furrowing as she tried to commit every smell, every touch, every sound to memory. “I love you, Kara.”

 

There. At least she had said it once, even if Kara didn’t know exactly how she meant it, nor how much she meant it. She stepped out of Kara’s arms and saw the blonde was looking at her in curious surprise. 

 

“I -- I love you too, Lena,” she said with her head tilted to the side. Lena felt her heart clench and she nodded, forcing herself to turn her back to the hero so she wouldn’t see her tears fall. She heard the doors whoosh open as Kara left and then she wiped her tears, pressed a button on her watch, opened up a portal, and disappeared through it.

 


 

Her first thought when she stepped into the fortress was that she should have worn a coat. Her tits were freezing in this low cut dress. Her second thought was that fuck me heels on ice was a terrible idea. She skittered over the icy floor to the command center, disabling the Luthor protocol so that Lex would be able to portal in, and upping security around the totems stored in the armoury. Lex wouldn’t be able to breach their containment units and Kara had placed a sheet of dwarf star on top of them, so no one but her would be able to lift it.

 

She had just finished beefing up the security when a purple glow appeared in her peripheral vision and Lex stepped through with Esme.

 

“Auntie Lena!” Esme yelled, yanking her hand away from Lex and dashing across the frosted floor, nearly tackling her to the ground as she crashed into Lena’s thighs. “Are mommy and mama here? Is Auntie Kara here?”

 

Lena smiled down at her and stroked her hair. She had loved being Auntie Lena to this sweet little girl, even if it had only been for a short while.

 

“No, sweetheart, they’re not here, but you’ll see them very soon, ok? I promise.”

 

Esme cheered and Lena smiled brighter before pushing the little one behind her as Lex approached. 

 

“Hello, Auntie Lena,” he sneered, hands in his pockets, “don’t you look lovely this evening.”

 

He gestured to Esme, who was peering out at him from behind Lena’s legs.

 

“I kept my end of the deal,” he continued with a wry little grin. “Your turn.”

 

Lena nodded and turned back to Esme, crouching down as best she could in her tight dress.

 

“Esme sweetie, I need to do something, but I promise it’s not going to hurt, okay?”

 

Esme nodded and Lena gave her a reassuring smile before taking her little hands in her own and closing her eyes.

 

“Cgyrzyx,” she whispered and she suddenly felt a gust of wind and a loud faraway voice roaring inside her head.

 

“Face the moment when you shied away from true love.”

 

Suddenly she was transported back to a bright, homey room full of her favourite people, and she was standing in the doorway holding a bottle of wine as they cheered for her arrival. This was the moment. Not only had she hid her pain and her anger, but she had denied herself the love that they all had to give her. 

 

“Hi guys,” she said quietly, walking further into the room and setting the wine down.

 

“J’onn’s making us split up the normal teams,” Kara said.

 

“Hey, my house, my rules,” J’onn laughed.

 

“But uh, you’re with me right?” Kara asked, with an endearing little smirk.

 

“Always,” she replied with a warm smile as she sat down next to her on the couch, but this time she found she actually meant it. “I love being your teammate.”

 

Kara grinned brightly, leaning over and hugging her tight, the scent of stardust and sunshine mixing with her own expensive perfume. “I love being yours, too.”

 

A frown appeared on Kara’s face and she stopped, pulling back before leaning back in to whisper, “Hey, can you spare some time tomorrow? I need to talk to you about something important.”

 

Lena smiled and nodded. “Of course, Kara. Whatever you need.”

 

Kara fidgeted and Lena reached over and held her hand. 

 

“Is everything okay?”

 

Kara winced and looked down at their intertwined hands. 

 

“Yeah, I just -- I have to tell you something and I don’t know how you’re going to react.” 

 

Lena nodded and smiled. 

 

“Kara, you’re my best friend and I love you. Whatever it is, I’ll be right here when it’s all over.”

 

“You promise?”

 

“I promise.”

 

Kara smiled in relief and squeezed her hand gently. 

 

“I love you too, Lena.”

 

The room spun and disappeared in a cloud of smoke. The Fortress appeared in front of her again and one of her hands no longer clasped Esme’s, but instead held the elongated diamond stone that formed the Love totem. 

 

“You have performed admirably.”

 

Lena smiled and gasped a little.

 

“Alright, hand it over,” Lex said, stepping closer. 

 

Lena stood up, stepping in front of Esme. 

 

“I’m sending her back first. You’re not exactly the most trustworthy dealmaker,” she stated dryly.

 

She pressed a button on her watch and a purple portal opened. She leaned down and kissed Esme on the forehead. 

 

“Your moms will be there waiting for you, okay love?” She felt her eyes tearing up and she blinked them back quickly. Esme nodded and reached out for Lena to hug her. Lena crouched down and gripped her tight, feeling the tears fall down her cheeks. “I love you, Esme.”

 

“Love you too, Auntie Lena,” Esme replied with a sweet smile.

 

Lena inhaled deeply and then stroked Esme’s nose with her finger.

 

“Can you do me a favour, love? Can you tell everyone I said I love them? Will you do that for me?”

 

Esme nodded hard, then she turned and scuttled through the portal, leaving Lena with Lex and whatever fate lay with him.

 

“Isn’t that just the sweetest thing? Auntie Lena. Who would’ve thought? You as an aunt!”

 

Lex took a step forward and put his hand out. 

 

“Now give me the totem.”

 

Lena took a deep breath and held it out to him. 

 

As he took it from her, he reached into his pocket and pulled out a pistol. 

 

“Sorry, sis. Just returning the favour,” he said, and then he fired two shots into her chest.

 


 

“They’re not holding her at Luthor mansion,” Kara said, landing on the balcony of the Tower. “I flew all over that place and there was no sign of life. The ship is gone. They must be in another one of Lex’s hideouts. J’onn, Dreamer, anything?”

 

Nia shook her head and closed her eyes again, trying to dream their location.

 

J’onn sighed and paced the floor. “I’ve psychically scanned all of Lex’s known hideouts, as well as all of National City. Nothing. But Lex has a portal watch, so he could be anywhere in the world.”

 

“Well, we have to do something!” Alex cried, slapping the table. Kelly put an arm around her shoulders and rubbed her back soothingly. “Our daughter is out there with two psychopaths and we can’t find her! Someone needs to figure out something now!

 

“Alex,” Kelly said in her calm therapist voice, choked up with tears. “We will find her. I swear to you, we will get her back. But getting hysterical isn’t going to help. So pull yourself together, and help me think.”

 

Kara put her hands on her hips and shook her head. “I can’t pick up her heartbeat anywhere in the city. I’m gonna go ask Lena if she knows of any of Lex’s other hideouts, or maybe if that idea she had is panning out.” 

 

She threw up her hands and turned to walk toward Lena’s lab when a purple portal opened up and Esme came scampering through, looking a little flushed and cold, but no worse for wear.

 

“Mama! Mommy!” She cried excitedly, running toward her parents where they stood aghast.

 

“Oh my god,” Kelly breathed, crouching down and pulling her into a hug. Alex joined them and Kara watched with joy as the family reunited happily.

 

“God, you’re freezing, sweetheart, where have you been?” Kelly asked, rubbing Esme’s arms.

 

“I was in the ice cave with Uncle Lex and Auntie Lena!” Esme said brightly, sitting down at the table and grabbing one of her markers and a sheet of paper.

 

“Ice cave?” Alex asked in confusion.

 

“Auntie Lena?” Kara asked blankly.

 

Esme nodded happily. “She said a funny word and then she took a jewel out of me and said to tell all of you that she loves you!”

 

The SuperFriends looked around the room at each other and horror was written on all of their faces. Alex leaned over and looked at the back of Esme’s neck. 

 

“The tattoo is gone,” she said breathlessly. “She must have gotten the love totem out for him.”

 

“But why would Lena help Lex?” Nia asked, her face contorted in confusion. 

 

Kara felt her heart drop into her stomach. There was no way that Lena would help Lex willingly, which meant…

 

“She didn’t help him,” she said, her eyes widening in terror. “She traded her life for Esme’s!”

 

She jumped into the air and shot out of the Tower, heading for the Fortress, breaking the sound barrier as she flew. It wasn’t too late. It couldn’t be too late. Lex liked to monologue, surely he’d still be irritating Lena with how he’d beaten her. It had to be okay. Lena had to be okay. Her heart thudded in her chest as she flew faster and faster -- faster than she’d ever flown before -- until she landed in front of the Fortress with a deafening crack, splitting off a chunk of ice and sending a small avalanche down the side of the mountain.

 


 

 

She flew through the halls of the Fortress toward the central command center, hoping Lena would still be here, that Lex hadn’t taken her to a secondary location. But when she arrived at her destination and saw Lena lying prone on the ground, a glistening pool of crimson blood surrounding her like a grim halo, she fell to her knees.

 

“No,” she breathed, her voice trembling and trailing off into a whimper. “No, no, no, no.”

 

She crawled across the icy floor and reached out to touch her, but found she couldn’t. If she touched her, then it was real. If she felt the cold skin and the lack of movement of blood pulsing in her veins, then she was really dead. Her heart was silent, her blue-green eyes stared empty up into the cavernous ceiling of the Fortress. Her dark hair lay spread around her head like a wild crown of thorns. 

 

Kara couldn’t take it anymore. A sob wrenched from her chest that turned into a scream halfway through. Heat vision shot from her eyes, splitting huge chunks of ice from the rest of the ceiling, sending them careening toward the ground. She grabbed Lena’s lifeless body and pulled her into her arms, rocking back and forth as she sobbed into her neck, where a pulse no longer beat. Tears fell down her cheeks and drool fell from her open mouth as she screamed and sobbed into Lena’s neck. 

 

This wasn’t fair. It wasn’t fair.  

 

A portal opened up a short distance away and the SuperFriends came dashing through, save for Nia, who had opted to stay behind with Esme, but Kara didn’t notice in all of her grief. 

 

“Oh my god,” Kelly whispered, putting her hand over her mouth. “Oh my god…” 

 

“No!” Brainy screamed, running as fast as he could before sliding on his knees next to Kara, tears beginning to fall down his green face.

 

Alex ran over to where her sister sat rocking and screaming incoherently over Lena’s lifeless frame and wrapped her arms around her, her own tears falling silently into blonde curls. Kelly stood motionless in shock, simply staring down at the large pool of blood that was being smeared over everyone’s clothes and the frosted floor. J’onn stood silently, his hand over his mouth, eyes watering and full of rage.

 

Kara’s cries filled the gallery, despair in every note, joined in her mourning by Brainy’s choked wails as he stroked Lena’s hair. Lena had been his sister, for all intents and purposes, and pain hung heavy in every gasping sob.

 

“I’m so sorry, Kara,” Alex whispered quietly, her voice shaking as she tried to contain her own grief to help carry Kara’s. “I’m so sorry.”

 

“It’s not fair,” Kara wailed, “We didn’t have enough time! We needed more time!”

 

“I know,” Alex said quietly, stroking her hair and pressing kisses to the crown of her head, “I know.”

 

“I never told her,” Kara cried, staring down into Lena’s face, now devoid of all colour. “I never told her…”

 

She trailed off without explaining what she hadn’t told Lena, and Alex was at a loss as to what it could be. 

 

“Kara, we -- we should take her back -- take her home,” she urged, touching her sister’s trembling arm.

 

“She is home,” Kara cried angrily, “I’m her home. I’m all she has. We needed more time, we needed more time…” 

 

She trailed off, repeating the same phrase over and over again. Alex looked up at Kelly, at a loss for what to do, but Kelly just shook her head, clearly saying just let her be .

 

Suddenly, Kara jerked upright, knocking Alex backwards. “Time! I just need more time!”

 

She turned to Brainy where he sat stroking Lena’s hair. 

 

“Brainy, give me your Legion ring.”

 

He looked up with tears in his eyes. “What?”

 

“Your ring! Give me your ring!”

 

Realisation crossed his face and he shook his head. “Kara, you can’t. You don’t know what it could do to the space-time contin--”

 

“Brainy, I don’t give a shit about the space-time continuum!” Kara screamed, heat vision rising behind her eyes. “Give me your ring, or I’ll take it from you!”

 

Kara knew everyone was staring at her like she was crazy but she didn’t care. This was Lena. She had to save her, no matter the cost. Brainy stared at her for a moment, but he slowly pulled the ring off of his finger and handed it to her. 

 

“Be careful, Kara,” he whispered, placing it in her palm.

 

“What’s going on?” Kelly asked in confusion. “What are you going to d--”

 

She was cut off by Kara throwing her fist into the air with the ring pointing upward and then the room began to spin. Kara closed her eyes and watched in her mind as time went backwards. 

 


 

 

“Well, we have to do something!” Alex cried, slapping the table. Kelly put an arm around her shoulders and rubbed her back soothingly. “Our daughter is out there with two psychopaths and we can’t find her! Someone needs to figure out something now!

 

Kara looked around the room. This was it. Esme would be coming through the portal any second now. She stood staring at the place where she knew the portal would open, vaguely hearing Kelly reassuring Alex in the background. She would have to be quick before the portal closed. 

 

Suddenly, it glowed bright and magenta, swirling in a circular motion, and no sooner had Esme come through calling for her parents than Kara had dashed through the portal. She saw Lex take the totem from Lena’s outstretched hand, saw the other hand reach for the pistol and draw it. Fully extending her body, she dove in front of Lena just as he fired the shots and felt them bounce off of her chest. 

 

“Kara?” Lena cried in horror. “What are you doing here? How did you know I was here?”

 

“I can’t let you do this, Lena,” she replied firmly, jumping to her feet from where she had landed on the fortress floor, and turning to Lex. But he was already backing through his own portal, a murderous expression on his face.

 

As the portal closed, they both heaved a sigh of relief and Kara pulled Lena into her arms, hugging her tight -- probably tighter than was comfortable for a human -- but it was what Kara needed after the tragedy she had been witness to before. 

 

“Kara, what -- why -- how are you here? Did Esme say something?” Lena asked, pulling out of the hug. 

 

“You died,” Kara said, the words catching in her throat, “and I couldn’t live with that.”

 

She pulled Brainy’s Legion ring off of her finger and showed it to Lena, who looked down at it and then back up to Kara in surprise.

 

“You -- you changed history for me?” Lena breathed, a touch of wonder in her voice.

 

“Wouldn’t be the first time,” Kara shrugged, sliding the ring back on and taking Lena’s hand. At the confused look on Lena’s face, Kara shook her head. “I’ll tell you about it some other time. Right now, I need to tell you that if you ever do something like this again, I will kill you myself.”

 

Lena smiled sheepishly and looked at the floor. “I had to protect Esme from him. I knew you could handle him if I was gone. Esme was the important thing.”

 

Kara groaned in frustration and gripped Lena’s face in both hands. 

 

“Listen to me, Lena: I can’t live without you. I need you with me. I held your dead body in my arms just a short while ago and it was the worst thing I’ve ever felt in my life -- worse than Krypton exploding -- worse than the Phantom Zone. If you ever do anything like this again, I will throw you into the sun. Do you understand me?”

 

Lena frowned, “Yes, but I’m not really seeing how throwing me into the sun would keep me with you--”

 

“It’s a figure of speech!” Kara cried, shaking her hands in irritation. “It means I’ll be incredibly hurt and very angry, because I -- I --” She took a deep breath and looked deep into Lena’s beautiful blue-green gaze, full of life and spark and intensity. “Rao help me, I love you.”

 

She didn’t wait for an answer. She was done wasting time. Pulling her close, she pressed her lips to Lena’s soft, luscious, plump ones beneath hers and kissed her like they were running out of time. 

 

But now they had all the time in the world.